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Beginning of a Trend? Coffee Shops Restricting Laptop Use



coffeeshoplaptopThe corner coffee shop has become almost a symbolic home away from home   for mobile warriors, students, and those who don’t have an office. But there might be the beginning of a trend that might change that according to the Wall St. Journal.

Apparently some coffee shops are restricting the hours that you can use a laptop or requiring laptop user to share tables (God forbid!) and covering up electrical outlets in order to keep customers moving in and out, especially during the busier lunch hours. It’s all about turnover for the coffee shop owner and on many levels that makes sense, given that we know that some folks set up shop for the entire day at the local caffeine palace.

I’m not a coffee shop regular given my work and lifestyle so I haven’t seen this locally here. But how about you? Is your favorite coffee shop starting to restrict laptop usage?



  1. Suzanne @2020nexus

    08/06/2009 at 8:01 am

    I don’t know about my local coffee shops but Panera Bread restaurants cut you off during busy times after half an hour. I try to always buy a meal and always work during slow times in sign of good faith, since they are giving me free wifi and I go there often.

  2. Clayton

    08/06/2009 at 8:07 am

    The only local coffee shop around here is Starbucks. I think last time I checked you had to at least purchase a gift card to use their wifi, and if not that you have to have an AT&T (I think) account.

    Good thing I hate Starbucks. Chick-fil-a for the win.

  3. Rob

    08/06/2009 at 8:34 am

    I blame James Kendrick for ruining it for the rest of us ;-)

  4. FriesWithThat?

    08/06/2009 at 8:55 am

    Barnes & Nobles just announced they’ll be offering free wifi. Though, electrical outlets are scarce.

  5. GoodThings2Life

    08/06/2009 at 9:13 am

    Can’t say I’ve seen this either… oh wait, it’s because I actually spend my day in an office, lol. My bad. :)

  6. Philip Ferris

    08/06/2009 at 11:51 am

    Over here in Cornwall, in the UK, a couple of years back Costa Coffee trialled free wifi and I didn’t notice a time limit, I don’t need to use them often but when I tried recently I found there was a 30 minute limit.

    My “local” Starbucks on a major road junction called Chiverton (for any UK readers) has been open 6 months and is only getting wifi tomorrow.

    I have a theory that throttling occurs in other free wifi locations but that’s anecdotal mainly.

  7. Ronald A. Dowty

    08/06/2009 at 12:19 pm

    First if you go to place like Panera on a Sunday after church and take up a booth you’re a jerk. But in the evenings the place is a ghost town and they’d love to have you hang out all night drinking $4 coffees. What they should say is don’t take up a booth during busy times, don’t buy one cup of plain joe and get free refills for hours at a time. But even that second item really doesn’t hurt their business as long as its during a non-busy time. Most coffee shops aren’t so packed that they can’t find a place for a customer with the exception of the local Starbucks which has seating for about a dozen people at most.

  8. Flash

    08/06/2009 at 4:35 pm

    There’s a difference. You consider it free wifi. The coffee shops don’t.

    Pay to stay.


  9. Fx

    08/06/2009 at 7:22 pm

    Well, I have to be sympathetic to the coffee shop’s point of view. If all their tables are occupied by laptop-toters who buy only one or two cups of coffee over a six-hour period, it totally wrecks their business model.

    But such ‘customers’ need not despair…. there’s always the local McDonalds! And their premium coffee ain’t half-bad! :)

  10. Stephen Shelton

    08/08/2009 at 12:19 am

    Before I moved from Maryland to Texas I did notice 2 major changes in the way our local Panara and Carabu Coffee did business.

    First- they are both located in the same strip shop in Huntvalley MD. inbetween them is a Gamestop.

    During April & May just before I left town, I noticed that the Panara stopped all downloading of content. They only allowed you to surf the web with not download ability. Wether it be an itunes song, an e-mail attachment or a digital game from Sony’s own PSN. Nothing! You could however stay logged in for as long as you wanted just no downloading.

    As for the Carabu Coffee (not spelling that right) they began restricting what sites you could visit! They were getting hammered by the gamestop employees on their off time getting together in the store to do AdHoc Phantasy Star for the PSP and taking up all of their chairs for hours. I would go in and purchase some snacks and a drink so that I could do some surfing. I was prevented from going to any major games sites web address as it was now restricted content. What the Hell, Am I in China or something! since when is electronic news restricted? Ign, gamespy, cnet, gamefaqs, gamespot, gottabemobile, etc. all restricted now. Yet I could log onto the PSN network and buy a digital title or go to Itunes and purchase stuff. What a load of crap! They figure that if you are interested in doing some surfing for game news that your a deadbeat and arn’t purchasing anything.

    I stopped purchasing from them and whent to my local McDonalds to do my surfing. Restricting tech news I felt was a total vialation of my constitutional rights as a consumor and they had no right to selectively choose what I can and can’t view from thier wifi.

  11. Anonymous

    10/27/2010 at 3:06 am

    Interesting article pretty though provoking.

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