Primary File

August First Bakery & Café Pulls the Plug on Laptop and iPad Use

Paul E. Olsen
January 1, 2015
North America
Strategy & General Management
4 pages
Customer Service, hospitality, Hospitality Management, small business, small business management
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.75)
Average rating: 

This critical incident describes Jodi Whalen and Phil Merrick’s decision to go “screen free” by prohibiting use of laptops, iPads, and electronic reading devices at their restaurant, August First Bakery & Café. Whalen and Merrick made the decision to address the problem of Wi-Fi squatters, customers who spent hours at the café working on electronic devices while purchasing little food. Whalen and Merrick estimate that Wi-Fi squatters cost them $15,000 annually in lost business. Customer response to the new policy was mixed. While some customers welcomed the ban, others said they would not return to August First Bakery & Café. The wisdom of the decision, the policy’s impact on customer service at August First Bakery & Café, the “screen free” movement, and the issue of Wi-Fi squatters are central to the critical incident.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Identify the issue of Wi-Fi squatters;
  2. Describe the “screen free” movement and evaluate the arguments for and against adopting a screen free policy;
  3. Analyze the challenges small business owners face from multiple stakeholders; and
  4. Evaluate how policy decisions (e.g. prohibiting laptops, iPads, and other electronic reading devices) impact customer service.