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

567 Replies

I feel like the odd one out here, but I’ve never had a problem with Teavana, either in-store or online. Sure, the employees are pushy, but it’s never a problem if I just say “no thanks, I’ve got tins at home” or “I really only want three ounces of this, would you mind lightening it a bit?” They’re expensive and do so many flavored blends that I don’t shop there often (I prefer straight teas) but I’ve never had a problem with them. That being said, the Teavana in my mall is usually fairly deserted and I go in knowing exactly what I’m going to buy, so I usually just spend a lot of time talking to the employees.

I’ve never really had a problem with them either. I’ve ordered online a few time and had no problems with any of my orders. I’ve never tried calling their customer service though.

I’ve been in the stores and when they start to get pushy I just say no thanks and they leave me alone. Again, like you I don’t shop there very often anymore. Since I moved there isn’t a Teavana close by to me now, the closest one is 2 hours away.

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teaenvy said

ah teavana….the window is so alluring. i have only been in teavana twice and did not buy anything either time. the employees in the local shop have been so pushy i have fled every time.

my polite “no thank you” has resulted in something close to stalking…each step dogged by an employee shadowing me like a criminal.

i make good money and dress well. i dont look like a criminal and i dont behave like one. but in teavana i feel like an object of suspicion (oh im being overly dramatic).

the point being high pressure sales techniques of any kind will always fail with me. give me time to let something catch my eye, give me time to imagine the possibilities. make a friend of me by being friendly and ill give you all my cash…

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Blake said

I’m not the biggest fan, but I’m not dead set against them. Until I can get another electric kettle for work, they’re the only place I can get a decent cup of tea when I’m working. I work retail, so I have a higher tolerance than most when it comes to people driving sales, and so far I’ve only had one employee be overly pushy. I patiently let him try to sell me everything in the store (when I had made it clear I had no money) after he had made my cup of tea. When he tried to “assume the sale” on me and ask which tea I was taking home (keep in mind I had paid about three minutes before this), I was forced to make it abundantly clear that I was in for one thing and one thing only. I wasn’t overly aggressive, I just give him a rather stern “I came in for a cup of tea on my lunch break, and I’m not getting anything else. Period.” He realized he had overstepped his boundaries and the look in his eyes was that of a puppy after you give them a sharp “HEY!” The couple of times I’ve been in since I’ve been super friendly with the rest of the staff and no one’s tried to sell me anything I didn’t ask for.

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Cheryl said

Funny that they think that the return policy is their major customer service issue. Good luck with your last week : )

Scott B said

Wouldn’t it be better to brew a sample of what the customer is interested in purchasing in-store? That way you don’t have to trudge back to the store-and I think they are counting on people not wanting to do that.

Tamm said

I always felt that their single-cup teas were prices far too high in comparison to buying the leaf yourself. I mean, some teas are likely $6-7 dollars; so $3 is half of that cost…

Blake said

Eh, while that could be said, it’s no different than buying a cup of coffee at a coffee house. I have no problems with paying that for a cup of tea, as I’d be paying more for a latte (while I could make one of those for a similarly less amount of money). It also helps them use that as a leaf selling tactic for people like myself who really only go in for cups of tea. It’s their way of getting you to buy leaf instead of (or in addition to) a single cup, which they can then up sell you to a “higher quality” tea. At least this is the assumption I’ve always made.

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Tamm said

I was at Teavana today because I was looking for a shipping free option for a new way to brew my tea; but without an expensive teapot. There were five people working in this tiny cabinet of a store. They would NOT leave me alone. When I finally picked out what I wanted to buy a woman came up and grabbed the damn thing right out of my hands and took it to the counter. She then insisted that I buy some tea; to which I said no. They kept asking me what I liked, but had to continually insist that I did not intend to buy anything. My husband jokingly looking at the whopping jar of sugar and said he wanted to eat it. They responded by pouncing on him for a sale…it was awful. I wish my friend was still working here so I wouldn’t have to deal with this.

The more I read about these stories (and hear things straight from some of their employees), the more it seems that there is some kind of mandate from the top that drives this kind of behavior; it seems like there are too many stories for it to be otherwise.

Some things Autumn Aelwyd posted above do sound hopeful: “… Teavana is ‘changing their customer service policy’ to help retain our clientele, by allowing people to return their tea if they don’t like it (previously it was only of you had an allergy) …” Maybe some awareness of a need for improved customer service is finally reaching the top and starting to filter down to the local stores. Than again, maybe not. The more I think about it, though the more I would rather they didn’t change anything. As, if they do improve their customer service, then that will simply take business away from all of the other small shops that probably ‘deserve’ it more, as those that find out about tea initially through Teavana but eventually go elsewhere (due to poor customer service, high prices, or whatever) will then stay with them. So I say, let them continue to do as they do, and let the cards (or the customers) fall where they may.

Zeks said

That sounds like a place I’d leave immediately after entering :) I tend to just walk away from any store that offers overly active assitants instead of the product I want to buy :)

Tamm said

I would normally walk away also; but in my state it is this or nothing. The next tea place is more than an hour away and their customer service is just as appalling. I really wish they would at least tell people to be less aggressive about physical interactions. I don’t mind being asked if I’d like something, but the moment I get crowded/have something grabbed I’m going to be upset. I wish we had a David’s because I’d shop there any day over Teavana.
I do agree that if they want to treat people in this manner then they deserve to loose business over it.

chadao said

As an employee at Teavana, SimpliciTEA has hit the nail on the head. Indeed, “there is [a] mandate from the top that drives this kind of behavior.” Everything, including esteem from management, sales per hour, and consideration for promotion, not to mention the number of hours we get in a week, is determined by the number of $$$ that we make for the store. I wish it were otherwise, but there you have it. We are forced to romance and sell low to mid-quality teas at ridiculously marked up prices, not for your benefit or even our benefit, but for the sake of keeping a job that pays the bills.

@ Tamm. I am so sorry that Teavana is your only option. Have you considered ordering teas online? For me, this is the only way to get tea that I want, and it is totally worth it to simply click the mouse and have the tea at my doorstep within a week.

Tamm said

For me, normally I’ve been avoiding the place at all costs. Especially after hearing the horror stories from someone else on here. But I just wanted a mug without having to pay an extra $5 just to get it here. I have a pretty limited budget, so shipping vs just running down the street kind of played into the choice to go down there. I was mostly just impatient!
I’ve worked sales before at the mall and it really does suck. I can understand why a friend of mine recently stopped working at the Teavana that I was at today. The other sad thing is that we now have 3 in my state. So now people who are new to tea might just think it’s that or boxed grocery store tea.

SimpliciTEA and Chadao are absolutely right, sadly. Today was my last day at Teavana though my manager insists on keeping me in the system. If you can help it don’t go to Teavana on a weekend. The reason your item was snatched out of your hand was because they were zoning and somebody had to take credit for the sale, so they probably jotted down the barcode on a dry erase sheet and would normally put it in a bag behind the counter until you had bought your tea, the person on the counter fills out a similar sheet and both get credit when you are rung up. Also they are over-staffed on weekend and have a high sales goals for the day. So try to stick to a week day when there are only two or three people working and they are more mellow. Still sorry you had to go through that.

Tamm said

I’m sorry about the migraines!
You are exactly right about the dry erase card! They were pretty snippy around the other workers also. I felt bad for them and the customers.

Wow. So much I could respond to (in an understanding way for all that was posted here).

Tamm: it is sad if you don’t have anywhere else nearby to go to. Still, there are a number of little places in my town that sell tea (most are spice shops or health food stores), and after having tried just about every one of them (including a Teavana) I realized that none compare to the selection and quality of what I can buy online.

The picture that many of you are helping to paint for me regarding how sales works at Teavana is actually making me feel more sympathetic for the employees on the front lines. It reminds me of a related story when I was younger. My family and I went to a furniture store with a big showroom (although I can’t remember exactly what we were looking for). After the first visit, I remember my dad pointing out how the salespersons (all men at the time, I think) seemed to be strategically positioned at various points in the showroom near the door, as if they were ravenous vultures, having fought for the right to go after us just before we came in, waiting to move in for the kill. I have a very vague picture of this in my mind (I think when we went back I paid more attention to them, and noticed it was basically as he said it was the first time we visited the store; although I don’t know why we returned). It was sad; not so much for us, but more for them, being in that position, as if they felt that’s what they had to do to survive. : (

And on a silly note (I don’t like ending on unhappy notes), what if we all just decided to organize and schedule people to stand just outside as many Teavana’s as possible, around the country, each with a sign that stated something to the effect of, “Want to know where to find the best tea? Check out Steepster.com!” OR, have two such conspirators having a conversation right outside, saying things like, “Man, Steepster.com sure is the place to find the best tea!” OR, as the customers leave, whisper, “Steepster.com for the best tea, Steepster.com for the best tea, …” Of course unless Jason would pay us to do this (Ha!), we’d have to volunteer …

ACK. Regardless, we would be vultures ourselves, then, now wouldn’t we? : – p

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chadao said

SimpliciTEA, your post made me laugh :) I actually think that would be a great idea. Another alternative: we could station ourselves outside of Teavana stores and have conversations with people who walk in and out of there, candidly explaining how they were ripped of by being forced to buy a pound of tea (which is simply ludicrous) in a $7 tin (the benefits of which are provided for free by other tea companies) with teaware that was likely going to be broken in the next week or so (I know from personal experience that their teaware is cheaply made and easily damaged). Of course we would also have to disillusion them on the lies that they accepted about the supposed health benefits and caffeine content while they were caught up in the romantic fantasy that was created for them.

Someone tell me why I work for this company again? Oh yeah, jobs are hard to come by these days.

Well, and I’m certain this has been mentioned before, one good thing about Teavana (I believe there are many) is that they reach a ‘customer base’ (is that the right phrase?) that may otherwise not be reached, people that are turned on to the wonders of Tea. And if people are truly happy with what they’re getting, there’s nothing wrong with that (I have lots of their teas myself).

I’m glad many of you whom work ‘there’ are active ‘out here’. Whether you intend to or not, all of your presence and your posts give Teavana a more human feel. No company is without fault, and none are without their gifts, either. You all are at least a few brightly shining lights in (what may possibly be) a sea of darkness. Then again, maybe I’m simply seeing my own darkness projected onto the worst parts of Teavana? I couldn’t help but be at least a little philosophical, there. : – }

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Scott B said

I am curious about otherwise good Teavana employees who don’t meet sales goals and/or are not really aggressive with customers-do they get terminated rather quickly?

I think that really depends on the store and the manager. At the beginning if they are not really engaging with guests (or more likely goofing off, Teavana hires pretty young) and their numbers reflect that, they are talked to and asked if they think they can step it up. I remember in the beginning the phrase used was “this job isn’t for everyone” and some replied “well I guess it’s not for me” so there is that initial weeding out. However I have seen some people that are rather standoffish stay and some that probably don’t deserve it get promoted but that’s all very personal and about relationships. Our store is our Teavana family and our current manager is very maternal. Though pressure from corporate are making her a bit more firm and turning our AGM into the hard ass (which I dont want to stay to witness because respect the guy and know he’s just trying to advance to support his family). Things are changing though, there are threats of write ups of you are on the bottom, getting sent home of you are not always either on te sample cart, sticking to a guest or cleaning, sales goals have gone up and consequences are tightening on a corporate scale and I didn’t want to stick around to watch. I had good enough sales to be promoted, I stayed in the top three for many months until after the holidays and they didn’t plummet until these last two months when I stopped believing and getting horrible migraines. However I think it was a combination of sympathy and knowing I was debating leaving that kept them from questioning my low numbers. So really hard to say for other stores.

timeskips said

I’d agree. Personally, I don’t meet my sales goals consistently—whether it be due to area, customer base, my own personal hangups, or a combination of the three. I’ve been on the store team since we opened, and while it’s resulted in a cutting of my hours (which is also due to my availability, for a while I had another job that was my primary and resulted in me only being available 3 days a week), it hasn’t resulted in me being outright terminated, or even written up. I haven’t asked any of the others, but it seems to be about the same.

The only people who have gotten consequences for low sales are those who were promoted to team lead. If they couldn’t keep up their sales per hour, they were demoted to normal team members.

Edit: Well as of this edit (being the day after my original comment) I went to look at the schedule for the next two weeks and it seems my words were taken out of my mouth, as I’m not on it due to low sales volume. I’m still officially employed, just no hours at all for the next two weeks. This is handed down from our area manager, my store manager had to comply to get her off his back.

Welp. Guess it’s a good thing I have a job interview on Monday.

Oh timeskips :( good luck on Monday! We didn’t really have enough people toward the end to base hours on performance, but our regional wanted our manager to hire more people so that it was no longer based on just availability.

timeskips said

Thanks love. ♥ We just hired three new people too (two overall, since one just left due to extenuating circumstances) and we’re coming into summer so a lot of our team will have hours opening up as we’re a bunch of college students, so honestly, if I get this I’ll probably just give notice. I know our GM likes me, he’s offered help in any way he can with my job search, but I think he’s the kind of guy I’d like to count more as a friend and not as an employer.

The job I’m interviewing for is full-time, not retail, and hopefully is a way better fit for me. :3 If it works out, it works out. I’ve had…well, an /experience/ with Teavana to say the least, and enjoy working with my team there, but it’s probably not the best fit for me. I’m not much for pressure sales like that.

xhado123 said

Time, summer hours usually drop to ten hours a week for the best team members in some stores…

timeskips said

Except they haven’t, save for me and another woman who were cut completely, and another girl who simply doesn’t have the availability, so there’s that theory out the window.

Either way, I can’t afford to be at a job where I’m not getting any hours in a week at all—for three weeks on end, now. I’ll be giving my two weeks notice tomorrow when our GM is in.

Scott B said

It will be 5 weeks with no hours once your two weeks notice are up. They should just terminate people who they have decided they don’t want. I mean, you are not going to improve your sales by not working. Seems rather punitive of Teavana.

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There are some things I’ve come to accept about Teavana. I agree the teas, tins, beverages and other merchandise are overpriced. But it’s that ridiculous mark up on the tins and the over priced beverages that pay the rent and the employees, not to mention the regional managers and directors, trainers and everyone at corporate. It’s what allows them to open new stores and to be on the NYSE. Teavana has much higher operating costs than an online or local tea store.

That doesn’t mean you have to like it, support it or give in to all the gimmicks. If you choose to shop there, come in prepared. Be firm but pleasant, remember you are working with individuals (and hopefully they will afford you the same courtesy) and tell them exactly what you are looking for, what you don’t want and that you have plenty of tea tins at home. Or if you are just in looking tell them you are very familiar with Teavana and are just gathering some ideas, because the most important thing to me was not sales, it was educating guests and helping them understand what they were looking at if they said they were just looking. Tell them you drink lots of loose leaf tea at home, heck tell them you have cast iron already if you don’t want to be bothered my that pitch (it is mandatory). And of they are still rude and too pushy, ask to speak to the manager, ours has no idea people dislike us, though I would imagine she’s in the minority.

I agree a lot needs to change and people on Steepster being smart shoppers does not help the unsuspecting newbie. However as others have said, Teavana does serve a purpose, it’s a gateway to the world of loose leaf tea and hopefully people will branch out from there into the greater world of either higher quality or less expensive loose leaf tea. I am grateful to them for the introduction, I wouldn’t be on Steepster or drinking tea everyday, several times a day, if it weren’t for working Teavana. And I did actually enjoy interacting with guests, educating them, putting together beautiful gifts and making friends. There I have said my peace, carry on.

darby select said

Hi Autumn, it’s nice to hear something close to supportive of Teavana. Unfortunately I have not been pulled to the dark side yet and just can’t break from them. I would also not be here or be drinking tea if it wasn’t for a Teavana in a local mall. I had a sore throat and decided to try it. I immediate pulled hubby in to spend about $100 on tea and ware. I LOVE LOVE LOVE their teas and the creative blends which I cannot duplicate with other suppliers. I have tried branching out to other places and end up with alot of disappointing teas.
It really does bother me how they treat their employees and their customer service. I am just firm when I go into the store….I mean I really do practically own everything they sell! LOL I love to go there and can’t afford to buy every time I go there so sometimes I don’t and they don’t treat me differently the next time I’m in.
I really hope that some day they’ll take notice of all the complaints and adapt a new tactic of selling and make it more positive for the employees and customers!

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Scott B said

Thanks, Autumn, for your insights.

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blindwords said

I work at a Teavana in Boston, which is located near the number one Teavana in the country. How it is number one I do not understand because they are the pushiest people in the world and it’s a very unpleasant experience going in there. I once wanted 2oz of a tea to try and ended up with almost 2 pounds of this tea blend that I still have half of two years later. Pushy and mean. Their manager is awful though. That being said, the store I work at is wonderful. We still have to be a bit pushy, but we are constantly told to make the customer happy, not take all of their money. Before judging Teavana on those pushy sales people just trying to keep from being yelled at for not making a sale, just listen to what they’re saying and enjoy the high quaHlity tea. I also agree that the pushiness with health benefits is a bit overdone (great comparison with the sex for exercise – dead on) at Teavana, but some of it is proven, so it’s not bull or anything. We actually are not allowed to say some stuff that would potentially give false hope, such as telling customers that they could get less colds by drinking our most vitamin filled green tea, or that a high antioxidant tea could help a healing process such as cancer. So even though extra vitamins are going to help your immune system and antioxidants will help healing, not everything and anything should be used as a sales pitch, which makes me happy. Also, they straight up buy the top 5% of crops in the world. It is actually high quality stuff. Not all of it is the worlds best tea obviously, but in today’s world of soda and beer, a large successful company trying to sell average people healthy, tasty loose leaf tea should be admired.

“Also, they straight up buy the top 5% of crops in the world.”

LOL. If this were true, it would be a LOT more expensive. They are feeding you a line of straight bull.

blindwords said

Youre right, there are mannnnnnny better teas out there. But I dont know how they would be able to promote that line of “Top 5% of each crop” or whatever it is if it was complete crap. Now I’m sure there’s some sort of twist, such as its only the top crop of the largest farms or something like that, but I suppose I was just trying to make a point that teavana does have good teas. Not all of them. And I didn’t mean to say that they were literally the best in the world, because I don’t believe that, but I do understand why it seemed like I said that. I am now very curious about the details of their top 5% claim..

blindwords: IMO, statistics, especially when taken out of context, can be very misleading. I’ve never done it, but I bet you could take the worst major league baseball team in the league (or any team in any sport) and focus on a few impressive statistics to make them sound good (maybe not the best). I’m glad to read that it seems you are skeptical of what “they buy the top 5% of crops in the world” actually means.

I agree with you, btw, in that some of their tea is good, or quality, tea; I’ve had quite a few pure greens (and a couple of black teas), and all are of at least reasonable quality, and a few are pretty impressive (not considering the price, btw, just in flat out quality). Now, in regards to their flavor-added teas on the other hand, in my experience (and in reading the tons of reviews about them) it really seems to be hit or miss; I’ve had some great ones, and although I have not had any that were terrible, I’ve had a number of them that are down right dull (as in, I can’t taste any flavor beyond the tea itself, or I need to have the tea-to-water ratio really high to get reasonable flavor) and not worth anywhere near what they charge.

I’m not sure why, but the health claims don’t bother me one bit; I think it’s in part because I have done tons of reading up on the health benefits of tea, and I believe there is some benefit to drinking it daily (not to mention that I have experienced many benefits myself, at least, I believe they are due to the Tea). To me, it’s not a matter if it is healthy, it’s a matter of how healthy. But, I am a skeptic myself, so I totally agree that precise language is best when addressing the purported health benefits of tea.

“Also, they straight up buy the top 5% of crops in the world.”

There are so many ways that could be interpreted with it out of context, and I’m sure we all would like to see it in context, but I know that isn’t the point of that line, I know it’s meant to mislead. Even with that I feel like there could be some truth to this and we don’t pay premium prices because in the blended teas there is barely any actual tea. Their blended teas are mostly added extras. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for their regular/straight teas. I’m not entirely impressed with their unflavored teas, I feel I can find better quality at a better price at other places.

As for the health benefits, I don’t listen to their lines of how good it is for you or what it can do for you. I have read up on the benefits of tea (mainly green teas) but I buy it because I enjoy it and because it’s a lot healthier than a lot of other things out there like soda, not because of specific benefits.

blindwords said

Yes, their flavored teas are very hit or miss when it comes to quality – some are quite good (mostly their flavored white and greens) and some are just terrible (most of the rooiboses that, of course, does not have tea in it anyway, but the spices and fruits that you find in that category is not great. Also the flavored blacks aren’t great, and the oolongs with added things with peach or cloves, etc is veryyyy hit or miss). But the saddest thing about all these is exactly what Invader Zim has pointed out, and that is there is usually less of the tea than anything else in some of those blends. This is why I mostly buy their straight tea anyway. Black Dragon Pearls, Dragonwell, Silver Yhen Zhen Pearls, Gyokuro Imperial, all are quite good. I also love their Monkey Picked Oolong but so many other companies have it, I’m dying to compare.

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