Dear Yorma's...

Dear Yorma's [1],

why do you want to piss off your customers?

The story/rant: /me walks into Yorma's cafe, as I missed my train and had to wait quite a while for the next one. I ask one of the clerks ($clerk1) whether I may plug my laptop in that power socket on the wall in order to charge my laptop battery. $clerk1 says "sure", I order a coffee for ca. 2 Euros (don't remember the exact price), sit down, plug in my laptop and start coding and reading stuff.

After a while $clerk2 looks funny at me multiple times, turns around, talks to someone (her boss, I guess), looks funny at me again etc... I'm a bit confused, but continue to sip my coffee. Then, $clerk2 comes to my table and tells me her boss would like her to tell me that using the power socket is forbidden. I think "wtf?", but ask nicely "why?". Answer: "Because it's forbidden". Yeah, whatever... I shake my head, unplug the laptop, continue drinking my coffee and doing stuff on my laptop until my train arrives...

Before I leave I want to talk to the boss, but $clerk2 tells me that "she's not here right now". So I ask $clerk2 for the reason of me not being allowed to charge my laptop here. After a few stupid (non-)answers, I ask her to tell her boss that I just drank a coffee for >= 2 Euros and that I honestly doubt my laptop charging cost them more than a few cents... And that her boss should probably rethink her PR stategy and her handling of customers a bit. I mean, seriously, what are they afraid of? That I could launch a terrorist attack on the electricity network of the whole town or what?

Oh man, what a crazy world we live in...


[1] Yormas is a snack/cafe chain you find in many train stations here in Germany. They sell stuff and run a small cafe where people can sit and drink a coffee or something.


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Oh well. I live in Germany and never encountered a "Yorma's". Despite of me living in Southern Germany, what did I do wrong?


Hm, maybe I overestimated the size of the chain. I had the impression that it was something like McDonalds which exists in many towns... Well, I know at least one in Munich and one in Ingolstadt, no idea whether there are more...


"Camping" laptop users at cafes

In the USA, some coffee places have the problem of customers who buy one cup of coffee and then use a table for a long time. So the businesses block or switch off outlets, using the customer's laptop battery as a "table timer". (Starbucks charges for wireless Internet access and I've never had a problem using an outlet at a Starbucks. Usually the places with a "no power" policy also have free wireless.)

Coffee + Laptop

Well, true, that might be a problem for such places, but it's neither related to laptops nor to power supply. I can buy one coffee and stay forever talking to friends or reading a paper or a book or whatnot...

Oh, and the cafe was almost empty when I was there, so that was probably not the problem they had.

Maybe they're uninsured for

Maybe they're uninsured for random people plugging untested electrical equipment into their supply, meaning that the fire insurance that holds almost infinite utility to them (since it doesn't cost much and they go bankrupt if it doesn't work) would become useless if you caused a fire?

That said, I agree wholeheartedly that it is far better PR for them to give free power. You just sound a little too much like it's your right to use their electricity. ;-)

- C.


Hm, I sound a little bit like it's my right to use their electricity because I feel it is my right ;-) Seriously though, in a world where we're not too far away from WLAN everywhere one would think that having electricty everywhere shouldn't be too much to ask for (IMHO).

The fire insurance might be a valid point, but I don't see a difference between them plugging in a vacuum cleaner or me plugging in a laptop (or charging my mobile phone for that matter).

Oh well...