I found this thread after a particularly difficult day I had at work at Teavana. Let me preface that I am no longer working for Teavana, in fact, I wanted to put some distance from my leaving the company before coming here to voice my opinion. I will not go out of my way to slam the company, however, many of the harsh things that have been written about Teavana that was experienced by former/current employees and customers posted here - appear accurate based on what I know by working at Teavana.
Back in February, I had a very bad day at Teavana with low sales goals, management on my back, and demanding customers. It really stressed me out and upset me very much. I was disheartened by the constant micromanagement of the GM and AGM beating on me and everyone else about sales, and extremely competitive nature of my fellow co-workers. I became paranoid over my sales, went into a sales zombie like mode to convince people that they NEEDED a cast iron tea pot, a POUND(s) of tea, particularly 'indicator teas' (the most expensive teas). But deep down inside, as a lifelong tea lover, I knew that my sales pitch script was not entirely truthful and it was manipulative.
I went home that evening and did an internet search on 'Teavana and unhappy employees', and found this website and thread. I was utterly shocked by what I read from the original poster... but I also was relieved to read his/her experience because it made me realize that my ordeal wasn't an isolated situation. The atmosphere of working at a tea store, under the name of Teavana, is very tense, it shouldn't be that way because IT'S JUST TEA! To make it worse, with all the beautiful Buddha statues and Buddhist themes in the store (and I happen to be Buddhist), the high pressure sales and tension contradicts this zen aura of the stores.
In the two years that I worked at Teavana, I went from barista to a manager in training position. I took the promotion just for the money and management experience, but it turned out to be more hassle than it was worth. Teavana does promote from within, but that's only because of such a high turnover. They can't keep anyone! I've been in retail sales off and on for nearly 20 years, and I have never seen such turnover, and so quickly. We constantly hired really nice and fun people who either already loved tea, or people new to tea and wanted to learn more about it and sell it. It was so frustrating coming into work only to find out that someone we hired weeks or days before, just up and quit. People were also fired too for low sales. Case in point: An employee can have sales of over $4000 a week, BUT it is the avg ticket total that could get them fired. If the ATT is below $45, and after counseling and being written up for it and it doesn't improve - the person is fired. Regardless of how much they like their job and recited the scripts perfectly, and have high total dollar amount sales, it is the avg ticket and the dreadful 'tin ratio' (# of XL tins sold/week) that kills a person's career at Teavana if goals are not met. Single cups of teas destroy an employee's ATT, some stores refuse to sell cups of tea out of fear of low ATTs. A guy at my store just gave some away free to avoid ringing up a cheap cup of Earl Grey at $2.99 under his register ID. Other employees rang up single cups of tea under other people's ID to avoid getting a low ATT.
I have so many issues and concerns about the nature of the business of Teavana, but I'll just wrap it up quickly with the following:
*The goal of Teavana is the sales of pounds of the 'indicator teas' (expensive), by the pound, in a XL tin, with preferably a cast iron pot.
*Employee must stick to the sales pitch script, which has been meticulously drafted, to overwhelm the customer with information and to make them believe everything the sales person is telling them - all to maximize sales. At any cost. Upsell at every opportunity. Mgmt is watching you to make sure you are upselling or Top-down selling. They will talk to you afterwards about what they witnessed. If you did not maximize the sell, you were going to get an earful.
*Teavana thinks that many of its customers, especially those new to loose leaf teas, need to be properly educated by a Teavana associate on how to make tea and which tea to drink. This concept is not so bad, and I understand where they are coming from, but when the customer's naivete is being taken advantage of, that's where I have issues with. Teavana believes that the customer doesn't know what's good for them, it's our job to educate them and take as much money from them that we can.
*Loud music in the store allows us to project our voices so we can sound commanding and be energetic and talk about 'Isn't this amazing tea, it will suppress your appetite and it will taste GREAT in this cast iron'!!
*We even learn how to counter objections, we constantly role played! When I started to get good at this, I felt guilty because my training was settling into my psyche and I was selling something to someone by any means necessary. You shouldn't have to convince or manipulate anyone to buy something, especially TEA.
*Teavana does care about the employees... as long as you are selling for them. You will be promoted, given stores, and a good salary, if you're great at manipulating your customers into buying tea and cast iron pots.
I don't harbor any resentment towards Teavana, and I do wish the company well. But I can't go back into the stores, knowing what I know and knowing how I will be treated going in there as a customer. The tea is too costly for me now as I was accustomed to the 40% discount. The store that I was hired at is foreign to me as I don't recognize anyone there. Everyone is gone. I went into the store the other day to see if the GM was there, but she was transferred. The guy at the sample cart didn't know me and went into the tea selling diatribe that I pitched, but he was extremely desperate sounding and hard core. I cringe to think that i was like that. I had to raise my voice at him to get a word in to tell him, 'Hey dude, I used to work here. I'm here to see X'. He said she had been transferred.
It's a big world out there, and lots of other really nice places to buy great loose leaf tea.