Starbucks sued over amount of ice in cold drinks

CHICAGO • A Chicago woman is suing Starbucks for more than US$5 million (S$6.7 million), claiming the coffee giant is underfilling its popular hand-blended iced coffee, tea and other drinks, making customers overpay for beverages.

In a lawsuit seeking a jury trial and class action status, Ms Stacy Pincus - in alleging false advertising and consumer fraud - accuses the world's biggest coffee retailer of serving its customers "much less than advertised". "As a result of this practice, Starbucks' cold drinks contain significantly less product than advertised, by design and corporate practice and procedure," according to the suit filed last week.

Starbucks baristas typically fill cold-drink cups to the top black line printed on the cups and the rest with ice. Since April 2006, Ms Pincus claims, she and millions of other Starbucks customers have been defrauded because an iced drink touted as containing 24 ounces actually has only about 14 ounces of fluid.

Ms Pincus is also challenging Starbucks' pricing, saying it charges more for cold drinks than hot ones. "Essentially, Starbucks is not only underfilling its cold drinks compared to how they are advertised, but it is charging a premium price for them as well."

Starbucks dismissed the suit as "frivolous and without merit". "Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any 'iced' beverage," it said in a statement. Starbucks reported US$19.2 billion in net revenue during fiscal 2015. Beverages accounted for 73 per cent of sales last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Starbucks sued over amount of ice in cold drinks'. Print Edition | Subscribe