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McDonald’s offer users free WiFi at its restaurants and now is concerned that users linger too long and take up seats.

Well that’s a big “DUH!” What did they expect? According to this article:

The average session time is around 35 minutes “whereas an average patron would normally spend around 10 minutes in the restaurant”

Of course they’re finding the downside is that there is less seating for the eating customers – again no surprise. WiFi users also take up more space as they sprawl out with their laptops, computer bags, etc. The issue here is that free WiFi gets people in the door but apparently does not add materially to sales and may in fact be discouraging sales as space becomes a premium.

Last time I was in Venice I used this service to avoid using a local internet cafe – I figured “why not?” I don’t know how McDonald’s approaches other markets but my experience was less than thrilling.

First, I don’t like McDonald’s food – the fries are OK, maybe the salads, but not much more than that. I would go in and ask for an espresso. Turns out the coffee machine was broken (this lasted at least a week). I wind up purchasing an aqua minerale and look for a seat.

What I want is a plug so I can use my power brick rather than battery. When traveling from the USA to Europe, the plugs are different and you need an adapter. It turns out that the prongs on my adapter are just a tad too fat to fit in the plug, so the first session was on battery. My friend had an adapter that used slimmer prongs and the next session was on mains power.

I boot up and I’m confronted with a password screen – back to the folks behind the counter and I get the password. So far so good.

As I’m doing my thing, I then notice the music – loud, pounding EuroTech music. At first it was tolerable, but after about 15 minutes it really starts to get annoying. Maybe this is part of the plan? Perhaps this is not a big deal to some, but for me it wears me down, but I persist for an hour.

Next time same routine – no coffee, aqua minerale plug in etc. Now it turns out the login is different – I ask again and they say try this, etc. Finally after some convoluted stuff, I’m on but the music is the same. I stick it out anyway.

Third time I go through the initial routine and get on, but then the service starts dropping out at random intervals. One hour turns out to be more like 30 minutes of actual use time.

OK – I had enough! Off to the internet cafe where they know me enough to let me plug into the network directly – no passwords, no hassle, no loud music.

You get what you pay for – don’t be surprised that the McWiFi experience might be less than you expect.

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