2 December – Day 2 of Away in Pret A Manger adVENT Calendar 2020
Many customers are impressed with the constant smiles, generosity (freebies), chatty appearance of front-line Pret staff. Very few ask why low-wage workers in an intense work environment smile and chat so much.
Simple answer, weekly Mystery Shopper visits.
For a FULL 32 question Mystery Shopper report, please visit Pret A Manger – Service Secrets revealed, in today’s post I keep it shorter.
When I worked at Pret the Mystery Shopper “Outstanding Card” reward was £50 if the overall shop scores weren’t perfect, and £100 if scores were perfect. In 2017 an OPs Manager asked me for ideas to improve Mystery Shopper scores company-wide as the shop I worked at as a Team Leader had mostly perfect Mystery Shopper results. I made many suggestions, one of which was to double the individual cash reward from £50/£100 to £100/£200. Since then Pret doubled it.
The complex customer service of Pret A Manger via the Mystery Shopper scheme was already micromanaging in my time, with 4 – 5 pages of questions Mystery Shoppers test staff on every week in every shop. But Pret later increased this to about 8 pages with 32 micromanaging questions.
In my time the bonus scheme was that we got £1 per hour. We earned just a little more than minimum wage, but below the Living Wage, and we had to work double for it. Pret has no choice than to pay a few pennies more and throw in some perks as no low-wage worker would break their back for minimum wage. What the low-wage worker doesn’t know is that this seemingly generous wage via backbreaking work will stay like this for years. It takes forever to get a pay-rise. So, staff start off seemingly with a higher wage, but remain at this for years to come.
The bonus scheme depends to the largest part on Mystery Shoppers. If I worked 40 hours the week the Mystery Shopper visit was successful, I received £40 extra that week (£1 x 40 hours).
A different Mystery Shopper visits each week, each shop. The shop is tested on variety of things: the overall atmosphere upon entering the shop, the amount and variety of selection of food on display, cleanliness, after customers have died from unlabelled/mislabelled allergen, Pret added questions about allergen and recipes in general. But the main thing that shops are tested on is the service. Are staff smiling, giving eye contact, chat? An individual staff member can earn the extra £100 or if perfect shop scores, £200 if the Mystery Shopper is extra impressed with the service of that one individual.
So staff kiss butt and it’s almost always guaranteed to get the £100/£200 cash reward when the staff member gives a freebie to the Mystery Shopper.
If the Mystery Shopper who counts the amount of selection of food on display and 1 item or more is missing from the amount that Pret demands, then the whole shop team lose bonus.
If ONE Team Member doesn’t smile while serving ANY customer and the Mystery Shopper witnesses the “non-smiling”, the whole Team are at risk to lose bonus. Depending how harsh the Mystery Shopper is, any tiny mistake from ONE Team Member can lose the whole Team their bonus.
Even if the bonus is lost that week, one individual staff member can still earn £100 if they kiss butt well enough and impress the Mystery Shopper. This happened in below YouTube slide where I put a real Mystery Shopper report. The shop lost bonus due to some food items missing from the range, but a Team Member gave the Mystery Shopper a free drink, explained the drink and was rewarded £100. This is done to make the other Team Members jealous and created peer pressure. All the other Team Members didn’t get their bonus because the kitchen couldn’t get the food items out in time, thus the whole team got penalized while just ONE Team Member received £100 for kissing butt.
Managers, OPs Managers and higher up Leadership receive their bonus quarterly. Managers always put intense pressure on Team Members regarding the Mystery Shopper because Managers’ quarterly bonuses rely to the largest part on Mystery Shopper results. Bonus depends on a variety of things like profit, how much/little waste a shop has, how much labour can be cut, cleanliness, health and safety visit scores etc. But the biggest chunk of Manager quarterly bonus depends on the Mystery Shopper.
This pressure is to push smiley, chatty, supposedly “happy” customer service to impress customers with the happy facade while in reality staff are peer pressured, bullied and forced to pretend a happiness.
I write so detailed about this because I was bullied by Management when the Mystery Shopper commented that I didn’t smile. What the Mystery Shopper didn’t know was that I just buried my brother. But Management knew. HR knew. Pret knew.
An older Mystery Shopper report where Pret demanded that staff smile, chat, give eye contact to EVERY customer:
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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