« Higher dollar? Canadians still paying more than Americans for the same goods | Main | Is now the time to trim that whopping cable bill? »

April 19, 2021

Stealing hotel towels? You may need to think again ...

As Michael Scott might say, everyone loves S.W.A.G. – (free) stuff we all get.

119644_hotel_toiletries Certainly, for a long time swag was the best part about staying in a hotel. The turn-down service was great, but so was filling your suitcase with shampoos, soaps, shower caps, pens, bibles and anything else not bolted to the room.

Well, after more than a century of consumers ripping them off, hotels appear now to be fighting back against such petty theft/presumed guest perks. Three hotels in the U.S. are now sewing washable tracking chips into their towels in a bid to cut down on lost linens.

Perhaps this is a “beware of dog”-type story – a tactic floated out by hotels that’s more deterrent than functional preventative measure – but Sara J. Welch of the New York Times' In Transit blog insists it’s true: hotels in Honolulu, Miami and Manhattan have begun using patented chips to help keep track of their towels.

The technology is called RFID, which is a kind washable chip that can be sewn into towels, robes and bed sheets. The three hotels that use the chips did not want their names published, according to Welch.

An executive of Miami-based Linen Technology Tracking, the chip’s manufacturer, says rising cotton prices are the reason behind the devices – “A bath towel that might have cost $5 last year could cost $8 or $9 now,” the exec told the Times – as are inventory concerns. The chips allow hotels to monitor their linens in real-time and decide when to order more.

But for all that, it may not be hard to see the real motivation here. The Honolulu hotel, which began using the chip technology last summer, has reduced its theft of pool towels from 4,000 a month to 750, a savings of more than $16,000 every 30 days, according to In Transit.

So, next time you’re eying up that hotel towel or robe, maybe soon you’ll have to start thinking twice.

Be honest: have you ever swiped a towel, robe or anything else from a hotel?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...