Free Wi-Fi Problems

By Deane Barker on June 13, 2005

Cafes find Wi-Fi boom unsettling: Having free wi-fi in your cafe isn’t always a good thing.

[…] there was also a disadvantage, staff members said: The cafe filled up with laptop users each weekend, often one person to a table for four. Some would sit for eight hours purchasing a single drink, or nothing at all.

Even worse, when lingerers were confronted, they were bellicose. “We get yelled at by people who feel it’s their right” to use Victrola’s Wi-Fi without buying anything, Strongin said. Tony Konecny, the shop’s head roaster, added, “It’s rarely a pleasant interaction.”

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Comments

  1. I read about this too, and I can’t say I’m surprised. My guess is that most reasonable people wouldn’t make a big deal of it if they were confronted about freeloading. But if it were me, I’d tell the jerks who expect free connections that they can get a decent signal sitting in their car in the parking lot or on the sidewalk.

    If people want to squat on a connection like that and take up table space, the restaurant ought to be setting a minimum purchase, or that they order a fresh cup of coffee every hour or so. Most reasonable people would understand the need for a policy like that.

  2. Getting rid of total freeloaders wouldn’t be too hard. Hotels use wi-fi systems that require a special code to get in. Install one of those, then rig the register to print the codes at the bottom of every receipt. The codes could expire in two or three hours.

    I think it’s more than just the freeloading, though. I think a lot of coffee shop owners want to create an atmosphere where you can come and meet people and relax, and all the laptops are turning it into a de facto office center.

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