Ferry Wi-Fi: Come Get Your Refund

“There is nothing in the contract that you signed that says I have to provide you with service every day.”

For $29.95 a month, riders of Washington State Ferries have been encouraged to sign up for Wi-Fi access on many of the system's boats, including those on the Bainbridge and Bremerton runs. This service is being heavily advertised through banners and signs at ferry terminals and on the boats. There are no such signs, however, telling Bremerton Wi-Fi subscribers how to receive a refund for the recent three-week stretch during which only half the vessels had service. WSF's Wi-Fi provider, Parsons, says it's up to customers to contact the company for refunds. "There is nothing in the contract that you signed that says I have to provide you with service every day," Parsons Vice President Bob Davis says. "I don't have to give you a refund. I do it because it's good business." Part of the problem, Davis says, is that Parsons is unable to determine which customers regularly use a given 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 says. "I would open myself up to all of my users saying, 'Give me a refund.'" (Says WSF spokesperson Marta Coursey: "The refund issue really is between the vendor and the customer.") Davis says customers who were without service on the Bremerton run can contact Parsons at questions@wsf-wifi.com or at 1-800-WSF-WIFI. The company is handling all refunds on a case-by-case basis. "I'm in the business of making money," says Davis. "This is a for-profit endeavor. And [we are] as generous as we can be when somebody comes forward to us." Jerri, a laptop-toting Bremerton commuter who declined to give her last name, says Parsons' stance on refunds is another reason she won't be subscribing to the service anytime soon. "We spend two hours a day of our lives on this boat, and they treat us like second-class citizens," she says. "If we were on Bainbridge Island, they would be kissing our feet."

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