How publicans really feel about customers abusing Wi-Fi

By Georgina Townshend contact

- Last updated on GMT

Wi-Fi debate: is it possible for customers to abuse free service?
Wi-Fi debate: is it possible for customers to abuse free service?

Related tags: Coffee

As publicans continue to adapt to consumer demand, should pubs allow customers to stay for hours using the free Wi-Fi despite only buying one drink? Or, would they be right to ask them to leave?

We all know the type, a customer that will come into the pub, take advantage of the free Wi-Fi and ask for a tap water – remaining in the best spot for hours. 

However, despite it being frustrating, four publicans discuss why they believe letting customers into their pub, while not purchasing much, is still a good thing.

Impossible to sell an empty room

Lee Price

Lee Price, of the Royal Pier, Aberystwyth, said: "Although not always right, the customer remains king.

“Guest satisfaction nowadays goes beyond service, it's about experience and because a poor one has the ability to explode on social media and cause reputational harm, I think you have to be more tolerant and thankful for bums on seats.

“After all, it's impossible to sell to an empty room.”

Stops the staff slacking


Heath Ball, of the Red Lion & Sun Inn, Highgate, north London, said: “I don’t mind customers coming in using the internet and sitting on one drink at lunch times.

“It keeps the pub looking busy and stops the staff slacking around.

“Also they might come back in the future and spend more after seeing the offer.”

Sugar rather than vinegar

Kevin Abbott
Kevin Abbott

Kevin Abbott, of the Anchor, Wingham, Kent, said: “We get people using the pub as an office occasionally but aren’t overly worried. When it’s evident they’re settling down for a while, we offer attentive service at the table. When we clear an empty coffee cup, we offer another and if it’s during a meal service, we offer a menu and, to be fair, most people spend money.

“If we’re approaching a service and they’re on a prime table, or we know we are going to be busy, we do explain that we don’t mind them being there but may ask them to move if the table is needed for diners. We tend to take a sugar rather than vinegar approach.

“We had one guy last year that used to come in and sit on the sofas in front of the fire (the best seat in the house) he’d buy all of the papers and sit there from 11am until 4pm and drink two cups of tea, he was basically using it as his living room.

“When we got busy we would just ask him to move because someone had phoned and requested the table for lunch, he soon got the message and stopped coming in.”

Meeting point

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson, of the Elephant, Liverpool, said: “We are at the heart of Woolton village and we welcome anyone whether they are busy working away on laptops, having coffee with their nan, or doing homework with the kids.

“We want our pub the be the meeting point for all in the community to enjoy our company and have a lovely time eating drinking and being sociable.”

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