Is Uber-like laundry machine sharing the next big peer-to-peer idea?

By Shawn Knight ยท 9 replies
Nov 30, 2016
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  1. Startups like Airbnb and Uber have created an unprecedented peer-to-peer marketplace that’s sending shockwaves through multiple industries. By serving each other, consumers are essentially cutting out the middleman – a hotel chain or taxi service, for example – while offering better service that’s more authentic / more convenient / more comfortable / cheaper and so on.

    Given the early success of such startups, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs and even existing companies are scrambling to try and find other industries or activities they can upend using this newfound peer-to-peer model.

    Such is the case with Electrolux, a Swedish home appliance maker that’s experimenting with the idea of creating an “Uber for laundry” service.

    According to the Financial Times (via Engadget), the scheme would allow people to wash their clothes at someone else’s house. Connected machines would likely play a role in the service although exactly how so isn’t yet known.

    Electrolux, as you may remember, is the company that launched a camera-equipped smart oven last year.

    Indeed, there are more questions than answers at this stage. For example, who is liable if your clothes are damaged in someone else’s machine? Furthermore, do you just hang around a stranger’s house and wait for your clothes to finish drying? Or, what happens if you somehow damage someone’s washing machine or dryer while cleaning your clothes?

    Props to Electrolux for thinking outside of the box although personally, I’m not yet convinced that renting out your washer and dryer is the next big peer-to-peer success story.

    Image courtesy Simon Dawson, Getty Images

    Permalink to story.

  2. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    I'd rent out my machines for this. You gotta be at least a 7 though.
  3. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    I don't want ANYONE in my house to use my washer or dryer.

    I don't even want my family members washing stuff in my washer/ dryer.

    Granted, the Sears service contract protects me, but I feel that most of the gains (at least $500) would end up being used buying a new Washer or Dryer due to excessive use. These aren't industrial machines.

    Water bill also goes up.
    Gas bill goes up.
    Electricity bill goes up.

    QAt the end of the day, I'd be charging more than the laundromat just to cover my losses.
  4. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 390   +668

    It's another one of those "Because we just saw one P2P fad succeed, let's try and stretch it to other areas where it doesn't make any sense" kind of thing. The economics for "outsourcing" ordinary household weekly chores on relatively inexpensive appliances aren't even remotely the same as occasional transportation for those without cars or "couchsurfing" for annual vacations. If it's profitable for the provider to buy a commercial washing machine capable of handling higher than normal duty cycles (or spend far more on repairs / maintenance trying to use a 4-5 person retail machine for 30 people), then buy washing powder at full retail non-bulk prices, add on a chunk for profit and liability insurance, etc, then the total cost of that service for the user over the space of +1 year will inevitably be far higher than simply buying their own machine...
    Reehahs likes this.
  5. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    To play Devil's advocate...

    They said the same about Uber et. al.

    --> Why risk driving with strangers when you can get in "safe", government-regulated cabs?

    --> Why take risk with Airbnb when you can just rent like normal?

    And now...

    --> Why use this service when you can use professional facilities?

    As someone who has used laundromats before, I can tell you, I'd rather show up at someone's house for a small price premium. The caveat being the house has to be a nice place with great hosts. Laundromats, frankly, suck.

    Never forget: people will pay extra for luxury.
  6. drjekelmrhyde

    drjekelmrhyde TS Addict Posts: 249   +63

    No. You would need 2 $2000+ web connected devices that some ******* will just overload to the point of breaking. Bedbugs and roaches can survive the washing machine, and I doubt a consumer dryer can kill bedbugs. Good luck with the smell from other people's clothes. These people WILL NEED TO HANG AT YOUR HOUSE FOR A WHILE, because washing and drying 3-4 loads can take more than 3 hours. Crayons stuck in your dryer, non HE detergent in your He washer, lint build up(fire hazard) in your dryer, and on and on. If you don't believe me try opening up a dryer that been in over 2 years use, or a washer that has been using pods for over a year.
  7. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 390   +668

    The problem is, you want luxury domestic settings and yet they'll still need heavy-duty commercial equipment inside their own homes. To quote "Tom" from the original Engadget link: "My family has run a laundromat for nearly 50 years, so I've seen what random people do to washers and dryers. So my answer [to using own personal equipment] is a resounding heck no..." There's also a good reason why people who have micro-businesses providing personal services are generally recommended to set aside an area which isn't their own immediate personal living space.

    As for luxury expectations, the problem is people who live in large luxury houses and can afford that commercial equipment and extra space are precisely the same people who generally need "P2P washer woman" low-level income the least and all the hassle that comes with using your own personal living space as an industrial cleaning facility. It's a bit like requiring that all lower-paid Uber drivers already live in nice luxury houses before they even get the job because in addition to providing the ride, the customer will be judging them on their own house as part of the service.

    Unless you're planning some Hollywood-based bespoke service aimed at rich celebs too posh to wash their own clothes, the whole business model is back to front as to what "luxury" people are expecting from minimum wage, low margin stuff involving washing other people's used underwear for the very few people who can't do it themselves...
  8. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    This idea sounds nutty and insane. Laundromats rejoice, because this silly idea from Electrolux won't work, period. Home grade laundry machines can't handle the duty cycles of commercial units found in laundromats. Also, how the hell do you expect to schedule this nonsense with a homeowner. What about liability? And I don't' know anyone who wants strangers going through their home. What if those strangers steal something? What if crooks use this as a way to do home invasions or something? There are way to many variables. Cars is one thing, this is totally something else, and not feasible.
  9. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    Access is not the same as scale. "Tom" is making the same argument that was made against Uber when it first started regarding fleet vehicles.

    For starters, most people looking to make a buck doing this aren't going to have steady foot traffic near what you're going to find at a laundromat. Moreover, this service will probably include the same client quality controls that other sharing platforms have. Namely, bad ratings for people who shouldn't be messing with your equipment.

    All I'm saying is that all the skeptics in this thread are trotting out--verbatim I might add--the same arguments that were trotted out against all of the other successful sharing platforms. "It'll be too expensive for providers!" "There's no way the machines/properties will hold up!" "You can't trust strangers!" "What about liability?" Same stuff, different service.

    When the next sharing programs is introduced by XYZ company, those same arguments are going to be trotted out again.

    As for my own position on this... I'd be curious to see how it pans out as a proof of concept experiment. We can sit here all day and come up with reasons why it can't possibly work. But, quite simply, performing an autopsy upon conception is a waste of time. How can it work? What would you like to see in it? Naysayers are noise.
  10. MannerMauler

    MannerMauler TS Addict Posts: 183   +44

    That and I don't want people's kudos, so to say, getting stuck in my washers.

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