The University of Richmond outsources its residential laundry services to Caldwell & Gregory, a commercial laundry company, Jerry Clemmer, director of business services, said.
There is a sticker with Caldwell & Gregory’s service line phone number on each washer and dryer on campus, Clemmer said.
According to statistics provided by Kristan Wun, senior account manager at Caldwell & Gregory, UR students and employees call Caldwell & Gregory for maintenance services 0.74 times per machine per year. Caldwell & Gregory predicted that its machines would break 1.25 times per year, Clemmer said.
Despite the statistics, the washers and dryers always seem to be malfunctioning, senior Lilah Henry said about the machines in the University Forest Apartments.
“It’s difficult if you don’t know if it’s broken or not,” Henry said. “You would throw all your stuff in and come back 40 minutes later, and it’s broken.”
If students encounter an issue while using the machines, they should call Caldwell & Gregory's 24/7 phone line instead of reporting it to the university, Clemmer said.
“A live person answers that 24/7," he said. "And it goes directly to the people that we would call anyway.”
A technician from Caldwell & Gregory should arrive on campus to address the maintenance problem within 24 to 48 hours, Dawn Nuckols, an employee at Caldwell & Gregory, said. Technicians from Caldwell & Gregory also conduct a weekly campus walk-through where they check each washer and dryer, both Nuckols and Clemmer said.
“Let me tell you, there’s universities that would kill to have that service,” Clemmer said.
One of the main reasons that the washing machines break is because of too much soap, Clemmer said. He recalled a story of a first-year student who used six Tide Pods in one load of laundry. When there is too much soap in the washing machine, it stops the time and adds more water to do another rinse; this attempt to wash out the soap often results in flooding, Clemmer explained.
The rate for doing laundry is included in the cost of attendance at the university, and laundry machine usage is three times higher than it is at universities that charge for laundry, Clemmer said.
The weekend is also the busiest time to do laundry, Clemmer said. The laundry done on the weekends makes up about a third of the total usage.
The university renewed its contract with Caldwell & Gregory about two years ago, Clemmer said. The company brought about 250 new washers and dryers to campus. The equipment is leased, so when it breaks, Caldwell & Gregory replaces it, he said.
Henry said she never realized who was in charge of laundry maintenance.
Patrick Benner, director of residence life and undergraduate student housing, suggested putting more signs with Caldwell & Gregory’s service number in an attempt to better inform students, Clemmer said.
Clemmer urged that students call the Caldwell & Gregory service number with any laundry machine maintenance problems and reach out to campus services with any feedback and comments.
“I always considered a student's comments a favor even if I didn’t like it because it always brought it to my attention that there was something that needed to be addressed,” Clemmer said.
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