After a long day of traveling (up at 5:15 AM is not this writer’s idea of a good way to start a day), I arrive at my hotel and proceed to check in. As I hand my American Express to the clerk, I notice a sign to my left that reads “Complimentary High-Speed Internet Access.”
Wonderful, thinks I, now I can catch up on e-mail and put the finishing touches on my presentation for Saturday, and I won’t have to pay for it.
I wander to my room–up and left and then right and then left again and straight for a mile but turn at the vending machine and go northeast at the housekeeping closet and then left and right again and it’s just right there, room 257–and scour the room, looking for a CAT5 data port. Nothing.
Perhaps this free access they speak of is wireless access, which is even better, I ponder. I open my notebook and Windows XP courageously samples the airwaves and returns two available but unsecured wireless networks–SDBay and iDockUSA.
Neither work. I fiddle for half an hour, and then I go back down to the front desk. I stopped off in Los Angeles on the way; it was more of a straight shot. The clerk sees me coming and pastes her grin on.
“How can I help you?”
“I’d like to know about this free Internet access,” I say, pointing to the sign. “I’ve fiddled for a while and I think you need to activate it or something.”
“Oh, that is only for our Harborview guests.”
“We can give you the Internet access, but it’s $10 extra per day.” She smiles a bit harder now to emphasize the deal I am getting.
“But the sign says ‘complimentary Internet access for guests,’ and I’m a guest. You just billed me for a nine-night stay; I think I qualify.” This is a $95/night hotel, not some Days Inn truckstop.
“I’m sorry, sir, but would you care to have the $10 billed to your room?”
“Give it to me for one night and I’ll decide,” I retorted. The clerk disappeared into the back room for a second, and then returned with a bunch of equipment in a Ziplock bag.
“Let us know if you need help setting it up!”
I retreat to my quarters and unpack the bag, which consists of a cable modem, a splitter, three coax cables, and an impossibly short CAT5 patch cable. They gave me a modem?
I look out the window across the street, to the Dolphin motel. The billboard beckons: “$39/night - FREE WIRELESS HIGH-SPEED INTERNET”
What are your experiences with high-speed Internet access in hotels? Do you share in my frustration or do you have a happier report?