TA: Broken machines, dirty laundry rooms top tenant complaints

Along with broken machines, inspections by tenants volunteers in various laundry rooms found a lack of signage, a lack of carts and a lack of timely responses to maintenance requests. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Along with broken machines, inspections by tenants volunteers in various laundry rooms found a lack of signage, a lack of carts and a lack of timely responses to maintenance requests. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For years, one of residents’ top quality of life complaint in Stuyvesant Town had to do with the complex’s laundry facilities — specifically that the machines installed during the Tishman Speyer era are prone to breakdowns. And, based on the finding of recent, tenant volunteer-led inspections of numerous laundry rooms, it appears that not much has changed.

In addition to washers and dryers that are frequently out of order, residents also said management isn’t always quick to make repairs of the machines that the company that services the machines, Mac-Gray, isn’t either. Other complaints include a lack of signage when machines are broken, dirty and sometimes stinky laundry rooms and missing carts, due to tenants sometimes taking them, which is against the rules, and not returning them.

The results were released by the ST-PCV Tenants Association after 48 volunteers surveyed 42 buildings in August, for a total of 95 individual reports. Based on their experiences, on the dates surveyed, a total of 147 washers and 102 dryers were not functioning, some for several days at a clip.

“The condition of the laundry rooms is generally deplorable,” the TA found. “Filthy floors, lint filters that have not been cleaned out, standing water in the washers, laundry detergent spilled all over the machines or floor, and no signs posted on machines that are nonfunctioning. Calling Mac-Gray — which many volunteers did as part of this survey in addition to tenants’ calls — to report machines that were down was a frustrating and typically useless exercise, mostly yielding little result. If the volunteer called and complained to STPCV maintenance, they were told to call Mac-Gray; Mac-Gray said to call maintenance.”

Broken machines was still the number one complaint.

“It’s the primary thing — the machines aren’t working,” said Susan Steinberg, chair of the ST-PCV Tenants Association. “My laundry’s been going out for the past two years, because I won’t deal with it, but I’ve been hearing from tenants.” On the lack of signage, “They used to put up signs when they were out of order,” she said.

Other complaints, at few individual buildings, were of extreme instances of filth or malfunctioning machines.

A few of those cited by volunteers were:

At 15 Stuyvesant Oval: Floor drain spits up dirty sewer-smelling water. Room smells bad. Money card machine is frequently out of order. The room has not been cleaned in more than a month.

At 321 Avenue C: Sometimes all washers and dryers are out of service, despite calls from tenants. At 4 Stuyvesant Oval: There are always at least two washers and dryers out of order. The laundry room is dirty, leaky, smelly and occasionally infested with roaches and flies.

At 455 East 14th Street: The electricity plugs for four washers were out and could not be used for 3-4 weeks. They were replaced with newer machines that are not commercial grade appropriate for the tenants’ needs. All machines in the laundry room are now the newer machines. They were installed approximately 2-3 months ago and are already having problems and need repairs. Students are using laundry carts to move from one apartment to another.

5 Stuyvesant Oval: Volunteer said that after calling Mac-Gray every week for three weeks, the response is always that they are sending someone tomorrow. ST/PCV maintenance said they would call Mac-Gray. Followup emails and tweets from the tenant got no response.

In addition, “When people move out, we have four carts or less.” Though not mentioned in the report, another tenant concern, said Steinberg, is confusion over whose responsibility it is to clean laundry rooms, in part due to, she admitted, tenants who are slobs. “We’ve been hearing that the porters now how have to clean out the filters,” she said. “It used to be individual tenants. This doesn’t go on anymore.”

Steinberg said the TA has a meeting with reps from CWCapital in a couple of weeks, and naturally, the state of the laundry rooms will be on the agenda.

In the meantime, she noted that tenants also have to do their part to keep the laundry rooms tidy. “Tenants also have a responsibility to do what they can,” said Steinberg. “Don’t leave laundry overnight. Take it out in a timely fashion and try and keep the laundry room clean. The fact that they’re filthy is because of the tenants. Take a little responsibility.” She added, “The carts are a bummer. They are totally misused by people who don’t care to pack up their cars. There’s a lot that needs to be corrected by management or whomever.”

In some positive results, the new machines installed at Peter Cooper buildings where basements were damaged by Hurricane Sandy haven’t gotten too many complaints. “They tend to be more reliable than the old ones,” said Steinberg of the Wascomat models, which are also maintained by Mac-Gray.

CWCapital and Mac-Gray didn’t respond to requests for comment.

10 thoughts on “TA: Broken machines, dirty laundry rooms top tenant complaints

  1. Sabina,

    “due to tenants sometimes taking them, which is against the rules, and not returning them.”

    This text is misleading and needs to be corrected. This implies that is OK to take a cart if one returns one. Carts are never to be taken from the laundry room, period. Doing so is stealing CWC property. Thanks.

  2. Today I went to the laundry room at 515 E 14th and the room smelled like sewage; one machine that had a yellow “replace” sign (presumably placed by MacGrey) is the same machine that had the same sign two weeks ago. Or porter generally keeps the room clean, but he can’t be expected to repair the machines. On the almost-plus side, we are back up to four carts after months of having only one, so maybe some of the numerous move-outs over the past two weeks resulted in carts being returned.

  3. The carts should be replaced with larger ones that won’t fit through the doorway without disassembly. Problem solved.

    In the meantime, since there are cameras in the hallway and the elevators, it shouldn’t be too hard for Security to see this happening real-time and figure out who the culprit is, since tenants photos are on file. Then, a visit, or even a phone call, from PS to the tenant notifying them that if it’s not returned immediately, they’ll be billed for a replacement in next mont’s invoice.

  4. The laundry rooms are filthy and gross beyond anybody’s level of acceptableness. The machines are low-end garbage that do not have enough water running through to give a real cleaning of the clothes they are supposed to wash. The slime and hair that gets stuck in the rubber gaskets and under the inside of the doors is repulsive and disgusting.
    The dryers are inferior, too. The lint filters are always broken and filthy and when you open the door of a lower dryer, if the upper dryer is running all the lint and filth from the filter trap gets blown into the lower machine. The machines are not ventilated properly.
    Also, the cost is exorbitant. We should not have to pay for 45 minutes to start the dryer. Sometimes, you only want half that time. On the other hand, if you want extra time and add money it usually results in the drum stopping and not starting again. A real rip-off!

  5. I never use the carts in my laundry room. They are filthy because people use them to move stuff in and out of the buildings, students used them to keep their beer in during their dorm parties (so I’ve been told on very good authority!) and there are dopey, doting parents who let their kids stand up in them while they are given a ride around the carriage room.
    Also, quite frequently, some dude will leave his laundry stinking in a washer for a few days until someone pulls it out and leaves it stinking a cart for another week or so. Nice!
    I always clean and sanitize the folding table before I use it because I see people come in and dump their shopping bags and purses on it, people sit on it and, on a couple of occasions, I’ve seen some young folk sit chatting and enjoying their Starbucks which they slop all over the folding table.

  6. I have been told by different maintenance workers that the exhaust fan for the dryers in the laundry room for 19/21 Stuy Oval has been broken for two years – new motor needed – the room is a sauna when the dryers are on. There are always broken washers and dryers. The filters do not fit properly and pop up, and most are ripped. Agreed, there is insufficient water in the washers, especially the very old ones, to wash and rinse clothes properly. Yes, tenants have broken the machines e.g., trying to dry adult shoes in dryers (holding the doors closed for the entire dry cycle or taping the doors closed), and stuffing both washers and dryers to the point where they can hardly close the doors. Yes, tenants take the carts. New carts should be lower to accommodate front loading washers and wider than the door frame. Our porter does his best to keep the laundry room clean, but it’s an uphill battle with tenants and housekeepers who won’t clean up after themselves. Did we need a candy machine in the laundry room? No, we needed machines that are in good working order. There should be some level of common courtesy among tenants. If you have 8 to 10 loads of laundry, go up to First Avenue and don’t tie up the machines for hours. Take your clothes out of the washers and dryers when they are done. Clean up spilled detergent on the washers and floor. Put signs on broken washers and dryers so the next tenant doesn’t waste their money and their time.

    • Sadie, I totally agree with everything you have said. We have some really nasty, dirty slobs living here and they don’t give a damn about anybody but themselves. That said, the machines are totally inferior and very poorly maintained. In fact, I don’t there is any maintenance at all. The porters do a yeoman job of cleaning the laundry rooms and carriage rooms, recycling areas, etc., but they can’t keep on top of all the filthy slobs who create the stinking conditions we are forced to deal with.
      Just for the record, I always call or email MacGray when a machine is out of order as well as leave a sticky on the machine to warn people not to use it.
      We have a cheap, nasty landlord that doesn’t care about anything other than gouging money out of tenants and is loathe to give anything back in the form of what they are actually supposed to do. They cut corners to bad their profits and suck as much out of the place as they can in their [much padded] fees.
      Recently, I have been sending my heavy laundry out to a real laundry and washing most of my clothes in the bath tub! I can use as much detergent as I want and tons and tons of hot water. It’s amazing how clean my clothes look when I wash them like that. When I wash them in the filthy machines they come out looking like I soaked them in the Ganges.

  7. Sep 29 50% of the machines at 1 / 3 Stuyvesant Oval are out of services (5 washing machines 4 dryers). This has been a problem for well over a week. Even when they do work, the machines have not been cleaned properly and laundry sometimes takes on an odd odor (like stale body odor).

    • The washers frequently smell like sweaty socks mixed with gorgonzola cheese. This is because people leave their laundry in the machines for days until it becomes a “crust.” Crusty laundry and jock sweat smelling dryers are part and parcel of the “luxury” of living in a badly managed student dorm. Too bad a once-clean and pleasant residential community has been converted to a nasty dorm and I often wonder about the legality of it, considering this was once rent stabilized housing stock – at the affordable level of real stabilized rents.

      We are being bilked by shysters and nobody who could do anything about it gives a dam because they are probably on the take. The squalid laundry rooms are a result of the intentional neglect and abuse of the property by those who are benefiting from it – and that would NOT be the tenants!

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