Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

Summary: 'Laptop loungers': those who stay in Starbucks all day with their laptops plugged in, may not be able to if the coffee company has its way.

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Sitting with a freshly brewed coffee, on a warm, cosy yet oddly slightly sticky armchair, covered in stains and smelling like a cattery, laptop plugged into the wall and sipping gently as you whack out the last few hundred words of that all-important mid-term paper.

We've all done it. I thought that was what Starbucks was for?

But perhaps not for much longer.

(Image via Flickr)

Some busy Starbucks outlets in New York City are discouraging laptop users from plugging in as they sip their venti, by blocking power sockets and freeing up spaces for other customers.

It's an odd concoction considering it was around this time last year that Starbucks started rolling out free AT&T powered Wi-Fi to its customers. All but every Starbucks coffee shop with seats available have wireless internet access for purchase and to browse the web with.

Though no announcement has been made by Starbucks on the wires, many have taken it as an indication that users should use only their laptop batteries for browsing the web, finishing off that essay or sending that 'all important accounts document to Phil back at head office' -- so they can push off, sooner rather than later.

But for students -- this wonderfully niche market of younger people, in particular -- there is nothing better than escaping from the college library to enjoy a coffee made at ones behest, to sit and work in comfort away from the stresses of campus.

While wireless internet should not necessarily be free, nor should users simply sit down and sponge off it without making a purchase from the shop itself, blocking off the power points seems to be a step in the wrong direction.

Granted, Starbucks is not an internet café, but it is has a culture for which many come in and sit and work. This just sends out the wrong message and without any explanation from a press release, frankly it just looks rude.

Maybe there should be a one coffee per hour loyalty card scheme. Having said that, more than one coffee per hour for me, and I'd be bouncing off the walls.

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Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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76 comments
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  • It does get abused

    I have seen people literally set up a mini-office at Starbucks taking up an entire table that two or three customers could be using.
    oncall
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @oncall
      I totally agree with you.
      Ram U
    • Agreed

      @oncall and do so for hours on end. Not good for other customers and not good for business.
      Nihon8888
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @oncall You are absolutely right ... people abuse the privilege.
      Ravi100
    • Message has been deleted.

      neilpost
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @oncall Seen it, and it's annoying. Granted I have taken up a big chair to code in a borders or a starbucks before, but I always try to buy atleast a few drinks if I do... Like maybe about a drink every hour and a half.
      snoop0x7b
    • That annoys me as well.

      @oncall The worst part about it is there is nothing about Starbucks that is conducive to work. You have a bunch of conversations going on around you, orders being placed, the steamed milk machine. How can anyone get anything done much less sit there and endure that for long periods of time. If you want to work go to work if you want to play go home if you want to drink coffee and browse the internet FOR THE DURATION OF YOUR COFFEE then go to Starbucks but don't live there. From Starbuck's standpoint even if you buy a drink every half hour as one commenter mentioned you're still killing their bottom line. Food service establishments make money in volume transactions. That means filling seats and then emptying seats in a quick efficient cycle. If you are taking up several seats then you would have to purchase more than just a piddly little coffee to every half hour to make up for the money you are costing them, not to mention the additional power cost from you plugging into their wall sockets. If it was me I'd limit connections to thirty minutes at a time, period. Just the amount of time one needs to drink a Grande Macchiato and get the hell out for the next customer to come in and spend their money.
      Str0b0
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @oncall They're called "Lifehacker readers".
      jgm@...
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @oncall - A) I don't share my table with anyone I'm not with, no matter how big the table is.
      B) Starbucks charges an absolutely obscene amount for their kiddy-coffee. I have no sympathy for them thinking they're the one's getting screwed.
      hiraghm@...
  • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

    I agree with oncall, they should rather encourage these kids to sit together...

    My wife and I were in a starbucks yesterday and at that time there were three USF students sitting at different tables... This was not an issue until they all started walking over to each others tables to ask about the materials in the book! Why take up 6 seats when you guys know each other and are obviously studying similar materials!
    slickjim
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @Peter Perry
      +1.
      Ram U
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @Peter Perry Agreed. I stop in about once a week to get my frappachino fix and I'm usually there long enough for me to pay for it and them to make it but even if I wanted to stay (usually I'm on my way to work scheduled OT and the frap is my treat) I'm not able to due to the various laptop loungers hogging the tables...

      Hiding the receptacles is not really the answer either IMHO as that has the potential to alienate customers who are not guilty of table hogging but may have a need to plug in for a bit.
      athynz
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @Peter Perry They should build web-based ordering into their hotspot login page. After an hour, place an order or wifi shuts off. 5 minutes later, a pierced and tatt'd up barrista shows up with your triple expresso shot mocha frappacino (with soy milk) and you get another hour.

      Most of the squatting hipsters would happily re-up and continue their earth shattering life's work (i.e. coordinating with their friends via Facebook and Twitter where they should "check in" to that evening for their regularly scheduled PBR consumption) [url=http://www.thecharlotteroofers.com]roofers in Charlotte NC[/url]
      baconman84
  • If you did this sort of stuff on your favorite file sharing

    site, you'd be banned as a leech.
    fr_gough
  • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

    blocking the plugs would work.
    skyoneder
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @skyoneder unless they use Apples, which batteries last for hours and hours
      PeterZ1959
      • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

        @PeterZ1959
        I have a Toshiba netbook (NB505) with 8.5 hours of battery life. If you must work for a long period of time and you just have to do it at starbucks, get a vantage parking slot and slave away!! Just another idea??
        eargasm
  • Someone will always abuse the system.

    Someone will always abuse the system. Close all the outlets and make them use there own batteries. Also if they don't have a fresh cup of coffee then its time to move on unless the place is clearly not busy.
    Stan57
  • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

    A large number of wankers will be disappointed, most people will either not care or actively rejoice.

    Starbucks coffee is awful anyway.
    OffsideInVancouver
    • RE: Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered

      @OffsideInVancouver

      Sbucks coffee is pretty terrible.
      snoop0x7b