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