Hotels go high-tech to stop towel thieves
Hotels, facing higher replacement costs as cotton prices rise, have turned to RFID chips to track the theft of linens.
Those big hotel towels are so soft, so absorbent -- they're like Bounty on steroids. No wonder you're tempted to take one home when you check out.
Be forewarned that when you and your pilfered towel walk out the lobby door, an alarm may go off somewhere.
At least three U.S. hotels are using radio frequency identification chips sewn into the fabric to track their towels, bathrobes and sheets.
One reason is better management of inventory. But there's also the human factor:
Hotel guests steal a lot of towels.
A Honolulu hotel that uses RFID chips to track linens saw the theft of pool towels drop from 4,000 a month to only 750, The New York Times reports, reducing replacement costs by $16,000 monthly. William Serbin, executive vice president of Linen Technology Tracking, which makes the chips, said the theft rate for hotel linens and robes is 5% to 20% a month.
According to a 2004 survey by Orbitz, 18% of hotel guests admitted taking towels. Only 2% took bathrobes or bathmats. (Bathmats?)
Replacing these items has gotten much more expensive because the price of cotton has jumped 150% since August. It's so high that clothing manufacturers are incorporating more synthetics into fabric, raising prices -- look for increases of 10% to 20% for cotton apparel this year -- or using less of it.
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What's behind the new price of cotton? The Boston Globe explained:
The apparel industry was hurt after poor weather hurt cotton crops in China and Pakistan over the past several years and speculators then cornered the market. Demand far outstripped supply, and prices skyrocketed. Cotton hit a record high of $2.44 per pound on March 8: last year, cotton averaged about 77 cents a pound.
Before RFID technology was available, hotels had no simple solutions for stopping the theft of towels and other linens. Put your crest or logo on the towel, and those who wanted a memento of their special trip would swipe them. Leave the logo off, and they're a tempting target for those who are too cheap to buy their own towels. Count the towels and bill the guest's credit card? That can lead to a hassle.
What possesses people to steal hotel towels and other linens? Would the possibility that an RFID chip lurks within be a deterrent?
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It would be hilarious if the towel, pillow and blanket thieves took home a nice load of bedbugs!
Before I checked out of a birthing center, a nurse came in to tell us which items were gifts from the hospital and what was not included. She said that they had caught people stuffing their bags with bedding, pictures, wall clocks and anything else that wasn't nailed down. They had even tried to take the bassinet. They asked her "What is my baby supposed to sleep in at home?"
I worked in a residential retirement facility where friends and family would regularly come in and steal towels and sheets. Gross and embarrassing.
It seems that when cheap, low-class people go to nice places, they don't know how to behave themselves.
i work at a hotel and im sick and tired of you stupid cheap people like Lexip....you cost us more than you imagine, youre a burden to a hotel like ours instead of a benefit. our rooms range around $40 night, they have microwave, fridge, hot tub/pool, breakfast and internet at no extra charge, we put PLENTY of clean nice fresh white towels in the rooms, 4 large ones, 2 mediums, 2 minis and a foot matt......too much for one room, most hotels only put TWO large ones and maybe 1 foot one. yet, some guests are so cheap, demanding, have this superiority complex! they demand more towels, blankets, coffee, etc. at no extra charge...what other hotel does this??? ive stayed at places that charge $150+ a night with no fridge, micro, internet, and breakfast, charged extra for extra everything and did not complain!
stupid cheap people like lexip who force hotels to drive prices up. please stay at home, do not come to our hotel! and i wish stupid cheap people would STOP STEALING OUR TOWELS, its a big burden on the hotel!
Hey everyone... "Lexip" is your classic hotel thief. That's the type of person who causes your prices to rise. Let's give him/her a round of applause while he or she continues on to loserville.
Towel thieves. Lord. That is so tacky. Buy them new at the hotel shop.
THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!!!!
Some hotels even have the price list for everything, so that if you like the linens you can just buy them all.
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Joe Cantrell says he faces charges after trying to take advantage of the retailer's policy.