My $42.00 hour at a T-Mobile Hotspot Starbucks

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As any sentient being in the United States is aware by now, Starbucks has partnered with T-Mobile to offer wireless “hotspots” in most of the Starbucks throughout the United States.

They offer 3 different plans, all of for which you can sign up on the (hot)spot: $29.95 per month for unlimited access, or one of two “pay as you go” plans – either the $9.95 for a 24 hour “day pass”, or the “.10 cents per minute with a 60 minute minimum” pass.

Be *very* careful! Don’t be lulled into thinking that if you use the .10 cents per minute pass judiciously, such as by loggin in, grabbing email, and logging out, you can keep your usage low, incurring only the minimum $6.00 fee if you are quick and careful.

The 60 minute minimum is *per* log in. If you log in, grab email, and log out, you will have incurred a $6.00 charge. When you check your email again a half hour later, you will incur an additional $6.00 charge, and so on.

Now, perhaps this should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t – at the time that I signed up, the wording was ambiguous (“per session” was, I believe, what it said). Now (1/2/04) it says “per session per login”, whatever *that* is supposed to mean. Only once you have actually signed up and are logged in can you find language, should you bother to read the rate plans again, which clearly says “$6.00 minimum per *login*”.

I pointed this out to a nice CS rep when I discovered my *$42.00* bill for roughly an hour at a Starbucks, who offered to let me talk to a manager – thinking, I think, that perhaps he would reverse some of those charges which were so clearly racked up due to a misunderstanding..who would log in 7 times in an hour for $42.00 when they could have stayed logged in for that same hour for $6.00? I didn’t even *ask* the manager to reduce my bill – I just pointed out that the language on the sign up page had the potential to confuse, and he instantly started telling me that I had agreed to their terms and conditions, and he was not going to reduce the charges.

THAT just lost them my patronage. Had I asked, and he refused, I’d be annoyed but take it on the chin, but to jump in and tell me up front that they weren’t about to reduce the charges, but that he would pass on the information about the confusing language simply added insult to injury.

Buh bye, T-Mobile Hotspot.

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