Boingo Wireless: Astoundingly Confident & Poor

When I was stuck in Boston’s Logan International Airport for a few hours waiting for a flight, I decided I ought to get some work done; I popped open my laptop to see if I could spot a free network. Signed onto “loganwifi” and got a page full of ads asking me to pay for access via Boingo Wireless. At $10/mo ($22/mo after the first 3) and 100,000 access points, I decided I might give it a whirl and plopped down my card. Things were smooth, but then it wanted me to download a Windows program. Ruh-roh. (I’m just connecting to wifi! Why do I need another resident program?) So I go ahead and install it and run it. It thinks for two minutes about logging in and then gives me a “999 Network Error” and a phone number for support. Here’s where things get good.

I connected with support relatively quickly, and the guy sounded educated and confident in his answers, but I was shocked at the things he said:

“Are you recharging right now? Yes? Then I’d recommend you unplug and move a few feet away. I know the signal strength says 77%, but that really doesn’t mean much. Most people I talk with who are having connection issues are recharging, you know.”

“Did you download the program with Firefox? Firefox sometimes has an issue with these wireless networks and the installed program might be corrupted, which could be causing the ‘999 Network Error’. Try downloading the program again with IE.”

“Okay, just go to Boingo and log in again…” (I log in and the website refreshes for several minutes saying “Now Loading Account Information” and then gave up.)

“Oh, you’re using a Core 2 processor with Boingo? You know, that just doesn’t work, the signal bounces back and forth between the two processors and so some locations you just can’t connect.”

I started yelling at him and eventually got a refund. [smacks head]

It was amazing how confident this guy was. I probably wouldn’t have known how nuts this guy was if I wasnt’ a computer scientist myself.

Author: dweekly

I like to start things. :)

4 thoughts on “Boingo Wireless: Astoundingly Confident & Poor”

  1. Hi David – I work for Boingo and am a recent transplant from SF to LA, handling PR for the company.

    This is not what Boingo strives for in customer service, and I apologize for such service. We are currently in the process of refresher courses in our CS offices, and tracking down who you spoke with – and retraining them from step one. This is not how we treat our customers at Boingo, and not the service we provide. Ping me via email and I’ll set you up and show you why Boingo is a great service for road warriors. GoBoingo is a pretty cool product, where it lets you know when you are in a Boingo hotspot wherever you are (100K+ hotspots worldwide).

    BTW, we have a few 6 degree connections – Kyle from your past, Kristine from your present.

  2. Jeremy,

    Thanks for your thoughtful, speedy, and personal response. The service seems very useful so I could definitely see engaging it at some point. But yes, it sounds like your CS reps could use a little retraining. ^_^


  3. David,

    I recently had a similar head scratching moment with your company PBwiki.

    I’ve been using your site for about a year now and wanted to upgrade to a premium account for the storage space. I filled out the form to upgrade on a Saturday but was surprised to find that it was just a contact form, I couldn’t upgrade online I had to wait for a sales rep to contact me. Your sales rep did contact me back on Sunday morning no less, but he said that you only offer annual contracts and that he would email me a contract for me to sign and fax back? I thought he was joking, I can’t remember doing a web transaction like that since maybe ’97 when I had to transfer a domain name.

    Your new site PB 2.0 is great, I really like it, but not being able to upgrade your account online and signing and faxing annual contracts is a really inefficient way to do business online. Like I said I think PB2.0 is great and I will continue to use it, but stick with the free version while storing and embedding my documents into the wiki with to avoid having to spend an hour printing, signing, scanning, emailing documents back and forth like it was a mortgage for an $8 monthly charge.

    Also, annual contracts are very cell phone company like, you will keep me as a customer if you keep innovating like you have over the last year not because I signed a contract – 37Signals has the right approach by giving you the first month free and paying month to month after that.

    I hope this feedback is valuable and thanks for a great product!


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