What to do about campers and electric...

AJPRATT

New member
Mar 7, 2007
382
0
Atlantic City, NJ
I have a few people who come in a use the wi-fi AND my electricity for hours. For the most part I don't mind because two of them do continue to purchase things, but I have this one creepy guy (who picks his nose and other things) that not only creeps out my staff and I, but also some other customers and only gets one small coffee. At the last trip out, he was here for 4 hours. To be honest, I didn't expect people to plug in, so I only have one outlet in the seating area, which is used for a sign. The creepy guy will actually unplug my sign!! :evil: I don't know what to do and I want to have some policy in place before this balloons into a bigger problem. My husband says to hang a sign that reads the wi-fi is free, but the electric is not.

So... Here are my questions:

1) Should I let them plug into an outlet?

2) How do others handle this?

3) Does anyone limit the time someone is in their cafe?

4) Am I being unreasonable?
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
First off your not being unreasonable. This really is a growing problem that needs to be taken care of sooner rather then later. As more and more people switch over to laptops every year this problem isn't going away any time soon.

Along time ago I would have said that I really didn't have a problem with people plugging in. But as laptops get bigger so does the need for electricity. Dell's XPS laptop's power adapter runs around 150 watts which isn't that much. Until that person comes in everyday and sits for 3 hours. At 450 watts a day, 5 days a week that 1 person racks up 2250 watts/week. The US average kilowatts/hour is around $0.10.

Granted thats almost a quarter a week for one person, but it all adds up. For your person unplugging the sign just ask them to leave.

Perkins Restaurant and Bakery instituted a policy along time ago for people who would come in around 10PM and sit for hours on end while only drinking coffee and not eating. Basically it was a 3 dollar minimum and a maximum of 2 hours. For the most part they really didn't enforce it unless a group of kids came in to do just that. The way around it legally was to pay, leave, reenter the restaurant, and be reseated.
 

Davec

New member
Oct 18, 2006
314
0
Old England (UK)
AJPRATT said:
1) Should I let them plug into an outlet?
2) How do others handle this?
3) Does anyone limit the time someone is in their cafe?
4) Am I being unreasonable?

1. No, as you could be considered liable for any damage to their equipment or injury to their person allowing them to use your electrical outlet. e.g. a voltage surge damages their equipment...it's your fault! they electrocute themselves....your insurance company doesn't want to pay out. etc..

Simply have a sign that says for Health & Safety and Insurance reasons, we cannot allow people to plug in their own personal appliances into our electrical system. if then someone plugs in, politely point out the policy and ask them to unplug their appliance, if they won't politely ask them to leave the premises.

2. I have seen signs like this in business premises. I also think it's reasonable to expect someone not to camp for hours, usually this is achieved by increasing the discomfort level e.g. Keep approaching them asking if they would like another coffee, cake, sandwich etc.. If it gets busy and they are occupying a table, ask them if they could move to a stool at the coffee bar to make room for a group, clear away the free papers, keep washing their table etc..

3. on a practical level it's a difficult thing to do

4. Nope and if ever I need a place to sleep....I shall come and buy one coffee, you do allow sleeping bags at the table don't you? :wink:

P.S.

Perhaps you need some of these

http://www.iwantoneofthose.com/pick-you ... index.html

or a sign like this:

http://www.ibiblio.org/Dave/bac-008.htm
:-D
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
0
Salt Lake City
1) Should I let them plug into an outlet?
2) How do others handle this?
3) Does anyone limit the time someone is in their cafe?
4) Am I being unreasonable?

1] Dave C's idea is fantastic. OR you can just shut off the power to those outlets. :grin:
2] Get smaller tables. Create an environment where people feel uncomfortable being on their laptop all day. Make it about the coffee.
3] If someone is abusing it, I will ask them to order or move on. It's easy to let abuse slide... took me a good year to understand that it's a BUSINESS. I always thought I'd get that one sooner...
4] No.
 
OP
A

AJPRATT

New member
Mar 7, 2007
382
0
Atlantic City, NJ
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #5
Thanks, guys. I really, really appreciate the feedback. You validated my concerns. I love the sign idea and will print one up immediately. I would turn power off to that outlet, but it powers my neon cup sign. Of which, I'll have to post a pick, its pretty cool.

The nose picker cup--what can I say?
 

davidsbiscotti

New member
Oct 4, 2007
338
0
Anne, don't provide power outlets for customers, it does present a danger that you could be liable for. When the customer's battery runs out, they'll leave. :D

As for the neon cup sign, have it hardwired in and cover the existing outlet. It's a simple procedure.

4-15-08 update: My bad, turns out that all internet cafes provide outlets for their customers' laptops. I just thought it might be a danger to children, the kind that eat paint chips and stick their little fingers in outlets for fun.
 
OP
A

AJPRATT

New member
Mar 7, 2007
382
0
Atlantic City, NJ
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #8
We did put up a sign just as Dave suggested. We agree that from a liablity standpoint (which we never even considered) that its a good idea to not let them plug in.

As far as the sign goes, at this point, we just couldn't afford to hardwire it, so my sign guy fed the cord down the wall and it comes out just below the outlet. Its pretty cool and it didn't take him long versus waiting 2 weeks and $300 for my electrician. :roll:

Well, Creepy Booger Man crossed a line yesterday. He brought in some cheesy adaptor and unplugged my sign and plugged it in to the adaptor and used his computer. :shock: WTF? The problem was that I didn't see him actually do it and he was using it for a bit before my staff even told me. No one wanted to say anything to him. Just as I was about to freak out, my husband Dave came in. Thank God.

Dave flat out told the guy to not plug in, citing that if anything happened to that sign, that he would be responsible for the $5K it cost us and that he needs to use his battery from now on. Frankly, I'm ready to ask this guy to just leave. But hopefully, his battery won't last as long and the problem will resolve itself. Fwiw, the sign was basically a gift from our sign guy, but Creepy Booger Man doesn't need to know that.
 

davidsbiscotti

New member
Oct 4, 2007
338
0
Yeah, the $300 is all service cost.
$20 in materials (few feet of romex wire, gang box & cover plate) would do the trick. Just remember - shut off the power to the outlet first, then black to black, white to white and ground to ground.
Unlicensed wiring is illegal in a commercial building, so I don't recommend the do it yourself route. :wink:
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
davidsbiscotti said:
Yeah, the $300 is all service cost.
$20 in materials (few feet of romex wire, gang box & cover plate) would do the trick. Just remember - shut off the power to the outlet first, then black to black, white to white and ground to ground.
Unlicensed wiring is illegal in a commercial building, so I don't recommend the do it yourself route. :wink:

Unlicensed wiring I'm pretty sure is illegal in residential as well. Most cities require a permit to make any changes to your existing electrical systems. To top that off you actually have to be a licensed professional to apply for the permit.
 

davidsbiscotti

New member
Oct 4, 2007
338
0
Homeowners are allowed minor electrical repairs such as installing ceiling fans, doorbells, digital thermometers, etc.
But for new construction (or simply adding square footage), major repairs and rewiring require at least a permit, if not a licensed electrician.
I've made dozens of electrical repairs and I've only been electrocuted twice so far. :D
Just kidding, I've been buzzed a few times though.
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
I should have been more specific anyway. When ever you mention the word romex you'll most likely need a permit. So I see you too haven't found a sure fire way of not getting buzzed either! :p
 
Top