Coffee Shops Say Free Wi-Fi Is Bad For Business

A recent story in the LA Times says that some coffee shops are pulling the plug on free wi-fi because freeloaders are taking up large tables and only having a single cup of coffee.

Some of the coffee shops say no to wi-fi altogether, but others are just shutting it off during peak hours so they can, you know, have tables for people to sit at. People who want to order food.

“We had big parties or family groups who wanted to eat but had no room,” one cafe owners told the LA Times. “They were getting upset about it. They felt the whole place was being taken over by techies.”

Now that Starbucks is offering free wi-fi, unplugged cafes are more of a niche. Apparently some people actually seek them out.

Dan and Nathalie Drozdenko turned off the Wi-Fi at their Los Angeles cafe when it malfunctioned. The complaints poured in, but so did the compliments: Lots of customers appreciated a wireless cup of joe at the Downbeat Cafe, a popular lunch spot in Echo Park.

“People come here because we don’t offer it. They know they can get their work done and not get distracted,” Dan Drozdenko said.

Do you make your coffee shop choice based on the availability of free wi-fi?

Coffee shops are taking Wi-Fi off the menu [LA Times]

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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    When I had a massive research project to do, I went to my local coffee shop with free wi-fi and quiet customers was such a help to me. I walked in, put all my stuff down, told the employees I’d be there for a while and ordered coffee. I was there for hours and no one complained (there weren’t that many customers though). I just couldn’t focus anywhere on campus and I needed a relatively isolated and quiet place to do my work.

    So I understand where the free wi-fi people are coming from, but I also understand when people complain because there are people who are there all day.

    Maybe coffee shops can impose a time limit, or make people sign in on a sheet (with the time of arrival) if they want access to wi-fi. Change the code the next day so people can’t come back and mooch.

    • dreamsneverend says:

      I’ve done the same thing and my personal rule (just a preference I don’t knock those who don’t do it) is I will buy another iced coffee/drink for every 90 min or so I am camped out. I am usually done with whatever work I have to do, but I also frequent places during dead times so I don’t feel like I am costing them customers by occupying a single chair and tiny table.

    • It'sRexManningDay! says:

      On their terms of service/logon page, Panera does request that you use a small table and stay no longer than 30 min during peak hours. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it enforced, though.

  2. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    I agree.

    The Starbucks’ in my neighborhood (Upper West Side of Manhattan) are overrun with these barnacle-like entities hogging entire tables with the computers, paperwork and small…pardon me…tall coffees.

    I usually get it “to go,” but if I want to sit and have a delicious party with it, I go to Joe The Art of Coffee. Pretentious name, great coffee.

    • Tvhargon says:

      How do I participate in one of these delicious coffee parties?

    • mszabo says:

      All I can say is it is about time. Of course with the proliferation of smartphones and internet access via that route, it probably won’t change much.

      I was at a Starbucks a month or so ago and somebody was hosting a full on staff meeting. It’s nice that you decided to treat your 10 employees to Starbucks, but please go back to your office to discuss your sales goals for the quarter, I don’t want to hear it.

  3. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I follow Greyhound buses and the amberlamps from a local company because they have open wifi on them. Yes, I have a problem.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      Sorry, SteveDave, but my mancrush on you and your ‘stache just got bigger because you said “amberlamps.”

    • dgm says:

      @SteveDave – I hope you’re joking about pirating the ambulance wifi. FYI, those connections are used to transmit critical patient data en route to the hospital. My squad’s ambulances don’t have the wifi yet, but many of the medics’ vans around here do. It’s probably not a good idea to burden their connections.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        It’s kind of tough to follow a bus transporting a patient, seeing as they can go through red lights and I can’t.

  4. BadgerPudding says:

    I don’t think I’d go to a coffee shop that didn’t have free Wi-Fi. Good luck with that.

  5. Corinthos says:

    I actually stopped going to a bakery because of this. Before they offered free wifi I could get a seat with no problem. After two times of going and they were being overly crowded I stopped going all together. Sure maybe they might make more I dunno but they just won’t be getting anymore from me.

  6. Blueberry Scone says:

    Even though I don’t have a laptop, I will make a choice as to which coffee shop to patronize based on its offering of free wi-fi. I had a favorite haunt that I went to for years for coffee; once they got the free wi-fi, though, it was impossible to eat in the shop because of all the “campers” at the tables.

    I think a time limit of some sort is acceptable and fair.

  7. redwall_hp says:

    No Wi-Fi is even worse for business. I expect to be able to use my iPod to check my email and web server status when I go to a café-type establishment. (I’m not going to sit around for hours though.) Unless the place has *very* good coffee, I might be less inclined to return.

  8. JoeDawson says:

    I make all my choices based on WIFI… I also make my own WIFIs at home

  9. BinaryTB says:

    Why not do what hotels do? Wifi code on the receipt? Lasts one hour, want wifi still? Buy something else or leave.

    But then again, I hate that idea, hate entering in codes on my phone.

  10. william says:

    non-issue.

    ppl who want wifi go to free wifi places
    ppl who don’t want wifi go to no wifi places

    this is like going to a pizza parlor to ask for chinese food and then get angry about it not being avaliable. why don’t you just go to a chinese resturant?

    coffee places makes their choices base on their business case and the type of customer they want to attrack. customers make their choices based on their needs. And voila, the system works.

    • dg says:

      I was at a chineese restaurant once, and two tables over some 90+ yr old guy yells out “WHERE’S THE BREAD?! I WANT BREAD! WHAT KIND OF RESTAURANT DOESN’T SERVE BREAD?!”

      I was with my parents, it was all we could do not to laugh…

  11. Harry_Greek says:

    It’s OK to offer free wi-fi. But, if a customer brings in ‘luggage’ to get their office set up in a coffee shop – I say kick them out.

    I can NOT stand these fiends who unpack piles of paperwork and have their mini office set up in a coffee shop. So, I park near them and become the obnoxious video gamer who is on the phone with this deaf over seas grandmother.

    When I get dirty looks, I reply: “the library kicked me out, why don’t you give that place a shot??”

    • jscs says:

      You’re part of a bigger problem. I work from home, I need to get out from the walls sometimes. I open a manuscript, I read, I type, and often am not even using Wifi. And, I often buy a drink and food (if available) and have stayed for hours before. Never had a coffee shop fill up with no seats. Never had someone sit down and assume they could be rude with video games beside me.

  12. icruise says:

    I only go to cafes with free wi-fi because I often need it for online research, and yes sometimes I only order coffee. But, I’m always aware of how busy the place is. If it looks like it’s filling up, I’ll move to a smaller table or even leave.

  13. metalman420 says:

    Where I live (central Delaware, USA) we have lots
    of choices for free wifi…not just coffee shops.
    Some of these are Taco Bell, McDonalds, Arbys,
    plus local places.
    I am not paying for over priced coffee to get free wifi with
    so many choices available..

  14. Straspey says:

    I know this will sound like a real dumb question to many folks – but please humor me.

    Okay -

    So, if you have some important work to do, and you are looking for a nice, quiet place where you can get your work done with being disturbed, while sipping a coffee, then…um…

    Why don’t you just STAY HOME ??

    It just would never occur to me to bring all my work – which is deadline reliant – out to a public coffee shop or “bistro” where I will undoubtedly be disturbed by other people who, (rightfully so) have no interest and couldn’t care less about my work and deadlines.

    And – if you ask me – those people sitting in front of the window at the Starbuck’s on the Upper West Side are there as much to “be seen” as to do any serious work.

    Sure, it’s nice to have wi-fi if you want to surf the internet, or read blogs such as this one – but whenever I see somebody with their papers and laptop spread out conspicuously all over a table, or in the window, I think there’s more there than meets the eye.

    Sure – if you can’t afford to pay for your own internet connection, then the free wi-fi- is a great convenience. But if you have internet access at home, and have really important work to do…what is so attractive about sitting and doing your work in public ?

    • bennilynn says:

      Your home may be a bastion of quiet and serenity, but the place I live is obnoxiously noisy. TV’s blaring, neighbors playing loud music, kids running around screaming…

      Sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere quiet to sit, read, or write and enjoy a cup of coffee.

      You should worry less about what other people are doing with their free time.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        I think it’s a legitimate observation. I can totally understand going somewhere to drink some coffee and casually read the news or tweak a college paper. However, where I am it’s increasingly common for people to take over entire tables and cover them with papers and books and apparently work on major research projects for hours on end.

        It just seems like an odd location to do so, especially in a busy location. It’s even more surprising that management allows people camping out like that.

      • Straspey says:

        I see your point.

        My home is in a working-class neighborhood which is generally quiet enough to work without distractions – and I really sympathize with anyone who’s home is an environment where it’s difficult (if not impossible) to have peace and quiet.

        I’m glad you have a place to go for some quiet and a coffee.

        As far as your other point is concerned – I have no worries regarding what people do with their free time. It’s my opinion based on observation and being old enough to remember when the only other place you could go for that kind of peace and quiet was the library.

        Kind of like back in the days when movie houses would advertise the fact that they were AIR CONDITIONED and – and many people would seek refuge in an air-conditioned movie for a couple of hours to seek relief from the horrible heat, back in the days when very few people owned air conditioners.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I don’t really understand it either but I went to college and grad school in the pre-laptop days. I typically did research in the library and writing in the computer labs.

    • Etoiles says:

      The apartments I lived in in grad school and college, I had exactly my bedroom to use and that was it. The home situations didn’t allow me to use the kitchen table or the living room or whatever, and there was only so much I could do sitting on my bed.

      Also if I was going to have to meet with someone partway through the day — an interview or a group project or whatever — neutral, public, coffee-and-food enabled turf was preferable.

      And finally, sometimes you just need a change of scenery. I tend always to be drinking something while I work (at the office I just keep refilling a bottle of water all day long) and I like the hum of activity and people-watching that I can do in new locations. And I like coffee. :)

      I think the longest I’ve ever camped in a Starbucks (or more often in grad school, its local equivalent) was 2.5 hours.

    • witeowl says:

      A dear friend of mine works from home. He frequently gets tired of being at home so much, so he’ll sometimes “camp out” at a table at a local restaurant with free wifi, well beyond the time to eat his meal. I can’t say I blame him, and the manager and staff welcome him.

      He is very careful of two things, though. First, he makes sure that there are plenty of free tables; if the restaurant starts to fill up, he packs up and leaves. Second, he tips generously to compensate the waiter/waitress for taking up a spot in his/her station.

      • It'sRexManningDay! says:

        Same here. When I work from home, I’ll sometimes plan for a “working lunch” at a cafe just to get out of the house. I try to go after peak hours (lunch at 1pm or later), I always buy both food and coffee, and I’ve never been that person with one laptop at a six-seater table.

        I agree, though–it seems like there are definitely some people who are out there just to be seen “being important.” There’s a direct correlation between the number of seats one person commandeers and his/her pompous jackass level.

    • iParadox{InLove} says:

      Meg Griffin [typing on laptop]: Don’t mind me, you guys. I’m just writing a letter to my boyfriend. [types aloud] “Dear My Boyfriend, thank you for making out with me recently on purpose. That was cool. Those flowers that you totally sent me were really pretty. Just like you said I am. Love, Meg.”
      Chris Griffin: Meg, you are so full of crap. You’re like those people who sit in Starbucks and publicly write on their laptops.
      [cut to Starbucks, where two men are typing on laptops]
      Man 1: Hey, gettin’ some writing done there, buddy?
      Man 2: Yeah, settin’ up in public so everybody can watch me type my big screenplay.
      Man 1: Me too. All real writers need to be seen writing, otherwise, what’s the point, right?
      Man 2: You should totally write that down.
      Man 1: Okay. Will you watch me?

    • chocolate1234 says:

      In undergrad my friends and I would often meet up at a local coffee shop when we were working on papers. It was a nice way to get some work done outside of the house or library. When you have a massive amount of studying/paper writing to do, a change of scenery is nice. I never, ever considered it rude, but then again we were on campus, so the majority of the patrons were students. Annnd, we bought a lot of coffee and pastries.

      Now that I’m back in school, I’m planning on doing the same thing. Sometimes I need to get out of the house.

    • NickelMD says:

      ADHD. At home I get nothing done. At a coffee shop I am like a machine. The low level non-distracting noise is perfect to keep me focused. OK, that and a quad Americano.

      I’ve written a book, and quite a few journal articles at coffee shops. I pretty much skipped the first two years of medical school because while I can work like a crazed weasel in a coffee shop (or similar) environment I don’t process lectured material at all.

      My solution though to the problem is I buy my quad Americano and tip $5. Then an hour later I buy a pastry and tip $5. Then an hour later I buy another quad and tip $5. The barista kids at the coffee shop love me, and I once provided CPR to a customer, so the owner thinks I am a hero. They actually have a 1 hour limit, but the owner gave me to ‘special code’ that keeps me wifi’d up as long as I need to.

  15. Kryndar says:

    Not tying to be judgemental here but I simply do not get the assumption by some people that cafe or coffee shop means free wireless. I get the appeal of free wireless but for me that is a bonus. If I am going to go to a coffee shop it will be because they have coffee of a sort that I want, that is if I drank coffee. I guess my attitude is that I have Internet at home and spend a lot of time on it, I go out to escape the Internet not to hop back on it. That being said I also hate facebook, not because of what they do but because I simply hate sites like it, don’t know why really, and text messageing. Yet I am, I think, in top demographics for both so I guess I’m kind a curveball with stuff like this.

  16. scgirl_212 says:

    The solution my favorite coffee place used was to take away all of the outlets, that way you stay only as long as you battery life (which admittedly can be 2+ hours).

    Also, it’s very entertaining to watch people walk around the shop hunched over looking for an outlet ;)

  17. Consumeristing says:

    As a coffeeshop rat in L.A., I really don’t see this “trend”. All the big chains here have converted to free wi-fi. Yes, one of the coffee shops mentioned, Literati Cafe in Brentwood, was included as one of the coffeeshops frowning on free wi-fi. But I was there as recently as a couple of weeks ago, and they do provide free wi-fi at least at night. One of the best coffee houses in L.A. is Bricks and Scones on Larchmont. They go hog-wild for laptoppers. They cover their very large space with outlets, stays open real late, clean bathrooms and fast free wi-fi. And they are doing spectacularly.

    Free wi-fi works IF the coffee house is quiet spacious. You can absorb both the turnover and the laptop people.

  18. smo0 says:

    I have to agree. Either make mandatory purchases for every hour you’re using the service, charge for the service, or again.. turn it off.
    There was a free wi-fi place near my house – it closed up shop (still trying to find out why) maybe they were overrun with cheapies?!

  19. Swag Valance says:

    I would go to a cafe without Wi-Fi *explicitly* because customers who want Wi-Fi won’t go there.

    If I want to enter a room of lifeless bodies with minds anywhere but there, I’ll go to the coroner’s office, thank you very much.

  20. Cameraman says:

    I have a wife, a toddler, and an infant at home, so studying is pretty much impossible. I take my netbook and my iPod to the local Barnes and Noble (or, if the wi-fi is out, to the other Barnes and Noble about 10 minutes away) and drink my overpriced tea and study for about an hour every night after work.

    Sure, I have to fight over the one outlet (I’ve started packing a power strip and offering to share), but I get a lot of studying done. And, out of gratitude, B&N is always my first choice for textbooks and so forth (as in, B&N has to be 10% higher or more for me to consider buying elsewhere).

    In conclusion, I don’t know how valuable a customer I would make to a coffee shop with WiFi, but I’ve tried to be a good citizen at Barnes & Noble.

    • SaltWater says:

      Uh d00d, ever heard of the library?

      • Anita says:

        Most public libraries are even worse than this guy’s home situation. You got the cell phone talkers, the screaming kids, the public computer crazies who yell when their time is up, etc.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Because libraries keep such late night hours…you don’t know when he gets off work, and even if it was a regular 9 to 5 kind of job, most libraries around the country have had to cut back their hours. My library now closes at 6 pm three days a week.

  21. OldGreyTroll says:

    For reading while sipping my hot coffee, I really like Coffee Shop WiFi. But for getting serious work done, I’d want a place where everyone is expected to be quiet, where they have work tables, WiFi and maybe even other reference materials.

    If I Google: library wifi

    Free Wi-Fi Hotspot Locations in Maryland
    Free Internet Access in the Suburbs of Washington, DC

    Bethesda Library – 7400 Arlington Rd – (240) 777-0970
    Chevy Chase Library – 8005 Connecticut Avenue – (301) 986-4313
    Howard County Central Library – 10375 Little Patuxent Parkway
    East Columbia Branch Library – 6600 Cradlerock Way

    etc.

  22. ellemdee says:

    I’m surprised more people don’t use libraries for the free wifi, especially if they don’t even want to really order anything. You can spread your paperwork, laptop, etc. out on a big, roomy table with built-in power plugs (charge your cell phone, too, while you’re at it) and sit there all day & no one will bother you, plus you know it will be quiet. Some libraries even let you bring in drinks in covered containers. But then they’d lose all that street cred people think they get from tweeting “Sitting at Starbucks with my usual double half caf mocha grande infused with Peruvian mint oil & dusted with hazelnut-creme chocolate shavings.”

    • liz.lemonade says:

      Yesterday I went to my local library for the first time in months because I needed two books. All of the computers were taken by people using the online access, with an electronic marquee that displayed the waiting list. I’m wholly in favor of libraries’ “free info for all!” philosophy, but it was SO frustrating to have to wait for a librarian to look up my books’ call numbers (the two terminals marked as “card catalog only” were being used for online access). And yeah, I had to wait for the librarian to be available because she was busy managing the computer terminal requests.

      To get back to your topic — I do wish more library patrons brought their study/work materials and used the free wifi, though many of them apparently don’t have computer access at all. If they did, they’d probably scope out the local coffeeshops instead.

      • caradrake says:

        Our local library is tiny – it has 6 public-use computers, but it has NO other tables or chairs. If you want to use a computer, you use theirs. I think they have wifi, but unless you want to sit on the floor, there’s no point.

  23. evilpete says:

    it is not hard to set up a WiFi system that will automatically block users after a fixed period.

  24. EverCynicalTHX says:

    I’ve had to rely on wifi coffee shops because my roomates take the good seats around the kitchen table at the house all day…working and drinking coffee!

  25. tbax929 says:

    There are places where I really appreciate free Wi-Fi – airplanes are the biggest for me. I love being able to surf while I’m on the plane. I don’t tend to hang out in coffee shops, so I couldn’t even tell you which ones have free Wi-Fi and which ones don’t.

    I can tell you that I was early for an appointment out of town once and decided to wait in a Starbucks. I figured I’d do some work while waiting the hour until my appointment time. It was so friggin’ noisy I couldn’t concentrate to even read my e-mails. I know some people enjoy it, but I will never try to get any work done in a coffee shop again! I need quiet in order to concentrate.

  26. RubyRedJess says:

    I can tell you as a recovering Starbucks store manager, that this is very true. I know people that would come in and only get an ice water and sit there for HOURS! What are they typing everyday for 8 hours straight on only water and free samples?

  27. Phillygal says:

    I work from home and sometimes I go to coffee shops to work for a couple hours just to get out of the house. The libraries here in Philadelphia are terrible places to work – parents let their kids run around screaming and there are few places to just sit and work. If only the local colleges had passes.

  28. mllejanvier says:

    You have to find a happy medium. After many years in the specialty coffee industry, I have found the answer: No electrical outlets. Brand-new Macs seem to only last 2 hours or so.

    You can offer “Free WiFi” with no restrictions on purchase. When your laptop dies, GTFO.

    But yes, as a specialty coffee industry professional, I must say, these “campers” are the worst. Why is it the general opinion that businesses with the high overhead/low profit margin must tolerate the maximum level of BS?

    • caradrake says:

      My netbook has a life of around 4-5 hours, sometimes more, depending on if I’m connected to the internet. It’s advertised to have over 8 hours of battery life, but I’ve never managed that.

  29. Redred says:

    The coffeeshop around the corner from me only had free wi-fi after noon. This was actually great when I was writing my thesis — I’d go in the mornings to write without any distractions.

    Even without wi-fi, the place is packed in the mornings, with people getting food and people camped out with laptops. I definitely understand why they don’t turn it on until the afternoon.

  30. XTREME TOW says:

    Free WIFI? Without distractions? With spacious tables, NTLs (No Time Limits), electrical outlets, etc.etc. ? PUBLIC LIBRARIES! They are meant to be “Free”! The local branch in my neighborhood leaves the WIFI ‘on’ 24/7. In the late evening after business hours, the parking lot is still half full of cars. They sit in their cars and use the WIFI.
    Two local indie-cafe’s have offered free WIFI since they opened years ago. Ditto for the local ‘Bucks, always had free WIFI. It’s not unusual to see a dozen “WIFI Leeches” (S’Bucks managers term, not mine) sitting on the sidewalk around the corner, all lined up as they sit next to the wall of a Dry Cleaner. At one indie-cafe, next to an auto repair garage, one shop employee even ran a 6 outlet strip out a back window for the kids. When the shop manager heard a couple people arguing loudly about who was using it more than the other, he ‘pulled the plug’.
    Since the Public Library lets me bring in my indie-cafe “Flying Nun” (Venti Triple Hammerhead with sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream! Zoom!) inside; I go there for serious “Quiet Time” work. If I just want my caffiene fix and maybe relax, I’ll stick around the indie-cafe and watch the ‘show’. Pick a table at the outer edge so you can watch the “In Store Leeches”, and the “Sidewalk Leeches”. I’m sure the employees and most of the ‘in store’ customers think I’m 5150 (crazy) as I try really hard to supress laughter while sitting alone at my table. Watching a 6 outlet power power strip slowly inch it’s way out a side window of the repair garage.
    (sip)
    The Ballet of Life goes on.

    • Straspey says:

      “The local branch in my neighborhood leaves the WIFI ‘on’ 24/7. In the late evening after business hours, the parking lot is still half full of cars….”

      Wow !

      Times have *really* changed !

      Back in my day, the only reason I’d be in the library parking lot after dark was to make out with my girlfriend.

      Geekdom triumphs over love, I guess.

      It’s actually kind of sad when you stop to think about it.

  31. incident_man says:

    DUH!!! Could’ve seen THAT one coming.

  32. FrugalFreak says:

    No problem, just install a small against the wall counter divided into laptop cubies. They just don’t want people using the wi-fi without bankrolling the wi-fi. if so it is not FREE! if you go to one that is being snarky, just go to another coffee shop.

  33. Emily says:

    I think this is fine. It’s certainly much better than the hypocritical coffee shop incidents I’ve read about where the store continues to offer free Wifi but imposes a “no computer” rule — forcing one journalist to turn off his Nook, for instance. If proprietors feel lingering is a problem (no matter that the length of time one is staying is at fault, not what the customer is doing while staying), they should turn off WiFi. Then the many customers for whom this matters will go elsewhere… and the business owner will be able to decide whether those customers were necessary to success or not.

  34. Intheknow says:

    I’ve been wondering about this. Seems like whenever I go to Panera, there’s a whole shop with 1 person at each table on their computer with maybe a little coffee or sandwich. It seems obvious that they’re going to be there (or have been there) for quite a while.

  35. demonicfinger says:

    if it weren’t for the free internet who else would pay $5 for a cup of coffee?

  36. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    I have no real reason to require WiFi anywhere I go – it’s not like I’m hauling this laptop anywhere but to my balcony so I can enjoy the outdoors whilst parusing the net. Though sometimes in order to settle a bar bet, I wouldn’t mind having Wifi to prove me right (I do own an iPod touch, which is always in my pocket while I’m not home), but that’s not the reason I go to any establishment. I say yeah to any coffeeshop/restaurant/bar who wants to shut off the Wifi to keep the moochers/squatters/campers (whatever you want to call them) from keeping tables from paying customers.

  37. kwjayhawk says:

    McDonalds is my cheap coffee shop with wifi.

  38. Smultronstallet says:

    I make my coffee at home. Problem solved.

  39. saltsage236 says:

    If there’s no free wi-fi, I won’t spend money there at all. No exceptions.

  40. jscs says:

    I only go to coffee shops with free wifi. The Starbucks near us (surrounded by 3 or 4 indie coffee shops) picked up business when they went free.

    If your coffee shop doesn’t have enough seats to warrant free wifi, don’t use it. But I likely (among many others) probably won’t stop in on a regular basis. Just be smart, users, and it works out.

  41. Geekybiker says:

    Just get a router that will log MAC addresses and boot mac addresses after a reasonable time (Say an hour?) That MAC is banned for 24hrs, or maybe booted to a page where they can pay by the hour if they really want to take up a table.

  42. Anaxamenes says:

    I like using a coffee shop to work on projects and check my email. I’m always very conscious about the number of tables available for others though. At the very least, I will continue to purchase beverages. People are also welcome to share the table with me, if I was only able to find a larger one.

    It is a business, you better be dropping some serious cash if you are treating it like your personal living room.

  43. zolar16 says:

    It’s really irritating trying to find a place to sit at Starbucks lately due to the people who camp out with their laptops and take up a whole table for 4 with their work. Some mornings, I treat myself and my 10-month-old to breakfast. He’s very well-behaved and loves to munch on a bagel and a sippy cup of juice and people-watch. But since the free wi-fi was implemented, I struggle to find a table and have to balance a wiggly infant who tries at every opportunity to steal my coffee out of my hand while sitting in one of those foofy armchairs. And then people warily eye him as if he’s going to ruin their experience. Same thing at Panera. I agree with previous posters; if you need quiet, you can’t count on a RESTAURANT for it. I’m always conscientious of other people and don’t let him get too loud, but if you can’t take a little babbling, stay home and let me have a table so I can eat my lemon loaf and enjoy getting out of the house to be around OTHER PEOPLE.

  44. kujospam says:

    Just say you must order one item for every 30 to 45 minutes, and make sure the costumers know that. Problem solved.

  45. c-side says:

    I’ve always thought that coffee shops should have a kind of modest coin-op Wi-Fi system after X number of minutes that a patron hangs out.