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Should restaurants charge you for using their power outlets?

serendra-a-different-bookstore.jpg

I’ve coined Serendra and the Bonifacio High Street my official satellite office. With Serendra sporting FREE wireless Internet from the areas of A Different Bookstore to Miss Desserts, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf area as well as Bo’s Coffee, I can find so many reasons why working in that area can be so relaxing.

I must admit, the Bonifacio High Street – Serendra strip is a bit pricey, but the atmosphere conveys such a relaxing tone to your spirit that I wouldn’t mind spending the extra bucks lounging around. Here are two observations of the best places to chill with a computer: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has an ample amount of wall plugs, and the staff allows you to plug in your laptops without charging. A Different Bookstore would have been another good choice to park yourself in for some mobile computing, but they have sadly started charging you for plugging in computers.

Should restaurants charge you for using their power outlets?

Although I feel that it is the right of an establishment to charge for these things, I have strong opinions too on why they shouldn’t. For one, I don’t think the cost per KW hour of electricity is a lot for a laptop charger. With food being priced at least 100% above operating cost (correct me if I’m wrong), having a laptop friendly restaurant should be a marketing tool used in today’s society. Any restaurant that charges for electricity should be seen as a scrooge and backward with the times.

Back in Paranaque, the local Mocha Blends branch at President’s Avenue is packed with people till about 2 or 3AM. That’s on a weekday. The staff allows people to plug in their computers and even has a stash of extension cords available upon request. The end result is that the place has become a haven for WiFi warriors, law students (the staff has an easel and pen which they provide these types of customers for study groups) and the late night crowd that are allowed to stay on outside even when the restaurant is closed. Isn’t that great? With these small gestures from the staff, they have managed to build a community of regular patrons!

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

23 replies on “Should restaurants charge you for using their power outlets?”

I’ve been to Bonifacio High Street for a couple of times already (since the day when most of the sotres are still close 😛 ). Bad thing, I don’t have a laptop and I can’t experience the free WiFi. I think they should charge A LITTLE for allowing you to plug in your laptop but they should waive the fee if you bought a lot from them.

@ migs – the free wifi at serendra is provided by globe. bo’s coffee’s wifi is leaked although there is a sign outside that says “wifi zone.” as for CBTL, im not sure if the hotspot is leaked or not.

oh the CBTL router just says “linksys” really so it could be coming from the office above. mag:net cafe will be having wifi soon too.

bo’s uses an obvious office hotspot but gee, they claim to be getting their own soon.

the starbucks area is a dead spot.

I was in Figaro across Salon de Manila in Salcedo Village right after the Milenyo . I was so peeved that they taped over their power outlets. I was willing to pay for the use of their power. Yes, if restos are being anal about their power, they should just charge instead of taping it over. Grr. Of course, its best if it’s free .

Maybe they want to keep your stay there within the 3-4 hour limit of your laptop battery to make space for the other customers? Especially if it’s a small coffee shop. Just a guess.

I totally agree, Bonifacio High Street is great brunch/lunch hideout for snippets of quiet time in the midst of a toxic day. For some strange reason, I couldn’t connect to any of the wifi networks I find, and my mb can’t run iStumbler. Bummer. I guess I just have to wait for Airborne Access to cover the area, which is pretty soon according to the Starbucks people. 🙂

law students (the staff has an easel and pen which they provide these types of customers for study groups)

Wow, this has to take the cake for customer service.

No, i think the connections should be included in the service.
And youre right, with the over 100% earnings, they wouldnt even spend much on the conections

gloria jeans in fort bonifacio also has free wifi. i’m not sure though if its leaked off somewhere. but they also let you plug in for free! plus, it’s open 24 hours. that’s why even though we’re from pasig, ua&p students flock there especially IMC 4th yrs.

and i have to agree, since all these establishments charge their products way higher than usual, this small gesture can really take them places.

Plugging in to commercial electricity outlets could be habit forming. if you’re used to a couple of establishments allowing customers to plug in, you may react violently or at least compare them with those who don’t allow it.

of course, plugging in could be abused. you can physically be plugging in one power cable but plugging in several usb chargers on to your laptop using more electricity or at least getting more out of it.

I’ve also seen some brave people who look for an electrical socket anywhere and try to plug in their laptop. The bravest I’ve seen so far was a person on a bench in one of the Makati malls, and was beside a post with an outlet.

Could the same reasoning be used to charge mobile phones ? I doubt they’d disallow that, which is why some establishments would disallow laptops plugging in too.

Just my 0.02 cents worth.

it should be free! can’t businesses think of giving away something sometimes instead of taking everytime???

I think even if and only if the practice is abused, it won’t cause the company to go bankrupt, won’t it?

Apart from Starbucks in SM and John Hay, there’s also the fast-rising the newest cafe named Zola (Zest of Life’s Abundance) conveniently nestled at the upper portion of SEssion Road that offers free wi-fi connection and yes, plug in. This place is open for 24 hours, just like successful strategies, it has literally built a community of geeks and surprisingly, it’s the IT place to go–

They should not charge at all! One hour of of a plugged laptop shouldn’t cost more than 5 pesos worth of electricity. I loved the Mocha Blends branch in BF Homes Paranaque, as Jayvee has mentioned, back when I temporarily lived there. The staff were very friendly and they really allow you to plug in your laptop.

That’s why I was *really pissed* when the Mocha Blends at BF Resort Village charged me 50 pesos per hour! I never went back to that Mocha Blends again.

It’s not the electricity that is expensive, it is the aircon that is expensive so it’s understandable if an establishment charges for such use.

On the other hand, I don’t think customers would complain if they are charged for use of electricity as long as it’s a reasonable rate. P10 per hour or a flat rate of P30 is fair for me.

I’d like to add, it’s not the use of electricity that’s the problem. It’s more of the hogging of space for an extended period of time. Customers should learn to vacate their seats when the seats start filling up and they’ve stayed for a reasonably lengthy period. Only in the Philippines can you find crocodiles in Starbucks.

[…] Should Restaurants Charge for Using Power Outlets? // June 2 2007 Back in Paranaque, the local Mocha Blends branch at President’s Avenue is packed with people till about 2 or 3AM. That’s on a weekday. The staff allows people to plug in their computers and even has a stash of extension cords available upon request. The end result is that the place has become a haven for WiFi warriors, law students (the staff has an easel and pen which they provide these types of customers for study groups) and the late night crowd that are allowed to stay on outside even when the restaurant is closed. Isn’t that great? With these small gestures from the staff, they have managed to build a community of regular patrons! [Read] […]

[…] however big or small, one needs to equip themselves with as much knowledge as possible. In order to attract customers who frequent other stores is to know what they are doing different. As and when you gain more information, your business gets […]

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