What the venues offer is internet access at an average rate of £1/hour, which goes up and down depending on how busy the service is. There are also a range of daily, weekly and monthly passes you can buy: a one-month pass, allowing unlimited use of the service, is £10.
Most of the branches are open 24/7, with the exception of High Street Kensington (7:30am to 11:30pm all week) and King's Road (10am to 7pm Monday - Saturday, 12pm - 6pm Sundays). The Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road branches have ground-floor terminals by the entrance for wheelchair users.
Until recently, all of the branches offered printing, file uploads to and downloads from disks, scanning, CD-ROM burning, webcams and handsets for VoIP, and also a small food/coffee franchise in each store which you could send orders to from your terminal. However, due to what seems to be an extreme shortage of money, none of these features still exist: all the webcams and handsets are being removed. CD-ROM burning has apparently been suspended due to idiocy from the music industry. The branches are all now totally unstaffed barring a single security man each, who is normally lurking somewhere near the entrance.
There is apparently a new coffee deal in the works; what was previously the downstairs part of the Kensington store is now a branch of [Caffe Nero]?.
The terminals run Windows 98, and are quite locked down, but not totally - you can still install applications on them. (They wipe and reinstall cleanly on reboot.) However, the system's proxy/firewall is very annoyingly configured. All web traffic passes through Websense's notoriously misconfigured censoring system; also, inexplicably, all ports over 8000 are blocked, thus cutting off access to 90% of streaming radio stations, and also most java games such as those at Pogo or Yahoo! Games. However, you can get around this by SSH tunneling.
Sneak thieves operate in EIC stores. People focusing on computer screens make easy targets, and the new lack of staffing makes their task even easier. If you go to one of these places, note the following safety tips:
- Take a bag, so you can put your jacket into it if you don't want to wear it. If you don't have a bag and take your jacket off, transfer any valuables from it into a safe pocket before hanging it on your chair. Jackets laden with wallets are the thieves' #1 target.
- Keep your bag uder your table, between your feet, not in the aisle. It can be grabbed; I've seen it happen.
- WATCH OUT FOR PEOPLE READING NEWSPAPERS. I can't stress this enough. The sneak thief will pretend to be reading a newspaper whilst actually going through your pockets. There is no reason for anybody to be sitting around reading a newspaper in one of these places.
- Don't leave your phone on the table. A thief may cover it with something, remove the something and your phone with it. You won't notice until it's gone.
- Be vigilant. Who's sitting next to you? Who's behind you?
With this in mind, I must also point out that beggars sometimes wander around and ask you for money, especially late at night. Please don't encourage them by giving them anything. The Tottenham Court Road branch is especially bad for this, as the area outside can be quite nasty at night (and rates amongst my [least favourite places]? in London).
- Kensington High Street: Kensington High Street, W8 7RG (Tube: High Street Kensington)
- King's Road: Unit G1, Kings Walk, 120 Kings Road, SW3 4TR (Tube: Sloane Square)
- Oxford Street: 358 Oxford Street (Tube: Bond Street)
- Trafalgar Square: 456/459 Strand, WC2 (Tube: Charing Cross)
- Tottenham Court Road: 9-16 Tottenham Court Road (Tube: Tottenham Court Road)
- Victoria: 9-13 Wilton Road, SW1V 1LL (Tube: Victoria)