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WORST. INTERNET. ACCESS. EVER.

It’s a fantastic meeting here at #atheistcon, in a beautiful part of the world, with huge crowds (I have seen the theater, and I have seen it filled with people, and I am intimidated), and I can tell this convention is going to be a huge success. But I have to complain about one thing, and that is the internet access. It’s no fault of the organizers, but it’s a universal problem of big greedy hotels.

I can say from experience staying at way too many hotels that the South Wharf Hilton in Melbourne has provided the very worst experience in wifi ever. It’s abominable. Let me tell you what fun I’ve had.

The first day was OK; we actually briefly had free access. Everything was smooth, I was pleased, but of course it could not last, because then it stopped working altogether — we were told that they were going to fix it.

The next day, it was sort of working. My wife and I could both get on, I could access it via my iPad, but that’s also where my laptop started mysteriously crashing (a problem that has since vanished, since new wifi software started working).

Later that day, though, everything changed. We’d connect with wifi, and get a login screen for “DOCOMO Intertouch”. What, you might ask, is this? It’s what greedy hotels install to fuck up the internet and bring in some additional revenue. You log into this thing and then all your access is filtered through this new layer that exists solely to monitor your usage and cut you off at a specified time limit. And it sucks.

The cost is $9.95au for two hours, which is absurdly overpriced. Nothing is too absurd for these hotels, though, because when I tried to use their Business Center, the machines there charge $26au for two hours. No thanks.

So I composed some stuff offline, and bit the bullet and paid the $9.95 to get some stuff done. I started sucking in my email, managed some essential student business, then after about ten minutes went to do some of that blogging stuff, and this is what I got instead, a big stupid error message.

image will be posted when I have better access

I followed the instructions, quit and restarted, and fired it up again…no go. Same message. Infuriatingly, the lovely DOCOMO software does put up a little countdown clock to tell you that your time will expire in 1Hour(s):43Min(s): 14Sec(s), which you can watch count down to the time it will stop working for sure. Just the fact that they use that clumsy (s) tells me these programmers are lazy relics from the 1980s. Maybe the DOCOMO code is even written in COBOL.

I let it time out.

So today, fool that I am, I figured they’ve been working on fixing this problem, and I paid them $9.95 again. I got about 3 minutes before it died. I thought I’d be smart and try to post something first; I wasn’t quick enough. So that morning I got to watch the ever-so-useful timer count down again.

Oh, well.

I’ve run into this so often it’s become a kind of expectation for me. I get a cheap hotel, the room is fine, the internet access is routine and free; sometimes you have to enter a password, but that’s a function built into the router and it all works smoothly. Get put into a pricier, nicer, fancier hotel, and oh, no, they can’t possibly just provide access to all their customers — they have to gouge more money out of them. So they contract some company to build a wall, usually badly, that their residents have to pay to get through, and then they charge some ridiculous sum for limited access. And it almost always breaks, because the people running the hotel have no idea how to manage this clumsy chunk of code they’ve interposed between us and the internet. And we get really pissed off.

Because, you know, a hotel may have lovely amenities (like this one), but some of us see the world through the lens of the network, and all we see is incompetent IT people and money-grubbing asshole management, and that means the hotel looks utterly hideous to us.

The hotel staff did try to be helpful, and cancelled the charges, but none of them knew anything about the software, and the only way they could actually help me get on the internet was to connect me to DOCOMO. No thanks. They are the problem, not the solution.

Travelers, if you expect to get anything done on the internet, stay away from the South Wharf Hilton in Melbourne. All you’ll get is aggravation and frustration. Stay just about anywhere else — I’ve talked to a few people who got cheaper local accommodation, and they’re entirely content with their service.

Some good news: we do have free wifi in the convention center! Hooray for the organizers! I’ll try to post a few updates on the meetings throughout the Australian day (first up this morning: Peter Singer), but I also suspect that, realistically, once 3500-4000 people show up and fire up their smartphones all at once, it may get a little flaky. But at least I have one place where I can get through!

Comments

  1. mrcrowley says

    You can always go to a coffee chain store or McDonalds or a lovely outside place in the CBD that has free wifi. I know it sucks having to drag your laptop around everywhere but that’s what I had to do both times when I was travelling around the East and West coast of America and hotels charged similar rates for crappy internet.

  2. Koshka says

    I also cannot understand why these hotels need to charge extra for Internet. They may as well charge you to use the lifts as well.

  3. says

    I was down in Texas several years ago and starting having trouble accessing the Internet. When I asked at the desk, the lady told me I had been going through one of the wireless security cameras! She fixed me up and I was on my way again. All free.

  4. larryharnett says

    Yeah, I’ve discovered there is no such thing as free WiFi anymore. Because everybody has something they’re trying to connect all the time – laptops, iPads, etc. So free WiFi just bogs down and stops working, for all practical purposes. Sounds like, in Oz, the pay as you go kind doesn’t work well either.

  5. says

    Wifi in the convention center. I am content. But man, the Hilton management ought to be ashamed at how shabby their fancy hotel looks from the interwebs.

  6. madscientist says

    Hahahaha. That’s why I *never* pay for internet access in Australian hotels. I look for the local rugby club (so long as there’s no match on) and chat to the folks there about using their open internet; usually I get free access and sometimes I’m asked to become a member and pay the hefty $5 membership fee or something like that. However, I never lose an opportunity to ask the hotel staff about the cost of internet access and lecture them about what a ripoff it is (which they know, but can’t do much about except to put in a note about how the customer wasn’t happy with the internet fees).

  7. Moggie says

    I thought the entire country had like a 56k modem to the rest of the world anyway.

  8. says

    That’s right the joke used to be Sydney was the only 3rd world city where you could still drink the water. That was until the government decided to ‘corporatise’ in preparation to selling it of. Once the decisions were made by the cost-cutting corporate nobility instead of the engineers, giardia and cryptosporidium came out of your tap at no extra cost.

    Same thing with the internet and IT in general. IT professionals from overseas come over here to work and give up because the technology is so old it would be better used as an anchor.

  9. Brownian says

    Are you sure it’s the fault of the hotel? You mentioned intermittent access on day 1—you’re in Australia, PZ! Those tubes have to go either right through the earth, or under a helluva lot of ocean. There are any number of places where a rock or something could pinch one of them and cause a jam.

  10. says

    That’s true. It could also be my clumsiness — it takes practice learning to type upside down while dodging drop bears.

  11. jefferylanam says

    your time will expire in 1Hour(s):43Min(s): 14Sec(s), which you can watch count down to the time it will stop working for sure. Just the fact that they use that clumsy (s) tells me these programmers are lazy relics from the 1980s. Maybe the DOCOMO code is even written in COBOL.

    As a former member of the ANSI COBOL Committee, I must protest. There is no reason why a COBOL program would have to format a time in that way. The programmers are almost certainly lazy, but they needn’t be relics from the 80s, let alone COBOL programmers.

    I share your disgust at the gouging for internet access in large hotels. Any trucker motel in the US (and probably in Australia) has better wifi than most downtown hotels, and usually free, too.

  12. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Koshka@3

    I also cannot understand why these hotels need to charge extra for Internet. They may as well charge you to use the lifts as well.

    Please, Please, Please, Don’t give them any ideas!

  13. says

    Poor PZ. :(

    I’ve had too many shitty experiences (both wifi and non-wifi related) in hotels to count. I’ve learned that the hotel staff generally have no fucking clue what they’re doing and writing a letter after the fact to voice your displeasure won’t even get a response. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Holiday -fucking- Inn.

    That’s why I stay in the cheapest motels imaginable. Keep the expectations low.

  14. falkmacara says

    You can get bypass all the hotel nonsense completely and get a pre-paid 3G modem with 3gb of data for AUD50 (10 hours of not-quite-connected to the internet via the hotel). There’s a 30 day expiration, but I suspect that won’t trouble you.

    This would have the advantage of being able to browse the internet effectively anywhere in metropolitan Australia.

    You could give Johntheother a great opportunity to show the world he doesn’t have the most obscene of double standards, and ask/demand if/that one of the convention folks/lackeys would be so kind as to nab one for you/get one on pain of pain .

  15. Larry says

    Those tubes have to go either right through the earth, or under a helluva lot of ocean.

    Not to mention the bits all swirling the wrong way. PZs poor laptop was probably working at max capacity turning ‘em around.

  16. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Quibble: It can’t be the worst Internet access ever. Think about how good your access was in the eighties.

  17. says

    PZ, unfortunately this prompts me to say “Welcome to Australia”. Living with the Internet here (or lack thereof) is bad enough for us, but I can only imagine what it’s like for visitors who are used to something better and cheaper. And you’re in the city… I live in the country… bleh.

  18. 'Tis Himself says

    Travelers, if you expect to get anything done on the internet, stay away from the South Wharf Hilton in Melbourne.

    This is what’s known in the corporate world as “word of mouth advertising.” It’s generally considered the most persuasive and credible form of advertising. Someone making a recommendation based on personal experience is accepted as credible by other members of the public.

    PZ had a bad experience at an upscale hotel and told members of the general public about it. As a result, people who might otherwise consider staying at the South Wharf Hilton will take their business elsewhere.

    If the management of the South Wharf Hilton was made aware of PZ’s widely disseminated comments, they might (that’s might) be motivated to do something about the problem.

  19. yec123 says

    Look, Australia is not a developed country. It still has a long way to go before it is up to first world standards of technology. Learn to be patient like Job.

  20. A. R says

    yec123: Really? What about the multiple scientific advances made by Australians. Though I admit that Ken Ham is not their crowning glory.

  21. Sean says

    Slow, irritating and obscenely expensive?
    Well, this is from the same people who gave us Paris Hilton…

  22. says

    Learn to be patient like Job.

    Good advice from yec123. Just be sure and make plenty of burnt offerings, live for 140 years after being magically restored to good health by God, and your internet service will improve greatly.

  23. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Australia is not a developed country.

    Can’t prove your imaginary deity exists, or your babble is inerrant, or that you know what is a first world country…Stop lying, as it makes you look terribly stupid when called out with evidence…

  24. peterbdvp says

    This is a stupid greedy first world problem and I have the same arguments as PZ all the time. Australian hotels are very bad at this, and the more expensive the hotel the meaner and pettier they get (are you listening, Park Hyatt Sydney?), but I’ve also had the same problem at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Yet EVERY hotel in much poorer Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam that I’ve ever stayed in had free wifi broadband – that worked flawlessly. Even a dirt road refreshment stop halfway up a mountain in the central highlands of Vietnam had a hand-written sign offering free wifi, which also worked. Do the owners of comfy hotels not understand how much this pisses off travellers? Who doesn’t need a net connection these days? It’s like paying top dollar for a room and then finding that if you want to have a shower, the soap and towels are extra.

  25. yec123 says

    What about the multiple scientific advances made by Australians.

    What about them? The Chinese and Indians have made way more advances but they are still underdeveloped countries. Australia has no real manufacturing and technology base. It is still reliant on exports of primary products like wool and bauxite. I doubt there is any Internet access in the Australian outback. I recommend that PZ goes to Singapore next time.

  26. Rey Fox says

    I think we’ve just found our new useful idiot. He’s wrong on absolutely everything, so anyone who reads him will know what’s right.

  27. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Australia has no real manufacturing and technology base.

    Bother to look at my link in #24. The Aussies are considered a first world country. Unless, of course, you are willing to provide evidence, not your fuckwitted OPINION, otherwise….Put up or shut the fuck. Same as for your imaginary deity…

  28. A. R says

    I doubt there is any Internet access in the Australian outback

    Actually, most communities have access via satellite.

    As for the rest of it, check the UN’s stats to see your bullshit refuted.

  29. ramirofernandez says

    Go to a post office or little news store, buy a prepaid 3g dongle for $30, you get more data, unlimited time to use it while you’re here, and it’s unrestricted and reasonably fast. And you should do this in any place you travel to, hotel wireless is always a pain…

  30. Aliasalpha says

    If you’re anywhere near Coles supermarket, they’re apparently selling usb vodafone mobile modems with 3gb of data for $19. From what I read the sale lasts till monday. Sure it’ll be crap but a dollar cheaper than 2 hours of hotel crap

  31. auntbenjy says

    Some of these access issues can be put down to geographical isolation, and rest assured, if you came to New Zealand, the access could easily be worse. Just ask Stephen Fry…

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10786929

    We are completely reliant on the Southern Cross Cable to stay in touch with the rest of the world, and we pay through the nose for what you would consider pretty sucky service.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Cross_Cable

    I have talked to American friends who don’t understand the concept of a “data cap”, or why I might object to playing a game that required being constantly logged into a service like Steam.

  32. robro says

    Is this “DOCOMO” the same as NTT DoCoMo? If so, that’s a hugh Japanese telecommunications company. You would think they would have the people to do it right.

  33. piranhaintheguppytank says

    Just think. There could be another planet in the universe inhabited by intelligent T-Rexes whose high-priced hotels have reliable wifi.

    Okay, I admit that last part was just totally unrealistic.

  34. andyo says

    I also cannot understand why these hotels need to charge extra for Internet. They may as well charge you to use the lifts as well.

    I used to take care of the internet/network trouble at the (smallish) hotel where I worked. You would be surprised how clueless are many businesspeople about these computer matters (we even catered to Japanese and Koreans mostly). We used to charge $5/day, but now it’s free.

  35. maxamillion says

    Expensive hotels are terrible when it comes to the 21st. Century PZ.

    falkmacara suggestion

    You can get bypass all the hotel nonsense completely and get a pre-paid 3G modem with 3gb of data for AUD50 (10 hours of not-quite-connected to the internet via the hotel). There’s a 30 day expiration, but I suspect that won’t trouble you.

    Aliasalpha has a better suggestion

    If you’re anywhere near Coles supermarket, they’re apparently selling usb vodafone mobile modems with 3gb of data for $19. From what I read the sale lasts till monday. Sure it’ll be crap but a dollar cheaper than 2 hours of hotel crap

    Are the best suggestions.
    Here is the Coles offer http://catalog.coles.com.au/CatalogueFrame/?CatalogueId=8ac7cb3f-7695-42c5-8e0d-a0c32d45f715&ver=Flash
    Page 22.

    3Gb for $19.00

    If I was a Vodafone or Virgin rep I would be offering them for free to any unfortunate Hilton clients. But alas I am not.

    Perhaps this should be looked into for the next convention so that before guests arrive a clear plan of action is available to them.

  36. eoleen says

    “Maybe the DOCOMO code is even written in COBOL.”

    As a long-time COBOL programmer, I must object most strenuously to your comment. COBOL is the Common Business-Oriented Language. It is truely universal – a hardware manufacturer can NOT offer a compiler called “COBOL” unless it passes an extremely tough set of tests for compatibility with the ANSI COBOL standard.

    Compare this with the myriad of languages called BASIC or C or whatever – not of which are plug-compatible with any other.

    And no intelligent programmer would (a) format the time in that fashion, or (b) use COBOL for such a task. You are probably correct in accusing the authors of that piece of code of being incompetent, but they certainly didn’t know COBOL

  37. maxamillion says

    auntbenjy
    Some of these access issues can be put down to geographical isolation, and rest assured, if you came to New Zealand, the access could easily be worse. Just ask Stephen Fry…

    The last time I was in NZ they had a WifI system where you could buy time in blocks. Seemed like a good idea until I found out that once you start to use the block the timer starts. So if you buy 2 hours then the windows is open for 2 hours after activating it. You didn’t get 2 hours to use as you pleased. Needless to say I only ever bought into that scam once.

  38. gardengnome says

    yec123.

    Look mate, Australians invented the boomerang, the wine cask, Vegemite and the winged keel (there was a couple of other things as well…Oh yeah, the flight data recorder, the scramjet, the pacemaker, combine harvester, Aspro, the humidicrib, plastic spectacle lenses, etc, etc). Above all they invented the Ute and they also invented WiFi! Just ‘cos an American hotel chain can’t make it work isn’t the Aussies fault.

    Who’re you calling third world, dickhead?

  39. says

    The wifi here at the convention centre isn’t bad. I’m staying at the Pensione (just across the bridge) and the wifi is $5/hr and reliable, too.

    I rarely get to stay at expensive hotels so can’t comment on the difference – but perhaps it’s because if they’re generally all crap, they don’t have to try harder because they know their clientele wouldn’t be seen dead in a cheap hotel.

    See you at dinner tonight PZ?

  40. reynardo says

    If you need, I’d be happy for you and your lady to hit my place (Coburg, 20 minutes north of the city) for afternoon tea or dinner and use of our internet. Unless you wanted to download the whole of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you’d be fine.

  41. Furr-a-Bruin says

    I can only concur with what many others have said – in cheap hotels the wifi was free or cheap and worked, in more upscale places the wifi was expensive and/or a hassle. I can understand them not wanting nearby locals leeching their bandwidth and needing some kind of access control, but any place much more expensive than a Motel 6 (where the wifi is $2.99 for 24 hours) should give it to registered guests for free… and make damn sure it works.

    Hence the reason I’ve gone the route that’s been suggested here and bring my own; even if it’s a bit slower, knowing I’m not paying a fortune for it helps (last place I stayed wanted $12.95/day!) Not to get promotional, but I recently got a new phone through Ting.com – the data rates include hotspot and tethering, and you only pay for what you use. Nifty!

  42. Snoof says

    It still has a long way to go before it is up to first world standards of technology.

    On the plus side, we have a functioning healthcare system.

  43. says

    @45: Confirmation: I am currently staying at a Rodeway Inn paying $10.00 more per night than the Motel6 down the street and I have free, well-functioning internets. (“36.0 Mbps, Signal strength ‘good'” Whooee! ). If I was paying Fancy Resort Prices and had the problems PZ describes, I would be tempted to remove artwork, towels, and the odd lighting fixture as compensation. Just sayin’. . .

  44. lsamaknight says

    Hey, yec, let me let you in on a little secret. The Crocodile Dundee movies in addition to being made in the ’80s (at least the first two) aren’t documentaries. They are in fact a product of an Australian tendency to derive humour from deliberately exaggerating certain national stereotypes to mess with non-Australians.

    You are right when you say that we are noted as primary producers in terms of export but do you realise the technical knowledge and infrastructure required to do that on the scale its carried out in Australia? Especially considering a lot of the mines are quite remote from the major population centres?

    About the only place where we can really be said to lag is in the deployment of wide-scale infrastructure, especially telecommunications. And that’s not lack of knowledge or capability, that’s due to small population compared to the size of the country making it more expensive to the end user.

    Heck a survey done a few years ago put Australians in the highest rates of the adoption of new technology like smart phones, generally only surpassed by places like Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

  45. jacobusvanbeverningk says

    DOCOMO … Japanese company (in partnership with India’s Tata Teleservices. It stands for “Do communications over the mobile network.” .. it’s a 3G service, no wonder it’s S L O W (at best) (and expensive): you can’t multiplex multiple users over 3G and expect it to work!

  46. candide says

    The same thing happened in the eighties, with hotel telephone charges. In a way, it was worse, because they didn’t require pre-payment. Instead, you would find huge charges on your bill at check-out time. The practice was only killed off, I suppose, by the advent of mobile phones.

    On a trip round Oz a few years ago, we stayed mainly in small motels, and about half of them would offer free access. I formed the habit of asking at check-in time, and stamping histrionically out of the lobby if I didn’t like the answer. Actually, I had some sympathy with the Mom-and-Pop outfits. They often wanted nothing to do with technical issues, and so had bought the service of setting up the wi-fi from some travelling huckster, who was setting (and collecting a slice of) the rip-off charges.

  47. butler says

    PZ, as someone who worked in a major Australian hotel for six years, I cannot stress how little of a fuck the upper management give about your comfort, or indeed health and safety. Stick with small bed and breakfasts when travelling and you can’t go wrong… well you can, but your odds are better of going right.

  48. yec123 says

    @lsamaknight

    Look, Australia is a bit like Greece: It is heavily dependent on agriculture, and primary industries, as well as tourism. The country does not manufacture anything of consequence, and there are no world-class Australian companies…Fosters possibly excepting.

    As you say, Australia is a huge country. It will take another century before the whole of it is equipped with modern infrastructure. In the meantime, PZ should not be surprised if he has trouble connecting to the Internet, or if the hot water runs out whilst he is taking a shower, or if the toilet doesn’t flush.

  49. Antares42 says

    If it’s any consolation, it doesn’t only apply to expensive hotels.

    I was at a conference in Cairns last year (not impressed by the town at all, I will say) and was speechless when I found they wanted to charge me hundreds of AUD for a weeks’ internet access. (Or, of course, like 5 AUD per half hour). On top of that, my room was so far in a corner of the hotel that I hardly ever got a connection – I ended up using the wifi that beamed over from another hotel down the street. It was more stable and even (marginally) less expensive.

    In terms of hotel internet, Australia is several orders of magnitude worse than even the most backwater places in communist China.

  50. says

    The cheaper the hotel, the freer and better its Internet access. These expensive hotels are built around the American model of capitalism and wealth:

    “The more money you have. The more money you want.”

  51. Louis says

    YEC,

    I’d be a little less condescending about other countries if I were you. Firstly, your ignorance about that other country is showing. Secondly, you’re stupid enough and blinkered enough to think the universe was poofed into existence sometime after the domestication of the dog.

    Get your own house in order.

    Now, I have important matters to attend to. Be a good moron on the internet whilst I’m away or I will have to mock you some more.

    Louis

  52. John Morales says

    [meta]

    michaeldemmons, trolling trolls are traditional trim, here.

    (They say stupid things, people laugh at them)

  53. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    In the meantime, PZ should not be surprised if he has trouble connecting to the Internet, or if the hot water runs out whilst he is taking a shower, or if the toilet doesn’t flush.

    Oh, lookie, paranoid illogical fool still exaggerating stupidly, inanely, and boringly. If if ever gets its prejudices under control, it might become just a normal bigot, instead of a super bigot who thinks it has a point. Except it isn’t thinking, either as a Poe or a troll.

  54. Louis says

    Michaeldemmons, #56,

    Taken for a ride? Meh. Probably. It am the internets after all.

    But as Nerd and John have intimated, we get a lot of trolls around these parts. Whether they really hold the views they claim or are just faking them for the lulz, the vast majority of the views spewed are sufficiently indistinguishable from actual fundamentalist views and comments as to be treatable as genuine.

    Engagement is not compulsory. ;-)

    Louis

  55. Ogvorbis: Insert Appropriate Appelation Here says

    Engagement is not compulsory. ;-)

    Oh. Good. An engagement to either danielhaven or yecch! would be highly problematic. After all, an engagement is a promise to marry and, me being male and all, I think that both trolls object to the idea of equal rights (including marriage) for all humans.

  56. atheoarchaeologist says

    On a related topic, In Britain many places use The Cloud for WiFi.
    This is owned by Sky. The Cloud has banned this blog.
    I had a quick look around and couldn’t find anything else banned (without looking for pornography). WTF

  57. iskenderoglu says

    Having worked maintenance at a property flying the flag of a big chain of hotels (rhymes with frolic they grin) and pulled a metric buttload of Cat 5e cable to and from various patch panels there, I will guess that it has to do with a confluence of ignorance and greed, thusly:

    Hotel management tends to be microcephalic. Shall we call it micromanagement? It’s a fear-based style that works very well with disposable help such as dishwashers and bedmakers, but is offputting to professionals such as creative chefs and datacomm gurus. Hotel management both could and couldn’t care less about modal dispersion and other technical effects of which it is blissfully ignorant.

    The outside enterprises who furnish the gubbins to push bytes to and fro are represented by suit-wearing gits who are more interested in rent-seeking than in learning what it takes to provide a hassle-free connection to the end user.

    Feel free to ask me how I *really* feel about it some time.

  58. Snoof says

    You know, I’m wondering how long hotels will be able to get away with this, at least in the states anyway. Around here, we’ve got several cities* that have instituted community-wide free wifi.

    Yeah, big chunks of the CBD of Sydney have free wifi now too. It’s sweet.

  59. yec123 says

    yec123: you grow tiresome. Take a break.

    You are right, PZ. I am going to take a hot shower now. Anyone want to hop in with me?

  60. justawriter says

    It is part of the whole “business travel” model. Conference organizers seek bids for major events, hotels compete by offering conference space as a loss leader – maybe even shaving a few bucks off the rooms for early registrants, then recouping the money through 10 dollar muffins from the food service, 10 dollar drinks in the hotel bar, 10 dollar internet service, 10 dollar … you get the idea. The idea is that businesses will reimburse their employees for most of these extra fees so they won’t complain. That’s why everything that’s free at the Super Eight is 10 bucks (or more, much, much more) and less convenient as well.

  61. marksletten says

    Oh Phil… It must be AITCH-EE-DOUBLE-TOOTHPICKS dealing with those nasty capitalists down under:

    The cost [for internet access] is $9.95au for two hours, which is absurdly overpriced. Nothing is too absurd for these hotels, though, because when I tried to use their Business Center, the machines there charge $26au for two hours.

    Get put into a pricier, nicer, fancier hotel, and oh, no, they can’t possibly just provide access to all their customers — they have to gouge more money out of them.

    You make no mention of what the Hotel is charging for the room (is that because someone else is paying for it?), but perhaps the profit margin on the room rate is so narrow in providing a “nicer, fancier hotel…with lovely amenities” that offering free internet access is simply not feasible. Obviously, I don’t know if this is the case, but neither, I suspect, do you Phil.

    But wait:

    Some good news: we do have free wifi in the convention center!

    Holy shiite! You mean those money-grubbing capitalists are giving something away for free?

    I also suspect that, realistically, once 3500-4000 people show up and fire up their smartphones all at once, it may get a little flaky.

    Oh. Okay, that’s not so bad. It’s free, but worthless. Whew! For a minute there I thought I was gonna hafta report the South Wharf Hilton to the profit gouging police.

    It seems to me for a truly SCIENTIFIC evaluation of the Hotel’s gouginess and greediness one would have to know how much the Hotel actually makes in profit, then compare it to the IDEAL profit level. But of course, there’s the rub: How much profit is too much?

    The great thing about capitalism and free markets is the recognition this is a subjective question. It allows each of us to decide for ourselves how much profit is enough, and offers choices allowing us to put our beliefs into practice.

  62. Just_A_Lurker says

    You make no mention of what the Hotel is charging for the room (is that because someone else is paying for it?), but perhaps the profit margin on the room rate is so narrow in providing a “nicer, fancier hotel…with lovely amenities” that offering free internet access is simply not feasible. Obviously, I do

    It’s a fucking Hilton Hotel ffs.

    It seems to me for a truly SCIENTIFIC evaluation of the Hotel’s gouginess and greediness one would have to know how much the Hotel actually makes in profit, then compare it to the IDEAL profit level. But of course, there’s the rub: How much profit is too much?

    He paid for a shitty product that he couldn’t even use. Did you even read the post?

    Oh. Okay, that’s not so bad. It’s free, but worthless. Whew! For a minute there I thought I was gonna hafta report the South Wharf Hilton to the profit gouging police.

    The BBB or equivalent in the area. (The BBB is the US version, I don’t know the name for the Australian version.)
    What is with this needless defense of Capitalism?
    Besides, offering stuff like Wi-fi for free is a common practice to bring people into your establishment.

    The great thing about capitalism and free markets is the recognition this is a subjective question. It allows each of us to decide for ourselves how much profit is enough, and offers choices allowing us to put our beliefs into practice.

    That is what he’s going to do by not buying it again and encouraging others to not buy it either. Word of mouth and all that about a shitty product…

  63. AshPlant says

    You know, marksletten, at least ‘Meyers’ is merely a spelling variant rather than a complete fuck-up.

    It seems to me for a truly SCIENTIFIC evaluation of the Hotel’s gouginess and greediness one would have to know how much the Hotel actually makes in profit, then compare it to the IDEAL profit level.

    It seems to me that this is totally irrelevant when you’re a tired traveller dealing with breathtaking inefficiency and failure. We’ve got to the point where failing to provide internet access in many public spaces is up there with failing to provide running water. Also, your sarcastic capitalisation makes me suspect you have some kind of beef with “Phil”; well done on managing to squeeze it in on the slightest pretext! *applauds*

  64. Matt Penfold says

    You make no mention of what the Hotel is charging for the room (is that because someone else is paying for it?), but perhaps the profit margin on the room rate is so narrow in providing a “nicer, fancier hotel…with lovely amenities” that offering free internet access is simply not feasible. Obviously, I do

    Well the hotel did claim that those staying at hotel and attending the GAC would get free Internet access. That lasted a couple of hours, and then PZ had to pay. Only he did not get Internet access even when he paid.

    If free Internet access was not in fact going to be provided (and by access I mean access at speeds that are usable) then the hotel had no right to claim it was. And the hotel certainly had no right not to provide Internet access once it had been paid for. If this was happening in the UK the hotel would most probably be in breach of consumer protection laws and would be liable to prosecution.

    Clearly in your world taking money for services and failing to provide is just good business, but then we already know you are piss-poor excuse for human.

  65. AshPlant says

    we already know you are piss-poor excuse for human.

    It has turned up before? Thought as much, heh.

  66. Matt Penfold says

    It has turned up before? Thought as much, heh.

    Oh yes, and every time it because he wants to make sure we all know what a vile person he is. In that regard he does well, since he is held in utter contempt by almost everyone else.

  67. AshPlant says

    Yeah, it takes a special kind of copro-kopf to respond to a complaint about shitty service by creating an onanistic ode to the wonders of capitalism.
    Just out of interest, why’s he calling PZ Phil? Is it his idea of wit?

  68. Matt Penfold says

    The great thing about capitalism and free markets is the recognition this is a subjective question. It allows each of us to decide for ourselves how much profit is enough, and offers choices allowing us to put our beliefs into practice.

    Except when you are only in town for a few days, you days are busy and you have already booked your hotel room, the concept of choice is not really meaningful unless and until you are in town another time.

    The hotel relies on this of course. It is not an honest way of doing business.

  69. Matt Penfold says

    Just out of interest, why’s he calling PZ Phil? Is it his idea of wit?

    I doubt it. Letten is the archetypal witless fuckwit.

  70. AshPlant says

    Letten is the archetypal witless fuckwit.

    Ah, but the Dunning-Kruger effect – or some analogue of it – extends to senses of humour as well. See for e.g.: Daniel Haven’s constant smattering of bizarre and senseless puns, references and wordplay. Letten could very well think he’s being fucking hilarious and incisive.

    Or he could just be so crashingly thick he can’t work out PZ’s name. I’d love to hear his explanation.

  71. Rey Fox says

    You know, I’m wondering how long hotels will be able to get away with this, at least in the states anyway.

    For as long as they can gouge people with money. When I went to a conference last year, it was the first time in many years that I stayed in a decent* hotel, and so I was shocked to find that they charged for the in-room internet when just about every motel I’ve stayed at has it for free. Then I realized that they do that because they have a client base who can actually pay for it (and generally will). But for these few days, the third floor lobby area was packed with poor grad students on laptops.

    * Though really, I don’t really expect to be swaddled in luxury on the road and I can put up with cheap motels just fine as long as they abide by a minimum level of cleanliness and everything they provide working. I find a lot of the things that people pay premium prices for in lodging to be silly.

  72. marksletten says

    Lurker said:

    He paid for a shitty product that he couldn’t even use. Did you even read the post?

    Yeah, I read it. And if PZ had stuck to the premise of paying for something he didn’t receive I wouldn’t have felt the need to post. But he didn’t. And if you’d read the post you too would know he wasn’t trying to make that point, mainly because he would have been lying. What he did was condemn ALL big hotels as ‘greedy’ with the statements:

    …but it’s a universal problem of big greedy hotels. (My emphasis added.

    and

    [...nicer, fancier hotel][s]…gouge more money out of [their customers].

    Then he buried the fact (at the bottom of the post) that the hotel refunded the internet access charges he’d paid, after first telling everyone how horribly greedy and terrible the hotel is.

    This isn’t a post about paying for something he didn’t get; it’s a thinly-veiled rant about the greed of big hotels.

    ashplant said:

    Also, your sarcastic capitalisation makes me suspect you have some kind of beef with “Phil”

    Ya think?

    …well done on managing to squeeze it in on the slightest pretext! *applauds*

    Thank you! It is from reading PZ’s occasional foray into political commentary where I learned the technique.

    The one thing you are right about is my mistake regarding PZ’s first name. I’ve done that before and you’d think I could keep it straight. Ain’t gettin’ old grand?

    Penfold said:

    Clearly in your world taking money for services and failing to provide is just good business…

    See above. PZ’s charges were refunded. So the big, bad, greedy, evil hotel didn’t actually take any money.

    I didn’t read in this post that the hotel had agreed to provide in-room internet access free of charge, but PZ says access WAS provided free in the convention center. I suspect a miscommunication somewhere, but again, I have no direct knowledge.

    …but then we already know you are piss-poor excuse for human.

    Yes, I know. Anyone who ever dares disagree with the Great and Powerful PZ in front of the hero himself–not to mention all his sycophants–is a piss poor excuse for [a] human. You guys are soooo predictable…

    Oh, and fuck you very much yourself Matt! :)

  73. cm's changeable moniker says

    yec123, no response required, but:

    Australia’s abundant and diverse natural resources attract high levels of foreign investment and include extensive reserves of coal, iron ore, copper, gold, natural gas, uranium, and renewable energy sources. A series of major investments, such as the US$40 billion Gorgon Liquid Natural Gas project, will significantly expand the resources sector. Australia also has a large services sector and is a significant exporter of natural resources, energy, and food. [...] The Australian economy grew for 17 consecutive years before the global financial crisis. [The govt response to which helped] the Australian economy rebound after just one quarter of negative growth. The economy grew by 1.3% during 2009 – the best performance in the OECD – by 2.7% in 2010, and by 3.0% in 2011. Unemployment, originally expected to reach 8-10%, peaked at 5.7% in late 2009 and fell to 5.0% in 2011. As a result of an improved economy, the budget deficit is expected to peak below 4.2% of GDP and the government could return to budget surpluses as early as 2015.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/as.html

    Oh, and yeah, healthcare. I’d say they’re doing pretty well.

  74. marksletten says

    Rey Fox:

    I find a lot of the things that people pay premium prices for in lodging to be silly.

    Hear hear!!!

    What’s also silly is staying at a premium hotel and complaining about the premium costs…

  75. marksletten says

    Penfold@78

    WTF are you nattering on about? All you have to do is inquire about WiFi access before booking a room.

  76. Just_A_Lurker says

    WTF are you nattering on about? All you have to do is inquire about WiFi access before booking a room.

    He was told it would be free for those staying at the hotel attending GAC. You know, like an incentive? Saying hey stay here we won’t charge you for internet! then they do, then he can’t use it. Yeah, real fucking shitty if you ask me.

  77. andyo says

    You guys are soooo predictable…

    Predicting that people who already publicly think you’re a moron will call you a moron again is not really that impressive.

    Also, I’m sort of a regular, but it’s the first time I’ve run into your posts. The fact that you linked to a totally unrelated post where you got your ass handed to you in a thinly veiled attempt to play the victim makes me think you have some chip on your shoulder.

  78. marksletten says

    Lurker said:

    He was told it would be free for those staying at the hotel attending GAC.

    I didn’t see where PZ claimed he was promised free in-room internet access in his post. I see where some of the posters have made that assertion, but I can’t find that claim in PZ’s post. If that’s the case it’s certainly cause for complaint. But even if that’s the case, I don’t see how the South Wharf Hilton fucking up internet access for attendees of this particular convention is proof of dishonesty; perhaps the staff simply made a mistake. And even if the South Wharf Hilton management IS intentionally withholding promised free internet access with the intent of forcing convention attendees to purchase access through the hotel’s provider, someone isn’t doing a very good job of it are they? They did such a poor job, in fact, the hotel refunded PZ’s money, rather cheerfully from PZ’s description of it.

    Even if you somehow make the connection through this entire bizarre rant that the South Wharf Hilton is somehow ineptly trying to fleece these few convention attendees, I can’t understand how that’s justification for condemning ALL ritzy hoteliers as UNIVERSALLY greedy.

    And let’s not forget that PZ said attendees were afforded free internet access in the convention center, for which PZ gives credit to the organizers, not the greedy hotel–of course. As I said previously, lacking further information, I suspect a miscommunication about where and when free internet access would be provided for convention attendees.

  79. marksletten says

    andyo said:

    The fact that you linked to a totally unrelated post…

    Try reading the post with the link again. I provided an example of how PZ often squeezes his political beliefs into posts that really have nothing to do with politics, which was germane to an accusation alluding it was somehow wrong for me to engage in similar behavior. It’s called ‘comprehension.’ Look it up.

    …where you got your ass handed to you in a thinly veiled attempt to play the victim…

    I was schooled once (correctly) by another poster that these discussions are not win/lose engagements. This is a forum where all are allowed to share their thoughts and opinions, even if they are unpopular.

    Obviously, I get that you don’t agree with me…

    …makes me think you have some chip on your shoulder.

    Not at all. But I can certainly understand how you might view the fact I don’t slink away with tail tucked under the barrage of pointless insults which comprise the totality of comments by many who post viewpoints opposite mine as ME having a chip on MY shoulder. Yeah, I can see that…

  80. Ogvorbis: Insert Appropriate Appelation Here says

    But I can certainly understand how you might view the fact I don’t slink away with tail tucked under the barrage of pointless insults which comprise the totality of comments by many who post viewpoints opposite mine as ME having a chip on MY shoulder.

    You come in with both guns blazing at ‘Phil’ Myers and you don’t have a chip on your shoulder? Shirley, you jest.

  81. cm's changeable moniker says

    And let’s not forget that PZ said attendees were afforded free internet access in the convention center, for which PZ gives credit to the organizers, not the greedy hotel–of course. [my emphasis]

    Erm, the convention isn’t at the hotel:

    http://www.atheistconvention.org.au/venue/

    Yet you lecture others on comprehension and reasoning.

  82. says

    I didn’t see where PZ claimed he was promised free in-room internet access in his post. I see where some of the posters have made that assertion, but I can’t find that claim in PZ’s post.

    Did you see the part where he was promised, and charged for, in-room internet access that wasn’t delivered because the hotel cheaped out with cheesy software to control access? Do you think his was the first complaint, and the hotel management hasn’t known for some time that they have a problem delivering the service they claim is available? If they gave a shat about the customers, they would fix it–obviously they’d rather bring in what money they can without further investment.

    They did such a poor job, in fact, the hotel refunded PZ’s money, rather cheerfully from PZ’s description of it.

    Well, that’s very nice of them, to refund the money he paid for a mostly non-existent service. Of course it didn’t solve the problem of lack of internet access in the room.

    And let’s not forget that PZ said attendees were afforded free internet access in the convention center, for which PZ gives credit to the organizers, not the greedy hotel–of course.

    But you do want to forget that PZ pointed out the obvious problem of 4000 people at the convention center all firing up at once. And that it still doesn’t allow visitors to work on the net from their rooms.

    I can’t understand how that’s justification for condemning ALL ritzy hoteliers as UNIVERSALLY greedy.

    It’s not, and he didn’t. He said “it’s a universal problem of big greedy hotels.” Which, when read for comprehension (look it up), states that all big greedy hotels have this problem, not that all big hotels are greedy.

    I would recommend refraining from accusations of “squeezing political beliefs into posts” when it’s pretty clear you have your own ax to grind here.

  83. 'Tis Himself says

    I see the looneytarian is still whining that normal people don’t accept his politico-economic ideology based on greed and sociopathy.

  84. madscientist says

    @moggie#8: Yes, especially in the capital Canberra – dicey, pricey internet access. Even the Chinese students complain of how awful and costly the internet access is compared to what they’ve got in China. Once upon a time I even got this box that connects to the TV and can supposedly show me movies on demand. What wasn’t clear was (1) the movie is downloaded in its entirety before playing, rather than being streamed, (2) it took a whole goddamned day to download an average length movie, and (3) if you didn’t watch it within 6 days you couldn’t watch it because the imaginary ‘lease’ had expired (though the goddamn box knows that no one ever watched the movie.) So I tell everyone to avoid the Telstra Big Pond (Scum) movies on demand.

  85. Ogvorbis: Insert Appropriate Appelation Here says

    marksletten:

    What is your way of solving the issue at hand? Shouldn’t the magic invisible hand of the free market have solved the problems of expensive hotels who cheap out when it comes to some services?

  86. Matt Penfold says

    I didn’t read in this post that the hotel had agreed to provide in-room internet access free of charge, but PZ says access WAS provided free in the convention center. I suspect a miscommunication somewhere, but again, I have no direct knowledge.

    You do not normally let ignorance get in the way of expressing an opinion.

    Others have taken apart the rest of your ravings, so I will not say anything more, other than we are quite willing to stipulate you are a sorry excuse of a person and also that you very stupid. Why you feel the need to keep demonstrating these facts to us escapes me.

  87. David Marjanović says

    I’m with comments 93 and 96. Just to rub it in:

    What he did was condemn ALL big hotels as ‘greedy’ with the statements:

    …but it’s a universal problem of big greedy hotels. (My emphasis added.

    This says it’s a problem of those hotels which are both big and greedy. Nowhere does it say that all big hotels are greedy or that all greedy hotels are big – just that some are.

    Perhaps there is a language where this isn’t obvious if you word it the way PZ did; but I don’t know of one.

  88. Brownian says

    I would recommend refraining from accusations of “squeezing political beliefs into posts” when it’s pretty clear you have your own ax to grind here.

    Fucking libertarians. You like liberty? Then, if PZ wants to inject liberalism into every fucking thing he writes, that’s his prerogative to do so and you can fucking lap it up, buttercup. There’s no law against thinking libertarians are self-centred, whiny pieces of shit, and reminding people of it. You guys have an image problem, and it’s your fucking fault, not anybody else’s. “Boo-hoo! We’re not getting a fair shake in the marketplace of ideas! Boo-hoo! Everyone’s too irrational to understand that our theory that everyone is rational enough to act in their own best interest is the only rational one! Boo-hoo! My taxes!”

  89. Amphiox says

    A typical demonstration of libertarian hypocrisy. Liberty for himself to do as he pleases, but not for anyone else. Not even basic freedom of speech.

  90. says

    I think the problem is a psychological one, and it is not physical. I think most Australians usually get overwhelmed by American tourists. Not just Australians, but the problem seems to have become ‘global’ lately. This is why I said in another thread, if you are an American and you want to get things done smoothly here, try not to make it too obvious that you are an American. However, if you find it is just too hard to hide your Americanism**, try the highly effective ‘Canadian Escape Route’. Tell them you are a Canadian. It always work.

    Americanism: In one form, it means asking too many stupid questions about why things are so different here from how we do things back home. While it is true Americans excel at many things that other countries don’t, but asking such questions just piss people off

  91. 'Tis Himself says

    Americanism: In one form, it means asking too many stupid questions about why things are so different here from how we do things back home.

    If the stupid foreigners would simply realize the American way is the most rational, most efficient, and best way to do things, then there wouldn’t be any problems. :-þ

  92. marksletten says

    cm said:

    Erm, the convention isn’t at the hotel:

    Many Hilton’s worldwide are co-located with their own convention centers, and from the satellite photos, the hotel and convention center appear to be the same building. If I made an incorrect assumption then I apologize. (For some reason, I cannot seem to access the link you provided from my computer.) I will point out, however, I clearly stated I didn’t have direct knowledge of all the particulars. That, of course, does not excuse making a comment based on an assumption.

    feralboy said:

    Did you see the part where he was promised, and charged for, in-room internet access that wasn’t delivered because the hotel cheaped out with cheesy software to control access?

    No, I didn’t see that. Please show me where PZ said he was promised free in-room internet access. I read that he received it free for a time, and that he was ‘told they were going to fix it.’ One might infer PZ believed he was entitled to free in-room access, but I’ve often been mistaken about what I thought I was entitled to.

    Does anyone know for a fact that PZ was promised free in-room internet access, and that the promise came from the hotel rather than the conference organizers?

    Well, that’s very nice of them, to refund the money he paid for a mostly non-existent service. Of course it didn’t solve the problem of lack of internet access in the room.

    No, but it kinda brings into question the implication made by many that the hotel is somehow behaving dishonestly.

    He said “it’s a universal problem of big greedy hotels.” Which, when read for comprehension (look it up), states that all big greedy hotels have this problem, not that all big hotels are greedy.

    You are correct; my interpretation was based on the preponderance of meaning I inferred from the remainder of PZ’s post. He seems to believe hotels that do not include the cost for internet access in the room charge (which would be the majority of high-end hotels I’ve ever stayed at) are somehow ‘greedy.’ I’m certainly willing to admit I could be wrong about PZ’s overall meaning. Perhaps he could clarify.

    Be that as it may, this still doesn’t explain why the label ‘greedy’ should apply to a business simply because it charges a fee for a service which no one obligated to buy. PZ claims internet access at ‘cheap hotels’ is often ‘free.’ Surely he (and you) must realize that service is not free; rather the cost is simply included in the price of the room, which means patrons pay for internet access whether they use it or not.

    At least in the case of the Hilton you don’t pay for internet access unless you need it. How is that ‘greedy?’

    ‘Tis Himself said:

    I see the looneytarian is still whining that normal people don’t accept his politico-economic ideology based on greed and sociopathy.

    Yes, I have a problem with an organization which offers services everyone must pay for whether or not they use them; I have a problem with an organization which forces everyone to pay for services even if they believe those same services can be obtained from another provider for less. I can see how someone like you, who seems to agree it’s appropriate to label a business ‘greedy’ because it charges a fee for a service which no one is obligated to purchase would think such ideas abnormal.

    ogvorbis said:

    Shouldn’t the magic invisible hand of the free market have solved the problems of expensive hotels who cheap out when it comes to some services?

    First, I object to your assertion that expensive hotels ‘cheap out’ on some services. PZ had a problem with the service at this hotel; it was acknowledged and his money was refunded. That you would ask your question is such a fashion leads me to believe I’m not alone in my impression of PZ’s overall meaning in this post.

    Even if your assertion of a problem were factual, the market already HAS solved it. It seems rather obvious enough patrons are satisfied with the Hilton’s pay-as-you-go internet service, otherwise its business would’ve suffered enough to force a change to its policy. On the other hand, PZ clearly states there are other lodging establishments in Melbourne which include seemingly reliable in-room internet access in the price of the room. The market did exactly what it does best: It offered PZ a choice; he could’ve moved to another hotel.

    penfold said:

    …we are quite willing to stipulate you are a sorry excuse of a person and also that you very stupid. Why you feel the need to keep demonstrating these facts to us escapes me.

    Hmmm. Is that the royal ‘we’ and ‘us’ you are using, or do you have a mouse in your pocket?

    I post here when I have a substantive disagreement with what PZ has to say. The regulars here will note that isn’t often. I happen to agree with much of what PZ has to say. He’s entertaining, insightful and an excellent communicator for the most part. But he is also sometimes hypocritical and petty. And as a scientist, I would think PZ welcomes differing opinions. So far, I’ve not been told differently.

    Further, it seems to me the many posters here would enjoy a lively debate on occasion, or even just to have a willing punching bag on which to exercise their intellectual pugilistics. Alas, there are many here, like yourself, that waste their time with silly, childish name calling. Does that somehow make you feel superior, or do you just enjoy playing to the peanut gallery? How does that make you different from an ordinary, everyday troll?

    Now please prepare yourself, because what I’m about to say will be disappointing for you: There are very few people on this planet whose opinion matters to me. You’ll be shocked to learn your name has yet to make the list. :(

    And with that, I must call it a day. It’s been real!

  93. buzz says

    Australia has started to roll out the NBN, the National Broadband Network, a very fast fibre optic connection to most homes to replace the copper one we’ve been using since Bell had a good idea.

    The conservatives who will probably win the next federal election don’t like the NBN and would like to stop it and replace it with wireless.

    The NBN has been installed in Toowoomba in Queensland.

    I stayed in a hotel there recently. At reception they gave me a computer cable for my internet access that was included in the room price. I can’t remember the last time a hotel had hard wired internet. I usually use my 3G moblie broadband which gives me 10 to 20 Mbs.

    I plugged into the wall and the connection came up with a reading of 1 Gbs.

    I thought that can’t be correct. So I dragged some data from interstate that normally takes about five minutes on wireless and it did it in fifteen seconds.

    OK so this is the NBN. Great. Roll it out I say. My work in that hotel was a breeze.

    A couple of days late I was in a motel in Brisbane with no wifi and sending a few Meg of data took half an hour as the wireless kept falling over.

    Keep rolling out that NBN. It really is bloody fast and reliable.

  94. says

    If the stupid foreigners would simply realize the American way is the most rational, most efficient, and best way to do things, then there wouldn’t be any problems. :-þ

    Yeah I agree. Actually, most people do realize that, but they just don’t like pompous Americans exaggerating their achievements all the time. For example, look at American cars. Make a comparison with German Cars. Need I say more? But I have still seen Americans comparing their dumb and crude Corvettes and the so-called ‘muscle cars’ with AMGs, and even Ferraris. That’s just insulting…. But I agree, making ‘smart’ weapons and ‘smart’ bombs, this is where Americans are beyond any comparison. You guys are the winners…

    By the way, I think you have quite reversed the situation here, so to speak. I am talking about ‘American Tourists’ here, i.e., when Americans are in other countries. Which makes Americans ‘foreigners’ here. I am saying they ought to be a little careful about their ‘Americanism’ while they are in foreign lands. People like Americans, they just don’t like them bragging about themselves all the time.

  95. jsenoj says

    I can’t believe all the people suggesting this is some sort of Australian problem. I’ve traveled and attended a conference in America and had the exact same problem. And I’m not going to try and ridiculously suggest it’s because the entirety of the US has a slow internet connection or because Americans are overwhelmed by Aussie tourists.

    In America at more expensive hotels, even the not so expensive airport chain I stayed in, there wasn’t free internet, you had to pay and even in the business centre where they charged you an enormous amount had crappy slow and very awkward internet. When I stayed in small cheap hotels or motels, they had free internet and often a computer in the foyer with internet. The worst internet access was the expensive hotel we stayed in for the conference – they charged you to sneeze in that place.

  96. says

    It is not just a problem Australia, or Sydney in Oz, or a particular Hilton in Sydney in Oz. I had the same exact problems as PZ is having when I stayed at the Hilton in Rockville, MD for the Reason Rally and the AAC. My first room came with “wired”* ethernet and the central atrium had WiFi. The first room was cosmetically perfect but the “wired” ethernet sucked and the WiFi was barely useable. The WiFi was intentinally not meant to work well in the rooms because they want you to use the pay-to-play “wired.” Not only that but the thermostat was locked on 80F and climbing. Fool that I was I had unpacked everything before I got settled down to communications.
    After wasting an hour trying to get ethernet to work reliably I called the front-desk and politely requested a room with working AC and working internet. They apologized and moved me immediately to another room where all was working correctly. There was some excuse about problems with the internet access from certain rooms due to “remodeling” (or something.)

    I don’t travel as often as PZ nor as widely. I have had these problems with hotels before. I have had these sorts of problems with Hilton hotels before.

    As at least one person has already mentioned… running a modern hotel is a bit more complicated business than a Fawlty Towers. Part of the problem is the business is seasonal and it is completely impractical to keep a large staff on hand and permanently employed. Various services are sub-contracted out to some local business. As an example, often flowers are handled this way. A hotel will have a contract with at least one local florist. There may even be a florist in a given area who specializes in hotel accounts and deals with several hotels. Even supplying the in-house gift shop with flowers. Same thing with maintenance and repairs. The hotel will have a general “fixit” person and contracts everything else out. There may even be a catering service that provides extra wait staff and cleaning staff but is not part of the regular hotel payroll. The extras are brought in for big weddings and banquets and whatnot. Most of the permanent staff is actually in management and front desk and a minimum of service staff.

    All that said… Hotels contract out the internet services. They have no in-house IT person. Since the fee is usually flat rate per-day and small enough there is little incentive to make it a quality service. Someone pays the $9.95 and if it doesn’t work well AND the person complains they will do something abut it. Otherwise not.

    Here is an article that explains some of it:
    http://articles.cnn.com/2011-09-16/travel/hotel.internet.fees_1_internet-access-hotel-chains-hotel-guests?_s=PM:TRAVEL

    If you like to stay at “upscale” hotels then keep after the management. Write letters. I complained to Hilton and said in the future I would take my business elsewhere, but until enough people complain it won’t happen.

    One other interesting thing about my stay at the Rockville Hilton. Aside from one front desk person not a single one was (judging on accents) a native born USAian. They were all excellent, pleasant, and professional (that also went in my letter to Hilton.)

    *I say “wired” because it was really a little box that hooked in to the telephone line, more like a little router/modem. Internet axis was an additional US$9.95/24 hours.

  97. cm's changeable moniker says

    marksletten:

    the hotel and convention center appear to be the same building. If I made an incorrect assumption then I apologize

    No apology required: Wikipedia reports that the Hilton is part of the convention centre. However: the hotel’s internet access apparently sucks; the government-owned convention centre’s, apparently, does not. Yay for free enterprise. /sarc

    I have a problem with an organization which offers services everyone must pay for whether or not they use them; I have a problem with an organization which forces everyone to pay for services even if they believe those same services can be obtained from another provider for less.

    Of course, you won’t say it out loud but you mean government. *sigh*

  98. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Government enterprises need not turn a profit; capitalist enterprises do.

    (Clearly, profit is an inefficiency)

  99. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Clearly, profit is an inefficiency

    Definitely. If profits weren’t required for health care insurance we could add 15% more people for the same cost as is paid to private insurance providers. The start of a single-payer system to save costs. Simple mathematics, which is beyond liberturds…

  100. Furr-a-Bruin says

    marksletten:

    Yes, I have a problem with an organization which offers services everyone must pay for whether or not they use them

    So by your standards hotel amenities like ice machines, a pool and so on should all have coinboxes or the like on them requiring payment to use them? (Or more high-tech, a swipe of the room-card so a fee can be added to the bill, perhaps?) Did it ever occur to you that some hotels may consider making use of frequently used amenities easy to access to be a drawing point for patrons, instead of appearing to nickel-and-dime them for everything? Your beloved free market should make it possible for you to find lodgings that will charge you separately for everything but breathing, if that’s what you want – presuming there’s anyone else who would find that appealing. Internet access is becoming a fundamental utility not unlike water or electricity, and it may actually be cheaper overall to just provide access to patrons than hassle with locking it down behind a pay-wall.

    As many other people have said, it just seems strange that fairly high-priced hotels that extol the quality of their beds or whatever all too often don’t seem to consider internet access as something that should be provided as part of the “guest experience”, and be as high quality as anything else they provide.

  101. Koshka says

    rajkumar,
    The majority of Americans I have met have not been as you have described. Most have been charming and complimentary of Australia.
    I have found Australian tourists to be more annoying but that may be because I feel they reflect on me.

    I also think that any tourist who thinks service is lacking in a hotel should complain about it. I don’t think this is a case of complaining that everything is better in America. Reminds me of the faulty towers episode where only the brash American had the confidence to complain about poor service.

  102. says

    @Koshka

    Yes I agree. Just having some fun….:)

    I like Americans, and I like the USA too. I think they just don’t get enough credit for their accomplishments, which is why they like to talk about them so often. And, ironically, they get too much criticism for the screw-ups, like wars, bad CIA intelligence, encouraging violence through crazy and neurotic games and films, etc., they have done all over the world, which is why they almost always try to sweep these issues under the carpet.

    **Many of them, if not most of them.

  103. andyo says

    I was schooled once (correctly)

    In your opinion.

    This is a forum where all are allowed to share their thoughts and opinions, even if they are unpopular.

    Yep, and the fact that you’re a dumbass seems to be a pretty popular one. Hey you dirty commies, the free market works!

    Seriously, I wouldn’t even have bothered to address you in this thread if you hadn’t linked to that other one with your more egregious BS over there.

  104. Matt Penfold says

    I post here when I have a substantive disagreement with what PZ has to say. The regulars here will note that isn’t often. I happen to agree with much of what PZ has to say. He’s entertaining, insightful and an excellent communicator for the most part. But he is also sometimes hypocritical and petty. And as a scientist, I would think PZ welcomes differing opinions. So far, I’ve not been told differently.

    I cannot recall that you have had something substantive to say on any occasion your have commented here.

    Further, it seems to me the many posters here would enjoy a lively debate on occasion, or even just to have a willing punching bag on which to exercise their intellectual pugilistics. Alas, there are many here, like yourself, that waste their time with silly, childish name calling. Does that somehow make you feel superior, or do you just enjoy playing to the peanut gallery? How does that make you different from an ordinary, everyday troll?

    We get plenty of idiots commenting here. You are nothing very special. You have the same high, unwarranted opinion of yourself . You seem unable to apologise for your lies and your boorish behaviour. In short, you are just the same as many other irritating fuckwits.

    I assume that comment about trolls was just you getting confuse since you are the one who can be accused of trolling. Another example of you not being very honest. It has been noted you just simply lied about what PZ said in his blog entry. Yet another example of you not being honest.

    Now please prepare yourself, because what I’m about to say will be disappointing for you: There are very few people on this planet whose opinion matters to me. You’ll be shocked to learn your name has yet to make the list. :(

    Not disappointing at all. If I was to do anything that garnered your approval I would be worried.

    Look, you fucked up and started accusing PZ of saying stuff he did not. This is not the first time you have done it, so it would seem to be either incompetence or malice on your part. I suspect both, you are incompetently malicious. What you always forget, because you are not very bright, is that you will not get away with that here.

  105. doughalpayne says

    As a few others have mentioned, welcome to Australia. Although the bigger cities are normally better than that. Blame that silly hotel.
    Population densities way below most other “1st world” nations does tend to bugger up telecommunications and transport.
    I’m just happy that for over a year now I’ve managed to have DSL2, apart from the month or so after the exchange went under water. And 3G (no, 2 now, no 3, no 2, no 3) on my phone for emergency blog commentings.

  106. supernova says

    @#71 marksletten

    The great thing about capitalism and free markets is the recognition this is a subjective question. It allows each of us to decide for ourselves how much profit is enough, and offers choices allowing us to put our beliefs into practice.

    And the propertarian market solves this subjectivity largely arbitrarily. This is because market contracts are almost never between actors of equal bargaining power. The hotel can overcharge for a crap internet connection precisely because of this, people at the hotel can complain, but few will actually go to the trouble of leaving because they’ve been ripped off with a rubbish service and the hotel knows this.

  107. marksletten says

    penfold said:

    You seem unable to apologise for your…boorish behaviour.

    Ho ho ho ha ha ha! You first, my amusing, ironic little friend!

    It has been noted you just simply lied about what PZ said in his blog entry. Yet another example of you not being honest.

    I assume you are referring to the other poster who pointed out I may have misinterpreted a single line in PZ’s post regarding what I perceive as generalizations he made about the supposed greediness of big hotels.

    Let’s review another section of PZ’s post:

    I’ve run into this so often it’s become a kind of expectation for me. I get a cheap hotel, the room is fine, the internet access is routine and free; sometimes you have to enter a password, but that’s a function built into the router and it all works smoothly. Get put into a pricier, nicer, fancier hotel, and oh, no, they can’t possibly just provide access to all their customers — they have to gouge more money out of them.

    It seems to me if you read this comment honestly you would conclude there is certainly justification to assess this theme in PZ’s post as I have. To wit: PZ expects to get internet access for “free” (?) from cheap hotels, while “pricier, nicer, fancier” hotels will unfairly gouge their customers. Further, for someone who seems to revel in pointing out my purported moral and intellectual failings, you seem to have great difficulty understanding that a disagreement of opinion ≠ a lie for any of the parties involved.

    One might even be excused for wondering if your misunderstanding is willful. But of course, I won’t call you a liar. That might be considered… boorish.

  108. says

    I was at the conference. I stayed in a local Youth Hostel, not the Hilton. The Hostel didn’t provide any WiFi, but I didn’t need it as I have 3G internet access through Vodafone.

    The Conference Hall provided free wifi. Except it didn’t work half the time. Also, my 3G signal was so low that it also became very unreliable. It was taking minutes to tweet. I noticed an apparent pattern: net access would be alright at the beginning of a presentation, but around half way through everything would dropout and become terribly unreliable.

    The Melbourne Convention centre should fix their WiFi. To have it promised and then fail under a crowd of 4000 net users leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

    Also the signal strength problems (with Vodafone) may not have affected Optus or Telstra users. Caveat Emptor. Whatever money Vodafone is spending to upgrade their network doesn’t apparently reach so far as to properly provision a world-class conference centre.

  109. evader says

    Our internet is a joke.

    It is the 2nd worst thing about Australia. The first being that most stores (here in QLD anyway) won’t let you pay with EFTPOS unless you buy at least ~$5 amount.

    Yeah f– right.

    Anyway. Pity our internet, you are here briefly, we have to live with this 2nd rate symphony.

    And yes we have a LIMIT… Oh how I envy American internet. And the fact you have game servers based on your continent.. Does tend to make a difference.

    Whatever. I’m getting Ramen.

  110. marksletten says

    cm said:

    However: the hotel’s internet access apparently sucks; the government-owned convention centre’s, apparently, does not. Yay for free enterprise. /sarc

    elronxenu said:

    The Conference Hall provided free wifi. Except it didn’t work half the time.

    I wonder if attendees will be receiving a refund for the gov’t-provided service that didn’t work…