Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mystery laundry theif

Recently our laundry machines were replaced by a new system which we now have to pay for. It is a fairly complicated system which involves a special laundry card. It costs 2.90 chf to start the washing machine and 3.60 chf to start the dryer. But depending on what cycle you use, or how long you use the machine you do not use the entire amount you were charged. Therefore when your washing and/or drying is done you have to put your card back into the machine and you will get some money back.

For example, if I do a washing load on a short, cold cycle then when the washing is finished I usually get 1 to 2 chf back on my card. If I wash on hot with pre-wash as well then I usually only get .30 - .90 chf back on my card. I think that no matter what, you always get money back at the end of the cycle.

Until recently.

For the past 3 weeks I have noticed that if I do not run down as soon as my laundry is finished there is no more money on the machine. At first I thought it was just coincidence...but it kept happening. Every time I was there when the machine finished, I got money back. But the times when I wasn't there when the cycle finished I noticed that not only was there no money left on the machine, but the door to the machine was also open. It is as if someone notices that my cycle has finished and opens the door and then takes my leftover money on the machine. Now just to clarify, I have one day a week to do laundry and that is MY day. I have the machines all to myself, so technically I can leave one load in all day if I wanted and no one can complain because it is my laundry day.

I do not have the time or the patience to run down every time I think my laundry is ending. So last week I taped a post-it note over the slot where you have to insert your card that read (in french) "please do not open my door or take my money." I then started the cycle and left for the grocery store. We got back approximately 15 minutes after the cycle ended and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the machine door was open, my note was on the floor and no money was left on the machine!

We live in a complex where most of the tenants are over 70 years old so it is really hard for me to imagine that they are stealing my money. Part of my brain is telling me that the machine must "time out" after a certain period and the door automatically opens and for some reason you lose any "leftover" money. But then I remember the first time I used the new machines I was able to run errands during the day and never had a problem with the machine taking my money.

I had my laundry day again on Friday. This time I ran up and down the stairs every 20 minutes to make sure I could be there when the cycle ended. I also wanted to see who (if anyone) came into the laundry room during that time. I was surprised by the two "suspects" that peeked their heads in during my laundry cycle.

Suspect #1: The old man who lives next to us. He must be about 80 years old and is always really friendly.

Suspect #2: The old lady who lives 2 floors above us. She must be close to 90 years old and is not as friendly as the man but still fairly nice.

It is really hard for me to imagine either of these people sneaking down to steal money off the laundry machine. But then again, they are both home all day and have nothing better to do...

My next laundry day is Saturday. We have decided to try to set up a camera or do a stake out and settle this business once and for all!

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