It’s a perfectly fine hotel in many respects, with one glaring exception: the Kafkaesque way in which the ISP LodgeNet manages this hotel’s in-room internet access. If you plan to stay at this hotel, here’s a tip to ensure that you don’t get ripped off…
Long story short: If you stay at this hotel and wish to use more than one laptop for internet access, insist on a refund for all charges past the first access charge per day. I got such a refund, and you should too.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ME
When I made the reservation for this room, I was told that our in-room broadband Ethernet connection would cost $9.99 per day. I’m sharing a room with fellow blogger Koan Bremner. She signed up for the in-room internet access and has been using it for the last two days.
This morning, for the first time during our stay, I plugged our Ethernet cable into my laptop. Much to my surprise, I was greeted with a screen asking me to pay $9.99 for access.
Hmmmmm, I thought… We’ve already paid for our room’s connection. This must be a mistake.
So I called down to the hotel front desk and explained the situation. After about 15 minutes they sent up an engineer to our door. This gentleman merely took our information, agreed that there should be no further charges, and said he’d look into it. He noted that the Lodgenet access system was “only installed 3 days ago,” and so they were still working out kinks. Fair enough. However, why this exchange had to involve a physical visit escapes me.
About another 15 minutes later the front desk called back to say that they couldn’t solve the problem immediately, but that if I paid for access from my laptop, that charge would be refunded at checkout time.
OK, fine. I clicked the option to pay for access.
I promptly received an error message: Maximum number of users exceeded.
I called the front desk again to explain the situation, and they informed me that I’d have to call LodgeNet. I clarified that no, this was not a problem that I (their paying customer) should have to solve that they should call LodgeNet.
Which they did. About 15 minutes later (are you adding up all these 15-minute increments?) the hotel operator rang back with LodgeNet on the line, to “walk me through my computer” as she said. (A characterization which raised my hackles.)
The LodgeNet support guy had me repeat the process which led to failure. The same thing happened, of course. While I was staring at the error message screen, he said, “Just try to hit CNN.com.” I did, and to my surprise the site popped up after a second.
Without apology for his company’s cryptic and maddening error message, the LodgeNet rep then went on to explain that it’s his company’s policy to bill for daily in-room broadband per computer, rather than per room.
I paused, and said, “That’s incredibly stupid, you know.”
He paused, and said “That’s how we do it.”
I said, “You realize that I’m sitting in a Silicon Valley hotel, literally just down the street from Yahoo! headquarters, and you’re expecting to charge my friend and me $20 just so that we can both log on to the net from the hotel room we’ve already paid for?”
I continued, “That is very, very stupid.”
He said, “I don’t know what to tell you.”
I said, “I sure you don’t. And you will be hearing about it.”
…Which concluded that phone call.
I’m glad the Hilton Santa Clara at least realizes that it’s not reasonable to charge for in-room access on a per-computer basis. It would be even better if they realized that, given their Silicon Valley location, there should be free wireless throughout the hotel.
They do offer free wireless in the lobby here, but I had no luck with that. In a half hour of trying to use the lobby wireless yesterday I was able to get onto the hotel’s network, but not out onto the internet. Other people had success, I didn’t. Perhaps their network here isn’t Mac-happy.
Oh well at least the in-room broadband is working, and hopefully the hotel will live up to its promise and refund my access charge when we check out later today.
Again, if you’re staying here and this happens to you, insist on a refund for the extra access charges. Give them my name, and tell them you know they gave me such a refund. Then just stand there and stare at them. That usually helps.