Tired of screen addicts, Vienna cafe says phone juice costs extra

The Hundertwasser House landmark, an apartment house designed by artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, with the "Terrassencafe im Hundertwasserhaus" is seen in Vienna, Austria, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
The Hundertwasser House landmark, an apartment house designed by artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, with the "Terrassencafe im Hundertwasserhaus" is seen in Vienna, Austria, February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

VIENNA (Reuters) - Grumpy waiter service is as traditional as apple strudel in Vienna, but a cafe in one of the city's most recognizable landmarks has caused disquiet with what seems to be an Austrian first: charging customers for charging their phones.

Tired of tourists powering up batteries for hours, cafe owner Galina Pokorny has introduced a 1 euro ($1.06) fee for those who plug in their mobiles for too long.

"Tourists - always electricity, electricity, electricity. Sorry but who is going to pay me for it?" said Pokorny, owner of the Terrassencafe im Hundertwasserhaus - located inside a colorful patchwork of apartments designed by artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Customers who charge up during a 15-minute coffee can still do so for free, she said. An hour, however, is beyond the pale.

"I run a cafe, not an internet cafe," she said, adding that she knew of no other cafes that levy a similar charge.

"It's getting more and more extreme. People come and think everything is accessible and free... You don't even open your eyes in the morning for free."

Pokorny introduced the charge last year, she said, but it gained attention on Wednesday when tabloid Oesterreich published the "bizarre bill" one of its reporters was presented with, featuring the 1 euro charge for "electricity".

The fee also applies to laptops and tablets, and for those using more than one outlet is multiplied by the number of devices plugged in. Disgruntled customers can take some comfort from the fact that wireless internet access is still free.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by John Stonestreet)

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