DavidsTea vs Teavana
I went by a Teavana yesterday afternoon. Tried some of their samples again. Oh, so fruity! There was one I’d thought would be good iced, and the iced sample was indeed better. Got one of their hot teas too. It was good, but more than I was expecting. And I still refused them trying to sell me anything else.
Hopefully I’ll be able to go by David’s Tea on Monday.
I’ve only been in Teavana twice, and both times they were very busy and the staff seemed completely overwhelmed (Boxing Day both times). The “sample girl” was super rude and when I asked her what was in one of the teas I tried she was like “here’s a tea menu. You can look it up.” What?!
When I did walk away with their tea menu and was looking at prices, I was shocked. They’re much, much more expensive than David’s. And to me it’s weird that they blend two different teas together to get a new flavour; what they charge for that flavour is always the highest price of the two, not a blended average. That to me is dumb.
I spend more money at David’s than I probably should; their summer promo Tea Club card has been the bane of my existence all summer. But I never feel bad spending more money than I should in a DT store because the people that work there are just so gosh darn friendly. Even when they’re really busy (like, say, on Boxing Day), they’re still overly friendly to all of their customers and will answer any and all of your questions (no matter how dumb they are: “can I just eat the mango pieces instead of steeping them?” is one I heard).
Ah, waxing nostalgic over Teavana. Give them props for making me as tea crazed as I am now. Not knowing a thing they eased me into a little bit of a exploration with tea types. Monkey Pick Ooolong, Copper Knot Hongcha, Golden Monkey and Emperor’s Clouds & Mist. The PerfecTeaMaker was a savior for a hectic work schedule. I have since learned, that although the ability to please the masses is a plus for the company, it is not a plus to me. I need solicitude with the best expressions of teas and I don’t think their selection is as extensive as I would like. Never tried David’s Teas but I never say Never. OMG!, a Teavana 007 tea, it would have to be the Copper Knot HongCha for High Tea.
Comparing the two companies, there is no contest. I’ve only purchased tea from Teavana once, and I found them overly sweet and severely lacking in actual tea leaves. Not to mention the sales associates were extremely pushy, overpoured every time, and tried to shove teas in my face in which I didn’t even express interest. And, as others mentioned, the fact that you have to purchase at least 50g of a single tea when they’re ridiculously overpriced to begin with is a tragedy.
David’s on the other hand, has offered pretty good customer service until now, and I appreciate the 10g minimum. I also find their blends more interesting, although I’ll admit that over the past year it’s become very hit-or-miss. It’s becoming harder to find a solid blend, which is why I rely on the 10g purchases to figure out what is worth getting 50g+ of, and their teas are tasting sweeter to me too, but maybe that’s just me and my tastes changing.
The last couple times I went to David’s, however, I did notice a shift in customer service and I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence or something else is going on, especially since the incidents happened at different locations. One sales associate overpoured twice the amount of what I asked for for three teas (20g instead of 10g since I just wanted to try the new fall teas, and none are “heavier” ones that usually require more to truly try them out) and never asked if this was ok. I didn’t want to make a big issue over it so I sucked it up and paid (last time I’ll be a pushover). Another time, when I was asking for 14-16g, as not to appear picky or demanding, the sales associate said very snarkily something to the effect of, “Well, I’ll try… but that’s kind of hard to do…” as if it were a total inconvenience. Thirdly, last time I brought in a tin to refill with 100g of Pink Passionfruit, I wasn’t given the 50 cent discount. I didn’t notice until after when I was already on the bus, and figured that it’s not a big deal since it’s a small dollar amount. It’s the principle of it, however, and this type of stuff shouldn’t be happening.
That’s a real shame.
CrowKettle and I were discussing their Pumpkin Chai and we think they changed the blend so that it no longer has cardamom in it. It feels flatter than it used to be too. I guess it doesn’t surprise me that some of the store standards might fall, and the quality goes down as the store becomes more successful. I love going to DAVIDsTEA stores, and buying teaware, but I’m no longer as impressed with the tea as I used to be. :(
I’ve only tried 2011’s blend and didn’t find it particularly spicy, but you make me curious about this year’s to see how it compares. Maybe they’re trying to appeal to the sugarholics nowadays?
You’re right, at this point, they’ve probably built up a large enough loyal customer/fanboy/fangirl base that they could do whatever they want and it won’t really affect their sales that much.
I don’t think it’s true that they can “do whatever they want” when there are SO MANY loose leaf tea companies out there. Sure, many are more money than David’s, but that doesn’t mean if the quality’s there people won’t switch. Have you e-mailed them about the changes that you’re not impressed with, and their customer service? They DO pay attention to e-mails, and they try their best to act on the feedback. They obviously can’t change the flavour of a seasonal tea during the current season, but for re-launch next year your suggestions just might be incorporated. Many times their “re-launch” doesn’t sell as well as the original launch of the flavour because they’ve “tweaked” it. If they get feedback for why the re-launch wasn’t as good, they often change it back (examples: Mom’s Apple Pie, Swampwater, Elf Help, Santa’s Secret…)
I was referring more to the loyal fanbase than the whole customer base, and I’ve seen it happen before. People would become so enamoured with a product that a decline in customer service, even quality of product, change in company ethics, core values, etc wouldn’t faze them. I haven’t emailed them; after working in retail for years, I just don’t want to be involved in stuff like that.
So ultimately, I still do prefer them to Teavana, but there are plenty of other®etailers which I further prefer. That said, best of luck to both companies.
I’ve been in contact with customer service at David’s a couple times for minor things but find that while they do answer inquiries and seem to take concerns seriously there is more of a focus on enticing new customers and not much effort to keep longstanding customers. I have been buying tea from them for over three years but there isn’t really any pull for me to shop with them other than convenience. Many of the new blends are loaded with sugar and coconut, there still isn’t any sort of a loyalty program (both Teavivre and Verdant have loyalty rewards but still seem to do very well in business) and they keep raising the prices while lowering the quality on blends and pure teas. Sales and discounts are infrequent and honestly the sincerity of the staff seems to have slipped in my local stores. They are about the only serious brick and mortar option in NS but there is still plenty of tea to be found on the internet. I’m not sure if the company changed or I have outgrown them, but something in our customer/seller dynamic feels different.
I’ve worked in a retail-like setting (I had to sell myself and the services I was offering as a private learn-to-swim company, not sell a product per say. Same general deal…), and nothing pained me more than someone being dissatisfied with me and airing their dirt on the internet instead of telling me to my face. While I know that David’s doesn’t work on commission, I know they do have “back door competitions” to see who can sell the most product in a month on a per hour rate. They set monthly sales goals and try to reach them. If one of the new staff aren’t as friendly as the old ones that have moved on, I will let them know that until they balls-up and gain a friendly bone I would rather wait for one of the other staff to finish with their customer before I let them know what I want. That usually gets a complete change in attitude, one way or the other. Either I’ve just become the devil incarnate (that’s fine if you choose to take it that way) or they’ve just become the nicest person in the world.
From what I understand, David’s will be introducing a preferred customer card either right before Christmas or very early in the new year. They also had one all summer.
With regards to the “keeping longstanding customers” comment: I’ve been offered a gift card on two occasions when I was disappointed enough with either service or product to vent my frustrations in a respectful but firm manner. They were extremely apologetic, and not only did they correct the error (on the product side) and ensure it would never happen again (on the service side), I was also provided with incentive to shop there again. In my personal experience, they have some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced. I’m prepared to admit I might be a minority, but I somehow doubt it.
Jen M – I agree that their customer service is pretty outstanding. I usually find them to be very friendly and happy to chat about tea, so long as the store isn’t super busy. (Which, happens more and more, but that’s to be expected!)
I like that they are doing a loyalty program – I saw they were requesting feedback on what people would like on their facebook page and I appreciate that. Their facebook/twitter marketing is very good too – creating a a great image for the company as fun and enthusiastic. It makes me want to go there all the time so… success! And I fall for the hype for all the new teas etc too. I see what the others are saying though, about how DT can coast a bit now that they’ve established such a large fanbase.
I also had to contact customer service recently because I had a defective Perfect Mug, and they just shipped me a new one with no questions asked. No complaints there either.
My only complaint is that I don’t enjoy the blends as much as I used to. I don’t know if this is because DT has changed the way they make their teas (like the Pumpkin Chai seems to have been changed), or I no longer enjoy them as much now that I’ve branched out to other tea companies and seen what else is out there. I still get hyped up and buy a bit of everything, but I find there are less than I absolutely need to keep around all the time. I’m not giving up though.
Jen M, I admire people like you! I wish I had more confidence to let people know if they’re acting inappropriately, but as I mentioned, I’ve been chalking up those incidents as coincidences, so that kind of makes me hesitant to complain. Cavo is right, overall, their customer service is awesome, so that is also why I don’t want to complain about it. I’ll still happily try out blends that appeal to me, but I too find it hard nowadays to find a blend I truly love.
Incendiare, I figure that every job in some respect involves good customer service. Unless you work in IT, then you’re too smart to be nice (just kidding IT people!). If people don’t learn in retail that being nice to customers is in their best interest in the long run, then they’ll never learn. I have a habit of…putting retail workers in their place :) But I also will go out of my way to e-mail a company with the first and last name of an employee to let them know how awesome they are (let me count thy ways…), too.
And now back on topic-ish: I find David’s is incorporating hibiscus into more and more of their teas. Why does every tea have to be pink and sour?! Give me a nice amber tea with some flavour other than “my cheeks are turning inside out!!!” and I’ll be a happy camper.
I worked retail for six years (at a clothing store geared towards the working woman…) so i’ve had my share of awesome customers, and not so awesome customers..i’m with jen on that.. if someone is treating a customer poorly, i have no qualms about speaking up… but that said, i’m the first to commend employee’s who go above and beyond, and really shine at their job!
yes, the pumpkin chai tastes funny now… i noticed it tasted a little off last fall, and couldn’t decide what it was… but thats exactly it!
Teavana is pretty misleading and now belongs to Starbucks so BOO http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/191252151.html
The tea-cision is yours.
I’ve tried both. DavidsTea has a huge selection of flavored teas, so if you like that, go there. They are also priced pretty well. Teavana is seriously overpriced. I really like 2-3 teas there, of which one is my favorite, BUT I don’t like their business practices and their pushy manner of selling. So if you haven’t been there yet, don’t bother. Stick with DavidsTea.