Coralling The Laptops

A few months ago I though the “do cafe owners want laptops around” question was at least partially solved, seems I was wrong. The Mt-Royal Starbeucks still has the extension cord but they’ve also closed off the outlet in front, replacing it with a metal plate. Seems they want to keep the laptops (or at least the multiple hours users) to the side, leaving the best window seats for everyone. Can’t really argue with that, considering the abuse of some. The franchise on Parc and Laurier did the same, they’ve also “metalled” one of the outlets, leaving only two plugs.

Back to abuse, I think they should display some kind of policy instead of cutting off electricity. Some of the worse abusers don’t have laptops so just making it less practical for them doesn’t really take care of the whole problem. I’m looking at you, crocheting redhead on Mt-Royal who’s there 5-6 days a week for 5-6 hours at a time, hogging one of the sofas: that’s abuse biatch.


karl January 22, 2006

That’s not the problem. There’s no abuse in that. I have been using the same cafe for more than two years every days from noon to 6pm with my laptop plugged.

The problem is in the relationship with people there and the respect for their work. I became friends with people in the cafes, I had gifts when I left, and there were tears in eyes.

The problem is that when you come to a place, any kind of place, you are supposed to respect the people at the place and be nice with the persons there. If Starbucks Co. closes by management decision to stop that, it’s plain stupid. Should we remind the abuse of Starbucks of developing many cafes in an area just to kill the competition, and close the small cafes? Not abuse?

After two years, I knew all employees by their name, they knew my name too, my preferences in terms of consommation. It has nothing to do with Starbucks, but with people.

Patrick January 23, 2006

Oh. Come.ON. I don’t care how lovable and touchy feely you are Karl, they are still running a business! What would you buy in those 6 hours? To me, regardless of how well the staff likes me or not, if you don’t buy at least a couple of things over 6 hours, you’re hogging the space.

When I talk of abuse I’m talking about the people buying the cheapest coffee and then consider they’ve payed for a table for 5-6 hours. How the hell do you expect the place to live with that? You talk about small places dying, that’s certainly a way to help them, don’t hog the space for 20¢ an hour. Try to keep it balanced.

I also know all the staff at that Starbucks, not by name but they know who I am and what I drink. I also know everyone, by name, including the owner at Mtl Café, lovely place and people but unless it’s empty, I leave the table for someone else after 4 hours at most, and that’s if I had lunch there. C’est juste poli m’semble.

flemieux January 23, 2006


“that’s abuse biatch!” XD priceless

AlexAtEyekyu January 23, 2006

What do you people work on for all that long!

karl January 24, 2006

Patrick: When I talk of abuse I’m talking about the people buying the cheapest coffee and then consider they’ve payed for a table for 5-6 hours.

Exactly! I agree with you on that. You didn’t mention it at first in your post. It’s what I call respect. I don’t care it’s starbucks, or a small cafe. The respect is that if you stay, you pay a little respect to the people (not the company) working there by drinking at a regular schedule.

I think we are on the same line here.

Where I disagree with you (maybe ;) ) is that the solution chosen by Starbucks heads or managers of these cafes. It’s all about institutionalization and the lack of human relationships. What I would do is throw out the people who abuse not close the access to the plugs. My point is that it’s exactly the failure of humankind in these companies, and the failure of society in many points.

First you have dialogs, then you create a business, you make regulations and rules, people become employees, clients becomes customers, and then the whole system is screwed. We had a little game at the cafe I was going, when a customer was annoying, I (another customer) was complaining and asked him to behave (cellphones, etc.) because the employees didn’t have the right to do it.

Why don’t you ask the abuser to get the hell out of the cafe?

aj January 24, 2006

simple solutions: buy a spare battery and keep it charged; buy a solar charger (if you get a window seat, or if they have nice bright halogen spotlights); get one of those Freeplay hand-crank generators; start a café where you exchange CPU cycles for electricity and net access.

Patrick January 24, 2006

Alex: Heuhhh… work? Cafes are my “office”, I also work from home but a good 40% of my work hours are in cafes.

Karl: Incredibly enough then, we agree :-p. The only thing with the human way of proceding, which I agree would be better, is that the majority of the employees there are young women and they already have a though time with some of the clients (bums begging, the occasional drunk or psycho, etc.), I’m not sure most of them have the experience and “technique” to deal with people arguing about having to leave. Simpler that way, even if it’s sadly a less human atmosphere.

Aj: I’ll probably have a spare battery anyway but if they make sure people run out of electricity and leave, if I circumvent it by bringing a second battery, I join the abusers, don’t I? The rule is weirdly implemented but it is there at that point.

What the heck would the cafe use the CPU cycles for??

Final note: I’m writing this at the Starbucks on Mt-Royal and the remaining outlet isn’t working, technical problem or decision?

aj January 24, 2006

well, with a spare battery, you’re not hogging an outlet at least. i presume you’d be good about buying one product per hour (1 PPH).

What would they use the cpu cycles for? I dunno…distributed renderfarm? coffee bean genome analysis? weather prediction? nuclear simulations?

Patrick January 24, 2006

It’s not about the outlet, it’s about the table. Closing the outlet is to get you off the table.

Fred January 24, 2006

First, if you want to start a business without people staying for 3 hours, open anything but a café ! But i totally agree about the kind of “abuse” you’re talking about. I used to work in cafés a couple of years ago, i know what it is.

Did you asked the manager why they closed the outlets ? (even though the reason seems obvious). They did the same thing yesterday at Starbucks in the Quartier Latin.
I don’t really get the point: i know they’re running a business, but Starbucks tried to make a comfortable environment for their customers (no radio but jazz/soul music, smoke-free etc… for all these reasons plus the outlets, i dont go to presse cafe, 2nd cup and all the others) and now they’re expecting people to get the fuck out ?
Anyways, even regular coffees are expensive at starbucks: homeless people and those who wants to stay 6 straight hours in front of a single coffee are going to Dunkin’Donuts.

karl January 24, 2006

Je pense que sur le fond on est plus souvent d’accord que tu ne veuilles bien le penser. C’est la façon d’aborder le problème qui est différente la plupart du temps. :)

Pour le café, je ne demandais pas aux employés de virer ceux qui abusent, mais à toi de le faire. Participer à la société, c’est cela aussi. C’est chiant, c’est pas facile, parfois dangereux, et on a pas forcément envie de le faire, mais je pense que la clé est là. (Attention, je ne dis pas que je le fais tout le temps, mais quand je ne le fais pas et que je pense que j’aurais dû le faire, je me sens vraiment pas fier :/).

Quand une femme se fait agresser dans la rue, on préferre tous qu’il y est un policier procher plutôt que d’avoir à intervenir soi-même. Pourtant si on y réfléchit bien, on devrait intervenir.

Patrick January 24, 2006

“Je pense que sur le fond on est plus souvent d’accord que tu ne veuilles bien le penser.” I know :-p

Pour le reste. Ouin. Y’avait justement un gars… perturbé, y’a une dizaine de jours qui est rentré achalé une étudiante, lui sentir les cheveux, lui demander de l’embrasser, etc. Le gars à côté s’en ai mêlé rapidement. Ça c’est plus évident, mettre une limite arbitraire au temps des autres sans politique connue de la place, c’est plus touchy. À voir.

mtl3p January 25, 2006

Karl – i thought of you today when I was at Utopik. I went and told some kids to stop smoking in the non-smoking area and then harangued the guy i was with trying to convince him that my intervention was done in the name of increased social cohesion ;-)

I’m worried that it’s addictive, though. I’m already thinking about tomorrow and how I’ll go bug people that are littering. or maybe even just loitering.


Patrick January 26, 2006

Must be your Conservative side poking through Mr Harper.

I keeed, I keeed. Good job ;)

hugh January 28, 2006

LOL – I was about to write the same thing. maybe throw em in jail, get tough on the early signs of anti-social behaviour.

Seb February 3, 2006

One thing’s for sure, better to avoid throwing litter back inside people’s cars.

Comments closed