In some ways, I feel Stacy Pincus’s pain. On Friday, I ducked into a Starbucks to get a coffee, ordered a Venti Cold Brew and, since I was on a tight writing deadline, watched with an eagle eye as it was prepared. The barista filled the 24 ounce cup about halfway full before moving over to the ice station. That’s all the coffee I get? I found myself thinking. But then with a perfectly measured plastic scooper, he tossed in an amount of ice that brought my beverage precisely up to the top. Yes, the whole thing looked unsavory, but it was a well-oiled machine with a carefully determined coffee to ice ratio.
But is that fair? Is it an honest policy to include ice in the size of your drinks, especially iced coffee? The aforementioned Ms. Pincus doesn’t believe so. Last Wednesday, she filed a class action lawsuit in Northern Illinois Federal Court alleging that Starbucks misrepresents the fluid ounces of its iced coffee and tea beverages.
“A Starbucks customer who orders a Venti cold drink receives only 14 fluid ounces of that drink — just over half the advertised amount, and just over half the amount for which they are paying,” the lawsuit states according to Courthouse News. In addition, the claim points out that Starbucks charges more for these drinks than the hot versions, making them that much more profitable. “In essence, Starbucks is advertising the size of its cold drink cups on its menu, rather than the amount of fluid a customer will receive when they purchase a cold drink — and deceiving its customers in the process,” the complaint states.
For their part, Starbucks says customers understand what they are getting themselves into. “Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any ‘iced’ beverage,” a spokesperson told The Huffington Post.
If the class action suit is allowed to proceed, it could include a lot of people. Pincus wants to represent anyone who has purchased a cold drink from Starbucks anytime within the past 10 years.