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.

  • tryecrot

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

  • James Johnson

    After reading some of these comments, I don’t know whether this is an article about Starbucks or Barak Obama.

  • Jan

    I paid $1.89 for a tall coffee….i think that entitles me to sit and surf as long as i like.

  • Reverend Rev

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

    Nice theory, except that most squatters DON’T buy coffee (or anything else). They just come in, open their computers, and sit for hours at a time while crowding out actual customers

  • Lori L

    A few months ago, I stood in the middle of Starbucks with two kids and three lunches and drinks. All around us were people who had apparently moved in for good. I approached one middle aged man with an empty drink who was texting and asked if we could sit at the table with him. He looked at me like I was trying to mug him. We had to stand with our lunches and drinks. I would not go there for a meal again without first securing a table. People are not as considerate as they once were. (Starbucks in question: Skokie, IL)

  • Jan

    i truly don’t understand what the big deal is. I’m entitled to sit there as long as i like, whether i’m reading ‘Twilight’, surfing or doing homework. When me and my friends are spread out all over the furniture, sometimes we get nasty looks, but that’s THEIR problem. Until the Barista tells me to leave, i’m gonna use my iPad and sip my Tall i bought earlier.

  • madmax45r

    why do liberals democrats always wants to
    take advantage of free stuff and abuse the
    generosity. give them an inch and they will
    take a mile.
    happens all the time. good grief.

  • doglover

    Honestly, I sit at starbucks with my laptop for 4 hours at a time. I eat the oatmeal, then have a bagel, then I move on to a sandwich or a chocolate croissant or both (always have to have a chocolate croissant) During this I drink hot chocolate or tea (with refills unless iced)

    So if they don’t allow me to sit there anymore there is no point for me to go to Starbucks. Everything they make I can make myself.

    • doglover

      Also, my Starbucks is not crowded when I go. I tend to be the only one there.

      When it is crowded, I merely ask the college students to move over so I can sit with them. I’ve never had a problem.

      I think this a NYC phenomenon. No need to punish other customers.

  • Boone

    I’m an art major at University and i enjoy looking at all my friends’ art on Facebook at StarBucks. The one i frequent is pretty crowded, so getting there early is a MUST. Sometimes i buy a coffee, but most times i just bring the Starbucks branded thermos my boyfriend Steve got me. I make my own coffee at the dorm and tend to prefer Dunkin Donut’s blend, which i put in the thermos. Because i use a Macbook, i need the extra space on the table. Sure, it can seat 4, but i got there first, and if someone wants to ask if i can move, i usually point them to the loveseat sofa combo in the corner. My contemporary impressionist artists textbooks are kind of large, so i really need to space (many of my assignments last HOURS!). The barristas are pretty cool, and they will even put on music for me, especially if it’s Mocha & Lisa Loeb day in the store. I never surf anywhere but Starbucks, and McDonald’s is just beneath me. Personally, i feel i’m one of their better customers and add to the ambiance of the place, encouraging folks from outside to come in because they see how comfortable i am.

  • kendra

    i didn,t even know that we had that problem here but it sounds like an excellent idea for them to find another place where they could there free service from cause i am pretty sure that all of them don,t pay for coffee whilw at starbucks and that is very incondirate.

  • David Waters

    They just need to set up their WIFI on an upward sliding scale, like: hour 1 free. Hour 2 $10.00. $50.00 per hour after that.

  • Lnn

    For Pete’s sake just cut the wifi every two hours or so. When it get’s busy, cut it off every 30 minutes.

  • billy

    I said this many years ago. Used to pee me off everytime I walked by a Starbucks (which i never drink). Mooching yuppies sitting there with their one cup of coffee for hours. THE NERVE.
    I said I would of thrown them out a long time ago.
    Good riddance

  • Right Thinking

    Precious! Let the bile spill. I need a good laugh while the country goes to hell.

  • Right Thinking

    Ayn Rand referred to guys like that as looters. They can’t product, won’t work, and take from the productive.

  • morgan

    There could be an article about a reduction in the mating habits of the purple shelled snail in NE Alabama and somehow the comments would turn to Obama’s presidency. For crying out loud people this is an article about a coffee franchise and ppl abusing seating/WiFi availability . . .

  • Vladimir

    I think Starbucks’ policy is perfect. On the one hand, it allows laptop users who purchased a drink (hopefully a requirement) to sit there and do their thing; on the other, it prevents them from staying for superlong stretches, i.e., for as long as their battery allows.

    This way, Starbucks can be reasonable to customers in their busy locations (New York, San Francisco, etc.): they won’t have to be rude their customers and tell them to leave; with no outlets, they will have to leave themselves eventually. Let’s just hope they don’t invent a laptop with a 10 hour battery life.

  • Reshem Nad

    When plugs are outlawed, only outlaws will have plugs.

  • cliveofamerica

    good move and put a time limit on the bathrooms too. sometimes you have to wait twenty minutes while some bum (pun) takes a bath in the handbasin.

  • jim ford

    How about a steel cage death match between the squatters and those asshats who yack on their cell phones loud enough to be heard a mile away?

  • Mara

    It’s about time! I stopped going to Starbucks several years ago when I found it impossible to find a seat even for just a few minutes. Always the same a-holes using their laptops. What’s most ironic is that coffee houses used to be places to socialize, but now people squat there with their laptops and ignore everyone around them. Now if only the bookstores would do the same.

  • AZbosslady

    Yes, definitely, I’m for getting the swatters out of there. I’ve walked out of Starbuck’s many times because of all the wannabe novelists filling up the seats, perpetuating the myth that it is uber literary to “create” in public. That’s nonsense! They are merely feeding their ego. I’m a published author and I can tell you that not a lot of serious writing gets done sitting in a Starbucks.

  • Juniper

    I know a coffee store on Maui that had a Polynesian manager who used to yell at me and other regular customers to leave if they pulled out their laptops & sat there for more than 5 minutes. All the regulars who paid the most for lattes & meals w/laptops quit going there as a result. THE COFFEE SHOP CLOSED. The local manager also thought that a laptop used $10/hr of electricity…it’s more like 1 penny per hour or less. I tried to tell him but he though I was lying.

  • radii

    … and while we’re at it, what about the noxious Gen-X, Gen-Y, Milennial types who bring their little pet-as-prop with them everywhere they go ?

    Your pet belongs at home and there is not such thing as a “therapy animal” … you have a legitimate “Service Animal” which has been certified and properly trained to help a blind or deaf person (or someone else clearly and visibily disbled) – but if you are carrying your little furball or it’s in some cutesy bag, it is a pet and you should leave your mangy mutt (or cat, or snake, or bird) AT HOME

  • Doug Glass

    Pathetic. Losers so addicted to their precious little electronic pacifiers they just can’t tolerate being unplugged. Pathetic, but to me funny as all heck. I see them sitting there ALONE and wonder what they do in their leisure time for fun and who they do it with. I stopped going to Starbucks many months ago when all the tables were all too often taken up by people glued to their laptops.and just sitting there. And since the visit was always after a real hobby type event or entertainment event my wife and I just went home to far better coffee and friends who actually speak words.

  • WillofLa

    Starbucks could have a box next to the table where you could plug in your laptop. But the trick is you have to put in a quarter for fifteen minutes, like you are at the laundry mat. If you want more time you have to put in another quarter. Of course you wouldn’t want anyone to lose their data in case the box shut off after fifteen minutes. So what it would do is leave you connected for thirty seconds while you get some more change in the box. And to discourage squatters you only get one hour use of the box. How would it know it’s not another customer putting money in it and it would just start over? Whatever table you sit at is controled at the register. Each table is numbered and has a button. The Starbucks employee pushes the button at the table you are sitting at if you plan on using your laptop, and the box is activated. You sit down and plug in your cable or flip a switch to show wireless connection. Then you can get your time started by putting in a quarter.
    Sound good? Thanks

    • Janet

      That would cost too much to implement and maintain.

  • radii

    There’s a new movement:


    Too many loser Gen-x, Gen-Y, Millennials are constantly staring at their smartphones, laptops, etc and doing idiotic things like Twitter and Facebook rather than actually engaging the world around them

    See the fool walking their dog a gorgeous day – face buried in their iPhone? They don’t pay attention to the dog nor the nature around them.

    People under 30 don’t even seem to know how to be in public anymore – such terrible social skills.

    The world is not your dorm room for life

  • easy solutioon

    Easy Solution…create a small internet room in each starbucks. If there is no seat, you are out of luck. No laptops allowed in non-internet room. Make this room less comfortable with benches & picnic table style tables so that it is not too comfortable for anybody to want to stay long term!

    • Mara

      I’d only support your room idea if there were an hourly charge for it, because I don’t want to have to help pay for it.

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