PSA: Escaping from Gogo's roach-motel business model


Maybe they’ll listen to Reason

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This is something I’ve always liked about Netflix - the friction to go back and forth on plans is next to nil.So you can feel safe upping your number of DVDs knowing it won’t be a hassle to reduce it again. Haven’t tried to do a full cancel yet, but when I dropped DVDs for just streaming, they didn’t make it hard. Have confidence in your product and people will reward you for the frictionless nature. If it’d been hard I wouldn’t have yo-yo’d and they’d have been stuck with me always paying the smaller amount.


While I agree that making it hard to cancel is an unethical, having a business that runs on a monthly subscription model means you can attract investors and grow. Gogo probably wouldn’t exist if it had to manage a one-time use model for all it’s customers. The problem (if subscription models are a problem) is one that’s funded by an investment industry. The only way to stop it is to convince all consumers to drop enough subscriptions so the industry changes, or to regulate the industry.


Sorry, I call BS on this. (Disclaimer, I did work at Gogo several years ago). Cancelling the service is significantly easier at Gogo than it is at, say, a magazine publisher or It takes a little bit of effort, yes, but Cory specifically spelled out a way to do it that requires no human interaction (by replying to the original email) which I know is outlined in more than one location. So it took an extra fifteen minutes to cancel a subscription service that was correctly cancelled (e.g. you weren’t charged after cancellation). So what? How is that a “roach-motel business”? Gogo has to provide service across thousands of different air craft and multiple airlines, most of which do not have systems that will interact happily. You got to connect to the internet from a metal tube going 500 miles an hour, 30,000 feet in the air! This reminds me so much of that Lois C.K. bit…Everything is amazing, but no one is happy.

This is nothing compared to getting an insurance claim paid out. Nothing compared to fighting PayPal for something you bought on eBay. I hear people complaining all the time that using the internet for everything has disconnected us from each other, mocking younger generations for preferring the convenience of online ordering to real human interaction.

I feel like Cory was just looking for something to complain about, here. Was the service itself in anyway dissatisfactory? Was the customer service rep you spoke to rude? Lord forbid it take you an extra fifteen minutes to deal with something, that means their business model is a scam!


Perhaps crosberg is a real new BBer who signed up two hours ago to make this comment, or is a long time listener first time caller. But I think it is only fair to the thread to point out that while his words may be true or at least sincerely felt there is also an economic benifit for Gogo or their PR agency to sign up and make a ham fisted attempt to astroturf the thread.
Crosberg if you are the real deal welcome and very sorry, but if you are an astroturfer F-U.

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I worked a Gogo until 2011 (Correction: 2010. Did the math wrong in my head.), and have not been paid by them since then. Your accusation, while it might not be beyond the pale for some companies, is not how Gogo does business nor is it what I would do even if they asked me to. Besides, why would I admit that I used to work for them if I was a shill?

If you were to look at my Twitter account, you’d see a long history of taking issue with the way that BoingBoing has come to operate. This week, and in particular this post, just pushed me over the edge.

After reading BB for a decade, I was sick to my stomach to see their continued support of Amanda Palmer after her behavior in the Jian Ghomeshi incident, on top of her tone-deaf behavior when it comes to her own white privilege. Seeing a former employer who treated me well get lambasted for something like this was just a step too far and I felt the need to sign up and comment for the first time.

I said it on Tuesday to a friend: Shockingly, it’s hard to stay relevant and ahead of any curve with a staff that appears entirely white, predominantly male, and mostly over 40. BoingBoing is doing a disservice to itself and it’s readers by posting like this.

Keeping in mind his position as a gatekeeper for a lot of people, Doctorow should have considered how his words would come across to people who don’t know as much about the product, the company, or, say, the regulations that limit the way they’re allowed to do business, given that they deal with both domestic and international airspace.

But yeah, an extra 15 minutes of effort is definitely worth whining about, and no one should bring up Amanda Palmer’s racism and rape apologia.

I never, EVER, sign up for auto-billing on anything. I would never let anyone have any access to my bank account. My money, my responsibility.


I get that there has probably got to be a gym membership like scam for many in flight 'net services to attract investors considering how much trouble the airlines will cause and then still take a cut.
My question is there a rubber duck or other omni antenna capable service of even 2400 baud, enough for some email, sending a tweet, usenet, or perhaps an RSS feed for headlines. Nothing fast but if you set up a server or gateway to sample and headline stuff like BBS days, hopefully something that you could press an antenna against a window and send or receive. Even a $us per Kbyte was very useful in the early GPRS days when I simply had to do some sort of work mobile away from WiFi, like on a train or highway. The SPOT messenger using Globalstar satellites might work from an airplane(can anyone comment?) but is send only. We need an inexpensive, small, non-directional antenna, hopefully hackable friendly, two way modem device, along with a reasonable service plan.
FWIW I can always hit a geostationary satellite on 406MHz when testing my P-ELT/EPIRB and that has only a steel tape whip antenna from under a tile roof which is also transparent to GPS signals(though I think Sarsat-Cospas is only 400baud on 406MHz).

Okay, great. But it’s also harder than it is on many other subscription sites, and it’s harder to cancel than to sign up, and those are the problems Cory is talking about.

Why? There’s no technical need for it to take any more effort than it took to sign up in the first place–and, in fact, it surely increases Gogo’s costs to have to man the cancellation lines. So what is Gogo’s motivation for requiring additional effort to cancel? I can imagine some circumstances where that would make sense–if, for instance, a company were very concerned that its users were cancelling due to misconceptions about the service, it would make sense to have somebody talk to them about it before canceling. (Obviously, we’ve seen that this can go too far.) But Gogo is a service that a lot of people likely sign up for and use once or twice a year, and they want to pay for it like a service that only gets used once or twice a year, not like a service that they use daily.

So what is the actual reason for Gogo to make it harder to cancel than it is to sign up? The assumption Cory is making–and I think he’s probably right–is that it means they get rebills from people who forget to cancel or are dissuaded from canceling because it takes too long to do it and they figure they’ll just get to it next month. In other words, it’s not about providing service; it’s about getting more money from people Gogo can assume aren’t using the service.


Do you know this for a fact? Are you intimately acquainted with the technology required to manage access across thousands of aircraft and multiple (I think now six?) airlines, not to mention the independent aircraft that have access? Do your technical solutions comply with both US and Canadian regulations, as Gogo operates in American and Canadian airspace? So you’ve cleared your technical redesign with not only all of the airlines (who will leave if they don’t like it) but also at least two federal organizations, feel free to send Gogo your suggestions, I’m sure they’d love to have a way around all their limitations.

But Gogo is a service that a lot of people likely sign up for and use once or twice a year, and they want to pay for it like a service that only gets used once or twice a year, not like a service that they use daily.

This is why there’s single-use options, as well as limited plans (e.g. not a full month but instead a certain number of uses). So your point on this is moot.

I’m not trying to be a jerk, but is your goal to get someone arrested or have hefty fines leveled at them? Because that’s precisely what you’re asking for, by setting up that kind of solution. Rules are certainly getting loser, but Gogo, like every airline and other wifi provider, has to maintain licenses on which frequencies it uses for a reason.

Yea, they are paranoid on commercial flights. Question is how would anyone know if it were just a rubber duck or flat panel? I tried to get mobile phones to work back in the 90s and never got a signal. I still regularly take a pile of exotic amateur and aviation radio equipment on airplanes(not obviously DIY’ed though), though I have white skin, conservative dress, and appearance.
I think it would be cool to have some sort of gadget in my flight bag to have updated internet while I am flying a small aircraft out over the Med. One plane I flew in the US had a HF set that could receive shortwave broadcast but that is not quite the same as two way data. I would be sorely tempted to test it on commercial aircraft as well to see if the sky view were good enough from a side window. I am not so interested in what some regulatory agency in the US has to say than what will actually work and leave it to individuals to research the legalities where they plan to use it.

My advice when signing up for a service that has a recurring monthly charge, but you’re not sure you’d want it any longer than that, is to cancel as soon as you’re finished signing up for it. As in, immediately, when the option to cancel should be right in front of you.

This way you don’t forget to cancel before the month is up, and get charged over and over for something you’re not using anymore, but you keep forgetting or putting off ending it. It’s a lot easier to sign back up than to cancel.

That’s why I keep lots of maxed-out credit cards around, so I can log in and change my credit card to something that’s sure to be declined.

Well, no, I don’t. I’m decently well acquainted with identity management–I worked as a technical writer documenting identity-management systems for a large computer company in the middle of the last decade. But I concede that that knowledge is pretty well out of date by now.

Still, it strikes me as unlikely that the database is designed in such a way that it would matter how the access bit gets flipped from 1 to 0–i.e., whether it’s the customer or a CSR that does it. Especially since the customer is able to flip that bit from 0 to 1 in the first place. I’m certainly willing to consider evidence that I’m wrong, but it sure seems to me that the simplest explanation is that doing it this way nets Gogo more money at a cost of a very small amount of bad publicity, so they do it this way. What evidence do you have to the contrary?

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A trifecta of offensiveness: racist, sexist and ageist.

What about “warflying”? A wideband scanning RF spectrometer, perhaps RTL-SDR based, on a laptop/netbook powered up in the cabin luggage? A plot of GPS coordinates (either obtained from a GPS receiver, or correlated from flight time and a flight trajectory obtained from some flights monitoring web) vs the energy level along the frequency spectrum? Could show quite some light on what is and is not possible to receive.

I did some cosmic radiation level measurements this way.

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Cool idea.
RTl-SDR is a good tool for ultra compact ultra flexible scanning, recieving, and recording, can even use it on my old Nokia N900 with a USB adapter and host mode. Though in my experience the recieve quality is crap compared to a purpose designed radio, even with a freq cut wire antenna, still one of the way coolest hacks you can do for $8(free shipping). On microwave freqs the antenna gets pretty small and if it is out of frequency range you can even use a LNB but not sure how it would look assembling a dish antenna in coach.
For those interested look for a PAL DVB-T USB gadget, the ones I currently have have R820T and RTL2832U chips onboard.
Probably the coolest thing you can do with a cheap DVB-T SDR on a plane is run dump1090, receive the ADS-B live from ATC and other planes when in range if your antenna, it is pretty neat all the way around though in a plane you will need to cache the maps for your flyover area. I suspect the expensive ADS-B receivers for tabets in airplane stuff catalogs are just Arduino type embedded systems running Linux, using a Realtek SDR like above, and running WiFi host mode with dump1090 being the only web service available.
(day later edit) And today we have this story, bet we can get the mobile signal if you have the right seat facing.

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For some businesses.

This one tho, would not be hampered in the least with a non-renewing subscription.
You are purchasing a 1 month service at a set rate, opt-in subscription is a snap.

But it makes much more sense to demand that subscribers are just that, because of the fantastic benefits. Primarily, that many of today’s travellers will happily sign up, fly, browse internet & then promptly forget once the flying is done.

Not entirely unlike the Gym models, Gogo likely gets a hefty percentage of customers who inevitably pay one or several months more than they use & only unsubscribe when they notice the ongoing renewals.

That’s the only valid, although slimy reason. The rest are cancelled because technology, even where technology is the excuse they claim.

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