It’s 2:33pm on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve been holed up all weekend and I want to get out. My brother asks to hang out. After going a few places, we stop at Starbucks. An afternoon caffeine pick me up, ya know? Anyways, the store doesn’t look to busy as we walk in, the line isn’t long and there seem to be some tables left.
Surprise. After getting our coffees, we try to find a good table and come up at a loss. The inside is packed and the only ones available are on the outside patio where the weather is currently a windy 55 degrees. Not too cold, but enough to not be comfortable.
Guess who’s occupying all of the tables inside? Wi-Fi Leeches. Eight of the nine tables have people sitting with laptops at them, browsing away. Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. A few of the people seem to be doing actual work. Although most are not. From what I can see, two people are watching videos (probably through Netflix or something), a couple more are on Facebook and Twitter. One girl is intensely staring at her laptop, looking at Pinterest and writing down some of what she sees.
Can these people be considered “Wi-Fi leeches” or are they just people who are using the complimentary service provided to them after purchasing a beverage/snack? Public Wi-Fi is mainstream. It’s everywhere now. Starbucks, McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Panera Bread, and more offer free wifi (as long as you purchase something). Heck, even airplanes now have wifi (albeit with a price tag).
Why do people use it so much though? It seems normal to sit in a coffee shop for maybe 30 minutes or an hour and use the wifi, but three hours, four, five…? I remember going into Starbucks when I was younger and–get this–there were seats available to sit down at. People would sit down, read their newspaper, drink coffee and leave after 30 minutes or so. Times have changed.
Although skeptical at first, Starbucks began offering free, limited wifi in 2008 and then free, unlimited wifi in 2010. Other businesses began following suit and public wifi became commonplace and expected by consumers.
Is using public wifi for hours on end bad? Probably. If you order a coffee and sit down for hours, using your laptop, you’re taking away a table that new customers can use. Although I’m guilty of using free wifi at places like Starbucks to do work for a few hours. However you look at, there are a few rules people should follow for proper coffee shop etiquette.
1. Consolidate your stuff
Don’t be that person that has all of your stuff scattered across the table and chairs. Do you really need to spread out all of your work over the table and have your power charger strewn across the walkway? No, you don’t.
Only bring what’s necessary and make sure your laptop has a full charge before coming to the coffee shop. Stop taking up unnecessary space with your jacket, backpack, purse, and so forth.
2. Don’t hog power outlets
I went to this one coffee shop where they had a big community style table among the other smaller tables. The big community table was big enough to sit about four people comfortably. It had a four plug wall outlet. When I walked by the table, there were three people sitting at it, two of them appearing a little disgruntled. The other guy at the table was occupying three of the four plugs. He had his phone plugged in, laptop plugged in, and some type of power pack or something plugged in. Seriously dude?
*Bon Qui Qui voice* “Rude!”
3. No Phone Calls
Unless you’re famous, no one wants to hear your phone calls to your business partner, co-worker, mom, dad, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Stop. It’s alright if it’s a quick one minute call but when you’re on the phone for minutes on end, for the whole coffee shop to hear, it gets annoying.
4. If you’re in an independent coffee shop, make sure to buy something every hour or so.
Support your local coffee shops, be a good, non-freeloading customer. You could maybe apply this rule to Starbucks, but they seem to be doing fine considering they always seem to have a steady line of cars in the drive-through and a line inside.
5. Nobody wants to hear your music
Put in headphones and make sure the headphones volume is low enough so that the people around you can’t hear it blasting out.
All in all, practice courtesy at the coffee shop. Share power outlets, buy more coffee or food if your going to be there a few hours, and don’t hog space.