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

587 Replies

“I would really only like 2oz., please.” Not rude.

I haven’t been to one of their shops, but I’m curious now. I did order online once, and ended up liking the sample they sent a lot better (which has been discontinued).

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Denny said

Sheesh I’m glad I order online.

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Novi said

I’ve only been to a Teavana store twice, since the store isn’t local. I like the tea, but really am not a fan of the upsell… Especially bad since I’m very agoraphobic, have trouble making myself talk to people in person, and (as a former retail employee) feel an almost overwhelming sympathy for retail employees who regularly have to deal with jerky customers.

First experience: VERY pushy and annoying. Tried to sell me very expensive non-flavored tea though I mentioned I only like flavored tea. Tried to sell me rock sugar even after hearing that I was diabetic, insisting that it wasn’t like regular sugar. Tried to sell me a cast iron teapot even after I told them that my only boiler is an electric kettle. Overall left me incredibly frustrated and feeling ignored.

Second Experience: I accepted that I’d have to be rude. I walked into the store wearing giant headphones and playing my ipod. I pretended not to hear every sales employee that tried to talk to me until I was ready to get my tea and check out. The employee I asked to measure my tea over-poured almost double what I asked for and pretty much removed one leaf every time I requested less, so I walked away, went to another sales associate, and asked her for the requested 2oz. I ignored every question they asked about cast iron, sugar, and tins, and watched carefully as everything was tallied at the register. I hate being rude to retailers, but I felt like I had to, and I ended up getting what I needed.

Serenity said

I don’t think you were rude at all, it sounds like you did a very good job of taking care of yourself with some useful strategies, way to go, you! And you got your tea! : )

No they shouldn’t treat you like that

In the UK we would go mental if someone poured more out than what we asked and our Trading Standards would no doubt hit them with fines for doing so. Yes a tiny amount above or under is ok (our local fruit and veg shop can never measure out exactly 500g of carrots!) but this lot sound like jokers who take the p*ss out of a gullible public.

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ramsel said

My experiences at Teavana have been 50/50. Most of the employees at the store I go to look like high school kids, so when I enter they seem a little too intimidated to try to sell me on anything. However, I have had several experiences with the “over-pouring” and after the first few times of being too embarrassed to say anything (and paying for almost twice what I wanted), I just learned to be firm about it. “No, I really would only like the 2 oz, please. Thank you.” Same thing goes with the tin business. I purchased a $22 per 2 oz tea and they tried pushing a tin on me as well. And not just a plain tin, one of their patterned $12 ones! I just had to tell them no, I wasn’t about to fork over $34 for basically 2 oz of tea. I think the sweet and firm approach works best. By the way, it might just be my Teavana store, but there was a few great sales going on this week! The bigger patterned tins were on sale for $2, and the big glass tumblers with the built in strainer were 75% off at $5, if anyone’s interested!

pegasi said

After being way overpoured on my first few visits (then discovering Steepster and finding out this is a regular thing for Teavana), I started using the really nice but firm approach as well… works like a charm!

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BWare said

I guess that I am profoundly fortunate to have about four tea stores and/or tea house in my immediate area (Greater Los Angeles: Chado Tea Room, Wing Hop Fung, Bird Pick, and many other smaller tea shops), so I have never felt the compulsion to stake out a Teavana. I have been to the store maybe once or twice, and didn’t have any problems with the employees — but I did find the teas and accessories rather pricey relative to market.

You are indeed, as all we have here in the Cleveland burbs are Teavanas, a couple Victorian tea rooms and a Bavarian tea studio that I wish was closer.

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Went into Teavana today to pick up some of the chai blend that they always have outside of the store for sample, it’s the only Teavana tea I really like and find I can’t do without. I went in with a defensive attitude, as I’ve never not had to deal without an overly pushy sales clerk there. Right away, before she’s even measuring the teas, she asks me if it’s okay if it’s over. Before she even tries! I told her it was okay, and of course, it’s over by a lot. She took most of the overage out without me having to ask, but then she started going on about how she didn’t know what she was going to do with the extra (seeing as she already blended it, she couldn’t put it back), and tried to guilt me into buying the extra as a prepared drink. I had to repeatedly decline the drink as I really couldn’t afford it (Teavana prices are already quite a splurge for me) How hard can it really be to measure the right amount? Wouldn’t it make more sense to err on the side of not enough, and then add more as necessary? As an avid home cook, I do not understand the struggle with measuring. Teavana must instruct them to over measure. Anyways, as all the incompetent measuring was going on, she was trying really hard to get me to buy a tin- I told her I had three empty ones at home (I do) and she told me I couldn’t use any that had any other teas in it ever, as it would compromise the taste of this tea. I told her that I had washed and aired them out, and had to tell her a second time that I would not be buying any tins.
It definitely wasn’t the worse experience I’ve had there, sometimes they literally try to sell me everything in the store, but it still wasn’t a good experience. No one should ever have to prepare themselves and put up their defenses just to walk in a store, especially when they know exactly what they want.

Novi said

I understand asking about overages, since I used to work grocery – in fact, when someone asked for 1lb of cheese, my first question would be “Under or over” – as things like that are difficult to hit the exact weight amount. That being said, you can always tell what’s a reasonable overage, and what’s a deliberate over-measure (and subsequent guilt trip). I do love that the salesperson offered to sell it as a prepared drink though – probably charging you much more than it would have cost to just buy the leaves and home-brew since she’s adding their own boiled water and boiled water costs money.

I’ve heard of places requiring that if their over-measure results in wasted product, the waste is weighed, priced as it would’ve been sold, and set aside in a cubby marked for the employee at fault. On payday, along with paychecks, the bag of their waste was sent home with them (with their total tally of wasted product removed from their paycheck). Those places tend to hit their weight mark right on the money.

Uniquity said

I’ve never been to a Teavana but I do frequently visit Davids Tea and only once was I over-poured. The sales person misremembered my requested amount and immediately back-tracked when she realized, apologizing all the while. I find that Davids’ staff always manage to pour the correct amount, scooping either a small amount out of the tin or back in depending on whether they are over or under. Yes it takes a little work but it is definitely not that hard.

I would start asking if it’s okay if you’re a dollar or two short on your bill as you’re just a little under. If ‘a little’ over in tea-pouring is okay, maybe a little under-paying is okay too. :)

Babble said

If that wasn’t your worst experience I dread to imagine what was

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Sillyvicen said

Wow!!! Even though I am somewhat new to teas and haven’t tried any Teavana products, after all the negative press I have uncovered I never will.


I hear you. I had never heard of them till I joined steepster. (and am not really new to tea) granted what they specialize in (desert and fruity sweet teas)I am not terribly interested in, though I keep trying to tell myself I should keep trying.

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zazen5 said

I like teavana. Hopefully the acquisition by Starbucks doesnt screw it up. They have tons of varieties to choose from.

Chuckieroy said

Hopefully Starbucks helps them with their customer service :-)

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sylva said

Hey there, I was just reading this discussion board as I was curious about what others had to say about Teavana. I worked there for about 2 years myself, and quit recently because the amount of sales-oriented pressure and sneaky tactics had finally become too much for me to handle.

I’ve met many people from the Head Office of the company, and their only objective is to make you part with your money. I was once chastised for not pushing a younger teen into buying more (he probably spent 20$) – and a Store Trainer told me “What if he had mom or dad’s Amex credit card, he could have spent a lot more”. Maybe that’s true, but how is pushing someone into using money that’s not theirs ethical?

We also experienced humiliation regularly – employees are disciplined in front of other employees (in person and in mass multi-store emails) & in front of customers. And discipline in almost all circumstances was because of “not selling enough”. A fellow ex-employee of mine was told to not bother talking to the area manager (manager of 10 stores) about a problem she was having until she made her sales goal.

One of the things that makes me the maddest: Teavana employees have NO job security – if you don’t make your daily objective even one shift a week (which is approx $70 or $80 per hour you work – so for a regular 9 hour shift you must sell $630 – $700) then your hours are cut automatically. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense, they’ll replace you with someone who sells less just to rub it in that you didn’t make your sales goal. Imagine a single mom working at Teavana and relying on that salary, but the mall she works in is dead for some reason so her sales aren’t amazing and the company says she just doesn’t work hard enough so they cut her hours.

Teavana’s response to all this is that they have a ‘competitive bonus system’ (if you make sales goals, you earn more money – AKA employees are pretty much doing commission sales) and that they have Health & Dental benefits (which is nice, I’ll admit). But, these don’t make up for employee emotional abuse.

Anyways, from an ex-employee of Teavana – PLEASE avoid this company. Send complaints to www.teavana.com about the pushiness of their sales and the treatment of their employees (both things are so strongly dependent on one another). And PLEASE shop somewhere else. I am a tea fanatic and Teavana does not care about any of their tea except the 4 “Indicator teas” (the most expensive ones – Silver Yin Zhen Pearls, Gyokuro, Monkey Picked Oolong & Golden Monkey … all of which employees must sell a certain amount of per week, so if you’re ever told those are the ones you need, you now understand why).

Thanks for listening!

Lindsay said

Good to hear you got out of there.

Dustin said

That is even worse than I imagined. I was really hoping the Starbucks acquisition would change the sales technique. Starbucks is known for treating their employees quite well. It’s too bad a company they now own isn’t living up to those standards as well.

sylva said

The employees in my area thought it would get better too, but we’ve actually seen even stricter quotas & quota-related discipline. Like Starbucks, Teavana was always great for equality and stuff like that, though. It’s understandable that the company wants to make a profit, and ‘suggestive’ selling is ok, but Teavana’s “shame the customer into buying” approach is unethical & unfair when you’re dealing with customers who don’t know all that much about tea.

Honestly, you can get better prices at local tea shops most often, it’s MUCH friendlier, and you’re promoting small business instead of a corporate machine. Even when I worked at Teavana, I bought a lot of my tea elsewhere (partially because Teavana specializes in fruity/flavoured teas and I’m more of an orthodox tea fan).

Why do people even buy tea from them? I’m confused

Dustin said

Because they woo you in. They are in malls with a lot of foot traffic and have free samples at the door. It has been a gateway company for a lot of folks (myself included) to the world of loose leaf teas and beyond bagged supermarket tea. You find a few blends that you like and you splurge a bit thinking it is high quality, not knowing how many other companies are out there that have better tea and lower prices. Then you get hooked on a favorite or two which they inevitably discontinue, but by that time you have another favorite that you need to stock up on so you go back in. Takes a while to quit them completely.

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sylva said

Oh, we are also chastised if someone higher up (manager, etc) catches us putting less than 3-5oz in a large container. We are required to grab a large container (1 lb tin), say “I’ll fill this for you” and fill it until the customer says stop. So to answer all of your questions, YES this is the company’s marketing/selling tactic.

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