Have you ever sat in a cafe, immersed in your assignment or project, when you feel a tap on your shoulder and it’s the cafe attendant. “Sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You’re taking up the tables for our other customers”.
It’s not uncommon to see students or adults occupying tables at a cafe to study or work. Sometimes it provides a conducive environment to get some work done. It can get annoying, however if you’re looking for a nice place to chillax only to find the tables full of students or adults with their reading materials and laptops out. Even worse if the humans who belong to these items are nowhere to be found!
But are cafes and coffee shops legally allowed to halau paying customers on the grounds of hogging tables?
In not so many words, yes they can.
Of course, we’re not talking about those who freeload the wifi and plug points without buying anything. You know who you are. If you didn’t buy anything, you’re technically not a customer okay? We’re referring to actual paying customers who come in and buy something at hourly intervals, but stay for a really long time.
A cafe is very much like a house to cafe owners; they are authorised to run their businesses however they want so long as they aren’t breaking any laws. That being said, so long as the cafe’s house rules clearly state they are at liberty to ask customers to leave, it’s perfectly legal.
But the customer is always right what, so it’s my right to sit how long I want!
Well, yes and no. As a customer, you reserve the right to receive fair and good quality service. However, businesses also reserve the right to turn customers away if it affects their business. For example, if the customer is being rowdy and affecting other customers or in this case, taking up too many seats that prevent new customers from coming in. Aiyo, people also need to make money one mah!
Of course, there’s something to be said for the non-confrontational Asian culture. Instead of chasing seat-hoggers away, most cafes would passive-aggressively discourage them from staying long by implementing different measures; uncomfortable seats and limited Wi-Fi being the main factors. Most cafes would also put up a sign of their ‘house rules’ to be upfront with how they run their business.
In short, be considerate of the cafes the next time you plan on sitting there for a looooong time. People need to run their business and earn money also you know. As long as you’re sitting there for the WI-FI and space, at least buy something every couple of hours or so and I’m sure they won’t mind you working there for hours on end!
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