Wifi Coffee Shops – Customer Drain and the Cost of Generosity
I’m writing this post at what used to be one of my favorite wifi coffee shops in San Francisco. I won’t name the spot, because while I don’t foresee myself continuing to patronize it, I do hope for its continued success.
I’m quite oppinionated when it comes to offering wifi at coffee shops. In a nutshell, if you want my patronage, you damn well better have free wifi. I don’t often spend my Saturday mornings at Starbucks or Peet’s for this particular reason. While both companies offer free wifi sometimes, I’d rather they just not have any at all versus trying to make me pay for on our via t-mobile or some other third party. It makes me feel taken advantage of.
The coffee shop I’m sitting in right now actually does have free wifi, and this is one of the reason it used to be my favorite (they also make a fantastic tuna salad sandwich with gold fish crackers on the side!). So what’s changed?
These signs were at every table:
These signs aren’t unreasonable, and are actually pretty courteous. So what’s the problem? Well, for the shop, the problem is that people were abusing the wifi, taking up seats for hours at a time, and not buying much. But the bigger problem is that this place used to be packed with “Wi-Fi Folks” on the weekends, and right now, there’s only two patrons in the shop. I’m the only one with a laptop.
As polite as these signs are, they’ve basically told the bulk population of weekend customers that they’re not welcome. I almost didn’t even want to take my laptop out of my bag and become one of these trouble makers (despite the fact that I will purchase at least 3 americanos, said tuna sandwich, and possibly a slice of pie).
I feel bad. This place used to bustle. I’d get here as early as possible and still have to jockey for a seat. Now, I can have my pick. Good for me, not for them. I feel worse though, because I don’t know how else they should have broached this issue with their customers. Free wifi, in my opinion, is one of the best ways local coffee shops can compete with the chains. What are they supposed to do when this kind of generosity is no longer economically viable?
Has anyone out there had a similar experience? Patrons, wifi coffee shop owners, I’d love to hear your take on this.Explore posts in the same categories: food, san francisco