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No free souvenirs: When hotel guests steal toilet paper

No free souvenirs : When hotel guests steal toilet paper

Guests regularly take sauna towels, slippers, shampoo and more with them. Hoteliers from Bad Neuenahr report on this unpleasant experience. But above all credit card and reservation fraud increasingly worry them.

Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler is the city with the second highest number of overnight stays in Rhineland-Palatinate. Around 800,000 guests a year temporarily pitch their tents in the district town. An estimated 40 percent of them come here because of the clinics, about 60 percent as conference guests or tourists to further their education or to enjoy the Ahr landscape. However, not every hotel guest is exemplary.

Shampoo, bathrobe or ballpoint pen: almost every hotel guest has "taken something along" at least once. "But the objects in the hotel room are not free souvenirs - on the contrary: those who remove them from the room are liable to prosecution," says the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga).

Holidaymakers pack shower cap, soap and shampoo from the hotel bathroom to an astounding degree before heading home again. Hygiene articles are the bestsellers and are often seen as "souvenirs". But: Taking the opened shampoo bottle with you from the hotel is nothing more than theft, according to Dehoga. So if you follow the hotel etiquette, you better leave the "souvenir" behind. However, experts from Allgemeine Rechtsschutz-Versicherungs-AG (ARAG) come to a different conclusion: Any disposable items that have been opened or cannot be reused for hygienic reasons may be taken along.

"The guests are generally very honest," emphasizes the head of the Hotel Weyer, Engelbert Felk. The times when bathrobes would disappear from the hotel's inventory are probably over. But some guests have specialized in sauna towels. Felk has a guess: "Because of their overlength of two meters, they are coveted. Here we can completely re-equip each year. And they are all gone after one year."

The hotel owner from Bad Neuenahr now wants to bring about a small change. The guest only receives a sauna towel for his stay on deposit. Felk: "It's more effort for us again, but it can't be arranged any other way". One cannot punish such rule violations actually, since they are difficult to prove. "Nevertheless, the guest receives house prohibition. Due to the rather small amounts an announcement is not worthwhile. We throw good money after bad", says the hotel owner.

The entire room equipment remains property of the hotel

In principle, the following applies: The hotel owns the entire room equipment. This means: The guest is not allowed to take anything with him. For the insertion of slippers, shower covers or hygiene articles guests cancount, however, only in rare cases, on an announcement because of insignificance. The Dehoga Council: The guest should ask at the reception desk, if he or she liked a hotel amenity so much, that he or she would like to take it with them. "As a rule, the hotels then give these items away free of charge or at a small price," says the association.

Completely oblivious to their act being theft people take bathrobes, plants, bedlinen or remote controls. "Every guest must know that theft can have legal consequences," the association explains. The Dehoga experience: "Probably everything has been stolen already at some time, everything, from scented soaps, exclusive Shampoos, comfortable slippers, over cushions and bedlinen up to the toilet seat and television set, lamps and plants, wall paintings or light bulbs.Engelbert Felk can also sing a song about this: "We had a guest with a significantly higher consumption of toilet paper. The lady had no physical problems that could be associated with this, nor did she use the paper to remove make-up. Some distinguished ladies also like to use our white towels to remove makeup, which we never get clean again. No, the lady had the toilet paper in her travel bag. About 30 rolls after a week." Consequence: Outcast and house ban.

Thirty years ago, a guest took a TV set with him

Manfred Gangnus, owner of the four-star superior hotel "Seta", can look back on a wealth of experience. With the challenge to givethe former health resort hospital Landgraf a new perspective as a hotel, the hotel professional changed once from Cologne to Bad Neuenahr. From 1983 to 1997 he ran the "Seta" as hotel manager. Since 1997 it is owner, and for years he works as an Dehoga official on federal level.

The theft in the hotel is for him not a serious topic. Yes, 30 years ago a guest stole a television, carefully packed in large egg cartons. Service staff, as Gangnus recalls, eagerly helped the guest to transport his stolen goods to the car - assuming, of course, that it was a heavy piece of luggage belonging to the guest. Other than that it might be that a towel disappears from time to time.

He is more worried about other crimes. For example, Internet or credit card fraud. Numbers of cases with unsecured credit cards or "reservation fraud", as Gangnus calls it when the guest books but simply does not show, are rising unpleasantly.

(Original text: Victor Francke, Translation: Mareike Graepel)