Hotel Snack Bar: Story of a Soda Swap



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    Hotel Snack Bar: Story of a Soda Swap

    After a long day of touring local sites, I make my way back to my hotel room and begin to contemplate my array of canned and vacuum sealed kosher dinner options. Overcome by thirst, I notice an under-the-counter fridge in the corner of my suite. “That minibar has drinks,” I realize • Full Article

    By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights

    After a long day of touring local sites, I make my way back to my hotel room and begin to contemplate my array of canned and vacuum sealed kosher dinner options. Overcome by thirst (and left wanting by TSA regulations), I notice an under-the-counter fridge in the corner of my suite. “That minibar has drinks,” I realize. Then I calculate, “I know each soda costs an arm and a leg, but I can drink up now and replace it with an identical bottle from a local market when I go out tomorrow—and avoid the hospitality charge on my bill…”

    The snack bars in hotel rooms are provided by the hotel with the understanding that a guest who makes use of the convenience will pay double (or even triple) the market price for the drinks. Consuming a drink with the intention of replacing it is taking something without permission, and is considered gezeilah (theft).

    B’dieved (ex post facto)—i.e. once the above scenario has occurred and the guest has already replaced the drink they consumed with an identical one, there is no need to compensate the hotel, since the person has fulfilled the injunction of veheishiv es hagezeilah asher gazal (returning the object that he stole)—and the mitzvah is fulfilled whether the return is an identical object (regardless of current price) or its equivalent in value.

    (It should be noted that many hotels have sensors installed in the snack area and any tracked movement in the minibar results in automatic charges to the guest’s account.)

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    Hotel Snack Bar: Story of a Soda Swap



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