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Charge for Wifi? Why, fie!


From a little corner table at the hotel cafe, Nottingham


Travelling away from home has a funny way of making days pass by quicker.  For the past weeks, C and I have been living our usual pretty itinerant lifestyle, a different part of the UK every week.  C covers his consulting gigs, and I tag along with my own hardcase of paperwork to do while away.  Actually “away” is not quite the word.  Perhaps I should fine-tune that word to “further away”, especially when the conveniences and comforts available while working from our home in Manchester are not available.  My work as an attorney in the US requires me to pass big bulks of work across the Atlantic.  And so when we are on the road, I have to find my nook to do work, and equally importantly, I need to have internet connection to send work across.  Unlike in the US, many UK hotel groups/chains do not offer free internet connection.  Not even when a big chunk of their clientele are business travellers.  For instance, C is a frequent user of another hotel group (Let’s call it “P Hotel” The Premier Inn group) for his business travels.   The said Hotel chain is extensive, and you generally can also find one located outside of city centre and anywhere across the UK — convenient for C as power plants are usually located quite far from them.  I like that P hotels Premier Inns have spankin’ clean rooms, are pretty no-frills (altho very often, I wouldn’t mind some pretty frills), and — they have showers and not just bath tubs (happy me!)!   However, what seriously irks me is that the P hotels they charge for internet.  Their rate?  £5 per hour, or £10 for any time use within a 24 hour period (multiply that by a 4 day stay).  The guest must pay this upfront (front desk), and they give you a “scratch” card with a password.  There have been many times when, just for the principle of it, I want to refuse to pay more than the room rates (which believe me, can go quite high when booked on short notice).  But then I tell myself “what principle are you talking about?  It’s just how they choose to do business”,  knowing that sticking to my guns would go against professionalism.  No choice then but to suck it up and pay for it.  Alternatively I would/could take the bus into town, find a Starbucks, and work there until the Barristas either become my good friends or get annoyed.  Trust me, it is awful to feel that you’ve overstayed your welcome.  So it usually ends up with me spending more money for coffee and cookies.  Bottomline, what I had done in these instances really made no economical sense.  To save £10, I spent more (bus ride to and from, coffee and cookies).  So what do I do but gripe silently to myself in utter frustration?  And outwardly, act nonchalant and bear it.  That’s the British way, and when in Rome.

One of the places we regularly stay in when in Edinburgh is the King’s Manor.   This hotel is managed by the Best Western UK group (Twitter handle:  “BestWesternGB”).  They provide free broadband to guests.  What a relief.  Hotel people who understand that providing internet connection today is the functional equivalent of having bedside and lobby telephones in yesteryears.  A simple, basic feature like this,– and I am less antsy about not being able to take care of my clients overseas.  In the end I enjoy travel and stay that much more.    I hope hotels in the UK realize that the value of providing broadband to guests, and the competitive advantage it provides to their business mark worldwide, are much more than the sum of its actual costs.  No hotel guest wants to feel isolated from contact, or to feel that they have to pay additional for a few hours of de-isolation.  Too much nickel-and-diming your clients. And really, how silly.

So this week, we booked ourselves in another Best Western hotel.  This time, the Westminster in Nottingham.  We will continue to stay in BW hotels and look into them wherever we travel.

Anyway, by way of  FYI, since this is a blog about expat life, here are some of the hotel groups in the UK where guests PAY FOR WIFI:

  • Hilton
  • Travelodge
  • Holiday Inn
  • Marriott
  • Malmaison
  • Premier Inn and
  • Thistle

And those that PROVIDE FREE WIFI TO GUESTS include:

  • SAS
  • CITY INN and of course,

(Source :  “Do Not Disturb” magazine, Issue No. 1)

p.s.:  Best Western GB has come up with the first magazine issue called “Do Not Disturb”.  The magazine is unconventional, fun and interestingly quirky — definitely in line with the company’s byline “Hotels with Personality”.

Cover of "Do Not Disturb"
Lawyers Life

~Unless You’re Dealing With A Shyster~

This is part-gripe, part-info.  But mostly gripe.

Insider info about lawyer services, which not many who seek lawyer services understand.

Clients usually set 3 standards for lawyer services.

1. They want the advice to be GOOD (i.e., thorough and reliable).

2. They want the advice to COST LOW (I hesitated to say “cheap”).

3. They want the advice to be given/available FAST (“can you provide me the answer NOW?”).

Alas, Life holds its few truths and one of them is that you very rarely can have all 3. You can only the service meet 2 standards at a time. Thus —

1. If you want the advice good and to cost low, you can’t have it fast.  Wait in our queue of jobs till we get to your file.

2. If you want the advice to cost low and rendered fast, it won’t be reliable or complete.

3. If you want the advice quickly and good, it WILL cost you, so keep the checkbook fat and ready.

And if your find a lawyer who promises that he can provide you all 3, he/she is either:

1. in love with you (Take advantage of this period of non compos mentis before his/her feet touch the ground!)

2. is not really licensed attorney.

3.  Most likely, he/she’s just plain lying.  What haven’t we learned about anything that is too good to be true?

A final note, if you’re for free legal advice, we don’t mind those once in a while. In fact, they come plenty-in-a-while, and yeah we take ’em.   But please tone down on the cheekiness.  Case in point, I was asked (via a social networking website) to represent a person in court (Insult Number 1: me? go to traffic court?.  And he is an acquaintance not a friend). Said he couldn’t make it to court because he had an appointment on that day to go jet-skiing with his girlfriend. ohhhhh-kaaay. I turned him down flat-out. And graciously (with much effort to do it that way) told him I was not licensed to appear in Cow State’s local courts. Bless his insolent 22-year old heart (yup… THAT generation). No decent lawyer would cover for you that way. And worse, we’ll only be appalled by your gall.

I am sure I will pull this blog entry down in a few days.   But for now I’m keeping it up just because I need to gripe.