wi fi squatters

Deb LaJoie

New member
Aug 14, 2006

I run a small bookshop cafe in a coastal tourist town. We offer free wi-fi which has helped to increase our traffic in the off season. My big problem, however, is that in the summer I get overrun with squatters, folks who might buy a cup of coffee and then sit at a table for four for hours, maybe even the whole day!

My poor regulars have no place to eat their lunch. There have been many times that I have approached these squatters and asked them to share their table or even to pack it up! I hate having the confrontation ( some people have been agressively negative) and most of my crew are young and don't have the courage to that. I have thought of unplugging the router for lunch hour. Some cafe's here have a sign posted but none really address my main concern about squatters.

I welcome any suggestions, commiserrations...

Thanks, Deb


New member
Feb 3, 2006
I saw a menu somewhere that said something to the effect of "Enjoy our wireless internet with your purchase."

The squatters, however, were not addressed. I worry I will have the same problem once the community college srudents figure out I am open. I plan to put a sign up, but want to do it in a nonoffensive way.....

Let me know if you come up with a solution.....

Java Rocks Tony

New member
Jan 30, 2005
Clevland, Ohio USA
u can put a time limit on the internet use. a lot of folks will disagree with me here but somethimes u have to put ur foot down. some owners are afraid of chasing away business, and getting a bad rep around town but patrons have to realize buying a cup of coffee does not constitute camping out for the Wi-Fi.

the other thing u can do is cover ALL electrical outets, or block them with furniture so that they cannot be used. most laptop batteries have a time limit, and that may help u detur the campers.

Deb LaJoie

New member
Aug 14, 2006
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #4
wi-fi squatters

Thanks for the replies. I actually got an e-mail today from a wi-fi service that
referenced a recent article in the Boston Globe on this subject: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massac ... i_fi_wars/
it was a little helpful just to hear others have the same problem. My solution to shut it down for lunch was one of their solutions also. My boss (book shop owner) said no. She feels it would anger customers (and give us a bad name)but she doesn't understand how many angry customers walk out (and won't come back) because of this problem.
Monday I had one couple taking up a four-seat table and the 2-seat table next to them for all their equipment. They had cord strung all over my floor, creating a potential hazzard. And when I asked them to leave because they hadn't bought anything, they got angry and defensive and said they would be up to buy something. Their $1.25 coffee instead of 6 potential $5+ lunches! But how could I counter that?
For now, I am going to put up a sign asking users to limit their online time to two hours, consider the lunch crowd and relinquish or share their tables between 11 and 1. I also got the idea from another coffee shop to add that I have the right to ask anyone to log off at any time.
When I get the final draft, I'll post it.
Thanks again for the replies.

La Crema Coffee

New member
Oct 9, 2005
Northwest Washington State

"Improve home network/free wifi security
Nearly all wireless access points and routers allow an administrator to manage their Wi-Fi network through a special administrative account. This account provides complete "superuser" access to the device's configuration utilities with a special username and password.

Manufacturers set both the account username and password at the factory. The username is often simply the word admin or administrator. The password is typically empty (blank), the words "admin," "public," or "password," or some other simple word.

To improve the security of a Wi-Fi network, you should change the administrative password on your wireless access point or router immediately when installing the unit. The default passwords for popular models of wireless network gear are well-known to hackers and often posted on the Internet. "
Pasted from: http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wire ... ssword.htm
SO why not implement a pasword at you shop and when asked for it, tell the person(s) that a purchase is needed to support the continued " free internet"

I dunno..it's just somtning I came across.


New member
Feb 13, 2006
Philadelphia, PA
I think it is great when customers feel a level of comfort in our cafe where the shop feels like an integral extension of their living space and daily experience. Fortunately 99% of our customers are very considerate people.

I get frustrated, though, with customers who forget that in the end we are running a business. Why should people think that it's okay to make your shop their personal office for hours a day? Would they think it's okay to do this in a Pizza Hut? How would they feel if for a buck-and-a-quarter you showed up at their apartment for a couple of hours a day and drank their coffee, messed up their bathroom, used their internet and sat in their dining room while they were trying to eat lunch?

I think you are correct that someone may feel offended regardless of what you do. But if you're going to offend someone, make it the people who are not spending any money and who are not taking YOU into consideration.

I don't think it would be inconsiderate at all to put up a sign asking for people to limit their time to 60 minutes during certain times a day (between 11:00 and 2:00 perhaps?). Another option would be to charge for internet use during your busy months--somehow or another you can require that they pay for the password or that they have an account.

Best of luck. -Dan


New member
Aug 21, 2006
hello everybody,

we are intending on opening up a coffee shop in germany and while pondering over the business plan, we also stumbled across the issue with surfing guest occupying valuable table space and seats whilst hanging on the least expensive cup of coffee for ages.

While not only intending to shut down wi-fi during the most frequented hours and just provide two regular workstations with paid access, I hired a programmer to enable me to hand out tickets to all paying customers with their purchase.
So let's say for a regular small cup, the guest will get 15mins, medium will buy him 30mins and to be generous, a large cup will come with a ticket worth 60mins. If the guest intends to stay longer, he either has to make another purchase of he can buy himself minutes (just as you can sell them to folks who drop in to surf only).

as open wi-fi is still pretty scarce in germany, this is not at all offending, since people assume it will be paid access anyways with costs of up to 0.3$/min on all major wi-fi networks (yes, you can pre-pay, but that will lower the price to just around 0.2$...).

hope this has helped a bit.



java nirvana

New member
Aug 23, 2006
Gulfport, FL
Wi-Fi Squatters

We are in the process of taking over another coffee shop and turning it into our own. We will add free wi-fi, but want to create a password system that changes throughout the day. The password will have to be given out by the staff (or we are trying to figure out a way to put it on the receipt). Haven't put it into use yet, but it is something we are exploring.


New member
Jun 9, 2006
WiFi and Cell Phones!

I just opened a shop in a tourist town and it has free WiFi.

We havn't had too many problems with squatters, but the main problem has been with people using cell phones for hours on end while they are on their computers.

They aren't just using them quietly at their table, but loudly enough for everyone in the shop to hear and for it to completely ruin the atmosphere.

Has anyone considered or tried a no cell phone policy?

Have fun!