A new laundry payment system in Timothy Dwight College has drawn mixed reviews from TD residents due to repeated glitches during the first few weeks of its pilot period.

In a March 30 email to the TD community, Timothy Dwight Operations Manager KC Mills informed students that the new system would be installed the next day, on April 1. The new system is powered by CSC ServiceWorks, Inc. and processes payments through card readers installed at individual washers and dryers rather than at a central payment reader. It allows payment through credit cards, Apple Pay or the CSCPay Mobile app, which lets students load money onto personal accounts in $10 increments and pay by scanning a QR code.

Mills noted in the email that the college was acting as a “test site” for the system, and “if all goes well they will install the system in the remaining residential colleges over the summer.”

Only two of the 12 Timothy Dwight residents interviewed by the News said they liked the new system.

“I think that the new payment system is a really great idea and that long term it will be a good thing for the college,” said Sarah Cameron ’21. “While I did not have any problems with the old system, this system is definitely more convenient. I have tried using it, and it has worked pretty well so far. However, sometimes it takes the machines a little bit of time to get started. I think that this would be a great system to be implemented in all of the colleges.”

But 10 other students said they preferred the old payment system and have experienced problems with the new one — ranging from delays in their payments being processed to not being able to adjust the length of dryer cycles.

Julia Tofan ’20 said that when she initially tried to use the new payment system, it took her 25 minutes to start a machine. She said she tried to use the credit card chip reader three times on two separate machines to no avail. She then attempted to download and use the app but could not get it to establish a Bluetooth connection with the machine, which is necessary for payment. Finally, she tried swiping her card rather than inserting it into the chip reader and was able to start the machine.

“TD has [had] the most efficient [laundry] in the world,” Tofan said. “I never ever had a problem until this situation. … There are few efficient things about Yale, but the laundry was one of them. I choose to live on campus for the convenience, and laundry is a small part of that, but a part of that.”

Saul Roselaar ’21 said that his biggest complaint about the app is that it automatically sets dryers to a 60-minute cycle and does not give the option for 12-, 48- or 72-minute cycles like the old system did. Roselaar — who usually dries his clothes for 48 minutes — expressed frustration that he must spend more money for a cycle that he believes wastes both time and electricity.

Students also pointed to the inefficiency of loading money onto the app in $10 increments, when washing and drying cycles cost $1.50 each. Viet Dau ’19 said he decided not to use the app because the system was introduced so late in the semester and he will be graduating in just a few weeks — if he loaded money into the system he would not use all of it.

Matthew Pecoraro ’22 and Zen Tang ’19 both bemoaned that the new system is currently incompatible with a website that allows users to view the availability of washers and dryers online in real time rather than go to the laundry room to check.

“Only by the good-heartedness and generous, but puzzled, spirit of TD are we able to even continue doing laundry, so bad it is as to rob us of our old laundry view app,” Tang wrote in an email to the News.

Still, two of the 10 students who preferred the old system said that they believe that the inconveniences associated with the new system — including card, app and overall machine malfunctions — are temporary, given that the system has not been implemented for very long and will eventually be resolved.

Nadia Lartey ’22 said that she believed “the kinks will work themselves out,” but said that if the old systems in other colleges are functioning properly, there is no need for the upgrade.

“If other colleges are having problems with their payment system I don’t think there’s harm in changing, but I don’t think it’s necessary and Yale’s money could [probably] be going to something better [to be honest],” Lartey said.

On Monday, Head of Timothy Dwight College Mary Lui wrote in her weekly “Notes and News” email that due to widespread malfunctions with the payment system, laundry will be free until the problems are resolved. She added that students who experience any further problems with the machines should report them to the service number posted in the laundry room.

The first commercially-sold electric washing machine, called the “Thor” machine, was patented in 1910.

Asha Prihar | asha.prihar@yale.edu

Asha Prihar served as managing editor of the News during the 2019-20 academic year. Before that, she covered community service, Yale's professional schools and undergraduate student life as a staff reporter. She is a senior in Silliman College studying political science.