Pret A Manger’s Emotional Labour is Emotional Abuse


Emotional Labour Emotional Abuse



PAMSU Dismantle MS




“I was served after 15 seconds …”

“Team members should smile at customers and may not work when ill …”

“Your smile is part of your uniform. You are expected to wear a smile like you wear your uniform!”






“… in The New Republic, Timothy Noah observes that the sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger aggressively monitors its employees’ displays of enthusiasm. If any worker at any particular store seems insufficiently pleased to see their customers, he and all of his coworkers could suffer the consequences. Pret CEO Clive Schlee even monitors whether his employees are making enough affectionate physical contact with each other.” Link



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MS Mystery 15 seconds to Mars

4 our of 5 points even while being served in 15 seconds. Sorry dear Misery Shopper, that the team didn’t serve you in 1.5 seconds to get 100%.



MS Mystery Shopper VAT eat in take away


MS Mystery Shopper Team Member should smile 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 enough to smile that day.”

1. Team Member are not paid the first 2 – 3 days, depending on age, when sick, having to make constant decisions if to stay home and lose income, or if they are fit enough to work while ill.

2. After this comment I found myself in the office being told off by the manager. No question of “how are you”…

3. I couldn’t smile at times after I buried my brother and my manager again had no mercy. And when I smiled and the MS made excellent comments, there was NO recognition from the managers.

4. Pret A Manger, stop this emotional abuse and exploitation for your millions.



MS Mystery Shopper Miserable

“I felt miserable when I walked in to begin with. I looked at the staff on the tills and they all looked very unhappy and not cheerful at all. To improve, the staff members could be smiling and interacting with each other to liven up the atmosphere.”

After this comment, the never-smiling, moody, shouting manager told the team in the kitchen after this MS report: “Your smile is part of your uniform. You are expected to wear a smile like you wear your uniform!”



MS Mystery Shopper Detail

Pret: “We aim to be attentive to each customer’s needs. Rate the engagement level of the whole shop team during your visit.”

MS: “There was a staff member who was replenishing stock and another tidying away after customers left promptly. Before sitting down at a table the member checked my tale and chair to see if they were cleaned properly.”


04 MS

Pret: “We aim to serve our customers within 1 minute of joining the queue. Were you served in a reasonable time, bearing in mind how busy the shop was and the number of open tills?”
MS: “I was served in less than a minute.”

Pret: “We aim to serve our customers their hot drink within 1 minute of payment. Did you receive your hot drink order within a reasonable time, bearing in mind how busy the shop was?”
MS: “I was served my hot drink almost instantly.”

1. The “reasonable” time is unrealistic, staff get so pressured and used to work on autopilot that they ALWAYS rush and panic for every second they may lose to finish any job, especially customer service.

Pret: “We aim to connect with every customer with eye contact, a smile and some polite remarks. Rate the engagement level of the person who served you at the till.”
MS: “I was not greeted at the till or given a smile …”

1. On average a Team Member does between 300 – 500 transactions per day, depending on how busy it is and if working in the rush times. 300 transactions are NOT 300 people, 1 transaction can be serving 3 people. So, on average a TM communicates at least with 500 – 800+ PERSONS, plus colleagues, line managers etc. The exhaustion staff members go through, not to mention depression is something the public doesn’t want to know about. I was complemented many times by the Mystery Shopper and customers for my friendly service, attentiveness, professionalism… but they did not know that several times I left my shift headed for the bridge.

2. If the TM is successful and the MS is happy with the overall atmosphere and requirements of the shop, the whole team receives the bonus. If the TM messes up, doesn’t smile or whatever the MS may not be happy with, the whole team loses bonus, and the TM will find themself in the office being told off, at times manipulated with fear management, threatened with a disciplinary and/or ob loss… Even during bereavement, I was summoned to the office and my non-smiling was one part of a list of (small) things I was targeted with.


Not Outstanding


If any team member, including leaders and managers would have been “outstanding” by giving a free coffee for example or making lots of conversation (kissing butt) that person can receive an extra £100, even if the bonus was lost. And if the score/points were perfect, that person can earn double, £200. That at least was when I was still in Pret in December 2017.

2018-07-04 Outstanding Card




2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness



PAMSU Dismantle MS



End MS




2017-05-26 Pure Misery

»Everything is over priced and you are forced to act like a happy jack-ass or your pay is cut. This place is what hell must be like.«



UPDATE May 2019
TWO Pret staff have died.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?


Emotional Labour Emotional Abuse



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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