Like it or not, it looks like the "sharing" economy is here to stay. From Uber to Airbnb, people are learning to get more for less by working cooperatively to cut out the middlemen.
We've already seen our fair share of outsourced and sharing-based laundry services. But as inventive as these systems are, they don't quite meet everyone's needs—especially those of us who still crave the convenience and peace of mind that comes with having your own washer.
Well, it looks like at least one company is looking to pick up the slack. Dutch company Bundles has begun offering a washing machine subscription service that flips the script on the sort of rent-to-own arrangements peddled by American companies like Aarons and Rent-a-Center.
Instead of renting the machine, subscribers get a high-end Miele WKG 120 WCS washer installed for free, then pay a monthly fee for a pre-determined number of loads.
Monthly subscription tiers are reasonably priced, with 15 loads costing about $31, while 35 loads is only a little more expensive at around $37. Usage is monitored via a smart plug that also lets Bundles know if the machine requires service. The monthly subscription covers all maintenance fees, and a four-year contract ends up costing only slightly more than purchasing the WKG 120 outright.
While that may seem like a raw deal at first, the service is marketed as an alternative to purchasing cheap washing machines and not for those who could easily afford a $1,800 washer up front.
Some have classified Bundles as a "sharing" service, but we prefer to think of it as a consumer friendly version of Sears' WhyNotLeaseIt program. After all, subscribers are given the option to purchase the machine if they so choose.
There are currently no plans to extend Bundles beyond Amsterdam. More's the pity, considering the service's appealing mix of low risk and low cost.