CHICAGO — Customers come into vended laundries, and they go, and their antics can leave an attendant or store owner shaking their head or with a smile on your face—and sometimes both.
American Coin-Op asked store owners from across the country to share their favorite “customer crazy” moments and here is a sampling:
“I got a call one night from a young woman who said there was no water in her washer. When I got there, her clothes and powdered detergent were in a 30-pound single-pocket dryer. She was very embarrassed. I then showed her how to do laundry. It was her first time away from home at university and she was totally clueless.”
— Grant Gose, Laundryland USA, Silver City, N.M.
“I had a customer come to our facility and do laundry. Our store attendant called and was complaining that there is mud in the washer. So I instructed him to remove the mud as much as he could and then turn on the machine and wash it out. After five minutes, he called back, screaming, “It’s dog poop, it’s dog poop, not mud....’ I couldn’t stop laughing.”
— Bill Singh, Coin Laundry, Hesperia, Calif.
“A family of three simply piled their laundry loose in the back of their pickup and headed our way. During the trip, a loose 5-gallon bucket of bright pink paint bounced around and popped open, soaking their blankets and clothes. When they discovered the disaster after they arrived at our laundry, they figured, ‘Perfect, we’re here at the laundry. We’ll just wash out the paint in their machines!’
“Each of the three grabbed a big bundle of laundry and walked right in our front door, leaving a wide swath of pink paint and footprints across our carpet and started stuffing our largest front loader. We quickly turned them on their slippery heels and herded them back to the truck and, with a few choice words, sent them on their way. As their truck headed up the incline out of our lot, what remained of the paint sloshed through the tailgate and left a broad pink stripe as a parting gift. Several hours of cleaning later, we were good as new. Does this call for a sign?”
— Mike Shewmaker, Downtown Laundry Express, Hilo, Hawaii
“We had a customer who walked in our attended Laundromat and proceeded to pour laundry detergent into the dryer! It was a big mess and (I) had to put (the machine) out of service until our maintenance man could inspect and clean all the controls.”
— Helen Feinsod, Wash Happenin’ Laundromat, Snyder, Texas
“Back in the ’60s, when washing was 20 cents a load and dryers were 10 cents for 10 minutes, a lady put her clothes in the dryer and went to the picture show. After the dryer had caught on fire and the fire department had put it out, she showed up. Asked what had happened, we asked her how many dimes she had put in the dryer. She said six or seven. We said that anything would burn up with that much time on them. She asked where her clothes were. Told her the remains of what was left was outside in a buggy. She came back in and exclaimed, ‘How could these clothes have burned up? They are still dripping wet!’”
— Varron Mclemore, Mclemore Laundry, San Augustine, Texas
“A little boy, probably a first-grader, comes in every week with his dad to do laundry. One visit, Dad gives him some quarters for the gumball machine, but instead he goes up and down to all the dryers, adding money to everyone’s machines.”
— Lisa Varandas, Plaza Laundry & Cleaners, Hazlet, N.J.
“My brother and I opened [our] self-service Laundromat in 1972. About a decade ago, a certain customer would confront me whenever I would visit my store. I have Speed Queen 30-pound dryers. She would tell me she lost 50 cents in the dryers, and I gave her a refund, no questions asked. This went on for over a year, at least two or three times a month.
“One morning, I walked in at 9:30 a.m., and she said, ‘Hi, glad to see you. I just lost $9.75 in this dryer.’ That was strange, because the previous evening at 10 p.m., I had emptied all my coin boxes. So I said, ‘I’m awfully sorry, but let me get the keys and I will give you all the quarters in this machine.’ Her face turned cherry red when she saw the one quarter in the box. I said, ‘Miss, this is a dryer, not a slot machine. But why would you put 39 quarters into a machine that was not working?’ She rammed her clothes into her laundry bag and made a fast exit. I kept the quarter.”
— Vincent J. Frantantoni, The Laundry Room, Belleville, N.J.
If you have a “customer crazy” story you think is worth sharing with our audience, e-mail Editor Bruce Beggs (firstname.lastname@example.org) today.