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!
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:
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
For complaints on Pret’s false advertisement go to:
It takes less than 2 minutes.
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.
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:
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.
One customer days ago sees it with more humour:
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. …
“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! 😀
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!
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.
UPDATE 23.04.2021 NEW video on a systemic issue with McDonald’s ice cream machines broken down and the disgusting reason behind this.
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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