Laptops & Coffeeshops

Hmmm good question. I think yes and at 2 hours or so. I would say yes because ordering a single coffee and maybe a muffin doesn’t mean that the customer should be able to occupy a table and use the free Wifi for hours at a stretch. Can the coffee shop afford to let that happen? And what happens when more customers come in and they are unable to get a free table because this one person has set up camp at a table for the past 7 hours? That is a definite no-no and should be frowned upon. I wouldn’t blame the cafe owners if they asked the camper to leave. Actually, instead the person shouldn’t allow such a situation to happen and be more sensible.

Here in India, or atleast in my city, I only know of one cafe that offers free wifi. There used to be two but the other one, the more fancier & better cafe, had to close down well over a year ago. Now the reason that they closed is obvious to me. They were in a prime location, in a new exclusive mall where they rent for stores are at a premium, they were in one of the choicest sections, i.e right at the back which overlooks a walkway and the Arabian sea and the walkway is always filled with tourists & local at all times of the day. With all that higher end shopping (clothes, watches, perfumes, electronics, gadgets, gifts, music, dvds/blu rays etc etc) a tired shopper will naturally want a refreshing beverage & a bite to eat.

Even others who would just want a coffee and a sandwich/muffin/pastry found the place to their liking. It was a good location, the food & coffee was really good, they had free wifi – what happened? The staff kept letting their friends and some other idiots, hang around all day long with ordering just one coffee and that too the cheapest and let the watch cricket matches on the big screen tv. Me & the others – we’d spend atleast Rs.150-190 on a good frappe & sandwich, read a book or use the wifi on our devices and stay for an hour or 2 at the most. Not theses guys! Poseurs, loud mouthed idiots and only there to waste almost an entire day. How do I know that they were there all day? Because one day I saw them there at 11am when I came in and I passed by the cafe again at 3pm with a couple of friends – they were still there crowding around on several chairs and watching the tv. Later that same day at 7pm, I was strolling on the walkway enjoying the breeze with my friends and those guys were still there! Serves the staff right that they had to close!

My point is that several other customers were uncomfortable at the idea of a bunch of guys all ganging up around a table, making it difficult for others to move around, yelling out loudly at the tv. This isn’t a bar! So even if they weren’t using the wifi, they were occupying tables and their purchases didn’t reflect the time they spent there and also they made it hard for other paying customers to come in and bring more business to the cafe.

What I normally do – whether I take a book to read in the coffeeshops that I visit or a laptop to the current only one that offers free wifi – is I usually order a big coffee and a sandwich (in some cases a muffin) and I’m there for 2 hours at the most. It’s usually 90 minutes or even less but I think that’s fair for the price of the sandwich + coffee. At times I have finished my coffee quicker if I feel that the place is filling up and people will need a table. But that’s my opinion, I dunno about yours.

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