Last fall I sent a letter to Piggly Wiggly about how bad their “free” wifi was, and how it made me waste time by coming there when I had work to do but the wifi was barely usable. It should be noted that they have changed their provider, they no longer require an account to login, and it is 1000 times better now. I’m eating grocery store sushi, doing a little bit of work and will get a Starbucks Americano on the way back to the office. It’s much more convenient to have this option back in the rotation and I thank Piggly Wiggly for straightening this out. I don’t know if my letter had any effect but I’m glad I sent it.
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.