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The Almighty Buck Businesses

The Ridiculous Tech Fees You're Still Paying 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the selling-wifi-at-the-airport-makes-you-evil dept.
Esther Schindler writes "None of us like to spend money (except on shiny new toys). But even we curmudgeons can understand that companies need to charge for things that cost them money; and profit-making is at the heart of our economy. Still, several charges appear on our bills that can drive even the most complacent techie into a screaming fit. How did this advertised price turn into that much on the final bill? Why are they charging for it in the first place? Herewith, fees that make no sense at all — and yet we still fork over money for them. For example: 'While Internet access is free in coffee shops, some public transit, and even campsites, as of 2009 15% of hotels charged guests for the privilege of checking their e-mail and catching up on watching cat videos. Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'"
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The Ridiculous Tech Fees You're Still Paying

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  • by Smiddi (1241326) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:12PM (#45076423)
    Internet costs in Australia. Its not uncommon to pay around $70/month for ADSL 1 speeds (1.5Mbps).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Very rare to see it free anywhere in Australia/New Zealand. I was very surprised to find free wifi access in Sydney airport last time I passed through.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Many (although not all) McDonalds / Starbucks / a few other food/drink chains around AU give free wifi.

        As for why AU internet costs $40-$100 a month (depending on ISP and how much 'data' you get per month) - it's simply to do with international data rates and the fact there's only a dozen or so international pipes going from AU to other countries, and the fact the vast majority of your data is going to be to/from the US or EU.

        You'll notice almost every time you get a free increase in your monthly data quota

    • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @08:27PM (#45076949)

      Internet costs in Australia. Its not uncommon to pay around $70/month for ADSL 1 speeds (1.5Mbps).

      I see you're on Telstra.

    • Yep and the government hoodwinked the majority of the population as an election stunt that we don't need no NBN...

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      ..yeah? at least you get that for a month.

      this is about paying that for 2 days at a place where you already pay 600 for staying there for two days.

      oh and why do expensive hotels charge for internet while budget hotels don't? well budget hotels don't assume their clients to be loaded with cash and people choose budget hotels for their internet..

  • Economics 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:13PM (#45076427) Homepage

    Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'"

    This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I recently stayed at one of the Casino/Resort Hotels in Reno and found the "Free WiFi" was only
      good for an hour. If I wanted it longer than that, it was $9.99/day !!!

      Funny that the Free Wifi is what convinced me to stay there in the first place.

      So I guess their advertising works.....but only ONCE

      • Re:Economics 101 (Score:5, Informative)

        by M. Baranczak (726671) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:45PM (#45076681)

        $9.99? If you went to Reno (or Vegas) and only got ripped off for $9.99 per day, then you've done better than most people.

        • most places in las vegas have forced resort fees that come with wifi

          • I found the best place for WiFi in Las Vegas was the municipal public library. You need to go out of your way to find it, but the librarians were pretty decent about helping you get hooked up if you were courteous and reasonable. It sure as hell beat trying to jerk around with the hotel management and the bandwidth was a hell of a lot better too. If you wanted to even bother, all you need to do is sit in you (presumably rental) car with your laptop or go inside and they even had outlets... or you could get onto terminals in the library.

            An added bonus by bringing your own equipment is that you essentially had no real time limit either.

            By far and away the worst places were the resort hotels, but even the budget motels are a pain in the rear.

            Don't even get me started with "roaming fees" for cell phones. Las Vegas is a death trap for most cell phone carriers. I purposely bought a throw-away cell phone at Wal-Mart with pre-paid minutes explicitly for calling from Vegas on the last time I was there. A buddy of mine brought in an AT&T cell phone, and ended up with a $500 cell phone bill before he left after just a few days in that city. His typical cell phone bill was usually about $40/month. Reno is almost as bad as Vegas too. By using the throw away cell phone, I only had to pay $50, including the brand-new cell phone and I even had minutes left over after the trip. It is just one of those "buyer beware" kind of things.

      • by Teun (17872)
        Sounds like the place where you want to spoof your MAC address.
        • by mythosaz (572040)

          Most of the access points at the casino hotels (and I've stayed at plenty) require a room number and a last name.

          Change your MAC all you want, but much better to figure out the names of your neighbors.

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        mac address randomizer :)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I recently almost renewed my contract with Verizon (business plan @~$110/mo after fees and taxes). But Verizon Wireless tried to charge me for an "Upgrade fee". They wanted $30 just for upgrading my device (and re-subbing my contract). This is on top of the normal price of the phone and 2/year contract. So I left for T-Mobile instead and the coverage has been very good and LTE speeds even faster (suburban northeast USA).

      Agreed with the rest of the article too, but I cant remember a time when I had to pa

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @08:38PM (#45077007) Homepage Journal

        The only one that's ripping me off right now is AT&T, and that's only because Comcast would screw me harder. All I'm buying from them is DSL and I'm paying $47 a month. Meanwhile on my phone I not only get unlimited internet* (with email from my 10 year old address, YouTube, Google), but a phone with long distance, voicemail, 411, roaming, all unlimited and included in the $42 I pay them. I'm not going to name them but they're not the only ones and some may even be better. I've been with them for 5 years with no problems except their website is an ugly clusterfuck, but most are these days.

        Hell, even my credit card company doesn't screw me over, and I'll bet most of you the people you guys deal with don't screw you, either. But you're nerds, and we're not normal (at least I'm not). I use a small local bank, and they're damned near free. Wasting your money is stupid.

        But most people? Hell, I'll tell people what I'm paying for my phone when they're paying three times that for less stuff, and they go on using the expensive carrier they're with. And switching carriers is easy; maybe expensive if you're on a contract but easy.

        Why in the hell am I paying seven dollars more for internet alone than a phone WITH internet?? I guess because there's competition in the cell phone business. I wish my phone company sold internet.

        * I listen to KSHE on it all day long at work, that's eight hours a day using its radio, plus when I ask it the temperature or read a novel or newspaper

        • by Tom (822)

          Hell, even my credit card company doesn't screw me over

          Or you don't notice. Remember that money is not the only thing they can screw you with.

          For example, I'm getting more and more angry every time YouTube tries to convince me to use my real name, and it never goes away. The best you get out of it is "ok, we'll ask you again later". No, you stupid piece of crap, I want you to accept my answer once and for all, period.

          But, Google wants your personal data, because that is what they are selling to their customers (which isn't you, you're the product). So they keep

      • I am leaving Verizon as soon as i can over the ridiculous tethering bullshit. Its on a compltely separate meter from my unlimited data package and its $20 fucking bucks. My phone can suck down as much data as any laptop, their old excuses of tethering using more data is bullshit now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Bzzt. While that seems intuitive, it is too simple.

      Looking at which places charge, it is usually the ones frequented by business travel. Near a corporate office, convention center, or similar.

      Exceptions exist, but in my travel that has been 100% true.

      • Re:Economics 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PPH (736903) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @08:18PM (#45076895)

        Free WiFi. Just connect, often to an unsecured AP. At most, there's a single key for all guests.

        Paid WiFi. Supposedly, they have to have a way to track your usage to get the charges straight. So you get your own login. Now they know who is who and, at a minimum, what services you are contacting (even for encrypted connections). For high rollers, that is valuable information to have. It could be used for anything from marketing to industrial espionage.

        • by mjr167 (2477430)
          The Hilton's I have been staying at have all had free guest wifi. In order to access it you have to give the webpage your room number and last name, so they can still track you without making you pay for it.
    • Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'"

      This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

      Works the same other places too. Since two Paneras* in a row were "unable" to connect me to the Internet for hours on end (spare me the peak hours jazz, even then you are supposed to get 1/2 hr. and I was able to connect to other nearby networks) I stick to Starbucks when I want to work away from the house. What I drink is nearly the same price either place and the SBX staff in these parts usually give you a heads up if they are having trouble.

      Beware the Church of Panera. When I mentioned this issue on

      • Not to mention Panera internet (at least for me) is very slow compared to Starbucks and Panera also blocks VPN.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Since two Paneras* in a row were "unable" to connect me to the Internet for hours on end (spare me the peak hours jazz, even then you are supposed to get 1/2 hr. and I was able to connect to other nearby networks) I stick to Starbucks when I want to work away from the house.

        Starbucks? Hell, I go to McDonalds, a buck for a coffee (that's before my geezer discount). OK, not really, I go to a a redneck bar in the ghetto [google.com] whose motto is "Got Guts?" ($1.25 drafts) Caddycorner from an Outlaws motorcycle club headq

    • Re:Economics 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:47PM (#45076703)

      This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

      While this is true, I think the author was pointing out one of the 'flaws' of capitalism; Technology and infrastructure makes offering such amenities a very cheap proposition. And yet, you wind up paying through the nose for them in certain situations; It is basically a misrepresentation of the true cost of the good or service being provided. They can say the hotel room with everything a "less price sensitive" customer is looking for is offered at a competitive room rate, but the room rate quoted, and which is being compared against with other providers, is not the actual cost you will pay for it. This makes straight comparisons between different offerings difficult; It does not encourage a truly competitive marketplace, because it hides costs. It's sortof like the old axiom "Give away the razor, charge for the blades", except in this case, you can only see the cost of the razor, not the blades.

      This is fundamentally anti-competitive and is not a truly 'free' marketplace, because price comparison is made very difficult in an effort to trap the less savvy agent. While "caveat emptor" may be a nice rebuttal in theory, in practice those uttering this phrase are making a far-reaching assumption: That the buyer is capable of being aware. Uttering these words is like saying "Oh, there's a minefield over there" after you've already stepped on a mine. If one truly supports the free market, then such predatory pricing tactics cannot be endorsed.

      A true free market system works best when all the agents have equal access to the data needed to make informed decisions; This ensures true competition, which is the driver of innovation. By obscuring these details and attaching hidden fees, it contributes to market inefficiency and hinders competition -- you can't be sure what you're paying for is at a competitive price, and thus, competition is less prevalent. Less competition means greater inefficiency. It means less trade. Those dollars aren't working as hard, and while it may benefit the individual vendors participating in such deception, it harms the entire economy.

      • Eh, yes and no.

        Customers who aren't price sensitive, aren't, well, price sensitive. If they cared enough, they'd gather the information. But the extra ding just doesn't make the extra information gathering worth it to them.

        Nobody has perfect information. We all make trade offs.

        • Customers who aren't price sensitive, aren't, well, price sensitive.

          "Hey, I'm so rich I don't care how much anything costs!"
          -- Said no rich person. Ever.

          • by rockout (1039072)

            That's an oversimplification.

            "Hey, I'm so rich, that I don't care about a $9.95 internet fee tacked onto my hotel bill per night" -- said many (not all, granted) rich people, every day.

            And that's why high-end hotels don't offer free wifi.

            • "Hey, I'm so rich, that I don't care about a $9.95 internet fee tacked onto my hotel bill per night" -- said many (not all, granted) rich people, every day.

              They'd care if they knew they could go across the street and save $10 a night... or about 10-15%. But they don't, so they can't.

              And that's why high-end hotels don't offer free wifi.

      • by T-Bone-T (1048702)

        You want misrepresentation of cost? Try Sweet Tea at just about any deli. It costs me about $.25/gallon to make it at home without a bulk discount but delis will often sell 16-20 oz for almost $2. They could charge less, but why would they? People are already buying gallons of it for at least 4000% more than cost and very happy about it.

        • People are already buying gallons of it for at least 4000% more than cost and very happy about it.

          That would be because the food cost only makes up a small fraction of the total cost on a bill for dining out. You're paying for the labor to make that tea, the labor to take that order, the labor to fill that order, the labor to clean up your table when you're done. You're paying for the electricity and utilities of that location. You're paying for government licensure costs.

          Oh, and their wifi is free.

        • I got really fed up with paying high prices for soda pop.

          The 2 and 3 liter plastic bottles soda pop comes in make handy carbonation vessels. I drilled a hole in the cap and inserted one of those bolt-in-place stainless steel tire stems sold at Pep Boys. I also got a 20 pound CO2 tank at a garage sale, and a decent 100 PSI adjustable regulator from a surplus house.

          I fill my bottle to the brim with water. Refrigerate it. Warm water will not carbonate... cold water will. Then I connect my special cap
      • Internet is free at hotels catering to salesmen who pay their own way and at high end luxury hotels. Hotels catering to people on expense accounts charge.
      • Mostly bullshit. With the amount of information you can get easily these days it's your own fault if you get caught by some unexpected charge. One of the first things I look for when booking a hotel is the free parking/free internet/"resort fee" situation and it is usually easy enough with reviews on travelocity, expedia and other travel sites, plus yelp, google etc. With an extremely complex transaction like real estate, I think there is a place for regulation to standardize the format of the information p

      • I think the author was pointing out one of the 'flaws' of capitalism; Technology and infrastructure makes offering such amenities a very cheap proposition. And yet, you wind up paying through the nose for them in certain situations; It is basically a misrepresentation of the true cost of the good or service being provided.

        It's not a "misrepresentation", it's charging what the market will bear. Very obviously the real price is much lower.

        Another factor not considered is that more well off travelers staying

      • Re:Economics 101 (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tom (822) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @05:29AM (#45079737) Homepage Journal

        While this is true, I think the author was pointing out one of the 'flaws' of capitalism; Technology and infrastructure makes offering such amenities a very cheap proposition. And yet, you wind up paying through the nose for them in certain situations;

        What makes you think that's a flaw, and not a feature?

        It is basically a misrepresentation of the true cost of the good or service being provided.

        Ah, you are thinking free market and capitalism are the same thing. Yes, the rest of your comment pretty much indicates that as well. Well, time to wake up and realize that they aren't.

        Capitalism simply means that the means to production are in the hands of private entities (companies or individuals), in contrast to ownership by cooperatives, the state, or the nobility.

        The Free Market theory is about how trade and exchange of goods happen. Nothing in the theory requires the buyers or sellers to be capitalists. You could easily have socialist collectives exchanging goods between them on a free market, for example.

        A true free market system works best when all the agents have equal access to the data needed to make informed decisions;

        Wrong. It seems to be a detail, but it is one of the most important ones: A free market doesn't work "best" under this condition, it is a precondition. If you do not have total information, you do not have a free market, period. Which, yes, means each and every single market in the real world is not a free market, but an approximation.

        That's not just semantics. When dealing with the real world, you should never forget that the conclusions from the free market theory may or may not apply.

    • This. What else would it be?

      If you're willing to pay for something, you will be charged for it. Unless someone offers the same for free AND this offer makes you go to him instead of your original choice, nothing will change.

      I, for one, was amazed about the free soda refill policy in many restaurants in the US. I can almost see how this came to existence. Some fast food chain did it as an ad stunt, and people flocked there, so everyone had to follow suit, and eventually even "normal" restaurants "had" to do

      • The cost of the syrup in a soda is about 5 cents, so considering the soda cost you $2, they're not losing anything by giving you a free refill. It keeps you in the store where you're more likely to buy something else.
        • by rockout (1039072)

          That's his point exactly, and a good illustration of why high-end hotels charge for internet while others don't. You're not looking at it from a corporate viewpoint - it's irrelevant what the soda costs to make. If people are willing to pay $2 per glass, then the corporate mindset is "We're losing money if we don't charge $2 per glass." It was ONLY when some places started offering free refills (because they realized it "keeps you in the store where you're more likely to buy something else") that everyon

      • A fast food chain probably did it as soon as they realized it takes more money to pay your employee to make drinks than you lose due to the free refills.
        • Exactly. Some genius at a corporate HQ figured out that at any given moment, tens of thousands of people are standing around waiting for their fast food orders to come up. This represented a vast untapped pool of willing and free labor.

          If you look at the soda fountains of a large restaurant at a busy time, it often looks like it would easily take two dedicated employees to just to fill drinks at the rate that customers are filling their own. Maybe even more would be required to keep track of all the drinks

      • by Pubstar (2525396)
        It's not like costs them much. The cup is usually more expensive than the soda.
        • by i.r.id10t (595143)

          Sometimes both are free :)

          Convienence store I worked at had a deal with Coke... the coke cooler section was more central, and the soda machine was Coke. Pepsi was off in the corner, beer in the opposite corner. For the prime shelving for the bottles/cans, Coke gave them the fountain machine, the syrup, and the cups.

    • This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

      You also have to look at who is footing the bill. At a lot of business hotels everything is on the expense account or corporate card, people won't really care wha
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

      Put a bit more cynically, those high-priced hotels cater to people who have no concept of the value of money, and show their contempt for their customers' financial skills at every possibl

    • I always cringed when checking into "fancy" hotels back in the day for conferences and such. $12 charges to connect the room phone for a local call....

    • This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

      Weird thing is, the nicer hotels aren't necessarily that much pricier than the cheap ones. For the best of both worlds, stay at a fancy hotel near the Super 8 and leach the economy WiFi. Sometimes you can't help but do that, signal in the better hotels can be pretty crappy. Absorbed by the pillow mints or something.

      Seriously, though. The pillow itself doesn't cost that much more at the Clarion than the Econolodge*, it's the extras that get you.

      *Two brands owned by the same parent company, but at opposite en

  • 2009? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jaymz666 (34050) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:14PM (#45076433)

    Seriously? That's 4 years ago. That's a lifetime in the industry

  • by Naatach (574111) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:16PM (#45076441)
    Aww snap! $250 cell phone bill from overages in data usage.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:20PM (#45076465) Journal

    luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'

    The company is paying for that.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'

      The company is paying for that.

      Exactly - if you're staying at a luxury hotel chain and it's worth your time to complain about a $9.99 or $15 Wifi fee or "resort charge", you probably shouldn't be staying at a luxury hotel chain. But chances are that if you complain about it when you check out, they'll waive the charges

      • by rk (6314)

        Maybe I'm weird, but I've been known to burn 10 bucks to get a 5 dollar charged reversed. What's the old saying? "Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute?" Perhaps my sense of honor and rightness are a little too finely developed. :-)

        • by rockout (1039072)

          Perhaps my sense of honor and rightness are a little too finely developed. :-)

          Perhaps????

    • by Alan Shutko (5101)

      We've got a Sheraton by one of our large branches. We have LOTS of people flying there every week. As a result, the company has negotiated with the Sheraton that they waive the wifi charge for all of us, automatically.

      Capitalism works both ways.

  • eMedia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:22PM (#45076479) Homepage Journal
    What about ebooks at the same price as the content but with making a big stock with expected losses, stocking, transporting, the physical media (paper, ink, printing, human labor) and all the chains of intermediaries with their corresponding profits? What about the same, but for music? What about movies, where you also must count too the big chunk that takes each theater?
  • Not "odd" at all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedinite (33877) <slashdot.comNO@SPAMjedinite.com> on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:23PM (#45076489) Homepage

    >Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.

    Not odd in the slightest -- the majority of said "luxurious" hotel rooms are being consumed by (in no particular order) #1 the price insensitive and #2 business travelers (arguably a great overlap, if not outright subset, of group #1).

    Few of either group in covering a hotel bill for a few nights in San Francisco are going to care much if it's $845 or $885 with Internet.

    Finally, those in group #2 are much more likely to have elite status with the hotel, which typically (at the higher levels) includes free internet -- making it a "valuable" perk for your brand loyalty...

    • Most real luxury hotels have free wifi anyway. It's the upper-middle business places that charge. I've never paid for Internet at a place that was over $500/night.
      • by rockout (1039072)
        Yes, those dirty filthy peasants that are only paying $450/night SHOULD be paying for wifi. After all, $450 a night isn't a "real" luxury hotel. How dare they assume to be as deserving as I am!
        • by soundguy (415780)
          The Palms in Vegas has a suite that runs $26,000 a night. I think it has it's own basketball court. $450 wouldn't even be a decent tip for the valet. FYI, the Palms is just a mid-grade hotel in Vegas. If you want to spend some REAL money, head over to Wynn. They have a Ferrari & Maserati dealership on the main floor.
  • Just market forces (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joe_frisch (1366229) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:27PM (#45076519)

    Companies want to sell their products at the highest price each consumer will pay. By charging large fees for convenience items they are able to extract more money from people who place a higher value on their own time.

    So, you could save money getting a SIM card for your phone to use internationally, but that would take time and make it more difficult for people to contact you. You could go to the hotel lobby for internet, but using the internet in your hotel room saves time.

    This has the perverse effect that it may make sense for companies to spend extra money to waste your time or to provide worse service, if it pushes you to one of their higher priced services - assuming of course that they don't push you to a competitor.

    Its just one of the very annoying effects of the free market. If you want to feel good about it, think if it as a "tax" on the wealthy who are able to put a higher value on their own time.

  • payroll cards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:28PM (#45076535)

    Their last example - payroll cards with fees ought to be outright illegal. IMO.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Their last example - payroll cards with fees ought to be outright illegal. IMO.

      In most civilised countries, they are.

      • I live in a civilised country. I have no idea what a payroll card is.

        • Basically, it's your paycheck given to you on a debit card.
          • This sounds perilously close to 19th century England where workers were routinely paid in tokens that could only be spent in company run stores (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truck_system)... and was frequently rorted. Are employers getting a kickback from the debit card providers? Why do people afflicted with this simply stand there and demand that the debt, i.e. their pay in arrears, is settled in US (I assume) legal tender or direct deposit to a bank account?

  • by Teun (17872) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:35PM (#45076593) Homepage
    I travel quite a bit and especially in the less developed world I stay in upmarket hotels (J.W. Marriott etc.) that generally don't any longer charge for internet.

    In my experience these things improve rapidly, last year I was in a Best Western in Aberdeen Scotland and they had some outrageous price like 15 pounds, for 24 hrs. of access, on check out I complained and they gave it to me for the price of a 1 hr. ticket, 5 pounds.
    This year it's for 'free', or in other words; included in the room price.

    Virtually all restaurants now have free internet.

    During the last few years the UK was really expensive, at a time that most hotels in The Netherlands already offered net access for free.

  • I haven't had a landline in well over a decade, so all I can do is wonder - do the telcos still charge a monthly fee for touch-tone service? That used to be the standard despite the fact that maintaining rotary functionality was the more costly option for most telcos.

    • by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @09:01PM (#45077163)

      My uncle was the first person we knew to have touch-tone service, back in the 1960s. I think there was a $1.50/month charge for it. By the time my folks got their first touch-tone phone in the early '80s touch-tone service was free. In 1997 Glenn's partner looked over the phone bill and found that they were still getting charged the $1.50/month fee.

      Up until the late 1960s you didn't own your phone, you leased it from Ma Bell. When I worked in a bank trust department in the early 1990s we paid a lot of our customers' bills for them, and I was shocked to see that many of them were STILL leasing their phone from the phone company. In one case at least I knew that the phone had been thrown out when it broke two decades before.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @07:53PM (#45076735) Journal
    Most upscale hotel customers are business travelers and their corporate employer is picking up the tab. They don't even look at the bill. If they do it is to make sure the correct euphemism is used for the porn bill. So in some sense they get everything free.

    Again the real big businesses get into large contracts with the hotel chains and they get a different rate. But then the hotels get smart and add "service" fees. And the next round of contract talks things get negotiated. The cycle goes on.

    In all our travel, if there is no free parking, free breakfast and free wi-fi, I am not even looking at the hotel. They get filtered out.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @08:00PM (#45076765)

    Verizon wanted to charge me a $30 "upgrade" fee when I tried to upgrade to a new iPhone. They're already charging me $200 for the phone and $80/month for the service (plus a new two year contract to replace my recently lapsed one). That means I'm already going to be paying them $2,120. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal for them, what possible expense could this upgrade fee cover?

  • by utkonos (2104836) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @08:05PM (#45076791)
    Why pay? Connect to their access point and tunnel all of your traffic over DNS or ICMP. The firewalls that they use rarely block ICMP and almost never block UDP port 53. All you need is to have a client installed on your machine and run a server out on the interwebs somewhere that is running the right server software and acts as a proxy. The tech to do this has been around for quite a while, and most linux distros have the clients and servers in their repositories. The main system used for DNS is called iodine [code.kryo.se] and there are two different, very good ICMP tunnels that I know of. One is here [gerade.org] and another here [sourceforge.net]. If you search through your favorite linux or BSD distro's repository search for "ip over icmp" or "ip over dns" and you'll find what you need.
  • Bell Canada land lines: $2+ / month touch-tone fees.

    And pulse dialing is not available according to Bell.

    Touch-tone, that new-fangled tech from the 1970s...

    Fuck you Bell.

    • > Touch-tone, that new-fangled tech from the 1970s...

      Touch-tone has been around since 1962 - over half a century ago.

      http://laughingsquid.com/century-21-calling-the-introduction-of-the-touch-tone-phone-1962/

  • "Why are they charging for it in the first place?"

    Duh: because they can.

    This isn't even Econ 101. This is stuff everyone knows before they even enroll in an Econ class.

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @09:46PM (#45077495)

    TFS says:

    profit-making is at the heart of our economy

    That is true for SMB, and that was true for megacorporations in the last centuries. Now when transnational companies make profits, the money never goes back to the real economy because there is not enough demand: who want to invest when the new products and services will not have customers? Instead, money goes to speculation, inflate bubbles, and when bubble burst, that wrecks the economy even further.

  • by Tom (822) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @05:14AM (#45079689) Homepage Journal

    What could've been a good article is, unfortunately, just your typical uninformed zero-research blog rant.

    What's missing is what journalism is all about: Going deeper, finding the causes, even if they are more then one step away.

    For example, why do some hotels charge for Internet and others don't? No, it's not the price, that is counterintuitive (cheap hotels often offer free Internet, expensive ones charge, as the article also says). So what is it? Well, other articles on the topic that did some actual research dug up the answer years ago: It's not the price, it's the guests. Hotels that are largely frequented by business travellers will charge, because a) their guests really need Internet and b) are ready to pay for it because it's business expenses anyways. Hotels that are largely frequented by tourists offer free-of-charge, because their customers would probably go to a nearby Starbucks instead if they charged and Internet or not may be the deciding factor between this hotel or the other one down the road as in the low price range there are fewer actual differences between the hotels.

    If stuff like that had been in the article for the other 4 items as well, it would've been a good read.

  • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @09:26AM (#45080965)

    While Internet access is free in coffee shops, some public transit, and even campsites, as of 2009 15% of hotels charged guests for the privilege of checking their e-mail and catching up on watching cat videos. Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.

    It's all about charging what you think you can get. Budget hotels house budget travelers who likely won't pay extra for WiFi. So free WiFi serves to differentiate you from you competitors, or at least keeps you competitive. Higher end hotels serve a wealthier clientele who won't notice $30 tacked on to a $1000 bill, or business travelers who will just pay it and expense it.

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