Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics


Completely off the Topic of Tea

Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby SlientSipper » Dec 11th, '10, 03:20

Yet, another Working with Teavana horror story. I only worked there for a bout 8 days but, I saw more then enough to be utterly disgusted by their management. Okay. So I've had worse employer experiences and it wasn't all bad. I did learn about a tea pots and did have some genuinely fond moments of being there. I also have another unrelated job and Teavana was a seasonal part time job. So it wasn't like I truly needed that job but, it was nice to have and considering that my city is at an all time low for employment. I felt happy to be accepted by them.

I will also say that while I am nowhere near a saint and I can't say that my experience is without bias or completely accurate but, I will post it and answer your questions objectively as possible. Lastly, It was at least partially my fault for getting fired and I don't have quite enough evidence/money/time/desire to sue them or pursue them for anything more then what they owe me.

So I guess I'll start from the beginning; I walked into the Teavana store and found myself teaching the manager about teas. I bought some as well. I mentioned that I need a part time job.
I was thrilled when I was accepted for an interview.
I was told to come back to the store and have my paper work filled out.
I arrived early so as to ensure that I got the paper work done. I even brought my own pen. When I got there though the manager had just left for a doctors appointment. She was pregnant or something. They gave me a free cup of tea. I got the Copper Knot Hongcha. They also gave me the training manual. I got so much of it done too. I still have the book. I only have like one or two chapters left in it.
The sales tactics were quite practical if not insidious. The whole "Top-Down Selling" where you start the customers off with the most expensive crap first and then inch your way to ensure you get their money. Don't get me wrong, it is a business after all and they need to make money to survive but, if they were honestly a good company they wouldn't need to be THAT pushy would they? Wouldn't great merchandise sell it self? I always thought. They did have a "script" to follow and I was told that I could add my own personality to it. I just had to learn that script I practiced their selling points everyday. More on that later.
My first day of the job. Went pretty successfully. I talked a couple who were only looking to spend around $40 into buying well over $400 I sold them an entire cast iron set with all those fancy little accessories.
The husband said "All I wanted was two ounces of green tea with a spoon and now we have $400 worth of stuff" The wife didn't seem to mind. She was happy. At first I honestly felt like I had educated her on the world of tea. My team mates were happy for me. It felt like a promising start. I completely forgot to take my lunch break and any break for that matter. They forgot to remind me. I didn't mind because we were busy and I was excited to be there. The clean up process was long. Our sink water was foggy. Our Fetco's were never cleaned properly. Not enough to make you sick but, enough to demand lots of room for improvement.
I didn't want to stand around. I was happy to work and learn the process of cleaning. It took a long time to clean that small place. It seemed like I spent more time cleaning then anything else.
That was day one.

I will continue posting when I have more time. I will answer any questions and I promise to finish my story for you good folks out there.
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby mbanu » Dec 11th, '10, 22:52

Wouldn't great merchandise sell it self?


Not necessarily. Many tea purchasers are more enthusiastic than they are sophisticated. If they've been burned before by purchasing expensive tea that was simply inexpensive tea in fancy packaging, they might be reluctant to branch out from the teas they are familiar with.

Knowledge of tea-ware especially seems generally very poor. Perhaps they have recently switched away from teabags and don't understand that the tea needs space to move around in, so they gravitate towards tea balls, or they get a strainer that is not as deep as their teapot (or tea mug, depending on how they usually drink).

There are certain "up-sells" which are genuinely helpful that perhaps they had not thought of. For instance, the "two tea-pot method" of brewing the tea free-floating in one tea pot and then pouring it through a strainer into another tea pot for service maximizes the space for the leaves to move around in.

Or take something like a digital scale; digital scales are remarkably helpful for those who are new to loose tea! Tea-bags played this role previously, as each tea-bag has the same weight of tea in it, and many who are new to loose tea may be uncertain of how to get the same consistency of flavor that they had with their teabags. If they control for time and temperature, measuring tea by weight allows them to make their favorite brew consistently.

There are more questionable up-sells, but they can be acceptable if the customers understand that there are alternatives. For instance take the suggestion that they need a separate clay pot for each style of tea they consume. If well cared for over time, there is a distinct appeal to having a set of well-seasoned clay pots, but is it really the best solution for someone who (say) simply wants to try a variety of teas, and is not yet in the habit of drinking a few styles exclusively? No, it is not. But if after explaining the alternatives, they are still keen on it, there is no harm in selling the extra pots to them.

Or take tea cozies; A tea cozy does indeed help preserve heat, allowing the tea pot to stay warmer longer, and there are less frilly versions available for those uncomfortable with the idea. (For instance, the Art Deco-style teapots that French companies seem to love, which come with lined metal cozies) As long as one admits that there are multiple solutions to most problems (for instance, while less traditional, a vacuum flask actually does a superior job of conserving heat compared to a cozied teapot, so for extended tea-drinking this might be a more practical solution), there is no harm in up-selling.

Of course, there are also money-wasters like hourglasses (can't vary the time) or clear glass tea storage containers (light is bad for tea), but even if you have no control over stocking these items, that doesn't mean you are forced to sell them. There are always other items that might be more helpful that you can focus on.

It's important to keep an open mind in context. Although many retailers are tempted to take advantage of their customers' ignorance rather than to encourage their education, it is possible to honestly make a profit in tea.
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby SlientSipper » Dec 12th, '10, 04:01

That may be so. At first I thought it was amazing to be there. The tea, the customers, the action of always having something to do.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad.

To continue my story.

Well, the next few days were very hectic and busy. I enjoyed sampling. Even though people were occasionally rude to me and/or odd I felt satisfaction from educating people about tea. There were quite strict on drilling me and making me follow the script. How to hold the tray and use open body language to bring people into the store and lead them in using my hand. The sales process was like a triangle. Or a pyramid. It was a well thought out tactic I have to admit but, executing the procedure made me feel so fake and just wrong. But, I told myself that its all a part of the sales process. It was effective for the most part and it seemed like I really learned a lot about socializing with people.
My co-workers were decent folks for the most part. Except for the key holders and the team leads they didn't say it but, they certainly seemed to dislike me or that they were (understandably) impatient with teaching me anything. It was always in the back of my mind that they found me annoying or that I was in the way. I did my best to help and I had so much to learn and so little time to get it all down. Still I gave every effort to make sure I got things right. I refused to be idle and just work as hard as I could to finish off things and do them right. I enjoyed working with them even if they seemed unhappy with me. I felt like I would earn their respect.


That night I worked 9 hours instead of 6. I recall it being terrible. I did not even get a 15 minute break. It was just me and this two faced manager lady named Nancy who was equally exhausted as me. I don't know why it took so long. I gave my full cooperation into the cleaning process. Normally I hate cleaning but, I was motivated and for the first time in my adult life took actual pride in my work. I was sore all over from exhaustion but, I left home happy.
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby SlientSipper » Dec 12th, '10, 20:15

Does anyone care to hear the end of the story or should I take this somewhere else?
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby AdamMY » Dec 12th, '10, 20:38

SlientSipper wrote:Does anyone care to hear the end of the story or should I take this somewhere else?


Well I am not sure why you are doing this in installments with several hours to a day or more between posts. I mean I gather this is all in the past and you are not working at Teavana, and then coming home and writing about the day.

To be fair that last part you shared sounded like a bad day, and I feel most people have bad days, in which they seem to be working non stop with zero breaks, etc. So it would be good to share the key points that happened while working there.

I guess I would be more interested in hearing about why you no longer work there. I mean we have an entire thread devoted to talking about certain questionable practices people have witnessed at teavana.
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby Chip » Dec 12th, '10, 23:41

I think we are just sitting and listening, waiting for you to finish your tale.
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby SlientSipper » Dec 13th, '10, 04:01

AdamMY wrote:
SlientSipper wrote:Does anyone care to hear the end of the story or should I take this somewhere else?


Well I am not sure why you are doing this in installments with several hours to a day or more between posts. I mean I gather this is all in the past and you are not working at Teavana, and then coming home and writing about the day.

To be fair that last part you shared sounded like a bad day, and I feel most people have bad days, in which they seem to be working non stop with zero breaks, etc. So it would be good to share the key points that happened while working there.

I guess I would be more interested in hearing about why you no longer work there. I mean we have an entire thread devoted to talking about certain questionable practices people have witnessed at teavana.


Oh but, it was pretty much the same for the next couple of days. I know for that of the 8 days I worked there I only received my 30 min break twice and not once did I get my full break time.

They didn't say it to my face but, I am pretty sure that I walked in on the two managers discussing my flaws. They looked Startled when I stepped into the back room. I had to get something so I didn't think too much of it at the time. I was told I had to learn the script first and then add my own bits of personality to the sales process. I felt confident that I learned it. I always reviewed the bullet points to customers and I did take a liberal amount of my own opinions to them. At the end of the following days I felt proud for working so hard and learning this so fast. but, then I had a feeling in the back of my mind that this would not last long. I didn't want to pay any attention to those thoughts because I was enjoying myself and attributed it to overacting. Oh sure I wasn't perfect but, I was confident and everyday I could see improvements in my work.
At the same time I noticed that they didn't seem to happy with me. Like I was some burden but, they never out right said it. Not until the very end. Which leads to my last day...


The moment you've all been waiting for.


THE LAST DAY!

So I got off early from my other job. I took a fair long nap that day because I wanted to be ready and rested for the day ahead.
I got in still somewhat groggy but, good enough. Jill the General manager lady approached me and told me that she needed me to be at the sample carts. Saying that I would be needed at there because I am good at it. She told me it was like a promotion and gave me a high five. Infact. Every time I spoke with her it almost always ended in a high five or some other upbeat gesture. It was always very brief though. I can still picture her praising me and making me feel valuable but, as soon as she left I was like "really?" But, I stood there and did pretty much what she told me to do. I followed her routine of luring customers in by holding that little tray and using open body language to invite customers in.
The whole act went like this. I'd stand at the outside of the store and wait for people to walk by. I'd greet them and say "Hey what's up? Try some of our amazing tea" If they said no then I would ask "Are you sure?" Then let them walk away. If they tried a sample I'd have a 30 second conversation with them and say "Hey come into the store" and lead them to the cast Iron tea pots and explain all the crap as I lead them to the counter. I gotta admit it was rather effective. I spend most of the day doing that. Then as things were cooling off I got to move around and do my usual duties I got my second and last lunch break.
I came back from break and I had a strong feeling that something was off but, I didn't know what. I finally got the cash register down and told Nancy that I had got it done right without any help. She sarcastically congratulated me and told me to get in the back and fill out the crudely made sign in sheet. I did all that I could remember to fill in for the days that I was not on the computer. It took 3 days to get logged in on the computer and they had me working before that could get started. The blame for me not getting on that system is partly my fault for my spotty wifi and theirs for being too busy to get that done. I didn't want to rush them so I figured I'd do it when they were ready. Once I was done I got back to the floor and started talking with people in the store.
Nancy looked pissed and politely told me to go back to the back room and stay there. It was becoming clear.


The following leaves me uncertain of whether I deserved my termination or not.
So there I was. In the break room. Nancy came in. Her cheer was gone. She had a serious tone in her voice. "So how do you think your doing in this job?" she asked me with her arms folded.
"Great" I said back as I explained all the progress I thought I was making.
She sighed deeply, " Jill and I were discussing your performance and we think that you are not suited for our business model" I wasn't quite sure where this was heading. I was not fully aware of what she said. Was I getting a warning? Was my first thought.
"I love this job I'm making great progress and while I'm not perfect I feel that I have earned my place here and I do not know what the problem is"
I responded honestly.
"See, Jill and I notice that you are like 'fighting the team' We tell you to do something and you say you know but, you don't. This is not something that Jill or I could help you with." She told me.
"So... I'm fired then.." I lowered my head. Finally accepting what I had denied for long enough.
"Yes..." she uttered as she handed me the paper and looked over it.
"So, your not going to write me up or give me a last day or anything?"
I asked almost begging.
"I don't have the time or place for that and we were going to let you go after Christmas anyway because you were hired for that." She said dismissing my question. Lastly I asked her about my final paycheck. I filled out the paper work for direct deposit and was willing to accept it being mailed to me or whatever. She assured me that she is good at making sure that people get paid and that she won't screw me over as she handed me her business card and told me to call her.
She handed me the schedule and told me that I forgot about this day and that or something. She used that as a ammo for her argument. I did forgot two days to mark on that list. I had no desire to argue. I just wanted to go home. I told her that I had nothing further to say.
She told me that she had to leave the store with me. As if to escort me out. I walked out of the store. She bid the rest of the crew a cheerful good night and exchanged pleasantries with them while I stared at the Celedon tea that I was going to buy my mom for Christmas. It felt like forever standing there. I really did want to go home. I felt ashamed. I wanted to tell her to hurry up because I was not on her clock anymore.
I couldn't bare to face her either. I felt, betrayed, enraged, depressed worthless, used, guilty and really really confused. I kept my head down as she walked behind me. She uttered something that ended with "sir" as I walked out the exit hall alone...


The next day I lost the card on accident. I could go to the place of employment to pick up my last check. I spent some of my time reading the labor laws of my state. As it turns out. The employer has 3 days to give me my check. Its been two days already. She should really call me as she has all the info needed. she just needs my signature. I don't know what to do from here or what to make of myself right now.

Okay now its your turn to speak. Tell what you all make of this. :|
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby skilfautdire » Dec 13th, '10, 07:15

Well, the next time I stumble upon someone working at a store in a shopping mall (I got to shopping malls maybe three times a year) I will remember that this person could also be a person who knows how to write a good story.

Although there's something seemingly missing. You felt you were good, you had sales (which is an aim at this job) but nevertheless they thought otherwise, pin-pointing paper work.

There is one thing I noticed right at the beginning of your story: I walked into the Teavana store and found myself teaching the manager about teas. I bought some as well.

Usually, 99% of the time, managers do not like learning stuff by people they consider 'lower' than them. They have forcefully realized something in their life which pushed them to be/apply for manager, but that does not necessarily mean that they know a lot about the details of the product they are managing. They often also realize this thin line where one who knows actually a lot more and have the natural drive to be good and eventually become a better manager than they are, can be a threath, especially if the person, in addition to the knowledge, is good at relating/enticing people, eg. socializing.

So perhaps, you were simply too good for that job, in the near/long term :)
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby Geekgirl » Dec 13th, '10, 13:30

:roll:
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby entropyembrace » Dec 13th, '10, 14:23

Sounds like they decided they didn´t want to pay for extra Christmas help afterall.
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby TwoPynts » Dec 13th, '10, 14:52

tough break, but it doesn't sound like something you should take to personally. That is hard when you give it your all it doesn't seem to be enough, but it does sound like they just needed an excuse to let you go because they decided that they didn't need the extra holiday help after all. Chin up!
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby Chip » Dec 13th, '10, 19:36

The best advice I could come up with, "live and learn." Learn from the experience even if it does not seem to make much sense at the moment.

Managers also love/need a scape goat, perhaps this was the case ... and once targeted, it is tough to change the tide.

Anyway, it truly is not worth allowing the short and albeit bad experience working for Teavana to jade how you feel about tea and the tea industry in general. You were less in the tea industry and more in a high pressure retail sales position that happened to include tea.
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby SlientSipper » Dec 13th, '10, 21:04

Chip wrote:The best advice I could come up with, "live and learn." Learn from the experience even if it does not seem to make much sense at the moment.

Managers also love/need a scape goat, perhaps this was the case ... and once targeted, it is tough to change the tide.

Anyway, it truly is not worth allowing the short and albeit bad experience working for Teavana to jade how you feel about tea and the tea industry in general. You were less in the tea industry and more in a high pressure retail sales position that happened to include tea.



Quite so. Matter of fact I will even go as far as to finish off the remainder of tea I obtained from that store and I will still be a member of this fine board.

One issue and one question still remain though...

They have not given me my first and final paycheck. It has been slightly over the legal allotted time for them to give me my money.
Thus, they have broken a labor law.

Lastly, what should I do with my last paycheck?
What should I spend it on? Any suggestions?
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby iannon » Dec 13th, '10, 22:55

Bad Managers dont like to learn somethig from an employee..and poor Managers like scapegoats. Good Managers surround themselves with the best (aka: Building the best Team) and people who CAN teach them something. Good Managers always shoulder the responsibility for the team.
just sayin...
yea..I'm a Manager :lol:
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Re: Teavana's Traumatizing & Treachous Tactics

Postby Chip » Dec 13th, '10, 23:10

iannon wrote:Bad Managers dont like to learn somethig from an employee..and poor Managers like scapegoats. Good Managers surround themselves with the best (aka: Building the best Team) and people who CAN teach them something. Good Managers always shoulder the responsibility for the team.
just sayin...
yea..I'm a Manager :lol:

Of course there are GOOD managers as well. But it seems Teavana has their share of bad ones. :mrgreen:
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