People in India are used to hard work and low pay under extremely harsh circumstances. I can imagine that Pret are anticipating speed opening in India where they can exploit and abuse workers even worse than they do in the UK and USA where people go to court more than people in India.
My heart breaks for any worker who is told lies and believes they get a good job in a “good” company!
It is beyond me how people, especially business people are either too naïve, too lazy, not concerned or plainly don’t care about the truth of Pret or any company at that. Of course business people are MAINLY concerned about money increase, no matter how that increase comes. And IF there are some ethical points, they don’t take a closer look and just copy & paste what they are fed by the company.
UPDATE July 2022
A Guardian article recently reported on Pret CEO Pano Christou’s pay-rise and £4 million bonus in 2021 after he cut staff wages.
I speak about it on my blog and predicted back in April 2022 that I believe Christou either got the same pay or higher after cutting wages.
As the embedded players are just 30 second previews, please click on the blue links:
July 2022 episode:
April 2022 episode:
I want to dissect a thread on Twitter by an Indian business man with over 190K followers. Mr. Mukul Agrawal is the founder of Agrawal Corporate, entrepreneur, investor, trader, stock market analyst, finance coach and TEDx speaker. But it is evident that he only copied what he read maybe on Pret’s website and a little on Wikipedia, and whatever info is prevalent still.
He first writes that Pret opened its first shop in 1986, then later writes correctly that the first shop opened in 1983. He must have briefly peeked at Wikipedia. His copy & paste info is all over the place. I responded and corrected him on a few issues and pleaded to take a closer look. But I doubt he would care. It bugs me that especially business people don’t do their homework properly.
So, here for other people who do care about the truth and reality of Pret A Manger.
For people with visual impairment, I put some screenshots of the tweets and news articles here, which I always do as a form of “evidence” and in case people delete their tweets. But I paste the text underneath, as I was told by a blind person once that reading programs cannot read screenshots. I have found the same with the automated voice converter that reads my blog posts and converts my text into audio. I put some audio conversion of my blog posts on my podcast. The voice can’t read the screenshots. So, I aim to also type out or paste texts from screenshots on my blog.
Link to tweets
Text of the tweets, I copy 4 of the 5 texts as Twitter didn’t translate the first tweet. I responded to some wrong information but want to expand here in the post. My “corrections” come underneath each quote.
First Quote: »Pret’s mission has been simple. Serving hygienic and properly prepared fresh food and good organic coffee.« End of Quote.
My response on Twitter but I expand on some more information here below.
1. Pret had to remove the word “natural” from their signage & packaging after lawsuits as their food is loaded with chemicals.
2. Pret food is NOT fresh. Customer complaints with picture of mouldy food. And Pret’s food is NOT organic. Pret do not claim that their food is organic, but they claim that their coffee is. I explain in my blog post why Pret had to remove the word “natural” from all their signage, packaging and marketing: Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat.
I also linked people to my post about Pret’s food not being fresh with pictures of customer complaints of mouldy food, rat droppings on food etc. I also want to highlight that reports on food poisoning has increased in the last few months. Blog post with photos of mouldy food: Pret Food is NOT Fresh.
Pret’s brainwash slogans of “freshly made food” which replaced the “natural food” slogan on their packaging, is also a typical psychological message. But the reality is, even if it was made fresh on the day and not secretly carried over from the previous days, you can “freshly make” a sandwich from stale bread and mouldy cheese. It’s “freshly made” with NON-fresh items.
And never forget that Pret ignored TWO customer allergy deaths and over a dozen further injuries before this got public. Pret ONLY slowly started to act when the deaths became public. We staff weren’t even told and on my podcast I explain in 3 episodes how Pret was and continues to be careless with food safety and customers health and safety. Please pay particular attention to a specific London Barbican Centre seminar that Pret held AFTER the first customer died and several got injured. I speak about this in Part 01, Part 02 and Allergy Trial as part 3: expretcast on Spreaker.
And in memory of the two customers who died, it is important to keep saying their names:
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died in July 2016 from a reaction to sesame.
Celia Marsh, 42, mother of 5 daughters died in December 2017 from dairy in a vegan wrap.
A student named Isobel Colnaghi, almost died and would have been the third victim in 2017, also from an unlabelled sesame reaction. She lost her court case against Pret because Pret was successful to blame the low-wage worker. I speak about this in the above three podcast episode.
Link to Daily Mail article.
Second Quote from the business man: »Since opening its first shop in London in 1986, Pret’s mission has been to serve freshly cooked food and the best organic coffee. Its food is prepared throughout the day and the unsold food is donated at the end of every day.« End of Quote.
I highlight in the tweets that not all food is donated to charity each night and link to my blog post about daily food-waste with pictures of customer complaints having seen food waste in the streets: Pret’s Food-waste.
Also, many people still don’t seem to know or realize that Pret’s food is NOT cooked in Pret kitchens, but cooked in factories and then just re-heated and assembled in shop kitchens.
It is like when you go to the supermarket, get a loaf of ready-sliced bread, some cheese, some ham and salad. You go home, put the food into your fridge and a day or two days later “make” a sandwich “fresh”. Freshly made from factory-cooked ingredients. Same with the soup. you buy a ready cooked soup in a tin or plastic tub, put it in your fridge and re-heat it a few days later in your microwave. Pret’s just been successful to fool the public with all their slogans and brainwash. And we love to fall for these fairy-tales of a multi-billion pound company with seat in tax-haven Luxembourg under the second richest family in Germany, the Reimanns, with an extensive Nazi slavery past!
The only products that are cooked from raw or partly cooked products are the frozen baguettes that are up to a year old, frozen croissants, frozen cookies and raw eggs that come already mixed in Tetra Paks for the bacon breakfast rolls. NOTHING is cooked in Pret shops, there are not pots and pans and stoves in the kitchens. There are only ovens for the baguettes and ready mixed Mac & Cheese, water baths to heat up the already factory-cooked soups and porridge, and microwaves to quickly re-heat soups.
A former employee of Pret’s sister company Panera spilled the beans on how Panera re-heat their already cooked macaroni and cheese. The staff got fired for putting a video of this on YouTube. But this is the exactly same way that Pret re-heat the ready cooked soups and porridge, in water baths of bags containing six cups of soup. The water-bath equipment is called “marinator”.
Video on YouTube:
The only thing with Panera Bread is that compared to Pret, Panera do not advertise that their food is “freshly made”. So, I won’t have any expectations. But Pret claim that their food is freshly made and with it play with customer assumptions that they interpret this to mean that Pret’s food is fresh.
Third Quote from the business man: »Their coffee is (and always will be) 100% organic and they also have a coffee fund that financially supports the next generation of farmers. This is (partly) what we think makes Preet special.« End of Quote.
My response on the financial support for coffee farmers:
Pret exploit farmers and have even stopped doing fair-trade coffee. Pret’s multi-billionaire owners JAB Holdings in tax-haven Luxembourg pressured farmers to lower prices! I linked to a The Economist article titled, »JAB upends coffee trading« with the sub-title: “The owner of Peet’s and Pret a Manger is pressuring suppliers already ground down by low prices.” Link to the article.
Customer complaints have increased that Pret’s coffee tastes horrible. The cheap prices and Pret not doing fair-trade coffee anymore makes me question HOW their coffee can be organic. I have visited organic animal and vegetable farms in Virginia, USA where I was looking into doing a 3 month sabbatical a few years ago. I asked many questions to the farmers and they told me that it is extremely expensive to get certified organic via annual fees. And my question is, how can Pret’s coffee be organic when it is so cheap and the taste very poor.
A reminder, Pret was caught cheating by claiming that their food is natural. They had to take the word “natural” off their marketing. In other issues Pret has been caught ripping off customers, lying about the subscription deal which the BBC reported on in December 2021. Article: Pret A Manger customers complain over drinks subscription deal.
And the price reflects on the quality and taste. Here are only few of the many complaints from customers who say Pret’s coffee tastes like “dishwater” or the beans are like “rat shit”:
And many, many, many more.
Last Quote from the business man: »Established in 1983, Pret currently has over 460 shops in the UK, with 324 locations in London alone.« End of Quote.
My response was just that this time he mentioned the correct date of the first Pret shop opening. I want to highlight something that a friend of the late Jeffrey Hyman, the original founder of Pret, told me on Twitter not long ago. Hyman’s friend paid tribute to him on the anniversary of his death. I responded to his tweet saying that Pret always avoid mentioning Mr. Hyman. I have noticed now as well that since about a year, Pret has put the words “London 1986” above their shop doors. This seems to me like wanting to brainwash the public about the year of Pret’s first opening.
Jeffrey Hyman’s friend said the following to me on Twitter after I pointed out Pret’s refusal to mention Hyman:
Link to Tweet.
When I tweeted, “Unfortunately Pret don’t give him credit and continue to avoid mentioning him”, he replied, quote: »I know. They even employed someone to repeatedly change the Wikipedia page that mentions how Jeffrey Hyman founded the first Pret-A-Manger. A moderator banned the person when they said they were retained by Pret to do that.« End of quote.
After what I survived and went through in Pret, especially from the VERY TOP executive leadership team and the HR department, I absolutely believe the person. Pret lie, cheat and steal left, right and center! They have no morals, no ethics, and every good, wholesome or ethical thing you read from Pret is the COMPLETE opposite!
I want to nightlight again my favourite tweet by a former customer who said the following after replying to a customer who called for boycotting Pret when Pret made the temporary pandemic pay cuts permanent:
Link to the tweet and quote:
»A while back, I saw a Pret ad that said its staff were “passionate” about making sandwiches. This kind of bullshit talk always hides ruthless practices in my experience« End of quote.
At least current CEO Pano Christou removed the brainwashing slogan on their packaging that used to say “Lovingly handmade” after I keep pointing out the opposite. And people are usually naïve to believe that a low-wage, stressed out worker can “lovingly” hand make anything!
I want to expand now on a few other issues. The main issue of exploiting workers. Pret settled twice class action lawsuits in the USA. Pret “shaved down” (meaning, rounded down) wages and were sued twice within 4 years. Pret settled and repaid close to $1 million each time repaying 4000 workers. Pret also recently settled a lawsuit for finger printing workers. More on these and other lawsuits including on racism and bullying in shops: Pret’s Lawsuits and Settlements.
Also, recently Pret delayed paying their lowest-paid staff twice! The second time Pret cleverly used the Queen’s Jubilee weekend, knowig that the public would be distracted with celebrations. And they were right! I was contacted by desperate staff with this info and passed it on to journalists, including Sarah Butler from the Guardian. Sarah reported on it, but her article was drowned out by the Jubilee weekend as hardly any customer commented. Usually when the Guardian or BBC report on a scandal in Pret, there is an outcry for days and calls for boycott. But not this time, because Pret was clever enough to use the bank holiday weekend to delay pay. And also on bank holiday Monday all the banks are closed so that Pret won’t have to pay emergency wages and staff cannot arrange an overdraft in order to pay their bills.
Staff have announced that they basically now will sabotage Pret, which means also their food and service quality. What a staff member said on Instagram about the pay delay which directly influences food safety and customer satisfaction. And please don’t blame the staff here, that’s too easy! Pret put customers in danger again by under-staffing shops and treating their staff like sh!t
It comes around full circle. How you treat your staff reflects also what you think of your customers.
Link to Instagram post.
One person raised the delayed pay with Pret on Instagram, quote: »This is outrageous, it’s a bank holiday week-end and your team members are working instead of enjoying themselves and you didn’t even pay them. You should not allow to have these technical issues as you push your staff to not do any mistake. And is not even the first time.« End of quote.
To which the above person replied in part, quote:
»Don’t worry. We already drastically reduced food and service quality (since we work for free) and we will make sure Pret doesn’t make as much money as they think they will this bank holiday weekend.
They told us 12 hours before payday that there is no money, on 1st of June when everybody has rent/mortgage to pay. They left us with no money to provide for our families.
We tried to contact the head office regarding the issue but all of them were already gone enjoying early bank holiday.
Lots of people already took sick-leave as a strike action leaving those in the shops understaffed (food availability will be affected). Thank you for your support.« End of quote.
More on this with a link to the Guardian article after I contacted the press: Bloomberg’s Pret Index and Pret’s Wage Theft.
I also want to highlight here as a reference why and when Pret make huge “charity” announcements, especially why former CEO Clive Schlee made the £1000 announcement for all staff back in May 2018 when he found out about my blog. A small list of “charity” announcements: Pret’s Charity Projects.
Former CEO Clive Schlee under whose “leadership” two customers died and over a dozen got injured, left with this “legacy” from staff on Glassdoor:
And current CEO and Schlee’s prodigy, Pano Christou is continuing it:
I could go and on and on, but I stop here and leave the reader with two YouTube slides of people in Spain and Ireland resisting Pret’s plan to open in their countries. I doubt India will resist Pret as many workers there for one don’t have information on how exploitative Pret are, and also because they are used to harsh work environments. But it’s not right. They also deserve a decent wage and respectful working conditions with dignity and a good life. But that will never happen with Pret, not in reality, only on paper.
Please see my YouTube playlist for more issues in Pret, especially with the coffee subscription and staff issues. And my podcast where I walk people through Pret’s strict weekly mystery shopper scheme, why stressed staff in understaffed shops smile so much for 8, 10+ hours straight, not mater if they are depressed, sick, bereaved etc. Podcast: Pret’s Strict Mystery Shopper Scheme with examples of weekly reports. I explain how one staff member can get extra cash even when the whole team didn’t get bonus. I also explain how staff use the freebie give-aways to penalize rude customers etc.
Thank you for reading, and I am sorry for my traumatized self sometimes. I still struggle daily and am not sure if I will survive. I just write and write to distract myself and inform people, so they don’t experience the trauma, pain and loss that I went through.
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 witnessed by customers: 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.
Please also see the MEDIA page for which press articles and Pret “charity” announcements I influenced.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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