Scott Hodge


Caribou’s FREE WI-FI and then some…

Oct 18, 2006


I was near a Caribou Coffee this afternoon and decided to slip in for a couple of hours to do some writing.  Immediately after walking in I noticed signs all over the place that advertised, "FREE WI-FI!"  So being the hi-fi, wi-fi, mobile, on-the-verge-of-being-a-computer-geek that I am, I logged on and immediately noticed that I had to have an "access code."  No big deal, right?  So I walked up to the counter, got the "access card", logged on and was happily connected…

……until 60 minutes later when it kicked me off unexpectedly and asked for a new access code. 

So I went up to the counter and asked for another card and with a weird, sort of hesitated grin the barista behind the counter handed me a new one.  As I walked away, I remember thinking, "Ok, that was kinda awkward and I have no idea why…" 

Back to work and once again, 60 minutes later – you guessed it!  New access cared needed.  So I went back up again (with a BIG smile on my face!), and sure enough, the same barista hesitantly (and with a long pause) gave me another card along with a look and a SIGH that said, "Why would you possibly need to work here in this coffeehouse for 3 whole hours???!"


See, this is unfortunate.  Because there’s nothing worse than giving something away for free and then making people feel like crap for taking advantage of it.  Not only that, but if you are going to give something away for free, MAKE IT EASY!  I would much rather pay and the process be EASY than have it free with all of these headaches.  It’s just not worth it…

So I’m thinking…  Instead of advertising it as "FREE WI-FI", how about something a little more appropriate – like: 

"FREE WI-FI along with FREE attitude and FREE awkwardness and CRAPPY coffee that really isn’t that good anyway." 

Ok, the complaining is done.  If this is as challenging as my day gets, this is pretty good! 

14 Responses to “Caribou’s FREE WI-FI and then some…”

  1. Truitt says:

    also: i got the new john mayer yesterday and it is changing my life.

  2. Dave Anasco says:

    That is why Panera rules. I have sat at Panera Bread for hours, no drops with their free wifi. Even better, a Starbucks located next to or just a few doors down from Panera Bread. You can enjoy Starbucks coffee and the free wifi from Panera. The coffee at Panera is not too bad either.

  3. Chris Bell says:

    Scott – If you have SBC yahoo DSL at home or office, you can add the AT&T WiFi (caribou’s) for a dollar a month… it shows up on your home bill. But I’ve been there with your hour at a time scenario… what a laugh!

  4. that’s funny, i have been using caribou wifi and have never gotten the free attitude or the free awkwardness? what is the deal? i feel like i am getting ripped off now. and i even like their coffee.
    and by the way, not that they are using the free stuff they have discontinued the at&t option.
    long live the ‘bou.

  5. Tony says:

    The ‘Bou that is closest to me is literally on the same block as the local branch of IBM. No Wi-Fi. That just ticks me off to no end. We don’t have many good Starbucks here and we have about 7 Bous ina town of 100,000. No real independent shops either, if we did, I would be there totally.

  6. Allen Arnn says:

    This coffee shop office thing is getting funny. I’ve been spending a LOT of time in this local independent coffee shop and I’m starting to feel bad about how I pay only $1.68 for a Coke or coffee and sit there for hours on their free internet and in their cool A/C. They even have free donuts sitting out. How can they stay in business?
    I WAS just bringing a laptop… but lately I’ve been bringing and plugging in a big external harddrive for video editing. Maybe I’ll see how far I can go… a bookshelf with my books, hanging my kids pictures on the wall.

  7. Joni says:

    I dare you to go back and keep working until you get to have a conversation with the barista about why you do what you do.

  8. Matt says:

    This sounds like a Seth Godin post! I wonder what he would have to say about it? Which reminds me, I need to check in on his blog from my own Wi-Fi, not located in a coffee shop where I don’t have to worry about the looks of baristas…
    Just kidding, I do need to get out more often.

  9. brian Orme says:

    Hilarious! At least they don’t have it chained to a cinder block, I guess.
    BTW, thanks for the link, Scott.

  10. brian Orme says:

    Hilarious! At least they don’t have it chained to a cinder block with the bathroom key, I guess.
    BTW, thanks for the link, Scott.

  11. at least your coffee shops have free wifi, only place over here that has wifi at all is starbucks, and u have to pay for it

  12. I’ve not had any success with Caribou and Wi-fi. Their coffee is good, pastries are only so-so. If they’re near where I need to be I’ll stop and get a cup. Otherwise, I see out other shops.

  13. quitcomplaining says:

    Come on gang, they’re giving you wifi. The hour limit is because it’s not your home, it’s a business. I don’t consider it unfair of them to expect you buy something now and then if you’re gonna leech of their wifi. They looked weird at you because you are supposed to buy something. If you don’t, go home; cheapskate. By the way, I’m posting this from Caribou.

  14. LMM says:

    Happy to report that Cbou has done away with the restrictions and time limit!

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