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Monday, January 26, 2009

$12.95 A Night???

I arrived in Portland, Oregon yesterday for a continuing education meeting. As usual for a place so far from home, I'm staying in a hotel. And like most modern hotels, they have internet access. However, unlike most modern hotels, they charge for it. And frankly, I have an issue with that.

I'm staying in the Downtown Marriott in Portland (no, I'm not afraid to mention it by name), which is otherwise a very nice hotel. I've been here many times, and have always found the facilities impecable and the staff outstanding. I have also stayed in many other hotels within the Marriott "family" of hotels, at one point having a "frequent guest" membership. In my travels I have stayed in hotels other than Marriotts, some as nice and some not as nice. Of all of those hotels, this particular one is the only one where I have been charged for internet service. I have been in hotels that are just as upscale as this one, and ones that charge a third of the nightly rate, and in all of them internet service was included in the room.

Not so for this one! They charge $12.95 per day! That's the equivalent of $388.50 for a month's worth of service for a single person!!! My normal internet service at home is about $60 per month. In this day and age, where internet service is cheap, many restaurants have it for free to their customers, and even cities are setting up free wi-fi networks, charging for it in a hotel seems outrageous. This is the kind of hotel used by frequent travelers, who are normally business people. These guests are usually on the internet frequently as part of their business. Charging this much is completely taking advantage of them.

Now, if hotels in general charged, I could understand better. But out of the dozens of hotels I've stayed at, including other Marriotts, this is the only one where I have had to pay. And that's why I have an issue with it. Last night I asked the concierge why there was a charge, and he seemed to have questions about it also. He said that the corporate offices made the decision because the other downtown hotels also charged for it. In his words, when the Hyatt started giving free internet access, so would they. This means that the actual cost of the access to the hotel is really not important. It only matters what they can get away with.

And this is why I refuse to do it. Luckily, the conference has a couple of computers that they allow people to use to check email. I'm pushing it a little by blogging, but I'm trying to do it at times when other people are less likely to be here (unforutnately, there are only two computers and about 400 attendees). But I will not pay this hotel such an outrageous price to get something that I could get for free if there was a local Panera Bread or a Holiday Inn.

Okay, I'm done ranting for now.