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American woman sues Starbucks over the proportion of ice in their iced drinks

She is seeking damages and restitution, potentially on behalf of anyone in America who’s bought an iced drink at Starbucks since 2006.

Starbucks AT&T Source: Associated Press

A LAWSUIT IN an American court claims Starbucks regularly overfills its cold drinks with ice instead of using the advertised amount of coffee or other liquid in its plastic cups.

The lawsuit was filed last week in Chicago, on behalf of Stacy Pincus, a local woman who accuses Starbucks of misleading consumers.

The lawsuit alleges that an iced beverage advertised at 24 ounces (710 millilitres) contains about 14 ounces (414 millilitres) of fluid, and that ice isn’t a fluid or beverage.

The lawsuit states:

A Starbucks customer who orders and pays for a cold drink receives much less than advertised — often nearly half as many fluid ounces…

Pincus’ civil complaint, filed in the US District Court for Northern Illinois, alleges that this is “by design and corporate practice and procedure.”

The lawsuit seeks class-action status, which could allow it to cover a potentially enormous group of individuals, namely:

“All persons in the United States of America who purchased one or more of Defendant’s Cold Drinks at any time between April 27, 2006 and the present.”

Among other things, the lawsuit seeks damages, restitution and lawyers’ fees.

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starbuckssuit Source: US District Court Northern Illinois

“Ice is not a ‘fluid,’” the complaint explains. “Water expands when frozen. Thus, when it melts, less ounces will remain…”

As Starbucks has recognized in the past, a reasonable consumer does not wait to consume that drink; rather, the reasonable consumer purchases a Starbucks drink to consume it at or very near the time of purchase.
Given the foregoing, Plaintiff and the Class were induced by Starbucks into purchasing the Cold Drinks at artificially inflated prices, which they would not have purchased or paid as much for the Cold Drinks, had they known the truth about the amount of fluid ounces of the ordered drink actually present in the Cold Drink.

The lawsuit alleges:

As a direct and proximate result of Starbucks’ conduct, Plaintiff and the Class have suffered injury in fact and lost money or property.

For its part, Starbucks said the lawsuit is without merit, with spokesperson Jaime Riley today stating:

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.

You can read the civil complaint in full, here.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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