One of the many advantages of being Boingo’s community manager is that I get to hear a lot of customer feedback — the good, the bad, and yes, every once in awhile, the ugly. Feedback, no matter what the flavor, is important because it allows us to improve. In some cases, customer dialogue also makes us aware of misconceptions that we need to debunk. One of the big ones? Boingo laptop software is evil and designed to suck up your money. Is this true? Nope. Let the debunking begin.
Once upon a time, Boingo customers told us they needed a tool that would notify them when they were in a Boingo hotspot. We thought this was a good suggestion given the majority of our hotspots are roaming locations and therefore it’s hard to know when and where you could use the service. So we designed a piece of software that automatically pops up on your laptop to alert you when you’re in a Boingo hotspot. Since the software also stores your username and password, all it takes is one click to get online. Nice!
We received positive feedback, especially from Boingo Unlimited customers who expressed that the software’s notification feature enabled them to connect more often on other networks they didn’t know were included in their Boingo plan, thus increasing the value of their monthly subscription and saving them the cost of paying those other network providers.
But our work wasn’t done. We next learned that customers wanted to be notified when they were in a premium location that would incur additional charges (for the record, our service descriptions provide specifics on geographic locations included for each plan type, but we do understand it’s easy to overlook details when all you want to do is get online). So we modified the software to include a message about premium charges when it happens to pop up in a hotspot outside of the customer’s service plan.
A similar message appears for AsYouGo customers who don’t have a Boingo subscription: the software notifies these users when they’re in a Boingo hotspot and tells them they will be charged if they choose to connect.
The “evil software” comment most frequently comes from customers on the “As You Go” plan who might be too hurried to notice the fact that they will be charged, and simply hit the login button. Some of them also argue that the software automatically logs you in and charges you without your consent. But no, the software doesn’t log you in automatically – you must press the login button before you get online. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that a user has to explicitly trigger a charge event by their own action and consent. We never perform auto-logins.
And by the way, we do not require our customers to install the software. We highly recommend it, since it makes 125,000 hotspots from 164 network operators with hundreds of different network names look and act the same with a one-click login. But logging in through a hotspot’s web page (i.e., walled garden) is also a viable option for both our owned and roaming hotspots. So it’s up to you.
Hopefully that helps you understand how the software works, and why we believe it’s really the best way to find Boingo hotspots and get online in a snap. Of course, we’re never done improving the software (SPOILER ALERT: we’ll have a MAJOR new release coming this Fall!), so if you have feedback that could help us improve, we’d love to hear it.