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Pretty much, if you go into any Starbucks in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, or South End, you’ll find just about every seat taken by a college student reading a book or using a laptop. Actually, no, you’ll find half the seats taken by college students; the others are taken by their books, coats, and feet (more often than not, bare).

About 50% of the time, a Starbucks cup or evidence of food cannot be found. Twenty percent of the time (rough estimate) you’ll see a Dunkin’ Donuts cup or bottled water brought in from 7-Eleven.

Well, Starbucks has only itself to blame. I’ve never seen any customer asked to leave or anything like that.

In fact, Starbucks encourages people to lounge around. Just make sure you’re not caught napping. Otherwise, free reign.

There’s no way this pays off – I don’t think it increases sales. In fact, I think it reduces sales – plenty of times, people walk in off the street, see that no seats are available, then walk out. (Fortunately, there are 45 other Starbucks within walking distance …).

Well, it will only get worse, because now Starbucks is going to offer you free Wi-Fi to go along with your two-hour stay …

From the Times:

Starbucks announced today it will give most any customer two consecutive hours a day of free Wi-Fi access. Specifically, that offer applies to anyone who uses its prepaid Starbucks Card at least once a month. That represents as many as 60 hours of access for the price of one $2 cup of coffee.

Meanwhile, Starbucks is moving from using T-Mobile as its service provider to AT&T. Customers will benefit from lower prices.

Even for paying customers, the price of using the service has gone down. AT&T will provide two hours of wireless access at Starbucks for $3.99, and an unlimited access plan from AT&T is $20 a month.

All I can figure is this is an insidious plot to bankrupt the company.

By whom, I do not know.

Source: Cheaper Wi-Fi Access at Starbucks and Beyond – By Saul Hansell, The New York Times

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