Smoothie Operator – The Pret A Manger Lie

Upfront, dear customer and reader, especially in Europe, do your homework on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Subscriptions of cheap coffees lure customers into freely giving their precious personal data for future marketing! More on this at the bottom of this post. But under GDPR you can request for your data 1. not be included on Pret’s database, or 2. if you did subscribe, upon unsubscribing you can request for your data to be DELETED and request to not be contacted with advertisement in the future!

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So, here is another Pret A Manger trick.

Pret advertises free “unlimited”, yep, “endless” free smoothies on a monthly subscription. “Endless” here means 5 per day mind you.

Trouble is, not many shops do them for free. Why is that? Very simple reason. The reason I keep posting on Twitter is mainly 1. that shop Managers hate giving smoothies for free as they are expensive. Pret HQ comes up with all these freebie marketing, and shops have to foot the bill. 2. Baristas hate doing smoothies and frappes because they take too long to make. Pret staff are tested by weekly Mystery Shoppers if the service is within 60 seconds and if the drinks are served within a minute. Pret under-staffs to maximize profit, so oftentimes there is 1 barista doing coffee and 2 – 3 Team Members “busting” the queues that are lined up to the door. Hence, smoothies and frappes are an inconvenience to make, taking more than a minute.

I have worked in horrendous conditions like this many times, but it is good that customers snatch photos of this and raise the issue publicly:

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For those who don’t want to read long blog posts, here a YouTube slide as a visual:

But the list of excuses is long and typical: Ran out of smoothies, ice machine broken, not included in the offer, staff untrained and clueless, technical issues, subscribe process doesn’t work, email not recognized yada yada yada …

I worked at Pret, I know all the excuses “they” (management and HQ) want staff to give. “Technical” issues is always a classic!

Here are ONLY today’s complaints, there are many more from when the subscription went live.

Before I go into all the screenshots of customer complaints on social media, here is a link to the Advertisment Standards Authority (ASA) for complaints on false advertisement. ASA slapped Pret already regarding Pret’s “natural” claim. Most people haven’t even noticed yet that Pret took (had to take!) off the word “natural” from all their signage and packaging. I explain in detail here on: Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat

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For complaints on Pret’s false advertisement go to:


https://www.asa.org.uk/make-a-complaint.html

It takes less than 2 minutes.

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NOT Natural

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Here’s a SPOILER Alert:
There has always been this cold war between shops and HQ. Head Office comes up with deals for customers, and shops have to foot the bill. HQ collects the £20 subscription fees directly for Pret, but the shops have to foot the bill and pay for the smoothies, frappes etc. to give away for free. And when shops refuse to do the frappes/smoothies under excuses of broken machines, it doesn’t bother Pret HQ because they have the money and it is only the customer who suffers the “loss” in not getting the promised product.
Furthermore, Pret tries to hold on to monthly fees by making it 1. hard to cancel the subscription and 2. even when customers manage to cancel in time, Pret continues to withdraw money from customers’ bank accounts every month.
More on this here: Pret A Manger Subscription Rip-Off.

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A little slideshow on customer complaints, many screenshots are also underneath the slideshow. May need wifi to view slides. Due to the new WordPress editor, slideshow does not run automatically but has to be clicked manually or slide left/right. All screenshots are also listed underneath:

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UPDATE: February 2021

Pret announced recently that from April 2021 on the smoothies and frappes will not be part of the subscription anymore. Customers launched a social media outcry, with more threatening to cancel the subscription etc. Now Pret announced the smoothies/frappes will remain as part of the subscription. The text they use is the typical Pret brainwash, quote: “We’ll never be too proud too admit when we’ve got it wrong …”

This is supposed to show some humility and being close to the customer while in reality Pret not only keeps ignoring customer complaints about hardly being able to find shops that DO the smoothies/frappes, but it now continues as new complaints emerge of yet AGAIN no iced drinks available in shops.

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One customer days ago sees it with more humour:

Link

And only some of the many early complaints with the different excuses why shops don’t do smoothies/frappes:

The following shop ran out of practically everything! 😀

etc. etc. …

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

Endless” blended smoothies:

This would go under false advertisement, no?

If many customers organize and swamp Prets at the same time like a flash mob, and show staff and especially Managers this false advertisement of “unlimited” and “endless” smoothies/frappes etc. – it should be interesting what may happen! Take a video camera y’all! 😀

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Again, reminder: There has always been this cold war between shops and HQ. Head Office comes up with deals for customers, and shops have to foot the bill. HQ collects the £20 subscription fees, but the shops have to pay for the smoothies, frappes etc. to give away for free. And when shops don’t do the frappes/smoothies, it doesn’t bother Pret HQ because they have the money and the customer suffers the “loss” in not getting the promised product.

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Another YouTube slide on how customers struggle to cancel the subscription, and if they managed to cancel, Pret STILL withdraws money for months. Customers have to cancel the direct debit as well!

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UPDATE on Pret doing data collection now:

In a NY Times article CEO Pano Christou speaks open about data collection, quote:

»The other benefit of the subscription plan is the chance to gather more data about its customers, who will scan a QR code each time they use it. “Pret have been very, very late adapters to this,” Mr. Christou said. Panera, he said, has a database of more than 40 million customers across the United States. … I think the richness of data today gives you an opportunity to learn much more about your customers”« Link

Pret started to collect customer data around 2018.

The most common way they collect data, which is a very slow and long process, is via Social Media. Customers who have a complaint or even complementing Pret, are asked to DM/private message Pret. In the DM then customers are lured into giving their personal details. Some customers get cheap free vouchers and in return easily give their data to Pret.

In an interview former CEO Clive Schlee laughs embarrassed being asked about this, when a friend of his, being surprised about this, mentions that this is the first time that Pret asks for customer data. The interviewer Mario Bauer, being perplexed about Pret’s new data collection, says to former CEO Clive Schlee, »It was the first time when I now went to your website to check your latest blog entry that I was asked for my mail address to register. It’s the first time that I felt Pret kind of tries to get customer data, because so far there was no loyalty program …«

If you watch Clive Schlee’s facial expression and body language, when Mario Bauer starts mentioning that he “ felt Pret kind of tries to get customer data” Schlee looks embarrassed and “caught in the act” of now wanting customer data in any way Pret can get their hand of it.

With the subscription there are MANY complaints on Social Media that makes it hard to unsubscribe, or when they unsubscribed Pret still continues to draw money from bank accounts etc. This technical “glitch” doesn’t look like a glitch, but a desperate attempt to keep drawing money and make unsubscribing challenging.

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UPDATE 23.04.2021 NEW video on a systemic issue with McDonald’s ice cream machines broken down and the disgusting reason behind this.

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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.


Interview:

NOTE: Since WordPress changed to a new editing system, some features may not work anymore. If this audio player doesn’t work please visit my MEDIA page where the old player still works.


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.

Pret A Manger Seminar on Customer Service

In the spring of 2017 I still worked at Pret as a Team Leader of the shop floor (Floor Leader – FL) when Pret hired the prestigious London Barbican Center to hold a one to two week seminar on customer service. I can’t remember if it was two weeks, but certainly a whole week where Managers and Leaders from different areas where scheduled to attend.

The seminar theme was “Be Kind, Honest, Generous”. Pret did not hire the main Barbican hall, but several rooms upstairs including the Amphitheater. We were led through different rooms where presentations were held, like a video stream being shown on a hidden camera shoot that showed different shop staff members and the mistakes they made in customer service. I cringed at this because Pret already has a very patronizing, micromanaging Mystery Shopper scheme where weekly visits happen to test every shop on service, cleanliness, amount of products available etc. If shops fail, the whole Team lose the bonus, even if only one staff member makes a mistake. If they succeed everyone receives a bonus and / or an individual staff member can earn an extra up to £200 if they kissed the Mystery Shopper’s butt extra sweet!

A real Mystery Shopper report with the majority of the 32 micromanaging questions I put together on YouTube:

In a nutshell: Low-wage staff HAVE TO smile, chat, give eye contact etc. to present a “happy” image while in reality they are short-staffed, bullied to work fast, many are depressed, take pills or drink to cope with the daily stress. I myself was bullied during already traumatic bereavement, which I share at the bottom audio player interview on a podcast based in California.

Why am I writing about this? Why is this significant?

It was spring 2017 when Pret held this seminar for all Leaders in customer service, and for the Leaders then to pass what they’ve “learnt” to the Teams. There wasn’t really anything to learn, it was just one big brainwash in how to kiss butt even more. This was a year after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s tragic death from an unlabelled allergen (sesame) in a Pret baguette. But at the time I and my colleagues did not know about a customer having died, (let alone by Decmber 2017 TWO customers having died) from hidden allergen in Pret products.

I learnt like everyone else through the media in autumn 2018. And apart from being shocked, I was appalled that Pret did not only NOT tell us about this, but as a Team Leader whose job description also was health and safety, that I wasn’t even briefed or as much as HINTED to be more cautious and diligent about labelling and allergen!

Pret went full steam ahead with business as usual! Natasha’s mum points this out perfectly in about 0:20 into the video:

So, what did Pret do? Pret did a seminar on customer service and how to kiss butt for increased profit. We shop workers laughed about the theme of “be kind, honest, generous” as we knew Pret wasn’t kind, honest, generous. We knew how pretentious the company is and how we were pushed and drilled to present a happy image while being burdened down and lied to by management constantly. We were bullied on silly issues while important issues were ignored.

For example, in the seminar, in one of the rooms we were led through, a scenario was given where trans-sexual customers complained to Pret about being called “sir” when they were female or called “madam” when they were male or identified as a different gender. Or we simply made a mistake by accidentally addressing a customer the wrong way.

Tweet about the theme mentioning Sarah Bohn who’s part of Pret’s training department developing this seminar.

Sarah Bohn (red jacket) on a team-building trip.

I remember Lila Warren, (in above Tweet pictured on the very right – dark jacket/hair), one of the Development Managers from the training department, explaining in great detail that we should not call people sir or madam to not offend etc. I remember getting annoyed at this because Pret staff have one minute to serve customers or risk losing bonus and get fear managed. As a team member I myself served at LEAST about 500+ people in a 6 hour shift, especially when I worked in the morning coffee AND lunch rushes! The pace is so relentless as regular customers will know. The many Mystery Shopper questions that I listed in above YouTube slide show how staff are micromanaged and have to follow silly and unnecessary rules upon rules upon rules …

When a customer then looked male or female, we just simply were too busy, swamped with volumes of customers and work, and we were plainly exhausted from the same menial fake smiley tasks, then surely it cannot be a catastrophe to address a customer wrongly by MISTAKE. I did that a few times, apologized and even gave a free coffee.

YET! Pret did not see it important to hold a seminar on allergen and food labelling!

I write about Lila Warren on my blog as she was instrumental in my ordeal. In a nutshell, Lila Warren was tasked to give me a disciplinary when I spiralled into late night emailing to Pret after I was systemically bullied by Pret leadership under the watchful eye of the HR department. This had former CEO Clive Schlee call me his “late night girl”. I explain in detail in the audio player at the bottom.

Pret had no grounds to fire me. In fact Pret was worried that I’d go to court after what they put me through from the top down. I was offered 4 settlement offers if I resign and be silent about my ordeal. Three offers came while I worked at Pret refusing to resign, and the fourth offer came after I withdrew the court case that I filed against Pret. I withdrew as my dad just died at the time of preparing for the case. But as I declined all 3 money offers, Pret put Lila Warren on my case. And this was the most toxic and perverse thing Pret has done and that I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Lila claimed that she had a brother who died alone in his apartment and wasn’t found for days. Just like my brother. She gave me a disciplinary for emailing Pret, but then entered into private emailing and text messaging with me, which resulted in me getting fired. It was a vile plan that I still recover from today.

Pret A Manger being “honest, kind and generous”?

Yikes! It’s the typical PR stunt that Pret is so known for. Ignoring multiple customer warnings on labelling before AND after customers have died. Bullying low-wage staff and HQ staff to the point of suicide to maximize profit. Mainstream media is in Pret’s pocket and they like to ignore my writings, but steal from it for their own press articles.

Pret could have EASILY re-shifted the seminar. I’m sure it took a year or so to prepare this seminar, getting rooms and the Amphitheater hired in the Barbican etc. But Pret could have easily re-shuffled the theme from “sliming” customers and kissing butt in service – to – allergen and labelling. Pret could have EASILY gotten in allergy experts to train us on the importance and the various forms of allergies. But no, they went full steam ahead with a seminar that I and my colleagues didn’t even learn anything new!

In hindsight, this seminar to me seems like the training department still had a huge annual budget to blow, and instead of getting less budget for the following year, they just came up with a “seminar” that none of us needed, as we were already doing the butt-kissing and smliey service drilled via weekly Mystery Shoppers.

And in hindsight also, I am offended big time that Pret not only did NOT inform us about Natasha having died, that Pret didn’t even as much as HINT for us to be cautious with allergen and labelling, no instead they wasted money on a Barbican seminar that we didn’t need! I would have wanted to get trained or re-trained on health and safety issues, on allergen etc. etc. Pret didn’t even need to lie to us if they didn’t want to tell us of a customer death and several injuries, Pret could have been HONEST to us, KIND to customers and GENEROUS with INFORMATION and TRAINING on allergen!!!

Pret didn’t even needed to lie, they could have been HONEST and tell us that many customers have complained to Pret to start labelling the food! BAM! And THEN Pret could have gotten experts in to train us! I am OFFENDED that Pret did NOTHING!!! Deeply offended!

If this doesn’t show how little Pret cares, I don’t know what will. I cannot find any information on the Barbican seminar, but I still have the invite email from Pret. Also, anyone from the press can contact the Barbican itself and inquire about the spring 2017 Pret seminar. I’m sure they can find the info quick as everything that Pret did and still do is always a big deal for venues and business people.

More former and current Pret staff will stand up. Several lawsuits are coming up and Pret’s facade keeps getting cracked.

Just few of the many Pret staff reviews:


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.


Interview:

NOTE: Since WordPress changed to a new editing system, some features don’t work anymore. If the below audio player doesn’t work, please visit my MEDIA page where it works and other articles are listed.


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.