Starbucks logoStarbucks, the coffee chain famous for its willingness to allow customers to use their stores as they see fit, may be taking a slightly different view of those that set up a mobile office in their stores, at least if you’re in New York City.

What started off as a rumor of outlets being replaced with blank face plats in some New York City Starbucks seems to be true.  First reported by a blog aptly named “Starbucks Gossip,” a reader wrote in that outlets were disappearing from some locations.

I will tell you that the NY Metro leadership team has stated they are against covering the outlets because it is a passive aggressive way to deal with the issue. However, in extreme cases, they have approved this action because (and let’s be real here) some people just cannot be reasoned with.

This was followed up by a second comment from the same person:

If you are one of those people who uses Starbucks as their office, sits in a store for 8+ hours a day, putting all your files on a table, using a separate chair for your laptop case/ suitcase enjoying unlimited free refills with your Starbucks card, asking for cups of water and refuse to to move until you are good and ready all for the $1.85 you pay as “rent,” then perhaps your actions will answer your questions [about covering the outlets].

As Starbucks have become a favorite location for many mobile users, it would seem that this may be a way of saying it’s time to move along. We reached out for Starbucks for comment, but we had not heard anything back from the company by the time this post was published. They did provide a comment to The Wall Street Journal however about the company’s policy regarding electricity:

…there is no company-wide policy dictating the availability of power outlets. However, individual locations are allowed to make such a decision to satisfy both types of customers – those wanting a quick break and others who stay for a longer time …

There has been a rather heated debate about this subject for some time when it comes to smaller coffee shops, but up until now Starbucks has taken a very laze faire attitude towards customers using their stores as offices.  This does not appear to be a nation-wide decision as of yet, or even a city-wide one for New York, but stores with the worst offenders seem to be finally striking back at them.

Is it the right thing to do?  I suppose it depends on if you are one of the people who hangs out in Starbucks for hours on end.  Speaking as an infrequent visitor as my town does not have one (yes, such places do exist), I have used them as ports in a storm as I travel, but I rarely, if ever, use their outlets.  I’m usually traveling, I get in, get my coffee, check whatever I need to check online and get out, and usually I still have a couple sips of coffee left as I go.  I can see why they might not want people sitting in their stores all day, especially in a city such as Manhattan where rent is astronomical.

What do you think about the concept that Starbucks may start frowning on laptop usage?