Thursday, September 20, 2012

Laundry

Its sad that my first post after so many months has to be a rant but I am infuriated by this stupid laundry card system. Someone should be shot multiple times for inventing this and making innocent travelers become victims of this insanity.

To be sure, I mean this rant as a view into one of the most ill-designed system that I have come across. As software professionals and entrpreneurs, we have to keep in mind what our users have to go through to use our systems.

I move into my New York apartment 2 weeks back. I find a series of instructions. The ones around laundry are the most incomprehensible but "I'll cross that bridge when I have to..." I say. Two days back I decide that I have to get the laundry done and so the battle begins.

1) RTFM

The instructions tell me to
  1. locate the laundry card stuck to my refrigerator
  2. go to www.sdirevalue.com and add money to it
  3. go to the building across the street to "activate" it 
  4. and then go to my basement and wash my clothes.
(Weird. But hey I'm new in New York. Maybe this is some really intelligent system so let me play along.)

2) 1st problem

sdirevalue.com asks me to "Create a new account". Whatever. I got to get these clothes washed. I register.

Now it asks me at "Add a card" to my profile. I guess that makes sense. So I enter the serial number of the card as required. "This card is already associated to another users account" it says...

(Obviously the last resident didn't think of de-registering this card from his account. Neither would I. Its stupid to expect that someone would remember to de-register their effing laundry card when moving out!!!)

3) Customer Support

I call customer support but they close at 5pm so I have to wait till the next day. When I call them the next day they tell me it will take two days to give me a new card. (Sigh... what option do I have?)

Two days later I see two cards dropped in my apartment.

(Obviously this is a well known problem and there is a possibility that the second card will turn out to be "Already Registered". So they gave a third one just in case. Great!)

4) I need to blog about this

So I try to add the second card. It works!! (I don't have to wear formals to ThoughtWorks tomorrow like I did today!! I will have washed clothes.)

But alas its not so easy.

When I click on "Revalue" which I can only assume adds credit to this card, this site asks me to enter the code on some machine that looks like this.



What. The. Fuck???

I'm assuming hoping this machine is in my basement OR the building across the street where I'm supposed to "activate" my card. So now I have to
  1. go to this machine
  2. find the serial number 
  3. come back and enter it on this site
  4. add value to my card (like that's going to be straightforward)
  5. go wash my clothes.
I have no idea what fresh hell am I to expect. But I am determined to get laundry done today. Unless of course if I end up requiring customer support... cause those happy people are at home prancing about in their fresh clothes...

Who came up with this shit?? No wonder there's still debates about gun control in America.

Even as I'm publishing this I'm hoping I'm wrong. There must be some higher purpose for me taking these pains to do laundry (apart from being merciful to my fellow subway commuters). I hope someone comments and lets me know what this higher purpose is. But I don't think it likely.

UPDATE: This isn't over yet.

I went to the other building and found the code on this machine and added money to my card. One would have thought he could wash his clothes at last... but NO!!

The money that I added is being "held" by this company. They have given me a "Revalue Code". Now I have go to the other building and enter the revalue code in the machine. That will actually add the amount to my card. Oh and the "Revalue Code" expires in 7 days!!!

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