Put it this way, the competition did much better. It actually worked, as opposed to obtaining an IP address and not doing much more (directing me to a login page would have been nice).
A nice touch though was when upon telling the cheery staff that their hotspot didn't seem to get me anywhere (such as a login page in a web browser), they smiled and gave me a CD. It was titled Telecom Wireless Internet Access: A Guide to Getting Started, with the friendly suggestion that I
Call 0800 952 695 for Telecom Wireless Hotspot Help. I might have done that, if I weren't actually busy talking to someone at the same time about school-related stuff (and sending off an e-mail message he suggested). Oh, and running a Jabber client, of course.
My conclusion is that a system reboot may have helped, but unless one wants to be rude to the person one is talking to about school-related matters, it's not really an option.
Still, it was an interesting experience, not least the discussions I had on my Section 27(1) project. I now have an official Starbucks coaster, Xtra and Starbucks logo on it, too.