My experience at Teavana.

For general/other topics related to tea.

Jan 22nd 09 6:36 pm
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by roxypaul » Jan 22nd 09 6:36 pm

Yup. My experience working at Teavana was extremely similar. When we opened, it was great and sales were fun. I was a barista, but my boyfriend never had trouble making his required $60 an hour. Then, there was a new DM hired. She came in one day to "Evaluate" our store. She chewed out our sweet manager, saying that she had a bad fake tan (she was a naturally dark skinned Italian) and that she didn't like her because she looked like her ex boyfriend's new girlfriend. About a week later, our beloved Kristie was fired and the DM hire one of her friends to replace her.

Jess, the new manager, worked with us for about 3 months. She was nice and had the best of intentions, but eventually couldn't stand the pressure and hate comments that Jill (District Manager) was giving her, so she quit. The assistant manager, who was already trained for the job had been told that he would take over. After all, the company does say on it's website that it likes to hire from within. However, Jill decided to hire another one of her good friends. When Kris, the assistant manager found out, he decided to contact HR and higher levels of the company saying that it was a conflict of interest that Jill kept hiring her friends who were untrained, uninterested people to fill jobs that they already had someone readily trained for. When Jill found out what he was doing, he was promptly fired. Then.... for some odd reason... Jill got promoted.

Autumn was the name of the new DM. She was even worse than Jill. I was no longer working at Teavana because I had become involved with one of my coworkers, and I decided to go full time at my other job. My boyfriend however, who had been with the company since it opened in the mall, decided to apply for the assistant manager's position. The new manager had other plans, though. He hired his long time friend to be ASM.

Recently, she confided that the only reason he hired her is because he likes to party and he needed someone to cover for him when he came in in the mornings hungover and throwing up in the trash can.

Also recently, Autumn came in and told us that we're not allowed to be friends with our coworkers. We could not hang out with each other, we could not talk to each other like we were friends, and if the company found out, whoever it was would be fired. Also, no being happy. My friend Christopher was making a tea for a customer and humming some Billy Joel, and she confronted him, telling him that he was "being too happy" and he had to stop. That was when he quit. Right there.

Now I work at the Apple Store, where a lot of employees like Teavana. There's even a drink called "The Stan" at Teavana named after one of our employees that most people at Apple order. Recently, Luigi, the manager came up with the "3 minute rule" Mall employees are only allowed to be at Teavana for 3 minutes before they have to leave. It takes 5 minutes to steep a Stan. Luigi actually makes them wait outside for the tea. This rule however, does not apply to his friends who can hang out and BS however long they want.

Luigi also very recently hired another one of his friends who he apparently goes clubbing with to work at Teavana. I do not see how hiring his friends to fill positions is a conflict of interest. I have so much more I could say about my horrible experiences with Teavana. Like that, when the "new selling style" came through, we lost tons of customers. But I don't feel like writing a book right now. Suffice it to say, I doubt VEEEERRY much that they will ever be on Forbes top 100 companies to work for. They treat their employees very bad, and their regular customers even worse. If only because they would rather have a one time cast iron sale than develop a relationship with someone who will come back again and again because they enjoy it.

That's my piece.


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Jan 22nd 09 9:00 pm
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by bi lew chun » Jan 22nd 09 9:00 pm

roxypaul wrote:That's my piece.
Does TeaChat now have enough ex-Teavana employees to form a team? Thanks a lot for sharing your story.

Jan 22nd 09 11:32 pm
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by tissigirl » Jan 22nd 09 11:32 pm

I find it interesting that out of all the topics and posts about Teavana that no one has come to defend the company. If a company has any decency and the bad experiences are just here and there then it seems like we would have heard a good story or 2 by now. I'd love to forward all these bad stories to a news source of some sort to show the general public how bad it really is.

Jan 23rd 09 5:41 pm
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by disillusioned » Jan 23rd 09 5:41 pm

bi lew chun wrote:
roxypaul wrote:That's my piece.
Does TeaChat now have enough ex-Teavana employees to form a team? Thanks a lot for sharing your story.

Can we be like the A-Team, righting Tea injustices where ever they are found?

Feb 16th 09 12:14 am
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by aemwhy » Feb 16th 09 12:14 am

I work at a Teavana. I wont hustle you if you come in my store. I think it's ridiculous that the book says to 'overcome objections' and to have the customer say 'no' 3 times! I've heard within my store horror stories about the company. But we've never had a problem where I work, our goals are where they should be for our mall traffic, our DM isn't a nightmare... but I think I work in a prodigal store. My GM is completely understanding. All the employees get along fantastically, there's no drama to be dealt with. (that's unheard of in all my history of jobs!!)

I will say that I've visited other Teavana stores and have been treated like crap. I visited one store and was refused my employee discount when buying a cup of tea. I asked for the manager and was treated rudely by the "acting manager" aka key holder. But then she was treating regular customers the same way too. I was told it was "manager's policy" and there was no way for her to know if I really worked for the company. Really? You can clock in from any store on the Teavana system with your name.

Of-course you should take what is told to you about health benefits of anything a salesperson is telling you with a grain of salt. Most of the time, they're just spinning back to you what they've been trained to do and that's all they know about the subject. What really bothers me is when that's all the salesperson knows about the subject, they take that for fact, and take it to heart.

Feb 16th 09 1:13 am
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by shesallthat » Feb 16th 09 1:13 am

I also work at Teavana and my experience has been very good. Even though I can completely understand what some posters have written...and totally believe it to be true, my store experience is also different. First off I too love my store manager. He is great. He is for the most part very fair and all of the employees get along very well and some of us dare I say it are good friends. I am very sensitive to the needs of customers and would not dream of being pushy to a customer. I know what the manual says and I have never seen anyone in my store "overcome objections" or fill tins so that the customer doesn't know what's going on. I never even recommend the high end teas and I would never recommend Gyokoro unless a customer specifically asks for it. I mention the tins at the end of my sale but never push it or make a big deal of it if they say no. And I'm not a doctor or a dream weaver. If a customer thinks they can lose tons of weight with the weight lost blend I practically talk them out of it unless they are doing Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I think Teavana serves a purchase...maybe its not the greatest tea out there or the cheapest but it is definitely a step above Lipton and even more and for those folks its great. Come to my store - you will leave with a smile and still have change to spare. :)

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Feb 16th 09 8:38 pm
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by nimpercent » Feb 16th 09 8:38 pm

What a horrible and yet familiar story. Not to get off topic, but Blockbuster Video (Media now) is exactly the same thing put into a video and electronics standpoint. Even down to the corporate manager watching and critiquing you while you work. I have been working there a long time and just ignore whatever corporate or my managers tell me to do. Unlike you, I have long since lost any enthusiasm for the store and only care about getting my paycheck and doing the least amount of work possible. Most of my managers are the same way. This is because of the ridiculous standards set forth for sales. There is no way in heck we could ever meet them, so why even try if we are going to get yelled at anyway?

Anywho, about Teavana. They introduced me to teas and I enjoy some of their selection of greens and oolongs. That being said, I don't listen to all of the health benefits and upselling. Tea is an awesome drink, and, like Kool-aid, has many great and tasty varieties. If some studies show it is healthy, cool - an added bonus.

To sum up, I feel your pain.

Feb 16th 09 10:34 pm
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by disillusioned » Feb 16th 09 10:34 pm

Isn't it interesting how 2 teavana employees join the site on the same day both post things in teavanas defense but post nowhere else on the site. suspicious to say the least

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Feb 16th 09 11:09 pm
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by horsencl » Feb 16th 09 11:09 pm

I'm always suspicious when things like that happen too. But then I get accused of being cynical so I kept my mouth shut this time around.

Feb 16th 09 11:20 pm
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by disillusioned » Feb 16th 09 11:20 pm

horsencl wrote:I'm always suspicious when things like that happen too. But then I get accused of being cynical so I kept my mouth shut this time around.

well now there are 2 of us, so either we are both cynical or it is all smells fishy to me

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Feb 17th 09 1:23 am
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by Drax » Feb 17th 09 1:23 am

disillusioned wrote:
horsencl wrote:I'm always suspicious when things like that happen too. But then I get accused of being cynical so I kept my mouth shut this time around.

well now there are 2 of us, so either we are both cynical or it is all smells fishy to me
*laugh* don't worry, I thought the same thing. I was trained to be a cynic through many years of higher learning, though, so I use that as "my excuse" :D

Feb 17th 09 3:05 am
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by Dreamer » Feb 17th 09 3:05 am

Well, I would guess that Teavana is like any other larger business entity...they have goals to make money (else why even have a business) and there are people involved. It could be that for some of their locations the goals are unreasonable and the directors/managers are under a LOT of pressure. And I suspect that the work atmosphere at any particular store is heavily influenced by the particular management at that store...if the manager is a goat, it won't be pleasant to work there. If the manager at the store is a great person, but he really needs his job and his boss is a goat, that yuck may well flow down even if the manager is a great person.

It is good customer service for a salesperson to help the customer discover what the store has to offer. In the same way a well designed website will help the user find out what the vendor has to offer and what makes the vendor's particular product special or unique (e.g. our tea comes from the exclusive yah-yah estate), what items combine well with other items (e.g. this pot would be especially useful for brewing gyokuro) and will reveal any special offers or discounts (e.g. free shipping on orders over $50). If a website has all this info, we call it well-designed and helpful. Teaching salespeople something as simplistic as get 3 "no's" is a way to make sure they do any customer service at all...some people don't feel comfortable talking to customers at all...a simple "go for 3 no's rule" can get the salesperson past that. That keeps the salesperson from hiding behind the counter just waiting to take your money...or the worse alternative they stand behind the counter, don't speak and just stare while you walk around the store!

A great salesperson can really increase the value of your purchase. I am not normally a high-end shopper...Macy's is about as exclusive as I get and I don't normally shop in the designer sections there even. Several years ago I visited a higher end dress store and found a nice (but plain) dress on sale there. This was not the type of store I normally had real salespeople not just cash register clerks. As I was getting ready to pay for my purchase, the saleswoman asked if I had seen a particular scarf that complimented the dress. She went to get it...I am sure that I had a look on my face that told her that I wouldn't know how to utilized the scarf at all. She showed me a couple of ways to use it around the neck and a way to use it as a belt. The scarf transformed the rather plain dress into a really nice outfit. Of course I bought the scarf too. Her helpfulness really increased the value of my plain on-sale dress...sure the store made some more money, but I went away a much happier customer! Some might call that pushy, I thought it was terrific. I wish I could afford to shop there all the time!!!

At the two local Teavana stores near me, I've always found the sales people helpful and attentive.

For example, on Saturday when I was in there looking at tea ware, when I indicated I liked a particular style of cup, but not the color, she found me something similar in another color. When I was looking at teapots and indicated I didn't particularly like dragons, she pointed out a pot on a high shelf. I indicated that I thought it looked a too large for my needs, but she got a ladder and got it down for me. Yep, it was large (but I did like the shape). She did NOT try to talk me into it at all. She asked if I had tried the new teas they were sampling on the inside of the store, I got to try 3 new teas and 2 new blends. At some point she mentioned something like if I bought a teapot I could get a discount on tea I purchased that day.

I finally decided on a half-price gaiwan (that I had spotted in the first few minutes I was in the store, but I had not picked it up or let her far a she knew I wasn't going to buy anything). As I checked out she asked if I needed any tea or rock sugar.

I did not feel as if any of this was pushy; rather I thought it was helpful, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. Whenever I have shopped for teas there, I don't remember the sales people talking about health benefits much at seems as if they only had words to say that I already knew (don't forget, tea is a pretty healthy beverage...most people are sucking down colored, highly caffeinated, HFCS water at such an alarming rate that our country is on the cusp of an unimaginable health crisis...the cost of treating type 2 diabetes is zooming and is expected to rise exponentially in the next decade or so). Their written "tea menu", does talk about various health benefits of their teas, but I think they are pretty reasonable there.

Teavana was my "gateway" to loose leaf teas and where I live it is pretty much the only place at all to shop in person for tea or tea ware. I got my first matcha wasn't the best, but it wasn't horrible either. I got my first sencha there, it wasn't as good as what I've discovered since then, but it was leagues better than anything one might find in a tea bag at the grocery store!!! There are a couple of blends from there that I really enjoy...every time I sip a cup I think how glad I am that they are in my town!

It is great customer service to ask questions to find out if the customer has a need you can help fulfill. If you discover such a need and offer an appropriate solution, everybody goes away happy. If not, the customer should still go away feeling as if they've been listened to and take care of and are valued. I teach this in my business. It is all about caring for people!!!

At any particular store, they will probably either get things worked out or go out of business...that is the way of the world. If the top of the company needs to learn more, they will either learn more or be out of business...I always say "isn't it lucky that I can get smarter any time I want to?" They can get smarter, too.

I hope they get it all worked out and stay around. If there is a Teavana in your town, go on in, taste some tea, look at some beautiful or don't buy, it can't hurt to look around!

Sorry to go on so long...I've had a tough day...freshman college daughter (math major) called crying that she hates her classes and got a D on her first calculus test...writing this long thing (while drinking some sweet gyokuro) has helped calm my mind. Too bad I can't talk her into really giving green tea a could calm her mind too!


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Feb 17th 09 11:03 am
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Never take the blame for others mismanagement

by johnoed » Feb 17th 09 11:03 am

Dear EarthPrince,

Thank you for the post it was a very good read. The most interesting fact out the whole piece was that Teavana's business model is to sell loose tea for home brewing and teapots instead of following the Starbucks business model of selling cups of coffee.

It's very sad to hear that the owner's are just finger pointers instead of real managers. You were just the next target of their mismanagement due mostly to a failing business model.

I hope this experience didn't scar you to much and you continue to pursue your education. Remember to never take the blame for others mismanagement.


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by augie » Feb 18th 09 3:30 am

EP: I know everything you are saying about Teavanna's business model is true. I have had that exact experience in my 3 trips to Teavanna and I vowed, months ago, not to shop there anymore.

1. All the teaware is VERY overpriced and in expensive sets I won't use. You want 1 teacup, you have to knock down a pushy salesperson to go to the corner of the store and look.

2. They are SO busy trying to divvy up who sold what to whom, when checking you out. I just felt "sold". The store manager locally has all the fine qualities of "slick" the used car salesman at J D Byrider . . .

3. Yes, the upselling thing . . . you're saving 10% by buying an $82 lb tea today. (OMG, 10%, I can't believe it!)

And in Schaumburg IL I actually had the "eyerolling" experience when I asked them to brew a cup of tea!!! (I thought she was just a being a B1t8H) There is absolutely no service at Teavanna -- they are completely straight-forward about their practice of treating each person who enters as a sucker.

Don't loose any sleep EP -- concentrate on your education! Thx for posting, now I know I'm not crazy!!!

Feb 19th 09 1:49 am
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by Ebtoulson » Feb 19th 09 1:49 am

just thought it was ironic that i got an email the other day saying "Teavana CARES"