Sunday, September 23, 2012

Coffee shop WiFi review - WEBbeams

Annoying.  The problem with WEBbeams, to be fair, is only secondarily the fair gripes about undefined speed and a timer that distracts.  (Really, a timer?  Every computer has a clock in the corner.)

No communication

The problem is that there's no communication to the user to let me know what kind of system I am walking into.  Why isn't there a countertop card that says: "Using WiFi?  We use WEBBeams - 2 hours free and premium speed available."  That way I know.  Instead, I turn on my trusty mac that connects easily 99% of the time and I think my web is failing.  Yeah, I know it's a tiny bit of a cheap shot to go after WEBbeams for this but hey, impressions count and it doesn't look like they've addressed this.  Maybe no one has, but my regular shop has a better option for handling WiFi.

Low tech

What is it?  People and culture.  I mean handle it with people, with human interaction.  My regular shop is so friendly and personal, does not have a rotating door for teenage employees that spend their time texting.  Instead, it's open and inviting IMO, everyone wants to contribute back (buy coffee and stuff) when they are there using the WiFi, because they are there for the ambiance and people, not just the coffee and wifi.  I've never sat there and not paid for anything long enough to find out how long they'd let me, but I also don't think anyone has.

WiFi squatting happens differently in different places and my shop might essentially just not have this problem due to its location, but I stand by my argument for a non-technological solution (people).


One way to nail it is the simple Because Barnes and Noble/Starbucks model, which shows it can be done by big companies.  In Thousand Oaks CA recently, I was working at the Barnes and Noble there in the Starbucks cafe.  Busy place.  When I'd been there a while, the man who worked there (who has for years) asked me politely if he could get me something from the cafe.  When I said no thanks, he politely reminded me that the cafe tables were for customers only to let me know if there was anything he could get me later.  I don't remember his words exactly, but he nailed it.  Polite, efficient.  I bought something asap, happily, and remarked at his method.  I'm not sure if it was his method or if it was Barnes and Noble or Starbucks standard operating procedure (never had this experience at another Starbucks) , but it was good.

So, sorry WEBBeams - requiring me to go through the annoying (but commonish) terms of service page and reminding me (right away, before going online) that there's a 2 hour limit... annoying.

Coffee Bean has the 2 hour limit also, but it worked more easily and didn't get in my face with a paid option.  Hey - I paid for the coffee and stuff, why pitch me on faster web.  Just give it to me and you'll see me come back, a lot.

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