Piggly Wiggly, Home of Free but Not Open WiFi

I’m sitting in the Piggly Wiggly at Carolina Forest. Part of the reason I ate lunch over this way is that I had a few things to do on my own stuff over lunch, and I prefer not to do those from the company network, even though I’m at lunch and theoretically on my own time. Piggly Wiggly has free internet via wifi in their cafe, and I have used it before. So, I had lunch at the Grand China Buffet and stopped in here. First thing that was different, I was met with a login page. I had to register for an account, which I think is new. It was free and relatively quick, but not something I had seen before.

It went downhill from there. I logged in and could load web pages, but nothing else. I can’t get my email via SMTP, I can’t connect to my home server or my hosted web server via SSH, I can’t connect to my IM services. So Piggly Wiggly has free internet service, if you define that as access to the Web and not one other kind of service.

I’m not trying to grouse about getting something for free that isn’t what I expected, but pointing out that this is a bait and switch. I came here specifically to do some internet work. I bought a coffee from the Starbucks stand I wouldn’t have gone out of my way for. Now that I’m here, I can’t do the work I want to do because I don’t have access to any of the services I need. Presumably the free wifi is offered to attract people in to buy groceries and Starbucks drinks. This was the last time I fall for this. I’m pissed off enough about the half-assed offering that I would have been less bothered by the wifi being down than being crippled. If you are going to have open internet connectivity, open it up please. Otherwise you bring me in for a promise you aren’t willing to fulfill. Web access is great, but it is a portion of the internet not the totality of it.

Update: To add insult to injury, posting this failed the first time. Apparently this login has a 5 minute timeout or something like that. In the time it took to compose this entry, my login was invalid and I had to reauthenticate to make it go. This truly bites.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

3 thoughts on “Piggly Wiggly, Home of Free but Not Open WiFi”

  1. My bet is that businesses, like public libraries, will have to protect themselves from “You-let-my-child-surf-where?” litigation.

  2. AA says:

    Just curious, did you speak to anyone about the new “policy”? Seems if they knew enough people were unhappy they may realize that they’re losing customers instead of gaining them.

    I agree with William too .. :\

  3. For my own servers, since I’m not hosting https, I set the ssh server to listen on port 443 as well. This way I can guarantee that I can connect to the server from any locked-down access point. From there, I can tunnel any traffic such as SMTP and IMAP via localhost on the laptop.

    This might help in your case.

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