I had a
friend once who came to work in a very angry mood one day. I asked, “What’s up?” She said, “My stupid neighbor put some
kind of security on his wireless internet gateway!” I ignored the little voice from the
“good angel” on my right shoulder that said, “Run away, Ken, you
don’t want to be involved in this,” and I foolishly listened to the evil
voice on my left that said, “Take this further, this is promising and
there might be a cash reward involved.”
So I asked her, “Why are you angry about that?” She exploded, “Because now I can’t get
on the internet, that’s why!! The internet
is supposed to be FREE!”
All I could
think to say was, “He pays his own money for a high speed provider and he
probably doesn’t want unwanted users sharing his domain for free.” She looked at me like I was extrapolating a 5th
degree polynomial in math class. I tried
again, “Maybe the super highway is free, but the entrance ramps cost
money.” I think she got it. “That’s so unfair,” she replied,
“Now what do I do?” We helped
her get set up, but it put me into my own ethical dilemma.
for a paradox? Most hotels offer free
internet access in their lobbies or in the VIP club lounge, but they charge for
it in the room. Isn’t it hilarious? Occasionally, I will call the front desk from
my room and say, “Do I have to carry my laptop downstairs to use the
internet or can you just waive the charges if I use it in my room?” Less occasionally, the front desk will
“get it” and actually waive the fee.
In hotels like this, I ask to be moved down to a ground level room near
the lobby. Then I have a choice to use the
internet for free or to pay for it. I
choose free. As I write this, I have
free internet access in the concierge lounge as a platinum hotel member, but it
would cost $12.95 per day in the room… it makes no sense to me whatsoever, but
it doesn’t bother me ethically since I have a legal choice.
are different. To join the NWA WorldClub
lounge (at Continental, it’s the President’s Club); I think an annual
membership is something like $9,000 per year.
It’s obscene. I’ve been in there
and it’s nice, but it’s not 9k nice. In the lounge you get a comfortable place to sit, nice TV, magazines, crackers, cheese,
cookies, “free” booze (9k buys a lot of booze for the house, so its not really free… is what
I’m saying), and free internet access.
Now, suppose I don’t have a membership to the lounge at my local
airport, but I notice that if I sit close enough to the front door of the lounge
(like the end stool at the T.G.I. Friday’s bar in concourse “C” at
the MSP airport), my laptop picks up the signal and I get on for free.