Boingo does not send invoices, so unless you check your credit/debit card statements, you are not likely to notice the charges or any errors. Boingo uses another little trick that Bob mentioned . . . they keep the charges small. They never charged me more than $15.90 at one time and spread them out over time.
Inspired by Bob Lawless, I called the Boingo folks this morning (and removed the software from my computer). Knowing my travel history, I kindly explained that this must be a billing error. The first line representative I spoke with employed the “confuse the caller” tactic by discussing the initial set up of the account back in February. Then, she explained their method of billing whereby charges are not made at the time of usage, but later. I call this the “confuse the user” tactic to make it hard for customers to know what charges relate to what days you might have used the Boingo service. She finally agreed to send me an invoice. Then we arrived at the heart of the matter, the Residence Inn charges. I explained to her that the Residence Inn provides free Internet, there would be no reason to need the Boingo service.
Here’s where we arrive at the automatic login feature that Boingo has. Once installed on your computer, Boingo is always looking for service for you. And, it saves your sign-in information conveniently for you. Since the customer signs up for the service which enables the “easy” re-login on other dates, you have used the service and the charge is valid. The customer must pay. At that point, I requested a supervisor, who told me the same story. When I raised issues about whether this results in truly “authorized” charges to credit/debit cards, whether Boingo was misusing customer credit cards, and fraudulent charging of cards, the supervisor immediately agreed to refund my money (and close my account). Not sure how good my claims were, but the Boingo supervisor had surely heard them before. Next time, my desperation for Internet service will have to give way to my fear of others automatically hitting any of my accounts. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The morality of some vendors surely lessens once we give them our card data.