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
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.
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:
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:
Scrolling to the set the high target of 15% p/a to open all over the place in London specifically.comment, 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret and
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 NYC “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…”
July 2018 Review on YouTube towards the bottom from Branzinotito:
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:
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 London “I have worked there just 2 weeks and left. Horrible place they shout at you all the time for any little mistake.”
25. June 2018 London “Bad management and not taking care about people – do not give power to irresponsible people”
13. June 2018 “Hellhole – … you treat people like they’re useless and worthless … get down from that high horse you’re on.”
21. May 2018 London “People will dominate you until you feel like resigning the job.
Supervisors/Team Leaders treat you like a slave.”
15. May 2018 “you 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. 2018 “The management is terrible. Thassit.”
21. Jan. 2018 London “We 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 London “Never 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. 2017 “high rated company – low salary, too much pressure”
10. Dec. 2017 “super 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”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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 Edinburgh “management have no clue how to manage people. train management team to reduce turnover.”
02. Aug. 2017 London “Slavery for non British people. Good luck with Brexit!”
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 London “Strong 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 NYC “Very 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.”
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.”
25. Apr. 2017 “Not 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. 2017 “unskilled managers, racism, bad pay, they take advantage of staff”
21. Mar. 2017 London “lazy managers high demanding ops – Advise to management: take good care of the team”
10. Mar. 2017 London “Don’t be so brainwashed and scared”
10. Mar 2017 “Stress at work … poor management … Stress people less”
04. Feb. 2017 “Highly 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. 2017 “strict hierarchy, …team leaders are bossing and frustrated – take it easy”
10. Oct. 2016 London “It’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. 2016 “Stressful. 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. 2016 “Poorly trained management. Too much dependency on skillful employees.”
26. Sep. 2016 London “Worst 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. 2016 “Years – Takes advantage of your kindness”
07. Mar. 2016 UK “I just feel very strongly that the general public view of this company is very far off from the truth – I want to be as loud as possible here – PRET DOESN’T CARE.”
03. Jan. 2016 USA “Slave 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 London “The other team members are really nice and welcoming – Managers are a pain”
11. Nov. 2015 London “they 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”
04. Dec. 2015 London “Brainwash, 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.”
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 London “If 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 incompetent – Worked into the ground without empathy”
18. Mar. 2015 “Lack of accountability … Poor management”
04. Mar. 2015 “Hell job for minimum salary.”
26. Dec. 2014 “Terrible 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”
07. Jan. 2015 NYC “Spoiled, 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. 2014 “Terrible 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. 2014 “Manager 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 NYC “Horrible,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 London “Abuse of power most part of the times – Incorrect 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.”
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 NYC “the 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
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”
30. July 2013 “Brainwashed sandwich making – The 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. 2014 “Great perks that come with a price – They expect perfection
– High stress levels when understaffed … – Very little to no leniency on rules”
18. Dec. 2013 “They 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 NYC “Pret was a stressful and busy job that seeks perfection and expects you to actually be perfect”
“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 London “The moral is terrible and … being overworked. The idea of proper training is also rediculous – Most 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. 2011 “Careless – understaffed. 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 2011 “Pret 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 NYC “Management 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!)
04. July 2011 “Poor 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.”
“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!
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.”
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.”
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 London “Worst 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 NYC “Some 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 NYC “Nothing but aggravation and a discriminating HR – fire the HR staff you have now and replace them with more educating indiviuals and ones that dont discriminate”
22. May 2018 “Poor – Lack of defined management, finger-pointing, politics and poor organisation. ”
Feb. 2018 London (scrolling down)
05. Dec. 2017 London “Dear 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 London “Poor 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.”
16. Nov. 2015 NYC “The 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.”
29. Sep. 2015 London “The 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, IL “just terrible – Discriminatory management
Osha standards not met
Very Low pay
Don’t just promote the people that you like, promote the people that are the most qualified.”
20. June 2018 London “Not for sensitive people – Very 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”
13. Apr. 2018 London “Fun, but stressful and not worth it – Unattainable 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. 2017 “Work 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.”
20. May 2016 London “Clear 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
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 London “Look 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. 2017 “Slavery hasn’t been abolished. Early starts, rude staff. kitchen leaders are disrespectful. Improve how staff are treated.”
31. Jan. 2017 “Cut back on all the chiefs we need more indians”
13. Nov. 2016 London “Management 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. 2016 “Promotion can be down to who you know not what you know.”
06. Aug. 2016 London “Most 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”
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 “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 London “Avoid working there – Too 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, England “Respect yourself don’t let managers to overload you.”
26. May 2017 NYC “Pure 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.”
19. Nov. 2014 London “Worst company to work for – Pret 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.”
07. Juny 2018 A former Senior Manager’s response to my review:
03. Feb. 2018 “High demands not in line with pay, lack of support, inconsistent training, stressful/poor work life balance”
11. Mar. 2017 “Pret 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 NYC “Toxic, 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!)
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.”
31. Oct. 2015 NYC “Horrible 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 management – Hiring is based on looks – All push with no support – No 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.
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