Brendan Nee

Boingo Wi-Fi sucks

August 4th, 2008

Warning: Rant below

I decided to take a last minute trip to Belize with Lisa to meet up with Jed who has been traveling around Mexico for the last few weeks. Lisa found a $360 ticket at 8 PM leaving at 12:30 AM so we packed, hit up a Taqueria for a goodbye burrito and beer and BARTed to SFO.

I had some last minute work I had to get done this morning, and a 3 hour layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. I haven’t jailbroken my old-school iphone since I upgraded the firmware, so I didn’t have a good way to tether it to my laptop, nor did I have an SSH application on my phone, so I had to buy the $7.95 airport wifi provided by Boingo.

I opened up firefox and after sitting through a flash intro on the boingo website, I entered my credit card info. After a confirmation screen, I was presented with the data I had entered and asked to download the GoBoingo Utility, an application that could run on my PC and notify me whenever I am within range of a Boingo hotspot. Clicking “Download and Install” was the only way to continue purchasing internet access.

Only after beginning the download was the page redirected to the page announcing that my credit card info was incorrect. I retyped my info and even tried a different credit card with no success. Noticing how quirky the website was, I decided to open Internet Explorer just to see if perhaps this form couldn’t be completed in Firefox.

After downloading the GoBoingo toolbar for the 6th time (this time in IE) I was given a page showing that my credit card details had worked.

Not only did they make me download unwanted software (note: you just had to download the .exe file, it is up to you to install it) but I had to use IE. What if I was using a mac? Would I have been locked out of wifi at George Bush Intercontinental?

I was able to complete the necessary work before getting on my plane to Belize. If you ever run across a boingo hotspot, make sure you are using IE.

  • Brendan, I am so sorry that you had trouble with Boingo and Firefox. We just recreated the situation in-house, and encountered the same loop. We are now on top of it.

    Please contact me by email, and let’s fix the situation for you.

  • Pingback: Beijing Beef vs Orange Chicken on Olympic opening day and free wifi at Houston airport | Brendan Nee()

  • I hope the situation has been fixed, thanks for the prompt reply. Its nice to know that Boingo monitors the blogosphere for feedback.

  • tom

    Of course Boingo will jump to the aid of a blogger, but the forced software download is ridiculous and scammy. I’ve heard stories of people repeatedly getting charged with the toolbar, and moreover, the way its presented suggests that you have to have the toolbar (even though it says its optional). Even if it was just pushing ads, I think its rediculous for an ISP who you are paying fees to to then also force you to download that kind of garbage.

  • I agree, toolbars are so 2005.

  • joe

    Boingo does suck unbelievably. No suppport for https, ftp or pop3. Stay away from this dog, people, Boingo is a scam. Fortunately, I only signed up for a single day as opposed to being sucked into a monthly contract. I will be scanning my Visa bill for unwanted charges and will post again if I find any.

  • What a let down GoBoingo is,

    GoBoingo seems to restrict access to everything except regular HTTP communication. I logged on with the intention of checking emails / making a few Skype calls before a long flight only to find that none of this was possible with GoBoingo. Further, access to my webmail intefaces were also blocked and even Gmail was a no-go.

    The only thing I did use GoBoingo for was posting this message and researching how to uninstall the software … IE, GoBoingo doesn’t make that information known (at least on their Mac version.)

    Boo-urns to GoBoingo, I’ll be requesting a refund as soon as I can access my email again. :\

  • Boingo Rules

    I used boingo wireless on a flight to O’hare.

    Boingo is the fastest internet service that I ever used.
    Impossible to find a plan that is cheaper.
    Amazing Software.


  • Boingo is Bad

    I can say for someone who uses boingo on a regular basis (only because its the only thing available where i work) i have had nothing but problems. Everytime i try to stream any sort of video with it.. it cuts off about 10 seconds into the video. Also lately everytime i try to log onto this garbage, i get some continuous login redirect loop that ends up with an error. The service is absolutely horrible and would never recommend using this to anyone. Im really annoyed that this is all i can use here.

  • Danny

    I just started using Boingo and I have used it at three different places and had no problems. I was able to access my Gmail, upload a video to my YouTube account and basically do whatever I needed while I was out and about. If I do run into any questionable issues I will relate them here, but so far I have no complaints.

  • Kelly

    Just want to comment that requiring a DOWNLOAD to access wifi is bullshit. Shame on Laguardia airport – mire options? I assume this is an ad-ware virus for all eternity – no?

  • James

    Yep, going through the same nightmare right now.

    I enrolled in the one time-monthly fee, only to be charged every month. Typical

    I’m on hold with Boingo customer service right now in what now seems to be a futile attempt to cancel, it’s 12:50 in the freaking morning and I’ve been on hold for almost 40 minutes.

    I will also spread the word on how much Boingo sucks.


    Some of the stuff people are talking about, sounds like the tactics porn web sites use, the forcing of installing software.

  • John Carleo

    I am sitting in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport with my Macbook Pro using FireFox and I am having absolutely no problems. Maybe they’ve fixed the problems mentioned above or I’m not one of those users who visits sites that Boingo doesn’t support. What I would like to know is how to pronounce Boingo. Anyway, here is my complete configuration in case someone needs it… Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; en-US; rv: Gecko/20091221 Firefox/3.5.7

    Its’ all good!

  • Chris

    Boingo is a great service for frequent travelers and the coffee-shop workforce.

    Paying $7-12/day for Internet at airports or coffee shops is a much bigger scam than Boingo. For $9.95 they connect you with hotspots all over. As far as the speed of the connection and port blocking troubles (e.g. not having access to certain e-mail or FTP services) these are hotspot-specific problems not Boingo’s per se. What Boingo has done by aggregating hotspots and enabling universal access for one monthly price is a great thing.

    Tethering my Blackberry (which is ultra-slow) and paying $10-15 to Verizon has been costly and unproductive not to mention you can’t use your phone when tethered.

    The next best alternative to Boingo involves piggybacking on your cell provider’s network for $30-50/month long-term service contracts and related laptop hardware, I’ve tried those services as well and in addition to being expensive they are very slow and often have poor/no signal outside of major metros.

    I would agree, it sounds like Boingo can do a few things to makethe sign-up process more straight forward like this. 1) Pay by day, 2) Pay by month, 3) Pay by year… with a clear option to quit at anytime via phone, e-mail, or their web site, and they should aim to limit the requirement of any software downloads to exactly what is needed to connect to their hotspots and nothing more.

  • I read this and worried it would be hard to cancel my service. I called the number and it took me 5 minutes on hold and another 5 minutes to complete a polite conversation. I’d get Boingo again, if I think I’ll be in airports and hot spots more often.

  • I just canceled my subscription. Only because my company cut back on traveling and I haven’t used it in over a month. When I canceled I was expecting the worse, however, I wasn’t on hold for that long and when I got a rep they were very polite. Unless BOINGO did something very different none of the negative things I’ve read about happened to me. I have nothing but good things to say and they have me as a customer if I ever start traveling again.

  • eric wilson

    I tried severla times to simply download goboingo.exe using firefox and Windows 7.

    I can’t find the downloaded file. Problem solved when I tried with IE

  • John Carleo

    Firefox downloads files to a folder called downloads on the Mac. For Windows the folder is located under the My Documents folder. Its’ also called downloads. I have never tried Boingo on a PC with Firefox but Firefox is all I have on my Mac and it works fine.

  • Dustin

    Same story as the others.. signed up for a one time, and several months later noticed I’m getting billed monthly.. no way to cancel service easily..

  • Craig

    I purchassed boingo to use at the holiday inn express newcastle upon tyne uk and every hour i was being thrown off the internet and it kept coming up with errors when i tried to reconnect. I called Boingo who said they would call swisscom who provides the hotel internet, and they called me back and said it was swisscom cutting me off every hour, but then when i complained to swisscom, they told me it was not them and it was boingo who were doing it! both companies wouldnt own up to who was doing it and it caused me a lot of unnecessary upset and distress, i requested a refund from boingo and my account closed, and i got an automated email saying the account had been closed but no reply to my request for a refund, very angry and dissappointed at what seemed to be a good service. i really didnt need all the hassle and stress when i was supposed to have a holiday. the hotel staff had to sort it all out for me and got me free access to the internet, but only for the 10 nights of my original stay, and now if i want to stay at the hotel longer i am stuck, thanks to boingo! i would appreciate it if they sorted this out and refunded me and got me more free access from swisscom paid for by them for the distress and inconvenience they caused me!
    email is

  • I just bought boingo in chrome, no problem, and it had an option (albeit small, nearly hidden plaintext) saying “continue without installing” for that stupid wifi finder. Now I’m finding it’s blocking me from sites I frequent, in fact I seem to get “ERROR: Gateway Timeout” for anything that isn’t amazingly mainstream (google, facebook etc)… Fack this.

  • Robert

    Boingo is Terrible. After installing the Boingo App my other Apps won’t open.

  • ted

    Sitting in LAX. I have to agree boingo sucks.