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Hilton Hotels should come clean about their internet charges

Posted on Monday, June 27th, 2011 at 5:47 pm. #

Blue sky thinking

I stayed, last month, at the Hilton Hotel in Lyon. It’s a decent enough hotel, in a decent enough conference centre, and it’s built for the business person – a desk in the hotel room, a comfortable desk chair, that sort of thing. It’s not too expensive, either: rates start at €99 a night, as their website tells you.

What their website doesn’t tell you is that internet access costs €22 a night extra. That’s £19.50, or a staggering US $31.

It’s not just Hilton Lyon that is charging these fees.

In the UK, wifi in Hilton Liverpool is €17/£15/$24 a day. Hilton hides this fee away from “guests” by not publishing it on their website. Not unsurprisingly, since it’s on par with an average UK monthly ISP bill of €20.50/£18/$29.

The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago charges €12.50/£11/$18 a night. You’d not know that, since Hilton doesn’t tell you on their website.

The Hilton in Zurich, Switzerland, charges CHF29.90 (€25, £21, $35) a night. Again, Hilton are shy about telling you that – there’s no mention on their website.

Now, look, whatever hotels want to charge for wifi is fine by me. Charge €50 a night, for all I care. It’s your business, and if you want to gouge your guests, you’re welcome to. I certainly wouldn’t pretend to tell you your business. Just be honest and up front about it.

The truth is that Hilton Hotels are hiding their wifi charges from customers when they book.

And, not unreasonably, their ‘guests’ are not very happy about it. Just a cursory look through Tripadvisor gives hundreds and hundreds of negative reviews.

We learn it’s $29 in Budapest (and it doesn’t work very well); in Toronto it’s $15 (“usual internet ripoff” says the jaded traveller here); in the Netherlands you can expect to pay $24 (and it doesn’t work very well). Vienna? Well, that’s $38. Aberdeen is $24 – the title “Internet price rip off spoiled stay” probably says it all there. I thought I’d found the most expensive with Prague at $42, but then discovered Athens with an eye-watering $55 a night.

And that’s just the first page of that Google search.

But, as I say. If Hilton want to charge those prices, that’s fine. Just tell us, before we book. Just as airlines are forbidden from hiding fuel surcharges and taxes, so hotels should be forbidden from hiding a fee that, for many business travellers, is just as important as the overall price of the hotel.

Hilton should come clean about their internet charges. And perhaps, if you agree, you’d tweet or share a link to this page as well. @hiltononline might take notice: and fellow travellers would thank you.


Steve Martin
commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

As your foreign correspondent I’ve travelled to Abuja, Nigeria in order to give your article further global veracity… The Transcorp Hilton here charges 7000 Naira per 24 hours. That’s about USD 44. It’s painfully slow too.

Local 3G stick wins the day.

Now, back to you in London…

Ron Pelley
commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Rather more prosaic, the Hilton Newbury Centre charges…er…something, but as a Hilton Gold member I am given free Internet. However, it is so bad I never use it and instead use a 3 miff ro use tethering on my iPhone via Vodafone. Both work very well most of the time.
I stayed at a Grange hotel in London and they provided free wifi Internet access – the way t hinges ought to be!

Jonathan Marks
commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Economists compare countries by looking at the price of a Big Mac in McDonalds. I compare the digital innovation of a country by comparing the price of wifi. The more they charge, the further behind in their digital strategy. They will be charging for water next…that’s funny in a hotel in Geneva I almost drank a small bottle of mountain water until I saw the price tag of 3.50 sterling. I have never paid for wifi in Silicon Valley. They wouldn’t dream of it. Instead they use the Internet to pre-Google the guests!

James Cridland
commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Interestingly, staying near SFO, I was charged for wifi in a hotel stay. By Doubletree.

Oh, hang on. Doubletree by Hilton. #smacksforehead

Jonathan Marks
commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Always remember the interview with Johnny Carson when Conrad had the chance to address the American people. You’d think with his obsession with the shower curtain his chain would come clean about wifi charges. http://www.worldsstrangest.com/mental-floss/conrad-hilton%E2%80%99s-advice-to-the-american-people/

commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 10:19 pm

These days Internet access should be free. I’m all with guests having to register to use it so they can keep track on users but it should not be charged for. Regarding James’s individual case he should take the matter further, out of principle.He’s paid for a service which wasn’t up to scratch. James tweeted me the download speed he was getting, 0.30 Mb/s – pretty slow for nearly £20 per night. I pay that for unlimited 25 Mb/s a Month – and include it in the Room rate for our guests at a 4 star guest house in Bournemouth.

Email to the general manager and a review on Tripadvisor outlining the outcome. The least they can do is offer money off a future visit, or free wi-fi on the next ‘potential’ visit.

commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 11:07 pm

If they could get away with Hilton would charge you to breath air in their buildings..

J Donoghue II
commenting at June 27th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Good points James. I was recently trying to book a hotel in San Francisco and was wishing that the hotels published their internet rates so I could compare them. Perhaps we should lean on services like Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak and others and encourage them to publicize the Internet rates for all hotels in their systems.

Ken Benson
commenting at June 28th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

James, couldn’t agree with your more and it’s not just the Hilton. I find most European hotels to charge outrageous internet fees. The exception is Scandinavia, whereI frequently find free internet included in the room rate. However, as a Hilton Gold member, I receive complimentary internet during my stays this year. I will regret the day I lose my status.

Richard Leeming
commenting at June 28th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Now I understand how that senior Hilton exec I crewed for a couple of times afforded his Aston Martin and half share of a 40ft racing yacht …

commenting at June 29th, 2011 at 6:56 am

Or at least publish it in their website using “for a fee” or something like that if they’re iffy to bring it out in the open. BUT they have to publish internet charges. It’s called transparency and setting the right expectations.

Steve Martin
commenting at July 2nd, 2011 at 8:23 pm

News from Johannesburg. The Sandton Hilton has DoCoMo internet. It’s fast enough (but there’s hardly anyone here tonight). Price about £20 per 24 hours and you can’t log out to stop the clock. As far as I can see, the price is not on their website.

Steve Neal
commenting at July 16th, 2011 at 12:16 am

Hilton Doubletree in Oslo was free. (Password given to you on a scrap of paper at check in)

Same for Hilton Slussen in Stockholm.

However in Sweden and Norway I always have my unlocked MiFi 3G/WiFi hotspot (great for use with an iPhone when out and about and wanting to avoid roaming data costs) Tre/3 in Sweden charge around £10 for a week of pay-n-go and the speed is a LOT better than the UK (Think you’re capped at 20GB…) Telenor in Norway give you 200MB on a normal £10 Pay-n-Go voice SIM.

Free hotel wifi: Light at the end of the tunnel?
commenting at April 21st, 2012 at 5:55 pm

[...] year, James Cridland wrote about his experiences with Hilton Hotels and how, in James’ view, they are hiding their wifi charges from customers when they book [...]

commenting at May 10th, 2012 at 11:25 am

I agree with hotels charging for the internet connection with proper speed. Otherwise they will charge the internet amount from each room to cover the cost without looking in to the usage. The charge and the speed and other conditions should be clear to the guest beforehand.

Lucas Saylan
commenting at July 10th, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I couldn’t agree more.Even though they say complimentary its charged…I wish they’re CEO’s could see from our eyes syphoning our wallets to fuel they’re big money machine with promise of free internet…

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