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The fight against Starbucks squatters

"They told me to buy a cup of coffee or leave."

Next time you go to Starbucks to mooch off of their free Internet -- if you can even find a table among the already established and probably daily moochers -- at least have the decency to buy something. Or, you could very well be intimidated out of the coffee haven by the police.

As evidenced by this account tipped to Gawker, one Starbucks in Manhattan did just that to take care of a "laptop hobo" problem:

Well-dressed guy, sitting by the window at a clean table. Two police came in. The conversation went something like this:

Guy: "They told me to buy a cup of coffee or leave. That's pressure. I'm in Starbucks all the time. This isn't a Mom & Pop store."

Police: "It's a business and you have to buy something."

Guy: "Is this any way to run a business? I'm leaving, but I want your badge numbers."

He also said he'd get it publicized—I doubt he will— but since I was sitting so close, I thought I'd add it to the Starbucks crackdown list.

Meanwhile a homeless woman was barking at the napkin dispensers.

Starbucks began a crackdown against laptop loungers in early August, as the Starbucks Gossip blog (via Time) notes, covering electrical outlets with blank faceplates:

If you are one of those people who uses Starbucks as their office, sits in a store for 8+ hours a day, putting all your files on a table, using a separate chair for your laptop case/ suitcase enjoying unlimited free refills with your Starbucks card, asking for cups of water and refuse to to move until you are good and ready all for the $1.85 you pay as "rent," then perhaps your actions will answer your questions [about covering the outlets].

Perhaps instead of covering outlets, Starbucks should go the route of other coffee shop wi-fi providers and limit Internet use with a specific access code printed on the receipt of purchase, good for a limited time. Then, rent for a coffee shop table would at least be more fair at around $8 for an 8-hour day.

One last thing…
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