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McDonalds Free Wi-Fi Users Soak Up Seating

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the super-size-my-connection dept.

Wireless Networking 500

bfire writes "McDonalds has earmarked potential changes to seating plans in some restaurants to prevent free Wi-Fi users from monopolizing seating, particularly in peak periods. The availability of Wi-Fi means people are now spending 35 minutes in McDonalds — rather than the average ten minutes that patrons used to spend eating there. But it appears not everyone is happy with the increased 'stickiness' of customers, with some licensees in Australia reporting that Wi-Fi users aren't turning over seats fast enough. The restaurant chain is considering options including space demarcation to deal with the problem."

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Coffee (3, Funny)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933035)

I'd suggest McDonalds try dumping coffee on their laps, but they'd probably get sued for millions of dollars.


Re:Coffee (5, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933509)

Or a slightly less pathological solution which would nevertheless fix the issue: Simply record MAC addresses and after 15 minutes (or whatever) of use, ban the address for a couple of hours. Sure, a few of us will spoof MAC addresses until we find an unbanned one but the vast majority (and it's the vast majority's asses that are causing the problem) will just mooch off to a different Maccas.

Re:Coffee (5, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933599)

Yeah, that'll go over really well. "Excuse me, your Internets are broken" 10 times a minute.

Re:Coffee (4, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933619)

They offer wireless internet as an incentive for people to use their stores. People are staying too long. Limiting the time allowed for the wireless internet is the obvious solution. Maybe a full cut-off would be too annoying, but at least cap it at 64kbps after half an hour.

Re:Coffee (4, Funny)

xp (146294) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933801)

Or make the wifi users eat McDonalds food. That'll kill them off quickly, freeing up all those valuable seats.
Slow Poke [pair.com]

Re:Coffee (5, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933669)

I suggest the United States McDonalds keep doing what they already do: make the store environment resemble that of a public bathroom as much as possible so as to make it miserable to linger around in. Allow creepy and smelly homeless people to linger around the place for added ambiance. Overuse of the wifi will then be the least of their problems.

Simple Solution (3, Insightful)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933039)

Go to Panera Bread [panerabread.com]. They have free wi-fi there, too. The food is quite a bit better, and healthier, than all that fried and preprocessed crap that McDonald's dishes out,...

Re:Simple Solution (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933079)

And they employ sock puppets to promote their company on slashdot, too!

Re:Simple Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933133)

And it's quite a bit more expensive.

Re:Simple Solution (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933173)

"Healthier" than McDonalds isn't saying much, look up their nutrition facts on their sandwiches and you will be surprised at how horrible some of that shit still is for you.

Re:Simple Solution (5, Insightful)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933197)

Go to Panera Bread. They have free wi-fi there, too. The food is quite a bit better, and healthier, than all that fried and preprocessed crap that McDonald's dishes out,...

How do you suggest Panera Bread handle it when their seats start getting filled-up by people using the Wi-Fi?

Your solution has nothing to do with the problem of the article.

Re:Simple Solution (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933593)

My wife has an architecture business. One of her customers (a cafe owner) treated us to a free meal. When we sat down my wife shifted in her seat and congratulated the owner on the uncomfortable seats. Apparently he had gone through a few iterations on seats to make sure that people didn't stay too long.

I worked with him for a bit on a proposal for wifi for customers, but I don't think it would have been good for them in retrospect.

Re:Simple Solution (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933213)

Panera Bread has 1,230 locations in 40 states. McDonald's has more than 31,000 in all 50 states and tons of other countries. Panera Bread sells high quality but overpriced food, while McDonald's sells low to middling quality food super cheap. They are not competing in the same segment at all.

So do you work for Panera Bread or are you a franchisee?

Re:Simple Solution (0)

tshetter (854143) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933809)

You are on slashdot man...ok, yes there are a few starving college students in CS/CE programs surviving on Ramen but for the most part the demo is mid20s+ and we can affort $10/meal and not just $3. (yes i see our 5 dig uid and bow you your inability to lose email passwords)

Yes, yes, soup in a bowl made of bread is quite up scale I understand this.

But when Olive Garden is pricey you have some some shit wrong.

Re:Simple Solution (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933253)

That's a bad solution. First of all, I've never heard of Panera Bread, and there's definately not one local to me. Choices for free wifi are basically the library, a couple coffee places, or McDonalds.

Re:Simple Solution (5, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933289)

The food is quite a bit better, and healthier, than all that fried and preprocessed crap that McDonald's dishes out,...

"Better" is subjective, but I doubt you'll find it especially healthier. (Go ahead. Ask for their nutritional guidelines -- you know, the kind that are on every @#$!ing McDonald's wall.)

Whether you like fried and preprocessed crap or BAKED and preprocessed crap is a matter of taste.

Re:Simple Solution (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933391)

Man, you weren't kidding. Compare Panera Bread sandwiches [panerabread.com] (page 4 of the PDF), with McDonald's sandwiches [mcdonalds.com] (select sandwiches from the drop down). The highest calorie sandwich from McDonald's is 740 calories. The highest calorie Panera Bread sandwich is the Full Chipotle Chicken on Artisan French at 1070 calories. Panera Bread has no fewer than 16 sandwiches that exceed the calories of the Double Quarter Pounder.

I thought McDonald's food was unhealthy, but damn Panera Bread's stuff is even worse! Panera Bread's stuff is also loaded with sodium, even more so in many cases than the notoriously sodium-heavy McDonald's fare. In fact, their highest sodium sandwich has more than twice the sodium as McDonald's highest sodium sandwich! Trying to pass off Panera Bread as a "healthier alternative" seems like a pretty irresponsible thing to do.

Re:Simple Solution (1, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933493)

There is more to a meal than the list of nutrients.
If you haven't read this excerpt from Fast Food Nation [warriorsofatlantis.com] yet, you should.

While McDonalds is packed full of those designer chemicals, presumably Panera is not.

Re:Simple Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933629)

Fast Food Nation...utter bullshit.

Re:Simple Solution (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933757)

Oh. My. God. You mean they make food out of chemicals? That's bad. That's really bad.

No, but seriously, Eric Schlosser is an uneducated hippie. Oh, but he studied History at Princeton.. woo..

McDonald's fries now come from huge manufacturing plants that can peel, slice, cook, and freeze two million pounds of potatoes a day. [..] A McDonald's french fry is one of countless foods whose flavor is just a component in a complex manufacturing process. The look and the taste of what we eat now are frequently deceiving -- by design.

Dum da dah!!! Yes, that's right folks, McDonald's food is manufactured. That's a dirty word. Only bad, terrible things come out of factories.. like child labor. If food is not made in small quantities by your Mom then it has to be bad for you. It has to be.

Everywhere I looked, I saw famous, widely advertised products sitting on laboratory desks and tables. The beverage lab was full of brightly colored liquids in clear bottles. It comes up with flavors for popular soft drinks, sports drinks, bottled teas, and wine coolers, for all-natural juice drinks, organic soy drinks, beers, and malt liquors. In one pilot kitchen I saw a dapper food technologist, a middle-aged man with an elegant tie beneath his crisp lab coat, carefully preparing a batch of cookies with white frosting and pink-and-white sprinkles. In another pilot kitchen I saw a pizza oven, a grill, a milk-shake machine, and a french fryer identical to those I'd seen at innumerable fast-food restaurants.

That's right folks. Food technologists (scientists!) are responsible for the tastes in all these manufactured foods. They're making stuff taste good.. evil bastards!

It also makes the smells of household products such as deodorant, dishwashing detergent, bath soap, shampoo, furniture polish, and floor wax. All these aromas are made through essentially the same process: the manipulation of volatile chemicals. The basic science behind the scent of your shaving cream is the same as that governing the flavor of your TV dinner.

Yes, he is implying that you're eating deodorant and dishwashing detergent and floor wax. No. He didn't actually say that shaving cream is in your TV dinner, but he wants you to think about it.

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Burger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

Scary words!!! Scary words!!! The article doesn't mention that "natural" flavors don't come with lists of ingredients.. you simply don't know what's in them. But here's a hint, if "natural strawberry flavoring" was made from strawberries, they would just list "strawberries" as an ingredient.

THE small and elite group of scientists who create most of the flavor in most of the food now consumed in the United States are called "flavorists." They draw on a number of disciplines in their work: biology, psychology, physiology, and organic chemistry.

These are all things you don't understand, and he used the word "elite" .. You are now required to hate "flavorists" and scientists in general. I mean, shit, they think they're better than you!

Other popular fast foods derive their flavor from unexpected ingredients. McDonald's Chicken McNuggets contain beef extracts, as does Wendy's Grilled Chicken Sandwich. Burger King's BK Broiler Chicken Breast Patty contains "natural smoke flavor." A firm called Red Arrow Products specializes in smoke flavor, which is added to barbecue sauces, snack foods, and processed meats. Red Arrow manufactures natural smoke flavor by charring sawdust and capturing the aroma chemicals released into the air. The smoke is captured in water and then bottled, so that other companies can sell food that seems to have been cooked over a fire.

Frankenfood! Liars!!

Ya know, it really shocks me when I read this backwards drivel and see otherwise intelligent people gobble it up. If the facts in that article had appeared in a science fiction magazine in the 60s people would have said: wow, I wish I could live in that world where science even makes food taste better! But that was an era when the atom was your friend and we were going to conquer space.

Re:Simple Solution (2, Interesting)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933811)

Oh. My. God. You mean they make food out of chemicals?

Yes. It's worked for thousands of years, and I bet chemicals could keep our bodies in tip-top shape for a few more centuries (if we choose to use them wisely). After all, no one has yet had any better ideas.

I'd very much like someone to come up with a method of making foods from non-chemicals, and see how it works out.

Re:Simple Solution (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933743)

I thought McDonald's food was unhealthy, but damn Panera Bread's stuff is even worse!

At McD's virtually everyone orders a 'meal' vs a 'sandwich'. So you can tack on a Medium or Large fries to virtually every order... and a soft drink. That will bump your average McEncounter up a couple notches.

I've never been to a Panera Bread, but the various sandwich cafe's around here do a lot of sandwich-only orders; or sandwich + coffee or sandwich + bottled water / juice.

In fact, if you go to McD's and order just a water, its not good for you; but all things considered, its not all that bad either compared to anywhere else.

Panera bread doesn't have chicken nuggets (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933517)

I've been to Panera Bread and honestly its too crowded for wifi to be any fun. The food's pretty good, for sure, but it's like $25 for myself and my wife to get the soup + sandwich combo, a cookie and soda each.

By comparison, I can go to a McDonald's, and for $4 I can get four McDoubles, which, will not only fill you up, but also keep you pretty regular. Now Panera is pretty good - although their soups are ridiculously salty, but, are they better 6 times better than McDonalds? I think not.

Re:Panera bread doesn't have chicken nuggets (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933663)

    Down it with one of their large fully synthesized shakes, and you'll clear out all the toxins you just ate. Mmmm.. Nothing makes you run for the bathroom than their chemical shakes..

    Panera usually has better stuff. I'm selective about what I eat from there, so the nutritional value of anything from there is much better than what I can get at McD. Then again, when I order from McD, it's not all that bad, because I don't put all the slop (err, sauces), cheese, etc on it.

Re:Panera bread doesn't have chicken nuggets (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933725)

I'm selective about what I eat from there

I would be willing to bet that McDonalds and Panera share more than a few suppliers for their products. I think selectivity in food probably doesn't actually buy you too much in the long run. The human body has evolved to eat some genuinely sick stuff, and even the Golden Arches is a damn site better than a few bits of rib meat from a four day dead Zebra. If there's a problem with McDonalds, and other modern foods, medical science seems more to conclude that the food is actually -too good- for us, and so we get fat. I think the only thing one can do is probably fast one day a week, to simulate the conditions for which we are bred.

Re:Panera bread doesn't have chicken nuggets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933769)

Neither does McDonald's, if you limit yourself to the dictionary definition of "chicken".

Re:Simple Solution (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933559)

Go to Panera Bread. They have free wi-fi there, too. The food is quite a bit better, and healthier, than all that fried and preprocessed crap that McDonald's dishes out,...

As cheap and as quick?

Re:Simple Solution (5, Informative)

svunt (916464) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933609)

Really valid for the AUSTRALIAN restaurants the article is about. Only 12,000km to he nearest outlet!

Re:Simple Solution (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933783)

Panera does not appear to carry and fried foods, so why would I go there?

There is one near my work and it's one of those places that nobody has strong feelings against (or for) so we end up eating there a lot. But spending $200/mo on $10+ lunches when it's basically just a sandwich does not appeal to me.

Re:Simple Solution (1)

jrhawk42 (1028964) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933837)

Looking at nutritional values Panera isn't healthier than McDonalds. They may have a few healthy alternatives, and give the image that their food is healthier, but it's just as bad if not worse in a few cases.

Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' customers (4, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933071)

I once heard that the reason McDonald's used to outfit its restaurants with hard plastic bench seats colored garish orange and yellow was for that reason -- so you wouldn't want to stick around too long. Has it changed its mind recently?

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933203)

They don't want sticky customers. The signs in the bathrooms require that employees wash hands. But you know, the last time I was there, no employee would wash my hands... I wanted to complain but people made me leave.

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933691)

They don't want sticky customers. The signs in the bathrooms require that employees wash hands. But you know, the last time I was there, no employee would wash my hands... I wanted to complain but people made me leave.

If your hands were sticky after leaving the bathroom stall, the employees were right to refuse service.

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933217)

Australian McDonalds restaurants are mostly http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCafe these now. They have friendlier interiors, provide newspapers and make coffee thats slightly better than it used to be. And, they sell slurpees. Nerd Heaven.

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (3, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933259)

It seems to me that they could have a system set up such that you buy something and you can request a code for minutes of WiFi, maybe every dollar you spend on their product gets you a bonus of five minutes internet time. A combo would be half an hour. That way you don't get the people that just buy a coffee (or even not even buy anything) and stick around for an hour. That should cut the average time down and free up the seats.

I think I've heard of some shops turning off WiFi during rush hours simply because they don't have enough seats and would end up losing customers because people that want what they're selling end up going elsewhere.

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933615)

Now that cellular broadband is becoming cheap, public wifi may be on the way out anyway.

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933373)

Absolutely true. Also the fact their straws were (don't know if it's still true) a little wider than average so that customers would finish their drinks faster.

Why the heck they would want people to stay in their stores longer now I have no idea. Then again, why the heck anyone who can afford a laptop would want to hang out in their nasty ass stores, let alone EAT there, I have no idea either.

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (3, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933389)

Has it changed its mind recently?

Apparently, but some franchisees are complaining (rightly IMHO) about "too much" turnaround time in their restaurants. The "fast turnaround" has always been a selling point, either stated or implied, for any potential McDonalds franchisee. For those of you who don't know or have never owned a franchise many business details are NOT up to you the owner, but rather are spelled out in your franchise agreement with the franchise owners (i.e. the McDonalds Corporation). So for example, if the franchise owners decide that all locations will now offer fancy coffee then you must pay for and have the necessary equipment installed even if you don't think that such expansion would be worth the cost in your particular location, perhaps a truck stop in the midwest were overcooked eggs and plain black coffee are the "traditional" breakfast. In this case McDonalds has mandated that you provide WiFi access to customers because the marketing drones at corporate have decided that all hip restaurants catering to the under thirty crowd must offer free WiFi to be relevant. However, this may be the first time that a new directive from corporate has conflicted with a long standing element of the core business (which many franchisees count on for their profitability), namely fast turnaround of tables in the dinning area.

Re:Since when does McDonald's want 'sticky' custom (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933645)

While what you say is true, is also true that franchises make differences when it comes to locations, just look at the menues of McDonalds in different countries. They have the "core" products (BigMacs, Quarter pound -which to be honest, in Chile doesn't make one sense because we use METRIC system hehe-), but they also add different items more according to the culture. I think if they can do that, they could also adjust things like WiFi for places where the local mcdonalds doesn't really need to provide that.

well.... (4, Interesting)

R.Morton (1540993) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933095)

What did they think would happen ?, of course people are going to stay longer maybe add more seating or extend the range to cover a larger area so users could sit in their cars and use the WIFI there.

Just a thought


I still prefer my coffee shop. (2, Funny)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933099)

Even if I did eat McDonalds food there I don't think I like the atmosphere enough to stay. There coffee tastes like piss anyway. With all the great local free wifi around where I live I'd have to be pretty desperate to go there. Simple solution: open up a coffee shop next door.

Re:I still prefer my coffee shop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933145)

There coffee tastes like piss anyway

Why would you drink either?

Re:I still prefer my coffee shop. (0)

stfvon007 (632997) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933387)

Maybe he was stuck on a raft in the ocean with nothing to drink but his urine and a cup of mcdonalds coffee? personally id go for the urine first.

Re:I still prefer my coffee shop. (3, Interesting)

vkapadia (35809) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933159)

Consumer Reports would disagree with that harsh assessment:


The magazine reported that McDonald's was "decent and moderately strong. Although it lacked the subtle top notes needed to make it rise and shine, it had no flaws."

That said, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Re:I still prefer my coffee shop. (0)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933379)

I won't even drink Starbuck's coffee. Call me picky, but I don't need a magazine tell me what is worth drinking. I'd still prefer the atmosphere of starbucks to McDonalds.

Re:I still prefer my coffee shop. (3, Insightful)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933679)

And there's the rub. In Australia (that place in the summary, I haven't RTFA either!) we don't have ubiquitous hotspots. The woeful state of our broadband has been discussed here many times before so I won't say anything more than that it's fault of those cunts at Telstra, and their douchebag former CEO (who incidentally used to be in charge of USWEST in Colorado, who were so shit they had to change their name to Qwest... OK I'm ranting here but god dammit my country does some retarded shit)

In summary, down here in .au we don't have the option of going next door because next door probably doesn't have wireless. McDonalds is generally the BEST option for public WiFi, and even they meter the usage pretty hard.

And I have to confess to occasionally getting a small coke or ice cream just to sit down and use the web for half an hour...

Amazing (4, Insightful)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933111)

Let's see...connection time is free, **AA complaints go to McD's IP address, and people stay longer...what are the odds of THAT?


I think they've already solved this... (1)

SuperNothing307 (1399851) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933113)

I was at a McDonald's just today and tried to get on the wireless there. Unfortunately, it was a godforsaken Boingo hotspot (same as the ones that I curse at the airport on a regular basis), and the first thing it asked me for was my credit card number. Needless to say, I didn't stick around long...

Re:I think they've already solved this... (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933361)

I ran into that snag the one time I tried to get onto a McD's wifi too. Must be on a per-franchise basis or something.

Re:I think they've already solved this... (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933429)

Some public hot spots are targets for identity thiefs by doing a man in the middle attack. A backpack can contain everyting nessary to hijack a public hotspot to add a splash screen set up to harvest CC numbers, email accounts, bank logins, etc.

For that very reason, I NEVER use a public hotspot for any secure transaction. I even cruise Slashdot while not logged in and I don't log into my mail.

Re:I think they've already solved this... (0, Offtopic)

SuperNothing307 (1399851) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933527)

Who said anything about using public hotspots for secure transactions? Always a bad idea.

That said, the best way I've found to work around this limitation is to have an SSH server on my box at home, and set up my laptop to tunnel all my web traffic over SSH to my desktop. Any MITM attacks are then easily detected, because any potential attacker would have to present a different public key to either side, and SSH will report the probable MITM and exit. It also encrypts all traffic until it gets to your home network, preventing any packet sniffing. Here's a short tutorial I wrote up on the topic, it's a lot easier than you'd think: http://spareclockcycles.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/ssh-secure-browsing-via-socks-proxy/ [wordpress.com]

Re:I think they've already solved this... (1)

SuperNothing307 (1399851) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933563)

And I understand your post now, my bad. Always should read things twice :P . AP spoofing is a big threat, and it's yet another good reason why never to enter your credit card to access wifi anywhere (besides the whole having to pay part :P ).

Re:I think they've already solved this... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933749)

AP spoofing is a big threat, and it's yet another good reason why never to enter your credit card to access wifi anywhere (besides the whole having to pay part :P ).

I have to disagree with you and the grandparent. https (ssl/tls) does work. So long as you look at the URLs you are accessing and don't override your browser's warnings, you don't have to worry about your bank account info being stolen. (Your precious slashdot ID is another matter, since there is no https access so far as I know).

Re:I think they've already solved this... (2, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933767)

This is exactly what CAs and SSL are for.

If you are even thinking about logging into your email, check the cert. A MiTM attack can't work unless the attacker has a valid cert, if they do, then what does it matter where you connect from?


Re:I think they've already solved this... (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933571)

I used one of those briefly in Singapore airport (dunno if it was Boingo, but some wireless hotspot provider) which claimed to be free for Telstra customers (my phone company at the time). It asked for my number to prove that I had a Telstra phone, and when I got my next bill I had a $25 charge on it for internet usage. Bastards.

What was the business plan? (4, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933139)

At someplace like starbucks, where one has a reasonable chance of receiving $5 for $.20 of product, low overhead, few employees, WiFi makes sense. The same hold true for many other places where table turnover is closer to an hour than a few minutes.

I never understood what was the point of putting these things in places where turnover is a few minutes. It encourages loitering. It is not like customers pay for refills, or are otherwise likely to buy more product.

Of course the solution is simple. Do what other places are doing. Limit the time. If they want turnover in 10 minutes, make that the time limit. The point stands, though. WiFi in places like this just seems silly. OTOH, I know of places that have gone out of business after they got rid of the WiFi. They did not like hanging around in the afternoon drinking coffee, but those same people also stopped coming around for the evening meal.

Re:What was the business plan? (4, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933277)

A lot of places here in CFL have taken to sticking a second antenna outside and letting all the freeloaders sit outside doing their thing. The heat tends to get rid of them quickly, and those that do stay tend to be more likely to buy things, and the ones that are hell bent on getting just free internet and nothing else still wind up attracting customers without using up too much space.

Re:What was the business plan? (4, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933519)

I thought compact fluorescent lamps ran comparatively cooler than incandescent.

Re:What was the business plan? (2, Informative)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933577)

I'm guessing he meant central Florida. Summers in the southeast are like living in a greenhouse, but worse.

Re:What was the business plan? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933385)

In Australia some McDonald's branches added a "McCafe" counter with expresso coffee and cake - all the branches with WiFi that I have seen so far are like that. Since it's european style coffee it's actually better in quality than Starbucks but much more limited in range.

Business plan? Maybe MCD is too big to fail (1, Troll)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933639)

I am going for insightful + off topic + troll, I can't see how I lose. (Add funny for this bit of up-front introspection and honesty.)

MCD have no fear! you should be able to get a bailout if needed. You are "too big to fail", right? Based on market cap, compared to many of the big 19 banks MCD should be a shoe-in for a bailout. Add in the "Illinois connection" and it is a slam dunk.

Just think, under current government rules, you don't need a "business plan", you just need to be "necessary"... and, who doesn't need food? (No fat jokes, please. I am working under the "too big to fail" theory and need all the help I can get.)

The government can tell McDonalds that you always get more takers for "free" give-aways, and lose customers when you charge/tax more...

What are they complaining about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933161)

The extra business that Wi-Fi brings in compensates for the decrease in seating, right? Right? I mean they can't possibly be at the stage where they have 92 per cent roll out if having Wi-Fi hurts their business. It's a trade-off and it works, so what are they complaining about?

Re:What are they complaining about? (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933727)

Yes, but I don't think someone buying their cheapest coffee and sitting abusing the wi-fi for 3 hours compensates for the lost sales in all the other stuff.

Sure, at 3am, it might fill in some slack spots in their business, but at peak time, they want a regular rotation of clients to maximize peak-hour sales.

Ever tried getting into a Starbucks after about 7pm ? Absolutely jam packed, and invariably everyone is hogging the comfy seats with a laptop and a coffee cup with about 5mm of cold, 3 hour old coffee in the bottom. Starbys can get away with it by selling their coffee at crazy prices, but McDo coffee is dirt cheap (not to mention it also tastes like dirt).

They can't afford malingerers, and in most cases, I'll bet the franchise holders would dump it like a shot if head office would allow them to.

I hate free wi-fi at fastfood stores... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933181)

I'm okay with free wifi at coffee shops and slightly luxirious stores but never at fastfood chains. I tend to avoid fastfood chains with free wifi and the reason is that we often have a hard time finding seats during lunch hours. Some worst cases are people ordering a coffee and using the space for over an hour to the point that they even asked for a renewal in their wifi connection. (Some have a 1-hr access limit so if you're renewing, you had been there for an hour)

McWiFi??? (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933193)

Last time I saw McWiFi, it was Windows only and needed some sort of login. I run Linux so no McWiFi for me...

Re:McWiFi??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933237)

I can't imagine if it McCrashed. Change your desktop wallpaper to one of Ronald McDonald?

Re:McWiFi??? (2, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933281)

At least in Australia now the login page works with a lot of web browsers (including phone ones) and is just something to tick a box about agreeing with terms and conditions. There's some sort of blocklist as well.

Re:McWiFi??? (3, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933481)

That's weird, I've never heard of controlled access wifi that's Windows only. Unless they were using some sort of weird ActiveX control, I don't know why such a thing would be necessary.

When I was doing controlled access WiFi systems like that, it was basically a web page based login. Upon successful login, it just adds a firewall rule for your MAC address so you can get around the Internet. If it's timed, after a certain amount of time the firewall rule is removed. You'd have to jump through some hoops to make such a thing Windows-only.

Why people only stay seated for 10 minutes.. (4, Funny)

j741 (788258) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933201)

rather than the average ten minutes that patrons used to spend eating there

I only ever sat there for 10 minutes because that's all it took for the diarrhea to activate after eating that addictive crap. Sitting any longer and the chairs would be a different color.

They're all Googling "Heart Disease" (5, Funny)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933207)

...followed by "Stroke"...

Re:They're all Googling "Heart Disease" (0, Flamebait)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933381)

Your post is appeciated.
Before the PATRIOT Act is repealed, they should use it to prosecute McDonald's, because they've killed more Americans in the last hundred years than all terrorist organizations combined.
It should be so easy to eat healthy that you can't escape it. Instead... we get the exact opposite.

Re:They're all Googling "Heart Disease" (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933741)

You want McHussein fries and a McKimJongIl shake to go with your McBinLaden ?

Wish they'd dump the EULA (0)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933209)

Their stupid free wifi won't route your packets until a browser from the DHCP leased IP address has clicked "I Agree" on the EULA. Which, ya know, wouldn't be so bad if 1) I was actually using a web browser, I'm not, I just want to get my mail, and 2) the button on the EULA wasn't an image with some unnecessary javascript that doesn't work on my crappy windoze mobile phone.

Re:Wish they'd dump the EULA (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933423)

Download Opera, then click the silly link and you can do whatever afterwards (ssh using putty, email, whatever).

PANERA solved this, by limits during peak hours (4, Interesting)

hacker (14635) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933307)

PANERA Bread already solved this problem. If you go to a PANERA during peak hours, you get roughly 10-15 minutes of free WiFi, and then you're shut off, at the MAC address level. Thankfully, I have GNU macchanger [alobbs.com] installed, so I can grab some more time, but they're already doing it programatically.

What's funny is watching someone come in, spill out their entire office on the table (manila file folders, laptop, external number pad and everything), and then get shut off because they sat chatting at the coffee machine for 10 minutes while their laptop was connected, and shut their laptop down, only to stare at me working for 30+ minutes at a time.

Am I breaking the rules? Maybe... but I also buy a breakfast, then a tea, then a lunch in the same 1-2 hours I'm there. I also have WWAN, so if WiFi was turned off, I could still continue to work, without changing anything (all built-in).

McDonalds should just limit the free wifi to 10-15 minutes and be done with it. Oh, and also SHUT IT OFF at the end of the night, so people don't just park in the parking lot and steal your wifi for nefarious means.

As with most of these "problems", the solution is rarely technical. It is usually a political problem that stops the solution from being implemented.

Re:PANERA solved this, by limits during peak hours (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933471)

SHUT IT OFF at the end of the night, so people don't just park in the parking lot and steal your wifi for nefarious means.

Uh, no. I reward places that offer free wifi with my patronage, and having the ability to swing by and look up directions or retrieve an email with instructions after hours is a beneficial service. They are no more or less likely to be able to do anything about "nefarious means" when they are open, so what exactly is the purpose of turning off the service?

On the other hand, intentionally bypassing the timing limitations, especially when you don't need the service in the first place, is not "maybe" wrong. It's just wrong. They offer variable timing for quality of service reasons as well as to cut down on loitering and people using their resources to torrent and the like. You're receiving a service with terms. Honor them. It's called integrity.

Turn it off when there are no seats. Duh. (1, Interesting)

shanen (462549) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933321)

No brainer--but we are talking about McDonalds, aren't we?

Announce a policy of turning off the WiFi when the McDonalds is too full, and post a schedule of the normal times when free access is available. No skin off their noses if they have some extra customers when there are empty seats, eh?

Since this is McDonalds, I feel obliged to note that the nose skin goes into the hot dogs. Does McDonalds serve hot dogs? That's how long it's been since I've eaten there... Wait! Sausage. I'm pretty sure they had some kind of morning sausage, and they can use the nose skin for the sausage. I'm pretty sure--but even more sure that I don't want to know for sure. No one wants to know the truth about sausage.

Actually, I read a couple of books about fast food a few years ago, and these days I don't eat at many fast food places. Must be a coincidence, eh?

Re:Turn it off when there are no seats. Duh. (5, Funny)

threephaseboy (215589) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933357)

I've read over your post four times now and I still have no idea what your point is.
Something about hot dogs? Now I'm all hungry again after dinner, thanks.

Idiot business majors (4, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933359)

This is the idiocy of how some businesses deal with networking and the internet. First, they offer free. Then they find out when you offer free, people actually use it, and so the same business turns around and gets upset that people are using what you are offering for free?

Yes, people like free wi-fi, and you offered it in order to drum up traffic and hope those customers would buy stuff, which they did. But you like the business it brings in but you don't like those people freeloading on your network and in your seats when you need more people to be buying stuff?

Yo, McDonalds! Suck it up! You put yourself in this position now you have to deal with it like adults. You either have to limit free to like ten minutes of free, which does reduce the number of people who will come in since they might go to the coffee shop down the road, charge access fees, which also reduces walk ins, or accept that your restaurants don't have enough seats any more. You got greedy and wanted to steal some of the coffee shop crowd to your stores and now you are dealing with the fact that two business ideas are conflicting. Coffee shops work well with wi-fi business models because they have comfy chairs and lounges and expect their clientel to pay a lot for coffee and sit down for a while. It's about atmosphere. You have cheap coffee, no atmosphere, and expect to be selling coffee in volume.

I have a feeling Mickey D's is going to come up with stupid artificial rules that it will expect their employees to enforce and it's going to get ugly and moronic before they end the free wi-fi.

Re:Idiot business majors (3, Interesting)

everynerd (1252610) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933667)

I think the idea behind the free wi-fi is not to keep people there longer, but to promote return visits. However it appears they ARE staying longer, and a "restaurant" like McDonalds can't cater to the lazy surfer. If it were seated area where customers were waited on and expected to order, this would likely not be an issue.

You're right though, McDonalds has brought this on themselves, but they're well within their rights to axe it just as quickly if it doesn't produce the expected results.

There are thousands of McD's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933397)

Just drive 2m to the next corner. There's plenty of seats.

Simple solution (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933401)

A simple solution : print an access code on tickets you receive when buying some food. Should only be unique and valid for a couple of minutes. Access code expired ? Buy more stuff or get the hell out ! Solved.

Re:Simple solution (4, Informative)

Corbets (169101) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933541)

Starbucks in Switzerland does something like this. It's free wireless, not even a purchase required: all you have to do is go to the counter and ask for an access card. However, that access card expires 30 minutes after activation, and to keep going, you have to request another.

I'm not sure that would work back in America; it plays off people's shame and only works if they don't keep asking for cards. However, it seems to work well here.

Free Wi-Fi at Mickey D's - Not in N.Z. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933495)

Most of our Libraries don't even have free internet... let alone Wi-Fi.

Free? Not around here. (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933533)

I've never found a McDonalds around here that has Free wi-fi, all the ones that have it have charged from day one. (All the McDonalds around here are owned by 2 different people.)

Why does McDonalds need traffic? (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933555)

The whole point of McDonalds was to get the people in and get them out, as quickly as possible. IF you go to any decently run McDonalds, there will be several times as many cars as there are in any other food place in the area. Those franchises just print money. Putting in wifi just slows down the presses.

Seats are not the only turnover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933695)

They made me move my car cuz i was blocking up the drive thru while on my laptop then i couldnt sit in a parking spot cause the signal was to weak, dont gimme a feature and say i cant use it unless im in the store, then later not let me stay in

Solve the problem with trap doors under the seats (2, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933709)

Tell the users that they can use the wireless until a trap door opens up underneath them and they are dumped into a vat of boiling french fries. Their times are announced by some junior on front counter with a megaphone.

"Come in number, your time is up"

Limit by MAC (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933711)

Seriously, set a time limit on 10 minutes per hour per MAC. Who wants to hang around a McDonalds for 50 minutes just to get ten more minutes of WiFi?

Sure a few people could overcome it but hardly anyone that would be at McDonalds.

This is a serious problem? (2, Interesting)

ring-eldest (866342) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933731)

How about disabling the wi-fi during peak times when serving food becomes priority #1? You could even post a nice little sign saying something like: "In order to better service you, free Wi-Fi is available from XX:XX to YY:YY."

Or, you know, making the access available with purchases only, for a set period of time according to dollar amount spent. How about 15 minutes for every 5 dollars, with access codes printed right on the receipt? That seems to solve the problems of everyone worth mentioning. Hell they might even make money off the deal (but that's evil and wrong, amirite?)

Taking a soak (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#27933759)

Hey, I was soaking up some of that seating for more than an hour today. If the try to "demarcate" me out of the way, I might just park outside and not even buy anything. Turns out they haven't figured out how to isolate the wireless signals entirely within the building.

Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27933793)

Don't offer free wi-fi. problem solved.

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