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wavLength: June 3, 2008 Archive

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Starbucks "free" Wi-Fi a debacle on day 1

Posted at 1:16 PM on June 3, 2008 by Jon Gordon (3 Comments)

I stopped in to one of my local Starbucks stores to test the new AT&T Wi-Fi. Disaster.

It's supposed to work this way: Wi-Fi is free and unlimited for AT&T Internet customers; others load a Starbucks card with at least $5, sign up for the Starbucks Rewards Card Program (providing their name, physical address, and email address), and use the card at least once a month. If you meet all those criteria, you can use the AT&T Wi-Fi in Starbucks stores for two hours per day, but only in one sitting - no coming back for your minutes.

Granted, it's only day one but I'm sitting here in Starbucks trying to cool off with a hot cappuccino after a major hassle getting online. First, the barristas had no idea the new system is supposed to work. Second, the online sign-up process was excruciatingly slow. After the system kept rejecting my new Starbucks card, the local staff suggested I needed to put more money on the card. So I did, and still no luck. I got error after error from the registration site. I did get online eventually, but it took me nearly an hour in the store to make it happen, and I put more money on the Starbucks card than was necessary.

So now I'm online. Whoopee. The "free" Wi-Fi cost me time, frustration, personal information, and $10 on a Starbucks card that I would have preferred spending at a place that makes better coffee.

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