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Has Starbucks had enough of laptop loungers?

A report suggests that some Starbucks in New York are covering up outlets so that people can't sit there all day on their laptops.

3 min read

Is there a time and a place for laptop use? And should the place never be Starbucks at any time?

It seems that staff at some Starbucks in New York have had enough of those who spend their days using the home of the troubled croissant as their permanent place of work.

The Starbucks Gossip site (which I don't read, but Gawker does) was the first to offer that certain Starbucks were covering up their AC outlets, so that customers would have to rely on their laptop batteries, rather than the company's power supply.

A poster named Mike Pollock, who turns out to be Mike Pollock, voice of General Blanque in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3" (as well as Dr. Eggman in the "Sonic the Hedgehog" series), wondered how widespread was the apparent policy of boarding up outlets.

My own Starbucks cup from this very morning. There's loyalty for you. Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Pollock specifically mentioned two Manhattan Starbucks--one at 14 West 23 Street and the other at West 39 Street and 8th Avenue.

Another poster added to the fascination by claiming: "I will tell you that the NY Metro leadership team has stated they are against covering the outlets because it is a passive aggressive way to deal with the issue. However, in extreme cases, they have approved this action because (and let's be real here) some people just cannot be reasoned with."

However, one perhaps even more insider view comes from a poster with the prophetic handle "Can't please everyone." He or she explains that they are an 8-year Starbucks veteran and that some people should get a life, rather than a light on their laptop.

"Can't please everyone writes": "Covering outlets is not a company wide or even regionally accepted practice. In certain extreme circumstances, where management have exhausted other avenues of resolution, stores have covered their outlets because people do abuse the 'welcoming' nature of Starbucks."

While at pains to declare that Starbucks doesn't want to penalize those who are married to their laptops, he or she adds: "In parts of NYC, you can find a Starbucks on every other corner, but rest assured there is a contingent group that set up shop charging their phones, computer, secondary devices and try to take every free thing they can."

Essentially (and shockingly) it seems that some New Yorkers are simply unreasonable halfwits.

Indeed "Can't please everyone" explains that the laptop loungers are the first to whine if one of Starbucks' free items--like the perfect room temperature for their delicate natures, for example--is suddenly not available.

But shouldn't laptops just be banned from Starbucks? This issue came up a couple of years ago when certain coffee shops decided to restrict the hours during which laptops can be used.

Some larger New York City cafes seem to be having success with limiting laptop use. One poster to the Starbucks Gossip site, Charles, says his Barnes and Noble has found a laptop-limited environment very noble indeed.

"I manage a B&N cafe and we have about 16 tables and a bar with stools which seats about 45 people total. Our cafe is always full of friendly people actually talking with each other, reading books, and enjoying a latte and maybe a slice of cheesecake. How is this possible you ask? We have 1 (one) outlet...period," wrote Charles.

Given that I start the majority of my days at Starbucks (well, after getting up, showering, and wondering what day it is), I contacted Starbucks to see whether a policy change might be green-lighted.

I am thoroughly depressed to say that the company has chosen not to reply. Perhaps it has no answer. But I will update, should some words of wisdom from the Seattle Temple of Tall emerge.