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End of road for Starbucks laptop loungers?

If you haven’t done it yourself, you’ll have seen others at it. Starbucks (or any coffee shop with free Wi-Fi, for that matter) is a magnet for laptop owners who love coffee and the Internet in equal amounts….or perhaps the Internet a bit more than coffee.

Those that have time on their hands might spend all afternoon in their seat, surfing the web, checking emails, and downloading songs, the long-ago bought bean-based beverage slowly metamorphosing from hot coffee to iced coffee.

Well, if a practice reportedly operating in some of Starbucks’ New York stores becomes more widespread, it could spell the end for the so-called laptop lounger.

According to Cnet (via Gawker), several stores in the city have started covering their AC outlets with solid plates in the hope that the lounger will drink up and leave, thereby allowing another person (with a laptop?) to take their place and spend some money.

Cnet said that a poster on the Starbucks Gossip site mentions two Starbucks stores where the AC outlets have been covered over: one at 14 West 23rd Street near Madison Square Park and the other at 8th Avenue and West 39th Street.

Another poster wrote: “I will tell you that the NY Metro leadership team has stated they are against covering the outlets because it is a passive aggressive way to deal with the issue. However, in extreme cases, they have approved this action because (and let’s be real here) some people just cannot be reasoned with.”

The Wall Street Journal has been informed by a Starbucks spokesman that there is currently no company-wide policy regarding the availability of power outlets, although individual stores are permitted to make a decision on the matter if they feel it is necessary.

We can understand it if the store is full of loungers sipping on one coffee for eight hours, preventing customers who want a quick drink from getting a seat. But just blocking the outlets without any announcement may be the wrong way to go about it. Of course, they could always start charging for Wi-Fi, or limit the time allowed on the net.

For those who use Starbucks as their office and are keen to continue their nine-to-five shift there, the simple solution would be to turn up at the coffee shop with a bagful of fully charged batteries.

Image: Elvert Barnes

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