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Coffeehouses fight back against Wi-Fi squatters

Should Coffee Shops have limits on free WiFi?
Should Coffee Shops have limits on free WiFi?
flickr/Kevin H

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Cafes and coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi are dealing with an unpleasant side effect: the Wi-Fi squatter. They're people who come into the shop loaded down with iPads and laptops and work for hours without spending more than a few dollars on a cup of coffee.

Cafes that offer Wi-Fi are trying to attract customers with an added perk, but some are now re-thinking the value of having Internet access. Swork Coffee Bar in Eagle Rock used to offer free, unlimited Wi-Fi.

But when freeloaders starting parking curbside and using it without even buying anything, they switched to a purchase-required policy. New York's aptly-named Café Grumpy has banned laptops in four out of their fives cafes.

So where do you draw the line on Wi-Fi etiquette? How long do you feel comfortable sitting at a coffee shop without buying anything? How much do you feel you need to spend to stay for hours using their Wi-Fi? If you own or work at a café: Does it bother you when people buy the cheapest thing there and hang out for hours? Would you continue to go to a coffee shop that didn't have Wi-Fi?


Patricia Neale, owner, Swork Coffee Bar in Eagle Rock, California