Free Coffee Shop WiFi Backlash

from the too-succssful dept

When coffee shops and restaurants first start offering free WiFi, there were all sorts of predictions that it would be terrible, as people would camp out and just use the WiFi without buying anything. Early reports showed the reverse happened. People often came in to use the WiFi during traditionally “slow” times, and avoided using WiFi during busy times (tough to work then anyway). This meant that places offering free WiFi often saw a tremendous return on investment — bringing in new customers at times that were traditionally down times. However, as more people get laptops with WiFi and learn about free WiFi, is there a backlash? Apparently, one coffee shop in Seattle has felt overwhelmed by people using WiFi in the shop and has decided to turn off the WiFi on weekends. The shop owners complained that the place had become less social, as it was just a sea of laptops, rather than people talking to each other. Also, more people were avoiding the polite standard of at least buying something before using the WiFi. It would be interesting to know if there were other free WiFi coffee shops nearby, and how they fair in comparison. There’s nothing wrong with deciding it’s just not right for the type of customers the shop wants, it’s a bit surprising that the place became so overwhelmed with users.

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Comments on “Free Coffee Shop WiFi Backlash”

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Mobilemind-ed says:

Wifi Access

Since I don’t pay for WiFi access when I’m out, here’s my two cents…

I couldn’t agree more that free WiFi is the way to go. Business should stick to what they know best (i.e. – making coffee). I know when I am looking to get out of the office I am looking for a place with some good coffee, but free WiFi as well. If it’s between going to a restaraunt with great food and no access or an establishment with okay food and free WiFi, I’m heading for the okay food.

Dude says:


Yeah, same here. If one place has wireless and okay coffee and another place has good coffee but no connection…the place with the okay coffee wins hands down…

You can watch the news, listen to the news…if you’ve got some ear buds, or read free online newspaper…and then fold it all up again and take off. For those of us whose work is internet based, like me, a wireless hotspot (free) is a great idea. Grab a coffee and the latest news and there is the comfort zone.

Let the good times roll!

Anonymous Coward says:

I didn't know there was free wifi

I had assumed that everyone had free wifi… until last weekend.

I just got a wireless card through work, though I’ve only used it at work– at home I plug it into my ethernet.

The kids were being unruly, so I set out in search of a wireless coffee shop where I could snack and work. It seems you have to pay a ridiculous amount of money to use most of these.

So… I wired the crawlspace with ethernet and worked down there.

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

No Subject Given

There’s a place around the corner from me that used to be a great coffee shop, now it’s overrun by un-social laptop users.

I used to go pretty much every day for coffee, a bagel and to read the paper before going to work. It was a nice, neighboorhood-y, quiet kinda place. When they first implemented 4 years ago, I thought it was really cool, and I was the only one using it for a long, long time. Now it’s just laptops and people running outside to answer calls. It’s like going to work.

Dunno if they are making more or less money, but they also raised the prices and I see the same people sitting there all day, every day.


MM says:

Re: Telecommuting Offices

I know at least a couple of people that are using (abusing?) coffee shops as telecommuting offices, to the point of claiming a table for an 8 hour shift, holding meetings, interviewing. As a consultant without an actual office, it is actually something of an attractive proposition…I think you might see more differentiation in cafes as they attempt to compete with the Starbucks etc. I can even see some starting to cater to this kind of patron.

Freedster says:

Freeloading problem should be simple to fix

They could take care of this problem pretty easily if they wanted. They could simply print out a wifi username and password on the reciept when you bought something that would expire after a predetermined length of time. If I owned a coffee shop, I wouldn’t want someone taking up my real estate for more than 2 hours at a time without buying something else. If they want free internet access, they should go to a library.

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