UI students unhappy, confused after university changes laundry payment method

The app used for laundry charges has been malfunctioning, causing confusion for students regarding where the payment is coming from.


Rohan Abernathy-Wee

Washing machine sits with an out of order on it in the Hillcrest dorms, April 8, 2023.

Hannah Lipski, News Reporter

Some University of Iowa students are upset after the university announced it would charge dorm residents for past laundry transactions after a financial malfunction with the payment service.

University Housing and Dining sent an email April 1 to students living in residence halls stating that the university discovered that the new app for charging for laundry services, named 4thID and implemented this academic year, has not been reliably charging students.

The university has been working with Washlava and 4th ID since summer 2021 to implement this new system for the 2022-23 academic school year, Von Stange, the assistant vice president for student life and University Housing and Dining senior director, said in an interview with The Daily Iowan.

The software is supposed to deduct payments for laundry from either the student’s Hawkeye Dollars or U-Bill accounts. Each student living in the residence halls receives $100 Hawkeye Dollars at the beginning of the semester which can be used for dining, laundry, and vending machines in residence halls.

According to the email sent to students, 40 percent of transactions were impacted by the malfunction.

The university is working with 4thID to resolve the issue. According to the email, the change will not affect current or future washers and dryers.

Additionally, the university signed a contract with Washlava, the company that provided the washer and dryers for the residence halls. Part of the agreement was to use the software from 4thID for the payments.

Washlava decided to partner with the UI after hearing about the positivities of the university, Stange said.

“The person who was working with us from Washlava was enthralled by the Kinnick wave,” he said.

Stange said the university pays approximately $5 per machine per month to the software company.

The university found this malfunction after spring break, Stange said, and the old system charged students in real-time for laundry. The new system uses an invoice process that updates the charges every day.

“In some cases, students, for one reason or another, weren’t able to charge to their U-Bill,” Stange said.

Now, to combat the issue, all laundry transactions from Feb. 1 on will be charged to the student’s U-Bill or paid for using their Hawkeye Dollars. The UI charges the payments to students’ U-Bill accounts if they have no Hawkeye Dollars, according to the email.

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Stange said the university chose Feb. 1 to begin payments because it didn’t feel it was right for the university to be able to go back further and charge people for the laundry machine usage during that time.

He said the university doesn’t allow students to use their credit or debit cards to pay for laundry to protect the student’s data and information. The university limits payments to only Hawkeye Dollars or charges to the student’s U-Bill.

For some UI students living in residence halls, the change is a disadvantage. UI first-year student and Catlett Residence Hall resident Megan Tetrick said the change has been frustrating.

“I was kind of annoyed, I’m not going to lie, just because the app is kind of janky anyways, and then the fact that it wasn’t charging right too is annoying,” Tetrick said.

Tetrick said her Hawkeye Dollars dropped more than she expected following the change because she said she went home quite often and did her laundry there. She feels it is not fair for the university to go back and charge students for this mistake when it was its error.

“I doubt that I’ve spent $20 on laundry,” Tetrick said. “There’s just no way.”

Grace Ziomek, a UI first-year student who resides in Hillcrest Residence Hall, said she ran out of Hawkeye Dollars before this error was found and was confused about where her laundry was being charged to.

“I thought it would just charge my U-Bill instead of Hawk Dollars, so I didn’t really know what was going on with laundry for like the entire year, so it was just really confusing,” Ziomek said. “It seems a little bit weird in the first place that we’re getting charged because we pay so much to be here.”

Ziomek also said she is getting emails about having small payments due, but with no indication of what it is for.

“I think like the university should take ownership of that [mistake] because a lot of people who budget their money didn’t expect this to come out of their pockets,” Ziomek said.