Teavana Salesperson Throws Involuntary Tea Party

When you think of “boutique tea,” you probably don’t associate it with obnoxious upsells and sneaky add-ons. If you do, perhaps you’ve visited the same Teavana outlet as one of our readers. Michael was so annoyed with his recent visit to the Willow Grove, Penn. store that when he realized what had happened, he had to share it with Consumerist over a nice cup of white needle tea.

I am not sure how widespread [Teavana] is, but it was my first experience with them (and my last). I do feel that my story should be taken with a grain of salt, as I have no idea whether this is a common business practice throughout the chain.

Walking in the mall today, I was delighted to discover the existence of the stores, as I am an avid tea drinker, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to see a wide selection of loose teas and accessories in person, rather than working off of descriptions from online tea sellers. The store seemed to be perfect; they had a wonderful selection of teas, and they had all manner of brewing and serving equipment, much of which I had not seen before. My problem comes from the really unconscionable upselling that the salesperson carried out. It is not that there was undue pressure to buy extra items. I don’t believe myself to be easily coerced into unwelcome purchases, and were that the case, I would not be as bothered as I am. Rather, I am utterly dismayed at the way in which the salesperson added more than the quantity requested of some items, and much more egregiously, added items to my bill without ever informing me about the extra charge that would be incurred, or even intimating that they were, in fact, considered to be purchases.

The first inkling came when I ordered loose tea. The tea is sold by two-ounce units. I requested two-ounces, the salesperson ended up putting 4 ounces in (This doesn’t seem like much, until you consider that we are talking about tea that is $9/2oz). Although I admit that I should have said something, I was sure that I would get a use out of the tea, so I did not think to object. The true problem comes from the tin that the salesperson automatically filled with the tea. This tin, which he introduced with, “And you can keep coming back and using this tin for this tea in the future,” cost an extra $7. Which, is absolutely an outrageous price, and something I would never voluntarily pay for a tea tin. However, the absolute worst was still to come. I ordered two-ounces of their “special Silver Needle tea.” Without any prompting, the salesperson went into the back and came back with the tea in a small (two-ounce) blue tea tin with bamboo painted on it. As he made no comment on the container, I did not even consider the slightest possibility that there would be an extra charge (Ask yourself, if you just bought a tea that was 20/2oz, do you think you would be expected to pay for the tin it came in?).

Obviously, had I been aware of any of this when I was checking out, I would have objected without thinking twice. Very conveniently, however, the cash register did not have a display showing the charges as they were being rung up. It was only after leaving the store and realizing that I had just paid nearly $90 for tea (Admittedly, my purchases included more than the aforementioned items) that I began to look over the receipt to see where the charges came from. It was at this point that I discovered that the small little blue bamboo tin, the tin which I had expressed no desire to purchase, cost $13.99. I’m enclosing a picture of both the tin and the receipt.

I really cannot understand why a company would choose to employ such unscrupulous upselling strategies. Had they even provided a mediocre experience, they would have had a very long-lasting customer, as they provide a service that it fairly unique, and at least to me, valuable. However, I absolutely have no wish to patronize any store that I feel that I have to keep a constant vigil against being ripped off. As such, they’ve absolutely lost a customer, and I would never set foot in there again.

Check the store’s return policy, then return the unwanted tins if permitted, explaining precisely why. Have any other readers experienced similar sneaky sakes tactics at other Teavanas, or other retailers?

(Photo: yosonuts)

Comments

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  1. hills says:

    You should definitely set foot in there one more time – to return the tins….

    • ReidFleming says:

      @89macrunner: I, for one, am very surprised to find out Michael is an idiot. I thought his letter well-written and informative and was well on the path to thinking he was honestly mislead (albeit somewhat more the wiser thanks to this experience).

    • Quilt says:

      @hillsrovey: I’d return more then the tins. I’d return everything and demand cash back. I would tell them I am never coming back and that I have told friends and family about their dishonest practices.

    • MarvinMar says:

      Another plus for paying CASH.
      You could have realized the price before paying for the stuff.
      (I never have cash either. This is a good thing when encountering panhandlers though.)

  2. dragonfire81 says:

    Chances are this salesperson is under tremendous pressure to upsell to keep his job. He might not have been selling much today and so decided to use unethical means with you to give his numbers a boost.

    Most companies are concerned not with whether or not you can sell someone something, but whatever other high margin crap you can tack on to it to boost profit.

    Consider Best Buy. If you just buy a Digital Camera from them, they don’t really give a shit about you. They only care if you buy the Camera AND a case AND a memory card AND a lens AND the extended protection plan, because it is only then they are really making money off you.

    Or so we are led to believe.

    • Ryan H says:

      @dragonfire81:
      I’ve worked at Future Shop (like Best Buy but in Canada) and I can tell you for sure that they are not making money off people who don’t buy all the extras. Which is the problem. All these big (and many small) retailers have set up a business plan where they don’t make money at their supposed business. Instead, their supposed product is simply a trick to get you into the store where they can sell you their REAL products.

      • sonneillon says:

        @Ryan H: A service plan where they don’t service their products?

      • Jim Topoleski says:

        @Ryan H: Yep I know Genesco (ie Journeys/Shi/Journeys Kids) basically makes it imperative on their sales kids that they sell the shirts, belts, and most importantly socks.

        You basically WILL get fired if your sock, multiple shoe, or accessory sales are not above a certain number, no matter how many shoes you ultimately sell.

        • burnedout says:

          @Jim Topoleski: Exactly right. I worked for (now defunct) Track n’ Trail in the 90’s, and our “accessory percentage” had to be at or above 10% – meaning 10% of your sales had to be not shoes. Since the Timberlands were pricey and the socks and leather spray were $3 each, that was a crap ton of accessories. I even had parents buying spray for Vans and Tevas to keep my % up.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @dragonfire81:

      It’s pretty much true – there are even more extreme examples. U-Haul actually loses money on truck rentals – more than 100% of the profit comes from selling materials.

      • Easton21 says:

        @NeverLetMeDown: Isn’t anyone else going to question how something could make up more than 100% of something else?

        I guess I’ll just give 110% and do it myself…

        • jenl1625 says:

          @Easton21: Easy – it isn’t 100% of the total money coming in, it’s 100% of the *profit*.

          So, U-Haul rents out a truck for $50 for the day. It actually cost them $60 for you to use the truck that day – maintenance, rent, payroll, etc. You spent $20 on a lock at the last minute, when you saw it there in the office and realized you didn’t have one. You also picked up a couple extra boxes and some more tape, for an additional $15.

          U-Haul made a profit of $25 off of you. Your extra purchases made up 100% of the profit PLUS made up the loss they took renting you the truck….

          • Easton21 says:

            @jenl1625: Still, you can’t have more than 100% of an absolute figure. Profits can rise 110%, but nothing you sell can make up 110% of the profit. If U-Haul made a $1 bil profit last year, extra supplies etc didn’t actually make them $1.1.
            Costs wouldn’t be included in the profit, which technically can’t be calculated as easy as exampled.
            I’m not being a bitch, I just don’t like being wrongly corrected in a light-spirited post.

    • Anonymous says:

      @dragonfire81:

      I went on a tea kick about six months ago, and purchased tea from the Teavana here in Buffalo. I did not experience the sales tactics mentioned above. They did push the accessories, but never just added them to the bill. On my visit, they measured accurately and put the tea into bags after mentioning the optional tins. I did actually buy the blue tin from the post, but because I really liked it. It was a purchase I opted for. So either Michael ran into a really unscrupulous sales person, or Teavana management has changed in the last six months.

  3. spongebue says:

    I’ve been to the Teavana at the Mall of America a few times before, and never had any problems. The weight accuracy was about what the same as what you’d get a deli counter – close enough, can’t be exactly precise. They’d try to sell the tin as well, but in a legitimate way (even happy to suggest alternatives with materials at home). The rest seems to be stuff that the OP legitimately bought.

    My guess is that this is an isolated incident with the employee or the individual store. Then again, I haven’t been there in a while, but they seemed to be on the level in my experiences.

    • Anonymous says:

      @spongebue: I don’t think this is an isolated incident with this type of store. My wife and I went to a tea store in a mall in Fairfax, Virginia and being the tea lover she is, we had to stop. My wife asked about prices and I felt the clerk was evasive even when the price per ounce was printed on the side of the tins the bulk tea was in. They also got us on the container upsell. After we left I started doing the math in my head and it didn’t add up. Looking at the receipt, we were charged about $10 for a tin that the clerk automatically started filling when we asked for the tea with no mention that it was extra. We felt like we had been had an we won’t be going back.

    • Roxie says:

      @spongebue: I’ve gone to the Teavana in Water Tower a few times–the most recent time was a couple months ago–and I’ve never had this problem. When I’ve bought loose tea, yeah–they were a bit inaccurate, but not to the point where they gave me twice as much tea as I’d asked for. (This makes me wonder, though–did the OP actually want a blend of teas? I know that if I want 2 oz of a mate-chai tea blend I’d bought from Teavana before, I’d actually need 4 oz total–2 oz of each of the two teas I wanted blended together.) As for the tins, the salespeople made a point of asking me first about a container to put the tea in, since the free alternative would be for them to put the tea in a bag. I chose to buy their cheapest tin that was, what…a dollar?…because I needed it for the tea I’d bought, anyway. They filled that tin with the tea, no questions asked, and didn’t try to sneak an upsell on me by giving me a more expensive container, either. They also said that when I ran out of tea, I could always go back with the empty tin and get it refilled with the tea of my choice if I wanted. Overall, I knew what I was getting, and they were on the level with me.

    • Vulpine says:

      @spongebue: I agree. Every time I visit my local Teavana, they try to sell tins, brewing cups, etc. I simply tell them I’ve already purchased what I need and simply want the tea.

      Besides, you’re already paying a premium price for the tea itself. An equivalent amount of boxed tea is about half the price or lower at the grocery store.

    • Anonymous says:

      @spongebue: I agree. I’ve been to Teavana and they’re usually pretty up front about what they’re doing.They’ve suggested home alternatives, too. And when we said we already had bags for loose leaf tea, they were like, “Awesome.” I think they were excited to discover new customers who were tea drinkers already.

    • ludwigk says:

      @spongebue: My butcher/deli counter will give you extra – but they only charge you for what you ask for!

      If you say .5 lb of ground chuck, and it comes out to .6, they’ll pinch off a glob, ring it up, then put the meat back on. Or, if they “volunteer” a product that they think you’ll like, they’ll ring it up, then throw some more product on top gratis.

      All the tea places I go to (and there are several that I frequent in china town) measure like analytic chemists. Everything comes in heat-sealed thick foil bags, not those fancy containers.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      @spongebue: Deli scales are usually accurate to within .01 lbs, or about 4 1/2 grams. Doubling somebody’s order isn’t within an acceptable margin of error.

    • lizk says:

      @spongebue: I’ve been to the same Teavana in the Mall of America. The last time we went was a few months ago, and this didn’t happen to us at all. We got our tea in a bag like always, no upselling or anything. This really sounds like an isolated incident… poor training and/or expectations for the employees.

  4. kunai says:

    Take some bags of tea from them and throw them in the mall’s fountain. That’s American.

    • Taliskan says:

      @kunai: Oh the Willow Grove Tea Party!

      Though if he were to do that, Teavana will use their $12.99 containers specifically made for holding fountain fresh tea.

  5. harleymcc says:

    Watch it!

    I wanted to block the first BOPP!

    You’re right, these stores counted on you being too embarrassed to have them explain the bill.

    They never last long.

    Then again, I’m the 250 pounder who asks to try on smalls at A&F.

    Splitsville!

  6. geofriend says:

    There is a Teavana near me, in Palo Alto, CA. I never bought anything there, but when I went once to look at brewing equipment I got the upsell as well. Here we also have Lupicia, another tea store which I greatly prefer, and they don’t do this kind of thing. Their tins cost $2 and they are up front about it.

  7. DeeJayQueue says:

    I’ve been going to Teavana for years now. I’ll say that the tins and the extras are pretty expensive, but I’ve never been pressured to buy them. The salespeople always ask if I want them, but I usually say something along the lines of “Just the tea today, thanks.” and they back off.

    Sounds to me like this particular person scammed you, but it’s not endemic to Teavana as a company.

    • Anonymous says:

      @DeeJayQueue: i’ve been to the teavana in question, as well as the locations in both the court and the plaza in king of prussia mall and the WG one was the only one of the three where i encountered such insane, semi-sneaky upselling. at the the location at king of prussia (the court, i believe) , they definitely tried upselling (i have no problem with that–stores have to make money) but were very understanding and didn’t really pressure me or try to be sneaky about it. i’ll go back to the k of p one (about a 45 minutes’ drive), but i hesitate to even enter the wg one (five minutes away) again.

    • GMFish says:

      @DeeJayQueue: “The salespeople always ask if I want them

      Do they ask if you “want them” or if you “want to buy them.” There’s a huge difference between the two.

      • Javin says:

        @GMFish: “”The salespeople always ask if I want them”

        Do they ask if you “want them” or if you “want to buy them.” There’s a huge difference between the two. “

        Are you suggesting that if McDonald’s says, “Do you want fries with that,” that they should give them to you for free? Not seeing the “huge” difference here…

        I’ve gone to Teavana for years, and never had a problem. Their prices are pretty clearly marked, and the sales chicks have never had a problem when asked, “What would that cost?”

        Yes, they’re more expensive, but their quality is also better. (I was NOT happy when they stopped selling plain Yerba Matte and I now have to order it online.) Their tins are $7 a piece for the large ones.

        This sounds to me like he either had one bad sales rep, or he’s a customer that got talked into buying some things he later regretted and decided to smear Teavana on this site for it.

    • Steeb2er says:

      @DeeJayQueue: 2nding … kinda. I’ve never been, but The Mrs. is a big fan. She’s bought from them several times, both for personal use and for gifts. They’re more expensive, but you’re getting better quality tea. Its like buying Starbucks and expecting Folgers pricing.

    • Evan MacIsaac says:

      @DeeJayQueue: It’s pretty company wide. Google “teavana” and “my experience.”

      • Tankueray says:

        @Evan MacIsaac: I’ve been going to Teavana for about 6 years in four different states, I have never had this experience. They do routinely ask you if you have a tin to put it in, to which I say yes. I was a little upset a few years ago when they stopped selling the small tins in store, but I found similar tins online for about $1 a piece. I’ve always been very pleased with their service. Also, they’ve never put my tea directly into a tin, but always in the bags, even if I’m buying a tin. (Plus the fact that the tins are metal and every time I have them in my checked luggage it’s always inspected by the TSA. God forbid they mistake tea for drugs…)

    • TVarmy says:

      @DeeJayQueue: This has also been my experience, but with the one in Bridgewater Mall, NJ. I can see a clerk not making it clear that the tins cost money or a customer not paying attention and assuming tea comes with the tin. I don’t think it’s a systematic scam like some people here are acting like. They will put it in a bag, and I’m used to them asking if I want it in a tin or a bag.

      My experience is limited, though. I only went there to buy presents for my now ex-girlfriend because she was a tea drinker. I personally prefer coffee. I have no idea if the tea is worth the money.

      • TVarmy says:

        @TVarmy: Oh, and I try to buy an iced tea from them once a year to pay for all the free samples I take with no intention of buying.

  8. The Queen of Everything says:

    Exact same thing happened to me. I like the idea of being able to reuse the tins again, so I didn’t complain about that, but the amount of upselling that they are required to do is ridiculous. Worst part is that they are well-versed in creating a need you didn’t know you had! I walked out of there with stuff I didn’t intend to buy just because the salesperson made me think it was necessary to brew tea.

    • ludwigk says:

      @The Queen of Everything: Adagio.com has a nice setup where you can ‘trial’ teas in very small amounts, like 1-2 oz for a few bucks, then get a 1/2 lb in a tin, the tin adding just a few dollars, then graduate to buying whole lbs of tea to refill your tins. I’m a big fan, and I can do all my tea shopping online.

    • so_gracefully says:

      @The Queen of Everything: I feel like the same thing happened to me too, they didn’t listen to me and kept trying to pile more products onto me–and I clearly remember another woman asking “can I sweeten this tea with honey?” and the salesguy started to say “yes” and then backed up to say “oh well actually we have these German cane sugar crystals that are far superior and go with ALL teas, and honey doesn’t go with all teas…”

      • ChuckECheese says:

        @so_gracefully: Where are the German cane fields? This is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a couple days. This Teavana place sounds insufferable.

        • Nick1693 says:

          @ChuckECheese: It’s actually a really nice place if you don’t go to one where the employees are pressured to sell, sell, sell.

          I love their Lemon Maté with a little bit of honey or sugar (Their rock sugar is very good, but I never bought any.)

      • Javin says:

        @so_gracefully: What he said is absolutely true (and no, I do not work for Teavana.) Some teas are great with honey (anything with a mint or chai component) while others (straight greens, or dark) I don’t like with honey. I did buy 2 lbs of the German Rock Cane sugar. No it was not cheap, but yes, it is far superior to granulated sugar. If I don’t use honey, it’s the only thing I use in my tea. (Sugar in the raw is pretty decent, too.)

        I honestly can’t understand all of these people that walk into a store and are incensed when people try to sell them something. I can certainly understand being upset with a “hard sell” but I begin to wonder if people even know what that means anymore. Shady practices like slipping un-asked for items onto a bill are of course wrong, and possibly even illegal, but if someone ‘talks you into’ buying something in a store, then you have only yourself to blame.

  9. Girtych says:

    I could swear there’s a law somewhere that requires price displays to be visible to shoppers for exactly this reason. Does anyone know for certain?

    • wvFrugan says:

      @Girtych:
      I don’t know about a law, but I always watch whether it be twisting the tiny screen at WalMart or having to learn forward to read the cashier’s screen at Krogers. At some plces now the only place to watch is on the tiny screen of the credit card/debit card swipe/keypad box (Post Office). I will stop a cashier if they get their scanning ahead of me and never pay until I understand every item: I am done my days of of having to visit customer service to get something fixed after check out (remember, as long as the money is still in your pocket, the consumer is in control). Also, always watch your coupons, especially when handing them to the “watcher” at the self check out: they routinely trash them if they don’t instantly scan and assume you won’t notice.

      • Vulpine says:

        @wvFrugan: You hand your coupons to a ‘watcher’? The grocery stores I visit have slots for the coupons that won’t validate the discount until it senses the coupon going into the slot. The Watcher merely attempts to ensure you’re not cheating.

      • j-mo says:

        @wvFrugan: In michigan, if you are over charged for an item, you get the difference x 10, but not over 5 or 10 dollars. It’s happened to me a few times, I don’t mind. It’s a few extra dollars in my pocket, you know?

    • ceriphim says:

      @Girtych: Only in select states, my friend.

    • Antediluvian says:

      @Girtych: It’s a regulation here in Massachusetts that all cash registers have customer-facing displays.

      If they don’t, you can call the Division of Weights and Measures on them. I can’t speak about other states.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @Girtych: Yes, I believe this is a law in NY state. It has to at least be visible to the customer in some form. I don’t think they need to have a separate screen or display because I have seen many registers where its just the screen, but the customer can see it just fine.

  10. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    the Harris Teeter [grocery store] near my house recently [within the past year] included a Tea section with the remodel, with tea costs closer to $2.50-$4/oz…
    yes, the quality is slightly less than that of Teavana, but it’s much closer and the taste is reasonable.

  11. twophrasebark says:

    I was about to post that maybe it was just the salesperson but I can see from the other comments that this is the company culture. Not only terrible customer service, but deceptive and misleading sales practices under the FTC Act.

    It’s very very hard to get these kind of practices out of a company’s culture. These kind of practices are like “crack for companies.” There is denial and a pattern of addiction. I predict you will see them do this right up until the moment they get fined by the FTC, a state attorney general, receive a class action or one or all of the above.

  12. Chizzer says:

    I frequent a similar store in Ottawa called Teaopia, and have never had that sort of issue. From the looks of it, though, they’re pretty similar stores – the clerks at Teaopia are often quite aggressive about upselling various teas and accessories, though, so I’ll be on the lookout next time.

    • mizike says:

      @Chizzer: Next time you’re in the Market stop by The Tea Party; their Kyoto Cherry Rose (green w/ cherry blossoms) is unbelievably good. The prices are also pretty low; 100g (about 4oz for you yanquis out there) for $6.50-$7.50 depending on the Tea (they of course have some whites and Matcha which are considerably higher).

  13. soopah256 says:

    I went to the Teavana at Valley Fair in Santa Clara, CA and had a similar experience (though not quite so unpleasant). But basically the jist of it was walking out paying some $103 for 3 tins of tea. They were gifts, so the price was somewhat justified, although now that I look back on it, that was some damn expensive tea.

    • ceriphim says:

      @soopah256: Haha I used to work in that mall. The funny thing is I was super sick one day, so I went in there one time and asked if they had any tea for my throat and the lady told me they had no medicinal tea of any sort. Then looked at me until I left.

      No attempt at upsell. Or well, “sell” period.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        @ceriphim: That’s…dumb. They could have rephrased it so it wasn’t a medicinal issue, and they could have made a tidy sale. “Oh, you need some of this expensive imported honey as well!”

        For future reference, elm bark tea helps throats.

      • ludwigk says:

        @ceriphim: Most tea places will give you the same answer because teas are not considered medicine, and they don’t treat anything. When you come in and say “I have problem x, what tea do I drink to treat that?” and they give you an answer, that has much deeper implications with the FDA, liability, etc.

        Tea has healthful benefits, but it should be consumed regularly, as opposed to reactively to a problem you have right now.

        @SpiderJerusalem: Elm bark isn’t tea, its bark. If you go to hard core tea places and ask for tea, they won’t offer you anything that isn’t tea.

    • mythago says:

      @soopah256: There are nice tea shops in SF where you won’t drop $100 for gifts (though you might on parking).

    • kexline says:

      @soopah256: Not that I don’t understand the kind of financial fugue one falls into when shopping for multiple gifts — I certainly do get that — but isn’t Lupicia in that same mall?

  14. Corporate_guy says:

    Touché salesman.

  15. Aelfric says:

    I’ve bought tea at Teavana in Sacramento for years. Never had a problem of upselling once. Their tins and teapots are overpriced, but what do you expect for a mall store?

    I’ve had only good experiences at the one I frequent.

  16. rten says:

    I’ve been to the Tevana in King of Prussia and amazed the mall had two of them, figure about 5 employees between the two stores and I knew much of the “cost” of the product was in the salemanship/display, on top of a reasonably good product. I could not justify $5 for the product and $25 to be told how good it was or wooed into the extras. I summarily un-shopped everything, cracked a grin and realized the ploy. I don’t understand the public shame people feel in asking “what’s the cost or is this included free”, for a good sales person can shame you and pull an extra $20 out of your pocket to boot. Who’s been duped now?

    • summerbee says:

      @rten: Check out my comment below. I’ve had trouble at the KOP store — they’re rather sneaky there. They’ve definitely tried to give me the tin before — even after I tell them that I’ll take my tea in a throwaway bag with no problem.

  17. Joshua Fryer says:

    I am a big connoisseur of teas. I drink a lot of Pu Ehr and Oolongs. I do NOT like the place.

    Here’s a REALLY great example of a Teavana horror story: [www.teachat.com]

    • Snowblind says:

      @Joshua Fryer: Ever go to http://www.holymtn.com ?

      worth calling the order in, very often they have a limited but higher quality tea they don’t advertise on the site.

      And even then, you might learn something interesting about the tea, they are very knowledgeable.

      I have been ordering for years, and am always amazed by the quality and price for that quality. I love getting tea that you can brew then roll out the full leaf and see the “gold” of the TGFOP.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      @Joshua Fryer: Thank you for posting that. It was quite a read.

      Also…what the hell is wrong with you people? Tea costs like…five bucks a TIN at the Chinese market. GOOD tea. The only time I’ve had BETTER tea is when I worked for a Communist official who sent me party tea.

      • Etoiles says:

        @SpiderJerusalem: You need to live in a city with accessible ethnic markets for that trick to work.

        Also, different kinds of tea for different people. I’ve had fafntastic, dirt-cheap stuff from markets in Chinatown in both Boston and New York, but there’s a tea shop on, I think 14th St in NY, on the way to Union Square, that has some absolutely divine blends. (And when I bought a tin of $12 tea for my friend for Christmas, they gave me a free cup of that tea. And I sipped it while walking around the holiday market, and was content.)

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          @Etoiles: ‘And when I bought a tin of $12 tea for my friend for Christmas, they gave me a free cup of that tea. And I sipped it while walking around the holiday market, and was content.’

          Reading this gave me the nicest mental image — what’s the name of the place? I’d like to stop by next time I visit my sister.

    • Chongo says:

      @Joshua Fryer: Long read but worth it. Thanks for sharing. I will NEVER support a company that treats their employee’s like that.

    • Mobius says:

      @Joshua Fryer: That was an excellent read. Thanks for posting that link! Wow. What a terrible company.

    • oneandone says:

      @Joshua Fryer: Thanks for posting the links! I love tea and there’s a Teavana opening soon (according to the sign) right next to my metro stop. I was excited, but am now skeptical – and forewarned for any potential purchases.

    • Tankueray says:

      @Joshua Fryer: I have been in at least 3 different Teavanas since that story was posted. I have never encountered employees trying to tell me about the “health benefits” of any tea, except mentioning the amount of anti-oxidants in different types. No one has ever said anything about it curing cancer/strong bones, etc… I also have not been subject to the sales tactic of starting with the iron pots and going to the cheap ones. (I’ve bought two pots in my most recent visits.) No employee has ever acted “put out” by selling me a single brewed tea.

      Although, I can only remember about two visits in the last few years where there were enough employees working to have someone in the front of the store to sell anything.

      I don’t disregard that the trainers and owners sound like asses. If this is all true, then if I ever run into one of them at any of the stores I go to, I will ask them about it. What it sounds like is that the owners were duped into opening a store that couldn’t make money and they couldn’t get out of the contract with the mall and were taking it out on the store.

  18. ITDEFX says:

    I heard how good this place out so I gave it a try. I had already tried some Chi(sp?) tea and thought of getting some for home. The Asian lady who helped me allowed me to “smell” some of the Chi teas and tried to convince me to buy the spicy one over the regular one. I politely declined and wanted something small as she wanted to sell me a giant tin. The smallest she offered was a tin the size of a grande from starbucks :| while allowing her to fill my tin up, I was looking at the other stuff when I noticed she grabbed the tea I wanted, and put 1/4 of that and the rest with the spicy one I didn’t want… What I thought was going to be around 10-20 bucks as she had claimed it was going to be, ended up being 50 bucks :O

    She tried to upsell me the tea strainers and other stuff when I told her I was a teacher and she said I needed that plus a cup and so on…I declined.

    To this day I still have that tin and tea (although it seems to be losing it’s fresh smell real fast :( )
    can’t do squat without something to prepare it in.

    Big waste of money.

    Will never go back there again.

    • bubbledumpster says:

      @ITDEFX: okay, so you bought $50 worth of tea even though you don’t have a tea kettle or any way to prepare it?

      i’m confused.

      • italianscallion33 says:

        @bubbledumpster: Who said he didn’t have anything to prepare tea with? Maybe his S.O. did at home or something.

        • floraposte says:

          @italianscallion33: “can’t do squat without something to prepare it in.”

          You can still pour hot water over it in a cup, though, even if you don’t want to follow the wise advice of Dansc29625 and get a metal strainer at the grocery store.

    • Ferris152 says:

      @ITDEFX: Chai

    • Dansc29625 says:

      @ITDEFX: you got a measuring cup right? and a stainless steel strainer is super cheap from a grocery store.

    • italianscallion33 says:

      @ITDEFX: They probably had way too much of the spicy in stock because no one wanted it or something. That’s annoying :[

    • Gawd Dammit says:

      @ITDEFX: I’m not sure I understand… If you saw her fill up with the wrong tea, why didn’t you object to her and refuse to buy it? This isn’t what you wanted!

      I’m lucky, I work near a very nice local tea shop with fresh stock and knowledgable pros. They never, ever tried to upsell me on something and always offer me what I can afford. They have tins and they cost 5 bucks each, but their first move is to put it in a free bag (that you can always refill for a 50¢ refund each time) and not sell you that tin.

    • johnarlington says:

      @ITDEFX:

      Most grocery stores sell tea balls, and I’m pretty sure that target does as well. You could also empty a bag of cheap tea and fill it with the ‘good’ tea.

    • AshleyKeen says:

      @ITDEFX: I buy disposable loose leaf Tea Bags (t-sac brand). They’re cheap (you can get 100 for about $5.00) and you can steep them in a mug in water you heat up in the microwave, just like bagged tea from the store — no need for filters, strainers, pots or kettles. I also college tea pots which I use regularly, and you can buy pot-sized bags as well. Granted, you can use a strainer or a tea ball or tea stick over and over, but after two or three times cleaning the stupid little thing… trust me, you will much prefer the bags. :)

    • mizike says:

      @ITDEFX: I’ve made chai in a regular pot many, many, times (often from scratch with cardamom, anise, etc., but also the premixed stuff). Here’s what you do: equal parts milk and water in a pot over medium heat, add sugar (or honey) until it’s pretty sweet (you can always add more later…chai needs quite a bit of sugar to taste right), when the mixture is about to boil, turn the heat down and add your tea, one teaspoon per cup plus one additional teaspoon. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes, then pour into cups through whatever strainer you have. Done, the only thing you need are a pot, which i’m sure you already have, and a strainer which will set you back a buck at any supermarket.

      Don’t let people fool you into thinking you need all sorts of fancy contraptions to make coffee or tea “properly”. When my french press broke I started making my coffee in a pot on the stove, it tastes as good as any other coffee I’ve made at home and takes no more time or effort than any other method – if you pour it carefully you don’t even need a strainer, the grounds just settle to the bottom of the pot naturally.

  19. Meanmllemustard says:

    Teavana is renowned for the hard upsell. It’s in the employee training and everything. (Also, for crappy tea.)

  20. soundreasoning says:

    Teavana is an awful tea company. They are overpriced completely unknowledgeable and always try to oversell you. I worked for a great tea company tea gschwendner for two years they are online you can call them and talk to them and they know their stuff. I went to teavana once and the guy couldn’t even tell me the country the tea he was showing me came from. Avoid them at all costs.

  21. ynguldyn says:

    Teavana is the Monster Cable of tea business. The only reason for their existense is the samplers they have at the entrance – sometimes it’s nice to have a sip of decent tea while shopping. If you just need good tea, online shopping is hands down the best option. Specialteas, or Upton Tea, or Adagio.

    • golddog says:

      @ynguldyn: That’s a great analogy. Spot on.

    • lilyHaze says:

      @ynguldyn: I just ordered my first sampler set from Adagio. I’ve been drinking the tea for the past few days and it is GOOD STUFF. The leaves are whole (so very little crumblies at the bottom), and I’ve been able to get a whole day’s worth (about 3 big mugs) out of a pinch or two of tea.

  22. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Wow. That’s pretty sneaky. So what if you refuse the tin? Are they going to charge you a fee for paper bag?

  23. golddog says:

    There are Teavanas in the Rockies and I have experienced similar tactics. You say “two ounces” but they try to sneak you two two-ounce units. I have no problem calling them out but between that and the upsell crap…who needs the hassle.

  24. Anonymous says:

    The same thing happened to me. Not on the same level. Just the tin. I picked out the tea I wanted, she put it in a tin. It was not until I looked over the receipt later that I noticed that I was charged $7.00 for the tin, it cost more than the tea I bought!!

  25. zimmi88 says:

    I could be wrong, but I do think some states or counties require established retail locations to have a display facing the consumer that shows the purchase total as its being rung up. Try checking your state’s legal code and see what it says.

    **Disclaimer: Not a lawyer. Not formal legal advice. Yada yada yada.**

  26. Ferris152 says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. There definitely seems to be pressure on the salespeople at Teavana to upsell, or even just to sell at all.

    Recently made a trip to Teavana and the kid (he couldn’t have been older than 20) who greeted me immediately went into a Billy Mays-esque fit about how great the tea-of-the-day was and how it was full of antioxidants so you won’t get cancer if you drink it (yeah, he actually said that). I said no thanks, though I was tempted to ask if the FDA would find any truth to his statements. When I wondered over to some cool looking tins and tea sets, he followed me over and started trying to sell me whatever I had my eye on at the moment.

    But aside from annoying salespeople, it seems like their sales atmosphere is geared towards the “don’t tell them how much it costs” strategy. Sure you can ask them, but they won’t volunteer it unless asked and they don’t have the price on the label.

  27. Bruce Bayliss says:

    And you spent $90 without really NOTICING? And you accepted 4oz of tea when you really only wanted 2oz?
    And you really thought they’d give you the tin for free?

    Words fail me…

  28. CVonSkeletor says:

    Hey companies:

    9 out of ten times when people enter a store, they know what they want. They do not need your help. No one cares about your margins, no one cares about your profit and loss statements. Tell your sales people to fuck off, and get out of our faces.

  29. BayardMozie says:

    You guys in CA and other populated areas should be happy that you even HAVE snooty mall tea places. Out here in the boonies of Oregon we make do with Red Rose tea from the supermarket. :-)

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      @BayardMozie: I guess I’m not the type to frequent a snooty tea shop; I see nothing wrong with Red Rose. And you get those cute little ceramic animals.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @BayardMozie: I would buy Red Rose if I could get it! That’s the kind my great-aunt always used for iced tea when I was a kid.

  30. Ouze says:

    I hate to be all “blame the consumer” but when you ask for 2 ounces $4.50/oz tea and 2 ounce of $10/oz tea, and the total came to $90 instead of $30 – the real mistake was handing over your card, and not asking right there why the price was 300% more.

  31. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    Their prices are complete rip offs. Do yourself a favor and find a grocery store, bodega owned by a Chinese person and buy your tea there. I guarantee you it’ll be a fraction of the price and better quality.

  32. summerbee says:

    Oh, Teavana is definitely sneaky like that. My boyfriend went into one of their King of Prussia Mall stores before & ended up spending a good $20+ bucks for one type of tea. The transaction went something like this:

    Us: Yeah, we’d like some regular black tea, the one that costs $5 for 2 oz.

    Them: Sure…here, take a whiff of our Golden Monkey black tea…you like?

    Us: Yup, smells great.

    Them: Want me to ring it up for you?

    Us: Sure.

    Them: Okay, 2 oz…that’ll be $24 bucks.

    (Yes, Golden Monkey IS black tea, but it’s one of their most expensive types. We just wanted something plain, and even specified the price of the item we were looking for, but they baited+switched. My boyfriend is too polite & face-saving to make a fuss about things like this, but I was fuming.)

    • tongsy says:

      @summerbee: That wasn’t a bait and switch, you just didn’t pay enough attention to ask the price of the different item before ringing it up.

    • cflury says:

      @summerbee: Stand up for your consumer rights at the POS, company’s prey on your feelings and use them against you!

    • Stephen Byer says:

      @summerbee: Part of the experience of going to Teavana is getting exposed to teas above and beyond what you may be aware of. The Golden Monkey is a top-notch tea heads and shoulders above English Breakfast, which it sounds like you were originally looking for.

      What you should be aware of, though, is that the Golden Monkey is rebrewable. You should be able to get 3-4 brews out of one batch of leaves. That brings the cost down and the value up.

  33. italianscallion33 says:

    I’ve never bought anything there, as I don’t like tea, but my friend (who does) and I went in there one time and they were really obnoxious. I don’t think my friend bought anything but they would NOT leave us alone. I understand stores like this have a hard time staying open but geez louise.

  34. MyTQuinn says:

    While it’s unacceptable for sales people to add items and their cost to a purchase without the customer’s permission or knowledge, it appears that the OP was in some kind of zombie state during the transaction. He observed all the details of the transaction but was powerless to stop it, paying $90 for something that should have cost much less, and didn’t even realize it until after leaving the store.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      He observed all the details of the transaction…

      @MyTQuinn: No, he was unable to see that the tin actually cost anything until after the fact.

      • bombhand says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: This isn’t intended to be a “blame” post, but when the clerk told Michael the total, Michael should have been aware enough of what he was purchasing to know that $90 was way too high. At that point, he could have asked for clarification. He missed several opportunities to fix his problem, and while there wouldn’t have been anything to fix if the clerk hadn’t been a turd, he did “fail to mitigate,” so to speak.

        Hopefully this will be a good learning experience for Michael and he’ll be better equipped to deal with unscrupulous vendors in the future!

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          but when the clerk told Michael the total

          @bombhand: How do we know that happened? We know that’s what should have happened but then the OP should have been able to see the cost on the display as well.

  35. quail says:

    “Overpriced” is the first thought I have when thinking of this place. My wife bought from there twice. On each occasion she walked out $90 to $120 lighter and without much to show for it. The place sells “ambiance” and “life style” more than it does product.

    You’re better off finding a good online resource or using the fancy teas at your local health food store.

  36. kateblack says:

    If you have a Whole Foods, they sell disposable teabags next to coffee filters.

    You can also get a tea ball for about $3-7, which can be used for years.

  37. bohemian says:

    The location at the MOA had people offering samples out front. Even this was done in such a smarmy salesman manner that I got a bad vibe and kept going.

    The shame is that a store with a wide variety of better quality products is an attractive idea. I would probably spend money there if it wasn’t for the high pressure sales behavior. I would venture to guess that they lose quite a few potential returning customers due to what they are doing.

  38. johnarlington says:

    Personally I’m happy with my 5 cent bag of Lipton.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I am a tea fan who has also gotten roped into the horror that is Teavana. Going in this store is like negotiating for a car. Should you wander to close to the person offering tea in the mall corridor, you will be practically snatched into the store and subjected to an unrelenting sales pitch for tea pots that cost several hundreds of dollars. What annoys me is how they are willing to say just about anything to make the sale. It’s Japanese, it’s Chinese, it’s covered with symbols of joy and joyness and hand crafted in the kilns of Mordor! It differs from person to person, and I’ve often had a laugh at the BS mythos they weave surrounding their products. Their pots are marginally nicer looking than the ones I used to purchase in Japanese dollar (hundred yen) stores. I like some of their teas, but am so put off at how forceful the salespeople are that I have rarely made it to the back of the store to purchase any. Also, I’m not sure why they are always pimping their super sweetened yerba mate blends (ecch) instead of their better products. I suggest avoiding this store and their insane prices. Much higher quality tea to be had online for a lot less.

  40. Kristina White Godwin says:

    Caveat Emptor, I guess. I had never heard of this tea shop, so I am glad the OP posted this – since I will steer clear of this shop in the future.

  41. Alisha Hime says:

    I went to Teavana in Jacksonville, FL. It was a great experience, and I got some great tea (again, 4oz for $15) but very pricy. The sales lady upsold those containers like no ones business. First it was the big container, then a smaller one, and finally I got one of those little tins just to get her off my case. That shouldnt happen in a store. I have been drinking tea for a long time, but she insisted that I needed it to ‘keep it fresh and the flavor strong’. Get a 3 dollar tin at walmart.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I work for a Teavana in the Midwest.

    Upselling is mandatory and part of the job, like any other sales position.

    The Blue Bamboo tin is one of the more expensive tins and it’s entirely inappropriate of them to grab one for you without telling you about it or asking if it’s ok. Regarding the XL Tin, that is the standard tin that we sell. They should have been completely up-front about the function and cost of the tea tins. There are 5 selling points of the tin, and the cost should’ve been mentioned third.

    You would pay for a tin at just about any teashop you go to.

    They also should’ve asked you if 4oz of tea is ok. Some teas are heavier than others, so it sounds like they gave you 2 scoops of oolong. That is completely against policy to give you more than what you asked without asking if it’s ok.

    The cash registers should have displays. We have very clear guidelines not to block the register display or the scale display so customers can see it.

    If they gave you a brochure, there should be the 877-TEAVANA number located on the back, and you can call them to complain. You will have the best luck explaining that they sold you more tea than you asked for, and that you were sold a tin without being told of its price. You won’t be able to return the tea (food item), but you could possibly get a store credit or exchange from the hotline #.

  43. cflury says:

    I want to say that I have shopped at Teavana for years and have never had an experience like this. First, you need to be an informed consumer, you can get the tea in a bag rather than a tin if you ask. Second, never expect anything for free, why would they give you a nice decorated tin for free when you purchased a plain one earlier for $7? Third, many of the teas there are really expensive (my favorite is $22.99 per 2oz) it is a luxury item store, keep this in mind when you go in at treat your purchases accordingly. Finally, it does not seem like you were up sold on anything, it sounds like you did not ask questions and just assumed you deserved free stuff. I love Teavana and I think you should give them another chance when you get to the point where you can afford to go, or to the point where you will stand up for your consumer rights at the POS and not on the web afterwords.

    • mythago says:

      @cflury: If Teavana is such a fabulous company that you has to stand up for their rights at the register there…right?

    • Deleriumb32 says:

      @cflury: Wow. Do you work for Teavana? How should he have known, on his first visit, about the standard practices of the store? And, it doesn’t sound like he wanted something for free. It sounded like the salesperson allowed the consumer to believe that the tin was included in the price of the tea. That tin probably cost $0.50 to make, at most, and it would seem reasonable to include an “extra” as good customer service. Places that bully and mislead consumers into making unwanted purchases should not be given “another chance.”

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @cflury: I think adding extra items to a customer’s purchase can be considered upselling. Frankly, I’d call it something worse.

      I think you should give them another chance

      WHY? That makes absolutely no sense!

    • Ilovegnomes says:

      @cflury:
      It is great that you just informed everyone about their store and how their system works. I personally have never been to one of their stores but I can see how the customer would make a mistake. If you are new to the store, you would expect a sales associate to inform you of how things work.

      All of the loose leaf tea that I have in my pantry from specialty shops all come in a metal tin that I did not have to pay extra for. So I guess I could see how there could be an assumption that a tin would come with it.

  44. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    “It was only after leaving the store and realizing that I had just paid nearly $90 for tea”

    He means he realized the total when the cashier told him the total, right? I hope he means that. I hope he’s not saying he paid without even knowing what the total was.

  45. cleo159 says:

    I’ve been to both Premium Steap and House of Tea in center city Philly, and had good experiences with both. They seem worth giving a try, even if they’re a little far from Willow Grove. There’s also the Hill Tea Bar in Chestnut Hill, which is closer and has great reviews but terrible hours – I’ve never been able to get there when they’re open.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had nothing but good experiences at three different Teavana stores. The first time I went, the clerk clearly explained why I might want to buy the tin, what the advantages were, the cost, etc. Of course it’s a sales pitch, but it was not sneaky in the least.

  47. Jeff McRae says:

    I got roped into stopping into one once, I was looking at the little tea tasting kiosk outside. This bouncy sales guy comes over and starts explaining all of the teas they have at that station, then he calls us in to taste some rare tea.

    We went in and tried it, which was alright. I like tea, but I’m not a tea afficianado. He explained why the tea was rare and where it came from, which then morphed into a super high pressure sales pitch about how if I didn’t buy this $180 tea kettle that I may as well be drinking sewer water.

    The moment he said “wait here while I run back and get some exotic teas for you to try” we bolted out of the store and got away from there.

  48. mythago says:

    Stick to Peets if it is in your area – they have wonderful teas and they don’t pull this crap.

  49. Cheapskate Brill says:

    Sounds like an unscrupulous clerk. That’s what you should always have an idea of what the items should add up to before you pay.

  50. J_Sensei says:

    I go to Teavana all the time. I walk around the store sampling the seven or eight teas they have out. Then I look like I’m seriously considering buying some overpriced, though admittedly delicious tea. And then I walk out. And then my next trip to the mall, I do it again. And if I happen to be in the Galleria in Houston, where they have TWO Teavanas in one mall, I do it twice.

  51. PinkBox says:

    I guess I don’t understand.

    If I were in the same situation, I would have went back to the store as soon as I noticed the charges on the receipt.

  52. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I had something similar, but less extreme, happen to me at a Catherines.

    It’s a sad thing that you have to assume that salespeople are going to try to trick you just to protect yourself.

  53. lintacious says:

    My experience with Teavana is so-so. The employee did try to sell me various things but when I declined, they didn’t ask again. I was made fully aware of the price of the tins that they put the tea in. Nothing was secretly added to my bill.

  54. Wit is periodically disensouled says:

    I’ve been in there a few times, but I find the store off-putting and so I avoid it whenever possible. Their tea and tea pots are overpriced, except occasionally the yixing ones, which I’ve found a deal on once or twice. The salespeople will not leave me alone when I walk through the store and every friggin’ time I’m in there, they try to explain to me again how tea works. I know how tea works, thankyouverymuch – I’ve gone through horrible tea snobbery and back again a few times. (And if I was feeling truly snobbish I’d point out that the fruity blend they were trying to sell me was half a step up from celestial seasonings and ten times the price.) Also, they always make me feel guilty for firmly refusing to buy more. So, no, I do not enjoy being their customer.

  55. jgarfink says:

    I used to live in Ann Arbor and frequented the Tea Haus there (which is amazing, you should all check it out if you’re in the area or order online [www.teahaus-annarbor.com]) and I often talked to the salespeople there. I had a pretty decent discussion with one of them about Teavana, and basically he told me this: Teavana is owned by the mall, the people who work there don’t really know anything about tea (besides absolute basics), and all they care about is money. Places like the Tea Haus or any independent tea store (or even Whole Foods) will serve you much better.

  56. Evan MacIsaac says:

    Not a surprise at all. I worked for Teavana for a while, and it was just a downhill story. Owners of the company are pretty horrible too. Check out my story:

    [www.teachat.com]

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @Evan MacIsaac: That was a hell of a job! It reminded me of the time I worked for The Body Shop, from starting out with everyone positive and trying to do their best, then the employees getting blamed for slow sales despite going above and beyond to make it work, then HQ sending in morons from corporate who only made things worse, ending with the staff quitting. I’m pleased to say that branch closed down not long after.

      And now that it’s forever associated in my mind with that experience, I for one will never shop at Teavana!

    • misslisa says:

      @Evan MacIsaac: Evan, I read your story yesterday; one of the other folks posted a link to it as well. What a story! Even though it was lengthy, I read in its entirety. Thanks for sharing it with us, and I hope you never have such an awful working experience again.

      BTW, they provide a variety of teas & coffees for us for free at work, so I can’t imagine shelling out such dough for it.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I was at Teavana yesterday and was offered lots of extra items but declined all. I bought just the minimum amount of tea in a little bag.

  58. highpitch_83 says:

    I’m very surprised by the upselling ‘horror’ stories… my wife and I have been purchasing loose leaf tea (and some starting accesories) from Teavana in Maple Grove, MN for 3 yrs and have always had a great experience.

    The first time we went in they did a great job of explaining the correct water temps and steep times for each type of tea and RECOMMENDED the tins for extended shelf life. The staff was up front with the pricing and if I wasn’t clear on what something cost I would just ask, especially the first few times I went in (how hard is that?!).

    They’re positioned as a high-quality, boutique-esque tea store so you’re paying a little extra but if you buy in bulk you can get a great value for your dollar (10% off once you hit 1lb of loose leaf tea).

    /does not and has never worked for Teavana
    //lesson learned: if you’re afraid what it costs you probably shouldn’t be shopping brick & mortar IMHO

    • highpitch_83 says:

      @highpitch_83: That being said: if anyone knows of a ‘better’ option for high quality loose leaf tea in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN metro I would love to hear it!!! (can’t find anyone else that has quality tea so far…)

    • highpitch_83 says:

      @highpitch_83: EDIT: “//lesson learned: if you’re afraid TO ASK what it costs you probably shouldn’t be shopping brick & mortar IMHO”

  59. mbz32190 says:

    First of all, what is “Willow Grove, Penn.”? Who abbreviates states like that? Is this the 1950’s? Second of all, just go to Wegmans in Warrington…they have a huge tea department…boxed, bulk, etc. plus all the accessories that go with it. Skip the fancy mall boutiques.

    • The Queen of Everything says:

      @mbz32190: Abbreviating in that manner is AP style, which is what journalists use. This might be a website, but everyone who writes here is technically a journalist. :)

  60. Aaron Meck says:

    Can you give me the address of the “China” market in my town? Not everyone lives in a large, ethnically diverse city.

  61. vladthepaler says:

    What the store did sucks, no question. But when you’re buying things, you should always keep a running estimate of the cost so you’ll know if you’re being overcharged at the register. This person paid 9 + 7 + 14 = 30 dollars more than expected, which is a full third of the $90 purchase. A little mental math could have saved a lot of money.

    • Anonymous says:

      @vladthepaler: It sounds like prices may not be posted on all items, which makes keeping a running total difficult. Even if that is the case, such a high total would have stopped me in my tracks. If I have a sense that I’m paying more than I expected, I’ll ask for a breakdown or carefully review my receipt before leaving the store.

      Given that this seems as much about their corporate culture as the individual salesperson, I don’t know that I’d bother with a formal complaint. At a minimum, I’d return both tins.

  62. Anonymous says:

    you should definitely take the time to forward this to their corporate office. i think you should always formally tell a company when they treated you so badly that you can never be a customer again.

  63. Michael Kohne says:

    I’ve never had a problem at the King of Prussia, PA store – they always try to sell you a tin, but politely, and they back right off when you say ‘no thanks’. I think you’ve hit a bad employee, or possibly store. The chain as a whole isn’t bad, though.

  64. temporaryerror says:

    As far as Asian Markets go, Here in Wichita, which according to popular consumerist opinion is little more than a whistle stop on the chisolm trail, has a sizable Asian population and at least a couple of really interesting Asian supermarkets. Thai Bihn comes to mind.

  65. Higher750 says:

    Just sounds like a crappy sales person that doesn’t understand the need to inform customers of the price of an item before they are rung up.

    Why you didn’t look at the amount on the credit card receipt when you were signing is a little strange.

    Just return the unwanted items. I wouldn’t consider this a knock against Teavana, really just a matter of a crappy sales person.

  66. robotrousers says:

    I get that the salesperson was tacking stuff on, but how hard is it to say “hey, that total’s pretty steep. What am I paying for?” It’s just not possible for you to have no idea how much you paid until after you left the store, unless you’re completely irresponsible with money. Next time the till rings up $90, grow a pair and make the salesperson go over everything you bought.

  67. SlayBelle says:

    This happened to me and my sister in law at the same Willow Grove location. I was thinking about writing a complaint letter about the really underhanded way we got ripped off there. Its the -same- exact story. They put in more than I wanted, gave us tins they implied were free and never stated they were charging for, and I walked out almost 70 bucks poorer. My sil, who is both pregnant and recently laid off and just wanted some ginger tea to help with morning sickness, was out 48 bucks.

  68. 89macrunner says:

    myb y shld hv jst sd N nd nt bn n f ths dts wh fll fr pshy slsmn.

    • Wombatish says:

      @89macrunner: Maybe the world should end tomorrow.

      Maybe somebody should give me a million dollars (yes please).

      There are lots of maybes out there… here’s one:

      Maybe salespeople shouldn’t be pressured to be so pushy?

      • pinkbunnyslippers says:

        @Wombatish: Maybe salespeople shouldn’t be pressured to be so pushy? LOL. You’re clearly not in sales are you? They’re called quotas, and every sales person in every industry has them. Sales people are agressive – that’s why they’re…get this..in sales.

        I don’t condone the salesperson’s unscrupulous behavior – but the phrase “caveat emptor” isn’t around for shits and giggles you know.

        Don’t walk into a boutique tea store, get snowed for more than you asked for, then NOT speak up. Don’t you think everyone needs to be their own advocate at some point or another in their lives.

        Maybe?

    • icruise says:

      @89macrunner: Maybe the salesman should’ve actually mentioned the extra charges he was piling onto the bill.

    • Kishi says:

      @89macrunner: Good call, they should totally have said no to questions they weren’t asked.

  69. RockStarr says:

    ll’d

  70. jake.valentine says:

    Those of you who live in an urban area can get better quality tea for vastly cheap prices at any Chinese, Japanese, or Korean grocery store. I bet you could find it online as well. I know Marukai (Japanese grocery and home store chain)has an online presence and I believe Mitsuwa does as well. How Teavana manages to get customers to pay ridiculous prices when you can get the same quality for a couple bucks is beyond me.

  71. moozicmon says:

    It is sad that the salesperson took advantage of this guy, but this individual still has quite a bit of blame. He should have spoken up if he was concerned about the situation instead of crying to Consumerist about it. There are plenty of valid reasons to raise alarm. Customer stupidity isn’t one of them.

  72. Anonymous says:

    I managed a Teavana in its beginings. There is a HUGE pressure put on sales people to meet personal and store goals. As friendly as the shop seems, and as nice as the product is, the upper managment are hard people.

    I quit after a year of managing and several months of threating phone calls at home on my days and hours off for not doing things like adding on extra tins. They also thrust me into the management position when I was 19, with my only previous experiance being the day before, when I was an assistant manager for less than 24 hours. They worked me to death.

    More importantly, the mark up at the shop is increadable. You can get most of the same exact teas at a portion of the price http://www.specialteas.com/ Teavana used to buy direct from them, and you can too!

  73. ClintonOddfellow says:

    I shop frequently at the Teavana store in the Sacramento, CA Arden Fair mall, and have had nothing but excellent service from them. They’ve never snuck anything in on me, other than being slightly over or under on my tea (this is pretty standard practice in a lot of “scoop and scale” purchases.)

    I hope we’ll get an official response here from Teavana, and hope that the OP goes back into the store to return the unwanted items, and complain to the wayward employee’s manager.

  74. Anonymous says:

    I had a really similar experience at the Teavana in King of Prussia, PA. I don’t normally get suckered in by things like this and was surprised by how much extra I bought when all I wanted was a few ounces of tea in a bag. I ended up spending almost $50 on a half pound of tea and a tin and the vague feeling that the very attractive saleswoman was romantically interested in me (she wasn’t).

  75. serke says:

    They opened a Teavana in Crossgates Mall recently, and I’ve found the staff to be very friendly. But in that new store way, very eager to show you all the products, and try to get you to buy something.

    I listened to one salesperson’s pitch all the way through, and each time I go back to look around or have a free sample I just politely decline their advances.

    I understand it is a business. Trying to succeed. And it’s high end, and sells a lot of overpriced items, so they’re afraid they might not turn a profit and have to close. But if they did to me what they did to the OP I’d have marched back inside ASAP and return the stuff they tacked on without mentioning it would cost extra.

    Speaking of high end stores that I like to shop in despite it all, the Harry and David’s in Crossgates is closing in August. Everything is 33% off at the moment. Makes me sad. But they had a lot of business in there for once. :-P

  76. Anonymous says:

    I went into Teavana in Arizona once because I was curious to see what types of tea were in the store. I’ve grown up with Chinese parents drinking tea from China, Taiwan, Japan, etc. So I thought it would be kind of neat to try some flavored tea for a change. When I found a tea that smelled really great, I asked for 2 oz since I only wanted to try it. The sales lady REALLY tried to push other teas on me and even went as far as assuming I wanted to purchase something she recommended. I firmly told her what I had wanted.
    Before she filled my order, I noticed she took out a tea canister. Now I had glanced at the merchandise in the store and knew they charged extra. So without even asking me, she started putting the tea I asked for into the tea tin. By this time, I was quite annoyed and told her I didn’t need a tea tin considering my parents had a lot of extra sittting around. The sales lady proceeded by telling me how THEIRS was special. By special, she told me that their tin kept the teas a lot fresher and how the flavor of the tea would quickly loose its freshness after a month if I didn’t buy their tin. She never offered me the option of a free bag. While she was explaining, she kept scooping tea leaves in the tin. The tin was close to 8 dollars. I was annoyed but didn’t want to argue with her anymore over 8 dollars so I complied. If I had assumed that the tin was free, she never would have told me that it cost extra. I asked for a pamphlet of the different assorted teas. While flipping through it, I noticed that they also sell a smaller version of the tin with just the teavana sign on it. I had only asked for 2 oz so the medium tin was a bit ridiculous as it only filled less than 1/4 of the tin. I left the store annoyed with the feeling that I had been duped.
    I orginally went into the store with the notion that it would be nice to try some different types of tea I haven’t had before. And if I enjoyed it, I would continue coming back for different flavors. I left with the uneasy filling that I was ripped off.
    Later on, I decided to brew the japanese cherry green tea I had bought. When I opened the tin, it smelled absolutely delicious. So I followed the instructions in the pamphlet on how to properly brew tea. After steeping the tea in hot water for exactly 5 minutes, I strained the leaves, blew on the tea in eager anticipation. After it had cooled down just enough for me to be comfortable tasting it, I was dissapointed at how low the quality of green tea was in my cup. I could barely taste the cherry flavor and when I looked at the leaves again, I was struck by how it looked like thin dried grass. In order for the tea I bought to be drinkable, I had to add tea leaves from China to the mixture so it could have some quality flavor.
    All in all, my experience at teavana was not great and the trouble I went through was not worth the low grade overpriced tea. You can go into ANY asian supermarket and find REAL tea that costs a fraction of what they were charging. I would not recommend anyone going to Teavana.

    • Stephen Byer says:

      @SharvariRagnarok:

      “So I followed the instructions in the pamphlet on how to properly brew tea. After steeping the tea in hot water for exactly 5 minutes, I strained the leaves, blew on the tea in eager anticipation. After it had cooled down just enough for me to be comfortable tasting it, I was dissapointed at how low the quality of green tea was in my cup.”

      You followed the wrong instructions. 5 minutes with boiling water are for herbal infusions, rooibos, and mate.

      The Teavana green tea instructions are 175F water for 1 minutes, 1tsp of tea/8oz of water.

  77. HaxRomana says:

    I have never had this problem at either of the Teavanas that I go to (Tysons Corner Center and Fair Oaks Mall, both in Virginia). Admittedly I don’t go as often as I used to, but I recently went in and was able purchase my tea without any dissembling from the cashier. They did offer me a tin, but I declined and took my reasonably-priced, good-quality tea home in a little paper bag instead. No problem.

    I guess the moral of the story is ask what the total is before you pay?

  78. Alicia Johnson says:

    This is something that has happened to me at Teavana here in Miami. My boyfriend was asking for x amount of tea (we already own the tin, as the discount pays off for us) and the guy started FILLING the tin. This is a huge tin. I had to point it out to my boyfriend, shocked, who then told the guy he was batshit crazy and to take all of that tea of his tin.

    I also purchased a very small amount of tea, just to try the flavor, and the guy would NOT stop trying to get me to buy a tin. Even after I explained that I knew about the discount, that the tea wouldn’t stay fresh in the little baggie, etc…they just kept pushing.

  79. Erin Cummins says:

    For loose leaf I like adagio teas (online). Maybe go to places like teavana and sniff and smell and taste the free samples and once you think you know what you like get online and buy?? Adagio charges about $2 for a sample (about 2oz) and larger sizes are reasonably priced. The tins are kinda plain but come with the tea (no additional cost) and you can create your own tea blends. The guys from digg.com have their own blends on that site too.

    Also for teabags I really like Stash.com. Their chai is my favorite and my boyfriend likes the peach black tea.

  80. BytheSea says:

    wow, a store on consumerist I go to. Wel, I tried their samples, looked at their crap, and moved on. The new Teavana store in the mall is staffed by teenage assholes who are loud and obnoxious and utterly lack social skills. i’m not surprised they just charged the poster for the stuff without even trying to sell it to him. Teavana itself is a ridiculous store that tries to be new agey but is really just filled with cheap mass produced crockery and tea you can get anywhere.

    Original poster, try the tea section in the new Wegmans up on 611, a few lights past the Regal Warrington movie theater. They have far more selection than Teavana in bulk teas, plus tons and tons of packaged tea. No upselling.

  81. Anonymous says:

    I went into Teavana in Arizona once because I was curious to see what types of tea were in the store. I’ve grown up with Chinese parents drinking tea from China, Taiwan, Japan, etc. So I thought it would be kind of neat to try some flavored tea for a change. When I found a tea that smelled really great, I asked for 2 oz since I only wanted to try it. The sales lady REALLY tried to push other teas on me and even went as far as assuming I wanted to purchase something she recommended. I firmly told her what I had wanted. Before she filled my order, I noticed she took out a tea canister. Now I had glanced at the merchandise in the store and knew they charged extra. So without even asking me, she started putting the tea I asked for into the tea tin. By this time, I was quite annoyed and told her I didn’t need a tea tin considering my parents had a lot of extra sittting around. The sales lady proceeded by telling me how THEIRS was special. By special, she told me that their tin kept the teas a lot fresher and how the flavor of the tea would quickly loose its freshness after a month if I didn’t buy their tin. She never offered me the option of a free bag. While she was explaining, she kept scooping tea leaves in the tin. The tin was close to 8 dollars. I was annoyed but didn’t want to argue with her anymore over 8 dollars so I complied. If I had assumed that the tin was free, she never would have told me that it cost extra. I asked for a pamphlet of the different assorted teas. While flipping through it, I noticed that they also sell a smaller version of the tin with just the teavana sign on it. I had only asked for 2 oz so the medium tin was a bit ridiculous as it only filled less than 1/4 of the tin. I left the store annoyed with the feeling that I had been duped. I orginally went into the store with the notion that it would be nice to try some different types of tea I haven’t had before. And if I enjoyed it, I would continue coming back for different flavors. I left with the uneasy filling that I was ripped off. Later on, I decided to brew the japanese cherry green tea I had bought. When I opened the tin, it smelled absolutely delicious. So I followed the instructions in the pamphlet on how to properly brew tea. After steeping the tea in hot water for exactly 5 minutes, I strained the leaves, blew on the tea in eager anticipation. After it had cooled down just enough for me to be comfortable tasting it, I was dissapointed at how low the quality of green tea was in my cup. I could barely taste the cherry flavor and when I looked at the leaves again, I was struck by how it looked like thin dried grass. In order for the tea I bought to be drinkable, I had to add tea leaves from China to the mixture so it could have some quality flavor. All in all, my experience at teavana was not great and the trouble I went through was not worth the low grade overpriced tea. You can go into ANY asian supermarket and find REAL tea that costs a fraction of what they were charging. I would not recommend anyone going to Teavana.

  82. Tom Kozlowski says:

    I’m also a regular tea drinker and I buy my teas at Teavana in Palo Alto, CA for the same reasons as Michael (can’t smell teas online). I’ve never had an issue with being upsold there and the employees there have always been courteous. He’s right, the tea is expensive, but you get what you pay for.

    In defense of Teavana, I think it was naive of Michael to think he was getting a hand painted tin for no cost. If you look around the store (at least the one in Palo Alto) you’ll see stacks of painted tins with price tags (which are admittedly on the bottom) that I agree are outrageously overpriced. Also, why couldn’t Michael ask how he spent 90 dollars before handing over his credit card?

  83. Anonymous says:

    Okay, ALL of you, and especially the consumer this article is about – sit down. I’m only going to explain this once.

    1. ALL stores at the mall are set up to make you pay way too much for items you can easily get cheaper online.
    2. This has been true since time began, except you didn’t have the Internet to even the playing field.
    3. Look up reviews online of what you wish to buy, and then buy it from a highly reviewed, reputable retailers.
    4. Use the mall to examine products in person, for size, color and quality review – DO NOT BUY THERE.

    It’s just that simple, people. All the “high-end” hoity-toity mall shops exist just to drain money from you – not provide a quality product or a fair bargain – NEVER.

    If you do the opposite of what I recommend here, you will get shoddy goods, and lose money. Period. The original shopper in this story is simply gullible from the start, don’t be him.

    Outside the mall, there may be local merchants who can do right by you as well – look around.

  84. Anonymous says:

    I experienced a very similar shopping trip at the same store in Willow Grove. I also asked for a 2 oz and they continued to scoop well beyond. I told the sales person stop and unscoop that tea. They also kept insisting that I wanted to mix teas and buy more types when I was very specific and told them numerous times what I liked to drink.

  85. Natalie Rodriguez says:

    I go to the Teavana in the Florida Mall, and I’ve never had problems. They give me my 2oz in a little bag, and never tried to upsell me on anything.

    On the other hand, I was buying Gunpowder Tea, which is one of the cheaper ones, so that could have been part of it.

  86. ephdel says:

    this sounds like a isolated instance…

    The Teavana in my local mall, Danbury CT, has a great staff that has been nothing but a pleasure to be around. they had lots of samples brewing and let me take my time, and when i ordered they put my tea in a bag and only mentioned the tin right before i paid. i declined the tin, and that was that.

    a week later i went back for more tea, and the shop girl recognized me and recommended a tea based on my previous purchase, which turned out to be well suited to my tastes. oh, and did i mention that the shop girls are all beautiful and between 18 and 25?

  87. Anonymous says:

    My first & last visit to Teavana was this weekend, Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor, MI. The teas are overpriced, waving a lid over the canister is not how you smell tea, it only creates fannings (the stuff Lipton puts in their bags), the dust gave me an allergy attack, and they want the customer to see them as elevated beings willing to share their god-like knowledge out of pure graciousness. Poseures, crummy tea, hard-sell, no posted prices, ridiculous prices, sneaky sales techniques (I was asked if I “want the tin”, no hint that it would be a purchase), minimum purchase requirements, and they don’t even drink tea! The crummy cast-iron tea pots they sell will rust after one use, they’re not tea pots, people, they’re humidifiers at best! Plus, the pots are really ugly. There are some good things I see here: 1. in this economy they’ll be gone soon, there aren’t enough moneyed poseure-wannabes to keep them in business; 2. if you follow their directions for tea you’ll get tepid brown water (again, almost Lipton’s) which will make sure they get no repeat business; 3. I bought 2 oz. of a peach-flavored tea blend (my husband loves peach sun tea) with big enough pieces for me to see what they put in it and blend it myself in future; and 4. people who really want tea may see my comment here, read all the way to the end, and find a lovely place called Upton Tea (do an on-line search)which has single-estate teas, sample sizes, world-spanning selections, excellent descriptions, clearly stated prices, and (in my 2 1/2 year experience as a customer), excellent customer service. You even get to choose, tin or no tin, at a minimal cost. I bought the Upton tins my first time around, now I have plenty. Try the Hattiali and the Sree Sibbari, both fabulous Assams.

  88. Nipi says:

    OMG! I had a very similar experience yesterday at the same mall (Willow Grove, PA).

    The sales representatives kept pushing me loose teas in a humongous tin. I only wanted a cup of brewed tea, so I had to keep saying no to loose teas again and again. They I was charged more than five dollars for my tall cup of tea (they don’t post prices for loose tea or brewed tea). I felt ripped off. I will be staying clear of Teavana in the future.