For $29.95 a month, riders of Washington State Ferries have been encouraged to "Steal Some Time" by signing up for monthly access to the wi-fi service on many of the system's boats, including those serving Bainbridge and Bremerton. This service is being heavily advertised on banners and signs at ferry terminals and on board the boats.
There are no such signs, or notices on WSF Wi-Fi's web site, however, regarding how Bremerton wi-fi subscribers can receive a refund for the recent three-week stint in which on only one boat and half the ferry runs had service.
Parsons, WSF's wi-fi provider is providing some refunds on a case-by-case basis, but it's up to customers to contact the company. According to the company's vice president, Bob Davis, they won't be sending out any notices to customers alerting them of the appropriate avenue for refunds, even though he acknowledges that some customers did not not receive service.
"There is nothing in the contract that you signed that says I have to provide you with service every day," Davis said. "I don't have to give you a refund. I do it because it's good business."
Part of the problem, Davis said, is that Parsons is unable to tell which run customers are using the wi-fi on. So, they would be unable, for instance, to determine who their Bremerton users are versus regular users of the Bainbridge run.
"If I send out a note and e-mail to everybody, now I'm talking to people who aren't even on the Bremerton route," he said. " I would open myself up to all of my users saying 'give me a refund.'"
Davis said users who were without service on the Bremerton run, or anyone else who has complaints about service can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-WSF-WIFI. He's handling all refunds on a case-by-case basis.
"I'm in the business of making money," he said. "This is a for-profit endeavor. And (we are) as generous as we can be when somebody comes forward to us."
WSF was unavailable for comment at blog time. We'll update when we hear back from them.