How to get connected at the airport

From “free” airport wi-fi to tethering, here’s a quick guide on how to find an Internet connection at the airport.

These Surfbouncers really know how to sweet-talk a girl

screenOne of the first questions I ask when someone needs help is: Could I see the correspondence between you and the company? When Steven Price showed me his back-and-forth between with a company called Surfbouncer, I was speechless.

And then I asked the company for its side of the story.

Normally, here’s what happens when you have trouble with a business: You send it an email with your problem, and it replies with a pre-fabricated form response that vaguely addresses the issue and offers non-apologies like, “We’re sorry for the way you feel.”

Surbouncer, which offers VPN services for international travelers who need to stay connected, is not one of those companies.
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What’s your problem? Shocked by an $800 phone bill

Question: I recently flew to Vancouver for a business meeting. Before leaving, I called Sprint to find out the most efficient way to connect.

An agent noted I already had an international calling plan that would make me eligible for reduced priced calls.

I specifically asked about Sprint’s MiFi, a wireless hotspot that can be connected to several devices. He said I didn’t need to worry about the MiFi. He said, “It’s just like in the US.”

It wasn’t.

When I returned to the US, I was advised both my phone — and most notably, my MiFi — had nearly $800 in data roaming charges for a weekend. I called Sprint, and after several hours on the phone, a representative agreed to reduce my bill by 15 percent.

After a little more haggling, a supervisor reduced it to 50 percent. I asked Sprint if it could pull up the recording of our first conversation, but was told it wasn’t possible.

I’d really like a full refund. Can you help? — Dawn Lyon, San Francisco

Answer: Sprint is either right or wrong, which is to say it either gave you the incorrect information (which means it owes you a full refund) or the correct information (in which case, it owes you nothing).
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Ridiculous or not? Wireless hotel charges that make you want to stay home

As I reviewed my hotel bill at Harveys Lake Tahoe recently, I noticed something unusual: Instead of charging me $11 a day for wireless Internet, they were asking for three times as much.

“This can’t be right,” I told the clerk.

She called a manger, who firmly explained it was right — Harveys charges for wireless access not by room, but by device. Although it isn’t disclosed on its website, it is on the terms and conditions when you log in. I had glossed over it when I got online.
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That’s ridiculous! Hotels are charging even more for what should be free

What could be more absurd than paying a surcharge for a wireless Internet connection at your hotel?

Paying even more for a wireless Internet connection at your hotel.

But that’s exactly what more travelers are being asked to do when they open their laptops after checking in. A “regular” Wi-Fi connection typically costs about $10 a day, but if they want to upgrade to a higher speed, they have to pay a premium of between $5 and $10 over an above that rate.

Philip Guarino was faced with that choice on a recent visit to Zurich, Switzerland. A basic wireless connection at his hotel ran at 500 kilobits per second (the average dial-up connection is 56 kilobits per second). The “premium” connection speed was about 20 times faster, which would have allowed him to easily stream videos, make Internet-phone calls and download large files – all the things a reliable high-speed connection ought to do in 2011.

“I pay for the upgrade every time because the difference is so drastic,” says Guarino, a business consultant.
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