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This coffee shop has banned laptops and tablets – but does it count as bullying?

2-minute read

Sam Bromley

21 November 2019

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A coffee shop on England's Lane in north London is the latest to ban people from using laptops and tablets.

Business owner Mojgan Mohajer, 51, made the decision after getting complaints from customers who couldn’t get a table at the weekend.

But while the coffee shop is part of a growing trend of businesses turning their backs on technology, one writer says the move amounts to bullying. Do you think it’s unfair, or does it make business sense?

A ban on technology at the weekend

Chromebooks and Macs, iPhones and Androids – no matter the device, the combination of technology and coffee is a familiar sight in cafés all over the country.

It helps that lots of coffee shops and cafés offer free WiFi, meaning customers can get lost in important projects or conversations while they eat and drink.

But Mojgan Mohajer is the latest business owner to join a growing anti-screen movement. She runs a coffee shop in north London and has recently issued a ban on laptops and tablets at the weekends, when space is particularly limited.

She told the Daily Mail: “I received a lot of complaints from customers during the weekend that lots of people were coming with a laptop and sitting and they couldn't have a table.

“I was really upset. I just want to encourage them to be social and to enjoy the coffee, drinking, eating, and to talk to each other.”

”A situation where I was being bullied”

Writer Francesca Specter, 28, was asked to leave the north London coffee shop after trying to read a Sunday newspaper on her iPad.

She said: “I live by myself and part of my weekend routine is I go and get some headspace and enjoy breakfast and brunch by myself at one of the local cafés. The owner took one look at the iPad I was reading my paper on and said you can't do that in here.

“I thought it was a situation where I was being bullied and I was by myself so I was in this minority. I had to leave and haven't been back since.”

The coffee shops shunning technology

Francesca Specter blogs about the joys of spending time by yourself. She said that she’d been going to the café for two years and that people should feel able to occupy public spaces alone.

But for smaller independent cafés, customers spending too much time on their devices could end up hurting their bottom line.

The Guardian mentions three coffee shops in Brighton that have scrapped free WiFi “because they believe it is costing them revenue as a result of laptoppers spending too much time – and too little money – taking up tables.”

And Small Talk Tearooms in Bourton-on-the-Water told GloucestershireLive in 2017 that they’ve been going 14 years without WiFi. They don’t plan to install it any time soon, as they can’t afford it: “People turn up, buy one coffee, and spend all day sat a table using the Wi-Fi. We need customers coming in and out throughout the day to survive, we're only a small business.”

What do you think about coffee shops banning technology? Let us know in the comments below.

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