My experience at Teavana.


For general/other topics related to tea.

Postby Cecilia » Jan 8th, '09, 01:43

Pentox wrote:
Cecilia wrote:and after the FOURTH add on pitch, I walked out and went to Lupicia.


Wooo! Good call. I'm guessing you were in Valley Fair / Westfield?


Wow, that's scary. It was only my second post, and I never said where I lived.

Yes, it was that store. It was no reflection on the product or the salespeople.....just the strangeness of making a long line of people wait and wait and wait while spending precious selling time .........wasting time. I mean how many 'nos' does the customer have to say before they are allowed to leave? It seemed very tunnel vision and rigid. I mean, if there's a line, perhaps let the customer go after two 'no's, but it was as if we weren't there.
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Postby Cecilia » Jan 8th, '09, 01:49

scruffmcgruff wrote:I'm no fan of Teavana, but to be fair their store at the Stanford shopping center was not this bad when I went. It may well have changed since then (I'm sure the staff has, it's been a few years), but it might be worth a try if you really like their products and are in the area.


Yes, I've been to the Stanford store, and they are quite reasonable in the way they sell. They asked me if I wanted Tins. They asked me if I wanted 1 lb. And then they moved on. My experiences there have been fine.
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Re: My experience at Teavana.

Postby 10/6 » Jan 8th, '09, 02:50

Salsero wrote:
earthprince wrote: It’s just tea.
In the true spirit of Cha Dao; you couldn't have put it better. "It's just tea" is my favorite tea philosophy in fact.

Great story, thanks for taking the time to share it.


I'm right there with you.
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Postby thejamus » Jan 11th, '09, 14:12

That honestly sounds like the same kind of strategy a lot of retail outfits use when selling expensive electronics. Ten plus years of retail and I'm quite familiar with top-down selling and selling the benefits. Overcome objections, and tie it into their lifestyle. Stuff you often hear about when you're working with high-margin product and services. Really shocked to see that with tea.

Thanks for sharing this story.
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Postby Pentox » Jan 11th, '09, 14:45

Cecilia wrote:Wow, that's scary. It was only my second post, and I never said where I lived.

Yes, it was that store. It was no reflection on the product or the salespeople.....just the strangeness of making a long line of people wait and wait and wait while spending precious selling time .........wasting time. I mean how many 'nos' does the customer have to say before they are allowed to leave? It seemed very tunnel vision and rigid. I mean, if there's a line, perhaps let the customer go after two 'no's, but it was as if we weren't there.


It's not that hard actually. There's only a small handful of Lupicia stores out there, the only one in NorCal in the same area as a Teavana is in Westfield. I wasn't 100% sure about the socal two, but I took a guess.
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Postby Pentox » Jan 11th, '09, 14:47

thejamus wrote:That honestly sounds like the same kind of strategy a lot of retail outfits use when selling expensive electronics. Ten plus years of retail and I'm quite familiar with top-down selling and selling the benefits. Overcome objections, and tie it into their lifestyle. Stuff you often hear about when you're working with high-margin product and services. Really shocked to see that with tea.

Thanks for sharing this story.


The thing that I wonder though is in how aggressive it sounds like they want their employees to be. No matter how high end of an electronics store is when you tell them to back the F*** off they do. It sounds like that's not an acceptable answer at a Teavana.
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Postby RandomCaribou » Jan 13th, '09, 18:17

It pretty much isn't, Pentox.

I worked at Teavana as well, and while I originally was overwhelmed and naively snowed by their pitch (the whole "We want to be a Forbes 100 employer!" bit nabbed me... how altruistic!) the longer I worked there, the more bitter I became.

We literally had cancer patients coming into our shop, asking what they should drink. Some folks almost treated us like doctors. Sure, tea is good for you and has benefits to your health, but Teavana's sales pitches makes it sound like a bloody cure all, and I soon started feeling like a snake oil salesman.

I learned a lot about tea, but mostly on my own. I compiled my own book of research on Teavana's specious health claims, because I was simply not comfortable telling customers "oolong helps you lose weight and black tea reduces your cholesterol" if it really doesn't. For this, I was mocked by fellow employees :P

I can wholeheartedly vouch for the bulk of Teavana's sales practices as they're being described. Getting big scoops, refusing to take no for an answer (the training manual literally and plainly says "if a customer says no, explain to them why they should say yes, and if they say no again, say "are you sure?") upsell upsell upsell... My sales were great not because I followed their ridiculous script, but because I actually listened to what customers wanted and worked on their behalf as much as possible.

I am much happier now, in my local coffee company, where there is a definite interest in tea and an appreciation for employees AND customers. I definitely don't recommend Teavana to anyone.
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Postby wyardley » Jan 13th, '09, 19:45

RandomCaribou wrote:We literally had cancer patients coming into our shop, asking what they should drink. Some folks almost treated us like doctors. Sure, tea is good for you and has benefits to your health, but Teavana's sales pitches makes it sound like a bloody cure all, and I soon started feeling like a snake oil salesman.

I learned a lot about tea, but mostly on my own. I compiled my own book of research on Teavana's specious health claims, because I was simply not comfortable telling customers "oolong helps you lose weight and black tea reduces your cholesterol" if it really doesn't. For this, I was mocked by fellow employees :P


I think the bigger problem here is that Americans want a quick fix to everything, and a lot of times, when they're visiting a tea shop, what they want isn't well crafted / good tasting tea, but rather a quick fix for some real or perceived problem (they want to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, live longer, etc. etc.). Just to play devil's advocate a little, Teavana is basically giving people what they want (albeit in a high-pressured sales pitch kind of way). Is it awful, stupid, and misleading? Of course. But, like most mall chains, they're in the business of making money and pleasing their investors, not trying to make the world a better place. We just have to hope that the folks who make it into Teavana can see through the hype.

Anyway, back to my original point, I have talked to a couple of tea shop owners (in the US) who say that people are constantly coming in wanting to know which kind of tea will provide such and such a benefit. A lot of times, even when they tell them that such claims are often overstated and generally not yet well studied, they still won't give up.

I think it's very possible that drinking tea may have some health benefits, but I don't think those alone are a reason to drink tea. Drink tea because you enjoy it, or because it makes you feel good. If it has some other benefits, so much the better.

The one good thing about stores like Teavana is that they bring people into "the fold", and hopefully, some of those people will eventually get interested in tea in a less casual way, and become interested in learning more about tea (and by tea, I mean whole leaf tea made from the camellia sinensis plant). Anyway, sorry for the long rant, and I'm not trying to defend what they're doing... just pointing out that
Last edited by wyardley on Jan 14th, '09, 21:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby RandomCaribou » Jan 13th, '09, 19:58

I definitely agree that an open door is an open door, no matter how cheap the wood frame may be ;)

But some business practices surrounding tea border on dangerous, in my opinion. For instance, the biggest issue in my mind, is the "mateine" debate. When you're telling people it's okay to drink mate because it's not really caffeine, or it's a "safe" kind of caffeine (I mean telling people that are sensitive to caffeine or pregnant women), that's just plain unethical. I don't believe Teavana blatantly marketed it like that (Though I've been to mate sites that do), but our staff was uneducated enough that they WOULD tell people that - and it was fine, because it resulted in more sales. The same with the sugar we pushed. It's still sugar. Telling people with blood sugar issues or diabetes that it's okay because it's processed differently is practically abusive :/
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Postby disillusioned » Jan 13th, '09, 23:09

RandomCaribou wrote:I definitely agree that an open door is an open door, no matter how cheap the wood frame may be ;)

But some business practices surrounding tea border on dangerous, in my opinion. For instance, the biggest issue in my mind, is the "mateine" debate. When you're telling people it's okay to drink mate because it's not really caffeine, or it's a "safe" kind of caffeine (I mean telling people that are sensitive to caffeine or pregnant women), that's just plain unethical. I don't believe Teavana blatantly marketed it like that (Though I've been to mate sites that do), but our staff was uneducated enough that they WOULD tell people that - and it was fine, because it resulted in more sales. The same with the sugar we pushed. It's still sugar. Telling people with blood sugar issues or diabetes that it's okay because it's processed differently is practically abusive :/



Glad to see another former teavana employee has joined the ranks here
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Postby tissigirl » Jan 14th, '09, 18:16

The few experiences I have had in Teavana stores were not pushy from what I can remember. It's been a few years however. I definately don't remember them pushing the most expensive tea or following me around the store, but maybe I just got lucky. I have ordered from their online store since then, but I will think twice after reading the employee stories. I can get the same pushy sales treatment when purchasing tea in some of the places in China (because there they see americans as uneducated in tea so they just tell you look, green tea, smell, buy...), but at least there I can get the real deal!

I wonder if the word got out about how they're treating their employees and customers, to where the upper management and owners of the company were called out, in a big way (not just on a couple forums) if it would make a big enough stink to change customers' views on the stores...
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Postby Pentox » Jan 14th, '09, 19:44

wyardley wrote:I think the bigger problem here is that Americans want a quick fix to everything, and a lot of times, when they're visiting a tea shop, what they want isn't well crafted / good tasting tea, but rather a quick fix for some real or perceived problem (they want to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, live longer, etc. etc.). Just to play devil's advocate a little, Teance is basically giving people what they want (albeit in a high-pressured sales pitch kind of way). Is it awful, stupid, and misleading? Of course. But, like most mall chains, they're in the business of making money and pleasing their investors, not trying to make the world a better place. We just have to hope that the folks who make it into Teavana can see through the hype.


Um did you actually mean Teavana there, not Teance? My experiences with Teance were actually quite the opposite of the Teavana stories.[/b]
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Postby wyardley » Jan 14th, '09, 21:26

Pentox wrote:
wyardley wrote:I think the bigger problem here is that Americans want a quick fix to everything, and a lot of times, when they're visiting a tea shop, what they want isn't well crafted / good tasting tea, but rather a quick fix for some real or perceived problem (they want to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, live longer, etc. etc.). Just to play devil's advocate a little, Teance is basically giving people what they want (albeit in a high-pressured sales pitch kind of way). Is it awful, stupid, and misleading? Of course. But, like most mall chains, they're in the business of making money and pleasing their investors, not trying to make the world a better place. We just have to hope that the folks who make it into Teavana can see through the hype.


Um did you actually mean Teavana there, not Teance? My experiences with Teance were actually quite the opposite of the Teavana stories.


Yes... corrected the typo. I have only been to Teance once, but my experience wasn't anything like what people are describing about Teavana.
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Postby AKTea » Jan 15th, '09, 16:49

I've only been in Teavana once and bought two teas that, to this day, I love- Earl Grey Creme and Jasmine Phoenix Pearls. Though, reading this account of Tevana's sales pitch and thinking back on my one visit the guy that helped me followed the sales plan perfectly. I didn't buy a cast iron pot but I got tins, and I got some very expensive tea. The guy was friendly and fun to talk to so I won't say it was a bad experience. Since then I've received quite a few Teavana teas as gifts and have not been unhappy with them. Some I like more than others but overall they've been good. The best teas I've ever bought have been from small, locally owned stores in the cities I've visited.

That said, this story makes me hesitate to shop at Teavana again. I own a business myself and I absolutely HATE high pressure sales. At one point there was a competing business here and I constantly heard from people about their high pressure sales experience and how, ultimately, they were very dissatisfied with their purchase. I could make a lot more money in my store if I chose to sell that way but my joy in being in retail is selling people what they want and knowing they're happy. My various reps like to give me a hard time about it but doing things the way I do I sleep with a clear conscience every night.

I mostly shop for tea when I travel since I have no real tea stores here. I hate trying to shop for tea over the internet. I love going in the shops, smelling, sampling, chatting with other tea enthusiests. Not to mention that shipping to Alaska can be stupid expensive. Teavana has been handy but I'll look for the local shops!
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yuck

Postby Alias » Jan 21st, '09, 19:15

Thanks so much for the post. Amazing, but horrible story. You can bet I won't be making any purchases from Teavana. I have only been to one Teavana store and I do recall the cashier trying to sell me more tea and in a tin. I told him I had my own tins at home and I wasn't interested. No pressure tactic from him, but I can see how some people would cave in and make those large purchases.
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