Too Much Ice, Gotta Sue
Have you ever been into Starbucks on a sweltering day to get a nice cool iced drink? You want to have something that’s going to help keep you cool and refresh you, so you order one of their iced drinks. When it arrives, most people are happy with the beverage and the cool relief it can provide. Of course, there are always some who are outraged that there is too much ice in the iced drink they ordered.
While it is true that there may be some egregious examples of companies falsely advertising their products, Starbucks clearly states that there will be ice in the drink. The problem, at least in the eyes of some, stems from their being too much ice in those drinks.
Stacey Pincus filed a complaint that was 29 pages long and that claimed that the cup sizes at Starbucks were deceiving to the customers since when ice is added to a beverage, it will mean that there is less of the coffee that can be added. Pincus claimed that this meant customers were getting less for their money. In addition, the complaint also mentioned that the cold drinks typically cost more than the hot drinks, so the company was making more money from those who were buying the iced drinks.
It’s important to realize that Pincus is not the only person who is perturbed by having too much ice in their cold drinks. In June of 2016, Alexander Forouzesh filed for a class action lawsuit against Starbucks, alleging the same thing – the ice in the coffee means that they are receiving less of the actual coffee product, which he thinks is deceitful and false advertising. However, U.S. district judge Percy Anderson decided against allowing this suit to continue.
He said, “If children have figured out that including ice in a cold beverage decreases the amount of liquid they will receive, the Court has no difficulty concluding that a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into thinking that when they order an iced tea, that the drink they receive will include both ice and tea and that for a given size cup, some portion of the drink will be ice rather than whatever liquid beverage the consumer ordered.”
Judge Anderson also said that since the cups being used were clear, they customers could see how much ice they were receiving. Starbucks has already said that a customer can request less ice if they want. They had sent out a tweet in April 2015 that said, “You can order light ice or extra ice on any of our iced beverages.”
However, in San Francisco, things went a bit differently for Starbucks. The judge in a similar case, Thelton Henderson, said that a lawsuit could go forward because, “This is not a case where the alleged deception is simply implausible as a matter of law. The court finds it probable that a significant portion of the latte-consuming public could believe that a ‘Grande’ contains 16 ounces of fluid.”
While everyone wants a nice big cold drink, most do realize that ice will diminish the amount of liquid they get. It’s likely that we will see many more of these types of suits in the future.