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WIFI Gimme Pigs

I am submitting this while on the road across country. Earlier today at lunch…

Weather is being dicey across the country and I must travel so I lugged my laptop in at our lunch stop in a ‘next to the highway’ restaurant so I could check on what was going on or going to be going on in the area I had to go through next.

I have paid for with my mobile and data plan and put the software and dongle on my laptop, it is it’s own wifi. Secured, of course, I have to pay for every bit and byte that goes up and down, but, if I choose I could share the access.

All is good, weather looks good and the ick is behind me, I should finish my last leg without issues. I have paid for my bill and handed the waitress hers. My companion heads for bathroom then to vehicle… And I log off, close up, stow, and as I get up I am met by three younger people with various devices in hand.

“Yes?”, I ask politely.

“Unlock the wifi,” states one with a tablet.

“Excuse me?”

“Young person” #2 pipes up, “You heard him, we need the wifi.”

Blink, blink.   “I’m sorry, but I’m on my way. Excuse me.”

The three are between me and the door but there’s lots more seating and I start to move around a few tables to bypass the bodies and leave. They move to surround me.

“Stop hogging the wifi,” #1 says to me.

I stop again.  #3 now tells me, “Wifi in public places is always free, turn it back on.”

“I’m sorry but I pay for that access and every bit that moves through it, it is not free and it is not public. I need to leave…now.”

At this moment, the cook and dishwasher come out of the back because the register/hostess person had seen what was occurring and went and got them; and my travel companion came out of the bathroom. Neither of these three are small fellows and they are descending on these other three.

#3 offers, “But, but, she’s not sharing the wifi, in public places wifi is always free!”, he tries. I step away, collect my traveling companion, and on the way out I smile and thank the hostess. I left while the three had a discussion with the restaurant staff. I also made sure I got the bleep out of there and tried not to flash my license plates where those clueless could see.

I’m going to drop a thank you note to the restaurant staff; and I’m not going to stop in that burg on the way home. 0225-14

I have to say this is a first for Ehell but something tells me it won’t be the last time we hear of WIFI gimme pigs who feel entitled to demand that others unlock their security features on their personal WIFI connection so they can “ride” for free on someone else’s phone service.

{ 122 comments… add one }
  • La March 3, 2014, 8:47 am


  • Lerah99 March 3, 2014, 8:55 am

    With coffee shops, McDonald’s, libraries, and even some gas stations offering wi-fi, there are plenty of free public wi-fi spots.

    Unfortunately this means some people believe EVERY place should and does have wi-fi available.

    I was at a tiny hole in the wall BBQ place and saw a guy in his 20’s carrying a tablet tell the owner that his “wi-fi is down!” The owner laughed and told the guy “I provide ribs. You’ll have to get your internet somewhere else.”

    I’m sorry those three guys made you so uncomfortable and were so clueless about you using a private wi-fi connection via your wireless carrier.

    I hope the rest of your trip goes well!

  • Powers March 3, 2014, 8:59 am

    It may be more charitable to assume cluelessness; the person was obviously on their way out the door, so the boorish customers must not have realized that even if he/she opened the laptop’s WiFi, the “unlocked” WiFi hotspot would be miles down the road within minutes. To me, it’s clear they thought the hotspot was permanent to the restaurant and the laptop user had locked it somehow.

    • clairedelune March 3, 2014, 11:35 am

      It sounds like they absolutely were clueless about some things, to believe that a fellow customer would be in control of their access to free public wifi–but their subsequent actions (surrounding her in such a threatening manner that the restaurant staff had to intervene) sound malicious and frightening, so I don’t think we should be charitable about that.

  • siamesecat 2965 March 3, 2014, 9:02 am

    Wow – talk about entitled! WiFi is ONLY free in public places if its made available either by the business or I know certain phone and cable companies have WiFi “hotspots” and if you subscribe to their service, you can access it, but its not free, and not available to the general public. I’m not quite sure what the OP’s setup is, but it also doesn’t sound like the restaurant offers free WiFi to its customers, so the three youngsters were out of luck And quite rude to demand she “unlock” it for their use.

  • Huh March 3, 2014, 9:03 am

    I know some restaurants provide free Wifi, did they think you were somehow controlling it for the restaurant? That’s the only way their request and them whining to the restaurant employees makes any sense. They seriously may not understand how Wifi works (I’ve had to explain many times to my young teenager that Wifi is not floating around in the ether everywhere for her – it’s not available when we’re in the car and not always at restaurants.)

    Otherwise, if they think they can just demand to use your data plan (would they have done that if you were using your cell phone?), then I’m going to guess that one of these days they are going to make a demand like that to the wrong person and get attacked.

  • cece12 March 3, 2014, 9:10 am

    Uh, wow. These three aren’t the brightest crayons in the box, huh? If an establishment offers free wi-fi, they usually display the network and (if applicable) the password where patrons can readily see it. There will never be a situation where one has to ask a nearby person who is unaffiliated with the business who holds the key.

    It’s okay not to understand things like that, but being demanding as these folks were is the true faux pas.

  • JeanLouiseFinch March 3, 2014, 9:16 am

    Wow! That sounds like a scene from the movie, “Idiocracy.”

    • JGM1764 March 3, 2014, 1:32 pm

      I wish I could “like” your comment! LOL!

      • Thistlebird March 4, 2014, 10:17 am

        I thought the same thing, JG!

  • The Elf March 3, 2014, 9:22 am

    I can’t decide if these are garden-variety bullies and “wifi” is just the vector the bullying is taking, or if these younger people (teens?) are just that clueless. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re clueless.

    Before making any sort of demand, it pays to know a bit about what you are demanding. Data streaming is not free. The companies that provide it (your various internet providers or cellular carriers) are for-profit, and therefore they’ll charge you. In a place where wi-fi is free, someone has paid for that service. If it isn’t a true public place, like a library, they’ve likely paid for it because it draws in business. The writing group I belong to meets at a Panera, and one of the reasons they do is because of the free-to-customer wi-fi. The Panera provides it to encourage groups like this one to go there, because everyone buys at least a cup of coffee and a cookie, if not a full meal. Little things add up. It’s a win-win.

    Also, because so many people don’t secure their wi-fi like they should, it’s possible that these people are used to just hacking in and taking.

    So to demand another customer to open up their secured wi-fi, and to demand it so rudely, is really over the top.

  • Mary March 3, 2014, 9:27 am

    Wow. Just wow

    If one is so desperate for internet access 24/7, that is what smartphones are for. Since one has access through the phone signal they can get online without wifi. Of course that won’t help if one had a tablet or laptop.

    Obviously these three have no clue as to how wifi works if they thought she was locking down the restaurant’s apparently nonexistent wifi.

  • betty March 3, 2014, 9:29 am

    “Turn it back on.”

    It sounds like the letter-writer had a hotspot enabled but NOT secured. While the letter-writer was using it, so could anyone else in the area. Simple (and safer) solution: don’t allow others to share your mobile WiFi. This wouldn’t have been a problem if no one else was able to log on in the first place.

    This doesn’t excuse the behavior of the others, of course.

    • JO March 3, 2014, 1:38 pm

      Actually, the LW states her WiFi was secured – and doesn’t say they asked for it to be turned back on, but they asked the LW to stop “hogging it.” It sounds like they could see the hotspot, but were angry they couldn’t access it, and probably assumed the person with the laptop had disabled it somehow. How incredibly rude – especially to gang up to the point where employees took notice and felt they needed to offer protection. Clearly, they don’t understand how wifi works, but even so, if these ‘gentlemen’ (I use the term loosely) were being that threatening over WiFi, there are more serious going on!

      • Jo March 3, 2014, 6:21 pm

        Oh, I’ve just seen you were correct – the third young man DID say “turn it back on.” My apologies! Perhaps you are correct and LW did in fact leave it somehow unsecured. Of course, that is still no excuse for this kind of menacing behavior! Very happy that LW got out safely.

        • Enna March 4, 2014, 6:53 am

          Or maybe they were trying to use it whist OP had switched it off?

  • DGS March 3, 2014, 9:37 am

    How rude and frightening! What a bunch of jerks. Hopefully, the proprietors asked them to leave. In Twitter parlance, #rudeboors #wifinonsense

  • Rap March 3, 2014, 9:45 am

    Ehh….this one is questionable to me in that if the young kids were smart enough to realize that the wifi was coming from the OP’s laptop… then they really should be smart enough to figure out it’s not the restaurant’s wifi access.

    And frankly, this is why I spring for the 3g access with my tablet.

  • Jessica March 3, 2014, 9:49 am

    I am surprised they even knew OP had a wifi hotspot on. That’s kind of creepy! There are definitely some people out there who feel they are entitled to free wifi, especially in a world where technology is so accessible these days. I would never even ask to get on a stranger’s hotspot!

    • manybellsdown March 3, 2014, 11:42 am

      It’s probably not actually that creepy; when you turn the wifi on on your device, it will scan for any connections nearby, secured or not. Just sitting in my living room with my phone I can see half a dozen connections that aren’t mine. None of them are strong enough to actually connect even if they were unsecured, but I certainly don’t know which neighbor is which.

      Whether or not the diner actually had free wifi, these guys are clueless if they think a random patron is somehow “controlling” it.

      • Jessica March 4, 2014, 9:31 am

        Right, you don’t know which neighbor is which. So how did they know OP was the person with the hotspot and not somebody else. Maybe the laptop, but you can have a hotspot with a phone too.

        • manybellsdown March 4, 2014, 12:18 pm

          Maybe he was the only one obviously connected to the internet? Anyway, they were assuming it was the restaurant’s wifi so they were kind of off base as it was.

        • technobabble March 17, 2014, 2:33 pm

          The boors probably just saw OP on the Internet while she was eating her meal. Restaurants are usually pretty open places. It’s easy to see what other people are doing at their tables.

    • girl_with_all_the_yarn March 3, 2014, 1:30 pm

      It’s pretty easy to find a wifi hotspot. Most devices are equipped with what’s called a “quick access” function, which searches near constantly for places the device can hook up to. Hotspots also show up in this function, but they have a different signal and it’s made very clear that they are hotspots and not actually wifi.

      I have had someone ask to get on my hotspot. My flight was delayed, and the airport’s internet went down. Like 100% down, and it wouldn’t be up for easily another 12 hours. I booted up my hotspot, and a guy approached me. He asked if he could use it a bit to check a work thing and contact his boss to say the flight was delayed. I told him he could use it for 30 minutes if he got me a burger and a bottle of soda. He accepted. I got free lunch, he got emergency wifi access. Bartering for the win.

      • RC March 3, 2014, 3:00 pm

        I love this story! Nice of you, and good for him to be brave enough to approach. You both sound like you handled the situation nicely, when in a high stress situation he could well have been very rude!

      • WifiGal March 5, 2014, 1:30 am

        Love it. Totally love it.

        I also wrote at the end of the comments…

        I was seriously secure; my laptop is ‘full sized’ and couldn’t be missed I guess. I was driving a very long ways in dubious and various bad weather situations and needed to check what was going on so was it okay to continue or should I look up a hotel, book a room, and hole up for the day and try in the morning rather than run in very bad weather. I figure the gents noticed the signal disappear when the laptop lid went shut… and they figured that much out.

  • E March 3, 2014, 9:55 am

    I wonder if the OP’s wifi was somehow unlocked and they were able to access her wifi for a moment, until she closed her computer? I just have no idea how the boys would have targeted her. Perhaps they asked someone else, and that person saw her with the laptop and told the boys to ask her?? It’s just such an odd request…

    In any case, I think if I were in that situation, I would have said, “Oh, sorry I’m not sure what you mean. I don’t think this place has free wifi. Maybe you can ask the hostess?” I would certainly not own up to have my own wifi router.

  • Kristi March 3, 2014, 10:08 am

    I’m…confused. How did the 3 know that LW had access to the internet unless LW had (maybe accidentally?) left it unlocked and these 3 had been using it up until it was turned off by LW? Also, teenagers/college students (not sure how old as ‘younger people’ is very broad) typically have more and better knowledge of technology than their older counterparts and should have certainly known that if a restaurant is providing free wifi it is not broadcast from a laptop being used by a private person. This just seems bizarre to me. Finally, their approach ‘unlock the wifi’ and ‘turn it back on’ does not seem remotely like how someone would talk to another person, a stranger, in public? This is just bizarre.

    • Basketcase March 3, 2014, 5:08 pm

      If they had looked over her shoulder and seen her using the internet on her laptop (which tend to not have 3G), then they would be aware she had wifi I guess?

    • Fleury March 4, 2014, 7:28 am

      I disagree – many young people today actually don’t have a good understanding of how technology works. They know how to use it but most don’t really understand HOW it works. Eg they know there was internet there a minute ago but now there’s not. That girl had a laptop open and when she closed it the “free wifi” went away. Ergo … But honestly, if there’s an issue with what u thinkis an establishments free wifi, go talk to an employee don’t harass another customer!

    • Orinoco March 5, 2014, 6:35 pm

      We assume that teenagers / college students have a better understanding of technology, but that is often not the case.

      As an ex high school teacher I can attest that teens are clueless when it comes to discerning between reliable and unreliable information online (which is troubling) and I’d bet money that most would not know the difference between a WAN and a LAN. Wifi is just something they think exists floating about pretty much everywhere I think. They probably don’t know how it works.

  • girl_with_all_the_yarn March 3, 2014, 10:10 am

    Some people’s children…

    Seriously, why is it that some people feel so entitled to other people’s internet access? A friend of mine is a professional grey hat (meaning companies hire him to break into their networks and expose security flaws) and he has easily a dozen stories of obnoxious “pseudohackers” who think they have the skills to break into private hotspots and end up making huge messes of things so that there are lots of repairs that need doing. He’s had a couple of incidences of people trying to break into his, and he deals with them swiftly and in the most publicly humiliating fashion he can think of at the moment (I said he was cool, not that he had good manners).

  • Jewel March 3, 2014, 10:18 am

    They BLOCKED your exit? At that point, the next words out of my mouth wouldn’t be to explain how the wifi is personally mine, but to say “Move out of my way RIGHT NOW or I’m calling the cops. Your behavior is menacing and threatening.”

    • The Elf March 3, 2014, 3:03 pm

      Yeah, that’s the part that was making me think “bully”.

  • snowshuze March 3, 2014, 10:22 am

    Perpetually unemployed neighbor upstairs sent her CHILD downstairs to “borrow” my wifi. Ummmm….NO.

    • PDamian March 4, 2014, 12:24 am

      Oh, geez … before I bought my house, I lived in an apartment building where this sort of thing happened all the time. A couple who lived a few floors above me were notorious for wandering through the building’s hallways with open laptops, looking for an unsecured signal. If they found one, they’d plop themselves on the floor, log on, and sit there for hours at a time, smoking, drinking and eating, and dropping ashes, butts and food scraps all over the place. They were finally evicted after one or two dozen too many complaints to the property management company, but not before they’d managed to stink up just about every hallway in the building. The woman in this weird couple actually accosted me in the building’s laundromat one evening, yelling at me, “B**ch, how come you lock your wifi? That’s so rude!” The laundromat had a few other people in it, and before I could say anything, one of them yelled right back at her, “B**ch, why don’t you get your own? I see you in the hall outside my place again, I’ll f*** you up!” She flipped us both off and walked out. She and her man were gone about a week later. ARGH.

      • Julia March 4, 2014, 8:19 am

        Wow. Not surprising, but wow. O_O

  • InNM March 3, 2014, 10:26 am

    Maybe because of all the ads showing how people set up bogus hotspots and steal your identity, I am wary of hopping on free hotspots, and I drive the husband crazy about this too.
    That being said… There is an expectation by you people that wifi is free and available everywhere because that is how it is in their homes and schools and the mall and the stores they visit. It is possible that the young people you met could not fathom a world without wifi because they’ve never had to. Does that excuse their behavior? No. They demanded that you give them free internet and disrupt your travel plans for as long as they wanted to stay at the restaurant.
    One thing, OP, you did say number #3 said “…Turn it back on.” That sounds like they were previously connected but got disconnected when you packed up your stuff, and more importantly your network is not as secure as you think. I would just double check that just in case.

    • WifiGal March 5, 2014, 1:38 am

      I was seriously secure, they had figured out I had the signal, and I think his comment was that he wanted me to turn the Wifi back on… I had just turned it off. THEN oblige by letting the three have access, and wait until they were done. Which I wasn’t about to do.

      When I got to that night’s lodging I doublechecked just in case; still locked up, btw.

  • Drjuliebug March 3, 2014, 10:35 am

    You can often see a hotspot wifi connection from another device, even if it’s password-protected. You’d need the password to actually use it, but you can tell it’s there.

    That said: The obnoxious kids must have been amazingly clueless about how wifi works.

  • Cecilia March 3, 2014, 10:40 am

    Definitely rude and a little frightening! If the OP’s wifi was secure, how did they get access to it? I admit I am not as technology-savvy as most, but you have to have a password to get on the wifi at my house so I don’t understand how the teenagers were able to get on OP’s without the passcode?

    • WifiGal March 5, 2014, 1:39 am

      They didn’t. They figured out I had a signal but they didn’t get one byte of data, they didn’t even get to ‘hi’ from their device to my connection. I’m sorry that wasn’t clear.

  • magicdomino March 3, 2014, 10:41 am

    I’ve heard of this kind of thing with home wifi set-ups, so one probably shouldn’t be surprised if it happens in a public place. No, it isn’t rude to lock your hotspot any more that it is rude to password-protect your home wireless router. I imagine those three ruffians would disagree, though.

  • Zellie March 3, 2014, 10:49 am

    Some people know and just don’t care. A couple years ago I went to the library with my laptop to do some research and finish up some things I was working on, I made the mistake of walking not even 5 feet to the receptionist desk for a piece of paper and a pencil and find someone else sitting in my seat. I was a very large desk all by myself and she just shoved my messenger bag aside and was trying to use my computer, I ran right over there grabbed it slammed it closed and hugged it to my chest glaring at her. She had the nerve to tell me to give it back to her , I told her it was my personal property and if she wanted a laptop then she could go buy her own. The receptionist herd us and got the security guard from the front and asked if there was any trouble, she told the guard she was only gonna use it for an hour and I told him it belonged to me. The receptionist said if she wanted to use the internet she should use one of the libraries computers, the lady tried to argue that since my laptop was in the library it was fair game since all the desktop ones were taken. The guard told her to leave me alone and I asked him if he could make sure she stays here for 5 minutes so I can leave without her following me, he said he’d make sure.

    • Mechanistika March 3, 2014, 4:51 pm

      Sheesh. Some people.

      Just some friendly advice (I swear, I’m not trying to be offensive), next time you’re in a public place and you need to get up to do something, hibernate or lock your computer. Hibernation puts it into a pseudo-shut-down state where the computer saves your session but shuts off nonetheless. Locking it just puts it to the password screen. (Make SURE you have a complicated password that you can remember for this. And disable password hints.)

      I do this all the time, because I’m super paranoid and the place I work at doesn’t have proper cubicles. I use my own laptop for efficiency reasons, so I keep it locked when I’m not at my desk.

    • PM March 3, 2014, 6:04 pm

      I’ve had the same thing happen to me!! I took my laptop to the library to write, mistakenly thinking I could get some peace and quiet. I stepped all of three steps away from the table where I’d set up, and a teenage boy started loudly complaining that he couldn’t get past my desktop password! When I told him that was my personal computer and to stop touching it, he went to his mother to complain. Fortunately, I was able to pack up and by the time she was tried to confront me about it, I had already headed for the door.

      • Zellie March 4, 2014, 10:14 am

        I didn’t think of doing that at the time, I just couldn’t believe that someone would do that. I’ve gotten a lot smarter since then, it’s just a little depressing that some people think that they can do whatever they want.

  • Amber March 3, 2014, 11:01 am

    I’m gonna assume, generously, that the OP’s WiFi was (possibly inadvertantly) unsecured in that one location, and that the young people thought OP had somehow turned off public access to the WiFi when OP turned off his/her things.

    Of course, it seems the young people have no idea how WiFi works, and indeed are deaf when they’re told. I mean, everyone was straight up telling them to back off, and that the WiFi was OP’s, and they refused to listen. How frustrating. I hope this is a rare event.

  • wintershere March 3, 2014, 11:06 am

    Isn’t your wifi passworded so that others cant jump on it? (I’m afraid I really am technologically illiterate, but I know I’ve been places where various wifis were available, but were all passworded, so a person couldn’t just get on it?) So I am understanding that they couldn’t get on, so were demanding the OP give them the password? Couldn’t OP have just said, “Im sorry, you’ll have to ask the restaurant” or given the wrong password just to get out safely? Or even said, “I’m sorry, but my wifi isn’t free here, you’ll have to pay for it?” Or gosh even once she’s out of range, it would turn off, right, so just give it to them to protect yourself? And then change the password quickly? (I am just thinking long term here if this gets to be a “thing” that people have to start protecting themselves from how to easily solve it –like how at hold-ups, the tellers/cashiers know to not start anything, just give them all the money so they’ll leave)

    • MichelleP March 5, 2014, 1:52 am

      And why should the OP have said, “I’m sorry but…” anything?? She did nothing wrong. I’m completely technology impaired, but the technology isn’t what this story is about. This post is about rude and entitled people.

      OP you did exactly the right thing.

      Similar story: years ago I had cable service to two TV’s in my home. Neighbors downstairs asked if they could borrow it, e.g. splice the cable to their tv for one day. I said yes. First mistake. Cut to three months later, they still have one of my lines to their tv. I’ve asked them to put it back repeatedly. Second mistake: not demanding they do it. After the husband (grudgingly) looked at my car after promising to fix it then handed me a bill for a $7 part for it, making it clear that I was expected to give him the money back for it, I told them to put it back or I was going to the landlord.

      Some people just have the entitled attitude.

  • Leigh March 3, 2014, 11:19 am

    Jessica, not necessarily; it will show a password encrypted network and if you’ve named it, like “Leigh’sWIFI” others can see that, but if you don’t have the password, you cannot connect to the network.

  • abf March 3, 2014, 11:34 am

    We had an opposite experience a few years ago while on vacation. Before leaving on our trip, my husband had forgot to order his prescriptions (insurance company required that he use an online mail order prescription company.) Which meant that shortly after returning home, he would be out of his prescriptions and would go several days without them. We were vacationing at a state park and the nearest town was about 5 miles away but we had noticed a fast food place that offered wifi on our way through the town to the state park. So that afternoon we headed back into town. We first stopped at a variety store for some extra camping supplies. While shopping, a local lady and I struck up a polite conversation about where we were from, the state park and realizaed that we had some aquaintainces in common. After a few minutes of polite chatting, I started to excuse myself explaining that our next stop was the fast food place to use their wifi. She immediately insisted that we stop by her home (just a few blocks away) and use her internet connection. She graciously invisted us in and allowed my husband to get his prescriptions ordered. We had such a lovely visit. In fact, after discovering that my husband worked on copiers and printers, she asked if he could help her with a problem she was having with her printer. He was able to return her kindness by fixing it for her.

    • AIP March 3, 2014, 4:31 pm

      What a sweet story 🙂

    • JeanLouiseFinch March 4, 2014, 9:24 am

      Your story shows that simple human kindness is not dead, even in the face of the type of cluelessness and bullying described by the OP. Thank you for making my day a little bit better!

  • vanessaga81 March 3, 2014, 11:38 am

    My teenaged neighbor knocked on my door and asked for our WiFi password. My husband told him “no” and closed the door but he came back twice when he knew he wants home. I told him no and he begged me. He’s about 17 and taller than I am but he was doing the “Pllllleeeaaase?” that my 4 year old does when she’s overtired. I finally had to talk to his father who assured me he wouldn’t come back.

  • Annie March 3, 2014, 11:46 am

    LOL! They think it’s free, like air. Real life is going to be a big shock to these people.

    It’s not surprising that they singled in on the OP. They would have been able to see that there was wireless available but they wouldn’t have had the password. Then when she shut down, they probably saw it disappear. Or, just the fact that she had a laptop out might have been enough to tip them off.

  • Harley Granny March 3, 2014, 11:52 am

    While I do want to give the young people a break…maybe the lack of knowledge that it indeed wasn’t free…they knew who had the access.

    So I’m going to assume this….they thought just because at that time a person was using the internet in a public place that her internet was free for all. Not everyone understands the whole WI-Fi thing.

    I’m really only disturbed by the lack of “Please”.

    Hopefully the people there at the restaurant will help them learn how it works.

    • Janos March 3, 2014, 9:25 pm

      The fact they surrounded OP and wouldn’t let them leave doesn’t bother you, but the fact they don’t say PLEASE does?


      • Thistlebird March 4, 2014, 11:13 am

        Pretty sure she means that it wouldn’t have been rude to ask IF they’d said “Please”… and the rest is implied. That’s one of the great things about “Please”–it implies a whole lot of good things, including “We will not surround you and refuse to let you leave if you refuse.”

      • Harley Granny March 4, 2014, 11:53 am

        Yes….because three young techno geeks holding electronics in their hands START to surround her with others already coming to defuse the situation..

        That would be sooooooooooo scary.

  • Yet Another Laura March 3, 2014, 11:59 am

    I wonder if there’s a way to send them the bill for the access they were using without your permission.

  • CaffeineKatie March 3, 2014, 12:00 pm

    I’m glad the OP got out of there safely. Kudos to the restaurant staff for helping. But I have to say this behavior doesn’t surprise me; I have middle-aged employed friends (one with almost a million in savings and investments that she brags about) who do the same thing on their home computers, hijacking their neighbors’ wifi for free. Talk about entitled!

  • MsDani313 March 3, 2014, 12:10 pm

    The OPs wifi was probably broadcasting but was password protected. Just like I can see my neighbors wifi name but cannot access their service because I do not have their password. I too had one of those hotspot devices when I was constantly on the move. It was convenient to be able to work on my tablet or laptop at anytime without having to worry about using the free local wifi. The connection is secure and can only be accessed by those whom I have given the password. The three gimme pigs probably saw the hotspot name broadcasting and thought they could bully the OP for the password. Wifi names are typically not hidden (outside of businesses who want to keep their network private but usually have an additional guest network) but are usually password protected.

  • Tracy March 3, 2014, 12:25 pm

    This story doesn’t make sense to me. How would the kids know where the wifi was coming from? And if the LW wasn’t (unintentionally) providing access, why was she only approached after she’d turned it off?

    • Stella March 3, 2014, 7:04 pm

      The kids might’ve scanned for wifi connections on their devices. Maybe they only got one connection notification and saw the OP was online and put two and two together. And then got entitled because the OP had locked the private wifi, as any sane person would do.

  • Phitius March 3, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Betty – I thought the same thing reading “Turn it back on.” That’s an indication they were on the WiFi until the OP shut the hot spot down.

    That said, anyone with a lick of common sense would realize that if a customer closes down their laptop and the WiFi shuts off, its probably not public or free WiFi. If they truly thought there was an issue with the “free” WiFi, why not talk to the establishment as opposed to a customer. It makes no sense. I want to think the best of them, that they were just clueless, but I have trouble imagining anyone being THAT dense.

    • WifiGal March 5, 2014, 1:50 am

      I assure you they weren’t on. My laptop is full sized and when the lid went down the hotspot disappeared. He did say ‘turn it back on’ and that was after the others had said for me to unlock it and otherwise… this time turn it on and unlock it. #3 seemed to think like libraries and other such places, any wifi signal around was free for the using. That’s the way it seemed to me.

    • LonelyHound March 17, 2014, 11:45 am

      I was trying to think how the “Turn it back on” could be recitified in the story. Here goes. Yes, when one boots up a WiFi capable device it scans for WiFi networks, correct? I am willing to bet one of two things occurred which let the young men know it was the OP’s: 1. Her’s was the only WiFi network their devices located; or 2. Her’s was the only network with the strength to connect. Number 2 also implies the other networks were too far away so seeing the WiFi go away and the OP get up, it would be reasonable to assume OP controlled the WiFi.

  • Ashley March 3, 2014, 12:42 pm

    I wish I could say this story surprises me but it doesn’t as I have encountered similar situations twice now.

    The first situation happened at a convention where my husband and I were helping his uncle run a booth for the weekend. We paid extra for power strips and internet since we needed both to make our computers run to demonstrate the product. We were told that when we got there, we would find all the appropriate internet related stuff and power strips under our table, clearly marked with our booth numbers. Sure enough we did…..but there was another booth’s stuff already plugged into them. A convention employee who knows this uncle really well turns up to say hi, and uncle informs him of what is up with the power strips/internet access. Employee says “I’ll go talk to them” and heads that way (booths are only separated by a wall made of thick curtains). Comes back and tells us, they aren’t there, go ahead and unplug their stuff, I left a note. So we unplug stuff, move our power strips and things WELL onto our side of the curtain, and carry on setting up. We’re setting up and all the sudden we start getting brown outs and our internet slows WAYYYYYYYY down. So I look under the table, the other booth had plugged ALL of their stuff back into our power strips. After a loud bit of yelling between Uncle and the guy at the other booth, we ultimately got our way when it was pointed out to the guy at the other booth that if he kept trying to steal power/internet we paid for he’d get kicked out of the convention.

    Another time, my husband had turned his phone as a hot spot because we needed internet right then to resolve an issue he was having with a bank account. At least five people came up and asked why he had it secured, couldn’t he just unlock it for a minute so they could check Facebook or whatever…He asked them “Are you going to pay my phone bill for me then?” and it actually got the point across pretty well

  • ChicaLola March 3, 2014, 12:52 pm

    @ Betty, I’m guessing they noticed she closed down her access and the hot spot was no longer an available option they could see. She stated she has it secured.

  • JackieJormpJomp March 3, 2014, 1:10 pm

    I think it sounds like they don’t understand that not all wifi in public is publis wifi. They sound young and not at all smart, but I don’t think they were intentionally bullying.

    • hakayama March 3, 2014, 3:24 pm

      Yeah, JackieJormpJomp! Those young people were not INTENTIONALLY bullying. As in “behaving in an unusual way”, since to some, coarse tones and words are NATURAL everyday stuff…
      Believe me, I know it well from the many years of working with teenagers. Mostly loving it, too. 😉

  • Lindsay March 3, 2014, 1:21 pm

    How did they know it was OPs hotspot? Why wasn’t this hotspot secured? If they thought it was the restaurants hotspot, based on the conversation above, why did they harass OP? This isn’t adding up for me- What am I missing? “Hogging the WiFi” and “Turn it back on” and the way they asked- It isn’t how Public WiFi works? How would they have known she was the person with the Hotspot unless she announced it? So confused.

    That all being said. They were incredibly rude and misinformed about etiquette as well as technology.

    • cdubz March 3, 2014, 4:37 pm

      I’m assuming they knew because she was the only one in the resurant with a laptop, and they noticed when she shut it down the wifi went dead.

      • Ally March 4, 2014, 12:36 am

        Yeah, but with the exception of some USB transmitters (which are clearly the kind that you have to pay for access or can be work networks), WIFI in public spaces usually comes from a router, not a laptop. You can’t really turn off WIFI from a laptop except if you have a rare kind of set up.

      • Ally March 4, 2014, 12:37 am

        (Or it can be broadcasting from certain kinds of cell phones, but again, clearly not a public/cafe wifi set up).

        I mean, in this story these kids would have to be really, really dumb.

  • AnnaMontana March 3, 2014, 2:05 pm

    MIL and FIL run and own their own shop. It’s more a stall in a market hall, but they embroider and engrave pretty much anything and everything. MIL often needs to use the internet for her designs (some of the designs are web-based only) and also for e-mailing clients (when their stuff is ready) and if she gets any special request designs, it’s usually easier to grab them off the client’s webpages. Because of this DH created a secure password, encrypted and encoded that ran off MIL’s phone bill. Essentially this meant MIL and FIL could access the internet when they needed to and they paid for each and every byte, every download, every little bit of data – and if they went over their user limit, they were charged heavily for it.
    FIL had an issue one day with his WiFi connection and DH sorted it out so it was easier to access, but still password protected, for that one day. The understanding was that MIL and FIL would still be able to work and no one could access their WiFi connection. However, this did make the ‘hotspot’ available to be seen. Anyone with a phone, tablet or other connective device could see but not use the connection.
    The Market Hall does not have any WiFi and the only internet connection is if the shopkeepers choose to allow access to it.
    The biggest issue for MIL and FIL is that their stall is next to the Market Buffet. Each and every day for several weeks they had very surly and rude teenagers demanding to have their password and free access to their internet. Luckily DH was able to make the hotspot unseen before it happened too much. However, several of them had actually accessed the WiFi by using a password re-encoder (which basically deciphered passwords apparently).
    The stupid, silly teenagers managed to cost the IL’s over £300 in charges downloading silly games and add-ons on their phones. Fortunately, we managed to convince the phone company to waylay the charges as it was strictly for business purposes only, and as such, game add ons and the like are not business related.
    Lucky, lucky, IL’s!
    I think it’s incredibly rude to use WiFi (even if it isn’t password encoded) anywhere it doesn’t say ‘Free WiFi’. Frankly, it astounds me that these selfish people think they can cost decent, hard-working citizens hundreds of pounds (or dollars!) just so they can play angry birds a few more hours!
    Good on you OP, for extracting yourself from this awkward situation.

    • Allison March 4, 2014, 1:10 pm

      It really does amaze me that people don’t realize that wifi is a service that actually costs something. I see the same attitude about electricity that comes from wall sockets – like it is just magically there, without cost or fuel!

    • WifiGal March 5, 2014, 1:54 am

      I really feel for your IL’s and glad they could get the charges dropped from the thieves.

      I do feel that that is what these young fellows wanted to do, watch videos, stream music, play games, and mess around on Facebook and the like. They could pay their own bill to do so.

      Password recoder? I better look into that. Thank you.

  • Amanda H. March 3, 2014, 2:10 pm

    @Jessica, I don’t know if it works the same with mobile hotspots using one’s cell phone, but I do know that even secured wifi networks can frequently be seen by other laptops. They just can’t be accessed without the appropriate security key. Many times my husband has gone to log onto the internet and spotted several other secured networks he *could* have accessed had he the security key. So that could be what happened here. They spotted the hotspot but couldn’t get on, and then accosted the OP when the hotspot subsequently disappeared.

    This strikes me as yet another symptom of that “if it’s in public it must be fair game” mentality that some people seem to have. I’ve seen similar anecdotes from members of a forum I post to about things like personal mobility scooters, laptop computers, etc. Some people just seem to think that because a location *might* have publicly-available amenities, that any instance of those amenities must be the publicly-available ones.

  • Huh March 3, 2014, 3:11 pm

    Maybe this is a case where it’s good to name your Wifi connection DEA/FBI/City Police Surveillance Van #1 like some friends of mine have in the past, so when people see it, they won’t ask you the password.

  • lakey March 3, 2014, 3:16 pm

    If it’s locked, then either they know it is not free, or they are terribly ignorant. They have to know that a customer cannot lock them out of public wifi. If anyone would have locked them out, it would have had to have been the owner. The fact that the three of them tried to gang up on the OP, suggests to me that they were trying to intimidate the OP.

    • Huh March 3, 2014, 4:05 pm

      I still don’t understand what good that’s going to do (in their minds) – they bully the OP into allowing them access to her wifi. She then gets into her car and drives away. So does the wifi.

      Unless I’m completely confused as to how wifi hotspots work, they still come off as terribly ignorant.

      • Fleury March 4, 2014, 8:50 am

        I think that goes to show they really didn’t understand the mechanics of how wifi works. They probably didn’t realize that the wifi would disappear with the OP

  • Starr March 3, 2014, 3:54 pm

    We use to let our neighbors use our Wi-Fi because my husband liked to play online ps3 games with the son (the son still lived with the parents though he is only a few years younger than hubby and I). We use to be pretty close to the family, until we stopped loaning them money every week since they thought eating out and buying stuff for grandkids was more important than buying food or paying bills for the week. (Grown adults 50+ with grown adult kids, 2 still in the home, 3 incomes .vs us, late 20’s 3 kids under 11, one income). We then found out the mom was spreading HORRIBLE rumors around town about me. So since we were getting a new Wi-Fi router anyway, we locked our internet. For weeks we got kicked off randomly because they kept trying to log in and they even came and confronted my husband about it!

  • Green123 March 3, 2014, 4:43 pm

    When devices have wifi turned on, they find all kinds of nearby wifi connections and hotspots, whether secured or not. Our wifi network is locked and passworded, as are most of our neighbours’. One of them was clearly tired of others trying to use his wifi – most nearby networks are called ‘Green123’sWifi’ or ‘Tim’s House’ or ‘The Jones Family’. The man at number 7 has ‘MywifiwhichIpayforbuyyourown’. 🙂

    • Monkeysmommy March 4, 2014, 9:48 pm

      Ours is called nofreewifi 🙂

      • WifiGal March 5, 2014, 1:56 am

        Love those names!

  • cdubz March 3, 2014, 4:50 pm

    To everyone not knowing how the teens knew the OP was the one with the wifi: this sounds like this was a small, out of the way diner. I’m assuming that OP was the only person there with a laptop out, and when the kids saw her shut down, they also saw the wifi go out and came to the conclusion that she controlled the “free” wifi they were using. As for how they gained access, either they hacked it or a password wasn’t put in place. They assumed the wifi was free because they’ve probably never heard of having to pay for internet access, lots of places give free wifi and the parents provide the access at home (I bet they probably don’t understand how that works, either).

    Not saying any of this excuses their behavior (seriously, where’s the “please”??!!)

  • danmar7 March 3, 2014, 5:32 pm

    If no one else in the building had a wifi-enabled device, her hotspot would probably have been the first one listed on the kids’ devices, having the strongest signal. Not a great deductive leap that the hotspot vanished when she shut down her equipment. But, come on, how sheltered/entitled were those kids??!

  • acr March 3, 2014, 5:37 pm

    I think that, had they not been able to access it, they would have bothered the OP before she tried to leave. They didn’t bother her until she turned off the hotspot. OP, I agree that you should re-check your security (however that works)!

    I can’t see their actions as anything other than an attempt to intimidate. There’s a reason that all three of them approached the OP and blocked her path.

    • mark March 3, 2014, 7:34 pm

      I think this might be wise. It is possible to crack a password for a wifi but usually it is a slow brute force process. I don’t think it likely possible in the course of a lunch.

      I would also recommend you give the access point an unusual name. Though that may not work perfectly. But it is easy to figure out who it belongs to if the name is “jones-family”.

      Also make sure to audit your router periodically. Check to see what devices are connected and what sites the logs say they are going to. I deliberately keep my router in my basement to limit it’s range. This means anyone trying to steal my internet would practically be having to sit on my front porch to get enough signal. I really don’t want someone using my internet connection for something illegal.

      • WifiGal March 5, 2014, 2:03 am

        Yes it was secured, yes I rechecked that night. If they could have cracked my SSID and my password in under ten minutes they should be working for the Government or making bazillions doing professional hacking. As for at home, yes we have security measures and check them often. I use my laptop plugged in to the router with a cable. Only on the road do I have it wireless. My town here has a number of ‘wifi sponges’ and I don’t agree that I should share signal and bandwidth with them, if they want free they can go sit outside the library and sponge there.

  • Rachel March 3, 2014, 6:11 pm

    It sounds to me like they were 3 thugs looking to ruin someones day. I have a hard time believing that they really thought the op was hogging free Internet.

  • Kali March 3, 2014, 6:19 pm

    Even if they did honestly believe she was using free public wi-fi, why would they come to the conclusion that the OP must have locked it when they couldn’t get on?

    • The Elf March 4, 2014, 7:30 am

      Honestly, I think they had no clue what they were talking about.

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