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Disgruntled cafe owner bills customers extra if they charge their phones on-site

Why it matters to you

Even when it's free, you can't always find an outlet, so you may be better off investing in a portable charger to ensure your device never runs out of juice.

A cafe owner at a famous Vienna landmark has had enough of customers charging their smartphones on the premises.

To try to discourage customers from sticking their chargers in the wall for lengthy periods of time, owner Galina Pokorny is now levying a fee of 1 euro (about $1.07) for anyone who charges their phone for more than 15 minutes.

Pokorny runs the Terrassen Cafe inside Hundertwasserhaus, a colorful and quirky apartment building in the Austrian capital designed by the late architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

It appears, however, that the fee is less about visitors taking up space for long periods of time without ordering anything, and more about using the cafe’s power supply.

“Tourists — always electricity, electricity, electricity. Sorry but who is going to pay me for it?” Reuters reported the disgruntled owner as saying.

Pokorny said she may be the only cafe in town charging customers for powering up their mobile devices, but insisted she was doing so because “I run a cafe, not an internet cafe.”

She added that the practice appeared to be getting “more and more extreme. People come and think everything is accessible and free.”

The fee has actually been in place for some time, but came to light this week after local media heard about it. The extra expense is reportedly also added to the check of anyone charging a laptop or tablet for a long period of time, and charged on a per-outlet basis.

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Despite Pokorny’s complaints about customers using too much electricity, a ZDNet report last year suggested the cost of charging a smartphone once a day for a whole year amounted to a mere 84 cents. Yes, 84 cents for the entire year.

On the plus side, Terrassen Cafe’s Wi-Fi is still free, so anyone heading there for a relaxing coffee and intense smartphone session would be wise to ensure they have a fully powered device and a portable charger. Unless you’re cool with coughing up the extra fee, of course.