Bad Trends: Cafes Blocking Outlets

from the not-making-customers-very-happy dept

In the past, we've noted that with the rise of laptops and wireless access, there's a growing interest in people to find power outlets to plug in their laptops. While some airports are retrofitting to make this possible, it appears that a number of cafes, bars and restaurants may be going in the other direction. Jeremy Wagstaff notes that he's seeing more and more places covering up their outlets in an attempt to stop people from plugging in. The reasons usually given don't make much sense (one guy even tells Wagstaff that he's afraid people plugging in will "ruin the circuitry"). A typical response, of course, is that it's "stealing" electricity or that it's somehow costly. However, it's really just a a few pennies -- and if having available electricity brings in just a few more paying customers each day it's likely to be more than worth it. Another complaint that I've heard is that these types of places don't want people sitting around "clogging" the tables during busy periods, though many people have found that it actually helps to bring in more people during downtime and most users don't want to stick around during the busy times anyway. That may not always be the case, but any of these places can easily put in place a policy saying people can only stay for a certain period of time if they're not ordering more food, rather than blocking the use of electricity completely.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2007 @ 11:05am

    Re: Proposal for the business owners

    Even better... start a business that sells individually switched outlets, network gateways, and interfaces with common POS system (both very do-able with netcat, x10 outlets, etc).

    Print a code on each receipt good for X mins of use. People can then a) continue to buy items to stay longer or b) pay a fee for wireless/power use.

    Now shops not only force people to not net/power squat for hours without purchase, but can get money for those who want to stay. Just don't force people to pay monthly fees, or bulk time, or charge $15/hr for network access...thats what makes people hate cafes.

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