business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that Starbucks has signed a deal with AT&T that will allow it to offer free wireless Internet service to some of its customers.

“The move comes as the Seattle chain is trying to improve the experience customers have inside its stores and as competing restaurants and cafes increasingly are offering wireless Internet access for little or no cost,” the Journal writes.

“The deal will give AT&T's roughly 12 million broadband customers unlimited free access to wireless Internet service at more than 7,000 Starbucks cafes in the U.S. People who have a Starbucks card, a loyalty card that customers load with money to pay for purchases, will get two hours of free wireless Internet service a day starting this spring. Otherwise customers will pay $3.99 for a two-hour session, or they can buy a monthly membership for $19.99 that will include access to any of AT&T's other hot spots world wide.”

KC's View:
This is a good start. But if Starbucks really wants to improve the customer experience, it ought to simply go the way of many other retailers, such as Panera and Cosi, and just offer free Internet. It’d be a big statement…and even though some free Internet is better than none, it does seem as if Starbucks is being too cute by half.