You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?

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Paid high speed internet that doesn’t work. It’s bad enough that the costs for access in many hotels and most airports are roughly classifiable as highway robbery, given that you’re typically forced to purchase 24 hours of service when you probably are only physically able to consume an hour or so. But when you pay their protection money…err, connectivity fees and it doesn’t work? Infuriating.

This happens to me all the time now; maybe it’s because more and more consumers are waking up to the attraction of having connectivity to kill time otherwise spent listlessly paging through US Weekly’s. Or maybe it’s because the venues are too busy counting their money to actually make sure the network is still up and running. Either way, it’s a crime.

Last Saturday at LaGuardia, as an example, I dropped 7 and change for 24 hours of wireless (of course) to get some work done and actually called myself lucky that it wasn’t 9 something. The problem? The connection worked for about 10 minutes and then cut out. Would not reissue me an IP. Booted into Windows just in case? Same deal. I tried to reconnect every 5 minutes until I took off and never got an IP. There’s 7 bucks that was well spent.

And now it’s the same deal here at the Stamford Marriott. They’re charging me an extra $10 per day for the privilege of using their wired network – can’t even get around to offering wireless, I guess – and it’s not working. I spent 15 minutes this morning convinced it was my fault, releasing/renewing IPs and so on before calling down to the front desk and being told that “they were having some problems with the network,” and, “no, we have no idea when it’ll be fixed.”

If the service was free, I wouldn’t say a word. But if you’re going to charge me absurd fees for my connectivity you’d better be providing some absurd uptime and service. James Robertson may be right that these fees will be with us forever, but I still occasionally hope that someone like Spitzer looks at the practice of charging for wireless right now and hammers someone. The fees are essentially an affirmation of why monopolies are bad for consumers.

And that really grinds my gears.1

  1. Yes, Family Guy fans, that is a reference. [back]


  1. Ah! So it’s not just me!

  2. As much as you travel, I’d think an EVDO card would be right up your alley. It’s really the best thing that’s ever happened to my laptop, after it becoming Intel-based of course. 😉

  3. I agree with Matt. My wife and I switched to EVDO several months ago and haven’t been happier. She tethers her MacBook to her Moto Krzr (via bluetooth) and I have the Novatel ExpressCard for my MacBook Pro. Both strategies work great, though the ExpressCard gets better up/download speeds.

  4. Stephen, get a wireless broadband card from Cingular or Verizon. Costs $60/mo (same as 6 $10 fees from hotel rooms or airports) and works pretty much everywhere I have been. I even used it on the train between New York and DC and it did not drop once. Not the fastest connection but it works fine for email and web. My new Dell even has the broadband card built into it.

  5. I’ve never had a problem getting money back on crappy service like this from hotels, be it network access, parking, etc. If I’m not overly hostile, sometimes I’ll even get a little extra taken off my bill.

  6. Are you a fonero (http://fon.com/)? Doesn’t make much sense in th UK (few hotspots where I live) but could be worth it in the US.

  7. Cote: no, not just you 😉

    Matt: i actually have one built into my x60s; just haven’t bothered to figure out how to get it working with Linux yet as in a worst case scenario i can dial in over Cingular’s GPRS/UMTS service via my Bluetooth LG CU 320. but yeah, i may well go the EVDO route b/c it’s more pervasive and faster.

    Joel: interesting. didn’t know the cards indicated speed differences.

    Peter: yeah, i currently use my Cingular phone in that capacity as mentioned above, but the problem is that it’s slow. EVDO would theoretically be much faster, and as you note would likely be more economical given how much i travel.

    Patrick: totally forgot to do that. i should call and get it reversed.

    Elliot: no, i’m not only because my building is made of concrete and wireless signals don’t travel all that far. if i lived somewhere else, i’d definitely get a Fon box.

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