Marriott Fined $600K by FCC for Jammin’ (Guest’s Wi-Fi Signals)

marriottIn May 2012, Marriott pulled quite the coup in hospitality when the hotelier bought the luxurious Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center brand for $210 million.

The chief reason Marriott doled out that kind of coin was to make an impact in the convention space, which was never a problem for the Gaylord estates nationwide. Suffice to say, you would think that rolling out the red carpet for conference attendees would be the chain’s top priority.

Not so much.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, hotel employees disabled the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center’s service, leaving guests unable to log onto the Web via a personal Wi-Fi connection; they were forced to pay up to $1,000 per device to access the Marriott’s Internet.

This happened last year when a conference attendee visited the Gaylord in Nashville, Tenn., as shared in this article on Consumerist.com. The guest found that the hotel was “jamming mobile hotspots so that you can’t use them in the convention space,” and he complained to the FCC.

In the complaint, the guest noted that it had happened previously at another Gaylord property. The FCC said Marriott charged conference exhibitors $250 to $1,000, per device, to use the Gaylord’s Wi-Fi connection. From the FCC press release:

“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots while also charging consumers and small businesses high fees to use the hotel’s own Wi-Fi network. This practice puts consumers in the untenable position of either paying twice for the same service or forgoing Internet access altogether,” he added.

Sure, rooms are already $329 a night, but what the hell? Let’s get as much bank as possible. While the FCC is “currently investigating if this is more widespread than originally believed,” Marriott hasn’t returned comment. Maybe their Internet connection is down.