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Class action lawsuit filed in California accuses Starbucks of bait-and-switch scheme

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MILAN – Last month, a Californian woman filed a class action lawsuit against Starbucks for allegedly tricking customers on the caffeine content of its drinks. Teresa Adams and her attorneys at Carlson Lynch LLP filed the case Feb. 4 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in early February on behalf of herself and other customers of the coffee chain.

According to Legal Newsline, the lawsuit came after Adams bought the large Pumpkin Spice Latte from a Starbucks location in San Clemente in November 2019. Adams said she believed the larger size would contain more caffeine than the medium-sized drink, but it was watered down and contained the same amount of espresso.

Adams maintains she would not have paid more for the large had she known that was going to be the case.

The complaint alleges that Starbucks engages in a “classic bait-and-switch scheme that causes unsuspecting consumers to shell out more money for Venti-sized espresso beverages under the false belief that the Venti-sized espresso beverage contains more espresso, and thus more caffeine, than the medium Grande-sized drinks.

However, in reality, consumers receive a more expensive Venti-sized drink containing the same amount of espresso and caffeine as the cheaper Grande-sized” drink.

The complaint further alleges that Starbucks’ misleading practice “offends reasonable consumer expectations” that as the drinks increase in size, so too does the amount of coffee or espresso, and correspondingly, the caffeine.

The suit accuses the company of violating the Unfair Competition Law, the False Advertising Law, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act. It claims Starbucks’ advertisements are wrong, misleading, and leave out information.

Adams and her attorneys are now seeking restitution for her and members of the class action. They also want the court to order the company fix its advertising.