It may seem weird to find a first year willing to defend Circuit Laundry. After all, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve lost the plot, everyone hates them, right? Well, it’s easy to see why you’d get that impression from reading one of the many pieces about them in The Tab or asking just about any of my peers. Described in one article as ‘money-grabbing b*stards’, I actually decided to consider whether or not they were as bad as people say.
First of all, one of the most widely read articles starts by asking the question, “Why isn’t every uni giving freshers free washes?” Maybe this is because washing clothes costs money? Such a suggestion seems odd to me and surely I can’t be the only one. In fact, I wasn’t. I found some adults – those strange people who live in this place called the “real world” (must be scary) what they thought of free laundry. Each of which gave some variation on “bloody hell, I wish.”
The fact of the matter is Circuit Laundry has to charge – electricity, water, gas to heat the water, this all costs money and last I checked Circuit wasn’t a charity. Add on a bit of a profit margin and maybe that £3.50 per wash and dry isn’t grossly overpriced at all.
Another common argument levelled at the ‘money-grabbing bastards’ is that, “we pay enough in rent, so why is washing so pricey?” To that I say, sure accommodation rents may be a little steep, but it would certainly be steeper if the halls had to purchase, maintain and insure more than ten washers and dryers in-house.
Decent washing machines and tumble dryers don’t come cheap and repairing and replacing them when they inevitably go wrong would also put a dent in any hall’s budget – just ask any homeowner who’s had to fork out a few hundred pounds each time their washer decides enough is enough. Just think, if it weren’t for Circuit, every time your washer locked your clothes in without washing them or spun your clothes about as fast as a disinterested babysitter spin-ning a merry-go-round, or just conked out altogether, the hall would have to pay to fix it and they’d probably pass that cost onto you, the student.
One argument we all can have at least some sympathy for, mind you, is that Circuit washing is generally just useless sometimes. We’ve all been there. We’ve all at some point rushed down to the laundry (before some ignorant so-and-so rudely dumps your nice new budgie smugglers onto the mucky floor instead of putting them in a basket like any nice person would), eagerly anticipating the smell of fresh and fragrant goodness in the form of your dry clothes, to find that, well…they’re not dry.
The Circuit dryer, the smug git, has got you good and proper once again leaving you with the choice of forking over another £1.30 or crack-ing out the immortal fold-up drying rack to leave your room stinking of dank disappointment. It’s not the best feeling.
But again, this isn’t a problem unique to the desolate first-year, it’s basically a part of life that washing sometimes doesn’t go our way. If Circuit dryers are persistently performing poorly it’s up to the hall to complain to Circuit that the machines aren’t working properly and/or complain that Circuit are breaching their contract by being utter bellsprouts.
If you have a sink, a pair of marigolds (other types of rubber gloves are available) and a radiator, there is an alternative to Circuit (that is entirely free, I may add) that you can make use of. However, on balance I think us first-year students are quite blasé (if not happy) in the end paying what we do.
I’ll admit, my cushy laundry in John Burnet might just be an outlier in that it’s actually decent. I’ll also admit I’ve not trekked to Melville, Regs, or ABH to see if the washing experience in these halls warrants Circuit’s less-than favourable reputation among students. So maybe Circuit’s bad name is justified if the aforementioned dank disappointment scenario is a common occurrence for you.
To sum up, I’m not saying Circuit is perfect; far from it. I find myself often raising eyebrows at how weird and unpractical the top-up system is, annoyed at how I need to put a whole fiver on my card when all I need is an extra 10p–squandering precious beer money–and frustrated at how poor the machines can perform some-times. (Somewhat ironically, while writing this piece, one of our washing machines broke down, locking some-one’s clothes in.)However, on the whole, Circuit is convenient for halls and, ultimately, not too bad of a deal for students, and they certainly don’t deserve the monumental amount of flak they get