foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

The biggest hotel broadband rip-off ever?

, posted: 26-Nov-2007 23:44

Currently, I'm attending a conference here in Brisbane, Australia. I just arrived in the hotel and found out with horror about their Internet access prices. As you can imagine, I've gone to a conference about software, and this is actually the conference hotel where I am staying. So obviously, during this week there will be a lot of people here with computers, checking e-mail, going online, etc.

Well, the hotel, or at least their Internet provider, are about to make one heck of a load of money off us poor buggers. Check out those prices: AU$ 0.55 per minute? Up to AU$ 27.50 per day? And a 'generous' data cap of 50 MBytes (!!!) per day, and AU$ 0.10 for every additional megabyte? Heck, I'm normally using some 200 – 300 MBytes per day during a normal work day, so this is going to be incredibly restrictive. I can't even make a Skype call, do a decent e-mail session and check the news without breaking through this limit.

I don't do a lot of travel to Australia, so I am asking those of you in the know: Are these prices normal over here? Would I likely find other (good) hotels in Brisbane (or anywhere else in Australia, for that matter) with less blatant rip-off prices? In general, what is the most outrageous broadband access pricing you have discovered on your travels?

I do most of my travelling to the US, and the hotels I stay in there usually give you free, uncapped Internet access. And even during my last stay in Europe I got the same good deal (it wasn't always like that in Europe, so maybe I was just lucky?)...

Of course, nowhere on the hotel's web site does it mention those charges. They only say that Internet access in the hotel rooms is available. How nice! Then you get here and you find out the true cost. That's one lesson I have to learn: Call them and ask specifically about Internet access prices before making the booking.

I hope the conference venue provides free WiFi downstairs tomorrow...


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Comment by chakkaradeep, on 27-Nov-2007 00:18

When I was staying at a hotel in Melbourne, it was $30/day with a data cap of 500 MB/day and I did use Gtalk, may be for 15 mins to speak with my family back in India. The connection was good.

Comment by Glen Barnes, on 27-Nov-2007 07:11

No different than the Heritage in Auckland....

Comment by cokemaster, on 27-Nov-2007 08:08

This is by no means isolated to AU. It happens in NZ.

Competition indeed...

Comment by psycik, on 27-Nov-2007 08:26

Yes i think it is fairly standard this part of the world. I've just come back from Melbourne where my apartment had a similar pricing structure and so has another hotel in Melbourne and in Sydney (The sydney one had a $29 a day all you can eat type plan - but i didn't think it's cap was as restrictive as that as i use much more than that).

Some places, slowly are putting some free access via wireless - some restaurants etc, but having not been to Brissy I can't remcommend any to you.

Author's note by foobar, on 27-Nov-2007 09:53

@Glen: Yes, those are the exact same providers as the ones here in the hotel. I recognize the 'Welcome (to be ripped off)' screen. Just after I grudgingly accepted, I was thinking that I should have taken a screenshot.

Seems to be exactly the same, just some difference between NZ$ and AU$ calculated in.

And I don't think they offered the 12 hour plan.

Comment by rscole86, on 27-Nov-2007 10:40

I experienced the same sort of charges in Perth and the Goldcoast

Author's note by foobar, on 27-Nov-2007 12:07

I just found out that they have free WiFi at the conference facility. Phew...

Comment by Mike, on 27-Nov-2007 12:50

Exactly the same pricing as the Novotel in Palmerston North - EXCEPT its $33 per day - absolute rip off. The 33 was extremely high but not so far out of line with other places - the 50mb thou ridiculous - and i wont stay there again because of it .

Comment by freitasm, on 27-Nov-2007 12:58

I New Zealand I use the Stamford in AKL and they impose no limits. The Sky City limits to 50MB/day. I never experienced this in Australia though.

Comment by inane, on 27-Nov-2007 13:15

If i was in the hotelier business I would think that promoting a generously priced and capped internet connection would be great marketing,

especially looking at those prices, I know myself if I was travelling for business and I had the choice of the above charges vs. somewhere slightly more expensive with a generous internet access policy, I know what I would choose :)

Comment by PenultimateHop, on 27-Nov-2007 13:43

This is the rule rather than the exception. Recent experiences in Wellington (Holiday Inn and InterContinental) are very similar. Langham in Auckland is also a similar price (but no data cap - just a fair use policy); although they waive their internet charges for mid/top tier frequent guests.

Unfortunately hotel internet access in Australasia is a rip off, and largely perpetrated by the companies that do the TV/phone/internet solutions for the hotels - I think some of the hotels are actually innocent in how bad it is. The Holiday Inn in WLG waived some of my (12 days @ $33.69) charges as I had been complaining of the exceptionally poor performance.

However, it does pay for an EVDO/UMTS data card if you stay in a hotel two days a month :).

In the US I've had mixed experiences as far as hotel charges go - some are free (e.g. Holiday Inn, Hampton Inns, etc), but some are not (Hilton in Seattle, etc) - but are more reasonable at $9/day.

Comment by freitasm, on 27-Nov-2007 14:17

I am flying to Amsterdam (as soon as the delayed Air NZ flight leaves LAX) and got an e-mail saying Vodafone Netherlands is providing every conference attendee with a data SIM card for use during our stay there... Cool!

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New Zealand

  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
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