Vacation Condo Charges Me For Causing Internet Outage, But It Wasn’t Me

Visiting a beach town on business, Dontel stayed in a condo building that’s oriented more toward tourists. When he checked in, he learned that some guests were having intermittent Internet connection issues, and was told to report any problems he had to the front desk. Okay. He didn’t have any problems. When he returned home, he learned that the condo management had conducted an investigation, and blamed the outage on…Dontel. They claim that he tampered with his unit’s access point, messing up Internet access for that whole part of the building. They’ve billed him $120 for their trouble. He says that he didn’t touch the access point, and didn’t even know that there was one in the room. He asks the Consumerist Hive Mind for help: is there any way that he can prove he’s not behind the fateful hard reset?

I’m writing today to try to get some advice from the Consumerist Hive Mind on a situation I’m dealing with. Recently I stayed at the [redacted] Condominiums in [redacted] while I was in that area for work. Upon checking in my coworker and I were informed by the front desk that other residents were currently having internet problems and to let them know if we have any problems.

I go to my room I am able to connect to the through the wireless network so everything is fine. I go to my meetings, enjoy some good food, and get to walk on the beach, check out 3 days later and return home. Great productive trip, or so I think.

Upon returning home I notice and additional charge of $120.00 on my credit card from the condo. I call to investigate and this is when they informed that I tampered with their router that was in my unit. They claim that I removed a sticker that says “Do not use” switching the port the the Ethernet cable was plug into. And when that didn’t work that I did a hard reset on the router returning it to factory settings (also reverting it back to a router rather then an access point) and in turn causing the internet access in adjacent rooms to become unavailable.

I tried calling up and was able to speak to their head Internet Technician and even the Owner who are both sticking by their “investigation”. Despite the fact that I have told them that I never touched the router. I wasn’t even aware that each room had a router. And had no need to change anything as I was able to access the Internet.

Of course I do not have any proof of the routers state upon my arrival to the room. All I know is that I never committed the act that they are accusing me of. When I informed the Owner that I would be requesting a charge back through my credit card company he threatened to file a a claim in Small Claim Court against me stating that “it would be a big hassle for both of us”.

That’s where we stand now. They’re not going to refund my money and I have yet to file a dispute. Hopefully someone can provide me with some guidance on the steps I should take.

I’ve attached the letter, agreements, and “investigation” report that they sent to me.

Networking pros of Consumerist: you’ve been summoned. Can you help Dontel?

We didn’t include the agreement in this post: the relevant part is the same as the highlighted text in the letter above.


(Click on the thumbnail to view full-size.)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Veeber says:

    If the hotel told him to report any problems when he was checking in, doesn’t that suggest the previous guest caused the problem?

    • bobosims says:

      This. 1000% this.

      If the problems already existed, then where do they get off suggesting that the OP created the problem? Time travel still isn’t possible…

      Also, this reeks of the hotel owner just not want to pay the IT repair bill, which should be a cost of doing business. You can bet that come tax time, he’s going to try to write it off as if he had paid it himself. Seriously… if the best you can do is to set up a fleet of Trendnet (in my personal experience, they’re great for home use, mostly, but not suitable for business-class service) routers to provide internet to your hotel and if you’re not securing them physically to keep guests from being able to access them, then *you’re* on the hook when you have problems with them…

      A charge-back is the best way to deal with this. And I’m guessing the court threat is just posturing… if the hotel owner is that hard up for $$$, he’s not going to actually take the time to go file a small claims proceeding.

    • NotEd says:

      That would be my first question as well.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      They could just log into the router and in the logs it will say when it was factory reset last.

  2. Marlin says:

    Charge back and make them prove it. If they want to take it to court then let them, its their job to prove you did it not yours to prove you did not.

    Unless they have fingerprints or cameras then they will lose. Make sure to also look up the router, since they sent pictures, to see if the time stamps can be changed. Most of they can so they could try and say the time stamps prove their case. So make sure to point out they can be changed.

    • kevinroyalty says:

      This!

    • Portlandia says:

      This is what I came to say. Also, since they were having internet problems BEFORE you checked in it should be further proof that the router was already tampered with before you arrived.

      Simply stupid. It was likely a previous tenant.

    • mrll says:

      That’s not exactly true. They can accuse you of doing this and it is up to you to prove you didn’t. The only reason I’m aware of this is I’m in process of being sued over something and I am having to prove 10 different ways I wasn’t in the area when the accident occured.

    • Sneeje says:

      Yeah, except if he files in small claims, he will have a default judgment entered against him if he does not show up. And since the owner is there in that city and the OP is not…

      • Marlin says:

        You can’t sue someone in small claims court if they are not part of that area. If they want to sue him they have to go to where he is at.

        • Sneeje says:

          Didn’t know that… thanks!

        • Thyme for an edit button says:

          What? Are you sure about that?

          • Marlin says:

            Check with your small claims/local court system but all the ones I have filed in the person/company must be represented in that location. The court would have little to no jurisdiction if they were not.

            • ahecht says:

              It depends on the state. In some areas you can only serve someone from out of state while they are physically in the state. In other areas, the court has jurisdiction based on where the contract was signed, not where the defendant lives.

  3. cactus jack says:

    Call his bluff. Chargeback and go to court.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      It was obviously the PREVIOUS guest since they were having trouble BEFORE Dontel arrived.

      In court THEY will have to PROVE their case and show not only that the unit was tampered with, but also show that IT WAS Dontel that did the tampering.

      If they sue, immediately counter sue so they can’t weasel out of paying legal fees.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    This sounds like a tactic that Comcast uses. When you call to report a problem, they offer to send a technician and if it’s a problem caused by their equipment then there is no charge. If it’s caused by you somehow then they charge you. Well guess who makes the decision as to who’s fault it was? That’s right, Comcast! Judge, jury and executioner.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Yep. I was stuck between that rock and that hard place with Comcast once. I was pissed and raised exactly that issue — why would Comcast get to decide whether the fault lies with Comcast or not?

      I chose the hard place, and they came out and looked at my router. They determined the router had failed, replaced it, and did not charge me. I won that battle, but that doesn’t make Comcast less evil.

      All cable internet customers should be required to buy their modem from a third party; cable companies should be legally barred from selling them — and likewise, telecommunications companies should be legally barred from selling phones. Cable companies should also be barred from selling cable boxes. History has shown that when one company controls both the wires and the devices, consumers suffer.

    • chocula78 says:

      I just ran into this problem. Comcast wanted to charge me $28 for rerunning the cable in my house because they said it was the source of the problem, yet the charge was not made clear before the work was done.

      The new cable didn’t even help. They had to comeback and then found the problem was outside the house at the tower. They still charged me the $28…fortunately I caught it on my bill and got them to reverse it. I think I am the exception in getting things reversed though, not the rule.

      • bbb111 says:

        “…I caught it on my bill and got them to reverse it….”

        They did that to me twice. It seems that the standard is to always charge and only look at the situation if the customer complains.

  5. daggio says:

    How do you ‘indirectly’ tamper with equipment?

    Would the IP address given by the tampered box be different than the main router if it was reset to factory settings? Can a log be printed showing when/what IP addresses were given?

  6. Rexy does not like the new system says:

    Sounds like the hotel has been taking lessons from porn lawyers.

    • RandomHookup says:

      You’ve just inspired me to work on a script for a TV show called “Porn Lawyers”. Hoping that HBO or Showtime will pick it up.

      • Rexy does not like the new system says:

        Who will it star?

        • RandomHookup says:

          Casting is still preliminary, but I was thinking Rashida Jones and Matt Leblanc as a husband & wife legal team (with an open marriage). Chris Cooper would be the crotchety (and perverted) owner of the firm. Kevin Spacey is my backup for that role (or perhaps the presiding judge).

          The clients would be played by a revolving cast of real-life porn stars seeking exposure.

      • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

        Go for Skin-emax. That’s right up their alley.

  7. Goatshadow says:

    If the “original setup” didn’t have any Ethernet wires going into it at all, then it’s just a wireless repeater setup, not an access point, a fairly unreliable way to spread wireless across a whole set of condos, especially with low-end consumer gear like the one shown. The previous guest probably had problems with this setup and tried to reset it and plug it in how a sane person would use it, but then they didn’t set it up right. Their technician sounds like a bozo that gave the condos a crappy setup in any case, but short of fingerprints there’s no proof either way.

    • bobosims says:

      good point. wireless repeaters double your latency for each generation, and they put a substantial load on the host router. they’re good for reaching a little bit more into an isolated dead spot, but using that method to cover a multi-unit property (assuming that’s what was being done) is proof of a technician who should probably stick to working for Worst Buy.

  8. Analyst says:

    Looking at that router which is a Trendnet device I would have two observations. If the network with its Wireless Access points was configured correctly they would have changed the Wireless Networks Identification( SSID). My guess is something like XYZ condos group or something to the like. By pressing the reset on the device and doing a hard reset that should have reset the SSID to a generic XYZ or Trendnet wireless. This tells me they have either a very poorly setup network or the technician didnt know what was going on with the device. A device of that type can also be remotely logged into and the device could have been reset in that fashion. There should be a dump log that would have been on the router. Usually those lots are only good for a set number of days.

  9. dcatz says:

    Why do you redact the name of the Condominium? How are we supposed to know who to avoid?

    • dullard says:

      To avoid a lawsuit. I agree that it would be nice to know who or what to avoid in many of these cases, but I don’t think Consumerist, or its parent company, wants to do anything that could present the possibility of litigation. LItigation is costly and time consuming.

    • lyontaymer30 says:

      They’re avoiding lawsuits lol

  10. SgtSicko says:

    Definitely charge back…it’s on the condo owners/management to prove the issue, not you. Their “proof” is coincidental it seems, I wonder if the room was rented between you noticing their additional charges and their “investigation”.

  11. buddyedgewood says:

    You don’t have to be an Internet genius for this one. Just as others have said, make them prove it – even if it means going to court.

  12. nishioka says:

    > Upon checking in my coworker and I were informed by the front desk that other residents were currently having internet problems and to let them know if we have any problems.

    Seems like that says it all right there. The internet problems existed BEFORE Dontel had been in a position to jank with the access point.

    Condo management have proven that their equipment was screwed with, but they can’t prove who did it, so they just picked the last person who stayed in room 314.

  13. Sian says:

    Chargeback. Let them take you to small claims court if they’re so inclined. They need better proof that it was you.

  14. ahecht says:

    I agree with the posters that are calling for a chargeback. Call the owner’s bluff.

  15. Just a Boring Computer Guy says:

    Looking at the pictures provided that is an access point (aka a wireless bridge) and not the source of wireless router (as they said in their letter). If a reset hole was pressed, that bridge would reset back to manufacturing defaults and it could be possible that is a router, though it looks like bridge (I would need the model to confirm). Once it resets back to manufacturing default if it is a router, it’s possible that it could reset to have a dynamic DHCP. If that happens and the main router has the same gateway/ip address then it could have a contention issue causing the problem

    Here are my issues with their claim:

    They are stating that by you resetting this access point back to a router status that caused the contention since it conflicted with the same IP as the source router. Out of the box the default IP for Trendnet is 192.168.0.1. By proper technician training , whoever setup their network should of changed the class C subnet to another address (ie: 192.168.18.1). That way they can prevent hard resets if the other models malfunction (as in this case).

    The access point/router pictured is a residential grade product and should not be used for commercial . Piping multiple residencies with that product is HIGHLY not recommended . TrendNet is a very cheap product and has poorly written reviews on many sites (ie: Amazon). It makes no sense for a business to use multiple routers as access points instead of access points, since they are more money . Only time I setup a router as an access point, is when I had excess laying around the shop. I would never use it for professional deployment.

    In any setup that the public will have access, you should give direct access to the access point/bridge/router. This is just asking for trouble . Having this available to me seems negligent of them

    Further I don’t know of any technician that takes picture of their work (original setup picture). So that seems fabricated. I don’t know why any end-user would unplug the only cable attached to the back , to put their RJ45 in . There are three available ports to use.

    Looking at some brief articles on TrendNet it looks like logs get reset as well when reset to manufacturing default. Even if they are logged, you can spoof it easily.

    Unless they can prove this in court of law (small claims) I doubt this will stick as even if there are fingerprints , you could of easily justified you used one of the other 3 ports which are used to get connection . I also don’t believe the damage portion of your stay falls into electronic damage (as the product is in fine working order)

  16. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’m betting that Dontel’s bill isn’t the only one with the $120 internet interference charge.

  17. Out For Delivery says:

    They have no proof so tell them you’d be happy to see them in court for the $120.

    Also, I’ve worked in IT for 15-20 years, setup dozens/hundreds of off the shelf wifi APs, and seen them reset themselves to factory defaults for no reason at least a handful of times.

    It is usually preceded by intermittent issues…

    Remind this hotel that it is a $50 TrendNet wifi router that is expected to have weird problems and possibly reset itself every once in a while. If it were a high-end wifi network where the equipment costs 10x, they may have a better story.

    • SgtSicko says:

      Agreed, I used to configure and support hospitality wifi for various hotels and colleges in my area… if my $2000 AP’s could glitch out then the $50 pos definitely will. A properly installed hospitality account will have a gateway, switch and several AP’s at least. Very easy to troubleshoot and maintain…

  18. dullard says:

    One of the problems with being sued in any court, including Small Claims Court, is that if you lose you have a judgment on your record…not good for your credit rating. To avoid this, I would pay the amount already billed to your credit card, then sue the company. If you lose, you wouldn’t have a judgment on your record.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      If you do it this way, then it puts the burden of proof on YOU. And you’d have to pay the money to file the lawsuit (more than $120 almost anywhere).

      And this does not eliminate a judgment if they countersue, then you lose.

    • lyontaymer30 says:

      I did not know that.

    • benminer says:

      This is only partially correct. A *paid* judgment does not impact your credit whatsoever. All that says about you is that you had a dispute with another party, took the matter to Court, and abided by the Court’s decision. It does not make you any less worthy of credit. Only an *unpaid* judgment hurts your credit.

  19. Bladerunner says:

    Chargeback.

    And I’m surprised that no one has said that, even if he did do it, $120 is a ridiculous sum for “a r outer in the network was reset to factory settings”.

  20. maruadventurer says:

    Veeber has it about right. I would go to small claims court. Even there you have the right of discovery. I would insist on the billing records of the person before you and after you that booked that room. I would also inquire as to who on staff have pass keys. I would also inquire as to how management determined you were the offender. The fact that they have pictures without a timeline proves nothing.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      The cost depends on if they had to bring in an outside technician. The letter from the condo states it was an internal technician, but they could have gotten outside help. There could be several of these repeaters/acces points in the condo and it could have taken an hour or three to check them all, $40-$60/hour for outside tech support is not unheard of.

      Or maybe the condo charges for access, say $10 per day and it’s a mandatory charge, not unheard of either. If they had to refund $10 to 12 guests since their internet didn’t work the condo could be looking to recoup the cost.

  21. DaveInBillsburg says:

    While in the UK a few years back I had a similar problem, except the exact opposite. I stayed at a B&B in a small town while on business. The B&B had wireless through out the while house (6 bedroom with 3 bedrooms having en suite bathrooms). The owner was having issues with the signal in the 3rd floor rooms (where I was staying).

    One evening before heading out to dinner I used the common computer in the 1st floor sitting room to check e-mail. I noticed the router sitting right next to the computer and on the bottom was the admin user name and password. I accessed the router, made a few setting changes, moved the router to the top of a book shelve next to the computer and viola, much stronger signal on the 3rd floor. The owner noticed the next morning at breakfast, asked who had moved the router. Thought he was going to be pissed, but I manned up and told him it was me. He was so grateful he gave me a free night and a few pints at the local pub for my efforts, seems he had been trying to fix that for quite some time.

    Oh..and what everyone else said…chargeback, make ‘em prove it in court, etc, etc.

  22. jeepguy57 says:

    What business would continue to argue over a disputable $120 service charge. I could see if he racked up $120 in PPV movies that they had to foot the bill for. But their tech spent a little time fixing it – chalk it up to overhead costs and move on.

    I would do the chargeback. If they continue to fight it, it will cost them far more than what they will get. I bet they drop the issue at that point.

  23. thenutman69321 says:

    Those that are just saying go to court because they need proof need to study up on how civil court works. It is not beyond a reasonable doubt like criminal court. The condo company will probably come in and say they check the rooms after guests check out and the router was not changed then, that could very easily be enough to win in civil court. The being said I’d still call their bluff even though you may very well lose, $120 is not very much money to be hassled into going to court over, I doubt they would actually take you to court.

    • Bladerunner says:

      The standard of proof for civil cases is “preponderance of evidence”. In other words, is it “more likely than not”. And in this case, is it more likely than not that they would be lying about that, or that messing with the router makes the internet suck backwards in time.

    • Portlandia says:

      No, the single most damning piece of evidence here is that the internet was not working BEFORE he checked in meaning this was likely tampered with before the stay. Case dismissed.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      How is that enough to win? There’s also the defendant saying he did no such thing and pointing out that they have no evidence it wasn’t a previous guest or a hotel employee. If what you say is true, then wouldn’t the defendant’s sworn statement equally be enough to win?

  24. 180CS says:

    CHARGEBACK! Tell your ccard company that unless they can produce a log of some of the websites you went to/times you conneccted/your computers MAC address, you’re calling BS.

    You see, if they are smart enough to then produce a mac address, it will be your WIRELESS cards mac address, which is 100% different from the WIRED cards address. This in and of itself would prove you where using wireless, not wired. At this point, they will have actually given you enough information to sue them if you so choose.

    Moreover, if you decided to go all out, you could take your computer to your local PC technician, and he could easily pull logs showing when you connected to their wireless network, the fact that you haven’t used your wired network in a long time, etc. Then stick them with the bill for this.

  25. DaveInBillsburg says:

    Could the condo owner go after the company Dontel works for if he instigates a chargeback? He was staying there on business, he probably put the hotel cost on a company credit card, which is much different than a personal card. If he did, I’d have to assume the condo charged the $120 to the company card, which means the charge back had to probably be done by his employer, and if that is the case, it would be the company that Dontel works for that gets taken to court.

    So when can we expect the Consumerist article “Man fired from job because his company lost a chargeback suit while he was travelling on company business”?

    • Rexy does not like the new system says:

      So when can we expect the Consumerist article “Man fired from job because his company lost a chargeback suit while he was travelling on company business?”

      Probably never. There’s nothing in the article that proves the guy tampered with anything. The hotel is just fishing for money.

  26. ECA says:

    1. how did you connect??

    Wireless or direct connection??
    Wireless?? you didnt touch the box, and no finger prints.

    Wired?? Hmm..
    Who ever ran a ROUTER to ROUTER connection was stupid..
    That connection on the ND right side is the Interconnection to connect EACH box..you would connect to those on the left..

    AS a company:
    If you dont want them using the OTHER connections, PULL THEM OUT..open the box and DE-solder them..its easy. Take out the reset and SOME of the other plugins..
    WANT a PERMANENT connection that cant be changed, removed..SUPER GLUE..

    THAT connection on the box..is REQUIRED..unless they are talking to the BOX wireless.. WHICH is STUPID.
    The MAIN router can set the SPEED. NOT this box. That is if they have EVEN a fair system.
    ALL they should of had was a CABLE..they didnt need a box.

    Ok, let me guess at this..
    THEY were using WIRELESS to connect to this box.
    EVEN if you connected to that port, you were sending wireless back.. at a restricted speed. MAX 300k.

    UNLESS.
    The company supplying the connections ALSO has wireless TO THE CONDO.
    And it made a direct connection TO that ISP. STILL only 300kbps.
    So, whose fault is it, that you MAY HAVE direct connected to the ISP?? NOT YOURS.
    THe ISP should have LOCKED the signals..

    This is about the same as leaving your wireless router OPEN..
    WHOSE responsible?

    • ECA says:

      PS..
      IF what I said was TRUE..
      then you could have had DIRECT to the ISP connection, using your OWN wireless from your computer. you would have seen more then 1 connection.
      the BOX may have had a direct program to the ISP..which SHOULD HAVE been passworded.

  27. Shouhdes says:

    Deductive reasoning suggests that if the problem was existing before he checked in, he couldnt have caused it.

    Take them to small claims for the largest maximum allowable.

  28. sh10151 says:

    Their technical explanation is total baloney..

    If there’s no other wires go into the AP, then it’s just being a dumb wireless repeater. This could be the case, but more likely, they had an ethernet cable going from the wall to one of the “LAN” ports. But if they didn’t have an ethernet cable plugged in at all, then their entire technical explanation is baloney (since resetting the AP would have totally disconnected it from the WIFI network immediately, and couldn’t affect the other units).

    Otherwise, plugging into WAN wouldn’t have affected other users. Resetting the router wouldn’t have affected other users and would NOT have started assigning IP addresses (that would happen on the LAN side, geniuses).

    I would confront the owner with this technical information and tell him that you’ll be doing the chargeback and whatever else happens next is up to them.

  29. topgun says:

    Sounds like a scam. Why would the Condo owners single out something as specific as an internet agreement? Also I don’t see how the OP could have caused the router to revert to the default settings even if he did hard boot it.
    I’m willing to bet that every 10th guest gets hit with this bogus charge.

    • Emily says:

      I think so too. The fact that there’s that weird tampering language in the rental agreement makes me think they put that in so they can pull this scam regularly. I bet they charged several people the $120.

      Charge back immediately. Don’t delay, in case your credit card company has some time limitation.

  30. dnewton says:

    Thank you everyone for you comments. My main concern is that the condo is in the state of the current NBA champions and I live in the state whose capital hosted the 1996 olympics. So I know traveling for court will be a hassle, however, I refuse to let the management of this condo scam me out of $120 To address one of the questions that was asked. I logged in wireless-ly and I never had any problem accessing the Internet once I was connected truthfully, I didn’t even know that there was a router was in each unit.

  31. gtrietsc says:

    What a Mickey Mouse setup that place had. Stickers? Consumer grade devices within easy reach? I would be willing to bet this happens often, and at $120 per problem they are laughing all the way to the bank.

  32. Joedragon says:

    why is a there a Ethernet net cable there in the first place? and why can have a do not use sticker on it with a cable near by?

    Did the last guest fix a a poor wifi in there room and did not know that they knocked off other rooms?

    did some front desk person mix up remove power reset / reboot and hard reset trying to fix the network.

    I was this one hotel and had to go down to the front desktop with my laptop to get them to reboot the internet systems for the guest side to get it working.

  33. Shadowman615 says:

    Try the chargeback and tell them to go ahead and take you to court. If the do, it will likely be up to them to prove you did this, and all I see is proof that the router was tampered with. There’s nothing that says it wasn’t someone else who stayed in that room before you.

  34. Ashman says:

    I would demand they provide proof the router was not in that condition prior to your renting the unit. Do they have time stamped and dated pictures showing the condition of the router prior to you renting it?

    If not then it is a he said, she said argument.

    That being said, I would probably investigate filing yourself in small claims against them for the charges.

    You have a witness who can testify that the front desk admitted to there being internet problems, so obviously there was a known issue prior to you going into the condo.

    Also I would request pictures of where the unit was located.

    Chargeback and tell them to provide proof it was not in the condition prior to your arrival.

  35. deliciouscoffee says:

    If you paid with a company card it may be a good time to speak with corporate counsel. Paying the $120 may be seen as an admission of guilt and leave you (or the company) on the hook for further charges by the condo management.

    It sucks but it’s unlikely that the $120 is worth fighting over. What you may want to do in order to protect yourself is do a chargeback then send a check to the condo management with a letter saying you are paying the $120 under duress and that you dispute the validity of their claims / make no admission of guilt. Send it via registered mail and keep a copy for yourself. It’s probably best to chalk the $120 up as the cost of doing business and just avoid those guys in the future.

  36. shepd says:

    That “contract” sounds like a contract of adhesion to me. If so, the judge will kill it with fire. Did they send it to his house when he paid in advance for his stay (I assume that’s the case, I can’t imagine a rental condo where you just show up in the lobby and rent like you would a hotel). If they didn’t and did what I bet they did, took his money in advance and had him show up and once he gets to the hotel decide to get him to sign crap, that crap is worthless.

  37. mcgyver210 says:

    Sounds to me like the Condo Management is as dishonest as they claim you are. I would check into if this scam has been pulled on anyone else. I would also immediately dispute the charge.Oh & I would beat them to the punch by suing them in Small claims court for Liable, Fraud etc with the burden of proof being on them to prove they are not making liable claims up.

    This is why I take pics of everything I can when I rent anything because companies can be kept honest when they try to pull something. Even when we camp in our RV we take pics before we ever pull into site as well as when we leave. I remember one time we pulled up but noticed the water had been hit so we went to office to put them on notice.

    I am a 100% pessimist though so I always think about worst case scenarios.

    I would bet if OP checks this out the Condo has pulled this before based on the OPs statements being truthful.

    • SJActress says:

      He doesn’t have a libel claim against them. They have to publish the untrue statement to a third party. Here, they only sent a letter to him.

      He could try to get them for fraud, though.

    • lee says:

      i see an little issue going to an Big issue explained below with this picture (and its black and white, sent via fax maybe?)

      there is no cable in the WAN port but on fig 2-4 there is, second issue once the router was reset to factory defaults the WAN port would of done Bugger all to the network as the WAN Port Gets the IP From the Network there is No DHCP server on the WAN side of this router (even if the router was not reset the WAN port would do nothing as all 4 ports and Wireless are bridged, WAN port is normally disabled in bridged mode)

      so they have fabricated evidence that the device in its Default configuration + WAN port used would bring down the network in the building, unless i could see how

      other issues with this as well (i have set-up DDWRT routers in wireless mode only as well or wireless repeater as it seems they Say it was setup)

      seems like they just taken picture then removed tape and plugged the cable in taken another picture, I guess they did not want to pay the $120 to get an tech out to fix the issue so blamed an customer (you mite find they did this to a lot of the other customers as well or they just plucked your out for some reason)

      • lee says:

        also if the router did not Require an cable where did the cable come from? as there was nothing plugged into it on the first fig1 (unless they forgot to plug it into one of the 1-4 ports when they was making this fabricated pictures )

  38. Jchamberlain says:

    Easy solution…dispute the bill, tell them to fu(k off.

  39. mspk1111 says:

    it would appear that a simple lesson in logic would easily prove that the OP is not to blame. First the OP was informed on checking in that people were having problems with the internet. Therefore, the front desk was aware of the problem prior to the OP’s arrival. After the OP left he was blamed for the internet outage. It stands to reason that he could not be the source of the outage if it predated his arrival. Therefore if the source was from his room it would also stand to reason that the internet outage was caused by someone who stayed prior to his arrival. This would only not work if, the company claims the OP made the outage worse.

    As a mater of opinion I believe the OP would have a great case in small claims court. They can prove that the router was tampered with after the OP left but it is extremely unlikely they can prove the router was in working order prior to his arrival unless they regularly photograph router’s between every guest. All the OP would have to do is ask for a Time stamped photograph that showed the router in working order prior to his arrival. No doubt the time stamp will likely be months if not years before his arrival. Then the OP would simply ask the owner to prove the router was not tampered with between the period the photo was taken and his arrival. They would have no argument as the most logical one would be, “we knew he tampered with it because guests started complaining of outages.” However OP has already shown outages occurred prior to his arrival so their argument would not stand.

    • cosmotic says:

      One could also demand proof the router wasn’t tampered with after the OP left.

      It’s hard to tell without additional technical description of how their network was setup, but it sounds like you might also be able to prove you were able to access the internet via logs from various sites or emails sent from that computer during your stay. If the internet wasn’t working for anyone else, why was it working for OP?

      Demand credentials supporting the internet technician’s ability to correctly analyze the situation.

      Provide cases where said router model may automatically reset it self. I’ve heard of many routers doing such a thing. Demand proof the router firmware settings were intact on your arrival. Demand proof the router settings were in fact different on your departure.

      Was the internet technician not available to service the router while you were staying there? Why did the investigation only start after you left?

      This condo sure has a lot of holes in their story.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      Legally him being told the Internet was not working would be hearsay. He could subpoena the other guests but it would be a civil case.

      • shocker says:

        Party admission – not hearsay. Also, small claims courts are a little loose on the rules of evidence.

      • poehitman says:

        If the desk clerk told him it wasn’t functioning properly on arrival, it’s not hearsay. IIRC, the desk clerk is function as a representative of the condominiums. Though I believe “Party Admission” means generally the same thing.

  40. makoto says:

    This is a frivolous charge. If it wasn’t in your contract that you could be charged for this type of thing then it is not a valid charge at all. Charge back. It’s a scare tactic to say they will take you to small claims court. They will not take you to small claims court for 120. Problem is, I assume a charge back won’t just be for the 120 amount. It will be for the whole bill. That might be a reason for them to take you, at which point you’d only owe the original bill.

    • packy says:

      The condo management may well take the OP to small claims in their own locality, banking that it will be difficult enough for the OP to come back and defend himself.

      But I wholeheartedly agree that this seems incredibly fishy: if the problems with their internet pre-dated the OP checking in (and the OP has his coworker to testify that they were told this upon check-in), then it stands to reason that even if the router in the OP’s room was to blame for the outage, the OP didn’t cause the misconfiguration.

      In addition, I’d ask for a complete accounting of what the $120 charge was for. The unit itself wasn’t damaged, and resetting the settings on the unit shouldn’t cost $120.

      • HealingTek says:

        Assuming that the condo doesn’t have staff technically competent to diagnose and correct an issue such as that, which seems likely, $120 is a totally reasonable fee for a tech to come out, figure out what the problem is, and fix it. Having said that I don’t see how they can claim that the OP caused the problem, since they admitted it already existed when he checked in.

  41. poehitman says:

    Unless they can have someone testify that someone checked the router after the previous guest left and before you arrived AND provide proof of such a check, they don’t have a case. My guess (which is just a wild assumption if it’s not a usual occurrence to randomly charge guests for this) is that the know the previous guest did it and something makes it difficult to impossible to charge them for it. So they figured they’d wait for the next guest (you) to charge THEM for it.

    Here’s what is confusing me. If the wireless internet was free, what purpose would there be to physically connect to the router?

  42. sean stevenson says:

    As pointed out already, the internet issue was PRIOR to his check-in so this should be disputed since it was quite possibly the guest before him. As for the technical side…I am an IT professional in the hospitality industry and actually support a network for both guests and the business. These appear to be consumer routers, so they work like anything you would buy for your home:

    Resetting the router to factory defaults would have also reset the wireless SSID it broadcasts to the generic default. Unless the rest of the routers throughout the property are configured as AP’s with the default SSID then this would have no effect on them whatsoever. For example, everyone should be connecting to “Condo Wireless” for internet while this factory reset router will show up as “TrendNET” (brand of the router pictured).

    This looks like a homebrew setup with cheap routers and a poor “do not tamper” system. Do not allow them to bill you for repairs, and inform them they should no longer accept billable repairs from whomever is supporting this poor excuse of a network!

  43. jrobcet says:

    I’m willing to bet the router reset was the source of the existing network problem prior to your arrival.

    The upshot is that the reset of the router resulted in two DHCP servers and double NAT on the network. This can certainly lead to intermittent connectivity problems for clients on a network.

    I would dispute the charge and call their bluff regarding small claims, especially given they admitted to problems prior to your check-in.

  44. axiomatic says:

    There is both forensic physical evidence and forensic digital evidence that the accuser has to be able to prove for Dontel to be found guilty. Go to court. I have a feeling they will back down as making $120 off of Dontel is far less than what it will cost to go to court.

    • axiomatic says:

      Meaning Dontels fingerprints and the MAC address of Dontels device both need to be proven, both pre/post access point reset. If Dontel used the device after the logs show the reset occurred then its up to the fingerprints.

      Remember that the burden of proof is on the accuser.

  45. Zer'Adul says:

    Someone at that Condo firm needs to take networking 101 and soon. There is no way in a stock firmware, nor in any of the custom ones I’ve used for that matter, to configure a WAN port to act like part of the integrated switch. It’s normally physically configured for uplink only. Basically it’s pins are flipped and used to require a special cable to allow a direct connection.

    I’d say dispute the charge, and file small claims in your jurisdiction if possible.

  46. DonnieZ says:

    The core of the issue is that they are using a very cheap Trendnet router as an access point to begin with. Though it is true that these devices can be used in this way, problems arise when these $20 routers decide to up and lose their configuration. These cheaper networking devices, in my experience, are highly susceptible to going “haywire” from any kind of voltage fluctuation (This could be due to a malfunctioning transformer, a hot transformer, or voltage spikes / brownouts coming from the wall outlet.)

    That doesn’t necessarily answer for the cable being moved, but maybe if they actually bought access points instead of $20 routers, they wouldn’t run into issues where the whole network is brought to it’s knees because another DHCP server starts handing out IP address that lead nowhere.

    • lee says:

      DHCP server only functions on port 1-4 (after the router was so called reset)
      the WAN port (as shown on the picture) only obtains IPs from that port (NO DHCP server runs on the WAN port) so ut would of not done any thing to the network

      • kathygnome says:

        And if there was wired access in the room to plug that WAN port into, why wasn’t the router plugged into it in the first place? You’d have to be insane to use wireless bridging (well wireless repeating more accurately) if you had a wired connection available.

  47. tundey says:

    Dispute the charge and if they sue, make them prove you caused the outage.

  48. soj4life says:

    This is complete BS and their head internet tech doesn’t know anything. If he had reset the router back to factory specs, the ssid would have been trendnet something something. That would mean that it is not on the same wifi network and would have been unable to be the dhcp server for whatever setup they had. As for knocking out the net access for other rooms, anyone that took a basic networking course would have had it back on in less than 15 minutes. I would report the condo to the BBB and state attorney general for consumer affairs, this is a scam and I would not be surprised if the op is the first victim.

  49. glorytown says:

    Come on, this is so silly. Their letter: After a lengthy inspection……”you” had tampered with the internet router. So the IT was able to determine that Dontel did this? Is he also Sherlock Holmes?
    The best part of this statement is “a lengthy inspection”. Any dolt knows when the web goes down, go check the router. Duh! Ten minutes and you’re up and running again. Sorry Condo owner, you get a thumbs down!