Friday, 10 October 2014

Out of touch?

Mark Daniels complains here about pubs failing to offer free wi-fi, and reckons that “talk to each other instead” has become a hackneyed excuse that is no longer funny. Now, it’s up to each individual pub to decide whether providing wi-fi makes commercial sense, and unlike some other “features” such as Sky Sports it doesn’t really impinge on other customers’ experience.

However, this view stems from the attitude that pubs should be contemporary, wipe-clean, family-friendly retail outlets where the more “facilities” they offer the better. Surely, though, a pub is more than just a business – it is about tradition, character and community, and very often pubs are valued as places where people can escape, if only for a couple of hours, from the stresses and pressures of everyday life.

Personally, while I might avail myself of the facility in Spoons or wherever, I’d see a pub making a point of not providing wi-fi as a positive feature. You wouldn’t whinge about its absence in a church or a historic house, and the same should be true of pubs.

I’ve created a new poll on the issue here.


  1. Wi-Fi in Wetherspoons comes as no surpise,the living dead trying to contact life forms elsewhere or
    googling for spiritual reinforcement.Very handy for the
    bearded ,corduroyed froth sniffing ensembles clicking feverishly for excuses to have an early night. Must'nt forget the
    frisky fillies loudly proclaiming
    their recent contortions with some
    non existent randy low life.
    And of course the lone pervs in the corners catching up on some
    gratifying naughties.
    Bless em

  2. Sure wifi is pretty handy, but if I am in a pub with my mates, what possible reason could I have for being? Beyond the obvious bragging about the awesome American IPA I am drinking, whilst taking Instagram pictures of my burger and hoping to get lots of likes and comments about how my followers are jealous or some such vacuous shite. Yes my Instagram has lots of beer and food in it, but pretty much only if I am drinking alone, once my friends arrive the phone is put away. Plus, and maybe I am out of touch with the UK, but isn't there 3G phone service to hook up to?

  3. Depends on what you use a pub for.

    9am-7pm All I want out of customer service places (inc pubs) is a bit of free office space. MacDonald’s, Spoons & Starbucks provide it, if some other pubs do then great, I’ll add them to my list of places to pop in for a cup of posh coffee, brie and grape ciabatta. No skin of my nose if they don’t. I also have 4 or 5 library cards for places I visit regularly. You can pop in, sit among the old codgers and connect to the Wi-Fi for a few hours. Nice and quiet, though occasionally an old codger will pop his clogs. When abroad Maccys or Starbucks free Wi-Fi is brilliant.

    After 7pm I wanna drink pong with beardy weirdies like you and slag off lager, smooth flow and owt that’s craft so I like a dingy dump that hasn’t had a lick of paint since 1975. Somewhere where sorting out the plumbing in the toilet is more a priority than providing customer Wi-Fi

  4. @Alistair UK 3G is pretty piss poor. 4G might be better, dunno, I get a new phone contract next month so I guess I'll find out.

  5. I wonder if a good analogy might be the arrival of electric lighting? Must have seemed a bit jarringly 'untraditional' when pubs got light-bulbs but for most customers, made reading the newspaper and playing dominoes a lot easier.

    Whether a pub has wi-fi isn't a particular consideration for me in choosing where to drink, but I'm usually pleased to find it on offer.

  6. I don't care about it personally, but I wouldn't say that pubs are better without it. Town-centre cafes these days always seem to be permanently full of "freelancers", students and part-time yoga instructors tapping away at Macbooks and buying the odd coffee or panini. Getting some of that market into your pub and actually selling a few drinks and sarnies at a time of day when you'd otherwise be empty seems like good business.

    Being about tradition, character and community is all very well, but it won't do much good when you can't meet the rent.

  7. Oh, poor Mark Daniels! He describes as offensive a sign about WiFi that suggested customers talk to each other. Offensive? Really? What a sheltered life he's led.

    Within a mile of where I live, there are many things that some pubs offer and others don't: Sky Sports, music, food, quiz nights, bingo, karaoke, real ale, films, various teams (quiz, darts, pool, dominoes, etc), function rooms, beer gardens, bowling greens, and of course WiFi.

    Don't whinge; just choose a pub that offers what you want.

  8. The point is not that pubs shouldn't offer wi-fi if they think it will be commercially advantageous, but that customers shouldn't take it as a personal affront if some pubs don't, just as some pubs don't admit children or serve food.

  9. This isn't really about pubs moving with the times and offering what people want though is it? It;s about Cornwall.

    In civilization there are plenty of places to pick and choose from. We are talking about Cornwall here. The back and beyond of the inbred. You can no more expect WiFi in Cornwall than salad in Scotland. They point at the sky when planes fly over.

    A Cornish man sleep with his sister and says "You're better at this than Mum" His sister replies "That's just what Dad said"

  10. In Cornwall pubs providing Wifi is a godsend because stepping outside means generally no mobile signal at all.

  11. Forget Cornwall,try Didsbury in South Manchester , here gathers
    small packs of a primate species
    that pre dates Neanderthal,
    mutants where incest is a prerequisite normal function and
    saving badgers is a cause celebre.
    The pronounced foreheads,stooped gait and low decibel grunting is indicative of a growing menace to
    higher species.

  12. Your poll would serve more purpose if perhaps you had included age, sex, location and ABCD demographics. Not that I want to stereotype but I am pretty sure the male, 60 year old graduate in a city is going to vote "should not be in at all"

    The massive assumption also being that every time you enter a pub you are there for some form of entertainment or human interaction. Is it not possible to enter, read your newspaper (blogs, twitter etc.) in peace and solitude. I follow a rule, sit at the bar and this indicates need for conversation, sit at a table with your paper, book, tablet or phone then leave me alone.

  13. I'd say it's pretty essential if pubs are to attract a younger crowd who are, ultimately, their future customers. It's one of the features, unlike Sky, that isn't difficult or expensive to provide.

  14. Ah yes, the old "we need to get down with the kids" argument. How many marketing reputations have foundered on that rock over the years?

  15. I would like to firmly agree with The Pub Curmudgeon. Making pubs attractive establishments for the young of our country is fundamentally wrong and dangerous. It is far better they Facebook in the Starbucks than step into a disgraceful den of alcohol and be exposed to the vile poison as if it is normal to consume it. I cannot say I approve of the products on offer in MacDonald’s or Starbucks but at the present time they certainly represent a lesser of evil. We can deal with them once the pubs are closed. Ensuring pubs limit their appeal to the old, we can see the day we are finally rid of the menace they pose to decency and upright morals.

  16. If I'm on my own, I will choose a pub with Wi-Fi because it's a handy half hour or hour to catch up with friends on social media, or using the new web based texting services.

    If I'm with friends it's less of an issue, it wouldn't cross my mind, but if the pub is in a known blackspot then provided WiFi will ensure they don't go elsewhere as whoever you're with, most people don't like the idea of being out of contact. Although perhaps some people will see that as a positive!

  17. What a strange thing humour is. Jokes about incestuous paedophilia, which we do know happens - hilarious. But a jokey notice in a pub offering to nail children to the table to stop them running wild, which has never to my knowledge ever happened in a pub, is deemed a disgrace by the person who told the former joke.

  18. Stanley Blenkinsop12 October 2014 at 23:10

    Wifi in a pub is a boon for settling those arguments about some arcane fact that occasional pop up in pubs.

    And when I'm motoring up country it's useful to pop in to a hostelry to check on my share portfolio.

    But given the choice I'd much rather have Radio 4 on in a pub, except for when that dreaful old fruit Eddie Mair is on.

    Can't stand the fellow.

  19. Don't think it's really about "getting down with the kids". Nearly all of my drinking partners use wifi and, sadly, none of us qualify as kids. It's hardly some new fangled threat to ye olde inn and isn't compulsory to use.

  20. this 50 year old is sometimes quite happy to find a pub with WIFI. I didn't know that this meant I was one of the "yoof"


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