Would you ever buy $10 worth of quarters for $14.99 per month? What a bargain, eh? (I mean, it’s not like banks offer $10 quarters for $10 or anything.) Well, a startup called Washboard — a service that delivers quarters to laundromat-bound clients — banked on consumer idiocy in hopes that someone — anyone — would willingly pay an extra $5 to $7 per month for a roll of quarters.
“We do have customers. A few. Very few. Less than 10,” Washboard founder Caleb Brown told ValleyWag. And you’d love the testimonial of one of Washboard’s “less than 10″ clients — nothing is more convincing than an endorsement from an unshaven, scruffy, inarticulate man, right?
“My clothes were just always dirty, like — could never — I just could never make the time to go to the bank,” he said. “And then I went to Washboard.co and I found these [roll of quarters] in my mailbox and now I’m clean as a whistle! Thanks Caleb. Thanks Washboard.co. I’ll never be dirty again.”
Brown, who also charges customers $27 for $20 of quarters, came up with the idea after becoming annoyed with his trek to the bank to do his laundry — and not to mention the odd bank hours on weekends:
“The only reason in the last five years that I’ve been to the bank is to get quarters for laundry. For me it was just a personal real problem,” he said. “Banks close at 5, maybe they’re open Saturday, but they close at noon. I’m rarely out of bed by then.”
While Brown tries to convince us that walking to the bank is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, he fails to realize that you can go to a change machine, your local grocery store, or even just shake ’em out of your purse — it’s also low key exhilarating to go on a quarter-hunt at home.
So why is he charging an extra $5 to 7 a month for quarters? The man’s gotta make a profit, of course. “We’re not necessarily doing this as a public service. We do take 10 percent of that. It’s still going to be cheaper than having your laundry done.”
Brown had plans to expand his business to delivering detergent and fabric softeners — but lo and behold — Washington Post reports that Washboard is now out of business. Who would’ve seen that coming?
“Nearly 100% of the internet thought Washboard was an absolutely absurd concept,” Brown said. (Imagine that?) “I had a very difficult time convincing people the service was even real but we did have customers that were excited for it. I apologize to those folks but we have decided to shut down Washboard.”
Brown was forcing us to see a “void” of coin-convenience that no one could see. And while there’s nothing wrong with making a profit, his money-makin’ intentions were too barefaced — consumers would feel too gyped to sign up for Washboard. The venture barely lasted two weeks.
“While I am sad to see it go so quickly, I’m excited to be focusing my energy on something ultimately more worthwhile,” Brown said.