Il Diario di Tinton

{2011-12-30}   Boingo Hotspots Don’t Work Well

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Dear Traveller,

Boingo is an internet service provider for wireless internet across the world. It has hot spots in many locations such as airports and hotels.

I am here to write about the negative experiences i have had with the Boingo iPhone/iOS app and their hotspots. If you can, avoid Boingo, or use it being aware that you might be able to get only a fraction of the service they offer.

About a year ago, i purchased 10 credits of the Boingo at an airport. It was a good deal. I think it payed about 10-11 USD for 10 credits, each credit is for 1 hour of internet usage, which is pretty much the cheapest way to get online from an airport outside of the country where i have a cell phone data plan. And the way it works is easy: i downloaded the app from the App Store, and i just had to launch it, and tap start, after having connected to the open Boingo access point.

English: A gray version of an emblem used by i...

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It worked OK for a few times: in some places it would not work, others it would, and i was able to use 3 or 4 credits.The around february or 2011, i was in paris, and couldn’t get it to work so i decided to call customer care. They were not able to help me (couldn’t find my account). Eventually i had to leave, so i decided to continue over email, so i could use the credits for the next trips.

The email exchange was useless. I kept getting replies from different customer care reps, (Eric Ortiz, Mary O’connor, Bronwyn Olsen, Mitchell Owen), always very polite, with warm wishes, but no practical info on how to solve the problem i had. What i did get out of the email exchange is that there might be two ways of purchasing credits: one is from the App Store, the other from boingo directly. The App Store way doesn’t really create an account on boingo, or maybe it does but one should be able to log in with iTunes credentials (which i was not able to do). It also seems that the App Store approach could be device specific. That is, if i purchase the boingo app with credits from the app store, and i then switch device, (say i go from iPod touch to iPhone), then i loose all the credit i have).

In short, avoid Boingo, or use it being aware that you might be able to get only a fraction of the service they offer.


Baochi says:


As a Boingo employee, I’m dismayed to hear you had a bad experience with us. On behalf of my team, I’m sorry. We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to write about your experience, thus giving us the opportunity to obtain feedback and better address your concerns.

You are correct that Boingo Wi-Fi Credits cannot be transferred from one Apple iOS device to another. We agree this is not an ideal user experience. However, this is a limitation of our non-subscription model through Apple iTunes: the one-hour Wi-Fi Credits for $1.99 is applied to the specific device as opposed to all iOS devices under that iTunes account. Our monthly subscription, Boingo Mobile (Wi-Finder app), however, does enable customers to connect two authorized devices via one account regardless of which device the plan was purchased on. We continue to explore better user options with Apple, and your recommendations are on our wishlist of features.

Also, thanks for the feedback on your experience with our Customer Care team. As we are in the business of keeping people online, we aim to deliver the best customer service possible. So if we weren’t helpful to you, then we fell short of this aim. We have regular internal team meetings in which we examine shortcomings as reported by customers, and we work towards fixing those. So note to the Boingo team: better, more informative customer exchanges. As you learned from our Customer Care team, it is indeed correct that payment for Boingo Wi-Fi Credits is through iTunes — like all other purchases (not just Boingo) — Apple maintains control of the user transaction. That’s why at this time, we can’t issue refunds for Wi-Fi Credits. However, we have alternatives for making it up to you.

Finally, I am keen to determine why you couldn’t connect while in Paris. Again, it’s very helpful to have communicative customers; it directs us to potential problems of which we would otherwise be ignorant. By any chance, were the problematic connections in roaming hotspots, i.e., locations operated by one of our network partners? If so, did you first select the hotspot SSID through the device’s Setttings > Wi-Fi menu? This is a required step for Apple iOS devices because developers do not have access to the Wi-Fi interface that would enable us to connect you automatically (as we do on other platforms, such as Android). We have a blog post and demo video with more details:

If you did select the network ID through Wi-Fi settings before attempting to login via the Boingo Wi-Fi Credits app, then we need to investigate the specific hotspots to determine if there was a network problem. I’d greatly appreciate any additional details you may have.

Once again, my sincere sorry for the unpleasant experience you had with Boingo. We are very sorry to lose you as a customer and hope we have another opportunity to make it up to you. Please contact me at and let me know the email associated with your account. I will take a look at your conversation record with our Customer Care team so you don’t have to repeat information you’ve already provided.

Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience and give us recommendations for becoming a better service.

Boingo Social Media Strategist

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