A Vancouver Island business is struggling to educate customers who have been abusing its services, and acting in ways that put the business and the health of its staff at risk.
Ladysmith’s Wash Me on Ludlow is built to accommodate the cleaning of large trucks and RVs, including semis, garbage trucks, and firetrucks. The large bays of Wash Me on Ludlow are perfect for accommodating social distancing measures.
Owner Michelle Nischi says it’s had a stram of clients who aren’t getting what the COVID-19 situation means.
“I had someone want to come in wanting to clean his trailer. He then told me afterward he had just got back to Canada and wants to get back home. He was a snowbird. He didn’t understand that you don’t dump your tank, you don’t clean your RV, you don’t brush the dust off. You go home. We’ve seen a couple come through,” Nischi said.
“If I’m exposed, there’s nobody here to run this business.”
Nischi has also suffered cash thefts from her business that began before the COVID-19 crisis started. The service operates 24 hours, and there is an honesty cash box for those who use the Sani-Station if an attendant is not around.
“I would say 90 percent of customers are very good about paying. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen more theft here… we’ve never had theft. It happened twice in the last two days.”
Nischi has been forced to close the Sani-Station to reduce the risk to herself as a business owner and operator. On the morning of March 25, Nischi confronted a customer in a camper van who emptied his septic tank in the customer washroom because the Sani-Station was closed.
“Yeah, he dumped it in the toilet in my bathroom. He didn’t leave a mess per-say, but he didn’t have the means to disinfect my bathroom.”
Nischi was left to disinfect the bathroom on her own. She disinfects all touch surfaces and the bathroom every hour, but if she’s not around to monitor the cleanliness it could prove to be a messy situation.
“I’m so mad that people aren’t using common sense. When things are getting scary out there, and people are already panicking, and worrying about germs, why would you do that? I just don’t get it,” she said.
Although the federal government has now mandated that travellers crossing the border will have to self isolate for 14 days, Nischi believes there aren’t adequate enforcement measures to protect her business from irresponsible customers. She is concerned that she may have to close her business until the situation improves.
“Our regulars are all great, but you get the odd vagrant that comes through and, honestly, I don’t know what to do… We shouldn’t have to shut down, but this is what’s going to force my hand to do it.”
For now, only the Sani-Station has been closed. Regular car wash services, and the change room are open. Wash Me on Ludlow has pre-loaded cards available for purchase for customers who do not want to handle cash, or for customers who want to support the business.