We recently discussed the $600,000 fine levied against Marriott for blocking customers’ personal Wi-Fi hotspots at a Nashville, Tennessee hotel for blocking the WiFi of guests to force them to use the hotel’s WiFi at a high cost. Many of us condemned Marriott for its action, but the hotel was not only unbowed but actually sought to change the rule to allow hotels everywhere to bilk guests. On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission said no and told Marriott that its actions against its own guests is strictly “prohibited.” Unlike the hotel slogan, it appears that something you just can’t “Revive” . . . like trapping and charging guests in your hotels.
Hotels clearly fear no market backlash to treating like sheep to be fleeced. However, the FCC was blunt in its response to the effort to make guests WiFi captives:
“Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action . . . The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises.
. . . No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner’s Wi-Fi network . . . Such action is illegal and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties.”
The ruling also ruins the use of Hotel California as Marriott’s new song:
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax, ” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! “