The triumph of the American legal system

The global coffee giant, Starbucks, is being sued for $5million over the amount of ice it puts in its iced drinks.

Stacy Pincus alleges that customers are being misled because the chilled beverages contain just over half the drink they are paying for.

An interesting thought really. Is ice part of a drink or not?

For example, in the UK, if you wanted ice in your beer in a pub then the ice would have to come in a separate glass. To put it into the pint itself would mean serving a short measure.

Still, shows that the US has solved all other problems, eh? Nothing left to argue about except ice in drinks.

23 thoughts on “The triumph of the American legal system”

  1. Actually, shouldn’t the title be ‘the disaster of the American education system’ since it failed to educate people that iced coffee contains…ice?

  2. As you say, the pub thing is purely on the “Weights and Measures” Acts things to stop the landlord watering the beer. And putting the ice in the beer would be a criminal offence, rather than a civil tort.

    But it only applies to the regulated volumes. When I’m drinking soft drinks in a bar (usually because I’m in an airport and I’m driving at the other end), I’ll order my pint of orange juice and lemonade without ice. Because even if I would prefer it a little chilled, I’ve a greater preference for a pint of the drink rather than half a pint and half a pint of ice.

    Equally, I have a set of “whisky stones” at home, for cooling whisky if we ever get to summer, without diluting it.

    Julia, I don’t think it is stupidity, I think it is malicious opportunism.

  3. When I used to buy cola in places like Burger King, (the kids are grown up). I always asked for smaller drinks with no ice, so that I would end up with a reasonable drink. I never thought to try and do them for loads of compo.

  4. Mmmm…. Very little of the cost to Starbucks, of a cup of coffee, is the ingredients. It’s mostly labour & overheads. The same labour & overheads there’ll be on the ice.
    So the difference in the value received by the customer, between iced & non-iced coffee, is trivial.

  5. I have it on good authority that every Starbucks coffee, iced or otherwise, contains (and you won’t believe this)… water. And water is just MELTED ICE.

    Wake up sheeple!

  6. OT, but what is it with the Brits & coffee? Last time I bought coffee in a french supermarché I got 4 x 250g packs for 4,50€. Own brand. GrandMere brand was a few cents more, but is probably the same coffee as found in the own brand packs. Certainly tastes the same.
    The cheapest coffee in my UK supermarket was £1.69 for 250g. Way over 2€. But that hides at the end of the shelf, alongside the wankery of a couple dozen packs claiming to be Colombian Extra Roast or whatever. At over 2 quid. Most Brits douse their coffee with milk. How would you tell the difference?
    Double the price in the UK. Why? Veblen goods?

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “OT, but what is it with the Brits & coffee?”

    Whatever else you can say about the British, no matter how dumb you think they are, there are actually a lot of dumber people out there:

    Although kopi luwak is a form of processing rather than a variety of coffee, it has been called one of the most expensive coffees in the world with retail prices reaching €550 / US$700 per kilogram,[8] close to the €850 / US$1,100 price of Black Ivory coffee.

    I have tried it. Doused in milk I could not tell the difference.

  8. As a teetotaller I drink a lot of soft drinks in pubs, and I always say ‘no ice’ for exactly the reason in this case – I’m fed up with paying for half the drink I ordered. I’m wondering if you’d have a case for a suit against a pub if you ordered a ‘pint of orange juice and lemonade’ and got half a pint of it plus a lot of ice you hadn’t asked for. Any alcoholic drinks sold with ice (Magners for example) are measured, and the ice comes separately, so why are soft drinks consumers being short changed?

  9. BiS I recall reading Willie Rushton was in France and when offered coffee, had expectations that a convoluted and arcane process was about to be witnessed. And was somewhat taken aback by 3 heaped tablespoons of Maxwell House in a jug and added boiling water. I’ve kept to that creed ever since and a 200g jar of supermarket instant fits the bill for my early morning heart starter.

  10. Jim,

    Because the law (the Weights and Measures Acts) says that draft beer and cider (and wine and some spirits) must be served in specific measures.

    It doesn’t say anything about soft drinks. You might have a case under (mis-)representation of goods but the remedies available in the UK aren’t (yet) at the catastrophic levels that trivial USian cases seem to reach.

  11. @Machiavelli

    Oh, I just couldn’t. We’re all different, aren’t we? I detest instant coffee. I mean, I don’t care if you or anyone else drinks it; it doesn’t affect me, but I hate the slightly cotton-mouth taste it gives me. I usually stick to Santa Cristina or similar (BiS will be familiar with this one), and bring half a dozen packets back to the UK when I’m there.

    Or have tea – my preferred wake-up drink.

  12. Coffee? Can’t stand the foreign muck.

    Prefer good old English tea… know, from China or Ceylon.

  13. @justin. Very true. I do need that bitter kick first thing and filter is just always insipid. I even got a DeLonghi expresso machine and couldn’t get it strong enough, whereas a dessert spoon of instant in a mug and Zing!

  14. This reminds me of the story of the Scotsman in a bar who orders a pint of heavy. The barman pulls it and slides it over to him. The Scotsman looks at the pint and then leans in close to the barman and whispers; “D’ye think ye could get a wee spot of whiskey in there ?”. The barman looks at the pint and nods yes. “Well fill it up with beer, then”, responds the Scotsman.

  15. bloke in spain,

    You just have to look at the difference between a single and double espresso. That’s roughly the cost of the beans for an espresso. And in a lot of places, it’s like 10p extra.

    I really like good coffee and I drink at a couple of small cafes near me where the owners really love their coffee and it’s no more expensive than Starbucks. They spend quite a bit more on beans, but you deduct that they are off-high street rather than on, and it basically squares off.

  16. We are picky bastards, aren’t we?

    Coffee can’t be too hot. Coffee can’t be too cold.

    How someone can claim that coffee is diluted is beyond me. The drink name is iced coffee indicating that you are buying ice with coffee. At least we can see why marketing lies so much. When they tell the truth they get sued.

  17. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I think what this really shows is that there is no foodstuff or beverage that some fucking Seppo won’t piss about with. Iced coffee? Iced coffee? For fuck’s sake. Coffee should be hot, black and in a large mug. If you have to put dairy in it, a bit of single cream perchance (not milk!). It should ideally be made from freshly-ground beans in a cafetiàre, and the beans should be 100% Arabica Strictly Hard Bean. Espresso must be made to order.

    Fucking Seppos and their iced coffee. Jesus.

  18. Actually Tim, you can legally sell a pint of beer with ice. You just use a verified ‘line’ measure rather than a ‘brim’ measure and add the ice after you have measured the beer to line.

  19. When I lived on the Isle of Man this seemed to be a bit of a sensitive subject – in that in every bar there was a government mandated sign saying ‘You have the right to a full pint’ – as if some bastard publicans had, at some point, not been giving people a full pint, and thus the Manx Government had to legislate.

    For some reason I really like the Isle of Man.

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