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In Atlanta, but Not On-line, Under Protest

I arrived in Atlanta but a few minutes ago after a fairly uneventful, and surprisingly brief, flight from Houston.

I left Austin early this morning, arrived in Houston and had a quick bite at the 59 Diner with my Dad before I headed to Intercontinental Airport. For some reason, last night’s activities caught up with me suddenly, mid-flight. I found myself doing the “forehead-against-the-seat-in-front-of-you-quasi-narcoleptic-nap” thing most of the flight.

Atlanta’s airport is gorgeous, new, nice, and clean. I was very impressed. Navigating its large size is assisted by a tramway and moving sidewalks. It just goes to show that the US' dumpiest airport is Mineta in San Jose. Just think, the airport of the “capital of the Silicon Valley” has its traffic flow designed such that in busy mornings you have to queue up for security check in the bloody garage.

But I digress, horribly. So as I sat down awaiting the arrival of my conveyance, and I thought I’d check out the WiFi capacities and instead of the near ubiquitous sign on of T-mobile, I found Boingo.

Now Boingo wronged me on two accounts, in short order, on a day that I really didn’t have much to give. Owing to this cavalier treatment I decided to to not purchase a WiFi access pass.

Item the first: Misleading UI designed to empty my purse and line their coffers.

I sat down and I had three varying options for service

  • today-only
  • all month
  • subscribership

I picked the ‘today-only’ link and it forwarded me to a page with two options:

  • monthly subscription
  • today-only

with monthly subscription selected

This is the proverbial bait-and-switch, it’s abusing people anxious to get online’s tendency to not pay the closest of attention to the layout and then proceed to screw them for not doing so.

It’s so unrepentantly sharky. [1]

I can just see the grubbing spec writers planning out this little gem of UI:

Hey they picked one day, let’s reset the CGI parameter to “monthlong” and we can totally fool some busy and distracted sap into handing over 6 times more cash than he thought he was handing over.

Wow. That really got on my bad side.

Item the second: No, you don’t need to know my blood-type for me to get an IP address.

Feeling a bit aggrieved, I was mandated to create a user account.

userid: f*ckboingo pass: f*uckboingo

This was denied for being either taken ( not surprised by that sentiment ) or being an unacceptable pattern ( oh, probably that one ).

I then altered the ‘fu*k’ to be ‘fuq’ and that worked, but then I was taken to yet another page of questions about who I am and what my business was: Name, Surdame, Address, Phone number, E-mail all required.

No guys, the only thing you needed of mine was my credit card information.

At that point I thought: Will I contribute to their material welfare by ordering service and signing over my personal information?

The answer: Command-w

Footnote:

  1. It actually gets even sharkier than that. If you select one day, but then forget to check the “i accept the terms and conditions”, it conveniently re-sets you to the month worth of service. That’s not very chummy, is it? ( Yeah, that’s a groaner)

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