Free wireless

2 03 2007

So I’m sitting at one of my favorite San Diego area cafes, sit down and realize that I mistakenly left my Verizon broadband card at home.

My only option is to go unwired (yikes!) or to check wireless networks. The default network has limited or no connection, but I notice another WiFi network with the cafe’s name. How long have they had this fast, free wireless up that I could have been using?

Wireless in coffee shops is an interesting dilemma. You can hear the ka-ching! in a proprietor’s head as they dream of charging $10/day for Internet access. I find this to be a ripoff, so I went with the broadband card despite periods and areas of intermittent connectivity. I’m probably not the only one.

So give it away for free. You’re not going to make any signficant money anyway. It only makes some sense (and even this is questionable) for Starbucks where the sum of all of the Internet fees charged at least shows up somewhere to the top and bottom line.

This business is doing well already even with no free WiFi, so encouraging laptop toting squatters might even seem detrimental. But it’s not – it garners good will with a significant portion of the coffee shop crowd and you still have students and broadband-card carrying squatters to deal with anyway.

I frequent this place nearly once a week even without the WiFi. So now it’s my #1 cafe spot of choice with WiFi. This may not seem to show up on the bottom line either, but it’s just one thing you should do for your customers – give them something for free or do something for them you didn’t have to do.

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