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.


Anonymous said...


I live in FL, but "Bogus" Boingo Wireless is based in South Santa Monica, California. I wrote the attorney general there and asked him to investigate Boingo business practices. I've also filed a complaint with the FL state attorney and the CA Better Business Bureau. That's not all, I am on a mission. I bought I am currently working on the website. Boingo needs to be exposed, they are conducting the same business practices that Blockbuster had attempted and looked where it took Blockbuster. If you do a search online, you'll see people complaining about fraudulent charges from all over the world. They'll give you access alright as long as you give them unlimited access to your bank account. Here is my story:

I was on vacation flying from ATL (Atlanta) to CDG (France). Since I was going to arrive to France late, I needed to contact my hotel and the car rental agency to let them know that I would arrive late. Unfortunately I had no way to call, my only option was through the Internet. When I fired up my browser, one of the option was Boingo = Bogus. I thought I sign up for just a month – a month later I was charged for another month. When I called to cancel the service, I was on hold for almost half hour. When I finally reached someone from customer service, she was very unhappy with me because I was canceling the service. The last monthly charge was on 6/15/09. I had sent an email to them instructing them to cancel the account and refund the $9.95. I got an email back saying please call customer service to cancel. To make a long story short customer service failed to refund me the $9.95 even though I have only used their service once. Boingo just made the biggest mistake because I will let the world know how sucks their service is. I enjoy demolishing greedy companies like Boingo. I was a big advocate when Blockbuster decided to sell movies to customers if they didn’t return them without making customers aware of the charge beforehand – that has resulted . I predict that Boingo will go out of business pretty soon if they continue on this path. The service itself is a mith, they are doing the same greedy things that several companies have tried and continue to do until someone like Math and others say enough is enough. It’s good that they monitor blogs, but I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up – soon the internet will be flooded with hating Boingo Wireless website and I’ll be the first one to put one up and report them. Bogus Boingo, you are in for a fight – see you on and how about GREED MY FRIEND, IT WILL TAKE YOU NOWHERE.

Anonymous said...


Some companies will never change, Boingo is using the same type of billing strategies that took our economy rock bottom. They believe as long as they use tricky and complicated service terms, they can get away with anything. They don't know history, Blockbusters and others have used those techniques , but look where they are now. This is wrong and we all have to take a stand. Please join me, I started a website right after Boingo failed to refund my money, money that I have worked hard for. If you have been victimized by Boingo, please take a stand. This is what I've done so far and it's very effective. I wrote a letter and mailed it to the Attorney General in California, I've also submit a complaint online at
Mail Form to: Public Inquiry Unit Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

I've also put in a complaint with the Santa Monica Better Business Bureau:
The BBB that will handle your complaint is:
BBB of the Southland
(Colton, CA)
315 N. La Cadena P.O. Box 970
Colton, CA 92324-2927
Phone: (909)825-7280
Fax: (909)825-6246

You may wish to copy or print this information for further reference.
All correspondence about your complaint will come from and should be
addressed to this BBB.

You will need this when you put in your complaint:
Company name:Boingo Wireless Inc.
Country:United States
City:Santa Monica
Street:1601 Cloverfield Boulevard, Suite 570 SouthRegion:CaliforniaPostal c
ode:90404Phone(s):+1 8008804117
(fax) +1 3105865180
By the way, they have a lot of people backing them, people who benefit from their scams.

I sent email to Clark Howard through his website. While they did not accept me to be on the show, some lady called me and suggest that I also contact the Public Service Commission. She also suggests that I write to the president (frankly it's too late for that). TAKE A STAND BOINGO VICTIMS, JOIN ME AT IHATEBOINGO.COM/BLOG OR SEARCH GOOGLE FOR IHATEBOINGO. I AM EVERYWHERE SPREADING THE NEWS AND I STARTED JUST A FEW DAYS AGO - IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES: EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT I BREAK THE NEWS TO IS A VICTORY.

Behrang Amini, MD/PhD said...

I'm confused. You paid for a one-time Boingo access, knowing that it cost money. Why did you think that when you connected to it later, that it was "a free connection, anyway, who cares?" Boingo may have its problems (e.g., making cancellation a pain in the butt), but it seems to be common sense that if it cost money the first time, it would cost money other times.

SM said...

Actually, when it comes to Boingo, it's way way worse than "accidental" charging.

I also paid for a one-day pass, out of desperation since I usually don't give out my credit card details online, one year ago.

ONE YEAR AGO. Since then, I have clicked "Cancel" and closed down the GoBoingo! pop-up whenever it shows up. Since there was no setting for disabling the pop-ups, and since I had no intention of using the service ever again save for emergency, I went into my computer settings and made sure Boingo wouldn't automatically start up.

So you can imagine my surprise when, going over my account bills for the past three months - this would be about 10 months after originally using the Boingo "service" - I see four separate charges from Boingo Wireless.

I have been nowhere near an airport these past months. In fact, I have been nowhere near wireless - being abroad, the only place I have access to internet is through my DSL line at home.

Yet Boingo has charged me somewhere upwards of $50 over these past months. They do it extremely cleverly: no single amount is greater than $15, $25 - easy to miss unless you, like me, are abroad and have no other activity on your American bank account to distract the eye.

Since the Boingo pop-up stopped showing up, I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A CLUE THEIR SOFTWARE WAS RUNNING. I checked my statements for the past year, and this isn't the first time they've snuck in a charge, so in no way is this just a technical glitch about me disabling their pop-up.

I am guessing their "service" recognized the fact I am currently in an underdeveloped country, and figured I'd be less likely to report this to my bank. There is no other way to account for the brazen way in which the charges started accummulating once I got here.

I have never, ever, EVER logged in during the three months they raped my credit card. I have used nothing but my own broadband connection. I have not been notified of the program even running.

Needless to say I'm pretty pissed at this under-handed practice, not to say outright credit card skimming, and I'll be copy & pasting this sad little tale to any other blog and forum dealing with the issue.

Please do not sign up for Boingo, no matter how big and modern the airport! It is a sophisticated scam from a seemingly presentable company - but a scam nonetheless.

What galls me the most is their PR campaign: any forum where this same complaint is lodged, a super-polite rep of theirs will inevitably show up, explaining it all away with glitches and "burps". This, dear sirs, is no burp. It's an intentional spitball in the face.

paulinwales said...

yes the same happened to me in the uk after travelling back from bangkok some months later I used a so-called free wifi in a motorway services on the m5/m50 strensham stopover UK and it charged me without my knowledge, Remove all boingo entries in your PC, after removing boingo i doubt if some free services (who have just lost boingo carrier fees) will allow you to access them as they have your MAC layer ID, this is what I now am finding out, the world of free internet has vaporised at the hands of a few greedy american bastards, just like the world global property bubble and our money. SCAM ARTISTS

Unknown said...

Boingo falsely advertises that you can buy 1 hour of connection time for $1.99. But they fail to tell you that to get that full hour of usage you must be continuously connected to their service after you initially connect. If you disconnect for any period of time the clock of your usage does not stop. In other words if you initially connect with them and use only 10 minutes and then disconnect for 40 minutes and then reconnect you will find you have only 10 minutes of time left.

I complained to iTunes (they handle the billing for Boingo's Apple App) about Boingo's deceptive advertising practice and they refunded my money after I threatened to contact my bank and do a chargeback against their billing to my account Boingo's fee. This would have cost them a plus $30 fee as bank's charge vendors for every chargeback regardless of the circumstances.

Boingo also (at airports) is monopolizing Wifi service, you will not find any airport vendor offering free Wifi connection if Boingo is present.

My opinion is that this firm is ripe for a class action suit.

Unknown said...

I just got my new S5 phone today and went through all the stuff of starting up a new phone, transferring from my old S3. Checked my bank account and saw an amount of $14 and an amount of $7 deducted by boingo. I didnt even know who they were let alone knew that i have subscribed to them. How did they get access to my account! Tried unsubscribing and i dont even have an account with them. So friggin angry!!

Unknown said...

Boingo is contracted with the military to supply internet service to single soldiers who live in military housing. So long story short they are never going out of business. They are cheap and ineffective so they will always have business.