Due to the economic downturn, many New York coffee shops are pulling the plug on laptop use by their customers. Some are limiting hours that laptops are allowed to be used, others are locking down the electric plug-ins.
So what is the problem? With so many people on unemployment, coffee shops are filling up with people who are using too much table time and buying too little product. Some patrons are bringing their own tea bags and asking for “hot water” at the coffee shops. Others are bringing sandwiches from home. All of this adds up to coffee owners struggling to keep their doors open, even if the place is packed with bodies.
“You don’t want to discourage it, it’s a wonderful tradition,” says Naidre’s owner Janice Pullicino, 53 years old. A former partner in a computer-graphics business, Ms. Pullicino insists she loves technology and hates to limit its use. But when she realized that people with laptops were taking up seats and driving away the more lucrative lunch crowd, she put up the sign. Last fall, she covered up some of the outlets, describing that as a “cost-cutting measure” to save electricity.
Norm Elrod was “devastated,” he wrote on his blog — called “Jobless and Less” — when he spotted “little plastic covers on the electrical outlets, secured with little padlocks” at Espresso 77. “But I knew why they had done it. I used to be one of the abusers,” Elrod confesses on his blog, “sipping a two-dollar cup of coffee in a to-go cup for hours.” He now tries to spend more while he is using the coffee shop’s internet service.
Some shops are charging for internet connection to combat this growing problem.
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