Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Internet connection (Paris II)

After few days of a fruitless search for a free Wi-fi spot in Paris, a friend suggested an hotel so here I am in "Le Meridien" a chic hotel located Porte Maillot, in front of the "Palais des Congres", looking for a place to sit and start working. I go downstairs to the Business Center which turns out to be a small room with two sleek computers screens, a printer and a fax machine. I sit down and realize quickly that I can't connect to their Wi-fi net without a card that needs to be purchased at the hotel desk. The two computer screens show a nice website asking for 8 euros for a 15 minutes connection. A bit steep. I unplug the ethernet cable from one of the machines and plug it in my own laptop. I immediately get connected to a site asking for 9 euros for a two hours connection, the price that the hotel pays before asking almost 10 times that...
I pay with my credit card and start working. Two minutes later, a woman comes in and tells me that this is not allowed. I figure that if I start speaking in French she'll kick me out. My instinct is to play the American tourist that needs an urgent connection home. So I look at her and tell her, in English, that I just paid and all is fine. I'm a bit worried that she'll recognize my French accent but she only seems happy to understand what I say and leaves. I keep working for more than 2 hours, paying another connection when another guy comes in. He looks angry and it looks for a minute than he is going to unplug my computer without saying a word but I react quickly and ask him, still in English, what the hell is he doing. His English is quite bad but he manages to say that my plugging my laptop directly is forbidden. I realize that he thinks that I am not paying anything so this is the first thing I tell him "I just paid with my credit card so I am keeping my connection". I don't tell him that I paid the price that the hotel is paying and not the price that it is charging to the unsuspecting tourists. He seems unconvinced, and keeps telling me that "It is impossible" so I show him the receipt from the transaction I save as a pdf file hoping he won't notice the amount. After some more convincing that the work I needed to do could only be done on my laptop, he seems unhappy but not angry anymore and leaves.
Who would have thought that to be treated well in France, I'd have to speak English?


Blogger Solomon2 said...

It's like a café, isn't it? You pay for the location as well as the food and service. This hotel should charge its customers the same way.

I would have kicked you out, or made you pay a small fee for sitting there, no matter what language you chose to speak. That seat and the computer and printer and fax machine cost money. But if you had paid up, I would then have offered you a cup of coffee - on the house.

I am a bit puzzled at your news that Le Meridien's business center is so small. I know people who stayed there for business some years ago...I guess that WiFi connections are probably available in the conference areas and hotel rooms, too. (But only one printer? That's not good.)

3:06 PM  
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8:52 PM  

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