Rip-off Britain strikes again

First of all let me say that Marriott is the only big global hotel chain that I like. Compared to say Hilton you get consistently good service, nice rooms, OK food etc. Last week I spent a couple of days in the Marriott Regents Park for the Delivering the New PR conference and it was great.

Apart from the £15 for 24 hour wifi access. How come I can stay in small, boutique hotels which also offer fantastic service, rooms and food at half the price and get free wifi?

Admittedly it’s not Marriott directly that are ripping me off, it’s iBahn. But it’s still Marriott’s fault for getting locked into such a dumb contract (I’m giving Marriott the benefit of the doubt and guessing this is the reason).

This morning Shel Holtz blogged about paying $12.95 a day for wifi at a Marriott and being spammed by adware that polluted every website.

Yes that was $12.95 or GBP £6.93 at current exchange rates. Rip-off Britain strikes again.

I wouldn’t mind paying for wifi if it was sold in a fair way. Paying for access for a certain length of time just doesn’t fit with how most people use wifi. At the Marriott I probably only used it for about four or five hours, so had about 20 hours I hadn’t used. Could I use the hours I’d paid for the following day. Could I hell because iBahn is a rip-off merchant.

Shel’s tale is even worse and is worth a read.


9 Replies to “Rip-off Britain strikes again

  1. david brain – Variously a founder, director, investor, chairperson and cheerleader of Parkable, Enero, StickyBeak, Share My Super and The Spinoff. In exile in New Zealand. CTID.
    David Brain says:

    Stuart I agree and as a frequent traveller it drives me nuts. And there does not seem to be global or European policies for the big chains in this. In one town a chain hotel offers wifi free and in another town the same brand charges you. the US is no better as Shel Holtz noted. Surely, surely a great USP for a global hotel brand . . .guarantee that every hotel you won anywhere on the planet offers free, high quality, spam free wifi and you have my business.

  2. Why don't you get 3G cards for your laptops and a data plan that provides all-you-can-eat downloads for a flat fee? I get my data all month for EUR 50 through O2 in Ireland. Surely there's a plan that works in England as well.

  3. Rob Skinner – I'm Rob Skinner. My family know me as Robert. My wife calls me Ert. (The part of 'Robert' that I don't always use...) I've been working in PR since 1987, mostly in financial services. In my spare time, I enjoy cycling reading, editing videos on my computer and practising my Welsh (dwi'n dod yn wreiddiol o Gaerdydd). And blogging. Do please post a comment! NOTE: this is my personal blog. It does not represent the views of the organisations I work for.
    Rob Skinner says:

    Totally agree. I like staying at Thorpe Park hotel in Leeds for just this reason.

  4. dbarefoot – Bonn, Germany – Darren Barefoot is an author, speaker and digital strategist. He’s the co-founder of Capulet Communications, and co-author of “Friends With Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook”.
    Darren says:

    I'm a pedant, so I feel obligated to point out that Shel was probably quoting Canadian dollars, so it works out to £6 even.

  5. Stuart,

    couldn't agree more that it's ridiculously overpriced and that's why we use a 3G card now.

    David Brain's thoughts on free wi fi being a great USP for a hotel chain seems so obvious but somehow hasn't happened yet. As event managers, we'd love to hear from any quality hotels offering this service…

  6. Marriot Core values (they say on thier web site)
    # Evident in the adage, "the customer is always right"
    # A hands-on management style, i.e., "management by walking around"
    # Attention to detail
    # Openness to innovation and creativity in serving guests
    # Pride in the knowledge that our guests can count on Marriott's unique blend of quality, consistency, personalized service, and recognition almost anywhere they travel in the world or whichever Marriott brand they choose
    # At Marriot, the Spirit To Serve Our Guests is visible in everything we do. See it come to light

    In charge of empowering the board and employees to enhance relationships that reflect the core values are the PR people who include:

    I am sure they would want to know that the Marriot Group is ripping-off customers.

    ….So I sent them a copy of this post.

  7. David – just done a search for Marriott wifi – and coincidentally the first item is 'Wi-fi rip off' on Looks like the Marriott PR guys really do need to look at its online reputation.

  8. I have colleagues who work for iBAHN (formerly STSN). It must be noted that most hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, etc.) use several HSPs (Hospitality Service Providers) for their HSIA (High Speed Internet Access) offerings, so they are not "locked in" to one provider. Stay Online, GuestTek, Golden Tree, and LodgeNet are some examples of other HSPs. It also must be noted that different ownership groups control the operations of different groups of hotels…meaning that one group controls a subset of Hiltons, another a different subset, etc. The contracts for the HSPs is usually with the ownership groups, and not the individual hotels, unless the latter are independently owned and operated. Because of all this, there is much disparity with what one experiences with HSIA from hotel to hotel, even within the same chain.

    As far as referring to iBAHN as a rip-off merchant, consider this: for that $12.95 a day you're paying for WiFi, at least half of it goes to the hotel…not to the HSP. There is rather fierce competition these days between HSPs, and ownership groups are not stupid – they negotiate aggressive contracts with the HSPs (who are desperate to keep the business), cutting the HSP's take with every contract renewal. All the while, consumers are demanding free HSIA at hotels, and the hotels are listening – switching from "revenue share" to "free" in many markets, and using this to further reduce the money that HSPs receive. And don't be naive – just because HSIA may be "free" at a given hotel, we're still paying for it.

    Now don't get me wrong…I'm not attempting to defend HSPs – I'm just trying to present the "rest of the story." One thing that hasn't been mentioned, is the price for HSIA in hotel conference venues…now THAT is highway robbery, and both hotels and HSPs make a killing on it.

    As far as advertisements go, it is certainly despicable, but not surprising, to see them associated with HSIA…and as time goes on, I'm sure we'll see more. But do know this…it is not the HSPs which dictate what guests/consumers see in their web browsers, it is the hotels and ownership groups. HSPs do not have "free reign" to market whatever they want to hotel guests. If the ads are generating revenues, you can bet that the hotels and ownership groups are getting a piece, if not a majority of, the action.

  9. dbarefoot – Bonn, Germany – Darren Barefoot is an author, speaker and digital strategist. He’s the co-founder of Capulet Communications, and co-author of “Friends With Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook”.
    Darren says:

    I'm a pedant, so I feel obligated to point out that Shel was probably quoting Canadian dollars, so it works out to £6 even.

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