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Washing machine system debacle

BY Claudia Guerrero

Anger lingers around UT’s campus as students continue to experience problems with the washing machines in the campus residence halls. Some students say they have had to spend for as along two weeks without being able to wash their clothes. Other students complain about their clothes shrinking, the machines not starting and not receiving refunds from the company, Mac Gray, when they try to get their money back.

The problem is that only a few machines work, but that isn’t reflected on the “washing machine ATM.” Therefore, students might choose a machine that seems to work and then pay for the service, but then when they put their clothes in, they realize the machine in fact does not work and might have to go through the whole process again, making what should be a fast and easy process time consuming and annoying.

Julia Rezende, a freshman business major and Smiley Hall resident, said that she has been experiencing this problem since the start of the semester.

“I spent two weeks without being able to wash my clothes,” Rezende said. “I had to go to Palm where my friend lives to do my laundry.” Rezende said that students received one week of free laundry service due to the inconvenience and that the machines started working again last week. She said they already have to pay again this week.

In Jenkins, this problem is now starting to affect students’ ability to get to class on time.

“I have class at 4 and I am debating whether I should bring my wet clothes to my room,” said Lauren Ballenger, a sophomore international business major, as she waited for a working dryer to put her wet clothes in.

The way this new system works is very similar to the way ATM machines work. You insert your card, start the machine, select if you want to use a washer or dryer, select the machine number, and then add another machine or start the machine you have selected. A map of the machines appears on the screen and tells you which machines work, which don’t and which ones are in use.

“I have been down here for 30 minutes,” said Caitlyn Barbieri, a sophomore allied health major, as she looked for working machines that weren’t taken in Jenkins.

Sabrina Griffith, director of residential communities and Residence Life, said that the new system was installed hoping to make the laundry process a more efficient one.

“Over the summer we changed the system from laundry cards to credit and debit card acceptors thinking that it would be more convenient for the students and an all-around good choice for UT. We, nor the company, ever dreamed that we would have the issues we have had,” Griffith said.

“Please know that if any of us at UT or CSC had an inkling of the issues that would ensue, we would have never changed over to this particular system,” Griffith said.

Griffith said the problem had to do with a technical issue between the machines.

“Apparently, there was a communication issue between the card acceptor unit and the machines, and it took time to troubleshoot and pinpoint the problem. CSC [formerly MacGray] has worked tirelessly on these issues. They stated that they had never seen this type of problem with the card units, and that they had received only good results and reviews,” Griffith said.

Griffith also said that there has been a new technology installed in order to try and fix the problem.

“Another technology emerged during the time of our issues where that each machine could have its own card acceptor. We agreed to try it because the system as it was did not work consistently. CSC has brought in more technicians in order to accomplish all of the installations and has now finished those installs ahead of schedule. We even had CSC override the units that weren’t working so students were able to do their laundry without cost,” Griffith said.

Griffith said the CSC has issued an apology to the students at UT and want them to know that they never wanted to cause problems for the UT community.

Claudia Guerrero can be reached at claudia.guerrero@spartans.ut.edu

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