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I was out of town the same week Skype fell off the radar for a couple of days. But that wasn’t my main communication issue.


Somewhere that gets it, Glasgow

Let me say this and get it out of the way: I love this country. In the past few weeks, I’ve been to Belfast and Glasgow, Newcastle and Oxford, York, Leeds, Edinburgh, Cardiff and half a dozen other cities and towns all over this sceptred isle.

New Zealanders who, like me, come to work in the UK — but who only ever see London — have not been to Britain.

That said, I have a couple of messages for the hospitality industry:

1) Stop microwaving pastry. Do you not like food?
2) Room temperature is not a cold drink. Fix your coke fridge.
3) Give me broadband wi-fi or I keep walking, suitcases and all.

It’s not just the record business — it seems that other industries think that the way to make money is to act like you’re the only game in town, charge whatever you can get away with and prevent your customers from doing whatever they want to do.

When I’m travelling — or actually, even when I’m not — I will pop into a cafe in the hopes that I can sit down, collect my thoughts, relax with a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, and catch up with my email and other communications.

Here’s what I won’t do: pay £10 for the privilege.

Surf and Sip, T-Mobile, The Cloud, BT Openzone and Freedom to Surf be damned.

Not only am I not going to fill in a form, give my card details (Oh, you only take credit cards? Well, I don’t have one), and then pay you £5-10 just so I can browse through my email for half an hour while I have what is at best an acceptable cup of coffee (oh yeah: 4) learn to make a decent cup of coffee. Seriously.), I am sure as hell not going to pay a monthly subscription to one of half a dozen corporate wifi services I might stumble across on my travels.

If you run a cafe, it is not difficult to set up a wi-fi hotspot. It should be open and it should be free. You will make far more money than if you try and charge for it. You don’t need to use a corporate wi-fi hotspot provider.

There are competitors in your town who will offer me free wi-fi. I will drink their coffee and eat their cake. I will return there the next day and have a meal. Perhaps something from the bar, if they have one. If they sell other things, I will most likely buy other things.

The point is, they will have my money and you will not.

And then I will tell my friends about this great place I discovered, and they will all go there too.

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There’s a moral here for the music industries. Can you spot it?