Swisscom: Main Reason Why I Will Never Stay in an NH-Hotel. Ever!

In March, if you would still remember, I put together a blog post where I mentioned how it was about time for me to start putting a stop to the constant rip-off and the many frustrations that have become more and more evident by the day, when trying to stay connected, while I’m travelling on a business trip or while on vacation. In that article I mentioned how I was going to start black-listing those hotels that would surely not meet those standards of providing good quality Internet access, whether wi-fi or Ethernet, to their guests, specially even more when they advertise those very same services. Well, to that list I’d now need to add NH-Hotels. And all of them for that matter!

I bet you may be wondering why, right? Of course, due to an overall awful experience on the recent trip that I did to Barcelona, Spain, towards the end of June. One not to forget, for sure! I was even asked whether I wanted to fill in a form to submit an official complaint about it, and, eventually, I kindly declined it. Instead, here I am, on my own blog, sharing with you folks why I’ll no longer stay, ever, and I mean *ever*, in an NH-Hotel in any city in the world. And you know why? Because of a single keyword: Swisscom.

If you would ever want to go through one of the most excruciating, painfully exhausting, horrendously incompetent, appalling, uncommitted, uninvolved, amazingly frustrating experiences on wi-fi connectivity while in a hotel, please do stay for a couple of days in an NH-Hotel and you will have the full package! And big time!!

My experience got started on June 23rd, when I arrived into the NH Podium hotel in Barcelona itself. I knew already about these hotels as they provide really good quality service; staff is very very friendly and always very helpful. The hotel offers everything you would need and for really good prices, except for one little, minor thing: the wi-fi provided by Swisscom. That’s just so poor, it’s not even starting to make sense anymore! And here is why…

I knew that their prices were a complete rip-off, since I have stayed in other NH-Hotels in the past; but I thought it may well be a good opportunity to try things out once more and see whether things have changed. Oh, well, not very likely! Quite the opposite! Apparently, making use of Swisscom’s wi-fi means having to pay nearly 18 Euros per day (Yes, you are reading it right! 18 Euros per day!!). If you are going to stay for a week the total price for their wi-fi services is nearly 70 Euros for 7 days (Yes, indeed, 70 Euros!!!), which is nearly double the amount of what I pay myself back at home for an entire month! And no bandwidth limits nor connectivity issues!

Oh, yes, that’s the second problem… If you are going to provide a rather expensive wi-fi connection at your hotel based on the Swisscom service I would encourage you to come up to the standards and provide a good quality wi-fi connection, because otherwise it’s a complete disgrace having to pay 18 Euros per day for a connection that doesn’t reach 1.5 Mbps download / .48 Mbps upload. Yes, that’s what they would provide you, if you are lucky! Speedtest.net proved to be rather helpful in this regard.

Anyway, I needed to be connected, since I was there in Barcelona for a few days spending a couple of days off, but also working in between, so needed to find a way to stay connected during that week, so I decided to go for the full week package of 70 Euros. End result? Three days down on making use of it I had already spent a couple of hours, each day!, talking to their Customer Service Representatives, because I just couldn’t rather get connected nor keep the connection going. Yes, I realise I was on the 4th floor of the building and that this may have influenced it, but then again I had to do an important video conference that week, which I did from a hotel room on the first floor and that still went down a couple of times in over the course of 90 minutes! Not very helpful and adding further up into the frustrations already accumulated over the last couple of days.

Customer Service Reps were very very helpful & knowledgeable, but, unfortunately, their knowledge run out when they discovered it was an infrastructure problem they were not going to be capable of solving during my entire stay there! Can you believe that? 4 days to try to fix a poor Internet connection? Can you imagine having to run your business under such conditions knowing that each day you are paying a rather expensive fee for a service that’s not even there in the first place? No, I agree with you. I can’t either!

So, seeing how they weren’t going anywhere I decided to go and raise my concerns to the NH-Hotel staff, who in turn decided it was not their problem, because they had outsourced the wi-fi connectivity to Swisscom and it wasn’t their problem altogether. Well, it is! It’ is very much so your problem! After all, your are hiring them to provide your clients a service they are not giving and, as a customer, I come to your hotel, because I expect that service to work; otherwise I’d go elsewhere. Well, it didn’t happen. It was not their fault, it’s Swisscom’s and there is no escape for me to try to get some decent wi-fi connectivity.

I eventually gave up! I asked to have my money re-funded back into my bank account, since I couldn’t stand anymore the frustrating experience of having paid for an expensive service that was non-existent, to the say the least. And I did get that refund… 7 days later! Once I got back home! Very funny! Even funnier was the situation where I was told I could go and get connected to the Internet from the lobby and was also kindly provided with a 24h. voucher to connect to the wi-fi while in the lobby itself. Ok, things were looking up a bit. Well, if only they were…

I found out I couldn’t get to use the wi-fi from the lobby, because, even though I was told the first 30 minutes were free, it eventually wasn’t like that. Perhaps it was for their only one computer there hooked up to the Internet, but, hey, guess what? I want to use my own Mac to connect to the Internet. That’s where I have got most of my work related stuff! Makes sense, don’t you think? So I decided to give it a try with the 24h voucher and, to my surprise, the connection worked rather well, but it was a voucher of an uninterrupted 24h connection, not just the time I may have wanted to connect to the Internet. Since I was not planning on being there 24h straight on the Internet, I could only basically use it for 3 to 4 hours, before going into meetings and a walk through the city. The next day the voucher expired and was kindly asked to pay for a new fee. No, it didn’t happen. I refused to pay.

I decided to stop suffering from not having any connectivity, when I thought I should, and get over with the frustrations once and for all. I had better things to do, people to meet, places to check out, work to do, things to get done, other than spending whatever other time on the phone trying to solve these issues. Sorry, thought you had already wasted enough of my time and my patience.

That’s why I eventually spent the entire week mostly disconnected and relying on my iPhone 3G connection, which, those folks who have been using it themselves with Movistar for a while, would certainly come forward and tell you how reliable it is as of late… Not!! I am not sure how I managed to do it, but I eventually got along the remaining of the week connected here and there, but certainly not at the optimal level I was expecting from a service I already knew was expensive, but thought perhaps it may well be worth trying again.

Not going to happen. Ever. A couple of days after I arrived back home, I received an online feedback form from both Swisscom and NH-Hotels to provide some constructive feedback on what I thought my stay was like. And needless to say that I shared my ¢2. All the way. Even to the point where I stated, very clearly, why for as long as NH-Hotels have got a contract with Swisscom for their wi-fi connection in their hotel rooms I will never, ever, stay a single night in them. Would prefer to go elsewhere, even if they didn’t provide wi-fi in the first place. At least, I would know in advance.

A few days, after I sent along that feedback form, have gone by, and I’m still waiting for an answer, or even an acknowledgement, that they are already working on one of the most serious issues I bet they have from their overall hotel service. Because I bet I’m not the only one who’s had such horrendous experience with Swisscom alone. For sure! Either way, for me it was the last one. Like I said, I am not expecting any answer back, specially since I know I may be offered one of those lovely vouchers that expires before you even blink or get offered to stay at their hotel(s). Sorry, not again. Learned my lesson through the hard way and not ready to go through it once more. Life is just too short and I have got better things to do…

So, to me, NH-Hotels + Swisscom, from now onwards, would equal an overall frustrating experience I could do without… and I guess it’s about time that someone shouts out loud what’s obvious, at least, to those of us who have experienced it so far and who from now onwards, would claim that NH-Hotels + Swisscom = Blacklisted for good!

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Swisscom: Main Reason Why I Will Never Stay in an NH-Hotel. Ever!, 4.5 out of 5 based on 8 ratings
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17 Comments »

  • Andy Brunner says:

    I do not know why you experienced these problems. I am a very satisfied Swisscom customer since many years. They provide (at least here in Switzerland) a very reliable public WiFi Network (MOBILE-EAPSIM) with hotspots all over the place.

    BTW: You may also buy products such as Apple Airport Express in which you plug the hotels LAN cable. After that, you have your own hotspot in your room. Most hotels provide free LAN cable access in the rooms.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Andy! Thanks a lot for dropping by and for the feedback comments! I am really glad to hear the experiences with Swisscom are not the same in various other countries and really hopeful things work all right in Switzerland. However, here in Spain the situation is very different.

      Judging from tweets shared across yesterday I am not the only one experiencing these connectivity issues and in various different hotels. Not very pleasant.

      I am glad you mention the Apple Airport Express option, because I thought about it, but, apparently, the hotel where I was staying, the NH Podium, they didn’t have LAN / Ethernet connections, just the wi-fi; we tried to get hooked with the connection through a cable, but it wasn’t working either.

      I guess they would need to invest in much more robust infrastructure before they can continue with that quality service provided in Switzerland. Hope they will.

      Thanks again for the feedback! Greatly appreciated! :)

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  • Barry Leiba says:

    On the cost: I’m not surprised at the EUR 18 price… when I stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar last month, they wanted EUR 23 per day for their Internet service. I have no idea how well it worked for that price: the meeting I was attending provided its own Internet service, which is all I used.

    After the meeting, I moved to the Husa Oriente on La Rambla, and they had quite decent Internet service for EUR 20 for three days.

    I’m used to horrible Internet service in hotels, so I seldom pay for it, preferring to rely on my BlackBerry and on free WiFi in local cafes.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya Barry! Great to hear from you and really glad you are doing fine and pretty close to where I live, compared to the other side of the pond! Very nice! Next time you come to Spain, do let me know, as I may be in the vicinity …

      Right, with regards to your wonderful comments, thanks for those! I am really disappointed about the high prices from that first hotel as well and guess I’ll be adding it into my list of black-listed hotels for not providing a bit more competitive set of prices, like in the second case, which sounds reasonable…

      I agree with you on relying on your own connectivity solutions and I surely hope to be hooked up on mine very shortly when I finally get my 3G SIM card for my iPad, which will help me address all issues straight away and without having to worry about where I will be staying from there onwards. I just can’t wait!

      I guess that’s eventually where we will all be heading, specially for business trips where hotels seem to keep failing at understanding our needs… Oh well … perhaps this was the last chance for me to experience such awful connectivity issues while in Barcelona. We shall see …

      Thanks again for the feedback!

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  • David Ing says:

    @elsua I also pick hotels based on Internet access, because the frustration of discovery, diagnosis and remediation was causing me to stay up too late and be tired in the morning.

    In NYC, I had conversations with the the city IT managers of both Marriott and Hilton, who said that they were bringing services back in-house because of quality issues. They said that a lot of problem was guests running Slingbox feeds into the hotels. All I was trying to do was get to my e-mail! In the short term, I switch to the Club Quarters hotels — with fast, hardwired connections. The last time I was in NYC, I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn on 8th Street, and their Internet service had improved.

    Good hotels appreciate feedback from their customers. Sometimes the form of the feedback isn’t the most pleasant, but the ones that respond with good service recovery are worth some loyalty.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi David! Thanks much for those additional comments, which, I think, fit in quite nicely with the discussions we have been having. I am glad I am not the only one considering which hotels to go to based on the kind of Internet services they would offer.

      Yes, I understand how a good number of folks may abuse the system while staying at a particular hotel, but then again it doesn’t necessarily the rest of us would need to pay for that as well, right? There are plenty of things that can be done to help improve that overall service than to make everyone else suffer, imo.

      Glad to read as well how some of those hotels are paying attention and want to improve their services. So far NH-Hotels haven’t, but then again when seeing the service I got while there, in situ, I doubt they would very much care. It’d be a rather refreshing change, for sure, but not likely to happen any time soon. We shall see…

      For now that hotel chain has lost my loyalty and it’s going to take them a lot of hard work and effort to gain it back. Starting with ditching Swisscom altogether…

      Thanks again for the good feedback! Greatly appreciated!

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  • Dave E says:

    I can understand your frustration. I guess a lot depends on what you want to achieve with your post though. If you just wanted to vent, and I can’t blame you for that, done the same myself many a time, then fair enough but I suspect that if you are expecting these two companies to throw their hand up in horror at your post and react to it (by addressing the issues) then I think you may have a long wait!

    As you have experienced, customer ‘service’ doesn’t really give a hoot but if you really wanted to make a difference you might like to try my wife’s approach to this sort of issue. It does take some effort on your part but in general it does get results.

    Basically her approach is to trawl the companies web sites and the net in general and find the names and/or email address of the CEO, the board of directors, VPs etc, in fact anyone in the top tier of management. It may take some creative guess work as to email addresses but she says that once you figure out the general format, you can usually guess the correct address from a persons name etc.

    She then blitzes everyone she found with an email about her issues.

    99% of the time (she’s done this a few times now) she gets a reply back from someone at the top, either a CEO (And I’m talking about MAJOR companies here) or a VP of some sort and once you’ve gotten the attention of people at that level, stuff really does happen. She’s even ended up with the direct phone numbers to some of these people.

    She’s polite in her email and conversations but explains her issue. Often she does not want anything back herself, just want to have an issue resolved but you’d be surprised how often these people bend over backwards to make sure her issues are resolved and that she is happy.
    One happy customer is worth all the advertising in the world and these people know it.

    As a side thought to your post and this subject in general I guess it’s interesting to consider the difference between the effects of social computing and the more ‘direct’ approach my wife takes. Social computing such as your post is very much a case of throw the a whole load of seeds onto the ground and hope one or two take root. My wife’s approach seems to be much more like tending to a single potted plant. The potted plant takes more effort but results are more guaranteed (except for my wife, when it comes to real gardening she’s like me, stuff dies!)

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Dave! Many thanks for the great feedback comments and for the wonderful input! It’s greatly appreciated! Must confess your wife’s dedication to address the issue and, finally, get the attention one would deserved, is very much commendable. However, I’m afraid I’d not be as patient as she is…

      So, to me, the main point I wanted to achieve is already done.

      Like I have mentioned on the blog post, I don’t expect both companies to react, since they didn’t do much of it, when I was there, face to face, in front of them and they didn’t want to take any further actions other than ask me whether I wanted to file a complaint, instead of trying to fix the issues.

      This blog entry was just detailing a little bit the kind of response you should not give to your customers who are having a problem. Instead of giving me a chance to raise a complaint, try to fix my issues. If you don’t, then I doubt I would ever come back to your hotel or use your Internet services, which is what just happened in this instance.

      There are far too many hotels and Internet providers who are more willing to listen and help their customers than these two companies mentioned above. Time for me to move on, till those improvements are there…

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  • Q says:

    Just got done staying at what would have been the perfect hotel in Edinburgh if not for Swisscom. We didn’t have to pay for wifi access, but the connection was poor and we had to get a new code everday from the front desk to use it. They also ran the TV system and somehow had less channels and less information than the regular TVs in Scotland. I’d never heard of this company before, but am now a firm enemy of hotels that use them.

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  • Stu says:

    Thanks – I am staying at the NH in Seville (Plaza de Armas) and speedtest just clocked the swisscom wireless connection at 1.06 download / 0.14 upload! So even worse than your experience. It is cheaper here, day by day at “only” 10.60 Euro, although unlike you I have had no connection problems. I will say, though, that the hotel is quite nice, and I am very used to being ripped off on wireless at hotels when staying in the U.S.

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  • Yes. Swisscom. Know it well and the hotel chain of which you speak. Oh well, at least they are consistent. Consistently awful.

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  • James R. says:

    I happen to work at (not for, so I’m not speaking on their behalf) a NH Hotel, and since a couple of months ago, wifi access is free in all hotels. (the basic connection that is) This was done because there were so many complaints, both from customers and from staff having to deal with them. Yes, swisscom can be annoying (and it was very much overpriced), but let’s not overreact here. So you’re having some trouble with your internet, is that really a reason to stay away from an entire chain of hotels? It IS a hotel after all, and not an internet cafe, where providing an internet connection is their main focus. If you’re so picky about your internet connection, maybe traveling just isn’t your thing. I mean, I just came back from Argentina, and I was glad if the hotel I stayed at had a mere dial up connection so I could check my e-mail. The NH chain has some very well priced hotels (and some overpriced ones) considering what they offer. The staff has always been very friendly and attentive, and the food is very good. Whenever something is wrong with the room, you get a refund or a free upgrade without any trouble. Yet you’re complaining about a refund taking 7 whole days… It is just laughable.

    Also, you stress that it IS the hotel staff’s problem that your internet doesn’t work. And you’re right, it is indeed their problem. They have to deal with people like yourself complaining to them about a problem they can’t do anything about.

    TL;DR: A well working internet connection just isn’t an absolute guarantee, anywhere in the world, deal with it. Your first world problems aren’t real problems at all.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi James, thanks much for taking the time to drop by and for noticing this blog post after two years since I first put it together. I guess it’s always better late than never waiting for a response from either Swisscom or from NH Hotels, although in this case it isn’t neither of them, since you are sharing your personal opinion and are not representing either business. Either way, I still appreciate your extended feedback commenting on the original concerns expressed on this blog post. But please do allow me to set the context further along of what you have classified as this just another “first world problem”. I appreciate your time and additional thoughts. 

      Throughout the year I get to travel extensively for work (not for pleasure) in multiple cities and countries worldwide and at this stage there are three things that I consider essential from hotels to offer their business travelling guests: 1. A good working shower, 2. A good comfortable bed and 3. A good reliable, stable, consistent Internet connection that would’t remind us all of what the Analogue Internet used to be in the late 90s. Alas, NH Hotels & Swisscom keep failing at #3 and quite extensively, even nowadays when the wi-fi is provided for free. Please see my recent experience on the NH Calderon in Barcelona where speeds were just appalling, even with free wifi > http://www.speedtest.net/result/2290948425.png

      If I were on vacation or on my leisure time I wouldn’t be worrying too much about it, since I would be spending most of my time out and about enjoying the holiday time, but in this case that’s not happening. Business travelling has got completely different needs that in this case NH Hotels & Swisscom don’t seem to understand. This so-called first-world-problem that you call it ceases to be that when your manager, in my case, in North Carolina, US, keeps asking me why I’m not available to do work every time I might end up on an NH Hotel or whenever the wifi provider is Swisscom. See? That’s when my own effectiveness and productivity get hit by not having a working and reliable, fast, accessible Internet access. And why I expressed that concern so that other business travellers would consider looking after their own productivity at work, while remote and mobile, by staying at one the NH Hotels chain. 

      Yes, for you it may well be a first world problem, but for me it’s just my work, which happens to be constantly being on the road trying to keep up with what’s happening at work, so that my boss doesn’t have to question what I am doing or why I haven’t done a certain deliverable by such and such date, while I am away from the office, on the road. So when I am staying at an NH Hotel and Swisscom doesn’t deliver, doesn’t even care to address and solve the problem, one has got to make a decision and in my case it’s to move on and stay at other hotels where business travellers are more appreciated and respected for their work while mobile. 

      I have given NH Hotels a couple of more chances to see if things may have improved since I put together the original article and as you can see from the recent NH Calderon experiences in Barcelona it hasn’t been the case, so I’m afraid I will just stay away myself with this first world problem and look for other accommodation where that problem just doesn’t even show up in the first place.

      Again, like I said, I do appreciate your feedback and extended commentary, but please do allow me to ask you how would you react when your “work tools” don’t allow you to stay productive on a consistent manner. I can imagine that not only yourself, but your manager wouldn’t be really that happy about it. You would want to try to get them addressed and solved, right? Yes, me, too, and that’s exactly what I attempted to do with the original article, since I never got it fixed by the hotel chain or the ISP after continuous attempts. Thanks again for your time and for reading this far. Appreciated. Hoping the situation will change eventually at some point in time. Till then, I’ll continue to stay away from either NH Hotels and / or Swisscom. Essentially, for the reasons I have mentioned above. Thanks!

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  • Andras says:

    It is a old story, but thought I drop a note about my recent NH experience in Berlin. The basic internet is now free, the premium is 10 EUR/day, which is overpriced imo. For the basic net you need to ask for codes, which would be even acceptable, but…it is 256kbps (!) down and limited to 100MB. I have ad filters installed, don’t watch youtube videos and 100MB goes away in no time. I had to ask for several codes for a day (well evening). This is just annoying.
    The connection is really slow, I might say sometimes it is not even 256kbps.
    It is a shame. In 2014 decent net connection for free or a decent price in a hotel chain like NH should be available. BTW Holiday Inn is no better. It is amazing that many times small hotels have better (and most of the time free) internet.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hello Andras, thanks a lot for dropping by and for sharing that feedback. It’s greatly appreciated and really disappointing that 4 years later! we are still talking about the same ISP and hotel chain not having moved into the 21st century.

      It’s been a while since I was last at an NH hotel, for obvious reasons, and the overall experience was pretty much the very same one. In Barcelona, Spain. So it looks like the service, overall, is rather poor all over Europe.

      Long time ago I decided to stop staying at NH hotels where Swisscom is the ISP and, as a result of it, my productivity levels while on the road as a knowledge (Web) worker have increased tremendously. Looks like the situation would continue pretty much the same.

      Too bad. What a wasted opportunity, i.e. having 4 years to work on your issues of providing a decent Internet connection and still failing, big time!, at doing so! :-(

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  • Javier says:

    Luis I completely agree with you. It is eleven at night I’m at NH and I just wrote and email to NH and SWISSCOM because i’m desperate. Premium internet is 418 Kb download with a PING of 186 ms…
    I’m Platinum at NH and high categories in other hotel chains, so you can imagine how many times a year I spend in hotels all around the world and I love NH, the relation between price and quality is great. But every day I got more tired of the internet connection.
    I usually if in Europe, use my own connection, it is a real pain in the ass. I take your scale, SHOWER, BED & Internet. In my opinion they could sell the TVs and “buy” more internet.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Javier, I am really really sorry to read about your story on the Internet woes with Swisscom and NH hotels when I am sure you have certainly got plenty more good, and better, things to do (work, family, etc.). It’s pretty amazing how this blog post (4 years later!) still keeps coming up time and time again as one of the worst Internet experiences for knowledge workers on the road and one can only imagine the amount of $$$ wasted preventing us from doing real work. That’s why right after I posted this blog entry I decided to move on and never stay at a NH hotel, for as long as they keep Swisscom as their Internet provider.

      I think we would all want to have good decent Internet service and not have that feeling we have been ripped off with an expensive fare (The free wi-fi is just a joke!) for no service and no-one taking responsibility nor ownership for wanting to provide good quality service. And that includes both NH and Swisscom for not getting their act together. Sad.

      Hope you manage to get that work done without having to sacrifice your sleep, Javier.

      PS. And thanks for taking the time to drop by and share your feedback. One more to add further up!

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