Many NYC Starbucks Locations About To Put An End To ‘Squatters’

Coffee Giant, Customers Have Had Just About Enough Of You Hogging Seats

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They’re called Starbucks “squatters.” You know, those folks with their laptops who take all the seats and never seem to leave.

But, as CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport, reports the coffee house giant has a plan brewing to fix that.

You know how some Starbucks customers and their computers like to make a permanent home in the coffee emporium, hogging up all the seats for hours, mooching off the free Wi-Fi and preventing you from sitting down and enjoying the latte you paid $5 for?

Well, now some Starbucks in New York City are reportedly pulling the plug on that idea, actually covering up their electrical outlets to discourage squatters.

WCBS 880’s Monica Miller Reports From Midtown

“Customers are asking (for it). They just purchased a latte and a pastry and there is nowhere to sit down in some of these high-volume stores,” Starbucks spokesperson Alan Hilowitz said.

“People actually live here. You know what I’m saying?” added Alan Glowko of Astoria.

It is a move that has some Starbucks regulars saying … it’s about time.

“If there’s no more space to sit, they should get up and leave,” said Katie Krug of Burlington, Vt.

“I mean, you can’t use their electricity for like eight hours. I mean honestly,” Glowko added.

Still others say for what they’re paying for coffee they should be able to stay as long as they like.

“If people want to sit there and relax they should be able to,” one person said.

At some other coffee shops in the city, like Doma in the West Village, they let you use your laptop here for as long as you like if the store is not too busy on week days up until 5 p.m. The catch is you have to have your own Wi-Fi.

At Grumpy’s, employees said there are no laptops allowed, period. That’s the policy.

As for Starbucks, the decision to pull the plug is reportedly up to individual stores thought to be only in New York.

It’s an idea brewed much the like the coffee — for customer satisfaction.

Employees at some smaller Starbucks locations told Rapoport privately that electrical outlets will not be blocked in their stores because seating space is not an issue.

Do you like this idea? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Roboto

    Starbux SUX anyway.

    Bunch of GD GENX yuppies.

  • Joe

    YES! I hate going to Starbucks and not getting a seat, because there squatters have planted themselves there for hours! simple solution. Hand out a code for 1 hr. free wifi… after, you PAY

    • radii

      simple, elegant solution

  • Dave Shaffer

    Starbucks’ swill = worse than dirty dishwater

  • truthhurts

    Umm you all know this is a false rumor started by the media right? This is completely against Sbux policy. If you notice employees or managers of stores covering up outlets and kicking out people who aren’t bothering other customers, call their district manager or regional. The cards are found on the condiment bar. Besides it doesn’t bother me that people sit, have coffee, and surf the net. Most patrons in NYC, especially in the commercial areas grab and go.

  • Ron G.

    One coffee shop I frequent has a free Wi-Fi with purchase. You make a purchase, you get a wi-fi password that is good for 1 hour. when the hour is up, make another purchase and get a new password. If that were the case, at least the squatters would have to spend money every hour to keep occupying the seat.

  • luckydog

    Starbucks: leave those liberals alone!

  • OC Housewife

    First it was the bathrooms – have a cup of coffee but can’t use the toilet at certain NYC Starbucks. Now have a cup of coffee and can’t use their wi-fi. Think I’ll be spending my day at McDonalds.

  • Less1leg

    I thought electricity was free, you know with liberals so enamored with Green Power and such. Electricity in these stores should be free for the customers to use. The EPA just announced that the Volt EV car is a Zero CO2 emitter. So there isn’t any carbon footprint of a battery operated car, unless of course you plug it in. But that’s just an eco-socialist’s fine detail.

  • jim ford

    If you want to get people out of your store without having to ask them, put on some old school country music. Like George Jones or Hank Williams. I like it it, but your average Starbucks squatter would probably run out like his butt was on fire.

  • asacan

    Not that anyone will ever read this comment, but…while I was in the Navy (20 years), I spent a big chunk of time away from my family (go figure). While for the majority of my career, Wifi and internet cafes weren’t available, but for the last five years, those coffee shops were a haven for my family and I. My purchases at most of those cafes were usually significantly more than a coffee or two.

    I remember in a Costa Coffee in Bahrain, each purchase gave you one hour of free internet use, and every hour you’re access would expire (I guess, I never went an hour without buying another cup of coffee or something). I think this could be a better solution. Maybe make it 30 minutes or 45 minutes, depending on how much business the store gets. Another idea might be to throttle the internet connection speeds.

  • jim ford

    Buy a frappe maker for your home. They’re like 60 bucks. Save you gas and the price of all those overpriced drinks. Not to mention the scorn of the store owners.

  • catherine

    THIS WAS STARBUCKS GAME PLAN FOR SUCCESS – to get people to come to their shops, sit and do your free WiFi work and NOW they want to change the rules ROFL

  • LG

    I think the bottom line is that Starbucks is a private business, and its powers-that-be have every right to make their own decisions as to how to run it. Feedback is very important to businesses, but the “proof is in the pudding,” as they say.

  • Hawkeye

    Give people an inch and they’ll take a mile. A couple of years ago I witnessed a man at a Starbucks on 9th avenue assemble an entire desktop computer (small flat screen monitor, keyboard, speakers, mouse) at his table. Thankfully he brought his own power strip to handle all of his plugs!

    • radii

      and at Urth Caffe in West Hollywood (1st one) for years some idiot would actually bring his printer along with his laptop as he sat there for hours and hours

  • legallyyours

    A compromise of delegating a specified area for a timed use might work. Just a few tables and no more than 30 min. Seeing people congregate to do homework and study is what drives me nuts-no one wants to hear you being quizzed on anatomy. Really. No one. That goes double for you and your cell phone.

  • Amy

    Just put a time limit on the use of the WiFi. Make them log on with a password that boots them out after a set amount of time. Once the WiFi isnt working, the squatters leave. End of problem.

  • VokMan Rishad

    Sounds like New York is full of Whine Babies! Get over it people!

  • coffeeshopowner

    As a coffee shop owner I can say that the squatters in general spend considerably less money. They purchase the smallest cup of brew and then to my suprise will come up to the counter an hour later to ask for a glass of water. They get rude or put off if you say it is .50 cents to cover the cost of the cup and your time. I should be greatful that they come and use my electricity, wifi, bathrooms, while enjoying the low key atmosphere for $2.00 to $3.00 sale. Sometimes they even pull out snacks they brought from home. When are people going to learn that there is no such thing as something for nothing. Somebody else is paying for your “free”. If you can’t afford to support a coffee shop by purchasing goods while you are there 4 hours using there table…stay home.

  • Mariepr

    What took them so long. I’ve walked into a Starbucks and walked right out because all the spaces were taken – mostly by people with laptops out. Starbucks had to make up its mind whether it’s a coffee shop or a free office.

  • Jay

    Ridiculous. A merchant knows if the more time a customer is in the store, the higher the chance they will buy something. Especially food! I know I spend time in there, buy a coffee or two, a sandwich for lunch and help pay for their electricity (like, GAWD), so I have a right to stay. It’s first come first serve, the way it’s always been. So excuuuuuuuse us who are studying and trying to better their lives or writing something that they will hope to sell. What, you people are upset that you can’t hang out at Starbucks?

    • coffeeshopowner

      Some of my cheapest customers are people that are “studying”. Jay, if you spend as much money as you say then you are not the squatter that Starbucks is referring to. By the way…arrogance is a good word to discrible you attitude “So excuuuuuuse us who are studying and trying to better their lives…” What are you implying? …I know you’re sooooooo special and important.

  • roy

    …Ben WEbb> so now starbucks part time, low wage employees have to also enforce your proposed 1-hour only policy? Pu-lease!

  • Monk

    You should really think about getting a life if it bothers you that people sit in coffee houses all day. You are the same people who think nothing you do pi$$es people off either. Get real about life and the people who share it with you.

    • Janet

      Monk, you should open up a coffee house and see how long it takes for you to go bankrupt after you invite all of the squatters to spend their days there. Good luck.

  • Squatters vs Transients

    Happy for whom? The big question is who spends more money in the store? The “squatters” or the “transients”? My money’s on the squatters since I never spend more than $10 if I’m just grabbing a quickie but always spend at least $30 if I have work to do there (and usually my clients each spend $10 to $20 as well)..

  • Clay

    Starbucks wanted the “squatters”, now they got them. They actively marketed WIFI and outlets for the sole reason of getting people to spend hours there.

  • Future shock

    In a couple years laptops and “free wifi” will be obsolete technology and then SBX will wish they hadn’t alienated their most loyal demographic. Buh bye, Seattle snobbery.

    • Mara

      I take it you’re one of the squatters. Then we’re happy that you’re leaving, because you were a drain anyway.

  • Duude

    When a seat is actually needed, the employee can just ask the customer there the longest to give it up.

    • Mara

      Duude, you’d need a full time employee to kick out the squatters. They’re like bedbugs.

    • jim ford

      Something like ” Hey deadbeat, get out of that chair. Facebook will still be up when you get home ” would probably suffice.

  • Ceci n'est pas un cafe

    This is a cultural problem. I can’t imagine traditional European cafe’s back in the pre info-age day kicking their patrons out for taking too much time to read the paper and sip coffee. I remember spending entire days drinking coffee (and what-have-you) with random new and old friends at our favorite streetside cafe in Prague. That was entirely normal then and there. Who knows, maybe SBX in Prague is all hustle and bustle and corporate stuffiness too now.

  • Drew

    Starbucks is a coffee shop, not an office. I don’t care that you need to get work done. Go rent an office space somewhere. Drink your coffee, check your email and GTFO!

    • Jay

      Hey, everyone, it’s life according to Drew. He’s gonna tell us what to do with our time now. The world awaits on his word like we used to with E. F. Hutton. BWAHAHAHAHAHA>

      • Mara

        Jay, Drew isn’t telling you what to do with your time. If you want to spend 2/3 of your life staring at your iPad, by all means go ahead. But go somewhere else to do it, Starbuck’s has to serve their customers and you squatters are killing their business.

  • Hank Warren

    Loafers, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

  • doc

    I’m not stupid enough to pay $5 for a cup of coffee so I’ve never been in a “starbucks”.

    Go figure.

    • jim ford

      I got a 25 dollar Starbucks card for Christmas once. It was good for like 4 1/2 trips. Since then, I’ve let that person know how much I like Academy and Bass Pro Shops.

    • Mara

      There are less expensive coffees there. They also have top-notch baked goods and some very tasty sandwiches.

  • eugene

    Those people suck

  • Jag

    stupid idea in my opinion. Borders had similar policy in the cafe of actually going around and checking if you bought something , otherwise asking you to leave. Was obnoxious. See what happened to them. Bankrupt

    • Mara

      The Borders squatters were worse than the Starbucks squatters, treating the stores like libraries, taking books that are supposed to be for sale on the shelvdirty food-soiled fingers. Would you want to buy those books? Yah, I didn’t think so.

  • Ward Ciac

    It’s best to spank the hineys of these low-lifes.

  • Don't kill the goose, Starbucks

    I’ve already started mostly avoiding Starbucks because of their growing inhospitality towards laptoppers with weak batteries and no office to call home. I look for independant coffee houses that advertise free wifi and offer plugs by every seat (there are surprisingly many). I’m hoping that Starbucks will see the light before they disappear. People who only want to buy one latte and a bagel can go sit in a park, or go back to their fancy cubicle and do their internetting there. Those of us who need coffeehouses as offices need those seats in Starbucks, and I’m quite sure we spend ten times as much as all the transients combined. The numbers don’t lie. Watch their sales drop dramatically.

    • Mara

      Please. You do NOT spend 10 times as much squatting there for hours as many customers would who are only sitting at that table for 5 or 10 minutes. Starbucks is losing customers and losing $$ and you are the reason for it. They’re making a business decision. I’d love for you to open a coffee shop and then see how much money you lose when people hog the tables and use your electricity.

  • Christy

    Agreed. Maybe Barnes and Nobles will catch on to Starbucks decision. I’m tired of purchasing used magazines and books from non-buyers camping out all day perusing all of the reading materials. It’s about time retailers support their customers.

  • bbbrown

    Starbucks needs to put in a server with passwords that you get at the register and a time limit of 30 minutes per customer. Each IP address can also be limited to 30 minutes if you want. People will begin to realize that you will only get 30 minutes per 8 hours or so and they will plan accordingly.

  • Bill

    The things we have to go through just because people have no concept of common courtesy. If it’s a busy coffee shop, don’t expect to get one coffee and sit for 2 hours. If it’s empty feel free to sit all day.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been rushed through some pretty expensive meals at restaurants (faster than I could shove the food down my throat) because they want to seat as many customers as possible. Not good.

  • Mamimi

    Ah. first world problems.

    “Wahh, someone is sitting where I want to sit and drink over-expensive coffee with pretentious names. They got here first. Wahh.”

    Wahh, indeed.

    • Mara

      Mamimi, clearly you have no concept of running a business. And you have a gigantic chip on your shoulder.

    • Puerto Vallarta Starbucks Squatter

      First world?

      These problems are far more acute in third world Starbuckses.

  • Daniel Morgan

    The problem is that too bad people are lacking in common sense and courtesy. Manners and consideration are considered obsolete by many.

  • Terry Corcoran

    Steal a CS gas grenade from the local National Guard armory and lob it into the store…that’ll clear it out. Or light off a Black Flag roach bomb…

  • the_cold_truth

    We need to impeach the squatter in the White House.

    • Impeach the White House Squatter!!

      Amen, brother.

      • jim ford


  • Feech LaManna

    What a travesty! Just think about all of the inconvenience that these laptop liberals have to painfully endure at the hands of “Corporate Amerika”.

  • Nanie

    I could care less about the so-called giant Starbucks. At the same time, I could care less about the array of Rednecks, who populate this country. It will take a lot more that a forum to make this country ‘great’ again. It has lost its touch… Left or Right? It is a mess anyway. Ugly, mean, stupid people giving an opinion, which I discard the minute I leave this “intelligent” site!

    • the_cold_truth

      You do understand that the correct phrase is “couldn’t care less”, not “could care less”, right? Saying that you “could care less” means that you do, indeed care about Starbucks, as there are other things that you do care less about. But if you say that you “couldn’t care less” about Starbucks, it means that you don’t care about it at all.

      Forget it, you probably don’t understand any of this at all anyway.

      • LG

        “Forget it, you probably don’t understand any of this at all anyway.” lmao!

      • ryan


  • Nick 1975

    I think Borders had the same problem..people reading magazines, books, etc for free..and not buying anything, or going home and ordering books from Amazon..a person can hang out all day at a Borders/Barnes and Noble and not buy a thing!
    Yes, people do this all the time at B&N and at Borders especially magazines. What is worse is that if you actually want to BUY that book or magazine that is where someone is standing they get very rude if you dare say excuse me.

    And yes, consideration for others is key here but this is NYC where it does not apply (not that it really applies in most other cities in the USA today). But seriously, Starbucks IS NOT your office. If you need more than 1 hour, look into short term office rentals. $10 of Lattes doesn’t justify ‘hours’ using Starbucks as your personal space

    • Starbucks squatter/mogul

      I beg to differ. Starbucks is my office and I bet I make more money there than you do in yours. I’m quite sure I spend more money there in a day than you do in a month. I might just start my own coffee chain that’s only for people who hate cubicles

      • coffeeshopowner

        Yep, I bet you make lots of money…if you make so much money why not rent some space. I think they call it a tax deduction!! Cheap, cheap, cheap, you fall under the I deserve something for nothing catagory.

      • Regular Joe

        Of course you do. You fancy yourself a bit Bohemian, don’t you? You don’t run with the pack because you’re way too cool. Guy like you can’t be confined to a cubicle, can he? I’m sure life is nice in your shiny, happy world. I wish I could be as cool as you! Is the sarcasm reaching through? I truly do make gobs of money, but I’ve learned not to brag. Maybe someday you will too.

  • PolarisKale

    I see this both ways and still want a limit of some sort. The outlet idea has some flaws because my battery is D-E-A-D. Unplug it and the laptop *might* stay on for 8 minutes. However, visit the SBX I frequent here in Atlanta at 10:00am and again at 5:00pm and you’re guaranteed to find 5 or so people who haven’t moved an inch. Rather than rent office space somewhere they come to SBX and camp out. I can’t offer to meet a client there to review a contract because finding a table where we can comfortably sit is virtually impossible – so one squatter just cost them 2 or 3 individual sales. Fortunately the high-top table with 10 stools & an outlet strip underneath it has helped, but some people don’t get the hint.

  • LG

    Why does an article on wi-fi use in Starbucks become a vehicle for conservative-leaning haters to post vitriol about democrats? Way to represent your political party as attracting “mature” individuals.

    People need to grow the hell up and stop making EVERYTHING about politics.

    • ryan

      This story was linked by Matt Drudge.

    • Starbucks serves Tea too

      That’s a nice idea except that thanks to you Democrats, I now have all day every day to do nothing but sit in Starbucks and annoy you. I do it gleefully.

    • LG

      Ah, the Drudge connection. Well, there you go.

  • John G.

    If Borders had done something similar to their “squatters” (those who would co me in find their book and sit down and read it like they were in a library) they wouldn’t be o ut of business today. They weren’t selling books, they were allowing them to be “checked out” and read in house.

    • ryan

      Yes i buy books blindly all of the time. Never mind that Amazon ultimately killed borders(and not their regular costumers). It was those stupid people who like to know that they are gonna enjoy the book before they buy it. Socialist pigs and their entitlement to make a good decision regarding their purchases.

    • Don't kill the goose, Starbucks

      Nonsense. Borders’ Big Mistake was to poohpooh Kindle and

  • Mikeb68

    PS: I agree w/ DDD below

  • Mikeb68

    Good for you, Starbucks;. While I do not visit Starbucks for coffee, I have seen squatters in other coffee shops. Give them an hour and then OUT!

    • ryan

      If you knew how Starbucks has operated for year you would be saying ‘bad for you’. Cause now that particular branch has lost its most loyal costumers.

  • flea

    They ought to put an end to their lousy coffee first. And for what they charge for that garbage, they should offer to put the squatters up over-night.

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