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Customers getting steamed at coffee shops

As college students, many of us get through our days by throwing back cups of coffee or tea. In Bloomington-Normal, there is no shortage of cute little coffee shops to visit, each with their own perks, whether in location, price or taste itself.

But some students really enjoy visiting them for other reasons. They can hang out with their friends, go on a date, or even work on their homework and group projects. However, a coffee shop in Vermont has recently taken to controlling that last option, banning computers and tablets. The reason is that so many people would stay in the café for hours on end, ordering very little and taking up space that other customers could have used.

This makes sense to some, but others are offended. While it makes sense that such customers irritated the coffee shop, it also doesn’t seem entirely fair. The café is located in Burlington, Vt., and after some research, this Editorial Board has learned that there are at least three different colleges there, including large state schools, like University of Vermont. As such, some of the customers are probably students who attend one of these universities.

Because we are located in a college town, it seems like college students are constantly filling up each of the coffee shops here. This has sparked a conversation on the Coffee Hound’s Facebook page, asking its customers how they feel about this issue. Some expressed frustration that they don’t always have a spot to sit with large groups of friends because one person with a laptop and a few textbooks may be taking up a larger table.

The Coffee Hound has responded to some of the comments, stating that it is trying to develop a solution that will help everyone but it expressly stated that people using laptops would not be banned. One idea that was thrown around was to offer more seating.

It’s wonderful to see a business in the area taking such an interest in its customers. This seems to be a pattern with many businesses and organizations, even though they may not all be as open about it. But this Editorial Board also has a few issues to bring up with people using laptops and how the Coffee Hound’s possible solution seems much more fitting than that of the shop in Burlington.

For instance, college students often have roommates. It’s rare to find one who lives alone, and these roommates usually have friends and their own obligations and hobbies. If a person’s roommates are hard to get along with, it’s not going to be easy to do homework, so it makes sense that students may bring their laptops and homework to coffee shops. Yes, they have other options, like Milner Library, but some students just have a preference of atmosphere, plus some students may live closer to a coffee shop, if they are off-campus upperclassmen.

The coffee shop in Vermont explained that it saw an increase in sales with the banning of laptops and tablets, mostly due to the fact that people couldn’t hold down the same table for hours, only purchasing maybe one or two items during an all-day study session. While this makes sense, it also seems like the business may lose some of its reputation. Furthermore, it seems like if one coffee shop in a specific area does this, other shops may end up being affected.

The Coffee Hound’s proposed solution may please customers for the time being, but perhaps other options could be considered. If the businesses are losing customers due to lack of space, they could make up for the lost money by charging for WiFi. That way, those who are squatting with a laptop or tablet all day aren’t necessarily costing the business.

As a whole, this Editorial Board believes that this discussion may be one that pops up all over the country, and we appreciate the concern that the Coffee Hound has exemplified about pleasing its customers. Hopefully, there will be a compromise made that makes most people happy.

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