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Monday, July 12, 2010

Wooh Hoo! Cheers for Starbucks

Starbucks is now offering free, unlimited wireless to all customers beginning this past July 1st. Many homeless people spend plenty of time in Starbucks, in what has been historically an unofficial don’t-ask-them-to-leave policy. But now they’re making it official! Wooh hoo! Are the latest cheers from the homeless, the unemployed and starving college students who look for a welcoming place to check email, craft a resume or job search on the Internet. For the price of a $1.50 cup of coffee, one can have an air-conditioned place to groove all day.

While many coffee shops try to discourage people from buying a cup of coffee and then lingering for hours to use their free Internet access, Starbucks encourages them to stay as long as they want. The company is making the change as many coffeehouses experiment with ways to cut off squatters who browse and do not spend. Some post signs asking people to continue buying food and drinks if they stay, while the more aggressive ones cover their power outlets with tape so people cannot charge their laptops.

The Starbucks coffee chain is catering in part to people who are out of work and need a place to perfect their résumés or do freelance jobs. In January, the company announced that same-store sales increased 4 percent after months of steady declines. Starbucks attributes the improvement, which came before consumer spending rebounded as a whole, in part to its role as an office for the unemployed.
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