Consumer Hero Investigates Toilet Paper "Sheet Shorting" Conspiracy

Leo Hill figures that every single roll of toilet paper he’s bought since 2006 has shorted him at least one “sitting,” says the Denver Post.

Mr. Hill has been counting the sheets included in his rolls of toilet paper since his wife noticed something odd. The rolls in the 4-pack lasted longer than the ones in the 12-pack.

“She complained that a roll in the 12-pack would last just three days and the same size in the four-roll pack lasted four,” Hill explained. “I wanted to find out.”

Hill figured he had the time, since there wasn’t much else to do but read or stare at the shower curtain. So he counted every sheet of toilet paper as he used it.

It wasn’t for any other reason, he said, than to know if the number of sheets noted on the package matched what was on the roll.

Jotting his totals on a flattened inner tube from an expended roll, Hill said he kept meticulous track. Each day he’d count the number of sheets he needed — he limited the experiment to his Lakewood home’s basement bathroom because his wife won’t go there — then added it to his previous day’s tally.
By his count, the first roll was short by 15 sheets.

“You couldn’t prove anything from one roll,” Hill admits, “so I counted them all.”

At the end of the month, Hill said his nine-roll average was 156.75 sheets for the rolls of Angel Soft that promised 198 on the package.

Hill didn’t want to make a stink about it, but thought someone should know.

“I called them up,” Hill said about Georgia-Pacific Corp., the tissue’s makers.

Leo was offered a coupon for more toilet paper. Concerned that other consumers might be getting the “short sheet”, Mr. Hill filed an official complaint Denver Better Business Bureau, which was then forwarded to the toilet paper company.

Intrigued, The Denver Post tried to replicate Mr. Hill’s findings, but none of the rolls they counted had fewer sheets than advertised. This news pleased Mr. Hill:

“Maybe they started getting the counters right,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m sure glad you got a good roll.”

It’s good to know Leo’s out there, keeping them honest.

In the paper chase, he’s coming up short [Denver Post] (Thanks, Stephanie!)
(Photo:Joe Amon, The Denver Post)


Edit Your Comment

  1. C2D says:

    Gee, I can’t wait until I’m an old fart with nothing better to do then count TP all day.

  2. digitalhen says:

    8.6 sheets per trip? ewwwwww

  3. char says:

    nice image name, heh.

  4. christoj879 says:

    Haha, shorted him one sitting. Say that five times fast :-)

  5. Joafu says:

    “Before toilet tissue, wealthy Romans used wool and rosewater or sponges soaked in salt water at the end of a stick.” Awesome

  6. sassydeerrun says:

    Hill didn’t want to make a stink about it, but thought someone should know.


  7. punkrawka says:

    Um… seriously now?

  8. savdavid says:

    Well, one day you WILL be an old fart. That is, if you don’t die young.

  9. dorianh49 says:

    Will this story go into the anals of history, or will it be just another one to slip between the cracks?

  10. ekthesy says:


    Awesome indeed. My company just switched to this dreadful one-ply stuff that isn’t too far descended from the tree it was made from. I may have to start bringing my own.

    But wool, rosewater and salt water must have felt wonderful. Those rich Romans knew how to live it up.

  11. OK, am I wrong in that one ROLL of TP in 4 days is a bit excessive?

  12. Elvisisdead says:

    @Joafu: Seriously!

  13. Michael Belisle says:

    I have a better idea: buy a scale. It’ll change his whole counting paradigm.

    Number of toothpicks in a box? 1) Weigh a toothpick 2) weigh all the toothpicks 3) divide.

    Number of sheets on a roll of toilet paper? 1) Weigh the tube 2) weigh a sheet 3) weigh all the rolls 4) subtract, divide 5) bam! old guy would have to find a new hobby.

    Number of brain cells left? This problem is left as en exercise to the reader.

  14. Elvisisdead says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: Not if you’re a steady Metamucil user…..

  15. @GitEmSteveDave: And do they have a cat perchance? Could we get a cute photo of some kitties playing w/TP as to maybe explain where the missing sheets went to? Or maybe a dog? Since it’s a basement, could it be animals stealing the TP for use in a nest? I want some night vision cameras set up.

  16. @Elvisisdead: Still, that’s a LOT. Even if they go to Old Country Buffet everyday.

  17. Nytmare says:

    Maybe the wife would come in and use 41 sheets whenever he wasn’t looking.

  18. rolla says:

    i guess this is what you do when you grow old and retire, eh?

  19. @nytmare:

    Each day he’d count the number of sheets he needed — he limited the experiment to his Lakewood home’s basement bathroom because his wife won’t go there — then added it to his previous day’s tally.

    So apparently not. Unless she was messing with him.

  20. BrockBrockman says:

    @dorianh49: Yay poop puns!

  21. ifxeyes says:

    The thing is,this guy has a legitimate complaint; I noticed several years ago, and I’m sure there are many of us who have, that the paper companies are giving us less and less for our money. They now have what they call “Mega” rolls, which until a few years ago was just a normal roll of paper. Same thing with coffee, flour, sugar; you name it…pay more, get less!

  22. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Okay, I think we need to combine this guy with the bored Maytag Repairman and the ghost of Mr. Whipple to make the Optimus Prime of Asswipe Auditors. I’m really disappointed that Georgia-Pacific isn’t taking his shit seriously.

  23. @belisle: can’t do it that way — each sheet doesn’t necessaricaly have the same weight. plus, the # of sheets on each roll is advertised, not the total weight.

    plus a regular joe having a scale that can accurately measure the weight of one sheet of tp?

  24. ShortBus says:

    I’m sure the newspaper had some intern go buy some TP and then spend all day counting sheets. Imagine how pissed he/she was when it was all for naught.

  25. Michael Belisle says:

    @pepe the king prawn: That’s what averages are for. Weigh 10 sheets and divide by ten, which improves your per-sheet value. Example:

    Quilted Northern,
    Roll: 159.3 g
    Tube: 4.5 g
    10 sheets: 4.4 g = 0.44 g/sheet

    # sheets/roll = (159.3-4.5)/0.44 = 351.8 ≈ 352.

    It’s advertised as 352 sheets per roll. I’m content that I’m not getting hosed.

  26. The Porkchop Express says:

    @belisle: have fun weighing the sheet of TP in the average household.

    Number of brain cells……

    Anyway, maybe the guy had nothing new to read (he is old enought ot have read it all) and this helped to occupy his mind while doing the doo. Sure it’s odd, but hey he got free TP from the deal.

  27. The Porkchop Express says:

    @belisle: oh that kind of scale…Doubt that pops is sellin’

  28. huadpe says:

    @belisle: Not so much. The paper is glues onto the roll, and the glue has 3 properties that make your experiment go totally off kilter.

    1. The glue is relatively heavy (much denser than TP)

    2. The glue is highly variable. Without accurate weighing and dispensation, any viscous liquid dispenser will have a pretty high variance.

    3. The weight of the glue is totally irrelevant to the number of sheets.

  29. TheSeeker says:

    No one has taken into account that maybe the old man’s wife is a joker. He says she won’t go there” but that doesn’t mean she won’t go down there to screw with the old guy.

    “Damn Leo. Got nothing better to do than count shat paper! Wen’s he gunna fix that squeak in my rocking chair? Old coot. I’ll fix him. When he’s napping I’m a gunna swipe me a square of that shat paper and tuck it in my sweater sleeve fo whens I get my runny nose. Can’t even use a pad of paper to write on…using an old paper tube. Cheap son of a gun.”

  30. brs928 says:

    @dorianh49: HA HA!
    Best comment ever!

  31. lenagainster says:

    Wasn’t it Sheryl Crow who recently insisted that everyone should limit the use of toilet paper to one sheet per sitting? Here’s how it’s done. Take one sheet, fold it in half. Fold it in half again, and tear off the corner formed by the center of the sheet. Save that little piece, it is important. Open the sheet and insert the index (or middle, if you prefer) finger and wipe. Grab the TP from behind with the other hand and wipe off the finger. Now get that little piece and use it to clean under the fingernail. One sheet, one wipe, done. Saves a lot more than worrying about being short sheeted.

  32. topgun says:

    Trekkies !!!!
    Why is a sheet of toilet paper like the Starship Enterprise? ……… They both circle Uranus in search of Klingons.

  33. NoWin says:

    I had an uncle like that. He once called the Electric Company because he calculated they were rounding up the monthly bill to the “mils” (percentage of a penny) in his utility rate.

  34. @ShortBus: They’re called interns.

  35. Tank says:

    @dorianh49: you wrote “anal” about a toilet paper story

  36. snoop-blog says:

    all joking aside, it really burns my ass to get shorted on some sheets!

  37. snoop-blog says:

    either ie glitched or my comment dissapeared.

  38. youbastid says:

    @belisle: You find a consumer grade scale that will accurately measure the weight of one square of TP (which would need to measure at least to .001g for accuracy), then get back to me.

  39. SacraBos says:

    I guess someone has to give a sh*t…

  40. snoop-blog says:

    this guy really knows his shit…………….paper.

  41. FMulder says:

    @ekthesy: sure the FIRST time you used that particular piece of wool..

  42. econobiker says:

    Like when Ultra dish detergent was introduced with bottles with the “improved” dispense nozzle to limit the amount of soap dispensed- remember Ultra = less required. Then somehow the bottle nozzle got changed back to the prior free flow versions – higher cost Ultra and more used. I was probably the only guy in the USA to call and complain to a soap mfg hotline (years before internet and consumerist). I even kept a limiter nozzle in use for years before the ex-wife trashed it…

  43. HOP says:

    tell him to keep a saers catalog handy….that’s about all they are good for now…..

  44. Maulleigh says:

    It’s amazing what a little bit each day can contribute to.

  45. dantsea says:

    Yeah, lots of jokes to be made here, but it’s amazing what an old fart with a lot of time on his hands can set into motion.

    Consider Bill Baker, the Californian who discovered that Heinz was underfilling its ketchup bottles by a little bit here and there. He filed a complaint with the state’s weights and measures regulatory agency, which triggered an investigation which led to consumer protection lawsuit. Heinz ended up paying $180,000 in fines and legal fees, and spent another $650,000 overfilling its ketchup bottles for the California market over the next twelve months.

    So, as Maulleigh said, it is indeed amazing what a little bit each day can contribute to!

  46. Michael Belisle says:

    @youbastid: Milligram precision? Are you counting your rolls to the nearest microsheet? See above.

  47. rg says:

    9 ROLLS of toilet paper in ONE MONTH!? Are you serious?? Dude, you’re either a big eater with good plumbing or you use way too much TP!

    And, as far as sitting there staring at the shower curtain, you’d better get your glasses updated, that’s a glass door buddy!

  48. backbroken says:

    So, all of this guy’s rolls are short, but the ones counted by the paper were spot on? Doubtful. Either ol’ Leo fails at counting, or the newspaper intern said ‘eff this’ to his sheet counting assignment and just came back the next day and said ‘How many sheets are supposed to be on there? Yeah, that how many there were.’

  49. FLConsumer says:

    Of course, the majority of the world doesn’t even use toilet paper. Would you wash your hands after being in a room full of people hacking & coughing away in the peak of flu season? Would you just rub ’em on a paper towel without soap & water? Then why do Americans (and many Euros) still just rub dry paper across their bums?

  50. shiftless says:

    I’ve known people that unroll the whole freaking toilet paper roll and count each and every single sheet, find out they are short by 2 or 3 sheet (OH MY WORD!!!) then call up the manufacturer for a refund. It is a bit creepy.

  51. nolookingca says:

    @rg: I’m glad you’ve never used a “splashy” toilet before…

  52. bubuli says:


    well, maybe because a typical weighing scale is not accurate to weigh a toothpick or a sheet of tissue paper? or the fact that this assumes that all tootpicks in the box (or all tissue sheets in a roll) weigh the same?

  53. lovelygirl says:

    That was kinda interesting. Well, he’s old and probably retired– gardening and reading probably got a bit dull, what do you expect?? Leave him alone. I think that it was an interesting little experiment and if it helps the consumer, what’s the problem??

  54. shertzerj says:

    What a sheet-y deal.