NOTE upfront, in some of the Tweet screenshots I post below one can see that in some I have responded, but when you click to see the Tweet, my Tweet is gone. It is still there when I am logged IN, but while logged out no one can see it. It’s Twitters shadowbanning again on Pret’s behalf. My Main Twitter is @LateNightGirlMe (which is now expretDOTorg) gets regularly shadowbanned. But traffic is flowing, so I’m not concerned.
As I wrote before that some reviews look fake and as insiders know that big companies use PR companies, as well as ask loyal employees to leave positive feedback mixed with a little bit of bearable negative. The latest series of feedback look a little fishy, dear Pret. Make an effort! I write this also because colleagues have lied in grievance investigation hearings in favour of my bullying superiors. The Development Manager who was tasked to sanction me has lied about not having had private contact with me. HR on several occasions have not been correct, having used questionable resources to get rid of me etc. etc.
One specific review was written days ago on the 1 minute demand for staff to serve customers and coffees.
Customers flock to Twitter with photos of half empty cappuccinos, wrong teas, luke-warm drinks. One of my several Tweet responses to this rip-off was on 11. Jan. 2019. I point out regarding the pressure teams have via the Mystery Shopper, to serve customers within 1 minute, to hand over the hot drinks within 1 minute etc. or the whole team loses bonus. This seemed to have been “answered” in a new review on 14. Jan. 2019
Mystery Shopper here counted to the second how fast the coffee came out and YET, only giving 4 out of 5 points which frustrates the managers and OPs managers as the points count towards managers bonuses. The Mystery Shopper is the largest chunk of managers bonuses, that’s why the pressure is the highest and teams are extra kissing customer butts for 1. the Mystery Shopper, and 2. fear of the angry manager when points and/or bonus are lost. A colleague once received a “file note” (first step towards a disciplinary) because we lost bonus where he didn’t smile. So, he lost bonus, got peer pressure as the whole team lost bonus and on top of that got a triple penalty by being given a file note for added pressure and fear management.
Mystery Shopper snippet:
As the picture is too small for the print I quote what the MS here commented:
Pret: We aim to serve our customers within 1 minute of joining the queue. Where you served in a reasonable time, bearing in mind how busy the shop was and the number of open tills?
MS: “I was served quickly, after 15 seconds, very quick service.”
Pret: We aim to serve out customers their hot drink within 1 minute of payment. Did you receive your hot drink order within a reasonable time? (Pret demands 1 minute and then turns it into a “reasonable” time)
MS: “I received my hot drink very quick, after 30 seconds, quick service.” (yet, still gives 4 out of 5 points. Maybe 5 seconds would be better for a perfect coffee, dear MS?)
So, the quick service means quick customer and money flow.
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: I was not greeted at the till or given a smile. The only conversation was what was necessary for the transaction. To be welcoming, the team member could have greeted me and smiled and be engaged and positive, the team member could have given me a friendly remark or made small talk.
So, after comments like this the team member is summoned into the office and receive a sermon from the manager. The most ridiculous telling off we combined as a team have ever received from our boss, was after we lost bonus because the MS commented that the shop felt “miserable”. It was a very straining shop, very busy, harsh boss who never smiled or even said good morning. All this reflected on the team. The manager summoned most of us during the quiet period into the kitchen and said: “Your smile is part of your uniform! You are expected to wear a smile like you wear your uniform…”
Some more bla bla and then he said to us with most of us having our eyes to the ground like little rebuked puppies, he said something like, “if anyone has anything to say to that (losing the bonus = not smiling) speak now, you can’t come later, as I won’t speak about this later…” etc. I said to him something like, “are you sure, because I would want to say something to you, but not openly here (as he was my boss, didn’t want to embarrass him)”.
He insisted and said, “No, speak now, later is no opportunity.” I then said, “But So-and-so, you never smile when you serve customers.” … He quickly said to let his boss tell him that, and I apologized having to hold back a chuckle! But since then he made an effort and at times even smiled!
One of my several Tweets regarding 1 minute expectation, 11. January:
New review on 14. Jan. 2019 (It’s all so much fun!)
This review tries to clear up something and explains that staff have 1 minute to serve ONE customer, but this is not true. Yes, 1 minute per customer on paper. But when you have between 3 to 5 Team Members working behind the counter in the morning coffee rush, including the barista and a coffee maker, with a customer queue to the door of about 20 – 30 customers lining up it is completely bonkers.
Most stores have a minimum of 7 – 10 tills, but in the coffee rush 3 manning the tills, 1 hot chef getting the croissants out and 1 – 2 on the coffee. The Mystery Shopper timing the staff, PLUS the manager pressuring the team to work faster… it’s one big load of bull-crap this review! If customer number 20 is the Mystery Shopper, they will wait over a minute from the time they join the queue. Boom! Bonus lost! If they are served within a minute and then receive their coffee within a minute, the coffee is often poor quality, half empty, not hot or too hot etc.
But customers expect their drinks fast and perfect. In what dreamland do people live in, they even SEE how crazy and chaotic it is. Once when we came out of an intensly busy coffee rush and it became quiet, I served a customer and just blew air like you do when you take a deep breath and just sigh for exhaustion. In no time the customer asked for the manager and complained, not even being bothered how I was, not realizing that we just came out of a mental coffee rush with only 3 of us while the manager sat in the office.
And if you are a regular customer in the morning, count the amount of tills and how many staff are behind the counter. The kitchen staff who are pressured for time to get products made are often called to help on the tills, and than they get in trouble for being late on their products! It’s a never-ending stressful “battlefield”. Managers like to cut staff to increase profit and their bonus and a big slap on the back by the CEO in their quarterly meetings. All on the backs of hardworking Teams.
One recent comment on YouTube of the many I collected in the Staff Complaints:
(Click Ctrl & + to enlarge)
And with this endless rushing and pressure customers then flock to Twitter with photos of appalling quality of drinks. I only post a few, but every day one can see them on Twitter.
This Tweet was already on 14. Dec. 2018 when I mentioned the 1 minute pressure. And Pret’s typical “oh no” response they do in almost every Tweet:
UPDATE 21.01. & 02.02.2019
And these are only the few I post here as my blog entry gets too long again!!! But everyday customers tweet to Pret with photos of appalling drinks, for which they paid too much already.
Undercover reporter Amy Sharpe contacted me for an interview after having read my blog. I wrote my comments of her report in “Undercover Under Pressure in Pret“.
Let’s have a look again to some real barista reviews, who are swamped working in cramped areas, which Amy Sharpe also pointed out in her article, quote:
»One barista tells me the cramped service area is a “nightmare”. He says: “If I’m next to you, you have to shout. If you don’t shout I can make a mistake. A person can grab the wrong coffee. Make mistakes and the customer gets mad. You’ve got to focus, stay calm.”«
Unfortunately the photo doesn’t show the tiny work counter in front of the coffee machines. But if one looks to the bottom right photo where the silver counter edge is and follow a line along the photo, one gets the picture how small the work stations are. I had to retrain teams shop after shop how to best organize the space to not be cluttered and then frustrated in the busy work period.
This photo is a better view. There is even a sink directly in front of the left coffee machine taking vital workspace away! And these cramped work stations are everywhere I have worked in and staff are always complaining about the lack of space to work, balancing every move they make while being forced to show a happiness and pressured via Mystery Shopper comments. All staff then do is switch to autopilot.
Even many kitchens are a nightmare in cramped working areas, not to mention the staff rooms. Customer space is maximized to maximize profit, staff area is minimized and a nightmare to work in.
This looks like a shelf next to a sink, with the storage of drinks next to it as many Prets don’t even have a stock room and items are stored under and on top of work benches, on shelves, even the tiny staff rooms are often used to store non-food items and boxes, taking away from the already small areas forcing staff to have their break in the loud shop, never really resting.
The following picture of a rubbish cart is from the worst shop I’ve worked, not only because the bullying was the heaviest there, but because there was NO space. There was only ONE toilet for customers AND staff alike. I had to go to the Costa next door at times as I didn’t have time to queue for the toilet! The back-room was an All-in-one room: Office, staff/changing room with lockers, Fridges and Freezers, Store room, the Hot Chef area where the soups were prepared, the Chemical room with all the cleaning materials etc., the Electrical Room and to top it all, the RUBBISH room.
Many times the rubbish was left over night after the collection already came. This photo is from September 2015 and Pret was then forced to expand the working area, decreasing the customer area as the rubbish was a health & safety issue. But this shop existed for at least 2-3 years with the rubbish included in the multi-task room.
Staff would even change their uniform in there next to the Hot Chef preparing food! It was a complete nightmare. And even when we complained about the lack of space and rubbish, Pret would not listen and only changed when prompted by health & safety people.
And rarely do customers point out the stress, chaos and upset they observe. Most just want their coffees and off they go:
Also on the 15. Jan. 2019, different shop:
And this is exactly what Amy Sharpe pointed out in her undercover report and I have experienced too many times: Understaffed to maximize profit, yet expected to do everything within the given time and not being paid overtime. So, teams stop caring and don’t clean anymore. In the U.S. 4000 Pret workers have successfully taken Pret to court for not paying overtime. UK staff need to do this as well.
Amy Sharpe’s findings that I can wholly underline from my experience, quote: “When the bustle dies down I clean the shop but a colleague urges me to skip certain tasks. “You’re supposed to sweep and mop every day but don’t do that or you’ll never leave on time,” he says.”
Some genuine barista reviews:
“Dear Lord, protect me from ever need to work for Pret a Manger ever again. Amen.
For this company you are numbers, robots, machines, you are no humans.”
“Hard work all the time and high pressure”
“management is disrespectful, they fire people when they are having rough times in life even if they talk to a manager about it , i was penalized for calling out for a funeral.”
“I used to work for Pret as a main barista for about 2 years in London. It was a total nightmare apart from some nice customers and coworkers. Their system is utterly mess and they always force employees to work extra.” YouTube comment
“Act a little more like management and a little less like the employees. I worked in 4 different shops and the song and dance was the same in each one.”
“Nothing but aggravation and a discriminating HR. fire the HR staff you have now and replace them with more educating indiviuals and ones that dont discriminate”
“Cons – Too many. Lack of defined management, finger-pointing, politics and poor organisation.”
“had me working as a barista for two years would not give me training so they do not have to pay me correctly” (Yes, this also happens to other roles especially to the Hot Chef)
“Managers are very bossy and unprofessional, a bit of exploiting”
“People are two faced in order to get promotion”
There is certainly an extra blog entry on the laziness of managers, in this case even the danger where the GM doesn’t change labels/signs after complaints:
“*managers dont care about standards (manager was too lazy to change the meatball and the falafel sign even though there were many complaints)
*manager told me how easy HIS “job” was (he’s mostly in his office so he gets paid to sit and do nothing because he has his leaders do majority of his work)”
“Poor management, really short breaks, work longer hours”
etc. etc. etc.
Also, I pointed out sarcastically on Twitter that the percentage of recommendations are below the 50% mark having dropped:
And now today it’s risen, but still barely half the workforce (don’t) recommend to a friend. And the steady 70% didn’t even rise with the £1000 announcement.
So, they’re working quite hard to raise the percentage. And I’m sure after reading this blog entry the (fake) reviews continue. 😀
Here are some that don’t look real. I won’t point out on every review why they seem fake as Pret keeps learning from me. But with some I explain why, to really show why these look fake. Whoever may have been tasked to write these reviews, just cares for the % to rise and filling the top lines, bumping up the positive reviews so people stop scrolling down eventually to the terrible reviews:
10. Jan. 2019 “Waiter” (sounds like from the U.S.)
“I worked at Pret A Manger part-time
Pros: Very nice Team, Good salary.
Cons: Noise environment, can be very busy”
07. Jan. 2019 “Tim Member Star”
(For having worked 8 YEARS in an airport which are the most stressful shops, calling the team “Tim” sounds like a fake reviewer pret-ending to be a foreigner! Or this is the proof that there is NO training, as Team Members across the board have to sign training records every 6 months, read information etc. The word “Team” is plastered all over the place in shops, not to mention their job role as a TEAM member star! While the rest of the review is mostly in accurate spelling. They can even spell complex words like: “specific”, “customers”, “interact”, and even “treat”, but 3x not Team??! Good try, try harder!)
“…the Tim is friendly… more than family Tim… For managers I don’t have specific advice, everyone has to treat the customers like that, that they want to be tried when we are like customers, more focus, attention, smail, chat and, with not interact and pushing, more regular training and short meting in a family-friendly way”
As Pret reads my blog (I won’t say how I know, but I know) another review from 30.01.2019 has been added, again with correct spelling, except the last words. I know how corrupt the top HR leadership is, where they did certain things they knew at the time would hurt me, in total discrimination. But I also know that people always will have to face what they did to others. This new fake looking review looks very strongly like a response to my above quote on “Tim” vs Team:
Quote: “Can be phisically tiring sometimes” Link
Yet, on the SAME day another review from a barista which is 100% reality in Pret!
“Busy and stressful environment whit no support from management
Forget about contracted hours! You will be doing overtime most of the time, as there is a lack of staff nearly in every Pret” Link
Here several reviews days in succession and I won’t say what looks fake here, just read:
The following two reviews two days in a row look identical, also often pointing out parties as Pret is always looking for young people luring them in as they are paid less and are easier to mold without knowing their rights:
16. Dec. 2018 Team Member (the only con is “depends on the shop”)
Pros: Weekly pay, good co-workers and food. Nice Pret Parties
Cons: Depends on the shop you’re assigned
15. Dec. 2018 Team member at Pret (“at this particular branch” – clever! Very fake looking review.)
Pros: Weekly pay, flexible hours, great co-workers from all walks of life
Cons: The GM at this particular branch was impossible to work with
09. Dec. 2018 Team Member (“can feel like” very softly put for staff that can never plan their weeks because the rotas are rarely published in advance)
Cons: rotas need to be out more consistently and in advance can feel like you can’t plan ahead unless you have set hours
Advice to Management: Keep doing what you’re doing
05. Dec. 2018 Front of House Leader (Cons: A “little bit” of pressure… need to get up early “sometimes” – good one! This is a very clever review: it says that there is a “little bit” of pressure and they have to get up early “sometimes”. The reader reads this, applies for a job in Pret and works in a REGULAR Pret shop where EVERY Pret shop is ALWAYS busy, understaffed, start at 5am and earlier, unless they are on late shift. And the new team member then thinks they just happened to land in “a” busy shop not knowing that ALL shops are like this! And this supposedly is a team LEADER reviewing! You cheeky bugger reviewer, you! 😀 How much are these reviewers paid to fool people like this?! )
Pros: Great company to work for, paying well, you are getting the stuff food as well. Great staff parties.
Cons: A little bit of pressure if you are working in the busy shop, also you need to get up early sometimes.
28. Nov. 2018 Amazing Job (There is the “depends on which shop” again)
Pros: Flexible – very good employee training
Cons: Depends on which shop you get.
(This “very good employee training is a direct comment on my writings regarding no to poor training of staff.)
On Indeed. You, the reader tell me what looks dodgy in these reviews, mostly within days in succession. It isn’t hard to spot:
“hard working.team work.nice staff.good comunication.using the till.customers service.the hardes part of work is starting very early shift at 4.00am.i like work on weekend.”
Fun work place, great teamwork and ethos.
Loved working here, great experience and lots of new skills learned. Would definitely recommend working for pret and I would happily work fro them again.
Fast and fun work place
Great organizational culture, awesome training system. Everything is so standardized, structured and convenient. Great salary. Everyone is respectful and friendly. I loved working at Pret!
Fun and easy
Pret a manger is a good company to work for but if you want improve your skills in other areas than retail you might have some problems with it.
Overall in my opinion it’s a great company for a first job
It teach you good customer service and organisation skills.
great people, great customer hard work ethic (Here the reviewer, supposedly a GM, is even having a laugh as the only Con “its addictive”. Also, for a manager to be writing all in small, no caps used. They’ll work on that one now.)
amazing company, great people. loved every minute with Pret. made amazing friends and had great training and support, i have learnt alot from this company,a dn am sad to be wanting to leave.
TWO DAYS before: its ok
it is an ok job to start with, i believe the best of the same kind you can see around, the best part is the free food, sometimes is a lot of work but bearable
Pret can counter that the negative reviews may be fake. No sir, the negative reviews are written with such passion and detail. I even met some of them on various platforms who wrote to me and I linked them to their own reviews when I recognized their experience from the reviews I collected.
And now the ones again that I can absolutely underline from my 10 years in Pret A Manger. The last 3 years extremely fogged up and traumatized. I was lied to by top leadership, gaslighted via HR with a Development Manager who was used to sanction me, instead of supporting each other in our common grief. I write extensively about this perversion of Pret in “The Perversion of a Toxic HR Department” under the leadership and knowledge of CEO Clive Schlee.
Pret’s “Rising Star” program is PR as regular staff are pushed and stressed, once they become bereaved they become an inconvenience. I write extensively about this on this blog. The best way to get to the most important blog entries to get a quick overview is via the “Mind Map” I created: “My Ordeal With Pret A Manger“. From there it links back to this website to the most important articles.
All these reviews I have experienced in all my 10 years, in over a dozen shops, in every shop:
This person’s name is changed to Banzinotito Scrolling down in this YouTube video
… and many, many more in collected reviews from Employment review sites, YouTube, Twitter and other sites: Selected Quotes from the long list of Pret Staff Complaints.
Pret can try and counter those all day long, the truth will be told again and again. And Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror having gone undercover into Pret, I hope more journalists will go into Pret as several have also gone into Amazon. But the press needs to go into the kitchen, work for a month in the morning kitchen production! That’s when the Pret blow will be felt hard! It will be harder though now, as Pret will scrutinize their job application closer, but people behind the scenes suffer and hold under this because they have kids to feed and are lulled in with incentives. But mental health is suffering. I survived to tell my and others experience.
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 starve and 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.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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