Another Business Using Our Free Wi-Fi

Bit of a poll based on a moral problem I have.

Business next door to my cafe is using our free WiFi to help run their business. We do not "need" the internet ourselves but we have it to provide internet for our customers to use at an expense to us. We were unaware they were using it until I recently did a password change and a staff member from the next door shop came and asked for the new password.

Is this an OK thing for them to do? It is unlimited FTTC 50/20 so the customers are not really affected regarding speeds.

Am I the idiot for not changing my password enough?

Let me know what I should do…

Poll Options expired

  • 15
    Ignore it, it causes you no harm
  • 33
    Dont let them use it
  • 457
    Ask them to contribute
  • 209
    Block their mac address
  • 5
  • 16
    It was the cyclists fault


  • +73 votes

    Limit their speed? Run 2x SSIDs, 1 private and hidden (for your business if need be), 1 public. Your customers don't need full speed, nor does their business

    • +18 votes

      Yes! I'd say take them back to dial-up age by throttling it to 10kb/s

      • -5 votes

        Even 10 Mbits would be enough to get business users off it.


          You can run a business off 4Mb/s easily. Source: one of our clients was doing this with 20 users until a couple of weeks ago.

          • -2 votes

            @banana365: I am sure they were a graphic design and video editing business too.

            It just depends on who their 20 users are, if 15 of them are in the warehouse and use the internet to check their pay slips then easy.

            I remember a certain power plant that would have a higher printing bill than head office. Turns out the staff was printing all their school fliers using the onsite printers. Always outliers to talk about.



              I am sure they were a graphic design and video editing business too

              Close. Printing company.

              • -2 votes

                @banana365: Everyone is on the internet. Nobody is doing the printing.

                If all you are is receiving files you can use 4Mbit. It just takes longer to receive files. You could run the business off internet and just have people bring in USB sticks.

                Photo kiosk is a printing business. Unfortunately need to plug in USB sticks.

                • +3 votes

                  @netjock: You're just being a dick now. You don't like someone pointing out your original comment was wrong and now you're just talking bollocks to try to justify it.

                  • -2 votes

                    @banana365: You just get personal because you don't like people pointing out how low it is possible to go.

    • +1 vote

      Great advice. I'll also make sure the SSIDs are on 2 different subnets, isolated from each other.

      Last thing you want is the next door business have malware on one of their devices, and it affect your business critical systems.

    • +3 votes

      Or…. why not have a daily changing password. Only give it out to customers who buy something and tell them to ask for password at the counter when ordering something. I've seen a lot of cafe's do that.


        this.. a lot of POS systems print custom messages on their receipts, just include it on there or ask the salesperson for it… it's ridiculous for you having to sponsor another business jut because they are a tight ass.. tell them to use their own mobile 4G they get with their telco..

  • +3 votes

    so how did you respond to the staff member? did you give it to them?

    • +68 votes

      They were not given the password today

      • +120 votes

        Holy crap your neighbour's staff have some balls on them to come over and ask you for the password for your internet.
        It is a service you provide TO CUSTOMERS.
        If they are not customers then they can GGF!

        • +2 votes

          The boss is the boss. He tells the staff how thing run.
          Staff can only follow orders.

          • +6 votes

            @susmind: you know who else's staff were just following orders?


            • +5 votes

              @ratman: Your logical fallacy here is Reductio ad Hitlerum

              • +3 votes

                @pegaxs: Lol thats awesome, didnt know it had a name. I got some quality negs for a popular joke too!

                • +4 votes

                  @ratman: Yeah, I didn't neg you and I did chuckle at it :D

                • +2 votes

                  @ratman: Theres also Godwins principle, I think its called where if 2 people argue for long enough on the internet, one will eventually mention Hitler.

      • +29 votes

        why dont you just split the cost of the internet with them? you both win.

        if they don't wanna pay, block them.


        if they buy something, they can have the pw =]

        'scuse me

      • +3 votes

        So just keep changing the password.

      • +1 vote

        Did s/he buy a coffee and then ask you the password? You need to consider this case as well. What if they are your customers too?

        But IMO, pretty cheap of them to take advantage like this.

  • +67 votes

    Did you ask what their OzBargain username is?

    • +61 votes

      First post tomorrow: "Help. Neighbour changed Wifi password and won't give me the new one. What should I do?"

      • +34 votes

        It would be more like "I went to a Cafe that advertises free WiFi but they refused to give me the password, This is false advertising, what can I do?"

  • +85 votes

    I'd be inclined to tell them it is for your customers only, and that you can give them a dedicated speed limited SSID if they are happy to contribute towards the monthly costs of providing it.

    • +5 votes

      I like this idea


      My suggestion exactly.

  • +33 votes

    change the wifi SSID to "PAY4WIFI"

    • +8 votes


      • -2 votes

        yeah… nah..

        • +4 votes


          • +5 votes

            @life is suffering: SSID = FORCUSTOMERSONLY

            • +40 votes

              @legendary-noob: A guy walks into a bar and asks “ What’s the WiFi password?”

              Bartender: You need to buy a drink first.

              Guy: Okay, I'll have a coke.

              Bartender: Is Pepsi okay?

              Guy: Sure. How much is that?

              Bartender: £3

              Guy: There you go. So what's the wifi password?

              Bartender: You need to buy a drink first. No spaces, all lowercase.

              • -7 votes

                @roguescholar: This is just false. Given the price in sterling of the Pepsi this joke is located in the UK. The name of the person serving the drink should be "Barman".

                There are no "Bartender's" in the UK. It's an american thing.


                @roguescholar: Exact premise of this sketch:


                @roguescholar: I sent this to a mate who owns a bar, and now his wifi password is exactly that ;)


        Let spay together?

        Well then…

        • +9 votes

          noooooo Let's pay to get her

          • -2 votes

            @life is suffering: Let's pay to get her, together. Sharing is caring right? Bags showing my love first.

            … And also third.

    • +1 vote

      "IllllIIIIllllIIII" That'll get them

    • +31 votes


      One 2, three 4, five 6, seven 8… technically you didn't lie to them


      That would make a customer think that they have to pay additional for wi-fi.


        Doesn't mean you have only 1 SSID

        I have the avengers team as my SSID names

  • +6 votes

    Did the staff member mention it was for the business? The staff member may have been using it for personal use on their smartphone.

    Seems like an odd business decision to create a dependency like this.

    • +6 votes

      Staff member did mention it was for the business.
      They use it for music streaming and general internet / eBay etc and social media so not really a dependency but they are certainly taking full advantage of it

      • +8 votes

        their staff is very honest and why they don't offer to split the bill?

        It is a potential security issue that they are see all traffic for your customers and any one who used their credit card, it can get messy.

        • +1 vote

          What? How can they see customer's data usage and their credit card? That can only be done if they have access to router settings.. if multiple people connected to same wi-fi could hack each other, wi-fi wouldn't exist.


            @anonymous01: Suggest you google it.

            You are right, people for hack the router and sniffer all the traffic when they have the wifi password. Simple as this


              @SnoozeAndLose: I would assume a business which has a lot of customers would be smart enough to not use the default 'Admin' and password that came with the router. That should be the first thing changed to a custom password. But yes, you are right that if they haven't changed the default password, then it can easily get hacked.


          Data is encrypted for a reason. One, packet sniffing is illegal without permission. Two, almost universally data transmitted is encrypted.

      • +37 votes

        You should block them, especially if its for business. If they do something illegal on that service do you want to get dragged into it?

        • +6 votes

          If they do something illegal on that service do you want to get dragged into it?

          How would this be any different from actual customers doing the same thing?


        Staff member did mention it was for the business.
        They use it for music streaming and general internet / eBay etc and social media so not really a dependency but they are certainly taking full advantage of it

        So not for the business then.

  • +16 votes

    and a staff member from the next door shop came and asked for the new password.

    Do you have much to do with this company normally? Sounds like you don't and they didn't ask permission before 'borrowing' your wifi.

    Internet should be for paying customers only. Do they buy anything from you regularly? If so, then maybe give them a pass if they support you etc.

    If not, then there are a few ways to handle this. Everything from investing in some decent guest portal software, that limits customers speeds/time per day/amount downloaded.

    or the simple ones like changing the password once or twice a day, forcing them to buy something each time to get the password. Once in the morning once in the afternoon would send them the hint pretty quick.

    I would also be looking at turning the wifi off when your business is closed, so they are not using the wifi when you're not open. You can do this with a schedule on lots of routers, or just turn the power on/off when you open/close the shop.

    They'll get the hint when there is no wifi during your closed hours that it might be time to get their own internet. Couple of nights working late without wifi would do that ;)

    But its really going to come down to if they are good customer or not.

  • +5 votes

    I'm surprised that they would get any decent signal. A bit cheeky of them if you ask me. I would change the password every week or two OR HOW ABOUT DAILY? HAHAHA. That may deter them for a bit… A bit embarrassing asking for the wifi password multiple times from their neighbour.

    It'll be hard to chase up anything. Even if they do agree to stump up money to help with the internet fees… since they are
    already being a bit dodgy using your wifi network in the first place without actually first consulting you. Might cause more trouble than it's worth when money is involved.

  • +9 votes

    The business using it for their business is not in spirit of free wi-fi provided to cafe patrons. I wouldn't allow them to use it.

    Not sure if easy to implement but consider a portal that times out users after 15 minutes or so, like those in hotels and airports. Otherwise, just change the password regularly and put up the password at the counter.

    • +4 votes

      You should print the daily wifi password on the receipts that you give customers.

  • +2 votes

    The neighbours can tether from their phones since mobile data is cheap as chips. If they buy coffee every day then I would probably play nice though.

  • +12 votes

    Are they a business that is struggling?

    Do you get a lot of business from them / their staff (lunches for meetings, coffees, etc).

    I think it's rude and unprofessional of them.

    • +1 vote

      I would say they may be struggling, but for all they know we are too. They get some coffee from us, very rarely some food.

      • +4 votes

        i'd have a friendly chat. Suggest they use you for catering maybe.

        The problem is that once you formalise an agreement (even if it's just verbal), they could expect continuity of service.

        • +6 votes

          Suggest they use you for catering maybe.

          They will buy food or use the catering service once, and then assume that they're therefore entitled for free wifi from that point onwards. I would make it clear to them in no uncertain terms that they will need to contribute if they would like to use the wifi.


        So they would be considered "customers" then?


          unless everyone is buying a product each day, it would be hard to call them 'customers'. Plus not really sure 1 coffee purchase entitles a team of say 4-5 to use the wifi for 8 hours a day!

          Would you go to your local coffee with 'free' wifi for customers, buy a single coffee at 9am and sit there all day using the wifi!?


            @JimmyF: Thats what people do at starbucks in other countries.

            • -1 vote

              @mrvaluepack: Yes that is americans in starbucks overseas…. But would you do that here or more should I say, would you expect that to happen here?


        I think that changes things, a bit. If they buy coffee every day Id probably let it go. If its only the occasional coffee then I think they are rude.

  • +8 votes

    100% cyclists fault.

    I would speed and data limit their connection, unless they want to start contributing to the bill. Like if they just chipped in 30-40/month so you could ungrade to the next speed plan, I would be happy to put a repeater to the shared wall. More speed for my customers, and they can leech some of it too.


    You did say it was free. What you ought to do is add one of them landing pages when you connect, make it so your business webpage is the fist one all the freeloaders see. It's like shoving a flyer under the nose of everyone who uses it, just takes a few impressionable people to pay for itself.

    • +3 votes

      Free for customers is completely different to another business using it.


        I bet they didn't put that in their fine print.

  • +8 votes

    Not a good security decision by them. You don't need a lot of skill to spy on anything they're doing unencrypted.
    You probably also don't want randoms on your network especially if you have iot devices. In the very least you need to make a guest network that none of your stuff connects to so you can't get hacked

    • +1 vote

      You don't need a lot of skill to spy on anything they're doing unencrypted.

      True, but unencrypted sites are vanishingly rare these days, thankfully.

  • +15 votes

    You do not want any possibility of being complicit someone else's potentially dodgy business. It's a different case if they need it occasionally.

    I would end that "arrangement". It is not worth the few bucks you can potentially offset.

  • +6 votes

    Run extension lead to their place? You supply the internet they supply your power.

    Seriously, I'd block them. If they'd asked I would've been OK with it but to take without asking, that's a no.


    haha tell them you cant leech free wifi.

    If they come back to you with an offer, then you'll consider it.

    a staff member from the next door shop came and asked for the new password.

    Pretty damn cheeky

  • +8 votes

    Probably best to change wifi passwords every day at a quiet time in the cafe - preferably at different times of the day.

    They'll find that they will need a more reliable internet connection. If they do come and ask for a password, ask them to support the business in exchange for the password.


      Probably best to change wifi passwords every day at a quiet time in the cafe - preferably at different times of the day.

      this, i'd be changing it every few hours. Or upgrading the system


        Yeah have one of those little whiteboard things "Wifi password is: XXX" for the customers when you change thru the day, wipe the board and write new pw,
        maybe next door will start getting annoyed enough to stop popping in

    • +1 vote

      best answer

  • +6 votes

    Its a slippery slope, what else will you let them have for free? Power and water?
    Better off saying no and them getting their own internet access. Its a far easier thing to manage.

    Another thing to think about is what if they are doing illegal things over your connection?

  • +14 votes

    You pay the same if they use it or not.
    It sounds like their use had no performance impact, and you have already decided the security issues of letting strangers on the wifi are fine.
    So I say let them use it - be a good neighbour and tell them the password when they buy a coffee.
    If they stop buying coffee, make them feel a bit awkward asking for the password - just a “ha ha neighbour, haven’t seen you buying coffee for a while. The wifi is for customers! Ha ha. Today’s password is nofreeloaders - just kidding”.

    • +1 vote

      You can potentially pay LESS if they use it considering they're a business and the same if they don't use it - by asking them to contribute as others have said. Are they your customer?

      It's got to be a two way relationship sometimes. This is just taking advantage of this free service. When do you draw the line?

      • +5 votes

        I guess what you are saying is true, but I think it isn’t the way to proceed.
        Consider the absolute best case is the neighbour happily pays half the internet bill. So the value is what? Maybe $35 a month?

        Now consider the worst case. The neighbour says I won’t pay, takes their coffee business elsewhere and starts describing OP as a real tight arse. OP is still paying 100% of the bill, but has lost some custom and has a cranky neighbour. This is a bad outcome.

        Now consider if OP charges nothing, but reminds the neighbour the internet is a freebie/favour. Still pays the same amount as now, but likely has a neighbour who is favourable towards him, would be more likely to give the cafe some business, and could reasonably be asked to do a favour once in a while “hey neighbour, I can’t open till late tomorrow, would you mind bringing my bin in when you collect yours?”

        This option has no downside at all from the present circumstance, and possible upsides that could dwarf a few dollars that was the alternative best upside.

        As a bit of a life rule, I really try hard to do people favours, because one day I might need one. And in circumstances like this where the favour is literally zero cost, I think it would be very foolish not to provide it.

        • +1 vote

          omg finally some common sense!

          OP literally has no expense in providing them with wifi, and it comes with no downsides except the feeling of being taken advantage of. Yes they could split the cost, but that's a trivial amount of money, even when compared with just a few coffees / food a month. 50 bucks a month is nothing compared to the business provided from a few employees visiting your cafe even semi regularly.

          Running the risk of pissing them off and having them not go to you out of principle is probably far more likely and expensive - you'd really want to hope your the only cafe for miles around. Then there's the bad reputation, you don't want people in your immediate area saying mean things about you, deserved or not, it's just not worth it, and could easily cost you even further business.

          End of the day, cafe is a service business, you don't really provide anything that the cafe down the street or a kettle in the staff room doesn't already, good relations with those around you is vitally important. I know it sucks to feel like your being taken advantage of, but I reckon you take a breath, realize your paying for it either way, and give them the password with a big smile and absolutely no hassle.

          So many cafes/pubs get by just from the support of their regular loyal customers, you want these regulars. People who work near you are your best chance at these kind of customers. Even if they're not already regulars, the possibility that they become, or inversely that bad reputation that they might spread could cause you to lose your most valuable form of customer.