Tuesday, August 9, 2011

how starbucks can fix their squatter “problem”

I’ll admit it. I’m a Starbucks squatter. My agency is based in D.C., and I work in Atlanta. That means a full day working from home, and, well, that can get really tedious. No offense to my co-worker, a two-year-old Scottish Terrier, but he’s not much for water cooler conversations. He mainly sleeps. That, and he’s a dog.

To break up my day without losing productivity, I head down to the local Starbucks. There, I’ll usually get an iced coffee or green tea, and work for three to four hours at whatever table or seat I can find. And, I always tip the baristas. I consider that my “rent” for squatting in their establishment.

When I heard that Starbucks was cracking down on fellow squatters, a pang of panic ran through my spine. If I lost my Starbucks, I’d be a broken man. That’s a bit overdramatic, but if they began covering outlets to block power a precious source of power for my MacBook, or cutting off Internet connections after 30 minutes…I would be forced to find a new spot for WiFi.

I’m a proud, Gold Card carrying member of the Starbucks nation. I didn’t want to abandon my home-away-from-home office.

However, I do recognize the problem that squatters present for any sort of establishment that relies on high turnover for profit. And, then you have the jack wagons that give us squatters a bad rap, who plop down at the biggest table and occupy more than their fair share of the retail space. Me? I sit at the “carpool” table, where five+ people can squeeze in, even with gear.

That’s when it hit me.

Starbucks needs to move coffee. People need places to work. It doesn’t matter if those same people who are buying coffee over, and over again, or new customers. All that matters is that the cash register rings.

Instead of capping WiFi connection times, or blocking access to power outlets (some poor souls have batteries that won’t even last the 30 min. of which they have access to the internet), Starbucks could provide a code on receipts for internet access. At the end of that time period (one, or two hours would be optimal), customers would have to purchase a new item for additional access.

For people like me, who Starbucks is a necessity (for mental health reasons), I’d be more than happy to drop the $4 to $5 that I would pay for two drinks if it meant I could work as long as I wanted.

Of course, my preference is too keep the status quo…but, we’re not living in a utopia here.

Hey, Starbucks…don’t run-off your most loyal customers, even if they can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Leave the games and acrimony for the folks in D.C., and let’s come up with a relief plan that’s bi-partisan, or whatever.

If you want to use this plan, you know where to find me: Starbucks, Sandy Springs.

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