Read, Write, Run, Roam

Pet Peve Petak: when wi-fi is sky high

This place has free wireless…

We encountered free wireless in every single “budget” place we stayed: B&Bs, pensions, room-over-a-garage, whatever. For a dedicated blogger, (remember those days?) free wireless was my main concern.

“Is this place clean?” Maybe.  “Does it have wireless?” Yes. “Let’s book it. We’ll ignore that it’s on top of the train station.”

Then I joined Muz on business trips, and the hotels improved considerably. We stayed in places with brand names (!) with things like working elevators and lobbies. It was amazing—until I tried to get online and was informed that I needed to pay $15-$25 a day to connect.

The more you pay for a room, the more you pay for wireless. WHY!?!? Let’s examine excuses I found online:

1.      Wireless charges replace the lost revenue from long-distance phone calls and pay-per-view movies.

RHOB Reaction: Resignation. It’s not fair, but I believe this one, a little. However…when was the last time hotels made a profit on long distance phone calls? 1999? Cell phones have made this all but obsolete, even abroad. Especially abroad.

This place charges for wireless.

2.      Business travelers/companies are willing to pay anything for internet.
RHOB Reaction: Resentment. Sigh. I think this is probably correct. However, what if you’re NOT a business traveler? Surely hotels can look out for the self-employed, the tourists, and the plain old cheap. And $25 A DAY? That’s more of a rip-off than a stale bagel “continental breakfast buffet.”

Some nicer hotels offer free wireless to people who have hotel status points (usually through business travel). So, in exchange for weeks and thousands of dollars spent at your “luxury” hotel, paying for internet, you finally get something that’s free at Starbucks. Okayyyy. It’s this kind of accounting that got American bonds downgraded. Just sayin’.

3.      It’s only fair to charge for internet, because not all guests use it.

RHOB reaction: Rage. This is just…insulting. Most travelers use the internet, whether it’s to check email, make travel plans, or download better movies than the hotel offers on pay-per-view. And there are lots of things that I don’t use in a hotel. Coffee makers.  Shoe horns. Shower caps. Those felt things that supposedly polish shoes. No one’s knocking money off my hotel bill for leaving these items alone.

If I can get free wireless at a gas station, why can’t I get it at an upscale hotel? Of course, I’m digging my own grave with this one. Muz told me that there’s a way to avoid this problem—by only staying at the cheapest places. Double sigh…


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