Miss Woodhouse's Musings

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

The Day(s) the WiFi Died

on 4 July 2010

I work at a small, but strategically placed Starbucks. At first, the¬†strategy might not be apparent. It’s hard to get into our shopping center, and we are in an awkward corner. Too, it’s hard to get out. We are on a minor highway, but once you get off, it’s not easy to get back on. We are far from the main interstate. There are 6 other Starbucks within a 1.5 mile radius of us. Eh, make that 8 in a 2 mile radius.

Geography isn’t my strong suit.

However, we have some distinctions that keep us popular. For one, we are super, super, super friendly. Another thing is that we are near a Wal-Mart. Guess how often people come in to brace up for or recover from a trip to Wally World? We really should write them a thank you note.

We also have 3 college campuses and 4 high schools within 5 miles. Can you say “study zone?”

Thus, WiFi is important in our little store. That’s one of the main reasons people come in; many of our now-Gold Card customers would never have started visiting our store if not for the WiFi. Now it’s free! Yay? We will see.

This post is not another rant about the stupidity of free WiFi. Even though it is stupid.

No, this post deals with a much more tragic issue: the day the WiFi died.

Correction, how about the three days that the WiFi died?

Oh yes, it was tragedy in its finest form. Apparently, I was one of the few WiFi-using people to think through the fact that if the system was going to be free, then the system had to go down at some point for adjustments. I’m also apparently the only person who thought that the upgrades could occur during the night while we are, you know, closed.

There I go, thinking again.

No, instead they started messing around with the internet 3 days before the big switcheroo. Here’s how things were going down for three nights running: WiFi customer walks in, sits down. They open their laptop, try to connect. They come up and ask for our network name. They try again. No success at connecting. With nothing left to do, they pick up their laptop and leave.

Well, had I but known! This could work in our favour….

Unfortunately, the outages messed up our register systems too. I’ll be honest, it does make an evening more amusing to watch the slightly panicked look on the customer’s faces as they wait for me to hand back their credit cards. And they wait. And wait. And wait.

I’ve got one simple rule- I don’t hand back a card until it runs through completely. Thing is, when the internet is sketchy, the card authorization is sketchy too. Thus, it took a while for cards to run.

A long while.

Now, before you think I’m completely cruel, when I handed back their cards I explained what took so long, and apologised on our behalf. It was just interesting to watch the look of relief and “Oh good, I paid the bill” wash over their faces.

All this over the holiday weekend too! What fun!

So, now the internet is back, and I’m waiting to see how the free status affects us. We probably won’t see too much of a difference until school starts back again. When it does, I’ll keep you all posted on the drama.

Until then, make sure you bring a book and cash to Starbucks, just in case we have issues again….

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