Las Vegas Sun

June 18, 2024

Looking in on: City Hall:

Student booted from coffee shop for Wi-Fi use gets little sympathy

When is free Wi-Fi not free?

When the free Wi-Fi user has worn out his welcome.

At least, that’s how several people see it who wrote or called the Sun in response to a story last week about the availability of free Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity, Internet access in coffee shops.

The story included the tale of a UNLV graduate student who was kicked out of the It’s a Grind coffeehouse at Desert Inn Road and Durango Drive, accused of not buying enough coffee to justify his use of the Wi-Fi.

Some readers wrote that businesses advertise “free” this or that, but the deal usually comes with the understanding that the freebie is available only to those who purchase other goods. How much coffee, then, is enough to justify a few hours of Wi-Fi use?

Terry Barcus, a 34-year-old eBay entrepreneur, said he used to take advantage of the Wi-Fi at the It’s a Grind mentioned in the story. He went to the store so often, he joked, the store’s cash register had a special button just for his purchases.

“I’d spend $15 to $30 a day there, every day,” Barcus said.

He stopped going, he said, because it got so full of Wi-Fi users that he couldn’t find a place to sit down and plug in.

“There are people there who pitch a tent,” Barcus said. “And I believe there is a point where you take advantage of someone’s good hospitality and wear out your welcome.”

He defended the store’s owner for kicking out the UNLV student.

“I can assure you, (the owner) would not tell someone who ordered a $4 drink to beat it,” he added.

Barcus, who once worked at a motorcycle dealership, said he witnessed similar behavior when the dealership gave away free hot dogs to prospective buyers.

“Dads would show up with the two kids,” he said. “They’d each have a plastic bag from Terrible Herbst; they’d fill the bags with potato chips and hot dogs and leave.”

• • •

Standing by as proclamations were handed out and photos taken in Las Vegas City Hall chambers Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley took the microphone and made one thing clear.

“While we present these certificates of congressional recognition ... I think this is just as good as the piece of paper it is written on,” the Nevada Democrat said. “What we really need is serious congressional support to sign onto this legislation and get it passed.”

She was talking about House Resolution 2702, introduced last year and designed to improve education benefits for the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, Berkley and representatives of Sen. John Ensign, Rep. Jon Porter and Gov. Jim Gibbons held a news conference to publicize a private program to help veterans pay for college in the absence of an up-to-date GI Bill.

The average four-year state college costs more than $65,000 for in-state students and $105,000 for out-of-state students, and private colleges cost upward of $133,000 over four years, according to the College Board. The maximum college aid a veteran can receive under the GI Bill, however, is only about $39,000.

Berkley is among the 111 co-sponsors of the House resolution to improve those benefits.

A spokesman for Porter said he would also back a resolution supporting “all veterans.”

• • •

If a sports arena is built downtown, it might not be built near Charleston Boulevard after all. Goodman said at his Thursday news conference that developers are considering a site closer to the Stratosphere.

No matter where it goes, Goodman again noted the need to move quickly.

Partnering with Anschutz Entertainment Group, Harrah’s Entertainment also has plans to build an arena, but near the Strip, outside the city. Goodman has suggested that the first group to get shovels into the ground will be more likely to attract a professional sports franchise.

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