Free Wifi, Burgoo and Bupkus –
The myopia of P50.00 / hour outlets.

I got called over to my client at Galleria early this morning, twice by staff slightly in hysterics about ‘not being able to connect’. When I got there, the issue it turns out, whatever the heck that was, resolved by itself. In other words, I pretty much wasted my day as I am unable to do most of my to-do list. I like using Kramer (my Athlon XP desktop, 1gb. RAM with a lovely 19″ LCD) for webwork and coding, and Karen, the laptop, for just plain watching videos and writing. And by golly do I have a lot to code.

And so it turns out, it’s just me, an underpowered Karen (for the work I wanna do), Robinson Galeria’s Free WiFi, and a shitload of work today. Going home this afternoon isn’t a good idea as I wanna play in our weekly ballgame this evening. The trip from Ortigas to Cainta and back again is a major pain that’d leave me too wasted to work. And if I do work, I’m sure I’d be too wasted to play afterwards.

Which leads me then to my main topic: The myopia of restaurants at the ‘tech lounge’ that see it fit to charge P50 / hour to plug a laptop into their outlets, regardless of whether you ordered anything or not. To me, it’s painfully obvious how disastrous that move is in terms of PR. You can show me all the stats, bills and studies made about customers over – using their privilege and so on, but all I have to do is one thing : Tell people (via my blog or whatever) that restos at the ‘tech lounge’ charge P50 / hour whether you order anything or not – and you should get my point.

And if you don’t get my point, well, here it is: The moment I blog that and tell people like me about it (who in turn, will tell others about it. Don’t underestimate how small this world is), – people are gonna start avoiding the place. And all those restos (I really wish I could name but fortunately for them I forgot their names. I only remember one but to be fair, I wanna name all of them), can stick all their bills and cost analysis of why it costs P50 / hour to plug a 12v DC laptop up where the sun don’t shine.

And to top it all off? Here I am at Burgoo’s at the top level, enjoying a P50.00 bottomless Diet Coke while writing this and, you guessed it, Karen happily plugged away at the wall. Further to this, I really like the sitting position here. The couch is soft and comfy, while the table is big and sturdy. It would be nice if they could play something else other than that crazy elevator music Tadao Hayashi crap (patawarin), and I wish I could remove this big piece of paper they use as a table cloth, but I’m not gonna bitch. The staff is nice and courteous, they let me use the outlet while I ‘work’ away, and they refill my P50.00 bottomless Coke no problemo. Meanwhile the restos 4 floors below can go ahead and charge their P50.00 / hour to use their outlets, while in the meantime here I am, writing about a better deal four floors above, and whoever reads this will know, learn it for themselves, tell others maybe, and maybe even blog about it.

Well, ok, I did order a P125.00 meal along with the Coke. And no, I don’t think I’d do this to Burgoo if the resto was full (it’s 4pm and it’s near deserted), and no I don’t think I’d do this either if I was just gonna order a Coke. But hey, the privilege of using a free service goes both ways. I, as the customer, will exercise restraint while in the meantime, the establishments need to exercise common sense.

And so what would I do if I were managing one of the restos below? Well, any one of a number of things I guess. Charge a minimum fee (aka, make people buy something)? Give a drink to go along with the P50.00 / hour? Schedule an allowed time for free users (their slowest times of the day I imagine)? Charge less, maybe P25 instead? I dunno. I don’t see their costs so I’m just shooting in the dark here.

What I do know however, is that charging P50.00 every hour is too much, and is silly. Especially in the light of two things: 1. It’s only a 12v DC charger – the equivalent of – I dunno – a small lamp?, and 2., All the other establishments at the other floors, where Free Wifi is just as available, are charging bupkus.

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