Friday, December 19, 2008

Teavana: An ex-employee's account

Just a quick note; if you shop at Teavana (or are considering it), please read this. I have never been a fan of Teavana, but the prescribed sales methods described in this account (not to mention the behavior of Teavana owners) are revolting. I will never give them another dime.

31 comments:

Teaquilibrium said...

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Tea said...

Interesting story, particularly about their sales tactics. Sounds like the owners of Teavana aren't coping with the down turn too well.

Mel said...

although not a tea expert, but occasional tea drinker, I never really liked their tea anyway. it always tasted like some sort of artificial flavored brew to me; not worth the money they charge for it!

thanks for the post! very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I work at Teavana and i couldnt disagree with your dislike of Teavana more than i do right now. I love working there, i think its a great company and much better than any other Job i have had thus far. They treat me quite well, the discount is great, the quality of the product is great. Im not quite sure what more you can want from them, as long as you do your job (well) its a great place to work.

Anonymous said...

To the previous "Anonymous:"
You must be a corporate geek for Teavana. Working for Teavana is in fact crappy. The hours are poor (few), the managers arbitrary and the products vastly overpriced.

After never having been late, after meeting all training goals, after exceeding sales objectives and after receiving praise in meetings for my performance, I was terminated for cause over the phone. The cause: "not working out." What? The manager told me they can terminate in California for "any reason we want." I'd check the employee handbook, but was never given one. As for following California's laws Teavana is headed for big trouble. Even if they can terminate "for any reason we want" the final check is due immediately at the time and place of termination. Not a day later. Not a week later. California's law is specific on this.

And it matters. There's a big difference between being laid off (ok, fine, I understand...) and getting fired (WTF?). Getting fired doesn't look great on a resume and makes getting unemployment benefits near impossible.

Scumbags.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first anon. I love working at Teavana, it is an amazing job with vast opertunities to move up. In my experience the only people who do not like working for Teavana are those who are incompetent. The tea is amazing and the job is as well. The story of this guy was something that happened to him, but does not mean it happens all the time. Some trainers are just bad at any company and sometimes shit just happens.

Anonymous said...

Incompetent? I am an ex-employee, and from the year of heel that manager put me and my fellow employees through not only brought their numbers down, but also forced a complete store employee reset. Most of the people who love working for teavana are ignorant to how real tea tastes and what a true sales strategy is. I now work a real tea store and it is nothing like teavana where I had to convince people to buy over-priced tea of a low quality, lie to them about false health benefits, help cover up the peppermint incident where teavana didn't release the fact that their organic peppermint had pesticides in it (so much for organic eh?)in a public statement but instead had us call customers who had bought peppermint and lie telling them that it was a poor quality and offering up a trade. The tea from teavana sits in warehouses waiting to be distributed for god knows how long, they train you to be rude and pushy and swindle and you want to insult others? little one you are ignorant to how the company truly is, and until you open your eyes and start looking at the truth then you sit there with your little scooper swindling people out of money and giving them a crap quality of tea. I see your customers in my shop pissed off and unhappy all the time.

Anonymous said...

I was hired by Teavana in August 2011 because it was close to my college and I love tea. My manager is so nice and now that I'm leaving I'm kind of upset because working there grew me and gave me some tough experiences. Yes, I've found random things in the packages of teas when refilling the house tins, not too sure how "high quality" the teas actually are when you're finding that stuff. I also think they are over priced and will not buy the tea without my employee discount. One of the girls was promoted to Team Lead when I had better, sales, grades, and sales pitches than her which made me kind of upset because I worked hard for that promotion. I just know it has a lot to do with politics and I do know that one of the current Team Leads was always kind of close with the recent promoted Team Lead, so that definitely contributes to it. Gonna be a lot happier working at my new job this summer for sure.

Anonymous said...

I work there and yeah i will say they do want you 2 buy alot n will try 2 sell u everything but they do have great reasons 2 buy them great discounts ant are nice 2 the staff

sugarqueen58 said...

I am glad to have found out the truth about teavana. I have never worked for this company, but I shopped with them twice and now I feel like I have been duped. I fell for the tin upscale, even though I opted and damn near fought for the smaller one. I was pressured to buy the blend, told the spiel about health benefits and was offered what I thought was a free cup of tea after my purchase only to be walked over to the counter to pay for it on my second visit. I also fell for the it is a little over sales tactic as well, what an awful way to run a business. The tea is good, but it isn't the best. In the future I will buy my tea some where else. Thank you for your story, after my second visit to their store I felt something wasn't right and when I searched your post came up and you are dead on about this company. I am sorry you had to go through all of that but at least your experience will help consumers like myself avoid such dishonest companies.

Anonymous said...

I visit teavana regularly and have discovered my passion for tea because of them when at one point I thought I hated tea. The quality is definatley better than store bought however it is obviously over priced and I have been considering seeking out new tea experiences. As for the sales tactics they are sly. I did feel pressured on my first visit to get a pound but I am very cheap and skeptical so I did not go for it but the pressure was applied. Nobody there pressures me now though because it is clear that I know what I want and the employee's know that I won't put up with it. They are very sales driven and misleading though the statement above me is very accurate and that must be a new tactic be cause I have been twice tricked thinking that it was a free cup or sample when I expressed interest in a tea and was asked "would you like to try it?" Then after being handed the cup of tea swiftly directed to the counter and charged a steep $5. I was also disheartened when I was had noticed there latests travel mug/infuser I didn't buy it right then but had a nice discussion with an associate about it and previous models she gave me a good review of it and was very specific about what she liked about it and spoke as though she has it and uses it. I buy it several weeks later after much debate because they are very over priced. And after having it and using it I have come to realise that the things she stated about it where not true and because of certain claims she made she obviously hadn't owned either model that she lead me to believe which I suspected from some of her comments about the model that I already owned verses the new one. So the entire shop talk conversation and tea interest we shared was a big sales pitch and she was obviously fed the info by the company. Don't get me wrong I like my new mug it has strengths and weaknesses they just don't match up to the strengths that she had claimed. For example she said that she likes the new model better because she hates getting tea particles in her tea and the new design eliminates that problem so she prefers it. Well in reality the new designs biggest flaw is exactly that fact you end up with more loose tea in your tea than the previous design despite the thinner netting someone who actually uses the product would have definatley experienced it.

Anonymous said...

I visit teavana regularly and have discovered my passion for tea because of them when at one point I thought I hated tea. The quality is definatley better than store bought however it is obviously over priced and I have been considering seeking out new tea experiences. As for the sales tactics they are sly. I did feel pressured on my first visit to get a pound but I am very cheap and skeptical so I did not go for it but the pressure was applied. Nobody there pressures me now though because it is clear that I know what I want and the employee's know that I won't put up with it. They are very sales driven and misleading though the statement above me is very accurate and that must be a new tactic be cause I have been twice tricked thinking that it was a free cup or sample when I expressed interest in a tea and was asked "would you like to try it?" Then after being handed the cup of tea swiftly directed to the counter and charged a steep $5. I was also disheartened when I was had noticed there latests travel mug/infuser I didn't buy it right then but had a nice discussion with an associate about it and previous models she gave me a good review of it and was very specific about what she liked about it and spoke as though she has it and uses it. I buy it several weeks later after much debate because they are very over priced. And after having it and using it I have come to realise that the things she stated about it where not true and because of certain claims she made she obviously hadn't owned either model that she lead me to believe which I suspected from some of her comments about the model that I already owned verses the new one. So the entire shop talk conversation and tea interest we shared was a big sales pitch and she was obviously fed the info by the company. Don't get me wrong I like my new mug it has strengths and weaknesses they just don't match up to the strengths that she had claimed. For example she said that she likes the new model better because she hates getting tea particles in her tea and the new design eliminates that problem so she prefers it. Well in reality the new designs biggest flaw is exactly that fact you end up with more loose tea in your tea than the previous design despite the thinner netting someone who actually uses the product would have definatley experienced it.

Anonymous said...

I visit teavana regularly and have discovered my passion for tea because of them when at one point I thought I hated tea. The quality is definatley better than store bought however it is obviously over priced and I have been considering seeking out new tea experiences. As for the sales tactics they are sly. I did feel pressured on my first visit to get a pound but I am very cheap and skeptical so I did not go for it but the pressure was applied. Nobody there pressures me now though because it is clear that I know what I want and the employee's know that I won't put up with it. They are very sales driven and misleading though the statement above me is very accurate and that must be a new tactic be cause I have been twice tricked thinking that it was a free cup or sample when I expressed interest in a tea and was asked "would you like to try it?" Then after being handed the cup of tea swiftly directed to the counter and charged a steep $5. I was also disheartened when I was had noticed there latests travel mug/infuser I didn't buy it right then but had a nice discussion with an associate about it and previous models she gave me a good review of it and was very specific about what she liked about it and spoke as though she has it and uses it. I buy it several weeks later after much debate because they are very over priced. And after having it and using it I have come to realise that the things she stated about it where not true and because of certain claims she made she obviously hadn't owned either model that she lead me to believe which I suspected from some of her comments about the model that I already owned verses the new one. So the entire shop talk conversation and tea interest we shared was a big sales pitch and she was obviously fed the info by the company. Don't get me wrong I like my new mug it has strengths and weaknesses they just don't match up to the strengths that she had claimed. For example she said that she likes the new model better because she hates getting tea particles in her tea and the new design eliminates that problem so she prefers it. Well in reality the new designs biggest flaw is exactly that fact you end up with more loose tea in your tea than the previous design despite the thinner netting someone who actually uses the product would have definatley experienced it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you go for getting the heck out of there! Last month I was so excited to get a job; I was out of one for about 8 months! I love tea and thought this would be a fun job that I can really use my personality and succeed at. Just within the training period (we were trained by.. Eric I think. He runs the New England branches) I noticed how god awful pushy the sales associates had to be. Now, I came from a very poor family and I would NEVER degrade someone into buying something that they absolutely cannot afford, I don't care how "high quality" it is, if you can't afford it, that's fine we can find you something else you'll enjoy. Just within the week I felt like a door to door salesperson, using gimmick and spunk to get people to spend insane amounts of money. Even though I love sales, that was just a little too hardcore for me. I have undergone some health problems, in and out of hospitals, and when I told my General Manager (finally getting a hold of her on the phone after playing phone tag with the Teavana associates and her NEVER calling me back) she told me to quit and reapply, since I had already used up the "medical leave". I also let her know that I have not been paid for the training period I WORKED! She said she will talk to HR about it and have a check sent to me. It's been over a month and I have yet to get paid. In the meantime, I've been playing more phone tag.

Anonymous said...

I read the original post a long time ago and thought Teavana is bad. Now, after working at one of the Teavana stores for a while, I must say that while the company employs a lot of pushy sales tactics, the original poster is at least...somewhat incompetent. What we got was a one-sided story. It's a lot easier to see what really happened since I have done many things he/she described and OP definitely employed some of the same misleading tactics he/she claimed to hate.

sue said...

i see that you guys go back and forth about how much you hate the flavors, the shitty employer and job, but my question is besides the pesticides and all that what else is bad about tevana and what else do they put in it. i understand its shitty in flavor and its not organic. i deal with a lot of organic teas and such because i have my own little garden for herbs and different things for tea, so the teavana teas touch is different than normal organic stuff. another question is what is another good tea shop online or otherwise. i'm moving to Miami and i want to know where i can have a tea shop close by or somewhat near.

Anonymous said...

I work at Teavana (A teaopia switch) I am Assistant Manager and I can fully say this. I love my job. Before thinking the Tea is over priced realize how the tea is processed, where it comes from, and the span of which it can be picked during the year. No matter where you go there will always be some sort of flaw in the system no matter if it is a tea store, or a electronics store. You will always find people who prefer a different tea shop. You want to know why it is expensive? Most of the white teas that we sell have a 2 WEEK picking span. If you had something that could only be picked or grown in a 2 week span you probably wouldn't make it very cheap either. The Oolong tea is the same but it has a month span to be picked. Oolong teas like the Monkey Picked is one of the rarest tea's in the world. It is Top 10 in China and still served to the Royal dynasty so be thankful a little person like you can try such a rare tea, Before knocking Teavana maybe find out the history and where the tea's come from. How they are processed. Why one tea is more expensive than another. When it comes to be released from the job no matter where you are you will have crappy bosses sometimes that is life. Its not just Teavana. For thoughs who think Teavana doesn't have a high quality let me give you a little fact. Teavana has the HIGHEST QUALITY IN THE WORLD BECAUSE THEY GET FIRST PICK AT EVERY TEA CROP AROUND THE WORLD. I understand there pushy tactics are not for everyone. I do not fully follow the pushy tactics and MY numbers are the HIGHEST in our store. I have no problem with the company other then they are all over the place with somethings with the expansions of all the new stores. I am very pleased with my job and with the tea we sell. Everyone has there own opinions and I am sorry that some of you had a bad experience with the tea you had or the service you had. Maybe try another location or another tea. Maybe that package just was a bad apple out of the bunch. I LOVE TEAVANA! :)

Anonymous said...

^China doesn't have a royal dynasty anymore, it was overthrown in ~1911. Also please tell me (us) more about picking seasons and sources

Anonymous said...

^ Chinese imperial family is still in existence they just aren't in power

Jennifer said...

be grateful a little person like me can taste the tea???? oh my. Please don't try to deny the pushy sales people at Teavana and the tricky way they overpour and try to make you buy a tin and top down sell you and also rook you with high prices. this stuff doesn't happen at starbucks. i hope they shape up the teavana brand.

Rishi said...

I'm not the guy that posted about working at Teavana but since it was requested, here are some sources.

Chinese Royal Family:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_of_succession_to_the_Chinese_throne

Tea Harvest Timeline of Seasons for various countries and varieties:
http://teatrekker.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/tea-education-tea-harvesting-arrival-timeline/

Adagio is a great source of information regarding the harvesting of various different teas, some of which they have in common with Teavana. You will notice that teas like silver needle white and monkey picked oolong are in fact rare and hard to come by cheaply. There is a limited harvest period and harvesting some teas can be quite difficult because of altitude and having to conform to these narrow harvest periods. Teavana has a lot of less expensive options that can be picked up for as low as $2.50/oz. They shouldn't be crucified for also offering more expensive, higher quality teas. It is not like they are advertising them as cheap or something. Don't take my post as some sort of vindication of their insane sales methods, but it is ridiculous to knock the quality of their teas when in fact they have many high quality teas that are also high sellers at other stores of good repute. If you hate the sales tactics, buy tea online. There are a lot of great places for that. But for people that don't have much exposure to tea, there are not a lot of tea stores, at least in my area, that have the same magnitude of variety and accessories and can also provide an opportunity to see and smell the different teas and get recommendations.

Anonymous said...

The tea is very good.

The high powered upselling sales tactics will keep me out of the store forever.

Anonymous said...

as a long time customer of Teavana i have recently switched to Adagio an could not be happier. They sell samples of everything they have, the prices are half of what Teavana is and they have GREAT customer incentives.

never going back and dealing with the pushy sales people in the mall again. the final straw with Teavana was when they had a 25% off sale (internet and all stores) and they refused to give me the sale price in the mall store... even after i got on my cell to their 800 number and had them confirm it was all stores, they looked confused and said; "Well we can't do that because our manager didn't tell us about it."

Anonymous said...

As an employee of Teavana right now, I hate working for the company. We're trained to be sneaky, pushy and manipulative. The managers are all asses who want to do as little as possible and shove the actual work onto sales associates but still want the credit for all the work.

If we're not constantly following the sales pitch, up selling or providing add ons, you better believe we're getting a firm talking to about it. If you can find any other place that sells tea, make the switch. Teavana is not worth it.

Only reason I'm still with the company is because school doesn't pay for itself.

Anonymous said...

You can get teavana teas online without having to bother with the pushy sales techniques too...

Anonymous said...

I am a prior assistant manager to Teaopia who resigned shortly after the Teavana/SBUX conglomerate consumed the company. I have very mixed feelings about Teavana, but as a whole am happy with my decision to resign as I am currently employed with a locally owned high quality tea shop. There are two sides to every coin - yes, the sales tactics are pushy, and the tea is not of the high quality that the prices suggest (or even a quality equal to what they proclaim - does everyone remember that "organic" scandal?) I am personally very bothered that Teavana did not honor their promise of keeping the "Teaopia Top 20" tea blends - goodbye Dragonheart, I will miss you! However, my previous manager is exceedingly competent and has carried over the success of being the highest gross earning Teaopia in the province to the third highest earning Teavana in Canada. The sales associates at this location are fairly knowledgeable about the tea, are not overtly pushy about sampling, and I think a lot of previous employees who have failed under Teavana simply aren't good at sales and have buckled under what is typical retail pressure. This does not change the fact that the tea shop I am now employed at has seen a massive boost in revenue that, as far as we can see, is a direct result of unsatisfied Teavana customers. In summary, I feel that Teavana is just another low level retail company on par with that of Starbucks to certified organic coffee houses to cater to the masses.

Anonymous said...

I'm going for an interview tomorrow for a barista. I don't know if it is as bad as some of the commenters say it is but I will say I have been without a stable job for 3 years. I need something and I honestly hope this works out.

Anonymous said...

i also have an interview for a barista/ sales associate position. i dont like the idea of forcing employees to learn sneaky sales tactics, but unfortunately that is what retail has become in this country ( i work at a toy shop and i cant avoid it) but i need a 2nd job so i can finally more out of my parents house, so if i get hired i'll just have to bite my tongue and go along with the program

Anonymous said...

Hi to the prior assistant manager of Teaopia/Teavana: Someone told me there is still one Teaopia left in Toronto? I have just ran out of my once large stash of Dragonheart and was horrified to find out that Teavana does not carry it anymore? I am not happy to say the least as it was my staple tea. If I can't get it, do you have any suggestions as to how I can find quality ingredients to replace it? I know they are Pai Mu Tan white tea, bamboo leaves and pomegranate blossoms. Who may sell these ingredients? Help!

Katherine said...

The "one Teaopia" left in Toronto just has yet to change the outside name. A small hiccup happened and it did not get switched.
I am personally leaving the company as well. I stayed with Teaopia for two years before Teavana. Now in total it is 3 years.
I plan on writing on the problems faced in such a large company for Tea such as Teavana. I have a lot to offer to help others out(independents) and in management as well (learn from my mistakes and others). Being a Certified Tea Sommlier I know a fair amount about tea and am glad that my collection never exceeded 1% Teavana teas.
Now I am volunteering for The Tea Guild of Canada, working on my art, and working at a fellow Tea Guild Members shop. Which is outside of the limitation for part of a contract I signed when with Teavana.

Dragonheart was one of my favorite mixes. The purity of blends was the one thing that Teaopia had going for them. All virtually organic and clean. Next to no artificial flavors. I will have to invade the Teaopia stash I created at my parents place this week now <3

Jessica Hartmann said...

Hello. I was wondering if you are still interested in selling tea? I am a consultant through a different tea company. I have worked in actual retail stores for 2 and a half years. I started selling this and i have done so well. I thought that maybe you would be interested? you get to pick your own hours and decide how much or little you want to put in to it. It is all on your own. There is a company that helps you start out, and there is no obligation if you want to quit... Something to think about! Check out my website... http://www.tealightfultea.net/JESSICASTEAZE/

Email me if you have any questions!

jessicasteaze@gmail.com

my name is jessica, and this offer is good for anyone.

Hope you like it,

cheers, Jessica

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