Because getting there is not fun.

There's no need to tip, really

Tue, 2009/05/12 - 18:09 by aargh

A recent New York Times article shares some thoughts on hotels that charge for internet access.

I won't go into too many details (short version: the higher-end places tend to stick you on the price) but I will share that I enjoyed the accompanying graphic: it shows a bellhop cheerfully delivering wi-fi service on a tray.

It's a fitting image, really, spot-on. Hotels that charge guests to connect to the internet really are lumping it in with room service: overpriced fare for the desperate traveller. The prices would seem fair if someone actually dropped by the room to set everything up for you, but the technical know-how is practically second nature these days. It's easier than putting fuel in the tank and less messy to boot. Though I do occasionally forget which side of the laptop has the ethernet jack.

Even worse are the flat-rate fee structures: the person who needs to transfer a few kilobytes' e-mails per day pays the same rate as the workaholic tapped into the corporate VPN, who in turn is competing with the multimedia freak in the next room for Number One Bandwidth Hog.

Last week my mind was chewing on the economics of it all (price discrimination, anyone?) as well as the implementation costs (low and flat, I'd expect). I was weighing the hotel's highway robbery prices for access against the uncharacteristically diminished signal of my mobile broadband card. (Let's just say, it gave me flashbacks of the early dial-up days. I mean early dial-up.)

Thankfully I didn't have to think it over very long. I would use neither the hotel's wi-fi service nor its electricity, as my laptop's battery was drained and I had forgotten to pack the power adapter. So for a couple of days I accessed the Great Land of Connectivity via my phone. It was like trying to watch a movie through a keyhole, except less comfortable.

Another hotel ripoff thwarted by my ailing memory. Brilliant. Now if only I could forget why I travel in the first place ...