Someone’s Been Sleeping in My Bed

You caught an early flight and when you land you’re exhausted. You refuse to pay the airline extra for a meal, so all you’ve had today is a cup of coffee. So when you step into your hotel room, you think delirium has set in. "Have I been here before?"

Perhaps.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a PR pitch for Cooper Used Hotel Furniture, a company that purchases and resells old hotel beds, dressers, whatever. For as low as $250, anyone can buy entire rooms of furniture. Anyone, the pitch claimed, including other hotels. My editor, sensing a good kamikaze-intern mission, assigned me to find a hotel that would admit to stocking its rooms with secondhand furniture.

To my surprise, with a couple of phone calls, I seemed to be close. The pitch had implied that Cooper sold to economy hotels like Days Inn, Super 8, and Ramada. Cendant is a franchisor that owns all three brands. I left a message with the corporate office and then called Kurt Karchmer from Cooper Used Hotel Furniture.

Karchmer told me that hotels have an interest in new looks that follow the trends. In January 2005, he said, Cooper sold furniture to a Ramada on South Lake Shore Drive that originally belonged to a Chicago-area Hilton. He moved the furniture 40 blocks to its new home. Karchmer gave me the name and phone number of the general manager at the Ramada, Roy Patel, saying he would speak with me about the transaction.

I called Patel three times, but ultimately never heard back. Soon, I figured out why.

I heard back from Cendant’s Senior Director of Design and Development, Mike Bruce. Bruce is not directly responsible for decorating the rooms at Cendant-franchise properties. But he could tell me this: Cendant does not allow used furniture at its properties. The rule against used furniture, he said, is written into Cendant’s standards manual and there is a review process written into the franchise agreement that oversees improvements and upgrades. "Our franchisees don’t want to spend a lot of money, so it’s up to the brand to provide some sort of direction," he said.

I chuckled as I hung up the phone. It seems the Ramada on Lake Shore decided to go in the opposite direction.

As I began pursuing this story, one of our writers observed that "after the first night of new furniture, it’s all used." But for guests, it seems distasteful (or downright gross) to think that they’re exposing themselves and their belongings to furnishings that may have been used by a wide variety of strangers at different hotels over many years. Before hearing back from Cendant, I called Karchmer again to see if he had another "friend" who would be willing to talk about a furniture transaction. He hasn’t returned my call.

So reader, if you’re in a hotel room one day, stretched out on the bed, and find yourself overcome by a strange feeling of familiarity with your surroundings…

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13 Comments

  • Jim Bell

    I have dealt with cooper used and Kurt Karchmer They are major Scumbag crooks! the low of low!

    Sold me a tv that didnt work and also kept my layaway money! TOTal scum BEware!

  • Alan

    I don't care about the furniture a lot but I care about 1$ soaps and shampoos that even 5star hotels have in their rooms. Are they so cheap that can't offer their dear guests good quality bathroom gear?

  • mahendrakumardash

    Good food,good stay,proper care,people to attend to do what you want like travel bookings or any reasonable requirement....what else you want?

  • roger fulton

    and the chicken you liked for dinner tonight? If it was that good, super. You'll see it again tomorrow night on the finger food give-aways on the lounge. And, if you're in a banquet room, they same chicken wings will pop up there, too.

  • roger fulton

    you are ALL being taken for a ride. As a former general manager of hotels and resorts, the profit margin in room sales is normally around 78%. That's right, gross (or what they call House profit is 78 cents on each dollar charged.) You would be SHOCKED at what happens to the linens bedding, "soft" goods as we call them. Sometimes what you sleep on is the only soft goods in the house. We chase you out early so we can wash them and put them back on the beds for that nights arrivals - and that at a highly respected name hotel brand airport hotel in the midwest. Most hotels are "franchised," owned by people who scrape off the profits from the gross earnings then pay the bank. Little goes back into clean up, paint up, fix up. We paint, turn screws, and do what we have to keep the place together. Turnover in staff sometimes runs 80% in someplaces.

  • Mark

    I actually sell used hotel furniture. You need to understand the position of most hotels as a business. New furniture cost up $27,000 per room for a hotel like Wyndham and can be sold for $1,000 plus per room five years later. What motel six doesn't want wyndam furniture for pennies on the dollar?

  • asdf

    well do you really expect to sleep on 'unused' bed every time you visit a hotel? i guess so long as the linen and other stuff is being replaced, its ok. I guess this will also promote recycling and saving resources.

  • TR

    I think that as long as it is safe & well maintained, most people wouldn't care. The customer expectations are fairly reasonable when they go in to a Days Inn. After all, I'd be the saving a couple bucks ultimately!

  • Vivek Chatterjee

    Any Way, the furniture becomes 'Used' after its first use. :)
    How does it matter whether it was bought new or used.

  • Chuck

    i don't see anything wrong with recycling the hard furnature. However I Think the soft items (pillows, mattreses, etc.) should always be bought new for the location.

  • Szarka

    Also, new furniture off-gasses nasty things - old furniture gassed somebody else's sleep with those VOCs.

  • Supriyo

    I actually think used furniture is okay in hotels. Why can't you use them as long as they meet the standards? Unless someone has decided that since s/he is spending money, s/he has a right to create as much de-forestation as possible. I am no environment warrior, but I dont see the point of criticizing a very sensible practise of recycling furniture. Come on, hotels are about service and experience, not about furnitures.