easy way vs chatime: the court decides

The rivalry between Easy Way and Chatime has entered the courtroom.

Just to be clear, this court case does not deal with which one tastes better. Nonetheless, I assure you that it’s just as interesting.

I refer to the case of Easyway Australia Pty Ltd v Infinite Plus Pty Ltd [2011] FCA 351, a Federal Court matter brought by Easy Way against Chatime for misleading and deceptive conduct. The judgment was delivered on 12 April 2011.

What is the case about?
Chatime claimed that its products were healthier, tastier, fresher, more nutritious, and of a higher quality compared to Easy Way’s products.

Chatime made these claims in:

  • a glossy colour booklet named “Top Secrets” it distributed (below),
  • an advertisement it published in Citywalker magazine, and
  • an internet post it uploaded.

The court found no factual basis supporting Chatime’s claims.

As a result, the court found that Chatime’s conduct was misleading and deceptive, or was likely to mislead and deceive. This is in contravention of trade practice legislation.

Chatime has been ordered by the court to:

  • publish and pay for corrective advertising in Citywalker,
  • provide to Easy Way the remaining copies of its booklet for destruction, and
  • disable access to, and delete the offending material from all web pages.

Chatime’s claims

This page was taken from Chatime’s “Top Secrets” booklet.

The judge rejected the submission that “the easy way” referred to a healthier lifestyle choice, and that the reader would not understand it to be a reference to Easy Way’s products.

Interesting facts from the judgment
The court described bubble milk tea as “a sweet tea-based beverage which originated in Taiwan… usually black Oolong tea or green Jasmine tea… generally served cold and with milk, sugar syrup and toppings. The customer chooses the tea flavour as well as the topping. Included in the drink are tapioca balls known as “chewy pearls”. The drink is usually served in a glass or a disposable takeaway cup”.

80% of Easy Way’s gross sales income comes from its sales of bubble milk tea. For Chatime, this constitutes a significant part of its income.

Easy Way was the first group to bring specialise in the retail trade of bubble milk tea to in Australia, and is the current market leader in this industry.

Chatime sells pre-packaged orange juice and not fresh orange juice. On the other hand, Easy Way sells juices that are freshly squeezed on site.

[For your interest: You may want to read my post of 29 May 2011 about the emerging Taiwanese food crisis involving a tainted emulsifying agent, and my post of 30 May 2011 about how Chatime became embroiled in it]


22 responses to “easy way vs chatime: the court decides

  1. chatime has a lovely taste and bubbly staff but good effort easy way not bad efforts mmmmm, well well GO Chatime -nice sip-!

  2. IN my view it`s very critical you see to order the drink at easy way .. it never feels ‘easy .. at all / On the other hand At Chatime all the staff are so professional aswell as that makes customers like my feel comfortable and at ease.

    So to conclude my opinion chatime is more competitive and allways a good place to pop by!!
    best regards
    Ayako c

  3. Pity Chatime got in trouble and couldn’t provide evidence for their booklet because their claims are entirely true.

    Easyway does not use real milk. They use a non-dairy creamer.
    Their teas are all premixed and the flavours come from syrups that are pumped into the drinks.

    Their Taro Milk Tea contains no milk, nor does it contain tea. It’s simply taro powder, sugar and creamer. Hello Manboobs.

  4. You can sell product for taro milk tea but there no milk or tea in this drinks? I look up non dairy creamer on google it got trans fats and oil very bad and fat for you. The case is “easy way against chatime for misleading and deceptive conduct”. Soon it should be “customer against easyway for misleading and deceptive conduct”. Very bad!!!!!

  5. wow…Chatime using asian PR tactics, frankly i go to both, and as for Chatime being healthy…AHAHAHAHA

    I don’t want to know all the chemicals and additives in my bubble tea, I’m sure there are heaps.

    And I’d trust the Federal Court and the Australian Law system way more than asian business people (and we all know how scrupulous that bunch are)

  6. Chatime is terrible compared to easyway. I reckon the chicks at easyway are much nicer than the staff at chatime. Taste wise it’s basically the same.

  7. Personally, I’m not a fan of Easy Way, mainly because it looks so unhealthy. The first time i tasted it it was like sugar (mind you at the time it did not offer the different level of sugar option).

    Also seeing them make it turns me off. Like Easy Way just goes to the little fridge and pours it in. Like seriously, hello where is the effort??? Don’t feel as though i’m getting my money’s worth.

    In comparison, CHATIME, makes there tea on site and they actually take effort to make it. The first time i had it, the lady made it from what i could see from scratch and used fancy machine! (which alway impresses me). I just get the unhealthy feeling from EasyWay each time i walk past it, whereas Chatime has the more look we make it with TLC (tender loving care!)

    I guess it is up to people, different people have different taste.

  8. Thanks for all your comments.

    Ultimately for me, this case is one about Chatime’s marketing strategy and business decision making. The court held that Chatime’s advertising was misleading or deceptive, or was likely to mislead or deceive.

    In my opinion, if Chatime’s products are as superior as it believes they are, then it need not resort to this kind of advertising strategy to prove this point. The product should do the talking, and the consumer can be the ultimate judge.

  9. Thanks for the post Benny.

    I saw this and my mind jumped straight to s18 of the Australian Consumer Law and Butcher and Lachlan Elder (this is what happens when you spend summer doing Commercial Law). Not sure whether LOL or FML is more appropriate in such circumstances.

    I also note that I do not see the use of any disclaimers by Chatime (the easy way to get yourself taken to court for M&D conduct, folks)…

  10. I use to adore Easyway until my friend showed me the Premium Milk Tea at Chatime and I did some research into the difference as to why it’s so much better… Chatime doesn’t use powders, it uses tea and there’s more variety in topping so I’m converted for forever!! Their roasted milk tea with Grass Jelly is only the most amazing thing in the world /drool haha ^^;;

  11. Eden, it’s funny how even after 2 years people are still discussing it. It’s one of those topics which will continuously come up because it’s really up to personal preferences.

    Marni, I did try their roasted milk tea and I didn’t mind that one. It’s one that most of my friends have recommended too!

  12. 1. Easyway uses non dairy creamer indeed, chatime uses a kind of thick cream( which is seen packaged in the white bottle in the store), they both unhealthy actually.But they have to use creamer, because creamer adding tastes much much much more better
    2.Easyway has 9 years history in Australia, it got a critical franchising structure and warehouse. However, Chatime got no warehouse at all,also,their franchising hotline is a MOBILE number. if Chatime head office bankrupted, where can its franchisees complaint? for this reason, Chatime is not safe for fanchising.
    3.Chatime shaking the tea, while Easyway is premade already. is shaking really “healthy”???I dont think so~!

  13. I’d like to know for those that are asserting that Chatime or Easy Way uses a particular ingredient or process, where do you get your information from?

  14. Hi Andrew,

    I have read your comment. A few points I would like to say.
    1. Easyway uses Non-diary Creamer, it is actually vegetarian basis, so it does not contain any milk ingredient inside. And the ingredient of the creamer may harm your health, it may lead to cancer if you over consume. While CHATIME use thicken cream, it is quite fat, but it is made from natural ingredient and it is a proper MILK product. So it depends on how people choose. But from my point of view, CHATIME is fresher.

    2.Easyway has 9 years history in Australia, but their global expanding has finished already, especially in their birth place, TAIWAN, you can’t see it anywhere. They are way too old and they are not developing. The only place that EASYWAY are bigger than CHATIME is AUSTRALIA, as you said, they’ve been here for 9 years. But their sales has significantly dropped since CHATIME arrives in Australia. You can go to stores observing, then you can tell the difference. In the past 9 years, Easyway did a quite good job in teaching Australians to try new things, and quite many local people have accept this new oriental concept. CHATIME does have an WH, and I don’t know how you can get the information saying CHATIME actually got no WH….But anyway, CHATIME now have 26 stores Australian Wide, I think it has a proper structure already. So you donot need to worry about it. I don’t comment on the mobile no. as a Franchise Hotline, you don’t expect people sit in the office 24/7, right?

    3. In terms of the way CHATIME/EASYWAY making tea, as you mentioned, EW has a central WH that boils all teas and then delivers to all franchisee stores, but I just doubt the hygiene in the process. All teas are in barrels and with a stick of expiry date, so it means it’s neither fresh nor clean. Drinking overnight tea is really bad for your health, so if you want to kill yourself, just go enjoy EW more often. While, CHATIME’s tea are all freshly brewed in store and you can actually see what they put in in your drink. So wouldn’t it be better?

    Anyway, it is just my opinion and you can have your own choice.

  15. some people say that drinking overnight tea can kill you. I do not understand how many hours does “OVERNIGHT” means? & where are the FACTS? In fact, It could actually take some time before essence of tea oil get dissolved in water completely. And the more tea essence & nutrients you can extract, the better it is for the drinker’s health. From what I observed, Chatime brew its tea batch by batch NOT cup by cup. It will not brew another batch before tea content in previous batch sold out. And tea in previous batch could have been sitting for 8 HOURS or longer before sold out or another batch is ready. 8 hours could have been considered OVERNIGHT too!!! and If Drinking overnight tea is bad then I guess drinking Bottled LIPTON TEA or NESTEA will be even much worse because they have been prebrewed and packaged even months before displayed in retail store. And How about drinking those Cokes, Soft Drinks, Vitamin Waters that are even loaded with chemicals and presevatives?
    I am just confused how do all these people jump into baseless conclusion.

  16. Well, some products do finally speak for themselves. Obviously, DEHP contaminated drinks are very very dangerous indeed. Article from wikipedia states that DEHP cause smaller penis as seen below:

    “DEHP metabolites measured from the blood of pregnant women have been significantly associated with the decreased penis width, shorter anogenital distance, and the incomplete descent of testes of their newborn sons, replicating effects identified in animals.[6] Approximately 25% of US women have phthalate levels similar to those in the study.[6]”

    I agree with Roy that I couldn’t find any facts and figures that support Nicole’s claims like “Drinking overnight tea can kill u” or “Non dairy creamer is cancerous”

    All I can find non dairy creamer is just vegetable based fat. There is no such thing cancerous in vegetable fat. It is obvious, DEHP is way much more harmful that vegetable fat.

    I thinks Nicole is working with Chatime. How does she know a lot the inside of bubble milk industry if she is not involved somehow?

  17. Chatime only knows how to capture Easyway’s marketing share rather than expanding their own marketing. I don’t think Easyway’s sales drop, even though concentrating on Asian market is a good way, local people is obvious a bigger share holder. From this point of view, Easyway wins definately.

  18. There’s a page on chatime’s website that states it has had government testing and that its products are DEHP free. Move on, people.
    Also, the way you kept calling yourself “the court” was kinda lame and embarrassing…. You’re no officiail.. Just some noob on the internet..
    I have worked in an easyway and my friend worked in a chatime..
    Chatime is more natural.. It’s now my favourite.

  19. Skellie, I used the words “the court” because that’s what the court actually said. They are not my words. My post was purely based on the court’s judgment.

    Frankly, I think that my readers aren’t stupid, and that they can tell that some of these comments are disingenuous. In my opinion, resorting to these tactics is lame and embarrassing.

  20. who ever thinks drinking these type of beverage is not unhealthy are kidding themselves! They just as bad as the nxt one! It’s just flavouring or sugar + hot water that costs practically nothing to make but charge an arm and a leg to buy. Can’t believe ppl would queue up to buy this crap.

  21. Bubble Tea market is just like a piece of cupcake in Australia. Do you guys think one piece of cupcake can feed two people at the same time?

    Therefore, No one will win the competition regardless the products quality.

    I do not want to comment about the product quality, but what I just do not know why two stupid Asians are crazy to share one piece of cupcake?

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