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Thank you all,
We all know life is complicated. So many things to consider, and it seems each time we solve one concern; someone presents another problem to make us uneasy. Now it’ my turn to tell you about a problem that has been there a long time – you just hadn’t noticed. And its just one more little thing to keep you awake at nights – Service Door Locks.
It doesn’t matter how secure your coin boxes are, or how well fortified your coin changers may be, if unauthorized persons can open your service door areas, and manually start the machine. Aside from getting free washes or drys for themselves and anyone around, they can slide an index card under the coin mechanism, and keep the coins from falling into the vault. The door is then locked, and then they return later in the day, collect the coins on top of the card and remove it till another day. If they move confidently, and dress in workmanlike clothes, who would notice? This sounds petty, but if they do 20 machines and get $5 per machine, they get $100 tax free dollars without even wiping the machine off for you. [TIP: keep an eye out for loose change that may have been dropped inside the meter box, or underneath machines where they may have fallen through.]
The problem lies with a simple historical fact. Since the introduction of coin-operated laundries, service personnel have not wanted to carry a lot of keys around. Most owners rarely open the service door area. So the locks are generally one of about a dozen codes. In fact, there is a high probability that an experienced service person can predict a service door code based on knowing the make and age of the machine. Look in at your key. Does the number GR100, GR800 or maybe ZB7 (if you have Maytag’s) sound familiar? These are three of the most common codes. The problem is that these codes have been in circulation for a number of decades. There are ten’s of thousands of these keys out there and I know it may be hard to believe, but some of these have found their way into the hands of persons with poor ethical standards!
It seems an insignificant thing. So someone gets a few free washes. Its no big deal,- – is it? You bet it is!! To say you have been nibbled to death by ducks may make an amusing picture. It doesn’t make you any less dead!! This is a pernicious practice that leaches away your profits. How many can afford to lose even $50 a week on a regular basis? Such losses rapidly add up to disaster. The thief is quite willing to start the machines for someone else – for half of what you charge. Unattended Laundromats, routes and apartment locations are the most likely to suffer. The criminal will get away with it for as long as they like. And unless they get careless or unless you have cycle counters on your machines, you may never even be aware of what has happened.
An additional risk involves liability. We have all heard horror stories of the burglar getting bit by the property owner’s dog, and then suing for damages – - and winning!! Imagine then that your service door has been left opened and someone gets electrocuted as they poke around. Especially if that someone found the door already unlocked and was innocently “just looking around” when they hit a hot wire.
These locks are not all that expensive. Especially when measured against the potential losses involved. Most are easy to replace even by those who are the most mechanically inept. You will have to make certain of your control over the keys, just as you would for your coin box keys. It may also be prudent to upgrade the lock to something other than the tubular locks. As noted in previous issues, there is a pick out there that works too easily on tubular style locks. A better lock will only cost a couple of dollars more than the less secure lock. Changing to a non-traditional service door lock code means you will have to be present to open the doors if you have an outside repairman work on your machines. Most machines take a standard lock, with a few requiring replacement cams when changing to new locks.
Consider changing to a service door locks to a less common code, protect your investment, and sleep a little bit easier – at least until the next problem shows up!!!