Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Breaking News!

on 14 June 2010

Starbucks to offer free, unlimited wifi starting in July! Apparently, those silly people don’t read my blog at all. Let’s review why this is a bad, bad, horrible idea:

1. Starbucks card sales will drop. Let’s face it, the real perk is the free wifi. No one really cares about syrup and milk. Birthday drinks/free drinks, yes, but wifi is the big draw.

2. Many much people sitting in the cafe without buying anything. Ummmm, dearest Corporate, our stores are small. We have 9 tables, total. Free loading laptop users like a table per laptop. We have lots of regulars. Where are they supposed to sit??????

3. Quality. It’s just not gonna stay good. Which is the pits, because I was hoping to break free of my room senior year and get to Starbucks to study. That’s not going to happen if I can’t rely on the wifi signal. Bummer.

4. Speaking of college; how ’bout those poor college students? Think they will buy a drink before homesteading all day by the laptop? Nope, not a chance.

5. Forget about being the “third place”, an “extension of your living room.” We will rename our cafe “Where business people come to hold meetings where they take up tables for hours without buying anything talk loudly and leave trash everywhere because they don’t have a proper office.” I think it’s catchy, don’t you?

Okay, readers, open forum. Thoughts, input, good or bad. Can you convince me that this is good for the company? Have at it!

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6 responses to “Breaking News!

  1. Fox says:

    Yeah. Everything you said is accurate and correct. I’m not so good at microeconomics but in terms of macroeconomics, this actually seems like a decent idea. (NOTE: This is an academic viewpoint and is not shared by the commenter in any way, shape, or form)

    Why?

    – It’s something other coffee shops on an international scale can’t offer and on a national scale, rarely offer. (To my knowledge at least)

    – With the sheer numbers of people flocking to the Free WiFi Coffee Shoppe (I am totally getting credit for the new name), competition will suffer, slowly at first, then more quickly. Once the competition is out of business, Starbucks can easily drop the free WiFi again and still retain the customer base. Really, where else is anyone going to go?

    – Those uni students won’t be buying a lot, but they will buy SOME. It’s not a complete loss in that regard.

    This is clearly a large business vs. small business tactic. And it will probably work. Smaller shops can’t offer the same things. And frankly, that cheese danish will get me every time. Jus sayin’…

    The downsides are EVERYTHING you listed and more: employees being disgruntled. They will not appreciate the new troubles and turnover rates will increase. Fortunately, that uni student rush will make up for that. Who wouldn’t want to work and get a discount at the same place where you sit with friends and hang out for the WiFi?

    I disagree with the idea for all the reasons you stated, but I can see some of their thought process. Damn economics prof!! I wish he’d never been so good at teaching! grrr…

    • Yeah, I can see that side too. I also see that they are doing this right in the middle of one of the most stressful years we’ve had. I guess I’m most bothered by the fact that it screams “desperation!!!” Starbucks is Starbucks. We don’t need to cater to the demands of some to stay on top. Grrrr is right! :D

  2. Sarah says:

    You know, I never even remember that the Starbucks card has wifi access! But to be fair, that’s just because I have internet through AT&T, which is the company that provided internet access at Starbucks—at least until this new deal, I guess. So I just logged in with my AT&T info.

    I can definitely see how free wifi could create problems with people camping out and taking up places to sit. That happens a lot in Panera, and other places that offer free wifi. Which obviously makes it hard for people to find a seat. Heck, that already happens to me in Starbucks. Not that I’m not guilty of spending several hours in one day there sometimes, but I try to be mindful of how busy it is. Or not do that too often.

    And although you’re probably right; there probably will be people who don’t buy anything and just use the wifi, I am a poor college student who absolutely buys a drink before (and sometimes during!) ;-) But we both know how much I love my Starbucks Frappuccinos!

    Overall I can see upsides and downsides to free wifi at Starbucks. I guess only time will really tell how bad (or good) things get. Interesting post, though, and I enjoyed reading it!

    • I am seen by some customers/coworkers as a bit of an alarmist. However, I’m all too familiar with the school groups with a purchase ratio of 1 tall frappuccino to every 8 people, and I’m also aware that they don’t leave until they discover our wifi isn’t “free.”

      A regular customer said it best tonight, “where am I going to sit?” But you are right, Sarah, only time will tell! :)

  3. Jenny says:

    Barnes & Noble (where I work) switched to free wifi…oh, months ago. When it was announced, we were all sure everything would happen like you wrote. But it really didn’t. Granted, our little cafe isn’t a real Starbucks, but we do have regulars, just the same. Everything will probably even out in the end.

    • Okay, good! That brings me back from the ledge a little bit. We’ll see how things go; at the worst, I’ll have a lot of blog fodder. :D

      Oh, and thanks for stopping by! It’s nice to see you here.

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