Undercover Under Pressure in Pret

 

Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror contacted me on Facebook after I declined another Mirror Journalist’s request for an interview.

I declined her request as well, as I wasn’t ready for the press, and as I am still paranoid to be tricked and trapped like Pret did with the Development Manager I write extensively about in “The Perversion of a Toxic HR Department“. My experience in Pret is very complex and sounds like straight from a twisted Hollywood script, but I have it all in writing and confront Pret openly on Twitter, which in turn have them shadow-ban me. But I urged her to go undercover to see for herself and not just take my word for it, just like James Bloodworth did in Amazon. And she did.

As I commented on Sathnam Sanghera’s Times article, I’d like to give my two cents also to Amy Sharpe’s undercover article. Both articles from very different perspectives as one from a customer and business point of view, the other from behind the scenes for a few days. But both are equally important and revealing how business works with the main goal of profit in mind.

I have to say that when I saw the undercover reporting yesterday morning (28.11.2018) linked on Twitter, after Amy has been very silent about going “under”, and rightly so, I teared up. I cried when I read her name on the report because not just did she follow my suggestion taking my ordeal serious, but someone from the outside saw what I and many others experience(d), but the public doesn’t want to know about unless it is the press poking into an organization.

It sadly takes deaths becoming public to show how negligent a company, in this case Pret, really is. I’ve been writing openly about my experience with Pret since May 2018 after my father died in March and I started to come to terms again of another loss… still recuperating from my Pret trauma that has “postponed” my grief for my brother. Regular readers know the story.

Some people criticize The Sunday Mirror’s report as being part of a witch hunt, but I don’t think that. The public is so used to be lulled in by a nice and shiny facade, free coffees and cookies.

Customers are so used to the smiles of staff, but no-one knows what really is behind it. The fear management via the Mystery Shopper, rewarded extra £100 if specially nice or told off by the boss in the office and threatened with job security if they didn’t smile non-stop in the highly stressful work environment. I mentioned this in a Tweet response to a customer who without any thought or empathy complained to Pret about a barista, even naming him, for not smiling and rushing the service:

 

2018-10-24 Re No Smile

Link

 

Amy Sharpe’s undercover article to me is like someone understanding this and finally confirming my and the team’s ordeal. Some points I want to highlight as I don’t use the full article, just what I want to confirm and expand upon a little from what this journalist has experienced and witnessed. The article will be in black and my comments in grey. I added the bold to the text to highlight some issues.

 


Article:
A manager reacts in horror as I point out the mistake (of an Almond Croissant with a Jam Croissant label).
“Oh my god!” he cries as he switches labels on two trays of croissants – one containing jam, the other almonds.

This is the typical PANIC reaction of a manager who either didn’t take the time or is too disorganized to do the MBWA (Managing By Walking Around) to check that everything is in its proper place, health & safety checks and so on. This could easily be improved by investing to have plenty of staff, instead of cutting staff to save money, so that the Manager On Duty (MOD) can concentrate on checking everything daily as well as throughout the day. It’s a very simple organizational issue. Very, very simple.

 

 


Article:
In the wake of two allergy deaths, he adds: “It’s really dangerous, especially with everything that’s been going on.”

And yet, no-one steps on the brakes to put immediate, and what CEO Clive Schlee calls, “meaningful” changes in place. The problem with the word “meaningful” to me here is, it sounds too wishy-washy, “poetically” correct but shows no urgency, even though “it’s really dangerous”. The appropriate word should have been to implement “immediate” changes! As Natasha’s parents are in shock over Pret’s procrastination, ITV’s November report:

 

 

 


Article:
I am standing behind the counter in Pret a Manger … The pace is so relentless, the demands so constantcustomers want serving super-quick – that I find myself under constant pressure. I sense that other staff feel the strain too.

Ms. Sharpe does not give the time of day she was behind the counter, but mentioned having to dash to the toastie machine, so this may have been lunch time. But the strain can especially be felt when a Team Member does the morning shift from 5 or 6am till 2 or 3pm going through two intense rushes: breakfast and lunch. When I worked in Pret I made a decision to not meet with a friend or have an appointment straight after my morning shift having come out of lunch time. I was always like having come out of a tumbler, being shaken for hours and still on electricity. My friends commented on this, so I tried to get home first to clean up and rest and calm down before joining any events.

One staff review paints this very bluntly. This is why I wished Amy Sharpe would have also covered a week in the kitchen to really get the full Pret “blow”: “This job can annihilate every piece of humanity inside of you.

Many kitchens I have seen with very small working areas for the Hot Chef in particular. Someone leaked a photo to Twitter.

Customer areas are increased to get as many customers / money in as possible; staff areas are decreased. This then creates multiple problems, not only on the mental strain of staff but customers lives as mistakes happen quickly as with labelling I collected in another post “Vegetarians Get Meat Products“:

 

2018-11-11 Tiny HFC area

 

 

Or a shop where I worked where there was only ONE multitask room: office, staff changing room with lockers, fridges, freezers, stock room, hot chef soup prep area, chemical room for cleaning materials etc and to top it all, illegally the rubbish room next to the food prep area! This shop was the worst shop I’ve worked in. This photo is from 2015 and after years like this, Pret was forced to expand the work space to separate the rubbish for health and safety reasons. This room was medium size and approx. 15 square meters max. A total nightmare.

 

Spitalfields Waste MultitaskOffice_6Sep15

 

 


Article:
I am at a central London branch, where 10 staff vie for space, muttering apologies as we collide and stretch across one another to grab pastries and bags.
I shout orders to a barista while dashing to a beeping toastie machine to retrieve a baguette.
I make green teas and filter coffees while my other drinks orders are prepared. It’s stressful and confusing and the queue makes it even more so.
All the while, staff must be alert to the issue of allergens.

Yep. And as one customer on Twitter pointed out the chaos and stress on the staff and customers alike. I had to console Team Members many times over the years who held their tears back or just cried in the staff room after being shouted at by the manager. Another review: “Better salary than McDonalds or Costa as long as you keep your fake smile up. Staff with more experience cuts corners on Sanitary rules because otherwise it is impossible to finish your batch on time.
– The coffee calling system is broken. During busy times it is nearly impossible to keep up with the orders without hating everyone around you. A lot of people cry in the staff room especially in their entry period.”
I also shed many tears on my way home in the bus, especially during grief of course, but after a terribly depressing shift this was a common thing to let the tears finally flow.

 

 

2018-10-20 Staff cry

Link

 


 

UPDATE Jan. 2019

I found a photo of the coffee area and it shows how cramped and small the work area is. And the barista/coffee makers are required to get PERFECT coffees out within 1 minute that the Mystery Shopper times to the second! It doesn’t get any more dehumanizing and mentally straining than this. I don’t know how I managed, but we worked a lot in mental and physical pain. Under the coffee machine where the silver jugs are, this working area is so small baristas switch on autopilot and just keep going. Hence, lots of stress, shouting and customers going to Twitter with complaints of half cups of coffees that are made so fast to satisfy the Mystery Shopper, the manager and the long queue.

 

2019-01-16 small coffee area

Link by @terry_mcparlane Twitter

 


 

It is rare that a customer speaks out like this and it’s sad that most customers don’t care how stressful it is behind the counter. They see it, at times even commented about it to me, but they just want their coffees fast. Pret has spoiled them where they would be perfectly happy to wait 5-10 minutes in Starbucks, Pret made the service so fast to get the money circulation into the shops fast. Pret staff are expected to whip out PERFECT coffees within ONE minute and are timed to the SECOND by Mystery Shoppers, while customers think that staff is just happy working under intense pressure. They don’t realize what’s behind that happy facade!

 

Excerpt:

Speed in Seconds

1 minute aim to serve and another 1 minute to have a perfect hot drink ready, checked by the MS to the second:

“I was served very quickly, after 15 seconds, very quick service.”

“I received my hot drink very quick, after 30 seconds, quick service.”

And then customers run to Twitter with pictures of half full cappuccinos, missing cream, lukewarm coffees…! There’s nothing more dehumanizing at a workplace that I have experienced. And should anyone suffer from boredom, do an experiment and just read through some Pret Tweets a few minutes each day for a week, with the same sweet-talk response from Pret veering customers away from public Tweets to private DM.

Some complaints are legitimate when a customer already spoke to the manager, and yet Pret has a DM button, but customers feel the public needs to be aware of their dilemma in Pret shops. I know, I know I respond a lot to some Tweets, and maybe it is because for 10 years I had to bite my tongue towards rude customers, I take the opportunity now to give my opinion. And Pret doesn’t block me as they collect my Tweets in case for court and certainly to learn some tips, as I have showered them with suggestions for improvement while I worked there. Be my guest, Pret.

 

 


Article:
Staff now repeat orders to customers to avoid any mistakes. Allergen enquiries are referred to the duty manager, who will show a list of ingredients.

Which is good to repeat, but the pace is still kept high with all sorts of demands, especially for the “Misery” Shopper: always smile, eye contact, make some small-talk, serve within 1 minute, stand on your head, dance on one feet, bend your back, twist your brain, know all the answers, kiss their butts … and all this with a big fake Pret A Smile to keep a low-paid job! In other words you either develop superhuman abilities or mental illness. The pace is the same, the demand is higher, and life is still at risk including the lives of staff who suffer depression, mental ill health and at times become suicidal. But the public “just” wakes up once customer lives are affected. Forget the “slaves“.

 

 

A positive Mystery Shopper visit, excerpt:

MS eye contact

“The staff member who served me made good eye contact and greeted me with a friendly smile. While remaining focused and efficient, she also took time to engage in a few words of conversation, which added a personal element to the exchange – enhancing the welcoming atmosphere of this store.”

 

 

A negative Mystery Shopper visit, excerpt:

Mystery Shopper poor comments

“I was not greeted at the till or given a smile. The only conversation was what was necessary for the transaction. To be welcoming the team member could have greeted me and smiled and be engage(d) and positive, the team member could have given me a friendly remark or made small talk.”

 

— or —

 

MS_Cough

“Team members should smile at customers and may not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful to smile that day.”

I wish I could have told this MS that staff are not paid sick leave for the first 2 and 3 days depending on age. So one had to decide if to stay home sick and lose income, or go to work unwell and get a telling off from the manager like I did because I coughed when I happened to serve the MS.

I wonder if Amy Sharpe served the Mystery Shopper and how she would have felt reading a negative comment on her service while feeling the experience of the “overstretched staff” and it being “stressful and confusing and the queue makes it even more so.”

I even wished sometimes customers would just join us for a few hours, especially those who quickly complain about everything.

Just few of the countless Tweets, just from this week:

This customer had good service for THREE years, then one negative experience and the world has come to an end. I linked her to Amy Sharpe’s report to bring some perspective for her feeling so unwanted. But I deleted the Tweet again as I write too many Tweets and always like to de-clutter my Twitter feeds:

 

2018-11-28 Bad Service after 3 years

Link

 

“Every time…”

2018-11-28 Wrong Coffee

Link

 

 

2018-11-28 No steamed milk

Link

 

 

“Oh no!…”

2018-11-29 Gingerbread Latte

Link

 

etc. etc.

So, companies like Pret have created a “nation” of complainers where the British were usually patient and polite, they now cry like babies whose bottoms haven’t been wiped in a while! And the money keeps coming in while Pret responds with “Oh no…” and “Oh gosh, are you okay?…” sweet-talk to keep the babies happy and the money rolling!

 

I responded, but since deleted as well to this baby who had no issues to call hard working people the “C” word because he was in the “teething” period having his day ruined by a hard avocado. Pret’s typical cut’n’paste response, apologizing while he is offensive, and as if they really contact each shop all day long for repeated hard avocados:

 

PretBehaviour01a

 


Article:
The mantra, I am told repeatedly, is “NEVER guess”.
But from what I witness, the speed at which staff often have to work could put these commendable new standards at risk.
On my second shift I find an orange juice two weeks out of date on the shelves.
The shocked team leader tells me: “You don’t need to tell anyone, otherwise we’re f****d. It is really bad… I’ll throw it away.”
One barista tells me the cramped service area is a “nightmare”.
He says: “If I’m next to you, you have to shout. If you don’t shout I can make a mistake. A person can grab the wrong coffee. Make mistakes and the customer gets mad. You’ve got to focus, stay calm.”
With soybeans and dairy prominent on the menu – and among the 14 allergens kitchens must legally declare – this admission is worrying.
On my last shift, stickers are introduced to distinguish between soya, coconut and regular milks. But one barista serves a coffee without a sticker – and a manager barks: “Where is the sticker?”
The £8.25-an-hour shifts are tough and I collapse into bed exhausted after eight hours on my feet, lifting boxes, mopping and dragging tables around.

Nothing more to add except this Link

 


Article:
Some staff do 12-hour shifts or work at other branches to earn more. To add to the intensity, employees are battling the cold due to its station location. I wear extra layers to stay warm – there are only two Pret fleeces to go round, so we share.

Nothing more to add except that some staff even do 60-70 hour weeks assigned by the manager! I had to speak out about this as Team Members were exhausted, at times became sick from the amount of work, but were too scared to speak with the GM. Again, I did not make friends with my bosses. But neither did I care!

 


Article:
When the bustle dies down I clean the shop but a colleague urges me to skip certain tasks.
“You’re supposed to sweep and mop every day but don’t do that or you’ll never leave on time,” he says.

This unfortunately is common in most shops that staff are so swamped with work they are not able to finish in time and are NOT paid for overtime. I fought for this with my managers in every shop. I would say to my teams who did their best and me as the Team Leader helping them, that if they can’t finish I will mark this on the cleaning rota with an explanation, instead of just ticking off the jobs as done like most do to keep the appearance that jobs were completed. I’d then take responsibility when the boss summons me in the office the next day. I let the team go on the dot when our shift finished at 9 or 10pm or whatever closing and cleaning time the branch had.

 

2018-08-18 #50 Pret A Not Worth

Coffee Specialist, London April 2018

 

Most Team Members have families with kids at home, not seeing their children all day as they are in school, and later the parent is working when they go to bed. So I made it a point to let them go when the shift finished. I was very organized and made sure that the important jobs, health & safety was taken care of and prioritized these. I structured my teams in this way and left the unimportant jobs unfinished if we didn’t have time or enough staff.

In the early times in Pret I would work and work, finish in time and also worked overtime unpaid. But then the time came where I drew a line. It is okay here and there to finish a little late, but it was the norm in Pret and it seemed a very calculated one as Teams worked extra for no pay every day. I struggled with my managers and communicated that if we have to stay longer to finish the job, I will pay them the extra time through the system as was part of my job. If my bosses didn’t want that, then I told my team to finish on the dot and we go home. Full stop.

This of course didn’t make me friends with my bosses, but neither did I care! My friends are not these kind of people who exploit workers for their own bonuses. One Pret staff reviews this as a common practice for managers to give them a job to do 15 minutes before the Team Member would have finished the shift. But the job would take 30 – 60 minutes to complete. I experienced this many times as well and was made to feel bad if I needed or wanted to leave. It took me some time to stand up against this. Pret staff in the UK should do what their colleagues in the U.S. did, a class action suit for not being paid overtime.

 

Full article of the Sunday Mirror

 

I have to be honest that I wished Amy Sharpe would have worked longer, a month or so like James Bloodworth did in Amazon. It would have been good for Ms Sharpe to cover the early shifts and weekends as well, including working in the kitchen, as each time and job has its own challenges. But I’m not complaining. She covered 1 or 2 weeks (?) really really well, while I have 10 years of “material” to share that almost literally killed me having survived bullying during bereavement.

So, I have to be patient and acknowledge the brilliant work by this journalist having been willing to do this, as well as Sathnam Sanghera’s article. And many more people will tell their story in time away from the typical PR that Pret does so well. I keep confronting Pret on a staff suicide in 2017 and who knows how many more are under the carpet when they could hide two customer deaths for two years and the other for 10 months! I know my approach and direct confrontation is full on, but I almost lost my life after having worked with integrity, honesty, very hard and with passion for my teams. I cannot be silent after having wasted 10 years of my life in Pret with the knowledge that staff continue to suffer behind the facade. And if any reader wonders if I went to court, I explain here.

Thank you for your time in reading this. And thank you to anyone in the press to have taken a closer look. Thank you to Amy Sharpe. Ironic and delighted to be calling a reporter a now former colleague of mine! Well done Amy!

Life is short, please be kind to yourselves and others.

expret.org

 


 

UPDATE: 14.12.2018 A rare observation from a customer regarding forced friendliness.

 

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

Link

 


 

UPDATE March 2019 – The first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview.

Interview:

 

 

Adam

 

Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.

We spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general. I further talked about the significant timing of Pret CEO’s announcement of the £1000 Tweet for all staff. I also talked about a regular day in Pret and how staff have to cut corners, in order to fulfill the immense workload under constant pressure.

It is hard to squeeze my traumatic experience into a podcast segment, but we covered enough to get a good picture of today’s systemic stress environment for profit driven global companies.

Please visit his Podcast and Twitter @1AdamParadox.

 


 

UPDATE February 2019, my posts on Why do Pret Staff continue under Harshness

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

©2018 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Brakeman

 

 

The Falling Stars Program

 

… helped many lose their feet and self-confidence, even bravely speaking to friends to lend them money, knocking on doors to find jobs and homes, talking about their experience being bullied in Pret, manipulated and fired during bereavement. And some becoming suicidal with one AMK ending her life in 2017.

 

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

 

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM

 

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

 

 

2018-07-23 Quote #27 Pret Hellhole

 

 

Nothing against Sabina, she has her story, but she has been pampered in Pret for PR[et]. Sabina doesn’t know the many people who suffer, get fired, become suicidal, even dying. I don’t blame her. She’ll be fine.

Andrea Wareham spoke at the House of Lords on behalf of Pret as well, but JAB now axed her from the director’s board. Says a lot.

 

Pret A Manger, Clive Schlee, Niki I am NOT impressed at all whatsoever with your slick videos, politics, manipulation PR…

 

You hurt people to the point of suicide. You discriminate against the bereaved. You are a business.

PLEASE, please BE a BUSINESS without giving charity a bad name!

 

Learn more about Pret’s falling stars program if you even care.

And Pret, maybe learn from this lady, but I know you won’t because you are too “big”  for that.

 

Sheryl Sandberg quote

 

— & —

 

Get down from that high horse you’re on !

 

humiliation

 

do better Pret

 

Sheryl Sandberg on bereavement at work and how her boss, Mark Zuckerberg not just “accommodated” her bereavement, but wanted her to be there. Respect, Mr. Zuckerberg, he sucks in other places like data protection stuff, but he got my heart on staff welfare!

Shame Pret, you missed so many opportunities. Too many.

 

Clive Schlee, having taken your patronizing, disrespectful label of late night girl as a website, I used to respect you, I still do, like I respect any person on the street, but I am not impressed with you at all. Not one bit.

You do not know what traumatic loss means. And I don’t wish it on anyone.

Good luck with JAB.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

DeadDotCommunication

 

12.01.2015

Dear Ms. Sister,
unfortunately I have to bring you sad news.
Mr. Thomas Brother was found dead in his apartment in X-City on 15.12.2014.
From his paper work no next of kin could be determined so that I was appointed as curator for your deceased brother’s estate. …
Your brother has been cremated under order of the city council. Copy of order attached.
His urn has not been buried yet and you can decide where to bury the urn.
Unfortunately I have to also inform you that his estate is in debt and have to therefore advise you to reject the inheritance.
Please inform me of any other family and addresses.
The contact details of the morgue are…
With kind regards,
Mrs. Ice Cold Curator
….

 

 

2017-01-31 Th Kerzen3

 

 

Dear Thomas,

I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your last email, I don’t even know why I didn’t reply. Maybe I expected to see you, but then life just keeps happening and we always assume next time, next time… And maybe I was upset that you couldn’t come to the concert I invited you to. Apart from being busy you were also honest enough to say that this wasn’t your type of music. But I got us on the guest list, with backstage meeting the artist I worked with. I wanted you to be proud of me.

But I have no right to be cross. I didn’t pay much attention to your 20 page business plan you sent me, maybe you wanted me to be proud of you. And I was, but it didn’t cross my mind to say something. I just replied that your business plan looks impressive but reads like Chinese to me as I don’t understand business language. I’m sorry I never told you how impressed I was, how proud that you had the courage to start a business. I could never do that, I’m too cowardly to start something like that. It takes a lot of courage, strength and determination to start a business. I always played it safe, just being employed and do my real passions and hobbies in my private life. You went further and gave it a go. But being employed did me no good after all. And now I don’t even have the courage for regular employment.

Can you believe the email this woman sent? She didn’t try to find out my phone number or mum’s address she lived at for 30+ years, in a country with a high sophisticated ID system where everyone is registered under law. She didn’t email and ask me to phone her or give my phone number and warn or prepare me that I urgently need to get in contact as she had to inform me about you. She just wrote a few sentences in a typical German efficient and straightforward way. No-nonsense, not wasting time, tell it like it is, no mercy. And she made sure she covered everything in one email. I cannot describe the hell, I cannot describe it. A huge hand of a monster thrust inside my gut and ripped it out in one fast move.

Do you know that the next day when I flew over to tell mum that you were gone, I called this woman but she didn’t want to give any more info. She sounded nervous, was upset that I called her at 9pm and said that she had no further information and that her husband is getting impatient in the background.

Do you know why? Why was she so short-cut and angry that I called? I kept calling the police, but they had no answer either. I am still confused. Why did the police handle this so poorly, why could they not give me a clear cause of death and couldn’t answer my list of questions? The only explanation the police guy gave me of why they didn’t do an autopsy was that they ruled out fowl play and suicide, and once they ruled out especially murder, they hand the case back to the coroner and close it on their file. Just like that. They have many cases to work on. A former police detective who was a customer of mine confirmed that if they don’t find anything suspicious, they just close the case as it would otherwise involve too much paper work. He told me that deaths in flats happen more often than we think. I’m sure if one of their family members was found like this, they’d go to town to find the cause. But there weren’t able to tell me what you died of. And they frankly didn’t care.

Everyone since then keeps telling me to not pursue any legal action as this would just add to the turmoil and the police always covers themselves. I had to put puzzle pieces together, with bits and pieces of information from your neighbours, your ex-girl friend C. etc. If you could hear me, I wouldn’t tell you that they sent your urn from your city to mum’s village council via post! Via post, Thomas. I’m sorry, I didn’t know they’d do that in Germany. If I’d knew they send urns via post, I’d made arrangements with the funeral service who arranged the funeral later, to bring it over in a dignified way. No one told me they send urns via post. I didn’t know so many things they’d do. I’m sorry, everything was a mess. Everything. Your three cats survived and they were able to catch two, but the third slipped through the door. I don’t know which one, but your neighbour said that she sees the cat outside sometimes, but it won’t let anyone catch it. I’m sorry your cats went through the six days seeing you lie there.

The police said that they rampaged your apartment. I know how clean you liked it, we had to take our shoes off, like in my place as well. But after you died, the cats just rampaged. They must have been distressed, the mum and her two kitties. The mum-cat in this picture you sent me before she had kittens, I wish I knew where she is. I’m sorry.

 

DSC00221

 

I dislike this country of ours. And if it wasn’t for mum, I’d never return. I buried dad in March, near you.

I saw an amazing play yesterday, Bury the Dead in which six soldiers who fell in a war refused to be buried. They got up from the ground where soldiers were digging out graves, but they just stood up and refused to be buried because they died too young. They died under the lies of the leaders who brainwashed them to fight and die for “honour”.

But they were too young to die and haven’t seen the world yet, or haven’t had the chance to start a family, or couldn’t finish that university degree they started before getting drafted. I wept through half the play and imagined you to refuse to be cremated until we got the news that your corpse was in the cold chamber. But then I thought if they would have found us before cremating you, mum may have wanted to see you. But what does a six day old corpse look like? Once an image is ingrained in the mind, it will never leave.

I wanted her to keep you in memory of this last photo she took of you a year before you died.

You looked annoyed as usual of her taking photos all the time. I had to forbid mum to go to the police station as they spoke about photos they took when they found you. The way they handled your death and case, I panicked they would show her the photos. Mum was extremely angry that you didn’t have her address and phone number in your flat. I had to explain to her that I don’t have that either as we live in the Internet age and we know her address and number by heart, as she lives there since over 30 years. She slowly accepted that.

I’ve written you many emails since until your account was shut for lack of you logging in and sending emails. I kept writing though and my emails bounced back as if you replied. But getting “Mailer-Daemon” responses wore me out.

Remember when you visited me in London and I showed you around? We took the tube to Tower Bridge and as we walked towards the bridge that was hidden behind the trees you asked me what “castle” this was. I said that this is the Tower Bridge. You asked, “Yes, but what castle is this?” It is the Tower Bridge I repeated. “Yeah, but what’s that castle?” Thomas, this is the Tower Bridge!!! And as we came closer where you could see the full bridge you laughed and looked at me embarrassed “Ah, yeah!”

It was one of the rare occasions that I knew something more than you did, as you were always too smart for me! I beat you on this one! Stupid, I know. I have to think of this every time I am at the Bridge.

 

tower_bridge_tower_garden_moat_view

 

And remember when we sat in the café by Piccadilly Circus and you called mum from your mobile pretending to be in your home? You chatted for a while with her and then just handed the phone over to me to say hi to mum! That surprise surely worked! I asked her several times since you’re gone if she can remember you calling her from London to prank her to think you were calling from your home, but she can’t remember. I don’t know if she blocked it out or if her dementia is getting worse. She’s more forgetful now, you know? But she’s doing okay. We went through rough waters these last four years. It’s normal they say.

All I know now is that I let you down.

And I don’t know how to forgive myself.

Knowing you, I know you’d forgive me, but I can’t forgive myself, Thomas.

I made this silly “video” for you, one of many, but this is the only one with a German artist. He sings about his best friend, Michael, who was like a brother to him. But his friend died. I mixed in another song of a Swiss artist and wrote my text to it. I’m not sure if these would be your taste of music, as our tastes was often very different. I am not into German much but I wanted to use German speaking artists. But you can’t see it, I know. I did it to cope. I messed up in so many ways, Thomas. I can’t forgive myself.

 

 

 

3 Months That Are Supposed to be Good

 

November, December, January have become months I’ve come to dislike.

I was moving around these past days and weeks extremely down and tried to figure out why several consecutive days I am just very low. It’s not the weather, I love October and November, and fog. My heart is tight and heavy as if something is suffocating the life out of it. On the verge of a panic attack, I seek quiet places. Anytime, in random places I tear up, just out of the blue.

I realized that on 19.10.2014 I received my brother’s last email. And I never replied.

He was supposed to meet me for a concert in November. But he couldn’t make it. He wished me to have fun, till later. I didn’t see the need to respond and assumed I’d seen him anyway while I was visiting Germany. But I got distracted and as he was busy anyway, didn’t even think to call him. Maybe I was disappointed that he couldn’t make it. I don’t know.

On 12. January 2015 I learned via an email that he was found dead in his apartment on 15. December 2015, approximate day of death 09.12.2014. No clear cause of death. No autopsy. They supposedly couldn’t find us and after a while just cremated him.

And I made the biggest mistake that I can see in hindsight. After flying back and forth for funeral, errand, family, investigating… I kept working as my savings dried out and without support couldn’t afford to take off. In hindsight I should have taken off at least six months to a year instead of flying back and forth and with the horrific experience in Pret on top.

I was in a fog, on autopilot, in a Twilight Zone, like a Zombie.

Three years of emotional horror while trying to pull myself together, but falling more and more apart. Guilt, regrets, self-doubt, everything kept crushing again and again into me like a building collapsing again and again.

After my ordeal in Pret, my father was submitted into intensive care, in a three week coma in November 2017. At the end of December 2017 with my dad just woken from his coma I was fired from Pret. Autopilot again, guilt, regret, existential fears … flying back and forth again to work and be by his side, back to London to look for work, back to my dad, back to London … back to Germany to bury him as he didn’t recover.

November, December, January, February my brother’s birthday, March, my father’s death. I want to cut some months out of the calendar. I shut everything down, most things and people that meant something to me, I shut down.

My heart is tight and heavy, and I feel any moment an anxiety attack is approaching. But I have learned to not fear them so they don’t come heavy. Just ride it out, the doctor said the heart is perfectly capable to handle it. It’s not physical. If it wouldn’t have been for my mum being alive, I don’t know if I would be here right now.

To anyone reading this who knows me personally, I have said it many times, but I want to apologize again for letting people down. It’s not you, you know that.

 

 

Unquiet Grief (re-written / music: LAU)

 

 

animated-candle-gif-29

 

 

 

©2018 poetrasblok.com

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Digging Out an Older Blog Entry

 

As Anti-Bullying week has come to an end last Friday I remembered an older blog entry I made. I wrote the below post in May 2016 on another blog site where I mainly posted poems for/about my brother and just scratched on what I went through in Pret, without naming Pret at the time as I do now on this site. But when I was going through the mixed horror of my brother’s death added with the bullying in Pret, this particular time was like a transition period where my trauma worsened, but I didn’t realize it then.

At that time I rather felt that everything in Pret would settle for me and I could concentrate on coming to terms about my brother’s death. I always felt that my situation wasn’t dealt with properly, but I didn’t realize how much I was played and manipulated via dodgy grievance hearings. One area manager who was very slick held a grievance appeals hearing against a line manager who openly bullied me (shouting, blaming, excluding etc.) under the main catalyst who was his boss and the guidance of HR.

In the hearing she held she asked me what my “definition of bullying is”. At that time I was utterly distraught and fell for this trap to think I wasn’t bullied. In hindsight I’d answer this “question” with a question of what her definition of bullshit is! It was also the time when I applied for and received my file, but at the time I just briefly looked through it vaguely until months later when I meticulously sieved through every word on every page and went into deeper turmoil that I explain in “Not Quite a Beautiful Mind“.

Now, looking back, having been in deep darkness, confused, traumatized, holding on and trying to escape through writing, I am grateful to have given Pret the benefit of the doubt so much to be able to say, what a corrupt and toxic company behind a friendly facade and under the current leadership of Clive Schlee and HR Pret A Manger is.

 


 

May 2016 Blog post (I added the links from the old blog entry):

 

Definition of Bullying

 

Once on a school trip to the seaside of Western France, six of us girls planned to share a room in the youth hostel we were booked in. On the first night after dinner and having settled in, I found myself alone with one of the girls in the big room, while the other four girls spontaneously moved out again and into a vacant 4-bedded room together.

It didn’t take me long to understand what was happening. The girl who was “stuck” with me (or I with her) in the 6-bedded room was the typical person to not have been cool enough to share a room with. There was even talk about her already back home at a school-BBQ before the trip and how they would give her the trip of her life. She was typically uncool, by the book at that time; ginger hair, thick glasses, long front teeth, not wearing the trendiest clothes… The perfect uncool kid to be “avoided with” or not be around.

She (I’ll give her the name “Ginger”) was someone who didn’t fit into the norm, nothing more, nothing less. The usual stuff. I didn’t fit in either, not for “temperature” reasons, but because I was in a sphere of my own.

So, we just had more space and more peace. I didn’t like the situation because I wasn’t invited  by the four “cool” girls, but I didn’t mind either because I never liked this kind of group dynamic. Nothing against groups as long as they are inclusive, accepting, supportive, more than just tolerant/tolerating. But tolerance would have been the bare minimum anyone could ask for if individuals in a group have neither strength nor courage for anything beyond that.

“The soul selects her own society, then shuts the door to divine majority. Present no more.”

— Emily Dickinson
Not having been particularly “cool” myself, and not really bothered if I was or not, I didn’t care to impress a group or be intimidated by a “mob” of freezers. I tend to select my own society.

 

The first of the five or six mornings we were there, I woke up turning around in my bed towards the door. From the sun beams that were shining through the windows, I could see something shimmering on the floor in front of the bed of my room mate. I got up, went to see what it was and saw it was a puddle of fluid, it was obvious from the stench that it was urine left there close to Ginger’s bed, with her still asleep. If she would have had to get up at night for the toilet, she most certainly would have stepped into it.

I pondered over this “pond” and was just perplexed on how it got there or worse, why someone would do this and how we both didn’t wake up noticing this invasion of our dignity. We cleaned it up later, pretending something weird spilled here somehow. I don’t know, I didn’t know what to think or say. Whatever we were thinking, not sure. To this day I don’t know why I didn’t get a teacher immediately and clean it up before she woke up. Maybe I was too perplexed, offended, embarrassed… Hopefully she thought I was the target or us both together; wishful thinking on my part. She was just always very quiet. I will never know if or what she realized was going on.

I didn’t know what to do, if I should go to a teacher or ask around why someone would do this. But going to a teacher or trying to find out who the “donor” of this mess was, might have just encouraged more of this. So I left it, assuming it was a one-off, never having seen any “pranks” like this on previous school trips.

As the days of the trip went on, we took a bus ride through the region. I was sitting in the back of the bus, one or two rows in front of the group of girls, now joined by the boys, and overheard them speak about how they want to cut Ginger’s hair at night. I remember freezing in my seat and feeling my blood disappear from my head with a tingling sensation in my face, going into panic-mode. I had two seats to myself since the bus was roughly half filled, as not the whole class went on this trip but just about two dozen of us. Everyone, except for the group and some couples, would sit generously in two seats, getting a little privacy away from the shared rooms in the hostel.
My thoughts started racing on what to do, since the “pee” situation I knew they would go through with whatever they planned. They must have felt secure that I was just a dumb bystander who’s “job” it was to console Ginger in the aftermath of whatever would happen to her. As if it was some kind of calling in life for her to be bullied and my calling was to just stroke her head, comforting her, oh well poor poor Ginger, c’est la vie.

My heart and my mind went into overdrive with the dilemma of not wanting to get into trouble with the cool crew, but also not wanting to allow something disgusting like this to happen to a girl, who’s only fault it was to not fit in.

Society-selecting time again!

 

Later that day before dinner time at the hostel, I couldn’t think straight, never mentioning any of this to Ginger or anyone. I was nervous before the meal, heart pouncing, thoughts pacing back and forth when I decided to speak up. I approached the room where the group always huddled together, prayed under my breath, knocked on the door and was invited in. I went straight to the ring leader girl and said sharply (with my limbs like jelly and my heart beating to my throat!) “If anything happens to Ginger, you will be the first to regret it!”. She looked perplexed, starring at me and then around the room, and laughing with the group asked if I was insane or what!? I repeated the sentence and just left the room shaking inside. I went straight to the room of one of the teachers, telling the whole story to just get this sorted. I guess some would call me a “Drama Queen”, but bullying is not just a drama, it’s a cowardly disgrace and a shame.
The next day Ginger had her birthday, and the majority of the kids congratulated her, even if half-hearted by most, including some of the cool, “strong” and marvelous group. Nothing ever happened to the uncool girl anymore. And on the eve of our return back home, Ginger and I sat outside for a smoke while there was an improvised “Disco” going on inside for our last night of the trip.

To this day it’s just a guess if Ginger knew what was going on, or if she repressed the situation to just avoid the pain of it. We never spoke about it and she never seemed at a shock, just rather quiet and speaking about nothing really. Deep down I felt of course she knows. But my pretense might have matched hers equally, just so we can make that day. We just had a good smoke and a meaningless chat, but worth our while.

Nothing further happened as the teachers had an eye on it now, after my shivering confrontation with the group’s leader. But I meant what I said, even while shaking inside my boots. And I rather took the risk of being bullied myself, suffering the consequences, than having to watch in silence how a person is being targeted just because she didn’t fit in to whatever the majority felt was the(ir) norm, or to release the burden of their own meaningless existence.

Even with the threat of any more nightly “adventures” in our room, I slept well at nights. I’d rather be bullied or be with those who are, then being cozy with a bully.

I wondered at times throughout the years, and even now, what has become of Ginger. While writing this experience down, I looked up a digitalized photo of her with some of the bullies on the France trip. I do hope this wallflower became a bouquet, no matter if it fits into anyone’s perception of cool or beauty, but whom those bullies would not recognize today, because they are too busy and messed up in their own journey to fit in.

I never thought I would write this story down and after having scanned over a thousand photos recently into my computer from all the years of my life, even before I was born, then shredding the majority of it to get rid of clutter in my flat. I never scanned in the photos of the bullies, except when “Ginger” was on them, but just threw them away without digitalizing them. Don’t know if I’d regret it one day since even the bad stuff is part of our lives, but I have no room for those bullies on my computer. No more “beds” available.

 

Depression & Support pexels-photo-551594

 

I have not been bullied as a kid, except the typical teasing we all go through. But I cannot remember ever having been bullied as a kid in school. But I never would have imagined that I would be bullied as an adult.

What was my weakness? The thought that our lives are final on this earth? The inconvenience of my grief? That I didn’t “function” at times as expected? That I didn’t kiss anyone’s association or agenda? That I looked strong, but in reality was completely broken while on autopilot? That I spoiled someone’s perception of strength? That I reminded them of their own mortality and weakness?

In hindsight, please, someone tell me?

All I know is that I have been bullied! No more formal grievances needed. If the catalyst, the main bully is in leadership above you, you have no chance unless you have the strength to see it through. I’m sorry my brother’s death got in their way. He won’t do that again!

 

Sometimes people are bullied not because they are uncool in the perception of a mob, but because they may come across too strong. Anything that does not fit into the “norm” of the (insecure) majority might just be the perfect target. I don’t know. People in a group, in a mob do things that they would never do when alone. But unfortunately 1 single person, who is in the position of power or leadership, can influence a group who wants to please their leader/boss, and pull the carpet from under someone else’s feet.

It takes only 1 person, 1 leader to influence their sub-ordinance to either pull that carpet or provide a safe place for an individual or minority. Everything stands and falls with leadership. If a leader won’t allow bullying to happen, it won’t! If a leader closes their eyes, or worse, is the main catalyst of bullying, then God help us.

I understood this in my late teens/early 20s already, that’s why I went straight to the leader to make clear that she is responsible to set the tone of the group. But I was too scared and got backup by the teacher, the higher “leader” of the group. If telling on others is what it takes, then that’s what it takes.

It is horrendously easy to be within a group siding against one person, than to stand up within that group, reaching out against the decision of the majority and their leader for the protection and support of that one person. If we realize it or not, we constantly “select our own society”, depending on how strong we feel towards moral issues, health, justice, principles. We constantly make our choices and will choose until our last day. I have chosen wrong and right many times myself in different situations, but if I make up my mind that one person or a minority needs to be protected, especially while going through tragedy, than I hope my mind is made up regardless of the consequences. And after a while, if I manage to make it through in one piece, I sleep well at nights.

 

this question might really be asking how to avoid being made corporately responsible for those who are in the group they themself represent.

It is beyond me that a powerful group of professionals still try to protect each other without realizing how “small” I am and how simple I am reached without trickery. If we “manage” by fear, that’s all we do: fear!

All I hoped for was just for someone to not be afraid of me, for someone to just have a coffee with me asking how my day was and complain about the weather or whatever. The way my former boss “Cat” did briefly before leaving too soon. I am nobody, just broken, scared, loud, angry, nothing more to be afraid of, and nothing less to be stepped upon. I would have wished for some protection. But better late than never.

 

Now, I like to leave each day on a positive note. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with depression, other times I’m exhausted from the day, another time just chilled and content. I don’t dare to aim for happiness, I’m not there yet. But I don’t want to end a day on a negative note. And yet I still do it so often.

A dear friend recently said to me, “Forgiveness is a powerful thing”, something I did not want to hear, but know she is right. To “for – give”, to give away an experience, a painful event, letting go, is liberating. Even if or because it takes time and pain; falling, getting up, falling again, getting up again… as if I haven’t got enough pain to work through already. But bitterness won’t be the thing I will fall asleep with. And the only shimmering puddle I will wake up to is the dew of a new day, with new chances to look out for those who need a new society to lend them a hand to heal.

 

One thing I often did early on after my brother died, was to walk for hours through London, especially through the busy tourist areas I would usually avoid. There I sought and saw happy faces, little kids eating ice cream and being jolly, and when they cried it was because they didn’t get their ice cream right then and there. Very valid tears for a child; I envied the reason for their tears. And after five minutes the only thing that was crying was the melting ice cream dripping down on their chin, and life was sweet again.

There were glimpses of life in the midst of loss and blackness. I sought the smiles of kids, or the naïve curiosity of tourists, or the clumsy effort of new lovers… All I did was starring at life as it kept moving on and passing by me. There was life in the midst of trauma. At least I was an observer of it, like watching a movie passively, just “existing” without living the scenes I watched, looking for meaning, never mind a happy end. There’s none.

The Trafalgar and the Leicester Square areas and the Southbank have been my home away from home in the early weeks and months of making sense of my brother’s passing. I miss him. And I keep looking for him in my walks.

 

Life is good I want to enjoy it when it comes around.

The smile of a child; the glance of a lover; a little dog licking your face not caring if you’re happy or sad, just caring that you’re there; the courage of your boss; the neighbour’s lending hand; the shoulder of a friend …

May 2016

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Cry Me A River – Translating Crocodile Tears

 

drip by drip, drop by dot and blabber…

The performance worthy of an Oscar, that took two years of research and practice.

 

YT

 

So touching!

 

CryMeARiver

 

 

In 2015 Clive Schlee was CLUELESS what to do and patronizing as usual. Only ONE of several customer complaints and warnings before AND even after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s death: 

2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_3

Link

 

In 2016 which no one in the UK media seemed to have noticed nor researched a man in New York sued Pret quote: “after he a went into anaphylactic shock. He alleges that the restaurant staff served him food containing sesame after assuring him the food was free of the allergen.

—> Pret a Manger hit with lawsuit

The Verdict  (he lost!)

I tweeted about this HERE and mention that from the witness account in the verdict document the supplier of the wrap that contains sesame did NOT need to include sesame in the ingredient as in the U.S. it isn’t law, but in Canada it has to be included. So, the supplier acted responsibly and added it anyway even though by law he did NOT need to, but he included it in case the product was purchased from outside the USA, like Canada for example. Yet, Pret could not be bothered and after this lawsuit and then even after Natasha’s death still did NOTHING!

Witness statement from the supplier from the verdict document, Page 5 (FDA = Food and Drugs Administration):
“We list and perhaps by FDA regulations, we are asked to list or call out any of the ingredients that could be classified as an allergin [sic]. Wheat and soy are classified as allergins in the U.S. In Canada sesame would be included as we really don’t know wh~re stores are, so we put what might be outside this country or at least the border country.”

So, the supplier has sesame included, even though by U.S. law he didn’t need to. And Pret did not list, even though they had the info from the supplier ingredient list on the product.

Sweet-talk of the decade:

*IRONY ON*

PretDoingRightThingHaHa

*IRONY OFF*

 

The Translation
Of the CEO’s Oscar-worthy performance

 

Clive Schlee: “I went to the Inquest…”

As if he had a choice!

 

CS: “and I saw the impact that Natasha’s death had on the family.”

He went, saw and came to the conclusion after two years since Natasha died, that her premature death, which happened on his watch, destroyed a family!

 

CS: “And it’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

 

CryMeARiver

 

And the Pret Academy Award in a leading role, for the performance that took two years to perfect goes to…

 

CS: “So, on a personal level I’m devastated.”

Is he, now? After two years ignoring repeated warnings before and even after Natasha’s death.

 

CS: “But”

But

 

CS: “… the coroner”

Oh, the coroner, huh?!

 

CS: “the coroner asked for a change in the law…”

The coroner blames the law, now? Didn’t the coroner say that Pret’s labelling was inadequate? And further in this “REPORT TO PREVENT FUTURE DEATHS”, quote:
»Regulation 5 allows for food outlets to avoid full food labelling requirements whether they prepare a small number of items in local shops or in the case of Pret, over 200 million items for sale by preparing these items in “local kitchens”. These items prepared in “local kitchens” are in fact “assembled” in large parts from items made in factory style outlets to Pret specifications. I was left with the impression that the “local kitchens” were in fact a device to evade the spirit of the regulation.«

Yes, that about sounds like the Pret I know! And I’m glad someone finally sees that Pret products are not freshly “made” but “assembled” from ready products out of factories into many tiny “factories” sold as “lovingly made in Pret kitchens” bla.

 

 

CS: … “the family asked for a change in the law.”

Wow! Dragging the family on his side while Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse said this in response: …He’s not acting fast enough. (Well, he’s ‘acting’ alright) “I would say to anyone with serious allergies or is concerned about allergies … don’t buy a sandwich or go to Pret A Manger, because they’re still holding your life at risk right now!” — Nadim Ednan-Laperouse

 

So much about “preventing future deaths”!

 

CS: “And I’m now making changes in PRET that will make that change in the law happen more quickly.”

I must say Clive Schlee has got some balls or deeply lacks the sense of responsibility, to still be in the blaming game Pret-ending to be a “leader” who brings the change after being clueless on what to do!

 

2018-09-28 Another OPEN LETTER_3

Link

 

CS: … “Probably – probably better.”

Yes, I would stutter, too if I was him!

 

PretDoingRightThingHaHa

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust

 

UPDATED November 2018 – Undercover report sparked by my blog (at the bottom of this post).

UPDATE March 2019 – For the first time I share my story verbally on a podcast based in California.

 

NOTE: I am shadow banned all the time on Twitter and Facebook on Pret’s behalf to avoid bad press for them. I mainly get shadow banned when I tweet to the press. Please google what shadow banning means (in a nutshell: secret censoring). I also talk about it extensively in the interview. Also, at times it says on a Tweet “Tweet unavailable”, but always click on the link, because it IS available! And always click on “Show more replies” where Twitter hides posts from the public, as with this Tweet: LINK to TWEET at the bottom, click on the link as supposedly “This Tweet is unavailable”. But tweets are always there and are visible via direct links.

 


 

Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust

 

To whom it may concern at the PFT,

I want to start this open letter with one of your former assistant managers who became homeless after being unfairly dismissed. And he is just one who is public. How many more underpaid and for overtime unpaid employees went from the kitchen and shops to the streets? Only you know … I certainly almost did!

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff

Link

 

And as your “labelling commitment” has been placed again under the carpet and replaced by, what I find a patronizing slogan, to call former homeless people “Rising Stars” is to me again typical for Pret and the facade of your company.

 

2018-09-21 PFT

Tweet

 

The Pret staff on the left in the photo with the white shirt, Hind, has been to my shop several times when one particular FL was difficult for the whole team and I was going through trauma. The FL was later transferred to another shop. But Hind in the photo came to my shop several times, and was obviously briefed about what I was going through at the time with my personal loss and the grievances that were raised due to the bullying I went through in a previous shop. She came to speak with the FL who was challenging for the team.

But not one time did she speak to me, not even hello or bye. Nothing! I didn’t know who she was, but it was clear that she was involved with the apprentices as she came by also for catch-ups with a young apprentice.

 

This post links to a member of the Mosaic Clubhouse in Brixton who worked for 3 months under your Rising Star scheme. But he wasn’t taken on after three months and explains that his experience was positive. Quote: “I was very slow and so they didn’t offer me a continuation of job after the three months trial. … In the end the experience was very good and worthy. ”

It was positive for him as he was treated differently, not shouted at; placed in a branch that Pret knows can be used as an example compared to the usual atmosphere in shops; he worked steady and stable morning hours, Monday to Friday with weekends off etc. Ben, the manager of the Brixton shop wrote this to Hind:
“Please let him know that we were very impressed by his professionalism at work and always giving 100% in whatever he was doing. The quality of products he made were picture perfect EVERY time. Myself and the team would like to say a big thank you and we wish him luck in his new job and we hope he will pop by for a coffee on us whenever he is in Brixton as he will always be one of us.”

So, his sandwiches were picture perfect (a requirement in Pret) EVERY time, and yet he wasn’t employed beyond the three months trial period. He isn’t even completely clear why he didn’t get the job beyond his trial period, quote: “For what I understood I did my job very well but I was very slow and so they didn’t offer me a continuation of job after the three months trial.” He was not even taken in the shop front on the tills or any other place in the business, regardless of his 100% professional attitude AND picture perfect sandwiches! It urges the question if “slow” people, even while working with 100% excellence but with mental health conditions have a chance in Pret! Sergio certainly was treated really well but to me it looks like it was a show for him to give the positive report. If he would have stayed on, he would have eventually seen and be treated differently as Pret demands a high pace and a smiley front at all times.

One staff review makes this paradox and contradiction very clear. The expectation is to make picture perfect products, but super fast. Yet, Team Members are confused and frustrated because they want to work well, do their jobs with care and passion, but are pushed and pressed for speed: They expect you to follow six key points of production and have passion in making items. When you follow this they then moan that you are to slow and need to hurry up as everyone in a Pret kitchen says choppy choppy which is the worst thing because it only makes you less motivated.

LINK: Modern-day Slavery

 

And from experience I know how quick managers are to letting staff go, as a Team Leader I had the lucky position to be able many times to save a Team Member’s job when I learned that the manager wanted to let them go. I would put in a word for them asking for them to be under my wing in the shop. Fortunately at times managers listened and the TM bloomed in the shop where they struggled in the kitchen, or they did better in the kitchen after having struggled in the shop.

Sergio was treated differently, he worked Monday to Friday with the weekends off which is very unusual, unless you are a parent and stand up for your rights in regards to flexible working hours protected by law. But every staff member that I worked with, including myself, HAD TO be flexible and work on weekend, except if they really fought it through to be off on weekends. Even getting rotating shifts every other weekend off was often a struggle as managers are not disciplined in the rota setting and just want staff to be available non-stop.

I have a feeling that he would have eventually realized a different Pret than he experienced and there was no room for him there, no matter how well he worked. Not fast enough despite his excellent working ethics. It was a perfect way for Pret to show a front for him to share how wonderful Pret is. And then they add insult to injury by calling him “one of our own”. His contract was discontinued after his trial period, and yet they call him of their own. A typical “sweet-talk” in Pret of how they fool people into believing Pret cares, while not caring in reality, except when people play their games and for PR. And he certainly receives free coffees as a customer to keep him sharing “happy” moments with Pret.

Thus Pret indirectly, with sweet-talk and free products (and probably a big donation for Mosaic Clubhouse) shows that there is NO room for people with mental or physical disabilities in shops, as they cannot keep up the horrendous pace in shops. There is no room for people who suffer or struggle in any way that would hinder Pret to pressure them into high productivity. Pret being “careful to integrate” former homeless people into shops as Clive Schlee worded it, as they won’t last under the burden of management. Regular staff are bullied and pressured that after a while they break and either leave or get fired, putting them into mental health issues. 

I keep linking to the staff complaints that I collected unto one page, as this shows again and again how pressured and stressful it is and if staff are not fast enough, they don’t have much of a chance. One example that I know only too well about messed up pays and other issues I am sure Sergio did not experience as Pret was careful to treat him different for PR:

 

StaffComplain_Jan2018

Link

 

Also, Sergio didn’t get taken on after the 3 months trial as Pret would have had to pay him the £1000 that the CEO promised via Twitter. This would be paid after already one year of service.

And Pret announced that they will bring a report on the Rising Stars soon, and of course as I have confronted them with my “Fallen Stars” post, knowing Pret they like to counter this with slick videos and interview those who have had a great experience being invited to the CEO’s PRivate PRoperty in Austria and other places. As they are not pressured like the mainstream staff to cover up how horrible working there is. I responded with a Tweet myself, even though this is silly.

 

Being involved with the PFT and working with former homeless people, who have their story and reason why they were homeless, looks good from the outside and I’m sure a lot is meant well and fun. Oftentimes homeless people have lost someone, couldn’t cope with the trauma, and through various events ended up on the street. At the time I worked in Pret 7+ years and was bereaved and on top of that I was bullied during this horrific time. OPs managers who did the grievance hearings pretended that I wasn’t bullied. Grievances were not substantiated and in the appeals were partially substantiated, but just for tiny unimportant issues to keep up appearances. I was denied that I was bullied, and yet your lawyers mentioned that I was bullied in their reply to the Tribunal.

Everyone who knows my blog knows the story, and I will not go into further detail again. As a Team Leader I performed very well, helped bring success to every single shop I worked in, and then having lost my brother and on top of it being bullied from line managers under the watchful eye and guidance of HR. I approached HR early on since May 2015, but they ignored my efforts to bring suggestions in how to support bereaved employees, and just “sweet-talked” while behind the scenes pulling the strings as I could see in my file later.

And yet, all this time there was the Pret Foundation Trust that helps former homeless people back into work.

In a recent Tweet your PFT Director speaks about how she is supportive of people with mental health issues, and yet I was bereaved, bullied, became ill and you had no concerns whatsoever about staff whose “stars” are starting to fall right in front of you! I also keep confronting Pret on a suicide of an AMK last year. Of course you would want this under the carpet as well. But the person in the photo even came to my shop several times, but never ever even gave as little as a hello or good bye, let alone “How are you, my name is so-and-so I work with PFT and we care for people with mental health issues, bereavement and help them find back into work…”

To see how former (mainly young) homeless people are being used for PR while regular staff suffer in bereavement, a bullying work environment, and become an inconvenience, turns my stomach!

 

One of the rare persons on Facebook was thinking further than just from 12 to noon and asked Pret underneath their Promo video about the Christmas Ads on the “Rising Stars” program, quote:

this is great, but 450 in 10 years in really not much given pret have 12k staff this year alone? why so few?

Link (to be able to read, need to be logged into FB)

Screenshot in case her comment will be deleted, as mine disappear regularly:

why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12k staff

 

 

why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12k staff

 

And UPDATE 02.01.2018

 

2019-01-02 re rising stars too few2

Link

 

In the 10 years since the Rising Stars program exists, out of 12K employees only 450 came through the program. It does not take much to use people for PR, that is all I can say, dear Pret Foundation Trust. And the public falls for it, and only very few take a closer look.

 

I wrote extensively in “Pret Being Careful to Integrate” why Pret is careful to integrate former homeless people into regular shops, and that the idea came for them to run an entire shop by themselves. Clive Schlee wrote in his blog, quote: “People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.””

And this is the big give away that Clive Schlee is very very aware and as the CEO indeed the leading force behind how shop staff are treated. I explain in my blog entry as to why they would be “too exposed” and therefore great care is being taken to not integrate them into regular shops. They would be too exposed to the harsh treatment of managers who are tasked by this same CEO for targets and profits. Rarely does a GM step back from that for the sake of the teams:

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM

4 years after Bridgepoint took over

 

Or a former Assistant Manager’s review:

 

AM

Dec 2017

 

So, in order for the Mosaic Clubhouse member to not see the reality, he was not taken on as he was too slow, not even taken on in the shop as he would see reality after a while and that wouldn’t be good for PR[et]!

 

 

2018-07-23 Quote #27 Pret Hellhole

13. June 2018

 

2018-07-24 RPQ now Branzinotito comment on James Hoffmann video

YouTube

 

“Pressure, humiliation, unpaid work”

2018-10-21 #61 Slaves Company

18. Oct. 2018

 

 

“Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work”

2018-10-02 Modern Day Slavery

02. Oct. 2018

 

 

“You will lose everything that makes you human”

2018-07-12 Quote Pret #17

05. March 2018

 

 

“I have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment.”

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

30. Oct. 2018

 

… and many more along those lines!

 

And just one of the press reports where journalists are starting to wake up. Everything this article says I could have told him years and months ago incl. the class suit by staff in the U.S. on unpaid wages! Once the public started to see how appalling Pret’s senior leadership dealt with two customer deaths and kept it quiet until it became public, only then does the press wake up to how it really is behind the facade. And at least plenty of people, Unions etc. have an eye on you now! Don’t be fooled by the few followers I have. I keep it low on purpose! And I know you have people keeping an eye on my posts and automated bookmarking systems are used to register every blog post I publish. Be my guest!

 

Times report

 

Link to the article where the reader needs to register to read, but I gave my two cents to it in “Sliced Pret“. Sathnam Sanghera woke up so clearly that he even liked a Tweet I posted, one of many on his article that I linked to on Twitter:

 

2018-11-09 Times Report Like2

Link

 

So, you bet your former homeless people would be too exposed and you want to be careful to integrate them into regular shops as they may not last long like the above Mosaic Clubhouse member, who despite being such a good asset didn’t get the job! You let “Rising Stars” work together in one shop incl. management, make it easier on them and thus you show to the public what a lovely company you are, while your regular shop staff are suffering greatly. Instead of making it easier across the company, you create clusters of shops for PR. Again, my stomach turns.

The Head of HR and Recruitment who was tasked to speak with me once I contacted the CEO after being bullied and sent away by your toxic HR department for almost a year, he could have very easily placed me in another area of the business or introduced me to the PFT to help me recuperate from my trauma. But the plan was to place and keep me under suppressive management in the hopes I resign. Thus this whole PFT is not just hypocritical, it’s a scheme for marketing.

Well I didn’t. I rejected 4 settlement offers that were peanuts anyway if I resign. You don’t understand that a person who becomes bereaved has no interest in money nor do you realize that to mess with a bereaved person, you don’t know what you are getting yourself into! I wouldn’t budge because I have strong principles and values that cannot be polluted with money. Money comes and goes, but I don’t prostitute my values and convictions.

I kept going and then your company fired me while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma. You used your Development Manager who supposedly also lost her brother and didn’t know for days that he was dead like my brother. You stepped on her and my dignity by using her personal tragedy against mine to sanction me, instead of supporting me and her in our common grief. How perverse and corrupt does it get, Pret?!

I buried my dad a few months after losing my job, but I never told him that I was fired. In and out of dementia and being clear at times, surprised to see me again so soon, where I just left him a week before. I lied to him and said that my company gave me extra time off to be with him, while in reality I was fired three days after Christmas 2017, no job in sight, my father just out of a coma, money running out, a complete breakdown and suicidal. My dad was pleased that I seemed to work for such a great company. And thus I have the opportunity now to tell the public what a careless and corrupt company Pret A Manger is, that just likes to cater to PR.

It hurts me for people who continue to suffer under this greed-ridden corporate bully, disguised behind sweet-talk and fake smiles. And as a former IT Analyst reviewed the company and Head Office:

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

19. Dec. 2018

 

Even the £1000 announcement to all staff came in the night from 28th to 29th May 2018 when Pret became aware of my blog here. Quick PR RE-action, while not being bothered at all that customers died until this also became public.

I’ve written many times on Twitter and here in my blog that it is my biggest regret to have wasted 10 years of my life on a company that wasn’t worth my while at all. I struggled so much but kept giving Pret the benefit of the doubt while deeply traumatized and becoming ill. I never worked in such a hurtful place and had to learn my lesson hard.

You use former homeless people for your PR, giving them patronizing labels of “Rising Stars”, which is your CEO’s “trademark” suffering from “foot-in-mouth disease” to give people patronizing and disrespectful labels, like calling me his “late night girl” while pretending that my emails were wrong. Yes, take disadvantaged people to Austria and all over the world, I would even donate to that, treat them well, but to not soften the approach to all staff across the board, some of whose lives have been and are being destroyed by your company, THAT is my disgust of your lies, tricks and exploitation of hard working people. Once they become bereaved, unwell mentally they become an inconvenience for you.

And my experience that Pret never cared for bereaved staff, have absolutely nothing in place to protect and support them, and worse even bully bereaved staff that I have survived under a discriminating HR department. It is still going on and will not change unless the law here also changes and protects bereaved employees from bullying and toxic management and companies.

 

The bereaved keep getting penalized in Pret:

2018-11-01 Funeral

01. Nov. 2018

 

 

Fired

Link

 

 

To end this “letter” that you don’t care about anyway, Pret you step on people, including from HQ. I regret not having reached out to the AMK I was told about who later ended her life. And someday, someone, somewhere will pick this and other things up again.

I am a member of the Mosaic Clubhouse that you try to insinuate fishing for staff as Brexit is close. I am seriously considering cancelling my membership at the Clubhouse. I cannot be in a mental health facility that just cares for support from toxic companies who put people in mental ill-health in the first place.

I am proud to have made many Unions and other important people aware of you, and more and more people as well as your staff will rise and tell their story.

My tribute to the “Fallen Stars” who were trampled upon, some who became homeless, and God knows how many more suicides are under the carpet, when Pret can hide two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal, several hospitalized… how many staff found no way out then to go over the edge, as I almost did as well.

Pret, you are dangerous to people’s lives and health!

And more people will disobey.

 

A message to exploitative companies, “We’re coming for you!” – John McDonnell

 

 

 

 

FallenStars

 

 

Pret Staff Complaints Selected Quotes

 

 

Sparked by my blog Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover in Pret. I added some comments to her findings in more detail from my 10 years in Pret in “Undercover Under Pressure“.

 

2018-11-25 Amy Sharpe Undercover in Pret

 

 

Other example on the “Rising Stars” Tweet where my Tweets are hidden from the public:

 

Tweet visible to me only while logged in:

shadowban risingstars visible

 

 

My Tweet NOT visible to the public when I’m logged out:

 

shadowban risingstars not visible

 

Link

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The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in —> Pret Staff Complaints

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Fallen Stars – On the House! Would you like some Sweet-talk with that?

 

FallenStars

 

 

After my “IMAGINARY but Honest Interview with Pret” in the summer, I’d like to add to that an “IMAGINARY but (equally) Honest Project in Pret”:

 

The Fallen Stars of Pret A Manger which is their true “labelling commitment”

 

… or how about some nutty fruitcakes with “natural” labels like this? I certainly survived a near fatal reaction to these:

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

Freshly prepared in kitchens where they handle allergens … so eat responsibly as it is solely your and shop staff’s responsibility to find out what is in the products.

Just a few of the fun games with the colourful labels. It’s also called “Pret A Guess The Product”. The winner gets a cheap coffee on the house with the wrong milk of course.

 

2018-10-29 Dairy vs Soya

 

 

Rules: none, you just get fired or killed at your own fault.

Playing Fields:

The Hot Chef’s playing field where they “play” so fast under immense pressure in tiny work spaces that it turns into fun having to figure out which surprise is in a soup cup… After all, they love to play Russian Roulette.

 

2018-11-11 Tiny HFC area

 

 

The Customer’s Playing Field

2018-11-09 Meaty Porridge

 

2018-10-23 Gherkin in Croiss

 

 

2018-10-24 Soup incidence

 

 

2018-10-29 Meat Mac instead of Veg

 

 

The winner is ALWAYS the customer risking their lives and health. And the “Fallen Stars” just disappear as quickly as they came, if the blaming game on them is successful.

 

To concentrate on the project, this is about the Fallen Stars that they don’t like to advertise, like they do with the “Rising Stars” that really help PR[et]. They don’t want to integrate former homeless people into shop teams as the harsh work environment would turn them also into Fallen Stars (again!).

But for the sake of the ever so Pret-onizing labelling commitment (by the way, CEO Clive Schlee labeled me his “late night girl” after the trauma Pret put me through… but that story is spread like butter on my website and can fill a dozen books).

CAUTION: There is nothing gluten free, dairy free, nut free on my side, just the blank ingredients loaded with calories of the reality on how I survived Pret A Manger. Read responsibly.

 

So, who are the “Fallen Stars”?

Here are the winners, who after they won their spot on the streets, go to places where Pret never tread before:

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff and plenty of Deputies!

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff

 

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

 

 

Horrible Company Pret

 

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

 

 

2018-10-21 #61 Slaves Company

 

2018-11-01 Funeral

 

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM

 

 

2018-07-23 Quote #27 Pret Hellhole

 

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1

 

2018-10-20 Staff cry

 

 

2018-09-16 Re Emily to Pret

 

2018-09-30 My Tweet on death suicide

 

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The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in Pret Staff Complaints

 

And many, many, many more of the wonderful Fallen Stars who “really matter”, those struggling Poets who tell it like it is, the true Captains some who were thrown over board, each with their own genre, shortened in Quotes of the Day.

 

 

And Pret’s “Plastic Pledge” will be the next project that will be covered. Watch this space!

2018-10-30 Plastic Cover

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – Present expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

When a Star became Sliced Pret

 

Sliced Pret

 

Okay okay, I know, I keep butchering Pret A Manger’s name, and it’s silly, I just like to return the favour after having been emotionally and mentally dismantled.

I don’t do much advertisement but I want to point out an article. It is disappointing that the Press only now starts to wake up. If any occupation should know about PR facades, than it should be the Press, but not even reporters catch on until catastrophic events happen and they start to take a closer look.

But regardless, I want to point to a brilliant Times UK article by Sathnam Sanghera and just quote a few things that are worth repeating. Some of my readers may not be on Twitter where I re-posted this article all over the place after I found it first on 03. Nov. 2018, so you can go straight to the link to read. Unfortunately you need to register with The Times to read, but it’s very simple and fast.

 




 

The only little “house keeping” I want to mention for your own inbox, that I already posted in the summer, read the small print carefully otherwise you find yourself with junk mail very quick. It really annoyed me and I ended up not registering at the time. I just registered on 3rd Nov. when I discovered Mr. Sanghera’s well worth article to register.

When you sign up, be careful how to click:

 

NaughtyTimes_crop

 

First box:

“We’ll send you information on products and services from The Times and The Sunday Times that you may be interested in. If you would prefer not to receive these then click here. ”

The little word “not” is here.

 

Second box:

“We would like to send you exclusive promotions, competitions, and content from selected partners. If you would like to receive these then please click here.”

The little word “not” is NOT here.

 

In short, if you do NOT want to receive any junk mail whatsoever, CLICK the first box and leave the second box UNclicked. Pretty naughty what The Times is doing here, as many people are in a hurry and assume after they clicked the first box, the second applies to the same 😉 But other than that registering is quite simple and fast.

 




 

 

Some things from this article I want to highlight:

 

“Pret was the best thing since sliced bread but private equity ruined it”

 

 — Sathnam Sanghera

 

 

First of all, Pret was always difficult. I started in Pret in 2008 just when Bridgepoint purchased and set a high target to open all over the place, especially on seemingly every corner in London. But former colleagues, including one former manager who worked with the competition next door to the Pret I worked in, told me that it was always a “club” at the top where you only were part of if you played the game well, and the hard workers at the bottom did all the work. But since 2008 it became hellish as I collected many staff complaints from various Employment Review sites, Twitter, YouTube etc. as well as my own traumatic experience in Pret.

I also cleaned up the comprehensive list and explained the positions in the recent post I wrote “Pret Poets Society“, as writing helps me cope.

Briefly, three of the many reviews that I can underline all the way. The first comes from a New York City former Pret employee just “freshly” reviewed on 30. Oct. 2018 and hits this home again what I have experienced and survived:

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

Link

 

One former Manager’s review from 2012, 4 years after the Bridgepoint purchase:

2012-07-23 Ex GM

Link

 

And this person that keeps appearing on YouTube regarding Pret like I keep posting on Twitter:

Horrible Company Pret

Scrolling down on the YouTube comments

 

 

Some Quotes from the article:

I’d like to say I’ve not been influenced by what other people have been saying, but I have: the fallout from the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in 2016 after a severe allergic reaction to one of the company’s baguettes, and the company’s woeful response, has brought home just how much Pret has changed under private equity owners, the most recent of which is JAB Holdings, which also owns Krispy Kreme. More specifically, all the things I once admired Pret for are no longer true.

 

My response to this is, that the truth only now comes out but it has been like this for years. And devastatingly it takes deaths for the public to drop their jaw in disbelief. I was writing since May 2018 about Pret and how poorly their top leadership is dealing with serious issues. I have at times written all over the place, addressed all kinds of people especially when I was extremely distressed and virtually crying out for the public to open their eyes as people are getting hurt, especially staff.

But the majority of the time I was met with silence, sometimes with anger because people just don’t want to know that their beloved Pret is not what they thought it is. The only people who believed me immediately and were/are supportive are of course the Unions and activists in general, people who deal with dishonest companies and organizations on a daily basis and are not surprised anymore.

One person’s support helped me greatly, just in the fact that she believed me and gave me a dose of reality that most people don’t give a toss. Thank you to Rebecca again:

 

Rebecca

 

 

But it is sad that even the Press is not interested to look deeper until the ultimate catastrophic event happens: death prematurely and unnecessarily. And if the press gets interested, they are intimidated, fearing by legal ramifications. I don’t blame them. But at the end of the day no one who read my publications will be able to say they didn’t know how it is in Pret. I’m satisfied that even 1 person reads and believes me.

 

 

Quote:

“Depressingly, this weekend The Sunday Times reported that Pret had been hit with a bill of almost $1 million (£780,000) to settle claims that it underpaid staff in its New York sandwich bars.”

 

Again, I posted this all over the place already back in August (in red at the start of this post) where I was even followed on Twitter by several news reporters including one from the Guardian. I have since kicked everyone off my following, that I did at times in a drunken stupor and distress. For the reader to understand I became like this since the traumatic death of my brother added with what I went through in Pret. But I am slowly recovering and working hard, including with Therapy not to act on impulse. But I keep writing about how staff in the UK are not paid accordingly, which I also have experienced countless times having to chase my correct pay.

 

 

Quote:

“…in recent years the company has been attacked as a prominent proponent of “affective labour”, aimed at giving customers a positive feeling, with the British journalist Paul Myerscough reporting in The London Review of Books that staff are required to master…”

 

This article can be found here and speaks about Andrej who was fired from Pret after he started a Union. I gave Andrej his own spot on my website: Andrej Stopa Ex-Pret.

And I will add again and again that this affective emotional labour hurts people to the point of suicide. And for those who know my story and keep reading this repeat, I’m sorry, but new readers find my website every day and I have to repeat over and over that I was bullied during bereavement with all the manipulative traumas that happened to me under Pret’s toxic HR department. My website/blog is filled with the majority of the story and will eventually turn into a chronological book.

But because I became suicidal, I had to just write as much as possible in case I wouldn’t survive. And if this is all that I had left to do, and no matter what Pret does to me again, my story is out and I hope people open their eyes. Last year an assistant manager died by suicide and I keep confronting Pret about it. Of course they wouldn’t respond. But again, the truth will one day always come out!

 

 

Quote:

“The recent claim made by chief executive Clive Schlee that “Pret looks like a huge company but in fact it’s 500 little kitchens”, and marketing material that implies that Pret is still a local store selling healthy products to customers it knows intimately, just doesn’t wash anymore. It’s obvious what the owners are trying to do. As one veteran private equity investor put it recently: “We buy a business, work out how many restaurants you can get away with in an area until it’s become saturated, then try to convince a new buyer that there is plenty more runway”.”

 

Yes, I started to be bothered with the amount of Prets popping up all over the place since 2008, and while working in Pret then I felt “invaded” even in my private time when mingling around London that in my personal time I couldn’t escape the view of a Pret.

 

 

Quote:

“There has been a barrage of negative stories in recent years: tabloid claims that Pret’s “freshly baked bread” is in fact imported part-baked and frozen from France; tales of a vegetarian customer finding sausages in their breakfast pot…”

 

It’s not just “tales” it’s fact, and in my 10 years the amount of complaints I had to deal with in shops and had to refund and fix mistake is a book on its own. Several serious issues from just recently: Meat soup for vegetarian, dairy instead of soya in coffee, plastic socket cover in a wrap, metal piece in a wrap, piece of ham in veggie sandwich, repeatedly wrong soups / wrong labels…

 

2018-10-30 Plastic Cover

 

 

Quote:

“It’s ironic that when the founders sold a third of the business to McDonald’s for £50 million in 2001 it was deemed a disaster but nowadays McDonald’s feels like it is trying harder to change than Pret.”

 

I am a permanent and life-long “boycotter” or avoider of McDonald’s and the like, but this is a great statement! It always bothered me when I first learned that Pret did this marriage of convenience to McD to get their foot into the U.S. I learned this in my first year in Pret and couldn’t believe how a food company that prides itself in freshness and paying staff better, then teaming up with McDonald’s. That already is a dead give away what’s behind the motive anyway.

 

Yes, a star may have been fallen while Pret painstakingly keeps up the smile and now push hard with patronizing former homeless people as “Rising Stars” … and what is behind this I wrote in this article… But PR[et} keeps shouting loud and diverting away from its troubles and readjusts its make up for the public.

 

Word PR.Isolated on white background.3d rendered illustration.

 

 

I hope more quality journalists like Sathnam Sanghera will take a closer look and interest into the facade of Pret and also staff treatment. Pret deserves a host of undercover reporters on different locations/countries invading them and reporting from the inside, like James Bloodworth did with Amazon. But I guess, even deaths in Pret are falling on the wayside again now and the public woohoos about free coffees and cookies. Just business as usual …

My thoughts are often with the Ednan-Laperouse and Marsh families. I cannot stop thinking about their trauma. The first couple of years are the worst, and now especially during Christmas, the first Christmas that 5 daughters and a widow will be without their mum and wife…

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2017 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

My Brother Died

 

just like that

 

 

TK03a

 

 

Five weeks before he died he replied to my email inviting him to a gig close to his town. An artist I knew for a long time and had the privilege to work together would play there. I invited him, backstage and stuff, I wanted to make my big brother proud. But he couldn’t make it and I never responded back.

I never responded back.

 

 

 

Pret A Menace

 

 

horizontal-1452536_960_720

 

 

What is the difference between the Takeaway managers who were sentenced to prison and Pret A Manger’s repeated deaths and injuries of customers?

 

BBC Report: (Judge’s verdict) “Neither of you actually foresaw the death of anyone. It never occurred to you that you would be responsible for the death of a young girl. Quite simply, you never gave the risk of a customer dying because of an allergy a moment’s thought.

“You must now live with the guilt of what you have done and the suffering you have caused Megan’s family and to your own families. All of this is a tragedy that could so easily have been avoided had you exercised the proper care to be expected of those who serve food to the public.”

 

How is that different to Pret that had TWO customers die (that the public knows about), a third almost fatal, several in hospital and repeated ignored warnings from customers?

  • Judge: “Neither of you actually foresaw the death of anyone.”
    – Neither did Pret, even though they received repeated warnings especially regarding sesame where a 17 year old teenager was hospitalized before Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died.
  • Judge: “It never occurred to you that you would be responsible for the death of a young girl.”
    – And yet, it may have occurred to Pret as they were warned, including Clive Schlee’s poor response to an open letter before Natasha died.
  • Judge: “Quite simply, you never gave the risk of a customer dying because of an allergy a moment’s thought.”
    Just like Pret that was warned repeatedly and even now still has issues with wrong labelling and just blames downward, while labelling every product, every night since a few years for charity.

 

 

2018-10-20 Pret charity labels2

 

BBC report: The judge said: “The Royal Spice had no systems or processes to manage allergen control. The menu contained no information about allergens. No record was kept of the ingredients used in dishes.

“In short, it appears that no one at the takeaway had any way of knowing what allergens were in the food supplied.”

 

Pret A Mess:

 

The sentencing of the two take away managers may be as an example for small businesses that often do lack in hygiene and training. I am very fortunate to not have any allergies whatsoever, but the first thing I do when I walk into a restaurant to wash my hands before the meal, I check the toilets. Whatever I find in the back gives me a good idea what I will get in the front! Food poisoning is no respecter of persons! I have walked out of restaurants many times based on the toilets. I have a zero tolerance on the lack of hygiene.

 

Jail

 

 

BBC report: “Those who fail to heed the warnings and who continue to flout food safety regulations may find the courts taking a harsher view in the future.”

horizontal-1452536_960_720money

Which takes me back to the question why Pret keeps getting away with repeated incidences? Does it really always boil down to money and is the public so lulled in to the shiny facade Pret polished for years, covering up what’s really behind it? 

BBC: The two-week trial heard there was a “litany of failings” in the kitchen, including poor hygiene and no records of ingredients kept.

 

 

 

Pret A Mice and the Company’s Procrastination

 

 

 

Pest and poor hygiene issues were rampant in Pret years ago. I worked in one particular mice infested shop in around 2010/11 and asked for a transfer to a pest-free shop, as I couldn’t take working in this shop anymore. Usually mice, rats etc. come out of hiding when the shop is closed, quiet and dark. But in this particular shop that was very old before the refurbishments Pret did throughout the company, the mice were so bold they strolled along under the barista cupboard during the busy and loud morning coffee rush. As staff we saw the critters and just held our breath not knowing what to do. I requested to be transferred out from this shop.

Pret used to have internal pest control people who regularly came in to do proofing when there were issues, and we had to constantly call them, but they were unable to tackle the issue and were just fixing holes. They and we all were literally playing a cat and mouse game where the mice won. As a Team Member I even suggested to the pest control person if we couldn’t just close the shop for a few days and solve the issue head on, and I remember very very well him saying that he kept talking to Pret but they did not see any urgency to resolve this. I was appalled because it was getting worse. Once a pair of mice is in they multiply in no time.

Only after an EHO closed a Pret shop after a routine check, finding evidence of pest, did Pret react and commissioned an outside pest control company to take over. Pret went from complete apathy into complete panic mode. Managers were blamed even though there was no clear procedure and training in place as I was a leader already and received no training on pest control at the time. Some managers were fired, other managers were reduced back to assistant manager roles, even though they had no to little training. The blame was always on the shops.

After my transferal to another shop we had one mouse appear and the reaction from Pret suddenly was very very quick after the EHO’s closure. And rightly so. They employed a former EHO to help who was extremely strict and almost on OCD level pressuring us on the tiniest issues. This of course helped, but was extremely stressful compared to our call for help before and being ignored. I and colleagues were summoned to an “informal” meeting where the area manager questioned us on how we dealt with the mouse issue (while not having been trained).

Tactically he was taking notes and let me sign each note. He did that as a typical Pret fear management thing, but at one point I refused to sign if he doesn’t add that the shop I worked in previously that had the mice infestation in the same area where he himself was the area manager at the time, but didn’t act. He quickly realised that this stunt doesn’t work as we had plenty of evidence in the other shop of the amount of times we did a call out for the internal pest control people who couldn’t tackle the issue. After many months of training. and most importantly, the external pest control company doing regular checks, Pret finally got on top of the problem.

Pest is rampant especially in a city like London. It is completely normal that a restaurant or any place will have pest issues from time to time, even when they are squeaky clean hygienically, but with a prompt and professional approach it can be tackled fast. But as usual for Pret it took a major happening, an EHO closing a shop before they reacted while ignoring staff’s and internal pest control people’s concerns.

So, Pret can do it if they want to! And do it prompt and fast! … If they want to!

Pret now has hired ex-FSA boss Tim Smith as Food Safety Adviser.

Once Pret makes up their mind and finally “re”acts after a catastrophic and public event, they employ the best of the best and the most experienced, but it takes shop closures (= loss of money), deaths and this becoming public (= reputation, loss of profit) before this giant wakes from its slumber and complacency where the blaming downwards doesn’t work anymore as the top got caught out being the ones not taking responsibility!

So Pret does a smart thing, an EHO closes down at least one shop due to pest issues, and Pret employs a former EHO because they know what to look for and how an EHO thinks. Customers die and get injured, but no concern there at all for at least two years, but only since the inquest and it becoming public, Pret does the smart thing again to get the ex-CEO from the FSA.

Both very good moves as they know exactly how to improve, the problem is, mice have to multiply NOT to the point that staff get disgusted working there and food is compromised for customers (I won’t go into detail), but only after a shop closure is Pret going into full gear. Two deaths becoming public, no not, 1 death happened and Pret put on the brakes, it had to become public with an inquest. And people get excited about Christmas sandwiches and are bribed with free cookies. Sad and scary world we live in, where people willingly prostitute their principles and values for occasional free and colourful food.

 

Pret A Monopoly

Pret has drawn the Get-out-of-jail-card and will get away with two deaths and several injuries, or at “worst” get fined, while two small fish will serve as an example to smaller businesses and the big guns get away with “murder”.

 

Monopoly

 

Other profit driven fast re-actions from Pret that only serves PR[et] in the post “Immediate PR[et] vs. Labelling Delay“.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Pret A Manager – Bad A Manager

 

I want to shorten some reviews here from the “Pret Poets Society” post to only link to Assistant Managers, General Managers and HQ Staff reviews.

The poor management style that so many Team Members complain about in Pret is enabled from the very top senior leadership and HR, who know exactly how their leaders are. If there is no clear leadership strategy in place, a zero tolerance on bullying and when a large part of Managers are poorly trained, discriminating and especially profit driven, than it becomes very clear that the fish stinks from its head. No company’s top boss can close their eyes and play innocent.

CEO Clive Schlee prides himself on how well he knows his people in this video, and that is why he has no excuse on how the Team Members, as well as Managers are treated! He is not able to say that he doesn’t know as he also visits shops regularly and makes himself approachable to TMs, who often complain directly to him or via his Twitter, risking getting fired for publicly outing their distress. But he does not change the terrible culture as the money keeps pouring in and he pockets £30 Million from the JAB take-over.

 

 

Because Pret’s CEO presents himself as this approachable top boss which impresses many, especially young shop based staff, it is like Clive Schlee plays the “good cop” while Managers are the “bad cop”. But both have one goal, make as much money as possible that they can squeeze out of their workers.

 

 

When I was going through the darkest, most hellish time in grief and on top being bullied by superiors, I was continuously being placed under bullying managers who supposedly cared. When the shouting didn’t work, they turned their bullying more subtle, by withholding information that I needed as a leader, not inviting me to leaders’ meetings and even Christmas dinner, holding me low with menial tasks, giving me the minimum hours even though I asked for more hours etc. In my traumatic state it took me many months to realize that this was on purpose. Clive Schlee and HR know their managers and placed me accordingly in hopes I would resign, as I was offered four settlements if I resign. There was no care nor interest to have me under empathetic or skilled leadership.

This leadership style is then continued, trickling down through the ranks. So, TMs try to rise up the ladder to escape the horrendous pressure and stress, because they see how managers and even Team Leaders sit in the office. And the incentive of managers getting huge bonuses paid while stressing their staff.

I have seen it countless times how good TMs who were very passionate, kind and hard working changed and got corrupted, once they started moving into management levels and attached themselves to this crowd of “leaders”.

 

I never wanted to be a manager even though I applied for Assistant Manager roles, but only to escape the bullying culture in shops. I was often asked through the years by many TMs why I wasn’t a manager, as I worked professionally, with skill and knowledge, and many customers often approached me with a query thinking that I was the manager until I pointed them to the plain clothes GM or AM. But I answered the question of why I was not a manager, very simple because I could not do what managers are pressured to do, cut hours and squeeze everything out of teams to maximize profit. And my TMs agreed and understood, as I was always helping my teams, encouraging them, supporting them, even when I was hectic myself at times.

 

 

goldfish-carassius-fish-golden-45910

I am glad to not be under such toxic “leadership” anymore!

 

 

The worst management often are Managers who come from the outside, from other places like Costa or Nero. They then start straight away as Assistant Managers for a few weeks before being “graduated” as GMs. They work a few weeks or months in the kitchen and do various jobs, but this does not help as they have not been at the very bottom level as a Team Member. But even Managers who started as TMs often turn very sour as I worked with two GMs who were some of the most difficult Managers I had.

The different job roles and how to progress on the ladder I cover in detail in the Pret Poets Society post. But as a short cut briefly:

The hierarchic order to rise up

  • Starting as TM
  • then HFC, Barista or TMT (or any other new job role Pret comes up with)
  • then as FL or KL
  • then as AMF or AMK
  • and finally on shop level as the GM.
  • Beyond this and outside of the shop it goes into area management levels / Operations Manager (OPs).

 

There are two types of Assistant Managers, as the shop in itself is like a business, and so is the kitchen. In larger busy shops there is the Assistant Manager for the shop floor (AMF), and the Assistant Manager for the kitchen (AMK). Smaller, less busy shops don’t have an AMF and sometimes not even an AMK to save on payroll costs. But this burdens down the Team Leaders as GMs often don’t care, are incapable to even do the ordering. When I returned from holiday many times, the shop stock room was a complete mess, over-ordered or missing stock because the GM filled in for my role and couldn’t do the ordering properly. Initially this was very shocking but also seems the norm. But when I as the Team Leader made a mistake on the ordering, there was immediate trouble from the Manager. No mercy while they themselves couldn’t even do the ordering.

Regarding the Operations Managers (OPs) for the areas, I am not concerned with them whose job it is to pressure the shop GMs, to pressure the FLs/KLs, to pressure the Teams. The typical pyramid of hierarchy trickling down with this “leadership” of fear management to reach higher “productivity” and profit. OPs like to sit in the pub during lunch time, visit some shops here and there to intimidate the hard working teams. They fly out to Dubai or if in the USA to Las Vegas, and throw their parties and receive their immense bonuses. So, I am not concerned with OPs managers who mostly don’t give a toss.

 

 

The following Reviews are just those who outed themselves as Assistant Manager, GM, HQ staff and who give an insight into upper and senior management from OPs to HQ.

 

 


 

The Reviews / Complaints

Leaving all mistakes in the reviews to keep it in their own words
and starting with the most recent reviews.

In each job role I highlight a few reviews that really hit the nail on the head.

 


 

 

AMF / AMK

 

20. Dec. 2017 LondonAvoid working thereToo much pressure working there , company expects you to do all your job within the time you are schedule but it is impossible , you will end up working hours for free, no work life balance at all , they have he mistery shipper but it is all a fake thing you can not control , the standards are so high the only thing it will drive is you stress everyday . Don’t work there . Cons: Extra hours not paid”

02. Aug. 2017 Manchester, EnglandRespect yourself don’t let managers to overload you.”

26. May 2017 NYCPure Misery – The kitchen staff is treated like slaves. They are expected to do the impossible. The upper management is a bunch of heartless, evil British monsters that take credit for all the positives and assign blame for all the negatives. Quit your jobs and go back to England and stay there.”

11. Dec. 2013 NYC “Promotions bases on politics, inconsistency In polices , long hours”

09. Oct 2012 London “Too much pressure and managers with poor interpersonal skills. Respect your team, be patient and keep cool under pressure. Be fair to your team members.”

 


Highlighted Review:

19. Nov. 2014 LondonWorst company to work forPret was the best company 10 years ago, they were more about the people and it was beat place to work. now the company is just about the profit also it is run like mafia organisation where it is about who you know, the team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear, the way the company is going it will not last long.
Get back to basic, care about the team and always listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt.”

 

 




 

GM

 

07. Juny 2018 A former Senior Manager’s response to my review:

 

GM response to LNG

 

 

03. Feb. 2018High demands not in line with pay, lack of support, inconsistent training, stressful/poor work life balance

 


Highlighted Review:

11. Mar. 2017Pret A Manger Reality – Long hours, inexperience Operation Managers.
Companhy values have been lost along do way, bonus scheme not very fair.
Pay raises no fair either,
You don’t get reward for results and work ethic, just if you have a close relationship with your Operation Manager, you are the new hot of the month.
Listen to your people more closely, massive turnover on Pret Managers at the moment and everyone just ignoring the reality, huge unhappiness amoung the managers.

Create and fair and competive process for development.

Opportunity Network for Pret employees, just another flawless (meant flawed) tool at pret, most of the vacancies have people already for them, they want to create an illusion you can develop yourself.

Focus on team members it’s essential, but managers dictated the success on your shops, and drive passion to the team.

HR doesn’t protect the managers.

PIP, pret Partners only people, whom have friends already in, not related if you can contribute to the company, just based on relationships.”

(NOTE: HR doesn’t protect anyone unless it suits Pret’s business.)


 

15. Nov. 2016 NYCToxic, low class, unprofessional culture – Racist, non-inclusive environment that upper management and hr are fully aware of but ignore.” (NOTE: worth reading this review in full!)

 


Highlighted Review:

25. May 2016 USA  “Very racist upper management. They make you work 60 hours per week and they don’t pay you for it (just basic salary). They don’t appreciate your work no matter how good you are. Tendency to promote british managers than american ones.
Advise to Management: Open your mind towards american managers. stop racism that is happening to workers. Get involved with the employees and don’t let the operational managers act as they own the people.”


Highlighted Review:

31. Oct. 2015 NYCHorrible training, too many lies. Training sucks, people are treated like crap. Upper management do not care about you, will never recommend this company. Bottom line as a British company they treat employees as machines, they don’t care about how they feel, expect too much for too little. Horrible environment. Treat people with respect and appreciate their hard work. Stop using your British mentality when it comes to deal with people. You’re people are horrible at this.”


 

20. Apr. 2015 Chicago, IL “Manager- horrible upper management, unrealistic goals, promotions based on politics. Favoritism with managementHiring is based on looks – All push with no supportNo integrity  – A lot of show and dance for support center and president/ceo Your employees will respect you if you offer genuine support. It is all about what your shop looks like when the CEO is in town. Stop favoriting managers, no one respects you for it.”

 

01. Feb. 2014 “Great company in risk of ruin! Please get the bullies out and revive Pret to its former glory. Used to be the most amazing company to work for, a job to be proud of. Now your people work in fear…..its time to listen!

 

 

Scrolling to the 23 July 2012 at 12:53 comment, 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret and set the high target of 15% p/a to open all over the place in London specifically.

2012-07-23 Ex GM

 

 




 

 

HQ London or Offices in other countries

 

19. Dec. 2017 London Former IT Analyst: “Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees as owners and senior management concerned about profit margin only. People are taken into account only if it makes a good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”

 

28. Feb. 2017 NYC Former Purchasing Director: “One of the oddest work experiences. Worked their during a transition period – so company going in one direction and then the opposite.

 

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

Pret Poets Society

 

Once I was a Team Leader
a customer feeder
a mental health pleader
for better work conditions

Then I became a help needer
a broken-hearted bleeder
fighting against the greeder
for better work conditions

But now I am just a reader
writing against the cheaters
in-between the tweeters
for better work conditions

©2018 poetrasblok.com

 

 

Clive Deer in the Headlights

 

Clive Schlee, I am glad that you are not my captain anymore!

 

 

Okay, a rather silly “poem” and start into a host of serious concerns from current and former Pret Employees. But in a more humorous and creative way, I decided to clean up the cluttered “Pret Staff Complaints” that has become like “poetry” to me, confirming the terrible work environment throughout the company, even beyond borders, that I survived. A “Club” of people hidden behind the PR[et] facade in the Pret-entious “Happy Factory”, who in their own distress can only out themselves anonymously in public via Employment Review sites and other online platforms. And even when they complain openly on Twitter, they risk their jobs as to publicly post online is not allowed in Pret since recent times. But when they do, they already tried to go via the appropriate channels without success, as the below Tweet so painfully shows.

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1

Link

 

I aim to categorize reviews into each job role for an easier overview. As I used to be a Team Leader of the shop floor, also called Floor Leader (FL) and had my team’s welfare in mind, I start the categories from the bottom up in positions. I start the links to the reviews with team members, including those who did not specify their job role and continue through the “ranks” up until HQ reviews. The different job roles will be clearly marked and separated as well as briefly explained.

Yes, to some readers my repeated writing about Pret seems obsessive, and maybe it is, but after knowing my story for one I am not apologizing for being out-of-sync like this. And as I read through these staff complaints again, it becomes clear again how systemic and carefully thought out this is from the top leadership of Pret down to the shop floor, as the fish stinks from its head. Working on this again helps me understand what happened to me and why, as I still go through traumatic experience, anxiety, triggers etc.

My hope is that more staff become bold and speak out without fear, and especially join a Union. I was not in a Union as I never had problems at work anywhere until working in Pret. Having been bullied during bereavement and all the toxic things that happened, I was like a lamb amongst wolves, up for “slaughter”. I had to learn my lesson very hard, and will never work anywhere again without being in a Union!

But my public writing has gotten me in touch with a lot of amazing people in the background, from Union leaders to the press, former and current Pret employees and others. And I can only stress for anyone no matter where you work, join a Union even if your company is the best company, things change with time, new leadership, a bully boss entering the scene, company taking different direction, getting sold etc. Don’t stay alone. I had to learn this lesson very hard as I never had issues before I worked in Pret. And I gave Pret the benefit of the doubt way too long almost losing my life. But the time of being generous towards manipulative and exploitative employers and others is over. I survived to write about my ordeal as well as others, and it is my time to not hold back anymore.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Brief explanation on each role:

 

Team Member (TM) or Team Member Star (TM*) which just means a TM “graduated” after a few weeks to be a TM*, as Pret has a lot of complex procedures and patronizing graduations in place that is supposed to make TMs feel like they achieved something. That way they stay longer after having gone through many micromanaging levels that are actually completely unnecessary. But it’s very clever psychology.

TMs/TM*s have a burgundy belt and a white name badge. General Managers (GMs) and Assistant Managers (AMs) don’t wear uniform but their own chosen business clothes, initially paid for by Pret when they become AMs/GMs.

In order to rise through the ranks to eventually become Assistant Managers, General Managers and beyond, TMs have to go through the channels of becoming a Barista via being a Coffee Maker (Assistant to Baristas) with a black belt, shirt and name badge or a Hot Chef also called Hot Food Chef (HFC) with a red belt and name badge, or any other job role Pret creates. Of course this is a good idea, but the “graduation” process can often take way too long, as managers tend to procrastinate giving the appropriate pay-rise for each position, so they drag out the graduation process where the TM isn’t even trained properly while still doing that positions job for longer than required, still on TM pay.

One staff member makes this clear in a review and I myself had to draw the line when my then line manager kept postponing my graduation as a Team Leader, I said that I would quit if I am not graduated ASAP, which then happened that day when I drew the line. Part of the review which is very very common in Pret:

 

had me working as a barista for two years would not give me training so they do not have to pay me correctly

 

There used to be the job role of the Shift Runner, but that was discontinued, because Shift Runners weren’t as responsible as Team Leaders had to be. And Shift Runners were paid less than Leaders, so they didn’t care as much and the Team Leaders had to pick up the pieces.

On a side note, the HFC is the hardest job on Team Member level on the shop floor. They are often not well trained, thrust into the job, over worked and they never stop, whereas the Barista has the coffee rush in the morning for about 2 hours and a quieter lunch time on the coffee machines. The Hot Chef goes from stress level to stress level throughout their whole shift. It’s a back breaking job.

 

In the kitchen to climb through the ranks, a TM must become a Team Member Trainer (TMT) with the blue belt and name badge.

Only after they went through any or even all of these positions (as there is often a lack of the job role after staff leave) they can move further to become a Team Leader with a green belt and name badge.

 

There are two types of Team Leaders as well as two types of Assistant Managers, as the shop is like a separate business in itself, and so is the kitchen.

There is the Team Leader for the shop floor, also called Floor Leader (FL) and the Team Leader for the kitchen or also called Kitchen Leader (KL). But both wear green belts and name badges. Speaking as a former FL, knowing the responsibilities and having worked with many leaders, it becomes quickly clear if a leader is genuinely a good leader or if they take advantage of the role and teams, which unfortunately is the norm in Pret.

Team Leaders are often at polar opposites, rarely anything in between, they are either very hard working to breaking point where they deeply care, or they like to follow the example of bad management and sit in the office, shout at the team and rise up fast through favouritism, by equally flawed managers. Unfortunately the latter is the case in most shops. But rarely is there anything in between. And teams will know very quickly which “extreme” a Team Leader belongs to.

 

In larger busy shops there are two kind of Assistant Managers, for the shop floor (AMF) and for the kitchen (AMK). Smaller, less busy shops don’t have an AMF and sometimes not even an AMK to save on payroll costs, burdening down the Team Leaders as GMs often don’t care, are incapable to even do the ordering. When I returned from holiday many times the shop stock room was a complete mess, over-ordered or missing stock because the GM filled in for my role and couldn’t do the ordering properly. Initially this was very shocking but also seems the norm.

 

The FL and KL are the workers that really put in the hard work. They are like mini managers who do almost everything except hiring, firing and the rota. They do the ordering, often set the production, are responsible for health and safety and look after the team. They are overworked, underpaid and mostly blamed when things go wrong. Their job is so hard and they often don’t have help from the AMs and GMs, as most Managers like to “look” busy and important, but love to sit in the office, kiss up to senior management and kick down on staff. That’s why many Team Leaders are in a hurry to get promoted away from this stress.

 

One of the very rare customer comments on behalf of TMs:

 

Pret Staff Cry

 

Link

 

This poor management style in Pret is enabled from the very top senior leadership in HQ, who know exactly how their leaders are. CEO Clive Schlee himself brags about how well he knows his managers in this video, and that is why he has no excuse on how the team members are treated! He is not able to say that he doesn’t know as he also visits shops regularly and makes himself approachable to TMs, who often complain directly to him or via his Twitter, risking getting fired for publicly outing their distress. But he does not change the terrible culture as the money keeps pouring in and he pockets £30 Million from the JAB take-over.

When I was going through the darkest, most hellish time in grief and on top being bullied by superiors, I was continuously being placed under bullying managers who supposedly cared. When the shouting didn’t work, they turned their bullying more subtle, by withholding information that I needed as a leader, not inviting me to leaders’ meetings and even Christmas dinner, holding me low with menial tasks, giving me the minimum hours even though I asked for more hours etc. In my traumatic state it took me many months to realize that this was on purpose. Clive Schlee and HR know their managers and placed me accordingly in hopes I would resign, as I was offered four settlements if I resign. There was no care nor interest to have me under empathetic or skilled leadership, or indeed away from the stressful shop atmosphere.

When I complaint to the CEO directly after not getting anywhere with managers and HR for almost a year, the Head of HR and Recruitment dealt with my situation a few times. He could have easily placed me in a quieter job anywhere in the company or under the Pret Foundation Trust, until I recuperated from my trauma. But he kept me with suppressing “leaders”, and only after much distance can I see how calculated this was.

 

This leadership style is then continued, trickling down through the ranks. So, TMs try to rise up the ladder to escape the horrendous pressure and stress, because they see how managers and even Team Leaders sit in the office. And the incentive of managers getting huge bonuses paid while stressing their staff.

I have seen countless times how good TMs who were very passionate, kind and hard working changed and got corrupted once they started growing into management levels, and attached themselves to this crowd of “leaders”.

I never wanted to be a manager even though I applied for Assistant Manager roles, but only to escape the bullying culture in shops. I was often asked through the years by many TMs why I wasn’t a manager, as I worked professionally, with skill and knowledge, and many customers often approached me with a query thinking that I was the manager until I pointed them to the plain clothes GM or AM. But I answered the question of why I was not a manager, very simple because I could not do what managers are pressured to do, cut hours and squeeze everything out of teams to maximize profit. And my TMs agreed and understood, as I was always helping my teams, encouraging them, supporting them, even when I was hectic myself at times.

 

So, this is the hierarchic order to rise up:

  • Starting as TM
  • then HFC, Barista or TMT (or any other new job role Pret comes up with)
  • then as FL or KL
  • then as AMF or AMK
  • and finally on shop level as the GM.
  • Beyond this and outside of the shop it goes into area management levels / Operations Manager (OPs).

But I am not concerned with those whose job it is to pressure the shop GMs to pressure the FLs/KLs to pressure the Teams, trickling down this hierarchy of fear management to reach higher “productivity” and profit which many of the below reviews mention as “modern day slavery”. OPs like to sit in the pub during lunch time, visit some shops here and there to intimidate the hard working teams. They fly out to Dubai or if in the USA to Las Vegas, and throw their parties and receive their immense bonuses. So, I am not concerned with OPs managers who most of them don’t give a toss.

Even though I want to start from the bottom up with TM reviews, I want to kick off with one former GMs review that makes it very clear how the “happy factory” really works. I really respect this person, as this is extremely rare that a GM leaves for the sake of the teams and their own integrity:

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM

Scrolling to the 23 July 2012 at 12:53 comment, 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret and set the high target of 15% p/a to open all over the place in London specifically.

 

 


 

The Reviews / Complaints

Leaving all mistakes in the reviews to keep it in their own words
and starting with the most recent reviews.

In each job role I highlight a few reviews that really hit the nail on the head.

 


 

 

TM/TM* or unspecified and mixed job roles

 

30. Oct. 2018 NYCGo back to the UK, PretI have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment. Employees relocating from UK were given preferential treatment, better salaries for equal experience, HR was mostly a joke, ‘leaders’ displayed zero initiative in mentorship of their teams…

 

 

July 2018 Review on YouTube towards the bottom from Branzinotito: 

Horrible Company Pret

 

08. Feb. 2019 Facebook comment on Pret’s House for the Homeless and PR. Need to be logged in to read, but here’s a screenshot:

2019-02-08 Facebook good post

 

 

January 2019 From YouTube: “Horrible place to be , pret a manger looks brilliant to the outsider but poor workers are inslaved … they work hard and they always on edge and being told to be fake and be extra nice and sweet

23. Jan. 2019 Office: “Poor management resulting in poor decisions. Office culture is working really really long hours. No work life balance whatsoever and constant office politics.”

27. June 2018 LondonI have worked there just 2 weeks and left. Horrible place they shout at you all the time for any little mistake.

25. June 2018 LondonBad management and not taking care about peopledo not give power to irresponsible people

13. June 2018Hellhole – … you treat people like they’re useless and worthless … get down from that high horse you’re on.”

21. May 2018 LondonPeople will dominate you until you feel like resigning the job.
Supervisors/Team Leaders treat you like a slave.”

15. May 2018you are not seen as human – even when you are having a bad day you must smile – fake atmosphere They treat you like a smiling robot slave that has no life outside of pret. People have come in for a coffee and a sandwich, not a 5 star Michelin restaurant experience, if thats what your going for pay your staff better.”

18. Apr. 2018 “lack of good organisation – management is a joke – numbers are more important than people”

13. Mar. 2018The management is terrible. Thassit.”

21. Jan. 2018 LondonWe have to be smiling a being polite to a bunch of unpolite people. At least give us the London Minimum Wage”

19. Jan, 2018 “too much work, poor leadership

12. Jan. 2018 LondonNever ever! I like Pret just because of people – colleges and because of free food, on the other hand most of the customers was rude and absolutely not thankful for service. I hate all managers,what work for Pret

03. Jan. 2018 Cheltenham, England “Management should do their job and not less”

23. Dec. 2017high rated company – low salary, too much pressure”

10. Dec. 2017super biased managers most of the girls in my store are from the same place even the assistant manager and FOH so they tend to group together against people they don’t like… horrible training and won’t listen to employees – Advise to Management: make sure the store isn’t just a bunch of biased friends that if you aren’t part of their group they’ll make your life hell

25. Oct. 2017 London “Will be leaving soon – Always messing up pay
– If you’re even 2mins late, ITS A BIG ISSUE! (& you will miss out on weekly bonus)
Expect too much from you (work you like a slave)
– Everyone speaks their own languages
Be more understand to staff needs
– Train managers regularly (especially with confidentiality)
– Employ more staff”

 


Highlighted Review:

18. Oct. 2017 London “Overworked environment – Cons: Many of them. People are treated inhuman way in terms of sickness and work load. Employees are being treated more like robots than human beings so all the company values presented in academy are just crap. Whats more they promote you for more advanced roles without paying you for that. So you become a barista or a hot chef and they delay sending you for a training to save money.
tart treating people like people.”


 

10. Oct. 2017 London “rude behaviour at the workplace (kitchen manager shouting at everybody) … The training should be more about encouraging people than about shouting and shaming them.”

06. Oct. 2017 NYC “Lack of communication b/t managers and staff.
– Immature workers
Slave-like environment
– Biased behavior
– Too strict on simple task
Work on communication and stop treating co-workers like robots.”

 


Highlighted Review:

03. Oct. 2017 NYC “my location had a rude manager who cleaned up her act after I tried relocating. There is no HR, just a recruitment team who will give you phone numbers to where you wanna go. Overworked for sure; management expects perfection for their weekly (Mystery) shopper.
Welcome your employees, request a bigger staff
Also, managers shouldn’t be rude. If someone knocks on your door, answer politely and return the courtesy. Don’t leave your new team member working extra hours since the schedule wasn’t fully explained to them.”

 


Highlighted Review:

11. Sep. 2017 “Not kitchen, food factory – Sometimes the leaders forget that the team members are persons, not machines. Some leaders are lacking politeness, consistency and character. Not everybody has to be a leader who works long enough for Pret and shouts loud enough. Management should assess the personality, the leadership skills and the interpersonal skills before making someone a leader.”


 

11. Sep. 2017 NYC “Squandered opportunities – Poor management, broken promises, stressful work environment.”

 


Highlighted Review:

06. Sep. 2017 Birmingham, England “Not sticking to contracted hours- giving you more when it suits them and giving u less when it suits them
Not sticking to actual job roles
You are a full time cleaner part time what you actually applied for
putting rotas up literally days before
changing rotas without informing you
had me working as a barista for two years would not give me training so they do not have to pay me correctly
Advise to Management: quit


 

28. Aug. 2017 “extremely rude co workers, unprofessional management, not properly trained however expected to know what you’re doing and smile while doing it.”

14. Aug. 2017 Edinburghmanagement have no clue how to manage people. train management team to reduce turnover.”

02. Aug. 2017 LondonSlavery for non British people. Good luck with Brexit!”

 


Highlighted Review:

23. July 2017 “The environment was very stressful as you’d imagine, however it always felt like you’re doing something wrong, even when you are trying your hardest. I didn’t feel I received enough training and when I asked for some more training I was told there’s no time at the moment for that, which made it even more difficult for me to be a better employee.
Working in a high demand environment like Pret can be difficult, this on it’s own will motivate the workers, there’s no need for added stress and pressure from the management.”


 

22. July 2017 LondonStrong favouritism – Only comfortable place to work if you belong to certain races – Should practice fair treatment to all staff… team leaders who all happened to be from the same country they came from… Team leaders act like they owe the shop and do and eat whatever they like and telling team member a list of food that not included in staff free food – Management should swap team leaders and managers to other branches

22. July 2017 London “Boring, lots of micromanaging, fairly low pay

15. Juni 2017 NYCVery bad management. They treat you like a slave. You have zero value for them. They don’t recognize your effort. They thread us and show the door if we don’t work very fast. I wonder what kind of manager training they give that manager treats people like crap.” (Little side note from me: There is no to little training, even an OPs who was one of the rare nice OPs, confirmed this once to me when I asked the OPs, as I tried desperately to understand why management in Pret is so appalling throughout the board!)

29. May 2017 “Bad experience – Manager was rude, short tempered and enjoyed shouting at employees. Treat your employees with respect. Be polite .”

28. May 2017 “Cliquey environment… Horrible staff, didn’t care about anyone who wasn’t from the same cultural background and extremely dismissive management who were rude and unhelpful. ”

27. May 2017 “Bad managers… Learning to communicate politely is important.”

 


Highlighted Review:

23. May 2016 NYC

Pros: Hmmmm hard one. I would say free food. If it wasn’t for the 20 word min I wouldn’t have said anything else
Cons: Multiple Supervisor – Confusing Leadership
Lack of leadership

Add some structure & look for ways to encourage workers to work hard and have fun without risking their jobs


 

07. May 2017 London “Management doesn’t listen or care. High staff turnover. You get paid very little for what you are expected to do. Invest more in team building and ensure proper training. Have proper career advancevent opportunities.”

 


Highlighted Review:

25. Apr. 2017Not for British people or young people. Very strict at some stores. Big divide between team leaders/managers and team members. Managers just want their massive bonus will work too like a slave. Relax it’s coffee and sandwichs”

(No it’s not coffee and sandwiches, it’s massive bonuses and huge profits)


 

17. Apr. 2017unskilled managers, racism, bad pay, they take advantage of staff

21. Mar. 2017 Londonlazy managers high demanding ops – Advise to management: take good care of the team”

10. Mar. 2017 LondonDon’t be so brainwashed and scared

10. Mar 2017 “Stress at work … poor management … Stress people less”

04. Feb. 2017Highly defensive personalities amongst management and very difficult to collaborate in order to improve and develop. I would advise more training for people in positions of responsibility.”

12. Jan. 2017strict hierarchy, …team leaders are bossing and frustrated – take it easy”

10. Oct. 2016 LondonIt’s a Trap – Huge stress. Never stops. Brute customers… Shouting all around. listen to your employees. Say something nice from time to time. Don’t insult them!

10. Oct. 2016Stressful. It’s like a china factory. They ring a bell to tell you when they want you to clean or to go to the till, leader use to shout people.”

29. Sep. 2016Poorly trained management. Too much dependency on skillful employees.”

 


Highlighted Review:

26. Sep. 2016 LondonWorst first day experience – Pros: Nothing at all….. Not even a 0.0005 star – Cons: Management don’t speak one bit of English – Staff in the kitchen don’t speak English – It’s really hard to communicate – Lies about family team vibes – They don’t recruit you for your work ethic – Ethnic and racial issues (if you don’t believe me go to few stores ask who’s a white or black British in the team)
Hire British people
Practice English at work rather than using your language
And stop listening to your fella country boys or girls of their stupid feed back…


 

09. Sep. 2016 “Our manager sets up the rota. The only full-time person that is allowed to have a day off on weekends is her, that’s it. Very, very unfair. Weekend is the worst period of the week when we have loads of customers and complaints that we have to deal with.

01. Sep. 2016 “If youre young and look young (im 17) they will be difficult with youre last payment
They always make mistakes like ‘adjust the rota’ resulting in me not being able to work
They dont tell you what you’re entitled to food wise
Some of the management are rude or never show up
The team leaders make younger employees do the worst jobs

09. Aug. 2016 “There are no appointed qualified trainers there like you promise beforehand, why say it then? You just have to learn as you go from your colleagues”

23. Mar. 2016Years – Takes advantage of your kindness

07. Mar. 2016 UKI just feel very strongly that the general public view of this company is very far off from the truthI want to be as loud as possible here – PRET DOESN’T CARE.

03. Jan. 2016 USASlave work, they ask for a lot of work for a little bit of pay… food isn’t actually natural Be kinder to your employees they are not slaves

22. Dec. 2015 LondonThe other team members are really nice and welcomingManagers are a pain

11. Nov. 2015 Londonthey need slaves for work and they are very bad – manager was very bad he was all day on face book in his office

16. Oct. 2015 “Bad management who talk to staff rudely, and yet don’t do their jobs properly”

 


Highlighted Review:

04. Dec. 2015 LondonBrainwash, Control, Never stop, Last time shift – Aggressive and mortify management, brainwashing, mobbing, after working hours NON PAID, if you don’t finish YOUR DUTIES you stay after the working hours non paid… Respect people that work hard! Don’t exploit them!


 

15. Oct. 2015 NYC “Great Things Preached, Not Always Practiced – Relies too heavily on UK influence, and has difficulty adjusting to American tastes and culture. If you are a Pret Person, quirky, and in with the right crowd, you’re golden. If not….good luck. Pompous and thinks too highly of itself.”

11. Oct. 2015 NYC “Sandwich artist – Terrible hours and poor management and training some people are complete jerks to the new people the expect you to know how everything is made in less than a week of starting the job” (Sandwich “artist”? Pret’s American slogans… LOL)

01. Sep. 2015 London “the good payment is not enough for getting worse my health (my back and my heart). l am with anxiety all the time, working in a tiny kitchen in a HORRIBLE atmosphere!!”

26. July 2015 London “Nothing you do there is appreciated… Horrible atmosphere and you feel too much pressure all the time. Please treat employees as humans not as robots! It seems like you enjoy making people unhappy.”

23. June 2015 Part-timer: “management talks to you with little respect.”

 


Highlighted Review:

20. June 2015 NYC “Pressure is crazy especially if you work in the kitchen. Sometimes they want you to do more then your job description. Paperwork is excessive at times. Reward those who work hard for you and give them a raise. Catch them doing the right thing and praise, and dont just discipline the bad”


 

28. May 2015 “stressful environment, too many people trying to overpower others – think like a team member and your key roles to understand success of the team and the shop to be successful, or fail in profits and likeability

24. Mar. 2015 LondonIf you want to work in a happy enviroment without being bullied then whatever you do DON’T work for Pret Early hours – Being bullied – Total disregard for health and safety – Being made to feel incompetentWorked into the ground without empathy

18. Mar. 2015 “Lack of accountability … Poor management

04. Mar. 2015Hell job for minimum salary.”

26. Dec. 2014Terrible experience one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had – Pretty much everything is a con -lots of stress -under payed -long hours/ short brakes –terrible management -really unflexible schedule

25. Dec. 2015 “Long hours, unrealistic expectations, high pay – Unrealistic targets, little support, long hours – Stop changing everything all the time with poor execution

 


Highlighted Review:

07. Jan. 2015 NYCSpoiled, selfish upper management has ruined it for the rest. They spend (waste) lots of money on dinners for themselves and “leadership conferences” that are really just excuses to party in Orlando or Vegas. “Business” trips to Boston and Chicago are really expensed vacations for their families. The Brits have taken over NYC. Pret has brought over many managers and leaders form the UK and ‘beheaded’ many of the US employees who built the brand to make room for them.
get over yourselves.”


 

26. Dec. 2014Terrible experience one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had –Cons: Pretty much everything is a con -lots of stress -under payed -long hours/ short brakes -terrible management -really unflexible schedule”

 

15. Dec. 2014 London “Team Leader who was working with me during the weekends was very rude to me, calling me stupid … There is a a HUGE pressure on having a BUZZ in the shop, which made me feel like a clown and also in my opinion made very fake atmosphere in the shop.

03. Dec. 2014Manager at my shop treated everyone really poorly. Expect you to stay longer to complete your job for free when not enough time is given. Constantly missing hours from extra shifts taken. Have to ask every week to see if they have repaid those hours and in some cases takes months to chase back.”

11. Nov. 2014 NYCHorrible,OverWorked For The Pay,Bad Management And Bad Treatment Felt Like A Slave

31. Oct. 2014 London “not a good culture. every manager dictates his values to the team.”

13. Oct. 2014 LondonAbuse of power most part of the timesIncorrect wadges, my management doesn’t know what is a calculator or how to read a rota correctly – Pret does rules for itself but it doesn’t mean that you have the right to don’t follow the ones made from doctors or the state, management in my shop has a lack of professionalism.

 


Highlighted Review:

11. Oct. 2014 “There’s too much pressure.They overwork their staff with little compensation.Any bad move and you lose the bonus, and the work in the kitchen is incredibly difficult and they stay past their schedule but they don’t get anything for it.Pret used to be about having a happy staff and happy costumers, now it’s just about the money. They keep feeding people this image of “happiness, good times, best place in the world!!” that when you really start working there you become very surprised and disappointed.I quit my job just after 3 weeks because I was feeling physically sick and they gave me insane shifts to do without my permission.
If you see that people are overworked and they can’t keep up with the standards, hire more staff!And there are too many irrational rules to follow.When the staff says that something is “unfair” or “impossible to do” don’t just say “that’s how things work at Pret”.”


 

31. Aug. 2014 NYCthe management dont really care about employees and all the things they have to do to make them happy
they are always on your back about things that is usually their fault
benefits suck..take about half your paycheck
follow way too many standards
get retrained

01. Aug. 2014 London “Too much pressure… Often happen to work “unpaid” overtime to finish daily duties… In many cases I’ve weighed up a big incompetence and lack of skills between Team Leader and Assistant Manager’s position

 


Highlighted Review:

30. July 2013Brainwashed sandwich makingThe company is trying to brainwash you, they expect you to give up your life and be ready for Pret 24/7; they want to use you.
There are a lot of favouritism, which leads to promoting incompetent people to more senior roles.
The salary system is completely unfair; people who work for the company for 5,6,7,etc. years get the same salary as a someone who just started a few months ago.
The management expects you to do the workload of 2 or 3 people, including doing their job sometimes.
It’s not the NASA, just a sandwich shop, where human beings work, not robots.”


 

07. July 2014 NYC “long shifts, a lots of heavy lifting and horrible managment

24. Apr. 2014Great perks that come with a price – They expect perfection
– High stress levels when understaffed … – Very little to no leniency on rules”

 


Highlighted Review:

18. Dec. 2013They will hire you even if you do not know the language Your thoughts are worthless, you are there to keep up with the work. If you want to promote you better be ready to not have a personal life years…..55hours a week to show you are worthy.”
(NOTE: Hiring people who don’t know English is so they won’t know their rights nor where to complain to)


 

08. Oct. 2013 NYCPret was a stressful and busy job that seeks perfection and expects you to actually be perfect

 

22. Sep. 2013

“Good place to work…at first

 

29. March 2013 NYC “Heavy workload, borderline demeaning, discrimination. Maybe a bit more respect towards your employees?”

02. Oct. 2012 “hard hard working culture, to much pressure to be working 100% every sec. make it easy”

20. Apr. 2012 LondonThe moral is terrible and … being overworked. The idea of proper training is also rediculousMost people are taken in under promises (including being a front of house or kitchen person but then dumped where they are needed and not where they were promised) but find that often by day 2 or 3 are thrown on a bench on their own in the kitchen and nagged at due to not being fast enough

16. Aug. 2011Carelessunderstaffed. and unfair decisions made by management. most of your employees don’t look forward to working there because you are staring them down every second. they make one little mistake that doesn’t affect the restaurant what so ever and act like it’s the biggest deal ever. happy employees make happy customers.”

21. July 2011Pret doesn’t care about workers. The most important is business, profits. That’s why they cut working hours and made you work harder.”

19. July 2011 NYCManagement is very incompetent. It is clear they have little to know training and have absolutely no training or experience in employee relations or even customer relations for that matter. Every manager I have worked with – I have worked with 6 – will immediately try to belittle you.” (The full review says everything!)

 


Highlighted Review:

04. July 2011Poor senior leadership due to lack of experience … Promotion and staff recognition based on personal favourites rather than competence and experience. Quite clicky. Favouritism at the top has to stop and start to recognise talent at middle management. Like the social hierarchy, this sphere of the staff population seems to be the ones who get screwed over the most, often talented individuals are overlooked for promotion.”


 

~~~~~~~~~~

20. Apr. 2011 A woman’s review on her husband who worked in Pret:

“Interesting comments. My husband now works for pret and is being treated so badly by his area manager. I am astounded that they can get away with it. It seemed like such a nice place to work but it’s like some kind of sect… ”

My response: they get away with it because it is systemic and they are trained to treat staff like this, for more and more profit.

— 4 months later: —

“Further to my previous comment  about my husband having problems with his area manager. They stitched him up good and proper and fired him…this was done in such a way that they found a couple of things to hang him on which wouldn’t normally result in him being sacked. They clearly did all of this because he was going to put in a grievance against his area manager for bullying (he was talked out of this and thought it had all smoothed over) and then wham! The company disgusts me – how they could treat an employee with a wife and 2 small children like that I don’t know. The management of this company are pure evil.”

Response to above review:

“Regarding the area manager, yeah they just sit on their fat bums all day, and email on their phones or look at stupid graphs. End of the day its about increasing sales, meeting targets and reducing labour. They will always cover there own backs first, to watch there bonuses, and not care about the workers.

A lot of managers i have met, are complete arrogant snobs, that know nothing about even running a store, yet alone trying to explain things to you, they sit on there high throne, and blah blah blah things.”

~~~~~~~~~~

 

08. Jan 2011 “DISCRIMINATION in PRET A MANGER!!!!!!!!!!?”

 


2008 Review that shows it has always been like this in Pret!

 

Highlighted Review:

05. Sep. 2008 “I’m an ex-Pret employee so have direct experience of this engagement. I can vouch for the truth in Sam’s comments. The happy people philosophy was one I always adopted when recruiting new people and it made a difference to the way that we worked.
The one thing that did frustrate me and ultimately caused me to leave was the way it dealt with the enthusiasm troughs. the company was not good at dealing with people’s frustrations. There was a strong message for people who were frustrated with something and couldn’t get it resolved – leave! I saw a number of people become shunned and passed over if they had feedback which wasn’t entirely positive. Often people left disgruntled having started out as the desirable happy employees. I suppose in someways it was a useful self selection process – when I became frustrated with a few things and felt threatened that my feedback would fall on highly judgemental ears I knew it was time to leave – leaving the happy people behind me. ”

NOTE: My response to this review, the person left in 2008 out of frustration, I started in Pret in May 2008 and can only say in all fairness to Pret, that it’s gotten worse.


 

2017 A customer comment in Chicago on a deceased Pret Staff, Dante and Pret in general:

“I knew Dante. He was an extremely nice person. That being said, Pret is a horrible company to work for.”

Chicago Pret horrible company to work for2

 

 




 

HFC

 

11. Mar. 2018 London “Hot Chef – setting up the hot food production, dealing with sales and wastage as well as taking many responsabilities. Pressure and plenty of targets.”

 


Highlighted Review:

21. Jan. 2018 London “Really hard work with Really bad management, it’s same in all shops, people think that a job there is a challenge making bad to the other colegue. Hot chef position has lots of stress, pressure – Be human. It’s not your own business.” (Bingo!)


 

31. Oct. 2016 LondonWorst place – The team is nice, some team leaders are stupid and rude…! Management lives in another world. Absolutely less stress and please cut the roles because looks to work like slaves. Terrible experience.”

22. Feb. 2016 NYCSome managers are very anal! Listen to your employers suggestions!!”

 




 

Barista / Coffee Maker

30. Jan. 2019 “Busy and stressful environment whit no support from management. Forget about contracted hours! You will be doing overtime most of the time, as there is a lack of staff nearly in every Pret

01. Nov. 2018 NYC “horrible management – management is disrespectful, they fire people when they are having rough times in life even if they talk to a manager about it , i was penalized for calling out for a funeral.

12. June 2018 NYCNothing but aggravation and a discriminating HRfire the HR staff you have now and replace them with more educating indiviuals and ones that dont discriminate”

22. May 2018 Royal Tunbridge Wells, EnglandPoor – Lack of defined management, finger-pointing, politics and poor organisation. ”

 

Feb. 2018 London (scrolling down)

James Ashword video comment by Hailey Hyein Lee

 

Same Video:
Perat A Manger London video comment by Budai Andrea

 

Same Video:
Perat A Manger London video comment by Logic 2000

 

05. Dec. 2017 LondonDear Lord, protect me from ever need to work for Pret a Manger ever again. Amen. For this company you are numbers, robots, machines, you are no humans.

 

12. July 2017 “Over worked and Aweful Mangers – *everyone complains how much they hate this job *managers dont care about standards (manager was too lazy … (he’s mostly in his office so he gets paid to sit and do nothing because he has his leaders do majority of his work)

12. July 2017 “If you want to follow the company standards, you need to have enough labor. Do not kill your employees.”

24. June 2017 LondonPoor management, really short breaks, work longer hours, not equal distribution of tasks for cleaning/closing shop.”

19. Dec. 2016 Edinburgh “Would not recommend … Managers do not care about they team. Never get 2 days off in a row. Practice favoritism”

13. Mar. 2016 “Hard work all the time and high pressure – More people-orientated management needed in the shop”

16. Nov. 2015 NYC “Act a little more like management and a little less like the employees. I worked in 4 different shops and the song and dance was the same in each one.”

 


Highlighted Review:

16. Nov. 2015 NYCThe management plays favorites more often than not. Also, if you are overweight, older, or unattractive you can forget about even getting past the interview stage (exception often made for relatives of said favorites or management). Key roles and shift leaders must have open availability, which makes it impossible to have other employment. Overtime isn’t allowed often, and managers often send employees home early if it looks like that 40 hour mark will be passed.
Act a little more like management and a little less like the employees. I worked in 4 different shops and the song and dance was the same in each one.”


 

 


Highlighted Review

29. Sep. 2015 LondonThe Brainwash is real. Better salary than McDonalds or Costa as long as you keep your fake smile up. – Staff with more experience cuts corners on Sanitary rules because otherwise it is impossible to finish your batch on time.
– The coffee calling system is broken. During busy times it is nearly impossible to keep up with the orders without hating everyone around you. managers/team leaders are not properly trained when it comes to simple communication. … (A lot of people cry in the staff room especially in their entry period). Get some proper training regarding real people skills.


 

12. May 2015 Chicago, ILjust terribleDiscriminatory management
Unprofessional atmosphere
Osha standards not met
Very Low pay
Abusive staff
Don’t just promote the people that you like, promote the people that are the most qualified.”

 

 




 

TMT

 

20. June 2018 LondonNot for sensitive peopleVery stressfull environment (especially at back of house) Come to your shop at weekends from time to time to see how it’s look like when it’s understaffed

 


Highlighted Review:

13. Apr. 2018 London “Fun, but stressful and not worth itUnattainable goals
Very short breaks / irregular – Poor management and under-trained
Pret A Manger has cut down on staff so theres more a lot more of things to do and not enough staff to do everything, so employees are being worked harder.
Management do not have sympathy or care for employees. Managers only focus on their goals and tasks.


 

27. Apr. 2017Work like robot, disorganisation… Listen more to your employees’ needs”

08. Sep. 2016 “Lots of pressure, and work colleagues shouting at you. Starting the shift at 5am. I haven’t got paid. There’re too many opportunities in London so don’t end up working here. They should take care a bit more of their employers.”

 


Highlighted Review:

20. May 2016 LondonClear talking is just marketing: if they have a bad opinion about you, forget any clear feedback.
A lot of pressure. The workload can be very challenging especially compared with the wage.
With a bossy manager your life might become really hard and sickening.
The coffee calling system is messy during busy hours, I stopped thinking to step up as a barista because of that.
I do not give any advice to management, they are always right of course.”


 

20. Jan. 2016 London “Put same manager know how to organize the team and what you have to do”

01. Feb. 2015 London “This company pays better than most other coffee and sandwich chains, but it expects you to do a lot in return. You are supposed to be happy and smile at all times.”

12. June 2013 Washington, DC “Listen to your employees, some have great potential that needs to be channeled not blocked

07. Dec. 2010 “Very hard work – No support and respect from Manager

 




 

FL / KL

 


Highlighted Review:

06. Feb. 2018 London “- huge pressure especially on the higher positions
working overhours without being paid, no breaks (happened to me only while working on the Team Leader position)
lack of recognition from your own manager elimitates the opportunity of growth (basically only your own manager can push you up on the career ladder and the reasons for promotions really often seems to be based on personal preferences)”
Definetely have a deeper insght into the progression situation within the shops. You lose lts of amazing people just because they stay unrecognized due to personal preferences of manager.


 

29. Nov. 2017 LondonLook after your people and figures will look after themselves.

17. Oct. 2017 London “Every shop has less people than required as this affects shops profitability. …managers that come externally, as most of the time, their personality only is good for business, but not for the people that work under.”

14. Oct. 2017Slavery hasn’t been abolished. Early starts, rude staff. kitchen leaders are disrespectful. Improve how staff are treated.”

31. Jan. 2017Cut back on all the chiefs we need more indians

13. Nov. 2016 LondonManagement bonuses are profit driven so hours are cut often The £1 bonus is often used as a threat to keep people in line
I would recommend joining a union
Team Members deserve london living wage from a company that has the means to supply it.”

02. Nov. 2016Promotion can be down to who you know not what you know.”

06. Aug. 2016 LondonMost of the managers are really difficult, they forgot where they come from, please treat the people as human beings, We know the profit and your career are important but you don’t have to be rude.”

19. Mar. 2016 “Bad management – Rotas never placed in advance – Treat people like human beings”

 


Highlighted Review:

08. Sep 2015 NYC Shift Leader: “hours are constantly changing
pay doesn’t match time sheet
a lot of call outs
team members are constantly training themselfs
train team members longer make sure they are avail to handle the rush”


 

15. Nov. 2014 NYC Shift Runner: “Your subjected to emotional blackmail and serious labor issues with Most shops being run by Unprofessional and Bias Managerial staff backed by a corrupted HR Dept. I strongly suggest a Labor Union!, so employees that are treated unfair have a platform for their voice to be heard without resentment or the sinuous backlash from your Inadequate Managerial staff & Flout HR Dept.!!!! who support them.”

27. June 2013 Kingston upon Thames, England “Tends to get very stressfull during busy periods with lots of pressure from the management … sometimes late payment of the over time, working 8days in a row according the rota, calls to come to work on your day off … it would be great if employees wont be treated only as a work force that helps make money” (Side-note, this Team Leader sounds like one of the hard working ones who cares a lot and is always called and overworked.)

 




 

AMF / AMK

 

20. Dec. 2017 LondonAvoid working thereToo much pressure working there , company expects you to do all your job within the time you are schedule but it is impossible , you will end up working hours for free, no work life balance at all , they have he mistery shipper but it is all a fake thing you can not control , the standards are so high the only thing it will drive is you stress everyday . Don’t work there . Cons: Extra hours not paid”

02. Aug. 2017 Manchester, EnglandRespect yourself don’t let managers to overload you.”

26. May 2017 NYCPure Misery – The kitchen staff is treated like slaves. They are expected to do the impossible. The upper management is a bunch of heartless, evil British monsters that take credit for all the positives and assign blame for all the negatives. Quit your jobs and go back to England and stay there.”

11. Dec. 2013 NYC “Promotions bases on politics, inconsistency In polices , long hours”

09. Oct 2012 London “Too much pressure and managers with poor interpersonal skills. Respect your team, be patient and keep cool under pressure. Be fair to your team members.”

 


Highlighted Review:

19. Nov. 2014 LondonWorst company to work forPret was the best company 10 years ago, they were more about the people and it was beat place to work. now the company is just about the profit also it is run like mafia organisation where it is about who you know, the team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear, the way the company is going it will not last long.
Get back to basic, care about the team and always listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt.”


 

 




 

GM

 

07. Juny 2018 A former Senior Manager’s response to my review:

 

GM response to LNG

 

 

03. Feb. 2018High demands not in line with pay, lack of support, inconsistent training, stressful/poor work life balance

 


Highlighted Review:

11. Mar. 2017Pret A Manger Reality – Long hours, inexperience Operation Managers.
Companhy values have been lost along do way, bonus scheme not very fair.
Pay raises no fair either,
You don’t get reward for results and work ethic, just if you have a close relationship with your Operation Manager, you are the new hot of the month.
Listen to your people more closely, massive turnover on Pret Managers at the moment and everyone just ignoring the reality, huge unhappiness amoung the managers.

Create and fair and competive process for development.

Opportunity Network for Pret employees, just another flawless (meant flawed) tool at pret, most of the vacancies have people already for them, they want to create an illusion you can develop yourself.

Focus on team members it’s essential, but managers dictated the success on your shops, and drive passion to the team.

HR doesn’t protect the managers.

PIP, pret Partners only people, whom have friends already in, not related if you can contribute to the company, just based on relationships.”

(NOTE: HR doesn’t protect anyone unless it suits Pret’s business.)


 

15. Nov. 2016 NYCToxic, low class, unprofessional culture – Racist, non-inclusive environment that upper management and hr are fully aware of but ignore.” (NOTE: worth reading this review in full!)

 


Highlighted Review:

25. May 2016 USA  “Very racist upper management. They make you work 60 hours per week and they don’t pay you for it (just basic salary). They don’t appreciate your work no matter how good you are. Tendency to promote british managers than american ones.
Advise to Management: Open your mind towards american managers. stop racism that is happening to workers. Get involved with the employees and don’t let the operational managers act as they own the people.”


Highlighted Review:

31. Oct. 2015 NYCHorrible training, too many lies. Training sucks, people are treated like crap. Upper management do not care about you, will never recommend this company. Bottom line as a British company they treat employees as machines, they don’t care about how they feel, expect too much for too little. Horrible environment. Treat people with respect and appreciate their hard work. Stop using your British mentality when it comes to deal with people. You’re people are horrible at this.”


 

20. Apr. 2015 Chicago, IL “Manager- horrible upper management, unrealistic goals, promotions based on politics. Favoritism with managementHiring is based on looks – All push with no supportNo integrity  – A lot of show and dance for support center and president/ceo Your employees will respect you if you offer genuine support. It is all about what your shop looks like when the CEO is in town. Stop favoriting managers, no one respects you for it.”

 

01. Feb. 2014 “Great company in risk of ruin! Please get the bullies out and revive Pret to its former glory. Used to be the most amazing company to work for, a job to be proud of. Now your people work in fear…..its time to listen!

 

23. July 2012 “I am an ex GM (10 years service) I walked out last year as I couldn’t take the way we had to treat TMs to achieve ever increasing demands for profit and efficiencies.”

 




 

HQ London or Offices in other countries

 

19. Dec. 2017 London Former IT Analyst: “Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees as owners and senior management concerned about profit margin only. People are taken into account only if it makes a good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”

28. Feb. 2017 NYC Former Purchasing Director: “One of the oddest work experiences. Worked their during a transition period – so company going in one direction and then the opposite.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

We are Traumatized People

 

we go about our lives

reckoning

aimlessly

but we survive

 

 

©2018 poetrasblok.com

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – Present: poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

2. Quote of the Day #63 – Penalize A Funeral

 

colorful-candles-3768442__340

 

The second quote also from NY crushes me, as I have been through this and it almost ended my life. My regular readers know my story, but for new readers the below review of a former NY employee from days ago does not surprise me, even while I tear up when reading this review as it brings back traumatic memories. I was bullied during bereavement, and even while completely traumatized I was still trying to bring suggestions via HR for Pret to have support for bereaved employees in place. But unbeknown to me at the time, and in a complete fogged up state on autopilot, my approaching HR put a target on my back, which I write on my blog extensively.

As I tried to come to terms about my brother’s death and on top of that the turmoil at work, I applied for my file as I wanted to understand what was happening and why? I didn’t realize when I applied for my file under the Data Protection Act 1998, that this also involved emails between HR and managers about me. I assumed my employee file just involved regular notes that a line manager might have made about employees, to pass information on to another line manager when the employee gets transferred or promoted. I had a very difficult manager before my brother died, who would even sabotage me when I tried to transfer away from her shop. I had this thought that she may have written something detrimental about me that made the following managers dis-favourable towards me.

But that wasn’t the case and what I was confronted with, apart from the sheer size of approximately over 1000 pages, which included many repeats, were emails between HR and managers who were stumbling around without clear direction, no steady leadership, no policy on how to support bereaved employees. One email that struck me was from a People Business Partner (PBP) who responded to an email from an HR advisor who was the note taker of my first grievance appeal’s hearing against a line manager who bullied me openly. The HR advisor brought my concerns forward and the PBP even agreed that Pret could improve on supporting bereaved employees. This and other emails often were written to just have a paper trail of supposedly being supportive, anything else was communicated on the phone or in person.

But this HR advisor was the most professional HR person I have come across in Pret. In the hearing she was completely quiet and just took the notes, but I could see in her face that she cared when I described my turmoil with the line manager who bullied me. She cared enough to pass my concerns on to this PBP and in all her dealings with me after the hearing I felt she was extremely professional and cared. I learned later that she left Pret, and I was crushed that all the good people seemed to be leaving. Of course people move on, but with the top leadership of HR I constantly felt with my back against the wall and like in a Twilight Zone.

The email, I added the pink description on who’s who and underlined in yellow:

 

 

2015-10-22 Chris Walsh & Laura re SUPPORT

 

This PBP (#2) several months later was the note taker of an appeal’s hearing I raised against another PBP (#1) who was in the background advising the area manager who targeted me. I raised the grievance based on the evidence of the emails from my file. Of course raising a grievance against anyone from HR, especially a PBP is a waste of time, but I was just out-of-sync trying to go through the right channels to not only improve my situation, but that of all employees. In the appeal’s hearing I confronted this PBP (#2) about the above email, where he agreed that Pret could improve on supporting employees who suffer loss, but he then said that in hindsight he could have made a mistake! For the sake of his colleague PBP (#1), he changed his mind and the game continued… I wrote an open letter to him as well, which was a waste of time as well of course, but this needs to be in the open.

 

Today’s 2nd quote of the day from a former NY employee makes it clear to me again that Pret not only doesn’t learn its lessons, but Pret does not care whatsoever about employees, unless it serves PR. And even while I am not surprised anymore, this review has me in tears and my heart racing from remembering my ordeal.

I confronted Clive Schlee, CEO again on this with a tweet where he tweeted about plastic issues another Twitter person raised. But the CEO then deleted his tweet minutes after I tweeted. I know I tweet a lot, but people suffer and become suicidal and Pret under the leadership of Clive Schlee does business as usual and goes full steam ahead.

The time of the Tweet is American time, not UK.

 

2018-11-04 Clive deleted his Tweet

Link

 

 

The NY review quote:

“management is disrespectful, they fire people when they are having rough times in life even if they talk to manager about it , i was penalized for calling out for a funeral people who were stealing still work there but call out & youre fired”

 

 

2018-11-01 Funeral

01. Nov. 2018 NY

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

1. Quote of the Day #62 – Pret A Noxious

 

I decided to do two “quotes of the day” today as they are both from New York within days of each other.

 

 

dirty-water5

 

Full review as Quote of the Day:

 

Go back to the UK, Pret
I have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment. Employees relocating from UK were given preferential treatment, better salaries for equal experience, HR was mostly a joke, ‘leaders’ displayed zero initiative in mentorship of their teams, roles were unclear and the company had tunnel vision on decision making based on the opinion of one or two people who paid little attention to local market data.

 

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

30. Oct. 2018 NY

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

My Brother

 

His name is Thomas, he isn’t with us anymore, but his name is still Thomas, that will never change.

 

When I started this website and blog I started it as poetrasblok.com, which still runs under this name as well as now also under LateNightGirl.org

Initially I only wrote about my brother as only poetrasblok with poems and videos I made for him and posted on this site. But after my ordeal with Pret A Manger, having also lost my father in March 2018 as well, I started to add the latenightgirl URL to write about my traumatic experience in Pret and show another side behind the PR[et] facade that almost ended my life.

Even while I dislike having my brother’s memory share one website with my Pret ordeal, I will eventually turn this site back to re-upload some of the poems and videos, and solely write about my brother as well as life in general. As this site has become quite large I periodically hide post entries that don’t seem important at a certain time, so that readers won’t be cluttered with too many blog entries to sieve through, and are lead to posts faster that I find important to share.

I currently don’t have the finances to start a second website for solely my Pret experience, and don’t have the strength to work on two website simultaneously at the moment. But in time I will separate the two sites, as my brother deserves his own space and website in his memory, and not share space with this toxic, greedy and dishonest company that is Pret A Manger.

At times my writings seem angry or bitter to the reader, that may be, but I am not apologizing for it. I almost lost my life in Pret after having worked with integrity, care and skill for almost 10 years. And all that happened to me was that my brother died, and I then became an inconvenience to Pret. My writing helps me overcome this trauma, and at the same time expose this company for what they really are.

 

Why I became a “late night girl”

 

In memory of my brother.

 

 

animated-candle-gif-29

 

Looking for a song for siblings loss. Tom Rosenthal’s for now is the best general grief song I can find.

»It’s OK«  Tom Rosenthal

 

14 TK crop

Thomas K. *25.02.1969 – 09.12.2014

 

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission are prohibited.

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

The Perversion of a Toxic HR Department

 

… and how it poisoned me. What I have survived in a workplace that only cares for profit and the rest is just PR, has traumatized me so much on top of going through personal loss already. I have not dealt with this how I wished I would have, but I had no tools and am still learning how best to deal with this. I haven’t even started to come to terms about my brother and have lost myself in darkness and fear where I couldn’t see right from left.

Even with all the distance now to Pret and a lot of thoughts in hindsight, if I wouldn’t have all this in writing I would still shake my head in disbelief as if I just came out of a long and twisted Hollywood movie.

Regular readers know the story, so this will be a repeat, sorry for this, but I am still recovering and working through it all with the help of Therapy as well as sieving through the writings, emails etc. But I want to move away from writing in metaphors. I used metaphors a lot like the “Pret A Monkey Business” post to help me cope with the blunt memory of this “experience” that had me almost killed and try to make sense what happened and why.

 

head-1597565__340

 

I want to describe what to me was the greatest perversion I have experienced in Pret (or anywhere at that), twisted chain of events I have never experienced in my life anywhere. I lived and worked in three countries, traveled in more, lived and worked with countless people from all walks of life, from various countries, of different ages. I worked in several companies, mostly in the hospitality and service industry, had relationships, friendships, colleagues, bosses and had my share of betrayal and disappointments, like everyone. But I have never ever experienced the level of trauma, intrigue and viciousness that I experienced in Pret A Manger.

This is something I would expect in a law firm and certainly in politics, but a sandwich chain?? Maybe because I never experienced such dishonesty and trickery, I fell for it so easily. But I need to be kinder with myself and not keep blaming myself. Even if I would have experienced anything close to it, I was so traumatized already with the loss of my brother, which in itself was so out of this world, weird, unclear, with puzzle pieces I still have to put together.

Not having known for 5 weeks that he has died and was completely gone, already cremated without our consent in a country as efficient as Germany with its ID system. For us not being found still has me paralyzed how this could even happen. I recently found a video on YouTube where a family in the U.S. went through a similar event, losing a family member, not knowing that he died and was already cremated! I am not consoled that this happened to this family, but not feeling alone in a nightmare like this does help a little.

 

 

From the get go of my loss and all the terrible circumstances around it, I had not only no support in Pret apart from the basic stuff the company offers and then later when I contacted the CEO, but I was bullied in shop after shop as this is an issue with leadership which I also listed on one page from other current and former staff members. If a company does not have a clear policy for bereaved employees in place, like it has for pregnant women’s health and safety, a clear stand on homophobic and other discrimination issues, than managers are left to themselves. They have to figure out what to do, and most managers are overwhelmed, not trained, have no confidence which then manifests in leadership avoiding the bereaved at best and get angry at worst, or both. I went through it all.

Early on I approached HR informally to “help” them, where in reality I desperately needed help! I gave suggestions, even looked online for material and passed it on to HR, to managers and to area managers. But in my naive attempt to help them help me, I did not realize how uncomfortable the subject of death and grief is. A bereaved employee, especially if the loss is traumatic, quickly becomes an inconvenience.

Jimmy Edmonds from The Good Grief Project earlier this year shared in a Q&A in cinema where his film about grief was shown, that in Victorian times people frequently spoke about death, dying and grief. It was completely acceptable and normal to talk about death. But it was taboo to talk about sex. And today it’s the complete opposite. With the Good Grief Project they produce films, and travel to share and hear experiences of grief. They make the subject of death, dying and grief accessible in this day and age where we hide from this subject that will come to us all sooner or later. But they don’t do this in a gloomy way, I for one find it very relieving, and paradoxically lively the way they deal with this. It takes the sting out of this inevitable issue.

I wish I’d known their project early on in my own grief and in trying to find my way around the Pret maze where it felt like I was going through a war zone emotionally, and every step I took in a mine field could have been explosive, as it was many times.

I shared in several posts the different situations and bullying I went through. In a nutshell it was everything except physical and sexual violence. But I was shouted at repeatedly by different managers, as this is very common in Pret. I was avoided, not invited to leaders’ meetings, even a leader’s Christmas dinner days after my dad woke from his coma and I returned to London to earn money to visit him again, I wasn’t invited to the dinner. I wasn’t given information that I needed to do my job and when I made a mistake I was solely blamed. I was told off in front of my team as well as in group emails where the area manager was constantly copied in. It didn’t matter how I turned, it was always wrong and I felt with my back against the wall.

In all this I kept blaming myself mixed with the guilt of having let my brother down and silly things like not having replied to his last email to me five weeks before he died. The regret of not having emailed him back, and then five weeks after he died having received the news of his death via an email, all the group emails that my then line manager sent where he told me off several times or blamed me, and then later the emails I read between HR and managers about me. With all these email incidences I started to spiral into an ill emailing sprint that lasted many months.

It became so out of hand that I cried out to a line manager who just shrugged it off and even laughed with the leadership team. I brainstormed with therapist after therapist on how to stop this sickness, they couldn’t even diagnose what this is. Clive Schlee, CEO would later label me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, due to late night emails to Pret (as well as my friends, therapists, anyone). He had a laugh two months before I was dismissed for emailing. I couldn’t stop, I went into a writing cramp again with my dad in a coma, coming to terms with another blow. I only started to come out of this writing cramp when I started this blog.

But the perversion I am speaking about really got to its peak when HR tasked a Development Manager from HQ to give me a disciplinary for the emailing. Up until then the Head of HR & Recruitment would deal a lot with my situation, after I contacted the CEO who then put the Head of HR on my case, as the bullying increased and no manager knew how to be normal, let alone empathetic. I approached HR and managers for almost a year, but was constantly sent away. One particular People Business Partner was heavily involved and already part from the beginning in my first approach to make suggestions to HR. I later raised a grievance against him after I read his emails and his involvement when I applied for my file. But of course it was a waste of time. I was just extremely out-of-sync.

I even apologized for a nervous breakdown I had two days before the first anniversary of my brother’s death, where the same line manager who would tell me off in the group emails and blame me constantly, rebuked me again in front of my team, and I just broke down.

But approaching HR and any leader didn’t help, I was sweet-talked and sent away … again. And I kept apologizing even though I had nothing to apologize for but needed an apology from those who targeted me for months under the guidance of HR. This was then when I finally contacted the CEO, something by the way one can see on Twitter keeps happening where employees contact Pret openly because they don’t get help from their managers or HR.

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet3

Link

 

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1

 

Link

 

And one just from yesterday:

 

2018-11-01 Homophobic Complaint1

Link

 

— & — Pret’s generic response because it’s public:

 

2018-11-02 Homophobic Complaint deleted2

 

I know, I know, I tweet a lot 😉 But the reason for this is that most people still don’t understand the turmoil and because I gave Pret the benefit of the doubt time and time again while they had a laugh and I almost killed myself! The tweeting will eventually cease.

 

But because my concerns and trauma with the managers where constantly ignored or I was sent away, I went into extensive emailing which increased when I drank as I couldn’t cope with the grief and what happened at work. Later I applied for my file as I tried to understand why this happened to me, and one email had me shocked, one of many emails that had me shocked, but this one was from an HR Advisor who was at first involved in trying to put me on performance targets that would lead to disciplinaries, and a disciplinary quickly leads to dismissal, even though I performed extremely well, especially under traumatic bereavement on autopilot. This among the other emails between HR and managers, the email bringing me the news of my brother’s death and the group emails from a line manager had me spiral into emailing, which I explain extensively in another blog entry.

In this email from the HR Advisor to the area manager, the HR person is trying to come up with a plan but wants to first liaise with the PBP who was involved from the beginning and was present in the first informal meeting where I approached HR with suggestions. The HR Advisor even writes that she thinks that my “case” is going to be “very complicated”, meaning because I am bereaved they cannot just get rid of me, at least cut me down from my leadership position, as this would be blunt discrimination and would not look good on the company.

Side note, this HR Advisor later changed direction when she heard MY side for the first time and raised my experience as a grievance against this area manager to whom she wrote that my case would be complicated. But in the grievance hearing she wasn’t present even though she said she would be, which started a whole host of confusion and deeper trauma. This email is a response from the HR person to the area manager who forwarded my email, where I asked for a meeting with my line manager and area manager as the bullying got worse. But not only were they never willing to sit down and speak openly to clear up any misunderstanding there may have been, but they were then even advised by HR to not have any meetings with me until further notice:

 

2015-08-24-complicated-case-with-plan.jpg

 

Quote for larger print: “Thanks for sending this (my email asking for a meeting) through. I have a few ideas of how to proceed but as I think this is going to be a very complicated case I’ll pick up with XXXX (the PBP involved since the beginning) tomorrow and will get back to you very soon. In the meantime, please can you and XXX (line manager) avoid having any formal/informal meeting with XXX (me) until I get back to you with a plan of how to proceed with this.”

 

This area manager who targeted me for months, using this line manager and other leaders from the area, would not meet with me, even before this HR person’s request to avoid any meeting with me. She only had one meeting where she held an “informal” meeting while taking notes that she emailed me after the meeting, and in the meeting gave me a list of things that she wasn’t happy with. But this list was completely banal and it looked very obvious that she was targeting me for the tiniest thing, whereas my colleagues made much bigger and more serious mistakes. It was ridiculous, but it traumatized me further because I felt like no matter how I turned, there was a trap laid out. And up until that time the HR Advisor only had the PBP and the area manager’s version of events, until she heard my side and then raised it as a grievance against these managers. But the grievance hearing, the first of many, was a joke, which I cover partly in other blog posts in a sarcastic way where Pret has all these “How To Cards” for every peep and poop micromanaging the staff. I just turned it around.

 

Fasting forward, after all my emailing and the continued bullying where I continued to be avoided, not given important info, not invited to meetings, my hours cut to minimum, even though I was desperate to work more as my finances were low since my brother died. I used all my savings for travel, bills etc. I became suicidal and had several close calls where I would leave work to go home but headed straight for the bridge.

HR then came up with the most perverse “plan” that I still have to get my head around. I scratched on this and wrote extensively, but more in metaphors to come to terms. Using a Development Manager to give me a disciplinary, she told me in the hearing that she also had a brother who died in his flat and was not discovered until days later. Just like my brother. Our stories are so similar that I broke and embraced the disciplinary assuming Pret now really supports me. I was so ill with the emailing and wanted to get away from this writing cramp, that I felt supported after all the pretense support since involving the CEO. I even improved and moved away from emailing for a while as I bought this trick thinking they supported me. But in reality they stepped on her and my dignity, using a bereaved employee against another bereaved employee, especially with such similar stories (if it’s true, I don’t even know anymore). Instead of getting us connected to support each other in our common grief which they could have easily done, they just used her against me. I still feel sick to my stomach even while writing this.

She gave me the disciplinary for my emailing but the next day entered into secret contact with me, even though HR of course knew as this was the plan, not to support me (and her) but to get rid of me as a disciplinary is the first step towards dismissal. And not only did she enter into private contact, she did solely via text message and email for which she sanctioned me in the first place! Hello??!! I don’t have to explain how confusing and distressing the following weeks and months became. To make it worse, she allowed Pret to use her personal loss and went further by manipulating me and what a Psychologist assessing me labeled as her “abusing” me. This Development Manager is a Hypnotherapist (registered under the National Hypnotherapy Society), an NLP practitioner (as several managers in Pret are) and in 2017 studied to become a Psychotherapist. Hypnotherapy and NLP can easily be used to manipulate people, and they did that well.

Early on in our secret contact, as she wasn’t allowed to be in private communication as the hearing manager (but Pret of course knew unofficially), she wanted to meet up and interview me for an Essay on anger that she wrote for her university studies. She thought it would be great to have my input as I was very angry because of how my brother died and all the mystery about it, and the added turmoil with Pret. Of course I was angry! But I declined being interviewed as I didn’t know her and didn’t want to be her guinea pig. And from the beginning all of this was confusing, but I was so traumatized, in dark grief, anxiety, confusion, I couldn’t put two and two together, like I can now in hindsight and distance.

I did file a tribunal claim but withdrew which I explain in this post. And that is one reason why Pret does not block me on Twitter, so they can use all my Tweets in court should I file a second time. I have declined four settlement offers in turn to be silent and never go to court, including going to court against the Development Manager who is protected in her job regardless what she has done and allowed them to do through her.

But most every leader, HR person, this Development Manager while not having a clear policy to protect bereaved employees against discrimination, most of them were picking and choosing what for them was “useful”. The Head of HR met with me after I contacted the CEO for help (before I realized the game they were all playing) and in the first meeting he asked me to score on a scale of 1 – 10 how it was meeting with him. Again, confused about a question like this I wasn’t impressed to meet with a “big gun” as I just wanted my line managers to be confident and normal with me, not bullying and avoiding me. I wasn’t interested in scratching his ego because he is wohooo a big gun meeting with a “plastic pistol”! And the first time he offered me a settlement, when he left he wanted a “cuddle”, and again I just thought what does he want? Does he want me to leave or does he want a cuddle?! He can’t have both!

Or an area manager who after she got to know me wanted to stay in contact even if I left Pret as she said I have so much insight into many things. And yet this area manager held a dodgy grievance hearing where I met her initially and later forwarded my emails to my line manager who also held me low.

Or the Development Manager wanting my input for her Psychotherapy studies.

Or a line manager who would not let me leave his shop because I worked so well and helped bring success to his shop, he would not let me leave even after I raised a grievance against him. I had to firmly beg to get a transfer as I couldn’t work under his manipulative ways anymore.

I was like a supermarket for them where these “leaders” just helped themselves! My confidence was completely lost with the death of my brother and what happened in Pret. Anyone who has gone through loss, especially a traumatic loss will have the ground pulled from underneath their feet. You feel like you are on an emotional free-fall and never hit the ground. Everything is insecure, existential fears, even if irrational, are magnified ten times over. One of my line managers would laugh when I had a minor panic attack in the shop. He just laughed and said “Haha, I never saw you that scared” laughing further… Sure it was his insecurity, but what the f***!!!! They used my vulnerability well and trampled on my dignity repeatedly! I even would apologize where I had nothing to apologize for. I was just on constant electricity, hyper vigilant and in a panic mode.

This is why at times I have completely wiped out my Facebook and Twitter followers, because I fell into this paranoia of fear, thinking what the heck do people want from me. Of course it is stupid and irrational, but it’s my only explanation why I act like this at times, especially when I drank something. So, that’s another thing I’m working on, but it is much better. To all who have been “kicked out” from Twitter and / or Facebook, it’s not you, it’s me! Apologies again! Of course some people I have blocked consciously as they were either trolls or disrespectful.

This perversion of this toxic HR department using a Development Manager, who isn’t even an HR personnel, who lost her brother like I lost mine in such similar circumstances, has topped everything they have done. It is beyond me how educated, elitist people, from wealthy to middle class backgrounds with university degrees and even Therapists backgrounds, can stoop so low to use and be used in such undignified ways. It is amazing. The Development Manager could and should have declined doing the disciplinary and instead offered to support me outside the sanction. But she chose to play their game, maybe out of fear, maybe she got a promotion, a pay-rise, she certainly has gotten the protection of the Head of HR. But whatever her reason, she should have been woman enough to respectfully decline and asked to not be the hearing manager as she had personal conflict.

Pret will find a way to get back at me for making this public. So be it! I neither fear them, nor have anything to lose anymore, and any job reference they will do to my disadvantage, I am not in the slightest bothered anymore. And they will come with another trick in the future, @ Pret I wholeheartedly don’t care whatsoever.

People get hurt in such traumatic and dishonest ways. I have lived long enough to know that corrupt people and companies will get their fair share of exposure sooner or later. I am not worried about that at all. Even hiding two customers deaths under the carpet and not dealing with the allergen label promptly says it all!

 

 

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne Lamott

 

 

This is my story and I take the liberty to share it with the world after having given 10 years of my life to a company that was not worth my while. The last three year in Pret where so traumatic and surreal like living in Twilight Zone! I still don’t know how I survived this and am still recovering. Pret and any company or person forgets that when you don’t support the vulnerable, be it children, the elderly, sick people or traumatized and bereaved people, when you step on them while they are already on the ground, the time will come where children grow up and the vulnerable will become strong again if they survive. And then they will share their experience and/or retaliate through court or publication, standing up with other sufferers in unity. And with Pret I believe the time will come where more people will cut through the bull-crap and say enough is enough, and overcome the fear and intimidation of these giants, who in reality are dwarfs hiding behind their inflated shadow of fear management.

 

dwarf

 

Anyone who has come in contact with me has also been at the receiving end of my irrational fears and paranoia, especially when I drank something. I fall into this extreme fear of not knowing who to trust, as what Pret has done has so messed with my head, that I feel like a human going through an alien zone trying to figure out who’s the human and who’s the alien masquerading as a human. Sounds whacked up I know, but this is how I can describe it. Pret’s HR department especially are so skilled in being nice on the front, while behind this is another motive. Maybe I was this dwarf that became a deflated giant scaring people unnecessarily!

And many of you are very kind and patient, and I will always be indebted to you for this, and in time I will “repay” you for your kindness!

Thank you for reading and if I can give anyone any advise, join a Union and trust yourself, no matter how messed up you feel or indeed are!

 


 

Update 10.11.2018

A review from a former Pret staff from NYC who puts it in brief and better words than my long posts:

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

Link

 

Substantial list of staff complaints from other websites.

 


 

UPDATE March 2019 – The first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview.

Interview:

 

 

Adam

 

Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.

We spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general. I further talked about the significant timing of Pret CEO’s announcement of the £1000 Tweet for all staff. I also talked about a regular day in Pret and how staff have to cut corners, in order to fulfill the immense workload under constant pressure.

It is hard to squeeze my traumatic experience into a podcast segment, but we covered enough to get a good picture of today’s systemic stress environment for profit driven global companies.

Please visit his Podcast and Twitter @1AdamParadox.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

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