The best one I've seen is the method where your receipt includes a WiFi code that is good for two hours after activation. That is plenty of time to get work done, and afterward if you want to continue working then you go buy another drink.
(The only problem for me is that I hate hate hate wifi portals. They all suck.)
From chatting with a few managers in the Santa Cruz area (not sure how representative a market it is), they didn't want to actually drive away the laptop crowd, because that provided the majority of their business for much of the day. To some extent they wanted to be a coworking type of space, because there's no other way to fill up a coffee shop in Santa Cruz or Capitola at 11am on a Tuesday in November. They just wanted the laptoppers to either keep buying stuff periodically, or else keep their visits somewhat reasonable (i.e. not 8 hours on one coffee).
A different place I used to work at  actually liked me staying around all day, whether I bought something or not, on days when it was mostly empty, because it helped give the impression that the place wasn't deserted. They did most of their turnover on tourists, though, so there was sort of an informal agreement that laptopping regulars should move along when the place was full (mostly weekends or summer afternoon/evenings).
edit: Of course, the appropriate response to this is that getting up every 30 minutes to walk around and stretch is good for health. Yes, I do debate with myself in my head...
If you're gonna be a hobo, at least try and be classy about it.
The people who aren't happy to pay for being there are the ones you don't want. Get this: There's a Starbucks near where I live that literally has a homeless guy in the same chair every day with a laptop. Guess how long he's been doing it? 3 years! It's insane. Have people pay, charge as much as the market will bear, problem solved. How are we even talking about this?
This seems like an interesting way to keep the incentives more aligned.
Personally, I wish there was a more socially acceptable way to just rent space at a coffee shop. I don't drink caffeine and I often need to find a place to crash for 2 hours which means either I buy a high calorie pastry/juice that I don't really need to be eating or I feel like an asshole the entire time I'm there. It'd be far easier for me if I could just drop $4 in a jar and have that cover my time.
10 years ago, I hanged out a lot in internet cafés, and loved it. There was definitely something cool about it: hanging out with tech-savvy people, using beastly machines on powerful internet connections, exploring the exponentially exploding internet, playing games, ... It was a very social experience, and I befriended a few other regulars there.
I do miss the ambiance of these cafés, and I wish that laptops, better internet connections (the days of 56k are long gone) and ubiquitous free WiFi hadn't killed that kind of business.
There's potential for a revival of internet cafés, though. Good Wifi, preinstalled docks for common laptops, smartly arranged space (to avoid spilling coffee on your precious laptop because you accidentally pulled a cable !) and a different pricing model, you could attract easily the horde of Starbucks and McDonald's "laptop hobos"...
Such a coworking space with external monitors and good coffee would be heaven.
Actually, the article mentions it:
>Owner Daria Volkova, 24, was inspired by similar cafes in Russia, where she is originally from.
I don't want to sound mean; it's just that Vanya Mitin did really exciting things here and a lot of copycats used his model (which is of course how market works). Kudos to Daria for mentioning where the idea comes from.
There is a place like that here in Stockholm. But it's $40 for a full day (250 kr, 8 hours) and $10 for a single hour. Your $4 would be good for 30 minutes or so. Rent is incredibly high in central areas in which coffee shops need to be located to attract customers and is the primary reason why their coffee is so expensive.
Unsurprisingly, this place is mostly deserted and all the laptop hobos camp out in the nearby restaurants and cafés. You can even see them during the lunch hours with their stupid iMacs, iPads and white earphones plugged in, pretending not to notice that all the other tables are occupied and there is a line to the cash register. Often they are sitting by themselves at the four or six-seater tables instead of smaller tables which steals even more space.
Not offering WiFi or putting time limits on it would make me feel unwelcome. Feeling unwelcome will make me not want to patronize said coffee shop the other 9 out of 10 times.
What's the secret sauce that makes Starbucks so successful? They made it a comfy place to hang out...the "3rd place" between home and work where you can go and feel welcomed. Schultz is always talking about it. Obviously, Starbucks is one data point, but I think there's something to it.
Of course, this is exactly what anyone familiar with the tragedy of the commons would have expected. Self-regulation is not nearly as common or as effective as many would have us believe. Those squatters could yield this quasi-public space to others and work from home. They choose not to, knowing full well that they are being selfish by over-consuming that shared resource. They probably even know that the free lunch will not last forever. Nonetheless they persist. The proprietors have no choice but to take matters into their own hands, protecting their own interest by setting and enforcing limits.
With the right hardware it would be easy to tell which MAC address corresponds to which seat, and of course the proprietor would know when the occupant last purchased anything. That information should be sufficient to do the right thing when seats run out. ;)
I'm not sure that Starbuck's or other coffee shops view their mission as providing for the needs of people with a place to sit for a few minutes while waiting for a friend.
> Those few are degrading the experience for many more, quite likely costing the store more than their own paltry consumption could justify (especially in a market with many alternatives).
I somehow doubt this. Most of the complaints I see is that people who want to do things other than purchase goods (i.e., use the coffee shop as a place to hold meetings or wait for people) feel that they are unable to do those things as effectbecause other people are doing things other than purchasing goods (e.g., camping out with their laptops.)
I don't see much reason to believe that there is a whole lot of impact one way or another on the stores' ability to actually sell coffee, snacks, or other goods.
Actually, that has been part of the coffee-shop value proposition as long as there have been coffee shops. It's why they have seats in the first place. They're selling comfort as well as coffee. Obviously those seats are supposed to be for those who have purchased something, but within that context the social-connection role has been part of the equation for far longer than the WiFi-connection role.
"I somehow doubt this."
Doubt and rationalize all you want. It won't change the facts.
Selling coffee is the mission. Providing a place to hang out -- whether for a few minutes waiting for a friend or for a longer time -- is something that may, for some shops, be a means to advance that mission. But I don't think its the mission, or even a core service. If it was, they'd be selling that directly.
> Doubt and rationalize all you want. It won't change the facts.
The unsubstantiated speculation that the people that are doing not-buying-coffee things that you don't like are worth less to the coffee shop than people (including you) who you feel are being blocked by them in your desire to do not-buying-coffee things that you do like is not in any way established to be part of "the facts".
For one, it saddens me that when I travel and need a place to drink coffee/eat a snack and catch up on email, I might be viewed as a "squatter" the minute I pull out a laptop...
I tend to camp out, or "squat," at coffee shops early in the mornings when they have very few customers anyways (true here at least, not in the states of course with more of a morning coffee shop culture). It's never really a problem because I'm gone before it gets busy, but I can see why there would be resentment.
Basically, if you are going to squat, don't go when its busy. Sometimes at night, for example, SBUX might be actually busy, but usually due to other squatters, so no guilt there.
I'm generally not affected by this myself, BTW. I don't go to coffee shops very often, and have only brought my laptop (sans power supply) a few times. The longest I've stayed has probably been a bit more than an hour. I've done more "squatting" at my local McDonalds, which has better WiFi and is practically empty in the mid-morning so nobody cares. However, I consider it a basic rule that if somebody else is waiting for something and you've had your turn then you should yield. If you don't feel that you've had your own fair turn yet, then by all means make the newcomer wait. No problem at all. This is only about the people who seem to feel that they're above that basic rule.
So what can we do?
In my opinion those people are making things worse for the shop and all decent customers, so just kick them!
But after years of "the customer is always right, many people have become so arogant that demanding acceptable behaviour from your customers will definitly kill your shop.
Really? And this is based on your experience running how many coffee bars?
Just today I was helping a friend with his resume, one who has started a couple of successful bars. The heart of what he had to say was about creating spaces for people to unwind, interact, meet, and just hang out. They were charging for the food and alcohol, but what they were selling was an experience.
Yes, it is a capitalist mechanism to justify $4-5 cups of coffee.
I'm not sure you get the concept of these coffee shops. When I pay a coffee more than 5 dollars, I am not paying for the 0.1 dollar that the coffee actually costs to make, I am paying for a place to sit as well and do something with my time. Be it 10 minutes or 3 hours, it does not matter. You are not paying for the coffee. I consider it part of the service. I know for once that if I can't stay in these coffee shops I wouldn't even consider paying that outrageous amount just for a drink.
This being said, I don't really like going to SB or places like that, but when I do I certainly don't for the drink only.
> I am paying for a place to sit as well and do something with my time. Be it 10 minutes or 3 hours
3 hours for 6$. This is 2$ an hour for your table. At this rate the coffeshop is loosing money.
It all boils down to the question:
Do you really think this is fair?
It's not for me to decide. Last I know, the coffee shop is still making tons of money, and that system works for them as well.
You're not being asked to decide on a corporate policy that you need to weasel out with such statements. The god damn question is simple, "Do you think this is fair?"
When you are in park do you bitch about people sitting on benches for too long?
I'm not asking for justification. You think it's fair, and I respect you for that. I may have a different opinion, and that's fine too! It's just that it seems dishonest to deflect a question like the politicians do.
2 of my favorite coffee shops (Filter and Peregrine in DC) are really small and constantly full of people working on laptops. I love the coffee but don't take guests or coworkers there because there are never open tables to sit and chat. I know other people who avoid them entirely because having sitting space is more important to them than the coffee itself.
People who stay for more than, say, an hour or two hurt turnover which is critical for smaller coffee shops that also serve food or snacks, whereas places like SBux make most of their money on people getting a quick morning fix, and can also afford bigger spaces.
I'd prefer if things bifurcated, big national chains that can afford the room offer wifi, smaller local places kill it to keep turnover up. I can see how it's a lose-lose for coffee shops having to choose one group or another. Some places turn it off after, say, 3pm which is a nice compromise.
Giving them codes that relate to the total cost of their receipt, so for example 1 coffee = 30 minutes, 2 = 60 so that way when you have a group you each get 30 minutes or something.
Now there is a good startup idea... ;-)
just charge for it... according to consumption (time)
I can't even count the number of times I went into a shop wanting to actually buy food (high margin item) and coffee and sit down for 40 minutes, but couldn't while one of the regular moochers took up a table with an empty for 3 hours coffee cup that he spent 2 bucks on.
(Escalated version: If they start complaining in an unfriendly way, mix your coffee with their laptop. Accidents happen in crowded coffee shops.)
| there are people who, day after day, do this for
| hours straight at the same coffee shops
I haven't seen it be as great a problem in SF or Manhattan, but that could be due to the relative distance of universities from the "interesting" parts of these cities. Berkeley does have this problem near Cal but that's to be expected.
90°, 100% humidity, no wind, mandatory suits.
what do you mean miserable weather?
Even so, if laptoppers had better manners, they'd take the worst seats first.
First come first served seems fair to me.
(I personally can't work in a coffee shop, but I'm not bothered by people who can.)
There are multiple definitions of fairness. FCFS might be considered a fair admittance rule, but not an occupancy rule. Consider processes in a computer system. Do we let one process hog the CPU indefinitely while others are waiting? No, most usable systems will context-switch when the current process exceeds its time quantum. "First in, first out" is usually a better rule for occupancy. Applied to coffee-shop seats, that would mean that people who haven't bought anything for a long time should lose their place to people who purchased something more recently. It's only fair.
The four tables on the right were singly occupied, as well as another wall-row of four tables behind the photographer. None vacated, and none ordered more during our time eating there. By my napkin calculation, we paid the cafe 10x what the coffee/laptoppers did.
They may tell you that those people consistently buy enough to justify their discount-Regus space and they may tell you that those nerdlings are holding tables for the groups of coworkers who rotate in on an hourly basis.
They may also have no idea that it's causing a problem because they see acceptable revenues.
Be more aggressive in asserting change and you'll feel a lot better. Just asking the staff or the shift manager will let you know if it's an easy problem to solve or if you should probably find a different place to hang out.
Coffee shops have become workplace annexes since at least the mid-1990s. I like to take meetings in them because the risk of being overheard regarding internal politics is reduced, it gets interviewees a chance to refresh while you get to know them, and frankly, we all need the walk sometimes. A cup of coffee is also a good unit of time. You may need to wait five minutes for it to cool to a drinkable temperature (I'm a quaffer), you'll take sips from time to time, and you'll eventually finish and have an understanding that something is at an end and a change should be made. In this case, it's throwing away your trash and de-assing the place. :-)
(And if someone has the iron butt to sit in those chairs in your photo for 4+ hours, the muscle and nerve soreness should be motivation enough to go someplace else.)
There's probably some price where the cafe would force people to move, but you haven't spent enough yet. I can't tell if you're mad at the cafe for not honoring you for spending money, or if you're mad at the people with laptops for existing.
I suppose, but my girlfriend and I were also eating brunch there. It's the only convenient place that serves both cucumber and capers with their lox bagel.
Serving both cucumber and capers with their lox bagels is not much of a defensible competitive advantage, but I guess the owner just needs to ride out customer churn until they hit their ipo and can punch their exit strategy... well...
Sit down with one of them, make a friend.
I suspect this wont actually happen, and also believe most of us only go to these establishments because a) they're everywhere / convenient, b) they let you sit there with a laptop and least importantly c) they have coffee
Good luck, i'll just go somewhere else.
Starbucks even gives you free refills on coffee (plain old brewed coffee, not any more expensive drink) if you pay with their combination prepaid/loyalty card. Clearly Starbucks seems to have no problem with you staying there for quite a while, so long as you do it often.
Maybe this is a real problem in inferior cities.
I operate much the same way, but now that I think about it I might be inclined to hang around for a moment if I could ever actually find a seat.
Here in DC, the coffee shop as office seems pretty common.
This would be beneficial for me. There's a really nice coffee shop in Brookline, MA (borders Boston and connects to the T) called Cafe Fixe. They make a great espresso. I try to go with my girlfriend every so often.
If I go there and there are no seats available, I leave without making a purchase. I know the same people sit at the tiny coffee shop for hours at a time. I'm sure the business lose hundreds of dollars (if not more) per week because seating isn't available.
This type of policy will probably help small specialty coffee shops more than the big chains.
I actually had a problem with certain starbucks in Beijing that don't have adequate heating in the winter...my feet are just hurting after 30 or so minutes. I've mapped out all the stores with decent AC and heat now, though I switch stores seasonally.
Locally in Atlanta I only see the problem get bad when school is in, then some of the various coffee shops become Apple show rooms. Its like a clique that has last longer than I expected, but I am a generation or two removed.
"He originally worried his decision would kill business, but he found his revenue went up about 30%."
If one of my local shops pulled this on me, they'd not only lose my business, but that of friends when I tell them about the experience. Perhaps this isn't a big concern (I'm not particularly important, after all). But if it happens with enough customers, it could be bad for business in a more broad sense.
You should also recognize that you're using the resource (rivalrous) of other patrons.
they'd not only lose my business, but that of friends when I tell them about the experience.
Nothing personal, but if what you're telling them is that it's a good shop because they let you hang out all the time while buying little (less than their normal sit-down turnover proportion), then it's probably better that all of you stay away. I mean, your friends probably aren't idiots and they know you're not recommending the shop because you can't stop drinking their coffee and eating their food.
What would benefit the shop the most is if you were going broke from spending so much money there, and I'm gonna guess that's not the message you're sending. Your tone is really more of the (prospective) freelance client who says the gig is going to be "good for your portfolio," so can you work for cheap this time?
Again, I don't know you so this can't be personal, and you very well may only be there for an hour a day. It would be interesting to see proponents of coffee-camping and their $/hr spend at the places they set up shop.
I usually only go for half a day (4ish hours), and I wouldn't be surprised if I pay less than the usual turnover rate over time. However, given my locale, it's not unusual for me to be one of the only people in the coffee shop for the majority of my time there. So I'm not really a rival for other patrons too often.
I guess the take-away point here is that blanket statements about laptop hobos is kind of a sensationalist sentiment. I am sure there are folks negatively effecting some coffee shops, and I am equally sure there are some positively effecting others.
If my coffee shop had pulled something like this, they would have lost a regular, paying customer. I kind of resent the "hobo" label.
Wow, what a word!
I'm probably a bit over-sensitive because I come from a country (Italy) where waiters and owners will basically tell you to sod off if you hang around a table more than one hour... which is probably why most cafes there never offered wifi in the first place.
Of course, that would also be a perfectly reasonable solution. It has the big advantage of being straightforward, directly addressing the actual problem without inconveniencing non-campers), and letting the customer know what the issue is, and it seems much more likely to work than any of these technical tweaks... (after all, you can easily use a laptop without wifi in many cases, or with a cellular modem, and some campers aren't using a computer at all)
Ideally they'd also apply such a policy thoughtfully, e.g., being more lax when the cafe is uncrowded, and letting you stay around longer if you were buying enough stuff. [After all, you're essentially renting space, and the appropriate price shifts up and down with demand]
Around here they explicitly put up signs saying they may ask you to leave if it's crowded and you've been there for a long time, but I've never, ever, seen that policy actually applied (and some people, mainly students studying, sit there for ages and ages nursing small coffee).
Personally, I'd also like it if they also gave one the option of straightforwardly renting space... sometimes I like to sit in a cafe, but don't really feel like drinking or eating anything...
It's definitely an interesting problem. Everyone has laptops, and coffee shops seemingly are not hurting for patrons anymore.
A hybrid system like what zipcar uses might work well. A small yearly membership rate (roughly £50/year) + reduced £15/day usage rate. Best of both worlds.
I found those “open spaces” enjoyable but not optimal for work. People mostly come there to spend their leisure time, and they tend to gather in larger groups and behave noisier compared to coffee shops. This can be distracting, although perhaps not if you yourself are with a group of coworkers. Sometimes such places host small-scale art events (I imagine they aren't very profitable otherwise), so you have to adapt to their schedule.
A library is a better place, when it has good Wi-Fi and is generally well-maintained.
Years of schooling have programmed me to think that the library is where you go to be serious about getting work done, and I'm often more effective there than if I sit at my desk at home.
But now they seem to be going out of business.
- Can't take phone calls.
- Can't meet co-workers.
- Can't get food.
- Terrible security.
Other points I personally regard as features that help me focus. If wanted to get some food, I'd go to a café. To meet someone in person or make calls, an open space (if there isn't any, a café) is a decent option. But if I want to concentrate on something for a couple of hours, I personally go to a library.
> "For centuries cafes have been places where people go to meet, trade gossip, network and otherwise come together informally, and some coffee shops are trying to encourage that social interaction again by taking action against the laptop hobos."
Anyone who has done a bit of history (or can find WP) knows that coffee-houses and pubs used to be places where people used to read, work, play games, and hang out for hours on end, whole days or evenings; every evening. Why? Because it saved money on not having to heat ones own living-room in winter...
Using a bit of electricity on top seems relatively minor in comparison...
(though a shift in the relative price of space and drinks/food likely explains the current issues...)
$60-80 coffee per 4 hours - x * $40 for four hours of a barista(s) - employee overhead - electricity - internet usage - business overhead - rent = < $0
Rent is the limiting factor in this model, you want to be in a high traffic area to get those customers but not have to pay ridiculous rent and still have a decently sized store. Not going to happen.
A) people will just go to the multitude of coffee houses that still offer unlimited WiFi
B) you're no longer a coffee house, you're an Internet cafe / temporary office space offering coffee. Big difference.
It seems like there is a middle ground which has not been explored, which is simply a more expensive coffee shop with more space, where you are allowed/expected to stay for long periods of time. I would pay for that.
You can call that an internet cafe if you want, but it wouldn't really be like any I've been to.
If I go to a shop and there are frequently no seats for whatever reason I will stop going there. If I need wifi for something and a shop doesn't offer it then I won't go there either. It's up to the coffee shop to decides how best to balance this for themselves. There are plenty of other coffee shops and I will go to the one that normally has space and has wifi and good coffee if at all possible.
If I'm ever at a coffee shop too long then a worker there can ask me to leave. I will happily pay my bill and leave. However I will likely never return to that coffee shop. This is up to the shop, if they need the seat more than my custom then I honestly have nothing against them and as I said, there are many more shops. (I have never actually been asked to leave a coffee shop however.)
I think any service, free or paid needs some sort of regulation from those who will take advantage of it. Having rules which state you need to be paying a customer and limit your stay to 30 minutes or whatever per order is probably the absolute maximum you require since its privately owned property. Having the rule covers your ass when you need it but doesn't require you to enforce it when traffic is slower.
There's this concept of "moderation" and things going over some limit etc.
That they added something (free wi-fi) to lure customers, does not mean they also want people taking it's use to an extreme (forgetting about the coffee, etc).
Similarly, that I needed a friend and made friends with some guy doesn't mean I would appreciate seeing him 24/7 around my place.
Hosted wifi networks always seem awful, If there was some way to super easily enforce a bandwidth and per-device time limit to discourage squatters without making the network impossible to use, that would be great.
I used to buy crap at Costco. Since they changed their
"100 percent satisfaction guarantee policy", I don't buy much anymore. I don't even think I will renew my card.
The worst thing a company can do is assume their customers
I know several Starbucks where people will spend 8+ hours sitting there with their laptop. There was even one guy that would be there from open to close 4-5 times a week! Some of these people would get agressive about which table was "theirs" or which outlet they used. (one guy was from another country and his power adaptor blocked the second outlet.)
Blocking the power outlets help, but a good MacBook will last 4-8 hours anyway. I'd hate to see the free wifi disappear because of a few bad apples.
As per usual moderation is probably the key. Around here lots of places give out wifi for 2 hour per drink. At least they keep you buying if you are going to sit and take up space and wifi. Seemed pretty fair to me. Most casual cases and meetings are well with in 2 hours so more cases are covered and the hobos get the boot or are forced to pay.
So, open question: What are good alternatives? (in SF)
-The libraries are full of actual hobos (i.e. they smell like piss)
-I researched coworking spaces awhile ago and most required an exorbitant subscription/startup/VC funding. Wix was awesome but then they pivoted into something else.
-Noisebridge is great for side projects and hanging out but I don't bring my professional work there.
Isn't that just because it was the default site in IE for Windows XP?
I'm lucky to have a coffeshop/arcade nearby. The owner wants you to stay, hang out, play games, read some comics. Sometimes I've gotten 3 drinks and food throughout the day. It's not a great study/work location especially when you get distracted watching someone else play a new game on the projection screen but the ample seating means no one walks in and goes "oh...well, guess I'm getting it to go"
However, I have seen some of the true hobos who are using it as an office, and taking up more than their share of space. It even happens at restaurants that will let you order only a coffee.
We seem to have a lack of public spaces in the USA. At least, public spaces that have wi-fi and power outlets which you don't have to rent by the hour.
If only there was a way to monitor bandwidth per attached wifi device and slowly limit it for devices attached for a very long time. Why can't they do something like this using a $50 WRT54G and the Tomato firmware? Just turn the QoS setting on and put everyone in a very low bandwidth class. You don't need a perfect solution (like giving 50MB per coffee).
Don't stream or download huge files, be courteous.
Putting codes on receipts that die after a half hour or so is the best possible solution to me.
"Used to project," being the key phrase there. It seems that based on the attitudes of coffee shop owners, we're entering a post-internet era. Are people finally starting to again realize (as they once did in the early 90s) that being antisocial in public is simply not cool? I tend to think we've evolved with understanding as a basic part of our subconscious. We see a person engaged in antisocial behavior in a public places, and we tend to think less of that person. It would seem that our innate beliefs are once again rising to prominence.
A typical MacBook Pro will last you 6-7 hours with screen at low brightness. Newer Airs do even better. Ditto for iPads, etc. Plus many of tablets/netbooks come with a built-in LTE service.
A more sustainable solution would seem to be better equipped spaces. Someone kept going off on people taking tables that would seat two-four others. While the comments themselves illicit no sympathy from me (especially about spending 10x), there is a good point made that if we developed etiquete of providing and using laptop-specific seating, it would ease some of the congestion. Just a thought...
He claims to have the fastest web server on the planet. It'll do about 160km/hour.
Although I'm sure next will come the claims that an open Wifi network, rather than a mere administrative convenience, is an "invitation".
When they renovated the store, they changed it so they have "bar" desk facing the two sides of the store facing the window with plenty (pretty much every seat) and also some in the very middle section of the seat.
What I have been observing is that people who need power for their laptop tend one of those seat -- while some people do use laptop in other seats, they are more transient.
Of course given this is all given there are enough space to do this type of arrangement, but sometimes these approach of actually manipulating behavior rather than being prohibitive is one approach those places can take.
Also, if you have Clear or tethering you don't need WIFI to get online. I have Clear and it's been fun to find new places to work. (I just wish Clear had better coverage maps.) So why be a "hobo" at one location when you can work at several locations?
As far as limited space, this is not really an issue unless you live in a big city. If you're in NYC, you're elbow to elbow like sardines all day long everywhere you go, is this really news to anyone? If you don't like it, move somewhere less crowded.
A while ago I had to work from a coffee shop for one day and while the chair I was sitting on was comfortable for 3 to 4 hours, my back and arms really started to ache after that time. The next day I still felt it.
This would solve the problem: regular laptop hobo's will not use your shop because it will not be comfortable to work there, while customers that are there to socialize are there for a short amount of time anyway.
I think it's a fair solution, and it reminds me of how some restaurants will adopt policies to ban children from the premises for similar reasons.
Portable hotspot all-day batteries (e.g: Macbook Air's) are two examples of bypassing such restrictions. Forbidding the use of laptops sounds more convincing. But that should be enough to trigger some sort of segregation anyway. Not a slick move.
For me, it is frustrating to be at this cafe at peak laptop hours and I think it causes people to churn in and out. So, I try to only use my laptop there when there are fewer laptop users at the cafe. I think this is a good psychological effect for the cafe to impart on its customers!
What people like us are looking for is not a cup of freshly-brewed black coffee (although that definitely adds to it) but a social space with stable & fast internet. Something that is a crossover of a coffee shop and an open workspace.
My personal opinion about MAC address filtering though, if they become the norm, everyone will start using a piece of software that changes MAC address periodically... (As it's already trivial to change your MAC address...)
Coffee shops that actually serve good coffee tend to drive away people who want to sit quietly with their computers - they have too much business.
i can't remember the last time i sat in a coffee shop just to chat for 20 minutes. i am in, and out, because EVERY single one is filled with laptop 'workers'. even the $15 exotic coffee place that looks like a meth lab is filled with hipsters on their laptops.
i live in santa monica, this is definitely a recent phenomenon - i used to be able to walk into a bean or bux and grab a table for a few minutes, like... 3 years ago
Then there's the other sort, the "hobos." They bring a ton of crap, (I saw one guy haul a fricken printer into a Starbucks) it's even chances on whether they'll order something or not, get angry at the drop of a hat, and you get the distinct feeling like they don't have / can't afford Internet at home.
The thing about the latter is, they tend to have older laptops whose batteries can't hold a charge. Guaranteed they won't have 4G devices. So removing the power outlets is probably the easiest and best solution to the problem. You'll keep the good sort from being able to stay all day, but if the problem is really that bad, the well-heeled wouldn't want to stay anyway due to the atmosphere being created by the hobos.