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The Ridiculous Tech Fees You're Still Paying

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the selling-wifi-at-the-airport-makes-you-evil dept.

The Almighty Buck 318

Esther Schindler writes "None of us like to spend money (except on shiny new toys). But even we curmudgeons can understand that companies need to charge for things that cost them money; and profit-making is at the heart of our economy. Still, several charges appear on our bills that can drive even the most complacent techie into a screaming fit. How did this advertised price turn into that much on the final bill? Why are they charging for it in the first place? Herewith, fees that make no sense at all — and yet we still fork over money for them. For example: 'While Internet access is free in coffee shops, some public transit, and even campsites, as of 2009 15% of hotels charged guests for the privilege of checking their e-mail and catching up on watching cat videos. Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'"

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Internet costs in Australia (5, Informative)

Smiddi (1241326) | about a year ago | (#45076423)

Internet costs in Australia. Its not uncommon to pay around $70/month for ADSL 1 speeds (1.5Mbps).

Re:Internet costs in Australia (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076499)

Very rare to see it free anywhere in Australia/New Zealand. I was very surprised to find free wifi access in Sydney airport last time I passed through.

Re:Internet costs in Australia (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076981)

Many (although not all) McDonalds / Starbucks / a few other food/drink chains around AU give free wifi.

As for why AU internet costs $40-$100 a month (depending on ISP and how much 'data' you get per month) - it's simply to do with international data rates and the fact there's only a dozen or so international pipes going from AU to other countries, and the fact the vast majority of your data is going to be to/from the US or EU.

You'll notice almost every time you get a free increase in your monthly data quota (likely), or a decrease in your cost (unlikely) - it's roughly a few weeks/months after the news of an international cable having undergone an upgrade, (much rarer) a new international cable having come up, or alternatively a similar cable coming up between a country AU connects to and the US/EU (which indirectly reduces the cost of your data over that set of pipes).

See: http://www.cablemap.info/

Re:Internet costs in Australia (3, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#45076949)

Internet costs in Australia. Its not uncommon to pay around $70/month for ADSL 1 speeds (1.5Mbps).

I see you're on Telstra.

Re:Internet costs in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077453)

A lot of people are on Telstra but not by choice. My ADSL2 connection uses Telstra hardware and there's nothing I can do about it. If my ISP had equipment in the exchange the cost would be half but that's impossible because the exchange is 'full'.

Re:Internet costs in Australia (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45077203)

Broadband costs are directly related to population density. Depending on the technology used, your ISP invests several million dollars on equipment that will service a FIXED distance from that equipment. The fewer people in a given area, the less money can be made in that area, yet the equipment still costs the same.

Australia: 2.8 people per km2
United States: 33.2 people per km2
South Korea: 504.5 people per km2

Re:Internet costs in Australia (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077267)

That's actually a load of nonsense - the figures you are quoting is the average across the country. Telco deployments are not based on these average figures, which is why there is actually no internet provided in the middle of the Simpson desert despite the statistic telling us there are 2.8 potential customers every square km. Serving a town or a CBD environment is not that different from place to place, although there are extremes even within the sanitised figures. The vast majority of Australians live in urban areas, ie suburbs, the customer density of Australian suburbs doesn't differ that much from UK suburbs, or US suburbs.

Re:Internet costs in Australia (4, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | about a year ago | (#45077323)

Do you know anything about Australia? Do you realize that a huge part of the country is essentially desert and uninhabited. Your population density stats mean little.

Look at a state, like Victoria, with a population density of 63/sq mile. That would put it in the middle of the US states, somewhere around Mississippi. Certainly it's no new york city, but neither is it Alaska.

Somewhere with that sort of population should easily be able to support multiple ISPs and have faster and cheaper internet service than that mentioned by the OP. Of course OP may live in the middle of Western Australia, in which case the 1.5 Mbit for $70 is probably a bargain.

Economics 101 (4, Insightful)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about a year ago | (#45076427)

Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'"

This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076461)

Quite true. P("Charge user for Wifi") ~= P("Guest with Govt/Corp Expense Acct"). My manager doesn't even give Wifi expenses a second glance when I submit my expenses.

Re:Economics 101 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076495)

I recently stayed at one of the Casino/Resort Hotels in Reno and found the "Free WiFi" was only
good for an hour. If I wanted it longer than that, it was $9.99/day !!!

Funny that the Free Wifi is what convinced me to stay there in the first place.

So I guess their advertising works.....but only ONCE

Re:Economics 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076567)

Companies only need to sell once because at $10 per person, that's $60 *billion* dollars to be made if everyone uses their product once and hates the company. Okay, okay, so word might get around about a crappy product, but you can still target 1% of the population and it's still $600 *million* dollars. Moreover, children are routinely taught to not socialize with their parents or anyone older, so those same crappy products can be re-targeted at a whole new crop of dunces, er, uninformed costumers.

Re:Economics 101 (4, Informative)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about a year ago | (#45076681)

$9.99? If you went to Reno (or Vegas) and only got ripped off for $9.99 per day, then you've done better than most people.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#45076715)

Sounds like the place where you want to spoof your MAC address.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45076955)

Most of the access points at the casino hotels (and I've stayed at plenty) require a room number and a last name.

Change your MAC all you want, but much better to figure out the names of your neighbors.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077375)

That's okay because my name is Desk...Front Desk.

Maybe, but risks offending high paying customers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076517)

I recently almost renewed my contract with Verizon (business plan @~$110/mo after fees and taxes). But Verizon Wireless tried to charge me for an "Upgrade fee". They wanted $30 just for upgrading my device (and re-subbing my contract). This is on top of the normal price of the phone and 2/year contract. So I left for T-Mobile instead and the coverage has been very good and LTE speeds even faster (suburban northeast USA).

Agreed with the rest of the article too, but I cant remember a time when I had to pay a to check my bank balance. That's either an illegal fee or the author needs to switch banks desperately. (preferably to a credit Union).

Tethering...is possibly the most ridiculous of fees though.

Re:Maybe, but risks offending high paying customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076807)

Agreed with the rest of the article too, but I cant remember a time when I had to pay a to check my bank balance. That's either an illegal fee or the author needs to switch banks desperately. (preferably to a credit Union).

That is because it isn't your bank balance. The way payroll cards work is that it is a sub-ledger on your employer's bank account. Therefore, they exist in an odd realm of law because it isn't your money but you have the right to access it. But this also means that as long as you get a pay stub of some form and they give you the option to opt out (usually in the mountain of paperwork you sign when you get the job) they can use them. And since they are in that sort of middle ground, they can charge basically whatever they want (as it isn't really your account and the employer can agree to whatever fees they want). The only exceptions are for fees that are not allowed for ANY type of account (because it is still drawn on your employer's account) and in states that consider these types of accounts trust accounts.

Re:Maybe, but risks offending high paying customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076925)

I actually did the same exact thing. I went to upgrade my phone and they wanted to do the 30 dollar upgrade fee, so I cut the Internet from my plan, dropped to a dumb phone, paid the 25 dollar whatever fee to do all that, then switched to TMobile. Paying 50 a month for unlimited text, 500 minutes (about 450 more than i actually use) and 2GB data when I'm on wifi most of the time anyway is pretty sweet. Plus I can bail if they start to rip me off, which really was what sealed the deal.

Re:Maybe, but risks offending high paying customer (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45077007)

The only one that's ripping me off right now is AT&T, and that's only because Comcast would screw me harder. All I'm buying from them is DSL and I'm paying $47 a month. Meanwhile on my phone I not only get unlimited internet* (with email from my 10 year old address, YouTube, Google), but a phone with long distance, voicemail, 411, roaming, all unlimited and included in the $42 I pay them. I'm not going to name them but they're not the only ones and some may even be better. I've been with them for 5 years with no problems except their website is an ugly clusterfuck, but most are these days.

Hell, even my credit card company doesn't screw me over, and I'll bet most of you the people you guys deal with don't screw you, either. But you're nerds, and we're not normal (at least I'm not). I use a small local bank, and they're damned near free. Wasting your money is stupid.

But most people? Hell, I'll tell people what I'm paying for my phone when they're paying three times that for less stuff, and they go on using the expensive carrier they're with. And switching carriers is easy; maybe expensive if you're on a contract but easy.

Why in the hell am I paying seven dollars more for internet alone than a phone WITH internet?? I guess because there's competition in the cell phone business. I wish my phone company sold internet.

* I listen to KSHE on it all day long at work, that's eight hours a day using its radio, plus when I ask it the temperature or read a novel or newspaper

Re:Economics 101 (2, Insightful)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about a year ago | (#45076545)

Bzzt. While that seems intuitive, it is too simple.

Looking at which places charge, it is usually the ones frequented by business travel. Near a corporate office, convention center, or similar.

Exceptions exist, but in my travel that has been 100% true.

Re:Economics 101 (4, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#45076895)

Free WiFi. Just connect, often to an unsecured AP. At most, there's a single key for all guests.

Paid WiFi. Supposedly, they have to have a way to track your usage to get the charges straight. So you get your own login. Now they know who is who and, at a minimum, what services you are contacting (even for encrypted connections). For high rollers, that is valuable information to have. It could be used for anything from marketing to industrial espionage.

Re:Economics 101 (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#45076639)

This. Pretty much everything in the article just screams "the author is a clueless git" to me.

Re:Economics 101 (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45077027)

This. Pretty much everything in the article just screams "the author is a clueless git" to me.

Overrated? Bullshit, that's insightful. Come on, guys, are there gits on slash... DOH!

Re:Economics 101 (2)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#45076663)

Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'"

This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

Works the same other places too. Since two Paneras* in a row were "unable" to connect me to the Internet for hours on end (spare me the peak hours jazz, even then you are supposed to get 1/2 hr. and I was able to connect to other nearby networks) I stick to Starbucks when I want to work away from the house. What I drink is nearly the same price either place and the SBX staff in these parts usually give you a heads up if they are having trouble.

Beware the Church of Panera. When I mentioned this issue on Facebook, a gaggle of them cackled that it is "free" and should not be complained about, ever. I really don't understand those people.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

egranlund (1827406) | about a year ago | (#45076957)

Not to mention Panera internet (at least for me) is very slow compared to Starbucks and Panera also blocks VPN.

Re:Economics 101 (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45077137)

Since two Paneras* in a row were "unable" to connect me to the Internet for hours on end (spare me the peak hours jazz, even then you are supposed to get 1/2 hr. and I was able to connect to other nearby networks) I stick to Starbucks when I want to work away from the house.

Starbucks? Hell, I go to McDonalds, a buck for a coffee (that's before my geezer discount). OK, not really, I go to a a redneck bar in the ghetto [google.com] whose motto is "Got Guts?" ($1.25 drafts) Caddycorner from an Outlaws motorcycle club headquarters. I wrote most of Nobots there (out soon, need cover art and it's done).

WiFi? I know the owner and have the password.

You guys need to learn how to stop wasting money. I need to get the password to George Ranks from them, I think I'm in range here...

Re:Economics 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076689)

No a fool and his money soon part.

Re:Economics 101 (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45076703)

This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

While this is true, I think the author was pointing out one of the 'flaws' of capitalism; Technology and infrastructure makes offering such amenities a very cheap proposition. And yet, you wind up paying through the nose for them in certain situations; It is basically a misrepresentation of the true cost of the good or service being provided. They can say the hotel room with everything a "less price sensitive" customer is looking for is offered at a competitive room rate, but the room rate quoted, and which is being compared against with other providers, is not the actual cost you will pay for it. This makes straight comparisons between different offerings difficult; It does not encourage a truly competitive marketplace, because it hides costs. It's sortof like the old axiom "Give away the razor, charge for the blades", except in this case, you can only see the cost of the razor, not the blades.

This is fundamentally anti-competitive and is not a truly 'free' marketplace, because price comparison is made very difficult in an effort to trap the less savvy agent. While "caveat emptor" may be a nice rebuttal in theory, in practice those uttering this phrase are making a far-reaching assumption: That the buyer is capable of being aware. Uttering these words is like saying "Oh, there's a minefield over there" after you've already stepped on a mine. If one truly supports the free market, then such predatory pricing tactics cannot be endorsed.

A true free market system works best when all the agents have equal access to the data needed to make informed decisions; This ensures true competition, which is the driver of innovation. By obscuring these details and attaching hidden fees, it contributes to market inefficiency and hinders competition -- you can't be sure what you're paying for is at a competitive price, and thus, competition is less prevalent. Less competition means greater inefficiency. It means less trade. Those dollars aren't working as hard, and while it may benefit the individual vendors participating in such deception, it harms the entire economy.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#45077009)

Eh, yes and no.

Customers who aren't price sensitive, aren't, well, price sensitive. If they cared enough, they'd gather the information. But the extra ding just doesn't make the extra information gathering worth it to them.

Nobody has perfect information. We all make trade offs.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45077449)

Customers who aren't price sensitive, aren't, well, price sensitive.

"Hey, I'm so rich I don't care how much anything costs!"
-- Said no rich person. Ever.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | about a year ago | (#45077181)

You want misrepresentation of cost? Try Sweet Tea at just about any deli. It costs me about $.25/gallon to make it at home without a bulk discount but delis will often sell 16-20 oz for almost $2. They could charge less, but why would they? People are already buying gallons of it for at least 4000% more than cost and very happy about it.

Re:Economics 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077233)

The difference being that when you purchase sweet tea at the deli, you're paying not just for the cost of the ingredients for making sweet tea, but the labor to make it, and the convenience of not making it yourself.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45077187)

Internet is free at hotels catering to salesmen who pay their own way and at high end luxury hotels. Hotels catering to people on expense accounts charge.

Re:Economics 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076739)

I stayed some time ago at the crown plaza tower in Copenhagen. http://www.cpcopenhagen.dk/en
They had a great system where the internet was free but you only got 2 megabit. Then you could pay extra and get up to 20 megabit. Pretty cool idea.
The free version was good enough for me for casual web browsing and I only upgraded it when I had to VPN back to the office and charge that on the company card.
 

Re:Economics 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076889)

At the hotels, it is more Ego 101...
- Business expense at the hotel
- Typically financial wealth is proportionate to monetary flashing in public

What about money transfer fees and the currency spread profit model?

Re:Economics 101 (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#45076891)

This. What else would it be?

If you're willing to pay for something, you will be charged for it. Unless someone offers the same for free AND this offer makes you go to him instead of your original choice, nothing will change.

I, for one, was amazed about the free soda refill policy in many restaurants in the US. I can almost see how this came to existence. Some fast food chain did it as an ad stunt, and people flocked there, so everyone had to follow suit, and eventually even "normal" restaurants "had" to do it to attract customers. And suddenly everyone does it.

Think you'd get a free refill anywhere if it wasn't for someone starting to offer it AND being successful with it?

Same here. Any kind of service will only become the norm if it attracts customers.

Re:Economics 101 (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#45077171)

The cost of the syrup in a soda is about 5 cents, so considering the soda cost you $2, they're not losing anything by giving you a free refill. It keeps you in the store where you're more likely to buy something else.

Re:Economics 101 (2)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45077201)

A fast food chain probably did it as soon as they realized it takes more money to pay your employee to make drinks than you lose due to the free refills.

Re:Economics 101 (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#45077431)

Exactly. Some genius at a corporate HQ figured out that at any given moment, tens of thousands of people are standing around waiting for their fast food orders to come up. This represented a vast untapped pool of willing and free labor.

If you look at the soda fountains of a large restaurant at a busy time, it often looks like it would easily take two dedicated employees to just to fill drinks at the rate that customers are filling their own. Maybe even more would be required to keep track of all the drinks and match them to orders. That's a lot of extra staffing.

Re:Economics 101 (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year ago | (#45077055)

This isn't odd at all. People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

You also have to look at who is footing the bill. At a lot of business hotels everything is on the expense account or corporate card, people won't really care what they have to pay as someone else is paying it(and it's often all on one bill).

Re:Economics 101 (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#45077135)

People staying at budget and midscale hotel chains are more price sensitive, so they're going to not come to your hotel if you don't have free wifi. The people staying a luxury hotels are not as price sensitive and are more likely to be worried about other things beside a charge for internet access when selecting a hotel.

Put a bit more cynically, those high-priced hotels cater to people who have no concept of the value of money, and show their contempt for their customers' financial skills at every possible opportunity. The problem is, a lot of those folks end up at those hotels because some travel agency booked them there in a block along with the rest of their tour group. Those folks are pretty unhappy about it.

These days, I just make sure I have enough of a data allowance on my phone so that I don't have to care about the Internet service at hotels, under the assumption that half of them will want to extort money for Internet service and half of the remaining hotels won't have service that actually works. It really doesn't make sense to spend ten bucks per day for Internet service on a ten-day trip when you could spend ten or fifteen bucks for 30 days and a gigabyte of cellular data.

2009? (3, Insightful)

jaymz666 (34050) | about a year ago | (#45076433)

Seriously? That's 4 years ago. That's a lifetime in the industry

Re:2009? (0)

goosebane (740956) | about a year ago | (#45076457)

Yeah, I'm thinking it is quite a bit higher than that. I rarely encounter free wifi in my room when I travel, although most hotels still have it for free in the lobby, so if you're lucky you can connect to the lobby wifi. I need to get around to configuring my phone to work as a hotspot, which brings me to another ridiculous fee, the fee to use my phone as a hotspot. If you're charging me for data accessed through my phone, I shouldn't have to pay extra because the data ends up being passed along by my phone.

Re:2009? (0)

spamchang (302052) | about a year ago | (#45076477)

And it's been true ever since. So, yeah.

Screw that! I'll just hop on my WiFi hotspot (4, Funny)

Naatach (574111) | about a year ago | (#45076441)

Aww snap! $250 cell phone bill from overages in data usage.

Whatever the Traffic Will Bear (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076451)

Some aspects of the free market can make some things irritating, if not unbearable. It's not hard to imagine the problems that would exist if water rights were undefined.

Corporate Grifting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076459)

In a lot of countries, bribing policemen is viewed as a basic staple of life. "Of course" there is police bribery. A million small rationalizations follow.

Here in the USA, it's nearly unthinkable.

I wonder if it is the same thing with corporate grifting. Here in the USA, it's viewed as a basic staple of life. A million small rationalizations follow.

It should be unthinkable.

who is paying for it (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45076465)

luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'

The company is paying for that.

Re:who is paying for it (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#45076505)

luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'

The company is paying for that.

Exactly - if you're staying at a luxury hotel chain and it's worth your time to complain about a $9.99 or $15 Wifi fee or "resort charge", you probably shouldn't be staying at a luxury hotel chain. But chances are that if you complain about it when you check out, they'll waive the charges

Re:who is paying for it (2)

rk (6314) | about a year ago | (#45077347)

Maybe I'm weird, but I've been known to burn 10 bucks to get a 5 dollar charged reversed. What's the old saying? "Millions for defense, but not one penny for tribute?" Perhaps my sense of honor and rightness are a little too finely developed. :-)

Re:who is paying for it (2)

Alan Shutko (5101) | about a year ago | (#45077333)

We've got a Sheraton by one of our large branches. We have LOTS of people flying there every week. As a result, the company has negotiated with the Sheraton that they waive the wifi charge for all of us, automatically.

Capitalism works both ways.

eMedia (3, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#45076479)

What about ebooks at the same price as the content but with making a big stock with expected losses, stocking, transporting, the physical media (paper, ink, printing, human labor) and all the chains of intermediaries with their corresponding profits? What about the same, but for music? What about movies, where you also must count too the big chunk that takes each theater?

Re:eMedia (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45076527)

What about ebooks ... music ... movies

Prices are not determined by cost. Prices are determined by what people are willing to pay. The COGS (cost of goods sold) only sets the floor.

Not "odd" at all (5, Insightful)

jedinite (33877) | about a year ago | (#45076489)

>Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.

Not odd in the slightest -- the majority of said "luxurious" hotel rooms are being consumed by (in no particular order) #1 the price insensitive and #2 business travelers (arguably a great overlap, if not outright subset, of group #1).

Few of either group in covering a hotel bill for a few nights in San Francisco are going to care much if it's $845 or $885 with Internet.

Finally, those in group #2 are much more likely to have elite status with the hotel, which typically (at the higher levels) includes free internet -- making it a "valuable" perk for your brand loyalty...

Re:Not "odd" at all (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year ago | (#45077215)

Most real luxury hotels have free wifi anyway. It's the upper-middle business places that charge. I've never paid for Internet at a place that was over $500/night.

Just market forces (3, Interesting)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#45076519)

Companies want to sell their products at the highest price each consumer will pay. By charging large fees for convenience items they are able to extract more money from people who place a higher value on their own time.

So, you could save money getting a SIM card for your phone to use internationally, but that would take time and make it more difficult for people to contact you. You could go to the hotel lobby for internet, but using the internet in your hotel room saves time.

This has the perverse effect that it may make sense for companies to spend extra money to waste your time or to provide worse service, if it pushes you to one of their higher priced services - assuming of course that they don't push you to a competitor.

Its just one of the very annoying effects of the free market. If you want to feel good about it, think if it as a "tax" on the wealthy who are able to put a higher value on their own time.

payroll cards (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#45076535)

Their last example - payroll cards with fees ought to be outright illegal. IMO.

Re:payroll cards (2)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#45077059)

Their last example - payroll cards with fees ought to be outright illegal. IMO.

In most civilised countries, they are.

Re:payroll cards (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year ago | (#45077213)

I live in a civilised country. I have no idea what a payroll card is.

Re:payroll cards (1)

quintus_horatius (1119995) | about a year ago | (#45077299)

Basically, it's your paycheck given to you on a debit card.

Re:payroll cards (2)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year ago | (#45077403)

This sounds perilously close to 19th century England where workers were routinely paid in tokens that could only be spent in company run stores (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truck_system)... and was frequently rorted. Are employers getting a kickback from the debit card providers? Why do people afflicted with this simply stand there and demand that the debt, i.e. their pay in arrears, is settled in US (I assume) legal tender or direct deposit to a bank account?

Re:payroll cards (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077447)

A while ago I was staying away from home at a university town working in a start-up (pre-funding) and found myself in financial dire straits. I had to find work ASAP and took a shit job at a 24-7 convenience store a block away from the 35,000 student university to scrape money together and get my ass home. When I quit, the place was going through the paperwork to become a 7-Eleven. Within weeks, we would stop receiving paychecks, and instead be issued a debit card from the company which they would pay us with. There were fees for every single type of transaction with the card. Withdrawals, purchases, and even balance inquiries would cost somewhere between 1 and 4 dollars (I can't remember). There was an opt-out, but the process was a pain in the ass.

easy to avoid; differential pricing (0)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#45076581)

Here’s a great business idea: Cheap, rental smartphones at international airports. I’d put down a hundred bucks deposit and $10 a day for a local phone that doesn’t come with all the nickel-and-dime charges.

You can get those easily. The BestBuy kiosks at various airports even sell them.

DVR fees and cable modem fees

If you still subscribe to cable, they know they have a sucker, so they sell you this crap too.

Yet with landlines, we still have to pay attention to where we’re dialing

And you have a landline ... because?

Yet, while Internet access is free in coffee shops, some public transit, and even campsites, as of 2009 15% of hotels charged guests for the privilege of checking their e-mail and catching up on watching cat videos.

They also charge as much for stale beer and cocktail peanuts as restaurants do for an entire dinner. In turn, though, they are also getting fleeced by cities with ridiculous taxes, fees, and regulations, so I guess it's only fair. Avoid all of it and go with AirBNB.

Often, all of this is just a case of "differential pricing": they simply want to extract from each person what they can easily afford to pay without feeling pain; think of it as a "progressive income tax". It's the same for many tech products, where you pay a steep increase in price for minor differences in features, or even just unlocking features. And if you're on a budget, it's probably better this way, because those excessive WiFi charges that other people pay are easy to avoid for you, but they are keeping overall prices down and allow you to stay in a hotel that you might otherwise not be able to afford.

Contributing to the profusion of these charges is that, for many people, those are business expenses anyway, so they are paid for by businesses or tax payer subsidized.

Re:easy to avoid; differential pricing (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#45077127)

And you have a landline ... because?

We live in Seattle, an earthquake and volcano zone, where a 70 mph wind causes region-wide power outages that can last for a week or more and flooding can isolate a large chunk of a county for days. In an emergency the cellular phone network is useless, in fact it's generally over capacity just during especially bad rush hour traffic. Land lines will stay up as long as there is power at the closest central switching station, and even if you do have trouble making a local call an outgoing long distance call (to a relative or friend out of state) will pretty much always work.

Re:easy to avoid; differential pricing (2)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year ago | (#45077275)

And you have a landline ... because?

Try and get an ADSL service without a copper cable. In Australia the majority of ADSL services are bundled with a plain old telephone service (POTS, pricing is fixed so that a naked wire is just as expensive but with fewer service guarantees). That, of course, does not make using the POTS mandatory. VOIP works just fine at fixed cost-per-call nationally and far-cheaper-than-traditional rates internationally.

Is this regionally dependent? (2)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#45076593)

I travel quite a bit and especially in the less developed world I stay in upmarket hotels (J.W. Marriott etc.) that generally don't any longer charge for internet.

In my experience these things improve rapidly, last year I was in a Best Western in Aberdeen Scotland and they had some outrageous price like 15 pounds, for 24 hrs. of access, on check out I complained and they gave it to me for the price of a 1 hr. ticket, 5 pounds.
This year it's for 'free', or in other words; included in the room price.

Virtually all restaurants now have free internet.

During the last few years the UK was really expensive, at a time that most hotels in The Netherlands already offered net access for free.

Re:Is this regionally dependent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076751)

I think that a lot of this free wifi in restaurants and bars is for people's iphones and mobile devices. It's really convenient and free.

Good Topic. Mediocre Article (0)

rueger (210566) | about a year ago | (#45076599)

Save your time, the 45 seconds it would take you to read TFA won't tell you more than the summary.

As far as hotel charges: everything in a major hotel is expensive, but then again you get a depth and quality of service that Motel 6 will never, ever provide. It's about the overall experience and level of comfort, not about nickle and diming on peanuts stuff.

Speaking of which, mini-bar cashews @ $18 are the best, but for a real treat order up a full carafe of room service hot chocolate after a long day.

Re:Good Topic. Mediocre Article (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about a year ago | (#45077013)

I've seen at least one Motel 6 that charged for wifi. I think it was about $6/day, and I didn't stay there. The EconoLodge down the road a mile was about the same price and had free wifi.

Re:Good Topic. Mediocre Article (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#45077133)

That's amusing. The original name of that motel chain was 'Six Dollars A Day'. Really.

Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076621)

Comcast charges $10/month for HD TV service...in 2013. I guess this HD thing is just a fad anyway.

Touch-tone fees on Landlines? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#45076685)

I haven't had a landline in well over a decade, so all I can do is wonder - do the telcos still charge a monthly fee for touch-tone service? That used to be the standard despite the fact that maintaining rotary functionality was the more costly option for most telcos.

Re: Touch-tone fees on Landlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076805)

Because of the tone fee, my parents kept their phone service as pulse. I would have to make sure the modem was setup as pulse. One day my dad said nynex just upgraded their system and the line is now tone dialing.

Re:Touch-tone fees on Landlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077039)

> still charge a monthly fee for touch-tone service?

CenturyLink in Seattle does, and my mother pays it because they decided to no longer allow customers to use pulse dialing, even for 911. My mother had a stroke and laid on the floor for nearly three days before she was found because CenturyLink decided to screw over their customers in the area. She doesn't use her landline often so CenturyLink had actually broken the line quite a while before her stroke without her realizing it. CenturyLink lied to the city and said it is required because the neighborhood has a universal SLiC, but they do not.

They also add the charge automatically if you use a touch tone phone. She obviously didn't call them to ask to have a charge added. It appeared on the month after I plugged in a touch tone phone and made a call.

Of course all of this is a moot point now that Comcast has destroyed the buried phone lines to her neighborhood so POTS lines and DSL lines no longer work. Comcast was very smart with their attack on CenturyLink. They cut parallel to the phone lines so they were able to ruin nearly a 100 meters of lines rather than simply cutting straight across them like most abusive cable companies do. As the Comcast manager I talked to about it joked, they learned that technique from watching videos of a pair of teenagers killing themselves by cutting their wrists the "correct" way along the veins instead of across. CenturyLink laughing at my mother was pretty viscous, but Comcast is even worse. Offering to show an elderly woman videos of suicides is beyond even what CenturyLink is capable of.

Re:Touch-tone fees on Landlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077165)

Really? You trusted Clink with your own mother's health. The problem here is you. You know damn well that they are not competent enough to provide phone service. She suffered because of you. You're the typical hipster from Seattle that depends on the government to protect them from companies when it is the Seattle government that gives the crooks the monopoly in the first place and doesn't require the monopoly to actually provide service. I have a landline because my daughter has health problems, but Clink has only been able to get the phone to work once at night when I needed it. It's just too damp here most of the year for a company that doesn't use waterproof connectors to actually think they can offer service. Of course, Comcast is worse. They left a 2" hole in my outside brick wall and left without telling me that they couldn't install the cable because they couldn't cross the creek behind my house. You'd think they would check that before getting out the big hammer drill. I'm still fighting the $7k installation bill they sent. They already hit my credit with the charge so I had to pay a higher interest rate for the loan for the handicapped van I had to buy this summer. Both companies are crooks with no oversight. Why did you trust them with your mother? You should be ashamed.

Re:Touch-tone fees on Landlines? (4, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#45077163)

My uncle was the first person we knew to have touch-tone service, back in the 1960s. I think there was a $1.50/month charge for it. By the time my folks got their first touch-tone phone in the early '80s touch-tone service was free. In 1997 Glenn's partner looked over the phone bill and found that they were still getting charged the $1.50/month fee.

Up until the late 1960s you didn't own your phone, you leased it from Ma Bell. When I worked in a bank trust department in the early 1990s we paid a lot of our customers' bills for them, and I was shocked to see that many of them were STILL leasing their phone from the phone company. In one case at least I knew that the phone had been thrown out when it broke two decades before.

Internet when traveling to the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076705)

As a foreigner, I have been looking for a way to get internet access for my phone, and sometimes when staying a hotel( some demands insane prices for WiFi when all I want to do is find and book a hotel for upcoming days).
I have gotten used to being able to search for everything on my phone, finding a place to eat, booking hotel for the next day, ideas on what to see or do

So far what I have come up with would be buying a Verizon MiFi router at Best Buy for 79.99$ and then go to their website and enable it with a prepaid plan. Then use it as a backup for when hotel / cafe / whatever WiFi aren't available.
I briefly looked at xcomglobal for MiFi rental, but it seemed expensive(with the mifi insurance added) and theri "unlimited" bandwidth seemed to be "a couple of 100 megabytes over 2-3 days" when you dug into their website, so I might as well buy the Verizon MiFi and then add the 10GB prepaid to it everytime i visit.

I haven't come across any plans with decent data rates. But perhaps I am spoiled with data plans like LTE 1000GB a month for 72$ ( http://www.3.dk/Privat/Mobilt-bredband/) or 200GB for 54$, or 500GB + HBO Go for 72$ ( http://telia.dk/mobiltbredbaand )

Tunnels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076707)

Who the hell still pays for internet access in public places when you can have a VPS for less than 5$/mo and OpenVPN over icmp/dns tunnels tricks are trivial to deploy ?

The main reason why i never manage to get internet in hotels is the lack of signal coverage, most of the time i have to fallback to a nearer private AP which i have to force the encryption key. Hopefully it works more than not.

internet fees in amsterdam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076725)

The article mentioned some expensive internet fees in Amsterdam. I went to Amsterdam last year for a week for work (did not enjoy it there at all). They wanted to charge something like $20/day for internet or $30/day for internet+pay tv. The note in the hotel(Holiday Inn) said I could get both and it would show up as a single "communications charge" on the bill for each night.

Given the pay tv package included a bunch of hard core porn channels I obviously opted for that.

Of course my company paid for it.

Hopefully don't have to return to Europe any time soon, not my kind of place.

Caller ID (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076727)

Why the fuck do I have to pay for CID data? They had to go out of their fucking way to block it. Greedy fucks.

Upscale hotel customers get everything free. (3, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#45076735)

Most upscale hotel customers are business travelers and their corporate employer is picking up the tab. They don't even look at the bill. If they do it is to make sure the correct euphemism is used for the porn bill. So in some sense they get everything free.

Again the real big businesses get into large contracts with the hotel chains and they get a different rate. But then the hotels get smart and add "service" fees. And the next round of contract talks things get negotiated. The cycle goes on.

In all our travel, if there is no free parking, free breakfast and free wi-fi, I am not even looking at the hotel. They get filtered out.

I know about hotels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076741)

The manager of a group of hotels, branded at three price tiers, told me that they only charge for the stuff at the highest priced hotel because those customers will pay it. They could walk to the building next door, literally, and get it free.

Verizon phone upgrade. (3, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#45076765)

Verizon wanted to charge me a $30 "upgrade" fee when I tried to upgrade to a new iPhone. They're already charging me $200 for the phone and $80/month for the service (plus a new two year contract to replace my recently lapsed one). That means I'm already going to be paying them $2,120. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal for them, what possible expense could this upgrade fee cover?

DNS and ICMP Tunnels (4, Insightful)

utkonos (2104836) | about a year ago | (#45076791)

Why pay? Connect to their access point and tunnel all of your traffic over DNS or ICMP. The firewalls that they use rarely block ICMP and almost never block UDP port 53. All you need is to have a client installed on your machine and run a server out on the interwebs somewhere that is running the right server software and acts as a proxy. The tech to do this has been around for quite a while, and most linux distros have the clients and servers in their repositories. The main system used for DNS is called iodine [code.kryo.se] and there are two different, very good ICMP tunnels that I know of. One is here [gerade.org] and another here [sourceforge.net] . If you search through your favorite linux or BSD distro's repository search for "ip over icmp" or "ip over dns" and you'll find what you need.

Re:DNS and ICMP Tunnels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076921)

Why pay? Connect to their access point and tunnel all of your traffic over DNS or ICMP. The firewalls that they use rarely block ICMP and almost never block UDP port 53...

Is there a clean, elegant explanation of this (without having to resort to being a script-kiddie)? I get the idea of what's going on, but it's a bit convoluted. It appears one can do it in a step by step way with proper access to everything; then a way with complications that you've described by circumventing the router due to inaccessibility. Signed, an embarrased AC.

Re:DNS and ICMP Tunnels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077051)

For the Windows types... Get an SSH server setup at home (or wherever,) then use putty to tunnel the ports from your local machine through port 53. I'm less familiar with routing over ICMP, but it is probably a similar process.

Re:DNS and ICMP Tunnels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077065)

Oops forgot to login, can't edit... A basic diagram of this is as follows:

Laptop Outbound Connection -> Loopback Adapter (software) -> Putty, Connected to home SSH server on port 53 -> Home SSH Server -> Original Destination IP/Port.

Re:DNS and ICMP Tunnels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077073)

Got my vote. And bonus points if this can be done in a system-agnostic manner. Easier to pull out a tablet than a 17" system...
 
Captcha: instruct

Bastards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076825)

How about the "We never used to charge extra to send you a paper bill, but now we are going to" fee?
Or the "it costs us money to publish your phone number in the phone books, but we're going to charge you not to publish it" fee?

My Quick Rundown (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45076855)

#1: Long Distance Fees:
BS from the phone companies backed by laws they could try to change but don't want to.

#2: Hotel Internet Fees:
BS from the hotel. Cheap hotels don't do it because dealing with complaints would eat all the profit. Expensive hotels do it because rich people don't care because the bill is still below their "to cheap to care about the details" threshold.

#3: International Data Fees:
And you thought internet peering partnerships were difficult to negotiate? Get a sim card or a tempoary local phone.

#4: TV/Internet Equipment Fees:
Overblown. The break-even point on buying your own equipment is ~2-4 years of ownership, assuming you never have a problem.

#5: Bank Fees:
This is the banks getting away with anything they can at any opportunity. The payroll cards abuses should be considered criminal offenses.

Just cause more use it doesnt mean its more free (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#45076909)

I think people get so used to things they forget how much SHIT goes on in the background to make this stuff work. Honestly this "article" is nothing but a ranting old man bitching about how privileges should become entitlements as he hopscotches around the world on some one else's dime just to bring us drivel like this.

Please let me just cry you a river cause a smiley face that bounced all around the world though miles of wires, switches and exchanges making up one of the most stable communications network man has ever made cost you 25 cents cause your too stupid to understand your contract.

Touch-tone fees (1)

Maow (620678) | about a year ago | (#45076933)

Bell Canada land lines: $2+ / month touch-tone fees.

And pulse dialing is not available according to Bell.

Touch-tone, that new-fangled tech from the 1970s...

Fuck you Bell.

Re:Touch-tone fees (2)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a year ago | (#45077443)

> Touch-tone, that new-fangled tech from the 1970s...

Touch-tone has been around since 1962 - over half a century ago.

http://laughingsquid.com/century-21-calling-the-introduction-of-the-touch-tone-phone-1962/

If the rich weren't being charged a premium... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077047)

If the rich weren't being charged a premium for their super duper luxury services such as, erm, wi-fi internet access, then they would feel that they were not staying in a place of luxury and sophistication and exclusive facilities that only they can afford and were therefore less important.

It makes an awful lot of economic sense once you understand it from this idiotic perspective.

Not much of a question (1, Offtopic)

sootman (158191) | about a year ago | (#45077157)

"Why are they charging for it in the first place?"

Duh: because they can.

This isn't even Econ 101. This is stuff everyone knows before they even enroll in an Econ class.

Wait a second... (1)

WSOGMM (1460481) | about a year ago | (#45077237)

I'm posting this from a hotel with pay-for internet access. I'm paying about $200 a night for two beds (so not too expensive, but expensive for me). As soon as I saw that the internet costs money here, I thought to myself, well shit, I won't be coming to the Hilton again. So yes, I would imagine that it does affect the amount of customers they get, but apparently not enough for them to lose money on charging for access. Fortunately the conference that I'm attending is paying for my internet.

As a side note, they don't offer any free breakfast either. :(

[/rant]

that's why congress refuses to fund you anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077309)

I mean, here they are trying to employ H1B's and all you do is piss it away on things like internet fees.

Not as clear cut as it seems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45077329)

1) Regardless, internet services has to cost something. If the cost is not paid upfront, it's hidden within other items. Like in the case of budget hotels, part of the cost of the room. Or in the case of free wifi hotspots, cost of advertising.
2) Paid service usually implies better service. Like perhaps, more privacy, better uptime, more stability, etc.
3) Part of the whole perception issue. Coffee is WAY cheaper to purchase from unbranded coffeeshops than in starbucks.

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