Marriott has been caught blocking guests’ mobile hotspots as a way of getting them to pay for Wi-Fi. I’m borderline clueless when it comes to technology, and even I know you can’t do that.
Marriott employees blocked mobile “hotspots” at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, while at the same time charging consumers, small businesses and exhibitors as much as $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network, the FCC said in a statement today.
“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said in the statement.
Under a consent decree with the FCC, Marriott must stop using Wi-Fi blocking technology and file compliance and usage reports every three months for three years, the FCC said. Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott, the world’s second-largest publicly traded hotel chain, also will pay a civil penalty of $600,000.
It’s rather unbelievable that Marriott would even try this. But what’s truly unfathomable is their response when caught:
Marriott says it did nothing wrong and it’s the FCC’s policies that need changing.
“Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft,” Jeff Flaherty, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
Right, because the real reason Marriott is doing this is to protect their guests from cyber-attacks, identity theft, etc.
That’s like Spirit arguing that they charge for carry-ons as a way of encouraging you to pack more efficiently.
What Marriott did was bad enough. When caught, it’s one thing if they said “oops,” or even just explained that they interpreted the regulations differently. But to suggest that they’re doing this in the interest of protecting their guests? That’s laughable…