Monday, September 8, 2008

Why Boingo needs to suck my nuts.

Boingo is a wireless roaming provider. The idea is that you can have a single Boingo account that you can use to connect to for-pay WiFi hotspots around the globe, freeing you the hassle of having to sign up to a different wireless service provider every time you wish to connect to the internet while you're traveling. Earlier this year during a layover at some shitty airport, I signed up for Boingo, as it was the preferred Internet access method in their terminals. Rather than sign up for Boingo's monthly service, I purchased a $7.95 'day pass' to just cover the period when I'd be traveling. The only time I ever needed to use Boingo was that day, however over the past few months, at various free hotspots, I've gotten GoBoingo pop-ups saying that Boingo service was available, and prompting me to log on.

Sometimes I'd hit Cancel and continue surfing, while other times I'd hit Login, figuring "well it's a free connection, anyway, who cares." Well, I should have cared, because I just discovered last week that each time I had blindly clicked the Login button while I was at hotspots that were already free and operational, Boingo silently charged me $7.95. To use a free hotspot.

Why the hell is this? Well the way that Boingo gets existing hotspots and partner service providers to become Boingo hotspots is to pay daily commissions to the operators of active hotspots, and special commissions each time a new subscriber signs up for the Boingo service. I reckon that these various hotspots where I got dinged didn't really understand what the service was; they just heard about the daily commissions and said "Hellz yes, sign me up!"

At least one time in my travels I also got charged for allowing GoBoingo to connect while I was already using a for-pay hotspot that I had already paid for.

So, do heed my warning: If you've got GoBoingo installed, only click the login button if it's not a free hotspot and you haven't already paid someone else for the connection. If you log in to Boingo after you're already connected, you will be charged but you will not get even a teeny amount of extra connectivity or functionality. Of course this only applies to day-pass people like me. If you've already got a monthly Boingo account, log in all you want. It won't do anything for you, but at least you won't get charged any extra... I think.