Starbucks Class Action Put on Ice

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 29, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A tall is a small, a grande is a medium, a venti is a large -- a trente is too much coffee and a short isn't worth the bother. These are Starbucks truths that we all know. But when you're ordering an iced two-pump no fat caramel latte, just how much ice is too much ice for your tall, grande, or venti? This we may never know, now that a federal judge has tossed a proposed class action accusing Starbucks of putting too much ice in their drinks.

Plaintiffs had accused the coffee company of robbing them of their promised amounts of java by over-icing, resulting in drinks that "contain significantly less product than advertised." But U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson killed their coffee class action dreams, tossing the suit and saying that not even a child would be deceived by Starbucks' ice usage.

That 24 Ounce Drink Is 6 Ounces of Ice!

The class action claimed that Starbucks "systematically defrauds its customers" by "underfilling" cups with liquid and overfilling them with ice. Since Starbucks advertised its cold venti drinks as 24 ounces, the scorned Starbucks swiggers alleged, including less than 24 ounces of liquid was fraudulent.

Judge Anderson was not amused. Dismissing the case, he wrote:

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.

This conclusion is supported by the fact that the cups Starbucks uses for its Cold Drinks, as shown in the Complaint, are clear, and therefore make it easy to see that the drink consists of a combination of liquid and ice.

A reasonable consumer, the court found, would know that the sizes given for an iced drink referred not just to liquid, but to the combination of liquid and ice.

As Goes California, So Too Illinois?

Alexander Forouzesh, the lead plaintiff in the putative class, says that he is disappointed by the ruling. 'Any child can figure out that they're being deceived by Starbucks, as well,' he said.

The ruling is good news for Starbucks, who faces a similar class action in Illinois. And Starbucks has a reminder for those who are displeased with their ice-to-coffee ratios, but haven't yet filed a class action. ""If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it," the company says.

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