Things That Tick Me Off: Wi-Fi Charges At Hotels

It is time again to vent as part of the “Things That Tick Me Off” series — an arbitrary list that helps keep me sane by periodically raving at the world. This week’s addition is wi-fi charges, particularly at high-end hotels (though this remains the case with some mid-range hotel chains as well) I am staying this week at the Waldorf-Astoria while I speak at the ABA’s Legal Malpractice conference. Not only does the hotel charge $15 bucks for wi-fi in the rooms but $15 for each and every device such as iPads. The Waldorf-Astoria is a beautiful and historic hotel and it is certainly not alone in this practice. However, it is irritating to be clipped for such costs after checking in. This is less common in Canada and Europe hotels.

I have always been struck by the fact that budget hotels largely offer free wi-fi. However, luxury hotels charge customers ridiculous rates. While someone else is footing the bill, Waldorf-Astoria charges $750 for a standard room. Yet, even at $700 a night, the hotel still clips customers for wi-fi — for each and every device. A recent survey showed that wi-fi is the most important feature for most travelers — over such features as coffee makers and other standard items.

I realize that the hotels are bilking business and well-healed travelers but it would be refreshing for a luxury hotel to offer the same services as Comfort Inn. While some top hotels have moved away from the imposition of fees for wifi, hotels like Waldorf-Astoria continue to rip off customers. Thus, you can get free wi-fi in any number of cafes and pizza joints in New York, you will pay for wi-fi at the Waldorf-Astoria and other luxury hotels in addition to some of the highest rates in the world.

Notably, I just took Amtrak to New York and was again pleased to have free wi-fi on the train. Amtrak asked what travelers wanted most and offered the free service. Conversely, I just got off a United flight that not only charged me $60 each way for an economy seat with added room to be able to open my laptop, but also demanded separate fees for wi-fi and access to the programming on the television screens at each chair.

However, it is the charges at high-end hotels that is the most galling. I realize that, for those of us traveling on accounts, we should not care, but it is a rip off.

32 thoughts on “Things That Tick Me Off: Wi-Fi Charges At Hotels”

  1. Jonathan Turley said:

    “While someone else is footing the bill, Waldorf-Astoria charges $750 for a standard room. Yet, even at $700 a night, the hotel still clips customers for wi-fi” at $15 a clip.

    Sorry, Charlie. But for some reason, I’m only able to muster 1 bar on my sympathy meter for you.

    Fretting over micro-charges in your luxury room that someone else is paying for at the Waldorf in New York?

    Careful. People might start suspecting that you’re living like a one-percenter.

  2. Tom,

    You know what…. I’d never thought of that….. But that is an interesting point…..

  3. It’s not the case in all hotels, but to some significant degree, internet access cannibalizes sales of porn PPV.

  4. If you want generosity, seek out those with the least. They tend to be willing to share whatever they have. If you want stinginess, seek out those with the most. They tend to be the ones least willing to share anything.

  5. I agree with rafflaw. I once stayed at a 300.00 per night luxury hotel that didn’t even include breakfast. I found that incredibly distasteful. What was the point in staying at that hotel? The view? The only reason I’d stay in such a high-priced hotel would be for the additional included benefits that would justify all least some of the ridiculous cost.

    Also, I just read a very interesting article about how having wealth does not necessarily, paradoxically, beget generosity. In fact, the opposite was found to be more typical. One would think the more resourced hotels would show a little more generosity, but I guess not.

  6. It is a rip-off and stupid. They could bury the cost into their overhead and not have to deal with the bad publicity.

  7. I was just in Costa Rica and there was free wifi everywhere. We never had to pay, and the coverage throughout the nation was excellent…no blank spots. We would have to build some infrastructure to compete with this central American nation, haha

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