Pret A Mouse … on the house!
Many examples of continued issues even after the customers deaths became public, and Pret’s “promise” to implement “meaningful” change are the opposite of what is listed further down below. I stopped adding in December 2018 as this is getting too much, but the issues continue.
Another customer hospitalized, Pret sent flowers and a £20 voucher and did not react for a day to this Tweet until being prompted again:
Undercover Report by The Sunday Mirror sparked by my blog on mixed up labels, out-of-date product, food waste and overstretched staff which I could write books about! 24.11.2018
New updates and additions at the bottom…
Link to Tweet (From experience with Pret soups, this looks like Pulled Pork to me, which also contains beans)
This could have been another death, hospitalization, allergic reaction… certainly an unpleasant experience for a vegetarian. Multiple warnings not taken seriously before and even after 2 customer deaths.
As I want to move away from my Pret outcry because I have said enough to give a good idea what really is going on behind the facade, but I keep seeing these complaints.
A tweet with the typical response from Pret that has me shake my head again and again, even though I shouldn’t be surprised.
A vegetarian customer got a meaty soup instead of what was labelled as a vegetarian Tuscan Bean Soup that even has the green veggie sticker on the soup cup. A meaty soup has a red sticker with the soup name, a veggie soup has a green sticker, plus the label on the Hot Cabinet with the ingredients (hopefully with full allergen info).
Pret’s response is to blame downwards as usual, making the Hot Chef (the person who is preparing all hot food) responsible. The OPs manager (operations manager = area manager) who often is quite stern, with an intimidating “bossy” attitude, visits the shop. The OPs then speaks to the General Manager (GM) or maybe even to the Hot Chef or person who prepared the soup.
On a side note, the Hot Chef has the most difficult and stressful job on the shop floor. Unlike the Barista who has the morning coffee rush, cleaning and stocking up, but then a quieter period during lunch time with lots of help, the Hot Chef never stops and goes from the morning bakery items to the lunch-time hot foods! In winter it’s the worst and intensely exhausting. Often they don’t get help except on paper, but in reality they are so stressed for time and often have tiny work benches, if at all, and if they are not organized naturally and not trained properly, they struggle a great deal. I mention the different job roles and stress factors in my Open Letter to Pret Customers.
So, the Hot Chef now gets even more stress and may not even get help, but will be blamed, no matter if the team may have been understaffed, or the Hot Chef may not have received proper training as I used to work as a HC and was thrust into it with little training and have seen this with other HCs again and again.
It is a lose-lose situation. The typical scenario is that staff are not trained properly, overworked, underpaid, stressed to the max, not helped and then blamed when things go wrong. Apart from my experience this can be seen in the countless staff complaints that I collected from other websites. A very typical Pret situation on a daily basis. Of course there are trained staff and good shops, but my 10 years in Pret mainly involved training myself, trying to help my colleagues as best as I was able to under intensely stressful circumstances.
Pret’s response to the customer who was sold the wrong soup is again typical for how Pret responds to this:
If the text is too small: Ctrl & + or direct Link to Pret’s “hilarious” response
So, the customer read the labels on the hot cabinet and the soup cup, and yet still got the wrong item and ingredients! If the customer would have been allergic to any of the ingredients in the wrong soup, having believed to have bought the correct item, scrutinized the labels, double checked everything … but still got the wrong item, this could have been another death… The Tuscan Bean soup does also look a little like this meat soup in the photo above. So, I have also seen often that customers open the lid to take a look and the similarity of the soups visually could still mislead them. And Pret responds in this indifferent way and just blames the Hot Chef who most likely is already over stressed as it is.
The (real) veggie Tuscan Bean Soup
The generic response that is so typical for Pret still amazes me. But the blaming is typical. Quote:
“The hot chef in charge failed the Pret standard for soup preparation…”
No, the Hot Chef most likely was overworked, stressed, had no help and was pressured by the GM or Team Leader to quickly get the soups out for selection so in case the Mystery Shopper comes, they won’t be marked down for missing items on the shelves. Plus, many Hot CHefs work in cramped areas without a proper work bench! Picture below.
No idea how a customer got a hold of this photo. If the customer lets Pret know which shop it is, the person who took and then leaked the photo will have an appointment with the Job-center soon. But this is a very common view I found in my 10 years in Pret. And this is then no wonder that serious mistakes keep happening: tiny work spaces especially for Hot Chefs who have the hardest job on shop level. This photo is a very familiar sight. Hot Chefs balancing act to have proper work benches. Very dehumanizing and disrespectful towards hardworking people to not give them the right space as well as time to prepare in a safe way.
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 well:
The following picture of a rubbish cart is from the worst shop I’ve ever worked, not only because the bullying by my line manager and his boss was the heaviest there, but because there was NO space. There was only ONE toilet for customers AND staff alike. I had to go to the Costa next door at times as I didn’t have time to queue for the toilet! The back-room was an All-in-one room: Office, staff/changing room with lockers, Fridges and Freezers, Store room, the Hot Chef area where the soups were prepared, the Chemical room with all the cleaning materials etc., the Electrical Room and to top it all, the RUBBISH room.
Many times the rubbish was left over night after the collection already came. This photo is from September 2015 and Pret was then forced to expand the working area, decreasing the customer area as the rubbish was a health & safety issue. But this shop existed for at least 2-3 years with the rubbish included in the multi-task room.
Staff would even change their uniform in there next to the Hot Chef preparing food! It was a complete nightmare. And even when we complained about the lack of space and rubbish, Pret would NOT listen to us and only changed when prompted by health & safety people because if an EHO would have done a routine check they would have closed down that shop immediately like an EHO did when mouse droppings were found in a routine visit to a Pret shop. Pret ONLY reacts when caught!
I keep repeating myself that Starbucks closed 8000 shops in the USA to train staff for an afternoon after a racial incident in one of their stores. They closed for a few hours to train their staff and then even remained closed for the rest of the day after the training. This has cost Starbucks an estimated $12 Million+ for that ONE day. Starbucks did that a few years ago already in the UK to retrain staff on coffee quality.
But in Pret customers die, repeated complaints keep coming in on wrong and inadequate labelling, and worse even, products are wrongly labelled or put into wrong vessels like this soup … And those are only the complaints that are public.
And Pret A Manger does business as usual. Full steam ahead! Let the slogans and generic cut and paste responses do their work. I still cannot believe that Pret is still not putting on the brakes here, and gets away with “murder” so to speak.
I wanted to move away from my Pret outcry, but these incidences which are only public, there is much more going on which is not seen, but how people are being treated, how staff suffer… and how I survived Pret, I cannot be silent.
Collected on “Pret Allergen Death & Customer Warnings to Pret“.
BEFORE Natasha’s and Ms. Marsh’s deaths became public:
05. June 2018 Quote: “Can you start labelling individual wraps?”
And the typical Pret “Oh gosh…” response veering away from the public into DM and just blaming “someone” for having placed item behind the wrong label. But no priority on labelling, no “meaningful” change, just full steam ahead doing business as usual. As a Team Leader I had to fix issues like this on a daily basis.
I just added one “before” example, but there are countless more. Also from my own experience having worked in Pret with staff on high pace and stress, understaffed to maximize profits, running non-stop with no time to oversee careful labelling and placing items on correct shelves…
AFTER Natasha’s and Ms. Marsh’s deaths became public, issues continue:
24.10.2018 Another soup issue. In the U.S. this time:
28.10.2018 A piece of Ham in a Veggie Cheese Sandwich (clear sign of cross contamination, not cleaned properly, especially on weekends where staff are cut and struggle more than they already do during the week. Managers mostly at home enjoying their weekends off while staff struggle. Hence too many shortfalls and quality issues.)
29.10.2018 This is either the Ham Mac&Cheese or Proscioutto, but looks like the Ham Mac with a green Veggie Kale & Cauli label instead of the red Meaty sticker:
Also 29.10.2018 response to a 26.10. complaint, after three days asking if she was okay. Pret may even be understaffed on their USA Twitter feed. A dish that contains at least enough “iron” supply for the day. The Pret A Metal-Wrap (Allergen Info: Contains metal, eat responsibly)
29.10.2018 Dairy vs Soya
30.10.2018 Pret’s “Plastic Pledge” (Allergen Info: Contains Plastic. Eat responsibly)
30.10.2018 Pret A Hair
01.11.2018 USA Allergen Info: “May” contain Unidentified Food Object. Eat responsibly.
22.10.2018 Wrong Soup
23.10.2018 “Plastic Pledge” again
23.10.2018 Gherkin Croissant
07.11.2018 Wrong soup again
08. Nov. 2018 Serious labelling issues continue
08.11.2018 Omelette with Mac & Cheese label:
09. Nov. 2018 “Meaty Porridge”
22.11.2018 Duck instead of Avo Wrap for Vegetarian
27.11.2018 Meat instead of Vegan wrap:
29.11.2018 Wrong soup … again
29.11.2018 Pret’s “Plastic Pledge” again. Even the teeth/bite marks are visible!
17.12.2018 Wrong soup … again
21.12.2018 Cockroach in Tuna Salad still alive
… to be continued (unfortunately)
A lawsuit filed by a customer in NYC in 2016:
“A New York City man is suing Pret a Manger 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.“
The Verdict … settled out of court.
I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO. 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.
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