The trend of Starbucks and other cafes limiting wi-fi access to paying customers in high-traffic markets such as Manhattan isn’t necessarily applying to medium-sized markets. According to a recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report, most Starbucks, Panera and independent cafes are still allowing customers to enjoy free wi-fi without time limitations.
“Whether they stay for 10 minutes or five hours … we think it builds loyalty,” Ken Zeff, owner of the Cultural District-based Crazy Mocha Coffee Co. chain, told the paper. “As long as they buy something, we don’t put a time limit on them.”
Such policies benefit customers like Travis Jacobson, a currently unemployed 26-year-old who told the Tribune-Review that looking for jobs online at local coffee shops is cheaper than paying monthly internet and cable bills.
“I can’t afford cable Internet, so this is it for me,” the college graduate said. “In the end, it’s cheaper for me to (pay for) a latte or two a few days a week than $100 or so each month (for cable).”
A spokesman for Starbucks told the paper that a handful of its Manhattan locations have been restricting wi-fi access to paying customers, but that none of its 21 Pittsburgh locations have followed suit.
The full story: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review