Public WiFi hotspots are becoming more and more prevalent and are being used as a value-added feature by many businesses. While the offer of free internet access is sure to attract customers, there are some limits to its cost-effectiveness. This has caused some retailers and coffee shops to institute policies or charges for the service. For customers who want to to continue frequenting that bistro with laptop in tow – and still be welcome to so – the following are 10 rules of public WiFi etiquette you may want to keep in mind.
- Pay Your Way – Remember that the goal for retail venues is sales, and that WiFi is a perk they are providing toward achieving end. Make sure you order something from the menu. For longer stays, make a purchase about once every hour.
- Sit at a smaller table and use one chair. Leave the larger tables for parties of more than one. Use one chair and make the rest available to other tables and patrons, or consider sharing one if no smaller tables are available.
- Charge up before taking your portable device to a public hotspot, thereby minimizing your need for external power. This is a hefty overhead cost for the WiFi host. An extra battery is also a good idea.
- Be a good tipper. Remember, if you’ve got a server, he or she is likely to be subsisting on tips, which are normally based on a percentage of the check. So if you’ve been nursing a latte for over an hour, guess who pays for your visit, Mr. Skinflint?
- Keep it Clean #1 – Be mindful of the websites you visit, and files you may open while in a public place. Avoid any potentially offensive material.
- Keep it Clean #2 – Police your area and minimize the work required to prepare your table for the next visitor. Bus your own table between orders.
- Don’t Hog Bandwidth – Keep the downloads to a minimum. Large file downloads when there’s a large group of users sharing bandwidth is a no-no.
- Keep it Down – Not everyone wants to hear your music or your videos or whatever other kind of audio you’re listening to. Use earphones or a discreetly low volume setting and give those around you a break.
- Mind the Traffic – If it’s none too crowded, then an extended stay to work from your laptop is probably OK. Once things start getting more crowded, though, it may be time to pack it up for the day.
- Obey House Rules – Some establishments have policies regarding internet access, like restricting use during peak business hours, or maximum usage durations. If the AC outlets are covered up, take the hint.