Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bits & Bytes

For any of us who travel for work regularly and stay in hotels, access to the Internet is a not an added benefit, it is a necessary amenity. I don’t even like to refer to it as an amenity (a useful or pleasant facility or service), because to me, an amenity is the little shampoo’s in the room or the strange little shoe shine foams. No…. Internet access for me is a requirement and I compare it to having access to a telephone in the room, or sheets on the bed.

I have stayed in hotels where the internet access costs me ten dollars a day, isn’t wireless and the cord they provide is 4 ½ inches long ensuring that my comfort is compromised. I have stayed in hotels where the access is “wireless” which is code for only having two bars of signal strength. My favourite marketing ploy by a hotel is the signs that state, “free internet” and then they limit how much I can use it OR the server that they are using limits how many guests can be online at any given moment. They installed the server in 2001 when the hotel had only 40 rooms and since then have gone through an expansion and now have 120 rooms but the server hasn’t been upgraded to accommodate the additional potential users. As a consequence, you can only get online at weird times like 3:45 a.m. or 2:00 p.m.

Strangely enough, the best Internet access service I have received is at a smaller, privately owned hotel. It is at these establishments where I have access to free WiFi with great signal strength and I can work well into the late evening or begin early in the morning. No 4 ½ inch cords, no limiting bits and bytes.

These are some “fun” experiences I have had with Internet use while traveling:

Pay me once, pay me twice – You log onto the hotel Internet and it informs you, “There will be a $10 charge per day for Internet access – please check the box if you agree”. So you check the box and proceed. You go to check out the next morning and you see a $20 charge on your bill for Internet access. Mistakes occur, make sure you check your bill carefully.

I am not a geek – so don’t baffle me with terminology. All I want to do is check my email, send and receive some information and perhaps check my facebook.

Don’t lie to me Argentina – When I can’t get on the Internet and you tell me it is because I have exceeded my free bits and bytes amount…I call steer manure on that one. Do you know how I know? I know that I didn’t exceed my free bits and bytes because I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO ACCESS THE INTERNET SINCE I ARRIVED!!! (sorry, I will use my inside voice from now on). So, don’t try to sell me a package upgrade – just provide me with what you promised when I checked in.

I am not Lounging in the Lounge – (In response to your suggestion to solve my broken internet access in my room) No, I don’t want to go into the lounge where you offer free WiFi….unless of course, I can go down there in my pajama pants.

Is there a moral to this story? No, not really….did writing it make me feel better? You bet!

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