New research suggests China is a nation of shadiers, with laundries, dishwashers, and cleaners being found to be at risk of fraudulent practices, costing consumers a lot more than they’re being charged.
A study published Thursday by researchers at Duke University found laundries in Shanghai are among the least safe in the world, with one in three workers losing their jobs because of poor hygiene and poor workmanship.
The study, by the Global Shady Businesses Institute, looked at 2,100 laundries from seven different Chinese cities, as well as the United States and other countries, and found launders in Shanghai have a laundry room wall that is not up to code.
In a blog post, the institute’s founder, Andrew Ng, said the findings “suggests there are widespread problems with the way the industry is managed in China.”
“The authors found that there are a number of shoddy practices in the industry, such as insufficient maintenance, inadequate cleaning, and inadequate sanitizing, leading to workers losing work, money, and their dignity,” Ng said.
Ng said he hopes the study will spark a conversation about shadiness in the business community.
“It’s important that the community starts talking about the problems in the laundries and cleaning industry and how these problems are being addressed, and how we can make a difference to ensure that there is cleanliness in the laundry industry,” Ng wrote.
The report found laundresses in Shanghai spent an average of $2,700 per worker on cleaning and maintenance in 2016, with some workers spending as much as $6,000.
The institute said this cost is more than double the average annual salary for workers in the U.S., which is about $6 per hour.
The laundries also had the lowest level of hygiene and sanitization, with more than half of workers failing to follow basic hygiene rules such as not washing their hands, using hand sanitizer, and cleaning their clothes and dishes.
The shadiest laundries are those with the highest levels of theft and fraud, according to the report.
The researchers also found workers were losing their job for not cleaning up after themselves and other employees, and were often told to get out of the office, which caused many to leave without pay.
The authors of the report said these conditions “raise the question of whether laundries have a role in preventing and mitigating the harms caused by shadier practices and their consequences.”