The Nasty Business of Emotional Prostitution

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I’ve read a short Tweet exchange today between Pret customers regarding the service in Pret.

Link

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I start entering the conversation under @Ethical_Sailor’s Tweet. Please click “Show more replies” and “Show replies” as my account is blacklisted on Twitter due to censorship as I expose Pret. I won’t put all my Tweets here, please just read the feed on Twitter as I added some more.

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I then also write under the original Tweeter. Again, please click “Show more replies” and read further Tweets in the feed.

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One Tweet I want to place here because it’s important:

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Here is a screenshot of a Mystery Shopper (MS) comment when I served the MS (unbeknown to me) and I was coughing because I had a minor cold. I remember this very vividly because after we received the report that week, my boss ordered me into the office! I was intimidated at their “preaching” to be more careful when serving. I wasn’t as bold then as I am now. This was before my brother died and all hell broke lose in Pret. But comments like this can tip any person over who suffers mental health issues, let alone having a flipping cold!

And maybe the MS doesn’t know that low-wage staff are NOT paid sick day on their first and second days, even with a GP sick note. Or maybe they didn’t care. But I worked while sick MANY MANY times, having to make the decision if I should stay at home and get well, but lose money or go to work struggling, but able to pay my bills.

I don’t understand why above MS screenshot is blurred! Is there censorship on this website provider, too??

Please see the following link where the screenshot is enlarged and clear:

https://s20.directupload.net/images/210728/eba3rst4.jpg

Quote:

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: “Team members should smile at customers and may be not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore
not feeling cheerful enough to smile that day.”

Uhm, I wasn’t even “cheerful” to smile under extreme stress and noise 8+ hours each day on a good day you arrogant, entitled prat!

Since I started writing on Pret’s micromanaging Mystery Shopper scheme, Pret has now changed the wording, they don’t say anymore “We aim to connect with every customer with …” as many customers on social media became appalled at this when I posted this.

Back to above Tweet feed, I started looking at Ms Persaud’s original Tweet on the top closer and decided to write a blog post on this. And this time I WANT Deborah Persaud to take it personal. I’m going to copy her full text into my blog as well as the screenshot above.

Quote:
»Just goes to show how much difference one good person can make – went to my usual @Pret fir coffee this morning. The helpful person must be on holiday as I stood right at the counter for 5 minutes being actively ignored by the staff. So I left, lunch-less.«

Poor YOU Deborah Persaud, poor you!

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This kind of attitude and expectation is what Sophie McBain writes about in her subtitle of “How Emotional Labour Harms Us All” quote: »Workers are put at high risk of anxiety and burnout, while consumers are emboldened to behave aggressively.«

Now Deborah Persuad doesn’t seem like behaving “aggressively”, rather more passive aggressive, but comments like hers I remember reading in the weekly Emails that Pret’s head office sent out to all shops on Fridays where we, in our area would read all the positive and negative comments on shops in the area that customers sent in to Pret. Some sent it via Email, others on Social Media. Pret does this so that EVERYONE in shops can read each others’ comments to either shame us if negative comments or make others jealous if positive, so as to strive to achieve better. It’s the typical manipulative bullying behaviour to keep low-wage staff on their toes at all times.

And customers like Deborah Persuad love this, because she gets her emotional ego stroked, probably even a free voucher to keep her coming back spending more money. In the meantime the staff member whom Ms Persuad complained about PUBLICLY, will probably find themselves in the office with the equally frustrated Manager who gives the staff member a good telling off, threaten them with a disciplinary and then sends them out onto the shop floor demanding to smile for Mystery Shopper bonus. Please read this real Mystery Shopper report and put yourself just for 5 minutes into the shoes of a low-wage front-line FOOD worker.

And mind you, some customer take photos of staff and publish their names on social media, humiliating already burnt out, underpaid staff.

»Workers are put at high risk of anxiety and burnout, while consumers are emboldened to behave aggressively.« Sophie McBain

I recently had a go at a customer from Pret New York who put a photo of a female staff member whom he accused of having touched her face while serving. As the staff member was black, I equally accused the Tweeter of racism! I won’t put the screenshot here, because this low-wage worker deserves protection and dignity! And many other Tweets with photos and names of staff that arrogant, entitled, spoiled customers post.

Two YouTube slides I did on Pret’s abusive Mystery Shopper scheme. I use YouTube as well because my blog is blocked on Facebook/Instagram where the algorithm even deletes PRIVATE messages when I link to my blog! But they can’t block YouTube or Twitter! ‹^› (°_°) ‹^›

The first slide is with excerpts of Mystery Shopper reports from different years and shops. All those were from shops that I worked at. I coined Pret’s Mystery Shopper as “Misery” Shopper for a reason:

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This second slide is from one Mystery Shopper report in December 2019 that a Pret staff send me. From this report I included most of the 32 micromanaging questions Pret tasks weekly Mystery Shoppers to test staff on. Staff have to bend backwards and sideways like acrobatic clowns, just to get some extra peanuts. selling their smiles like emotional prostitutes, yet with NO guarantee to even get the bonus! If ONE Team Member “sicks duck” enough, they MAY be lucky to get the £100 reward, which happened in this report, while the whole shop lost bonus because a few food products were missing from the range:

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The FULL report of above second slide can be found here: Pret A Manger Service Secrets Revealed.

And then of course as we are in the Internet age and also in the cancel culture pandemic, she now blocked me. As if I’d care! 😀

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The only thing that is disheartening is that customers who are the “worst” in terms of quickly complaining and completely disregarding low-wage fast-food worker’s plight, are often mental health advocates, in Deborah Persaud’s case she’s a “disability activist”. She seems to have forgotten or not know that many disabilities are invisible.

And I take offense that Deborah Persaud doesn’t think the person who didn’t live up to her expectations isn’t a “good person”.

When I read her initial complaint Tweet closer again, I read with tears in my eyes, partly in sadness and also fuming in anger. I had a clash yesterday with a Samaritan which was a scary moment for me to tip me over. I write about it here: I’d Rather Die Than Delete My Tweets. Apologies for my strong language and fuming anger, but I smiled for 10 years in Pret INCLUDING during horrific bereavement while being bullied! I have NO MORE sweet words to say to people who don’t give a sh!t while presenting themselves as “saviours”. And on a side note, the fact that the Samaritans give awards turns my stomach! Shove your awards up your asses and STOP using broken people to scratch your fucking egos!

And to any new reader, before you judge me as being a “disgrunted” former employee, please familiarize yourself with my story first and also read some of the accounts of other former and current Pret staff that I post on my blog. I wish I was “just” a disgrunted former employee! I wouldn’t go out of my way writing “war and peace” on Pret!

Dear Pret Customer, you want to go on social media and shame low-wage employees who are burnt out, depressed, some are even suicidal, others functioning alcoholics or taking medication to be able to sleep, especially during this horrific pandemic, I may come and shame YOU!

One of many GOOD and important Tweets, just yesterday by a rightfully concerned customer about how shops are SWAMPED with customers and only 1 or 2 staff at breaking point. And Pret does NOT care!

Link to video.

Link to recent Pret staff email.

Another email by another then current Pret staff:

Link to full unedited email, unedited because the person didn’t give any specific details like the above (yellow) did to may get identified by Pret.

Link

To anyone else who cares, please read the following Facebook exchange I’ve had with a former Pret staff, who described that Pret did NOTHING after a colleague tested positive for Covid-19:
Pret A Manger Staff Tested Positive for Covid (and Pret did nothing).

Excerpt:

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UPDATE 30.07.2021

As there have been some more information via a Tweet exchange and then I was blocked again, I want to update this post and respond to Tweets that I cannot respond to as I’m blocked.

Please scroll up (and down) in the following Tweet exchange:

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A blind person once told me that they cannot read texts that is on the screenshots, so I type out each Tweet underneath the screenshots, and then my response to it.

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  1. Quote:

»Thank you, @FieldsHighbury. I don’t need to explain myself to strangers, and my OP wasn’t directed at you, @ExPretAManger, but my banner and profile sets out a few salient facts to help readers understand my situation, and a moment’s perusal would have helped you here.«

First of all Ms Persaud blocked again but continues tweeting @ my blocked account. So, I respond here on my blog. After the Tweet exchange with FieldsHughbury I see the figures/emoticons on your profile now. As many people on Twitter use flags, emoticons etc. it often passes me by what some signs mean or because they are very small. But of course now I can see what this means. I am a text person, I don’t like picture books, I don’t often use emoticons, but only started recently to use them more, I prefer text and #hashtags, my brain doesn’t pay attention as fast to pictures compared to text.

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2. Quote:

»For the benefit of anyone who needs my OP spelled out more clearly… My guide dog and I visit that branch of Pret very regularly and are welcomed warmly. They even know my order. This is a very nice thing.«

Yes it is. And why couldn’t you spell this out from the get go? And I have seen this MANY times that customers have had 10 experiences in Pret, 9 of the 10 experiences were super positive, and the 10th was negative. And immediately that ONE negative experience makes them go on social media and rant! Disheartening.

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3. Quote:

»This time, however, in an almost empty store, my dog and I stood at the counter repeatedly asking for help and I was ignored. This is not a nice thing and I left empty-handed. I decided to let @Pret know. I did not direct individual criticism at anyone, just a generic (emoticon of a woman shrugging her shoulders).«

And why not? Why using a general brush aimed at ALL Pret staff giving vague information? What you have experienced is unacceptable and hurtful. A fair criticism would be to openly critique, explaining what happened so that the company and the people involved can UNDERSTAND where they were wrong or made a mistake.

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4. Quote:

»If you care to track back through my historic tweets, you’ll soon see the numerous occasions where I’ve given very positive feedback on the service I’ve received. Hence the (emoticon of a woman shrugging her shoulders)«

Why would I care to track through your historic Tweets if you keep blocking me first thing, and then even write TO ME while I am being blocked, not able to read your response TO ME (except when locked OUT), and not able to respond as I’m blocked. This cancel culture to immediately “diss” people who disagree with you is tiring. I have no interest to check the historic Tweets of a person who immediately shuts the door in people’s faces because they have a different opinion or who give critique, especially while not knowing the events but vague and general criticism of staff.

You chose to write on a PUBLIC platform, without initially giving information and then expect people to immediately understand what the issue is. I am not a saviour or “advocate” or anything like that, but from my own experience in Pret where we got DAILY criticism from our line Managers, from Pret’s Head Office, from customers, and to top it and make it worse, from weekly micromanaging Mystery Shoppers commenting that basically NOTHING is EVER good enough and that EVERY LITTLE thing we do or make a mistake on is IMMEDIATELY condemned, called out, named, and shamed!

And if that wasn’t enough, low-wage staff don’t get their bonus and suffer not only mentally, emotionally and physically, but financially!

If I then see vague Tweets like your initial Tweet, I cannot just silently read it and move on KNOWING that low-wage, exhausted, bullied, overworked, underpaid, depressed, sick Pret staff have NO ONE to speak up for them! Because I KNOW how they will find themselves in the office with an equally frustrated, and by area Managers bullied shop Managers, and the staff are NOT given a chance to voice THEIR side of things! But instead they are shouted at behind closed doors in the office or kitchen or staff room, away from customers. They are fear managed to get in line or fear for their job. Then they are send out to the shop floor and ORDERED to smile and pretend to be cheery, so that the WHOLE shop Team get their bonus and the area Managers their bigger chunk of money while sitting home having a laugh!

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5. Quote:

»I know the staff are minimum wage and I have always graciously thanked them (we have no way of tipping here). So I can only conclude that @ExPretAManger is a lazy troll and I was right to block. Take your grievance out on the right person and leave me and my supporters alone.«

I’ve been called a lot of things since I expose Pret. I’ve been called “insane”, “angry”, or when people are upset because I have a different opinion they quickly call me “troll” etc. But “lazy? LOL! No, that’s not one that people call me. 😀

And yes, it is kind of you to thank staff and try to give a tip. Pret has even stopped the tip box in the USA and turned the tip boxes into charity boxes. But while tipping staff and thanking them is wonderful and boosts their spirits for a moment, what people really need to start looking at is the HEAD of the company, the SOURCE of the problem. This is why Tweets like the following has me hopeful that some customers pay attention at the REAL issues.

Screenshot with text underneath:

Quote:

»Until it changes its exploitative working practices I will not buy a single sandwich a @Pret_UK. The average worker at Pret works a 6-hour shift without a single break (breaks are unpaid) at an unstoppable pace. …« – Dr. Eunice Goes Link to Tweet

Regarding your assumption on me being a “lazy troll”, what you CAN indeed call me though is: uninterested in your historic Tweets! And that is because, if you come on Twitter and in a passive aggressive way criticize low-wage staff in GENERAL, WITHOUT giving specific details on WHAT happened, and THEN you immediately block someone who KNOWS firsthand how immensely stressful, ungrateful, toxic, fear managed, depressing … working at Pret is, where staff are FORCED to smile or they lose money and get threatened with their job security, then I have no interest whatsoever to check your history.

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6. Quote

»And I really don’t think going into a shop, standing at the counter and asking for service is being ‘emotionally needy’ – it’s just buying stuff in a shop. Most people do it most days!«

Knowing what I know now, no of course it’s not “emotionally needy”. I wrote my blog post without the information I have now because people throughout the years have complained on Twitter or via email to Pret making staff responsible for THEIR emotional needs. Pret itself even demanded from staff to “attend to EACH customer’s needs” as if staff are little psychologists or nurses responsible for customers’ emotional well-being. So, staff love-bomb customers to get extra money and avoid getting fear managed if they lose bonus.

And you wrote, quote: »I’ve become reliant on the warm welcome and consistently great service…«

Please do NOT become reliant on low-wage staff’s welcome or the lack thereof! They just sell coffee and sandwiches under EXTREMELY stressful conditions! And even if it is quiet in the shop, you don’t know how it was prior to it, and if a staff member just was bullied back in the office. That of course is NOT your problem or responsibility, but please do not put your reliance of warmness on low-wage food staff!

And especially since you have received CONSISTENTLY great service, it is upsetting that ONE incidence makes you question the “goodness” of the staff, not knowing what went on that moment or day.

I’ve read many ridiculous complaints from customers with the expectation to, figuratively speaking, be “cuddled” by low-wage food staff, but the most ridiculous and plainly upsetting complaint is this:

Link

Quote with bold highlight by me:

»@Pret Queen Street Pret at 8:10 this morning. Poor service from server named ‘Adil S’. No smile. Rushed service. Didn’t give me a warm and welcoming feeling. He should not work in the service industry if smiling doesn’t coming naturally for all your morning coffee customers!«

I responded to his appalling complaint, but now I would just put a vomit emoticon under his complaint! Pret staff including Baristas have 60 seconds to serve a customer or risk losing the WHOLE shop their bonus! I am sick to my stomach at customers like this.

»Workers are put at high risk of anxiety and burnout, while consumers are emboldened to behave aggressively.« Sophie McBain

And I won’t get bullied to take down anything I write while equally being offended. I am by all means NOT lazy at all, and for sure I’m angry and to a certain degree “insane”, but I am not interested in anyone who comes on a public platform and in a vague way “snitches” on low-staff who are at breaking point, without giving fair and specific details why you are upset or offended.

I want to end with an excerpt of an email by a current Pret front-line staff who wrote to me in tears. And believe me, Pret staff will NEVER tell you and other customers how it REALLY is for them for fear you jump on Twitter and humiliate them, or for fear they happen to speak to the Mystery Shopper, because even regular customers can be Pret Mystery Shoppers!

Staff excerpt, quote:

»I came across your blog just before applying for a job at Pret, but stupidly looked over what you were saying as I was growing desperate to work … I’m writing to you … and I wish I’d taken your warnings before applying. … Honestly, I feel like I’m drowning … I would never want to be the kind of person who gives up on things just because they’re challenging, but …. I spend most … times … crying, I don’t have enough time to eat. … I haven’t been shown where to get certain items and have to keep asking, it’s absolutely humiliating. …«

Link to email.

So, please complain to Pret, even publicly which is important, because it is UNACCEPTABLE how you were treated! But PLEASE complain fairly and be specific on what happened without expecting people to read every emoticon or history of your Tweets! And before you criticize my grammar or English, because that’s what people often do when they run out of arguments, please know that English is not my mother tongue and I haven’t studied. I do know about my weakness of making sentences too long. But I don’t apologize for it. It’s everyone’s prerogative to read or not.

But please do some research on what a troll actually is. If you do choose to respond, please do so in a FAIR way. Other then that I have nothing to say to you or your friend anymore. Best wishes.

P.S.

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Also for the record, it’s open to me to comment on anything that is written on a public platform. To call this “harassment” is laughable and a typical accusation when people are not happy being challenged. When you call people a “lazy troll” you cross boundaries and have become extremely rude, and I would like it to stop. Thank you.

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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.

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Thank you for reading/listening.

©2017 – Present: expret.org


Interview:

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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.

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