Starbucks may be getting some love from other cities, but not so much in Chicago as of late. Instead, the coffee giant is facing some serious accusations involving how they prepare their drinks with ice. The issue has gotten quite serious that Starbucks is now facing a lawsuit that could cost them at least $5 million.
The main plaintiff is Stacy Pincus and she doesn’t appreciate how Starbucks has been serving her cold drinks lately. Chicago native Pincus is a regular customer in various Starbucks locations throughout Illinois. And for her, her Cold Drinks have been containing “less, and in many cases, nearly half as many, fluid ounces than claimed by Starbucks.”
According to a copy of the complaint filed by Pincus at the United States District Court For The Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, Cold Drinks happens to be a big business for Starbucks. Millions of these handcrafted iced beverages are sold across its locations every year, contributing significantly to Starbucks 2015 total revenue of $19.2 billion. In fact in 2014, beverage sales made up 73 percent of the Starbucks’ net revenue. That same year, the most profitable beverage for Starbucks was a cold drink, namely the shaken iced tea.
The issue was raised because the company advertises its drink by the fluid ounce. When it comes to cold drinks, however, customers feel shortchanged. The lawsuit alleges that Starbucks has developed a practice that leads to customers receiving less of what they ordered every time they get Cold Drinks.
For drinks with ice, Starbucks has indicated black lines on its cups to serve as a guideline for baristas. The typical practice is to fill the cup up to the top black line before adding large pieces of ice to the top of the cup. According to the lawsuit, this will then allow the cold beverage to “escalate in size depending on the size of the drink.” Moreover, the size of the ice scooper is said to vary, depending on the size of the drink that’s been ordered. This is how Pincus and company was able to prove that the coffee chain is under filling its Cold Drink cups.
This practice is allegedly done to a number of Cold Drinks in the Starbucks menu, including iced coffee, shaken iced tea, shaken iced tea lemonade, Refreshers™, and Fizzio™ handcrafted sodas. Starbucks also happens to charge higher for its Cold Drinks, compared to its handcrafted hot beverages.
From this lawsuit, Starbucks is facing several charges including breach of express warranty, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and fraud. The claims sought are said to be “in excess of $5,000,000.00, exclusive of interest and costs.”
In response to the lawsuit, Starbucks spokesperson Jamie Riley has told CNN, “Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any ‘iced’ beverage. If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it.”
Meanwhile, Starbucks is also reportedly facing a similar issue in California. This time, however, Top Class Actions reports that the coffee giant is being accused of under filling hot lattes.