A Pret customer on Twitter responded to the blog post on the bullying environment in Pret that I tweeted, where a Manager was “Caught in the Act” bullying a Team Member right in front of customers. I posted many Pret staff reviews from Glassdoor, Indeed, YouTube, Twitter etc. on the systemic bullying environment of Pret, including in Head Office.
I get many responses, mostly of shock, as people have been presented with a clean, ethical image of Pret. I also get a lot of “hate”. I get blocked, cussed out, reported, ignored etc. And that is expected. And at times in my drunken state I have lashed out at people and received appropriate responses. My apologies again to all who were at the receiving end of my drunken Tweets. It’s a trauma thing I do, but it’s not an excuse! So, when people hit back, it’s completely understandable and I accept it.
But the “hate” I get most of the time is when I tweet in a normal or neutral way just raising awareness on Pret. And the opposition of course is expected.
But one person responded, who seems to really care, and asked a question I have asked myself many times:
»These comments are shocking.
Why isn’t the public aware of this mistreatment?«
I explained a little bit in 3 Tweets, but want to put this into a blog post to not be limited in characters or get shadow banned.
My take on this, after over a year of hitting my head against a wall, is several reasons. I believe the following as a mix of reasons, in no particular order:
- Most or many don’t care, like in real life, they are bystanders or show indifference. I literally had people tell me that they don’t care after I pointed Pret work environment out to them.
- Also, many people flock to success, they are drawn to big shiny things and great stories. It’s human nature to want to believe a fairy-tale and what a company, organization or person “sells” to us as ethical, “natural” and good. Some people were so shocked about the reviews that I linked to, that they wrote things like: “I wish I never mentioned Pret” after I gave them a peek behind the facade. Or another Tweeter said, “Why are you doing this to me?” – as if I was ripping their illusions apart. We all have seen people or comedy where one person tells another person a truth, but the listener in a silly way holds their ears closed and starts talking or singing loud, so as not to have to hear the truth that is being told, like in this brief scene with Jim Carrey in >>> Dumb & Dumber. And this is how it sometimes comes across with Pret’s work practices that I post and the responses by people on social media.
A great quote by Nietzsche sums this up well:
- I have several accounts on social media as my Tweets are censored (hidden from the public) which then hides my writings from Twitter in general and can’t even be found in search. Only when people go directly onto my Twitter feed are Tweets visible during a shadow ban. But who would do that, especially when not knowing about my account?! And Twitter knows that, denies that they shadow ban, yet even said that people “may have to do more work to find” Tweets. I responded to their right out lying about this in a Tweet over Christmas 2018 after I just became aware of shadow banning. More on shadow banning, which is modern-day secret censorship, and how they do it, please watch this undercover report on YouTube.
- Mainstream media KNOWS my blog, but is in Pret’s pocket. I have contacted HUNDREDS of media people! Sure, they are worried of getting sued, but there are other journalists who wrote about Pret’s emotional labour practices. I collect their writings here: The Dangers of Emotional Labour. So, it IS possible to write about Pret without any repercussions. My writings are the most comprehensive, and if I can do it, anyone can, especially telling my own story AND pulling info from other Pret staff into one place, cross-referencing from other publications as well.
- Unions want to unionize staff, but I don’t know where this is at and I know that Pret staff are scared, often even too scared to leave, like I was. This recent review, marked in red, by a Manager I can absolutely relate to as Pret steeps employees in fear and brainwashing them. And this is not only in Scotland, as I worked in over a dozen Pret shops in London with my own horrific story with even Pret’s top leadership:
- The majority of people are followers, not leaders taking risks. So, for example I myself as this “little” person raising awareness, I am unknown, unpopular, have 30 followers here, 2 there etc. Nothing “special”. If ONE person clicks like or RT on my Tweet or even goes a step further and comments in support, even though I am “nobody”, unknown, out of my mind in trauma at times etc. this person is a leader. If I was a known or famous person with 3 million followers and would write exactly the same thing, or even something banal, I would get thousand of likes, RT’s, would probably start a revolution! So, a person who shows their support on my Tweets is a leader, because they don’t go with the flow, but with what THEY value and stand for, regardless what others believe. Now, that doesn’t mean that everything I say or tweet is right, and everyone who agrees with me is right, but my point here is that people who “dare” to agree or support an unknown person is a leader who takes risks against the flow. In society, and especially on social media, it’s not about WHAT you post or stand for, but how many followers and likes you have, regardless what BS you may post.
- As the bullying in Pret is systemic it seems like such a big mountain to overcome. The number one “argument” I get on social media is, “well, this is everywhere in the world with all big companies”. My response is always that just because this seems (not is!) everywhere, doesn’t mean I have to settle for it! Also, that was exactly the complacency that people have and had before the #metoo movement grew and started kicking butt! “Well, that’s just what men do!” Nopes! Unacceptable! After what I’ve been through (my story with Pret is in the audio player and articles at the bottom of this post), I have come to the conclusion that life is just way too short to be exploited, stepped upon and thrown away like garbage!
- I also asked health organizations like the Health and Safety Executive from the government, and other organisations and charities, for independent investigation into Pret staff deaths, particularly suicides. I wrote emails with detailed accounts to these health bodies, but they only investigate physical accidents at work that lead to death and investigate if they are work-related. I then continued to contact the press. I even contacted newspapers that I don’t like at all, just to call out for help like I’m drowning in despair! But apart from a handful of Journalists who cover the subject of emotional labour, there is not much interest, and those who showed interest seem to just want a quick story, but this subject needs thorough investigation and back-up. I was contacted by a Sunday Mirror reporter just soon after the first customer death from a Pret product became public. But at the time I wasn’t ready for the press and the journalist was apprehensive about getting sued by Pret for covering my story. But I suggested to the Journalist to go undercover into Pret, and I was proud to learn that she did! I commented on her experience in “Undercover Under Pressure“.
- My take also is, that the public frankly doesn’t care about low-wage workers in the fast-food industry or service work. I put a blog post together on suicides in companies and the toxic environment of Amnesty International: “Why is Pret A Manger not being Investigated on Staff Deaths?”
I mention the recent court case in France where 35 employees died by suicide. I followed this when it first broke in the news 10 years ago, then disappeared and now the former bosses have been convicted. At the time of my blog entry the case just started.
Also, an independent investigation has been done after TWO Amnesty International staff members died by suicide and their detailed findings of Amnesty’s toxic work environment. In Pret I know of also TWO staff members who died by suicide, plus one who became suicidal, went to court against Pret, but lost. Plus myself having survived after having had close calls. Yet, no-one seems to be interested, as I believe fast-food workers are not a priority, compared to human rights activists or the sheer high number of suicides that cannot be ignored.
In Pret there were two suicides that I know of, plus two suicidal people (the man who lost his case against Pret and myself), plus the many staff reviews on depression, bullying etc. There must be more.
And with this, I want to keep this blog post short, compared to the long explanations I usually make. I want to thank Marina Lambrou for caring enough to ask this question! And I want to thank all the people who have liked, RT’d, commented, DM’d and emailed me. I have had some amazing encouraging words from customers and staff alike. I will not out them of course, but one email from a customer made my day a while ago. This customer tweeted to Pret about having received their first free coffee and how exciting this give-away scheme is etc. I just posted the Mystery Shopper YouTube slide to them, where I put excerpts of real Mystery Shopper reports. But in the video I concentrated on the smiley service and posted only about 5 – 6 questions out of the 30 (THIRTY!) that Mystery Shoppers are tasked to test staff on every week! I said nothing more and just let the video do the “talking” where staff are tested if they smile, give eye contact, chat, give freebies etc. These Mystery Shopper reports show how staff “have to” be so cheery and efficient NON-STOP in a high stress workplace to not lose bonus. So, the public thinks that Pret is such a friendly and happy workplace, while in reality it’s fear managed and driven by cash incentives.
About an hour later, I already forgot about their Tweet, as I move on quickly to post to other people, not having a big platform to reach the “masses”. The person emailed me via my contact form and said these very simple, brief, but touching words that had me in tears:
»Hey, I just posted thanking Pret for a free coffee. Thank you for raising attention to this, I had no idea. I shall let others know too. And of course I’ve taken down that tweet. I’m sorry that you had such an awful time at Pret.«
I checked, and the person really took down their Tweet. These kind of responses and feedback keep me going! I read many times on people’s Twitter profile things like, “changing the world, one tweet at a time”. And the thought that if what I post would reach more people quicker, instead of painstakingly contacting individuals one by one, what opportunity and change may actually come! But it’s worth the slow progress, one Tweet at a time, one more shadow ban, and one more time getting blocked and reported. It’s worth it.
Thank you for reading.
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 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.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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