Teavana -- If you don't want to buy something, too bad.

566 Replies
Lariel select said

The were actually one of the first I ordered tea from. But they seem much less interesting after I learned of Della Terra, David’s, and others. The last thing I ever bought from them was a hot of cup tea. I could have actually bought two ounces for that price. They’re not very forward with prices- for some things.

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SypherBP said

I feel kind of awful reading all of these pretty intense horror stories.I recently got a job a few months ago at a teavana in canada, and I have to say that certain things that are being said gotta be very store based. In terms of customer service, there are a few people I work with that can get super pushy and in your face. It really annoys me, because it doesnt take much to figure out a customer: Either theyre new to tea and want to learn about as much as you can offer and theyre super willing, or theyre specifically here for something and, while i’ll admit if theyre okay with it I’ll show a sample or two to get an idea of what teas they may like, if they tell me what they want they totally are getting it.

In terms of all the over pour stuff, I’ve never been trained or even told about that personally. i mean, its kinda hard to pour out the right amount of tea in one go without weighing it. I simply ask if what i weigh is too much and if they want me to put a whole bunch back or not. sometimes people ask for 50 grams and i caan totally knock out 50! and sometimes, its closer to 55-60. if im way over, i’ll definitely put some back unless they tell me otherwise. small scoops are small, and i wont shove heaping scoops unless asked. but also im 100 percent sure that i am a minority salesman in those terms. Listening to the customer doesnt make dem big bucks lol

I really gotta say though, some of my co workers can get really uppity and pushy. And ever since teavana bought out teaopia, I can see things getting more and more corporate in their sales processes and junk (teaopia used to be so much more laid back and relaxed, and my favourite accessible tea shop). again, as a whole, pushy salesman are probably really admired in the company, but I make my sales goals just fine by paying attention to customers needs and giving them what they ask for. being personable and suggesting new teas similar to what they already want isnt always bad, but I do see when it goes wrong. Watching a fellow employee not taking, “i only want this tea” as an answer upwards of 3-4 times is so jarring, but its what brings in the bigger bucks.

I’m cool with not being the top seller if i can simply sell tea to people that want it, and introduce tea to those who are curious. I suppose saying certain experiences are based on stores is really a moot point if the pushier and more aggressive salesperson is the more desired team member. my store has those, but to my knowledge more of the management staff (myself now included) along with team members try for listening and giving what is asked for. top down selling is still a big role, but if i totally see you’re not interested in a tin, or that you dont know enough or care for the “superior freshness”, or youre just looking for this one tea, then by all means I wont waste your time.

I’m truly sorry for everyone who has had terrible experiences. I promise there are okay workers out there!

pyarkaaloo said

well, you sound like a lovely employee! would have loved working with you :( sniff but stop right there, i think the operative word here is Canada! LOL..and i mean that in the friendliest way…no wonder your Teavana is peaceful!! i’m from the US (more specifically, the tri-state metropolitan area, which is known for its unfriendly population). being close to NYC doesn’t help either..

while i’m pretty sure Teavana tries to enforce its sales model across all stores, individual experiences will vary based upon location/staff, etc..

it may very well be worth a trip across the border to meet some personable Canadian teaologists! ;)

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SypherBP said

also to be quite honest, Davids Tea is wiked! and they have really tasty teas. I mean, one time i went there and they seem very disinterested and a little pretentious about their teas, but like (hopefully) a lot of people reporting in here, its just a single location experience (except it really seems like teavana has terrible employee engrained in most of their hiring requirements for all these stores being talked about. again, super sorry that is happening all over the place. I dislike that a lot.)

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When I worked for Teavana, I hated how the company wanted us to make our customers feel. We WERE at our store taught to over poor. Basically they wanted us to distract the customer, telling them about all the lovely benefits of the tea, and then swing into and if you buy “THIS MUCH” with a full tin in hand, you’ll save 10% today. We were told to do this EVEN if the customer has already specified a number of ounces or dollar amount they were hoping to spend. I also hated things like the “5 times no rule”. This was basically, don’t take no for an answer unless they say it 5 times, keep coming up with reasons they NEED OUR TIN instead of the one they already have at home. They also pushed for EXTREME metrics such as $300 in cast iron per week at least per employee. A $40 sales average at the end of the week, and month. (Keep in mind we sell cups of tea for $2.99 and work in a mall filled with employees on breaks just looking for a quick sip). I did really well at my job at Teavana, and I really hated it. I hated pushing people into buying something so I could keep my job. I worked there over 2 years ago, and I’ve heard from some friends who still work there, that it hasn’t gotten much better. I left to work for a much better company that values their customers, and not just their products and sales, and I’ve been much better off for it. I’ll still buy some Teavana teas, online, but seldom will you see me go into a store anymore, makes me cringe a little.

The only good thing about it was the free stuff, before they started making us destroy “defective” products, and the discount.

keychange said

Wow, a five times no rule? that sounds so needlessly aggressive. I find it interesting that some employees were taught this, while others come in and say they weren’t encouraged to do anything of the sort (overpouring, five times no, etc.). Although, I think the fact that the company has acquired a reputation among tea-drinkers says something about the ratio of those who were trained to do these things versus those who weren’t.

Ubacat said

I’ve never been to Teavana. I was planning on stopping in last week but read this post and went to David’s Tea instead. I really hate being pushed with my tea purchases. I have very little self control anyway and when a sales person is hounding me I know I will walk away with too much. It’s too bad Teavana is like that. The tea buying experience should be fun and exciting.

I think a lot of what makes a store more or less pushy is the overall traffic of the mall/location of the store. We got nearly no traffic, and had very low daily sales. We were considered a “low-volume” store, so we were pushed and threatened to “sell, sell, sell” or be replaced by someone who would. :/

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scribbles said

I used to be a frequent tea purchaser at my local Teavana shop (fairview mall is 5+ min away). The first time I shopped there I got suckered into the over-pour (in a huge way). I was new to tea, so I shrugged my shoulders and thought ‘eh, whatever….’ As my tea experience slowly blossomed I still visited my local Teavana because they had a blend I love (& still love) so that I continued to purchase, as well as others that I wanted.

After my third or fourth visit to Teavana, one of the employee’s recognized me as the “list lady”. I went in with my list, produced it to the employee, and received cheerful and pleasant service and no up-sell.

I still go in to Teavana, I love some of their teaware (eye-balling bamboo motif tea cups) and I don’t get any hard sells.

It’s unfortunate that people get treated differently in different areas. Other than that one over-pour I’ve had quite pleasant experiences in Teavana.

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Sionnan said

I’ve been to Teavana twice. It seems reasonably nice there. I guess it just depends on where you’re at. The most I’ve gotten was someone offering samples, and asking if I liked the tea. They were generally nice.
Although I don’t doubt the horror stories. So, to avoid having a horror story, I generally purchase it online.

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Why if Teavana are so bad do people keep using them over and over? This is what I don’t understand. Average quality tea, expensive, pushy sales tactics etc then why do they have this user base that keeps them in business then?

If a tea vendor in the UK behaved that way they would lose my custom there and then and the point that a person can’t take no for an answer is the point where they would be told where to stick their tea.

Anna said

- The bulk of their user base consists of people who aren’t very knowledgeable about tea – and they’re not on Steepster.

- Some of their products are beloved staple favourites of people who do know their way around tea.

- Even if you don’t like their teas, they have great teaware.

- All stores don’t have pushy salespeople.

- Everyone doesn’t think it’s challenging to deal with pushy salespeople.

&c, &c, &c.

And seriously – don’t ever tell people working in harshly competitive, underpaid retail environments to stick anything anywhere. If you feel unable to deal with salespeople in a non-abusive way, do everyone a favour and just leave.

SimplyJenW said

Here is my limited US view for those of you not from here. I think part of it is that most of the US is relatively new to tea beyond the bagged stuff you use to make iced tea. We don’t have a generations old tea culture. Teavana is very visible and convenient, especially away from the larger cities where it might be all there is beyond the grocery store for miles. (Grocery stores carry predominantly bagged, lower quality tea, but this is also improving, in my opinion.) I also think it is rare that people take the time to research their tea, it is more of an impulse purchase. In my opinion, Teavana relies on new and uneducated customers to keep the company going. They do carry some unique things, though. I learned of tea from online friends and a different company was my ‘gateway’, but it is a place that you might not initially know of unless you frequent online communities. (For Teavana, I have ordered at least twice online, but have never really bought in the store. I find them very overpriced.) So in summary, VISIBILITY! They are everywhere compared to any other tea company. To put a number on it, I would guess 85% Teavana stores to 15% all else. Maybe 80/20.

Anna said

I absolutely agree – Teavana is one of my fave generic mall stores to visit, because it always smells good, there’s always new shiny stuff, everything is always very nicely displayed, and, as you said, they’re right there.

In some small manner, possibly comparable to David’s Tea, at least in parts of Canada.

I would agree that availability is a big key to their success in the U.S. Where I am located, there is one tea shop/restaurant 15 minutes from me and they are only open by appointment, when they have a special event, or when someone has their event there. Their website doesn’t tell you what kinds of teas they offer.

There is another about 30 minutes the other direction that is basically a tea restaurant that sells the blends they offer during their lunches, etc. They offer a limited variety of Metropolitan Teas. I just learned that they had a fire in January and don’t know when/if they will re-open.

Grocery stores offer limited selections of bagged teas, and often 1 kind of box of Lipton loose tea. I have found our local health food store sells a few loose leaf in from bulk bins.

To find anything else, I have to go an hour away to find a few more tea shops/restaurants that may each offer a couple of blends, or a there’s Teavana.

Most people where I live will drink sweet iced teas from whatever restaurant they dine at, if they aren’t drinking soda… Raspberry tea seems to be popular, but I find it artificial and too sweet. Some might go so far as to brew some iced tea with bagged blends from the grocery store, and some used dry tea mixes (Gag-I’ve never been able to drink these). They aren’t familiar with loose teas yet, and to be introduced to it at all is something.

Most people are familiar with Starbucks overdone flavors and wouldn’t be put off by strong flavors or sweetened samples, and they have no idea what the costs for loose leaf at other places might be… they wouldn’t know where to look. It’s also difficult for someone who hasn’t tried loose leaf and the flavor possibilities before, to know what to try first if they were to consider an order online. There is much to be said for a live experience where you can smell and see what you are buying. With so few tea shops in the U.S., I think them grabbing the marketplace with lots of locations was smart on their part. Their stores are small, at least the one I was in, w/just enough space for their products, and I’m sure less sq ft means less cost for them. People in this country aren’t educated in tea and they are the ones doing it and gaining a customer base. Even if they lose customers that find other brands, they pick up new ones all the time that happen to walk by them in the mall.

I agree some of their sales techniques are not great… I myself experienced overpouring on every tea I purchased on my one trip to their store…one to the amount of .8 oz! But I’m hoping that they catch on enough that our local groceries start picking up a few loose leaf teas so I have more variety w/o shipping costs or larger orders to avoid them.

They do sound shocking with their tactics but it amazes me people keep going back to them. Is there a TV show in the US that checks out dodgy sales practices, we have one in the UK called Watchdog and they deal with dodgy dealings, mis selling, poor tradesmen etc so has no one investigated or taken action about their shoddy selling techniques.

I’d still be vocal to anyone who treats me with disdain as a buyer regardless of wether I should do or not. It might teach them not to do it again.

Anna said

Treating a customer with ‘disdain’ and working hard to push a sale because you’re trying desperately to keep your job within the context of a less than ideal corporate culture are two completely different things.

But, obviously, I don’t expect people who don’t have much insight into low/minimum wage corporate culture in the US to understand that. It’s not the salesperson you should be picking on in the US, though, trust me. You’re not ‘teaching’ anyone to do anything, you’re just making someone’s low/minimum wage work day more miserable.

Get educated, is my recommendation – and do not under any circumstance compare corporate culture in the US and the UK.

I can only comment on how I would respond to such tactics such as pushy staff and over pouring and treating its customers like they shouldn’t mind paying more than what they have asked for. I want 100g of tea and give or take a little then that is what you should sell me.

Look after your customers and treat them with respect and you will gain loyalty and positive word of mouth. That comes from someone who works in a busy customer service environment.

I bought a new iPhone last week. Shop one delayed me, didn’t offer me what I wanted, was less competitive and was pushy. Shop two treated me better and matched a phone and contract to what I wanted. They got my business there and then.

Anna said

Look – Teavana isn’t in the UK, employee conditions differ WILDLY, and the two situations are in no way comparable. Your UK cell phone shop experience is completely irrelevant here – please try to stay on topic. This thread is about Teavana.

Sounds reasonable to me Anna

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Wow, I’m kinda mad at Teavana right now. I’m just gonna rant here so I don’t on my blog. I’m usually pretty positive and I’ll give companies benefit of the doubt.

It’s buried a page back in comments, but I ordered on that 75% off sale, my first time ordering from them. 75% online? Why not and I did a pretty big order. My teas took like 3 to 4 weeks to arrive, in 2 separate shipments (not what I requested). I was still missing stuff – a couple tins. I waited thinking I’m going to get another box in the mail. Emailed them. No response, they just sent me back auto reply spam. Emailed them again – more auto reply spam. No replies to my spam folder either.

I check online and my order shows a 3rd of what I ordered, not my entire order, which is really messed up. I emailed a third time, not as nice and today they responded with

Thank you for contacting Teavana, I checked the status of you order and it shows that the tins were shipped, im assuming you didn’t receive them. At this time we would normally have the item replaced but the tins are now disconnected. If you wanted I could send out a replacement of a different tin or credit you back in the amount of your tins. Looking forward to your response.

disconnected? I’m hoping they answer my reply and credit me soon to end this before the 3 month mark. I’m totally done with Teavana since their system appears to be a mess and they fail at answering support emails. The teas I got that I’ve tried, smell super strong artificial and weren’t amazing.

Not ordering or dealing with them again, despite wanting to explore their pu’er blends and them offering an affiliate program.

Sil select said

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Cavocorax said

That sorta similiar to my experience. I ordered during that 75% off sale too, and 2/6 of my teas arrived. The rest were backordered, with no idea when/if they’d ship. I wanted to know about the 12 oz samplers I bought because it was the ONLY reason I placed the order, but when I logged in to check the status it didn’t even show up there anymore. All traces were gone. And some of the names of my other teas had switched out. Weird.

So I emailed their customer support to see what was going on, and waited 3 days for a response. They just said some items were backordered and they’d ship as soon as they were available.

They did NOT answer my question: Will I still get that 12 oz sampler pack? (valued at $74 – so it was a really awesome deal). So I waited all that time for nothing.

I put in another support request and asked AGAIN. This time they said that they had oversold that item and that I wasn’t going to get it.

At that point I basically gave up on Teavana.

I can totally understand over-selling a popular product on a website. It sucks for your customer, but I can see it. What I don’t understand is the COMPLETE LACK of communication. Had they emailed me and said, “Whoops! Sorry, we can’t ship this one too you” I would have been very disappointed, but at least I’d know what was going on. Had I not pursued them I might have been expecting this item to still show up. IT shouldn’t be on me to do this.

And yeah, frustrating there has made me realize, why bother?

mewakeling said

I am really frustrated with them right now. I have an order in, it is marked as shipped, and quite some time ago, but I have no tracking and no communication from them. I checked today for a phone number to try and track down a tracking number, but I could not even find a phone number on their site. I am left sitting and wondering where my late order is, or if it ever really even shipped.

I don’t live by tea stores, so I am stuck trusting online ordering, and I love their sales, but this is really unimpressive (and not the first time I have had similar issues with them).

My issue got resolved finally and I got a feedback email to rate their support and I can only rate it as “good” or “bad”. Geeze, I guess its good since they resolved it (in a poorly written email), but bad as it took almost 3 months for them to answer my emails and its their fault/lack of communication that created the issue!

In my case, I’m a new customer, you’d think they’d want to make sure I had a decent experience. I guess not.

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I am currently a pretty broke college student working at a Teavana in order to feed myself, basically, and a lot of comments on this thread have made me very uneasy…like “I wanted to smack the Teavana lady in the face”, or “tell them to shove their tea up their butt” kind of things. Please, please, for the love of god, PLEASE do not take out your anger on the employee! The store that I work at has about 12 employees, and about 50% of us are still in college, and no one is over 25 years old. We’re all working this job because we need to. I wish I could quit and find a job at a different company with less ridiculous policies, believe me. But the fact remains that we all have bills to pay, and guess what—hours are given on a differing weekly basis, based on your sales from the previous week. So, before you “smack the Teavana lady in the face”, consider that we’re really just mostly young kids, doing our best to survive in a super-competitive, low-pay environment and earn some freaking money, (and not get fired for not having enough sales, which can happen!)

Also, believe me when I say, minus the few weirdos in the back who have drank the Teavana corporate Kool-Aid (hah), we are all WELL aware of how intense and needless the sales process is, the up-selling and the over-filling and the relentlessness, but you can bet your butt that if my boss is watching, I’m going to do it, because I want to keep my job! I wish I could quit, everyone who I am friends with in the store wishes they could quit, and we are as miserable as you are during the process.

On the other hand, I try my very hardest not to pressure people or make them feel uncomfortable, and I know a lot of people do the same in the store. We do have a lot of interesting things and engaging with people and showing them things that might actually help them, or that they might actually like, is one of the only things that keeps me sane at this job. We have people who come in and genuinely do need to be shown things and told things about things, because they’re new to it, or haven’t seen it, but (again, with the exception of the few weirdos), we know when to back off—but keep in mind, we’re trained to be bloodhounds. We’re trained not to leave you alone for a single second. We get yelled at if we don’t show X, Y, and Z, and give the spiel every time. We’re sorry. Please for the love of god do not make our jobs any worse. We’re not monsters. We know what Teavana is.

Tea Pet admin said

+1

You are completely correct – Teavana is the problem, not the people who need to work there in a tough job market. People unhappy with the company should be taking it up with the company who makes these policies, not the poor souls forced to live by them.

Kaylee said

Aw, now I just want to give you a hug! I’m sorry that this thread made you feel unsafe. I do think that people are mostly venting and have no intention of actually injuring the salesperson. More often, they/we just won’t go back. My SO used to work retail and it was awful. I can only imagine how much it sucks with the kind of pressure Teavana employees are under. Hopefully you’ll get another, better job after you graduate!

Cavocorax said

+1
I’ve been in retail. I know it’s not the employee’s fault that the stores are so aggressive/inept with customer service. It’s the policies put forth through management. I’m sorry this made you feel uneasy.

xhado123 said

Hey shannonvocal. I started steepster as a way to learn about tea beyond the corporate book. You’ll find a lot of support here – as you can see above.

Cheers,
Former Team leader, store 126 & 101

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I worked here for 3 weeks, omg it was the worst experience of my life and I LOVE tea. First off there was my manager, she was a drunk, many days I was told to come in at 8am and I was always on time, she would come in around 10, sometimes bruised even from falling the night before drunk and she would brag about it…ridiculous, a 20 year old running a store that had no clue what she was doing.

Now onto the fun part, they “train” you to sell over priced tea pots/kettles/etc…but the problem is how they go about this, they lead you in with a sample, then I was told to explain why the tea wont taste as good if it doesn’t get brewed in this cast iron set, most of the time the customer would just get aggravated and leave. The book they had us train with had invalid information about tea, sometimes even the origin stories were wrong…pitiful, this is the stuff we needed to tell customers.

Next up is the overselling, omg the overselling, literally everything about this is horrible, we would be told on purpose to put to much tea in the tea weigher and then say “Oh its a little over, is that ok?”, half of the people looked annoyed but didn’t wanna say no if you ask me, then we had to try to make them buy a crap load of accessories/rock sugar/etc…and really its almost like we were trained to not let a customer leave until the wallet was unfilled.

The next part is nasty….about 80% of the tea back in storage that we had to refill the containers in the front with was indeed expired, sometimes by only a few months but come on if anything it should be fresh fresh going on how much money this place charges compared to other local places around me.

Finally we OFTEN had customers come in complaining the tea does not taste like in the store samples and this ones easy, the amount of tea/water we use is ungodly, seriously about 4x the amount it says to use on the package, its also sugared to hell and back, of course it isn’t gonna taste the same…In all honesty this to me is false advertising.

I can go on but I know personally I would never buy anything from this place, left a real bad taste in my mouth(Also most of the teas I tried while working there were pretty meh, maybe its because they were expired slightly though…)

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