Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hotel Internet Charges Are a Ripoff

Imagine your reaction if a hotel you were staying on charged £15 a night for providing a TV in your room. You'd probably check out immediately. So why do we put up with exorbitant internet costs. I am staying at the Hilton Metropole in Brighton and they charge £15 per night for an internet connection. Rip off city.

If they really want to make a charge, why not put it on the room rate? City Inn hotels provide free wifi access in all their hotels and it gets them a huge amount of goodwill. Why don't other hotels cotton on to this?

PS For those who have suggested it in the comments, I do have a Vodafone dongle built into my laptop. Unfortunatey, presumably because the hotel is right on the coast, the signal doesn't work in my room. Luckily it works in the bar, which is where I am now.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Iain - I stay in hotels a couple of nights a week, every week, and this issue really brings on my tourettes (I swear I can't help it). UK hotels just don't get it, do they? Free Wifi = goodwill = loyalty repeat bookings. In the US, free WiFi is just about universal....

Oh God, here we go...*&^%$£*, *&^&^%$%$!!%, ?@&*&!!!!!!

Notcompetent said...

Get yourself a 3g dongle and free yourself from those ripoff merchants

English Pensioner said...

It's simple. Most people who want internet in their rooms are there on business with expenses being paid by their company.
It's still a rip-off, but only those paying their own costs actually care.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it is a total rip-off and is seen by the Hilton Chain as a cash-cow that business people pay for and then claim back through business expenses.

Mind you, being a geek I have set my Android mobile phone to act as a wifi hotspot for my computer when in hotels.

You should also look at a Mi-Fi device from

John Linford said...

Come to that, how have hotels got away with exorbitant telephone charges for so many years?

Ubiquitous mobile telephony has broadly bypassed that problem and rapidly improving on-line mobile capabilities will soon fix the other rip off.

Doubting Richard said...

Even for an hour's use they usually charge about £5. This compares poorly with an internet cafe, yet in the cafe the customer is provided with space (already rented in the hotel) and a computer.

In my job I stay in a lot of hotels, and find it is often the expensive hotels that charge. Naked profiteering, they assume that people are either rich enough not to care, or their company will pay.

This is why I have a Vodafone dongle. Not much use abroad, but if I am staying in the UK it pays for itself in one day.

Old Holborn said...

Well don't pay then. Plenty of free wifi in Brighton

Barnacle Bill said...

Quite agree with you on this one Iain, I will not stay anywhere that charges for internet access, I tell my PA to always check before making any reservations

JohnRS said...


Why ask you to pay anything at all? The cost of WiFi installation is minimal these days, the cost of the connection is also minimal.....they'll probably use an existing internet line anyway so it's probably zero!!

If they're charging this per room per day the profit margin must be about 99%. It should be provided as part of the room rate and used to bring in extra business.

Given what you'll be paying in central Brum I would go down to Reception and tell them to stick it!!

Unknown said...

As I unfortunately rarely get to stay in City Inn's but in hotels with outrageous internet rates it worked out cheaper to get a 3G USB dongle. At £15 a month it doesn't take much use to pay for itself, which is a disgrace!

simonh said...

Yes, it's a scandal. The same with the charges for wireless access. Plenty of pubs, cafes etc offer free wireless. Hotels should be able to do the same.

Timothy Belmont said...

They're like the airlines, charging for such things like wi-fi.

I stayed at a lovely little guest-house in London recently and they had totally free wi-fi. I could use my netbook in my bedroom to my heart's content, for as long as I liked.

About £46 a night, B&B!

Max Atkinson said...

It's replaced the former rip-off from excessive phone call charges hotels used to make, Once mobiles had cut off that source of easy revenue, they had to find another. But you're dead right - free internet access does create good will and makes us more likely to stay there again.

Anonymous said...

That is so so correct. A complete disgrace.

One option is to get some sort of USB connector that works over the mobile network. BT offer one effectively ree which I must invest in, its OK provided you do not want to do massive downloads.

I am sure there are others

Roger Thornhill said...

Well, chaps, the Digital communications bill aims to make it illegal to have free wifi - the idea being we must all sign on with an they know who is doing what, I suspect.

Oh, they hide behind "protection of copyright".

Pull the other dongle, its got an MP3 attached.

p.s. It is almost as much as my return train ticket to Brighton today (for the Tea Party).

jolo said...

ask to speak with general manager Anne Bushfield and complain...I did this at other Hilton and they waived the fee...!

Susie said...


Just echoing other comments in this thread, get a USb dongle or simply connect your mobile to your laptop, most have free internet these days.

That said, I think your reasoning is entirely flawed regarding putting it on the room rate. You are a conservative, a lover of the free market and a crusader for "choice". Where would be the choice in putting the charge on the room rate? Some people might not want internet so why should they have to pay for the privilege? I agree the cost is too high as an individual charge, but the principle is the same.

Dual Citizen said...

Depending on how often you stay in hotels, suggest you try:

1) 3G dongle through your mobile provider. AT&T's is $60 per month, unlimited use in the US. I'd expect you can get a similar sort of deal in the UK.

2) iPass ( It's a service that connects you to thousands of commercial wifi/ethernet services in hotels, airports, Starbucks, McDonalds, BT Openzone, etc. It's 25 quid per month in the UK. And guess what, you can use it at the Brighton Metropole.

John Linford said...

@Timothy Belmont
I stayed at a lovely little guest-house in London recently and they had totally free wi-fi.

Years ago when I was doing a lot of business travelling I caused quite a stir amongst my colleagues by insisting on being booked into village inns rather than the nearby hotel.

Nicer, certainly more interesting accommodation, better food, proper beer, friendly people... and at least 50% lower costs, a fact that eventually got noticed by the bean counters!

All the inns around these parts have free WiFi. Why, given a choice, does anyone stay in a soulless hotel?

JMB said...

As suggested it has replaced the high rates that they charge for telephones which resulted in the telephones not being used much with universal carrying of mobile phones so many budget chains no longer have a phone in the room.

It was said a few years ago that it could be cheaper to carry a satellite phone than pay the telephone rates charged in many hotels.

I wonder if we will see the same with WiFi, usage will drop as people switch to mobile broadband and so it is no longer worth providing the service at all.

Paul Lockett said...

As per what Roger Thornhill said, as and when the Digital Economy Bill is passed into law, it will become a moot point. The burdens placed on anybody offering casual internet access will be so onerous that most places (cafes, etc.) will stop bothering and those that continue will probably bump their prices up significantly to cover the costs of administration and risk.

Unknown said...

Vodafone do the best value PAYG dongle as you don't have to keep topping it up every month unlike £ for example which makes you pay £10 regardless of how much of your 1 gig allowance you've used up.

The other option Iain is to get a very cheap 3 PAYG mobile phone and use it to connect to the internet when you need. 3 charge 50p a day or £2.50 a week so it's handy if your dongle doesn't get a signal.

Simon Lewis said...

Got to agree Iain it's scandalous.

Magical_Mist said...

"Luckily it works in the bar, which is where I am now."

Surprise, surprise.

DespairingLiberal said...

It's just the operation of the market isn't it? Stay somewhere where they charge less.

At least that should be the Tory view. But like many Tories, your comments reveal a deep-seated confusion on economic matters. Clearly you are complaining about a side effect of capitalism, that it always trends towards monopolism and price-cartel behaviour, of which UK hotels internet charges are a good example. Clearly they all have a vested interest in replacing the money they used to get from guest's room telephone calls and this is how. All of the main UK chains charge approximately the same for almost everything.

In short, you are complaining about a basic feature of the very capitalist system you so earnestly support.

Man Of Kent said...

Certainly a rip off. Especially when you could have stayed at Queens Hotel down the road and had free wi-fi access...

Twig said...

I'm glad you raised this, and I totally agree with you, it's outrageous.
They told me it wasn't their fault because they contract the service out to "iBAHN".
How difficult can it be to install their own router?

The did however say that you can get it for free when you get your HHonours Gold Card.

Perhaps it should be means tested, so that the extra money they make from wealthy guests and people on expenses (like MPs) could be used to subsidise free internet for the poor suckers who pay for it out of taxed income.

Even a bottle of mineral water is eight times the supermarket price!

Dan said...

Add it onto the cost of the room? So that those who don't want it can subsidise it for those that do?

No thanks!

Bob said...


uk ngn internet

and then suggets they use those companies who can provide next generation internet servies

Will Dean said...

This always annoys me too, especially with the comparison to the US where it always seems to be 'free' (i.e. included).

But to the 'how difficult can it be to provide' crowd, the answer is 'quite difficult' - in anything more than a tiny B+B you need quite a bit of kit, which needs to be set up and maintained/supported. And much worse than that, you then have to support every guest who can't get their laptop on-line. This is a real serious difficulty for most hotels, so they avoid the problem by subcontracting the whole business to someone else.

The problem is not that hotels don't do the WiFi themselves, it's that, in the UK, they chose to pass on the costs explicitly rather than implicitly.

As others have said, a real Tory wouldn't care, but I'm not sure there are many of them around in DC'sCs

Twig said...

@Will Dean

You could install a dedicated broadband line for including line rental for less than £20 a month.

Now compare that to the £450 a month that the Hilton charge for a 2mb connection.

That's one hell of a markup.

Do you think that the obscene markups for telephone calls, are due to people have problems operating a telephone?

I think depend on the fact that in many large businesses, the accounts departments don't bother to question minibar and other add-on charges, in the same way that the House of Commons Fees Office turned a blind eye to it.

Of course the bottom line is that the hotel can charge what they like, but if you ask the front desk staff about the number of squabbles they have at checkout time you'll get some idea of the effect it must have on repeat business.

Dr Evil said...

I had the same dilemma. However, the ethernet cable access was hopeless until I had reconfigured my computer's network settings which buggered it up for my home and work so another resetting was required. Free wifi is the way. Hotels provide a service. Blatant rip offs are not a good induicement to stay.

................................. said...

"Luckily it works in the bar, which is where I am now"

Is this a guest post by Guido? :0)

Unknown said...

Amusement... I've just posted about Hilton hiding their internet charges on their website, and you're the number one Google search result for their, um, rather expensive fees.

I'm over here. Any publicity welcome. I hear the radio's a very good place.