Starbucks Managers Begging To Free Up The WiFi

from the please,-please,-please... dept

It doesn’t take an economic genius to figure out that charging for WiFi is a dead end model when the competition is giving it away for free. While many of the restaurants and cafes offering free WiFi are singing its praises as it brings in more customers — especially during the off hours — T-Mobile is stubbornly sticking to their high priced plans. It appears, however, that their major retail partner, Starbucks, may be pushing back. Apparently, some Starbucks managers are begging upper management to let them free up the WiFi, because they know they’re losing business to others. However, with T-Mobile’s pricing setup, they don’t even have the choice. This is just part of the reason that Wayport’s pricing shift earlier this year was such a big deal. The way Wayport now prices, the venues get to choose for themselves how to price WiFi for customers. T-Mobile doesn’t let them do that at all. Eventually, however, T-Mobile will have to come to its senses and realize they, too, need to update their pricing model.

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Comments on “Starbucks Managers Begging To Free Up The WiFi”

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mike schleif (user link) says:

why consider starbucks

i don’t know who the morons are that a re still using pay wifi at starbucks, in new orleans, la starbucks is a relatively minor coffee shop (CC’s and PJ’s have been here since the 70s at least) and the only one that doesn’t offer free wifi not to mention the fact that a bunch of bars and resturants in the french quarter are starting to offer free wifi just like the mojority of the hotels in the city, in fact i don’t see how pay wifi at starbucks and KINKO’s is making any money at all…

Mark says:

Tall mocha WiFi

Here in Seattle, where the coffee wars are intense, the other coffeeshops are really taking this to the bank. There’s a coffee shop on nearly every block, and you can bet that the one next to a Starbucks has a “free WiFi!” sign up in the window. If Starbucks is getting any business for its wireless offering, it’s from morons (or Starbucks employees afraid of being spotted in the customer’s shop).

Anonymous Coward says:

I disagree

There’s a coffee shop around the corner from me with free WiFi. People sit in there all day and work, but they never seem to buy much.
Since they monopolize all the space, I don’t go there anymore and preferer to go to other places that are less crowded. I don’t think the ROI of someone staying at the same table for four hours is that good, esp. when they only order a tea. As I recall, most restaurants rely on turnover as a key component of profitablity. So charging for WiFi is a good way to keep turnover high.

Jack says:

Re: I disagree

Yeah, I agree. WiFi should be free, but places like Starbucks alreay have people just sitting in there for HOURS just nursing their cupa joe, or you got two friends who grab the two comfy chairs and spend the whole day there. Adding people with laptops who are only there for the free WiFi would only make this problem worse. Not that I care since I don’t visit Starbucks much (it’s hard to get a hot chocolate without them making it into something that looks like it came from Dairy Queen — yeah, a little whip cream on top is great, but what the hell are you doing pouring that chocolate syrup over the whipped cream for?), but I can see how Starbucks would be all like “We need more people coming in, buying coffee, giving us money, and leaving — less people coming in, buying coffee, giving us money, and then just loitering for 3 hours.”

As a note, whenever I go to a coffee shop with free WiFi I always make a point to buy a lot more than I normally would. Usually I just buy a cocoa, but with the free WiFi places I’ll get a sandwich and maybe something else as well. Free WiFi=more sales.

t-mo jackson says:

Re: I disagree

People in retail know that getting a customer in the door is the most expensive, challenging, important part of running a successful business. I know companies that would kill for a magic bullet like FREE wifi access. Any study has shown people never just sit in a coffee shop–eventually, over time, they pay. It my be coffee, a cd, a crumpet or they may meet a friend there and make them pay for the darn crumpet.
It is truly a rare anomaly that a company the size of Starbucks would withhold one of the greatest customer count increasers in coffee shop history from its marketing arsenal. There are so many ways this free wifi could be juiced. How about a free wifi pass with a purchase…duh.
Let’s see 3.00 latte 3x a week = 36.00 month and don’t forget the occasional crumpet. You see it is so strange to see a company gut themselves so openly. Would you like some new clear coke with your t mobile wifi? Hey, have you noticed McD’s coffee tastes better w/ free wifi?

Bill Butler (user link) says:

wi fi starbucks

I have been a T-Mobile customer for two years and a starbucks customer for 15 or so years. Starbucks quality has diminished a bit over the years…tho t moibile is a great co in my opinion…the best tech support the best phone co I have dealt with really…everything is set up automatically as far as my billing to auto debit my acct…and I guess while I could save 20 bucks a month…the time spent trying to find a wi-fi spot when out on the road would cost me more…Because of the fact I can find a starbuck practically anywhere and connect…and coffee of reasonable quality (though – it is not terrific) while out on the road it is a deductable expense (the coffee as well) so I see no compelling reason to go out and eliminate my hot spot acct with t-moble…until of course the infrastructure is there wi fi everywhere…then …of course…I’ll still have to settle for starbucks coffee…unless I happen upon a good independent…

Starbucks Fan in Canada says:

Blenz is free, not Starbucks

A recent meeting I had and Vancouver B.C. was based on the availability of a Wi-fi hotspot. The iPhone I was about to buy, I wanted to ensure that the device worked ok (ie. was properly jailbroken and SIMfree’d).

While Starbucks is my first place of choice for coffee, a neighboring Blenz coffee shop was the recipient of sales for coffee for myself and meeting person, and drink and (overpriced) snacks for each of my three kids. The $7/hr access cost would not have been an issue of the process of signing up could have been done at the same time as the coffee purchase and merely involved inputing a password to login.

So in this case, lack of free and easy access was solely responsible for steering a loyal customer directly to the competition. Message to Starbucks: a $50 wi-fi router and free access = more customers. Ten to twenty customers buys the router, half that number per month pays the monthly access costs.

As well, a $7/hr charge seems pretty steep. The Blenz coffee wasn’t bad, and the shop was very nicely designed, and I have returned a few times since.

Alisha says:

I went to starbuck yesterday and i was excited to try out my new laptop and the wireless, I was surprised to find out that for a day pass I was going to get charged $10!!! I Am a college student and I can’t afford that. What is Starbucks thinking???? Tullys offers free wireless and so does other locally owned Seattle coffe shops!! Starbucks has enough money they need to focus of keep me the customer happy!

X-starbucks customer

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