Starbucks Plugs Up Electricity For Some
Starbucks last month admitted that it has started covering some electrical outlets at some busy Starbucks coffee shops in New York City to discourage laptop users from overextending their stay while freeing up seats for others.
"Customers are asking (for it). … They just purchased a latte and a pastry and there is nowhere to sit down in some of these really high-volume stores," a Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz told Reuters.
He said the decision is made on a case-by-case basis by individual stores and he believes it is limited to some locations in New York City. Free Wi-Fi and offering free refills for card holders also extend stays.
"If this is what the store needs to do to support the business, then they’re allowed to make the decision to do that," Mr. Hilowitz said. "It really is all about the balance."
The socket blocks were first brought to light on the blog Starbucks Gossip, where some readers noted that outlets were being replaced with blank face plates. Not surprisingly, the internet was flooded with opinions on the merits of the move.
The actor who started the Starbucks Gossip entry said he relies on Starbucks to "refill both my belly and my smartphone’s battery" between auditions. He finds the new electricity rationing "disturbing" because it "would seem to run contrary to the company’s ‘Third Place’ philosophy." Starbucks has attributed much of its success to being looked upon by fans as the "Third Place" to hang-out after their home and work.
At ZDNet, blogger Zak Whittaker wrote that Starbucks has become "a wonderful alternative for students to the college library." And while he asserts that people shouldn’t stay for hours without making a purchase, "blocking off the power points seems to be a step in the wrong direction."
However, responding to the Starbucks Gossip entry under the headline, "Can’t please everyone," a purported eight-year Starbucks veteran said, "In certain extreme circumstances, where management have exhausted other avenues of resolution, stores have covered their outlets because people do abuse the ‘welcoming’ nature of Starbucks.’ "
Writing for The Stir, blogger Kim Conte thought the move was "completely fair," arguing, "Laptop loafers rudely hog all of Starbucks’ space, leaving little room for other customers to enjoy their coffee."
Reports on Starbuck’s move also noted that other cafes have been looking into limiting the times laptops can be used to free up seats, as well. Many Panera Bread locations, for instance, restrict the duration of free Wi-Fi to 30- or 60-minutes during peak hours.
- Busy NYC Starbucks block sockets to free up seats – Reuters
- Should Starbucks cover power outlets when "computer-parking" gets out of hand? – Starbucks Gossip
- Starbucks Pulls the Plug on Laptop Loiterers – The Stir
- Has Starbucks had enough of laptop loungers? – CNET
- Starbucks students, laptop loungers: Your days are numbered – ZDNet
- No More Perks: Coffee Shops Pull the Plug on Laptop Users – The Wall Street Journal
Discussion Questions: What should Starbucks do about laptop loungers? What limits, if at all, should be placed on time spent in each location?