A major conundrum in the coffee shop world has been this: How do you make money when people simply stroll in the door, order one drink, and then sit around taking up table space for hours on end? Plenty of unique methods have been tried to work around this problem. This past October, we covered a coffee shop in Brooklyn called Glass Hour where all the coffee and food is free but patrons paid by the hour just to be there, essentially monetizing time over beverages. And back in 2015, someone created a prototype app that was able to track how long coffee shop customers had been sitting at any given seat. But a café in Vienna has recently introduced an intriguing new type of charge – based, somewhat ironically, on if customers “charge.”
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At the café at Vienna’s Hundertwasserhaus apartment house, some customers are being charged extra for charging their phones, laptops and other devices. Understanding that power is power, an “electricity” fee is being added anytime someone leaves anything plugged in for an extended period of time. “[I]f a guest uses our energy supply for longer than two hours, then I add a euro to their bill,” explained café manager Galina Pokorny, according to The Local. “Every day I get a crowd of tourists who are charging their phones, cameras and tablets.” Pokorny stressed that, according to the Chamber of Commerce, such charges are legal as long as she discloses them.
Though it’s easy to see how a customer might be upset when hit with an unexpected charge for doing something other coffee shops allow for free, as far as these newfangled coffee shop monetization schemes are concerned, charging customers by their charging time might actually be one of the most logical. Unlike space, where the value is subjective and hard to quantify, an electricity bill costs money. Granted, if charging a phone cost about $1 every two hours, many of us would be resorting to using landlines just to save money. Still, if you’re going to be charging your phone for two hours, I don’t think tacking on a €1 fee is outrageous – especially since there’s really no reason to go anywhere if your phone is dead.