A coffee shop in New York City has a sign that says that no laptops are allowed between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekends, unless the customer is eating and typing at the same time. That’s fairly interesting. You can read about it in the WSJ.

I don’t think there are many shops in the valley that have this problem, except maybe at Lux, which is usually filled with laptop surfers day in and day out. What do you think? Have you ever had a problem finding a table? What’s polite etiquette for laptop users?

Arizona Coffee

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  1. Frank

    I think that as long as they have purchased something or continue to purchase something, then it’s first come first serve.

  2. I think that laptops, cellphones, and other electronic games oughta be in a small room with smokers. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be using your laptop at a cafe, just that you should find a dark, dank, corner, away from all the ‘real’ people to do such things.
    Remember when it was possible to strike up a conversation with someone at a cafe?

  3. Just today I struck up a conversation with someone in line at Cartel.

  4. I think that coffee shops are getting too bold and are forgetting their place in the world. It is to provide a beverage to a paying customer. And if there is seating then it is to provide a place to sit. If they offer wifi then offer it. If they don’t then don’t. All of these rules and regulations about when and how laptops can be used are rediculous. All of these rules about how I can order my drink or sweeten my drink are over the top. I am getting kind of tired of it actually.

    A shop that is busy stays busy. There is something about the draw of people to people. If you have people who have purchased a drink sit down for the entire day and use your wifi then count it a favor to your business that they are helping you look full. If there are no seats then you can mention something but that isn’t likely in most cases.

  5. Rules are put in place every time someone ignores common sense and good manners. If everyone observed polite manners and common, unselfish decency, we wouldn’t need rule one.
    Are you understanding why all the rules? When I went to bring some friends to murky coffee in Arlington, there were six of us. Every. single. table. in the place was taken by someone with a laptop. Most of them had one person at them. Even upstairs. It sucked.
    If folks could be entrusted to behave themselves in public, we would be truly free. I really could’nt imagine a laptop user that had finished his coffee getting up for any other reason than he wanted to leave, much less that he wanted to provide someplace for a group of cafe goers to sit.

    And good on ya Chris, yer part of a dying breed, brother!

  6. Jon illy

    Its the owners funereal!
    when I take my laptop to my local shop, I respect that I using up their WIFI, Power, and Space. I tip more generously and tend to have a few more drinks. ok, it might not be coffee so I might get tea. as for “Psyd” idea for another room for us WIFI’s wouldn’t bother me, I do understand that it pisses off owners when a 15 year old comes in trying to order a non-coffee drink and then games all day,, That makes me mad!!! lets respect our local shops to keep them in business and get corporate crap coffee CO’s out.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  7. Partial solution:

    Each receipt gets a code to redeem on the wifi login page for an hour, or whatever, of internet time. Codes expire that amount of time from purchase, again, say after an hour.

    Patrons who want more internet time would have to make another purchase.

    Unfortunately, coffeehouse culture is pretty much dead thanks to wifi.

    Some of us were lucky enough to have grown up at the coffee shop before it became everyone’s Office away-from-the Office. But that old-time vibe ain’t never coming back, because you can’t make money selling coffee if you don’t also offer the internet.

    Oh well, it was a good time while it lasted.

    Now we’re stuck with this (and I’m as guilty as anyone else of this sort of thing)

    [Techno Tuesday comic link below. Safe for work]

  8. SK

    Some way shape or form i agree with many of the scenarios here…as an owner I want the traffic to support whats necessary to pay the bills, however I dont want what i call “campers” where reciprocity is invisible! I do have what Brandon Menc stated, a wifi code that lasts for an hour, this essentially places the customer at my register each hour to request a new one and the common courtesy to purchase something else.
    What i guess is a discrepancy in the “rules” is whats the difference between the guy who sits at a table reading a book, newspaper or magazine and the guy who is working on his laptop? I may be out of place here but as I learn to be an owner and coffee connoisseur I want to try and do my best to please most of my customers.

  9. I don’t enter a coffee shop without my labtop. I buy product, keep to myself, but am always willing to chat up a fellow customer. If that’s not good enough there is always another location.

    But I do hate labtop users who skype or watch videos without headphones. But again there is always another place to visit.

  10. The late Bill McCauley had it right at the short-lived Daily Buzz. He had a separate comfy little section reserved for laptop users. I believe his plan also was to eventually install a couple of PC’s for customers to use in that section. Of course, a set-up like this takes up more area, and extra area isn’t cheap nor always available. If it is, then have a separate area for it.

    To SK – Reading a book or using a laptop really is no different, the person’s still parked. Referring back to Austin’s post, it really comes down to whether or not the shop is busy…..if not busy, is it better to have a couple of squatters than a completely empty cafe? Maybe. On the other hand, I used to quit going to a certain Peet’s in the San Diego area because of……..one laptop or book-reading squatter per table (plus the coffee quit being fresh roasted). Drove me nuts.

  11. Sean

    We offer no wifi. We have ample seating to accomate if we did and have had several customers claim they would use my place as an office if I had wifi, thats really not healpful to a restuarant/wine bar/coffee house. But we set our shop up to encourage people to meet and talk not to come alone and hide behind the web. Really do you need to spend that much time surfing the internet? In two years of business I can say we are so happy with the decision NOT to offer wifi.

  12. SK, the diference, mostly, with laptop users and book/mag/newspaper readers are that they are quiet. Still a little rude to buy a coffee and consider it rent on a fourtop for an hour and a half, but as long as they’re buying quiet, and considerate, I don’t care what they do. The problem becomes, (as noted) when there are twelve tables and they are all occupied by one single individual writing their thesis, surfing porn, playing WoW, blogging for Palin, doing what they should be doing at their office, and chatting in date-rooms.
    Forty-eight seats being held hostage by a dozen wannabe hackers. If they’d even consider sharing a table when a small group comes in I’d probably think differently. So far, I’ve never seen it happen.
    I do have to say that I’d have to smash something if someone was skyping at the next table while I was having a chat. That, or using a cell phone. If you let people be rude, rude becomes the new acceptable.

  13. SciTeach3

    It is because of the wifi that I hang out at coffee shops – to me they go hand in hand. I am a school teacher and actually do all of my grading at various coffee shops around town in between surfing the net and listening to music. I always purchase products and I never take up more than a single place at a table.

    I do spend a lot of time at Lux and it is pretty funny how the place can be packed by nothing but internet surfers. I saw a post here saying that laptops are killing the coffeehouse culture – well this is a culture all to itself as well.

  14. I wonder if it would feel the same way if I bought a coffee at an internet cafe, sat down and checked my e-mail, and then spent the next hour and a half sipping at my coffee taking up the space.

    One space at a table (for most folk) means that the whole table is occupied. If you’re OK with a handful of friends sharing the table, talking and laughing (or are their single tables?( I guess it really doesn’t matter.
    Like I said, as long as you’re buying, quiet, and considerate, it really doesn’t matter.

    It’d be great if cafes had an ‘internet area’. Picnic style benches with a small raised are for the laptop, lotsa plugs, and perhaps even a handful of RJ-46 connectors for those that don’t Wi.

    I have no issue with internet surfers, or folk that work at the local cafe. Heck, if I could work in a cafe, I probably would, too. It’s those with a sense of entitlement and no manners that I take issue with.