How Pret make Profit from the Coffee Subscription

Several customers, including a The Times journalist, have ask how Pret can make a profit from their “generous” subscription offer.

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Link

And another recent question on reddit:

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I explain in detail below.

UPDATE 27.04.2023: Reddit censors very heavily for no reason, unless prompted by Pret via Facebook/Instagram because my website url is completely blacklisted on FB/IG.

This picture here says “deleted”, but that’s not true, it’s been hidden from public view by reddit in secret.

Reddit also hides the feed on my reddit profile. Please see THIS LINK which here below is portrayed as “deleted”.:

Link that leads to my comment which reddit has HIDDEN around mid April 2023. It’s still there, because I can see it when logged in, but not when logged out. I made a screenshot of the upper part of my comment, with the date on my computer bottom right.

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Close-up of the date of 27.04.2023, when I screenshot my comment on reddit while logged in (not visible when logged out or just saying “deleted” which is a trick by social media to hide that they censor):

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I linked to my comment on anothr sub-reddit and was then informed that I deleted it, which of course isn’t the case as reddit just hid it from public view. The comment by the person who told me, my response to the person is also hidden 😀

Welcome to reddit and toxic censorship:

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Link to this other subreddit where my comments above and under it are also hidden 😀 Only I can see it when logged in.

Here’s my full text that reddit has hidden from public view. I copy the whole text without correcting any spelling mistakes, to keep it as is.

Quote:

“Former Pret staff here. It’s very simple how Pret make a profit. It’s a rabbit hole, but I explain.

– Pret FIRST advertised in Sep. 2020 the subscription as “endless”, “unlimited” barista made drinks, that included the expensive iced drinks, chai latte etc. while their T&Cs say 5 drinks per day in 30 minute intervals.

– After a year long of tweeting, complaining, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) got involved and Pret had to remove this false advertising and only announce it as 5 drinks per day, not endless.

– Then Pret announced early 2021 to be discontinuing the expensive iced drinks on the sub from April 2021 on. Many customers announced to boycott Pret and cancel their subscription. Pret then pretended to be humble, listening to customer and announced that the iced drinks will remain on the sub. But this turned out to just be on paper.

– Customer complaints started flooding in that they can hardly find a shop that makes the expensive frappes, smoothies etc. Common excuses were broken ice machines, broken blenders, out of stock etc. etc.

– The most nasty thing Pret does (and it continues to this day in some occasions) they make it hard for people to unsubscribe/cancel from the sub. And when people do manage to unsubscribe, Pret continues to withdraw money from accounts, even months after cancellation.

– Pret claim to be having technical difficulties etc. And yet, how can a company the size of Pret have THAT many technical issues for THAT long!?

In a nutshell, Pret make profit by the following:

Luring customers in via a falsely advertised subscription (also see BBC report below)

Refusing to make the expensive drinks under various excuses

Have technical difficulties hindering customers to scan their QR codes, and then after giving Pret the benefit of the doubt, they pay AGAIN instore for a coffee thinking only their QR code has an issue, while reality many customers wait for their QR code for days and/or their codes then don’t work and as they’re already in the shop, they PAY again for a coffee.

Pret also claim to have “supplier issues” since a year on chai latte. Chai latte is more expensive for Pret to give on the sub and it takes longer to make for the understaffed workers. So, they just say, we don’t chai due to supplier issues. Yet, Starbucks, Nero, Costa etc have no supplier issues on chai.

Under-staff shops forcing staff to work harder for less money, less staff, and have customers wait longer, and then turn around leaving the shop without a “free” coffee.

Also, quality of products went down. Watered down products, cheaper coffee suppliers, decreased package/portion sizes for the same or even higher price etc. Pret also stopped complimentary items like the butter portions for soup bread, or discontinued the seeds for porridge, or downsized the 35g honey pots to 15g honey squeezable etc. etc.

The Attachment rate: Someone mentioned already that people often buy other things while coming for a “free” coffee. Especially forcing customers to wait longer in the queue due to undertsfaffed shops, they linger around in the queue looking at other items, tempted to buy what they never came for in the first place. Win-win for Pret.

I posted a snippet of a leaked video I was sent by staff from a zoom call of Pret executives which I passed on to the BBC who reported on this. In the video UK Managing Director (who’s currently on maternity leave) explained the “attachment rate” when Pret first had the “£20 for 20 coffees” deal.

Scroll down about half way to the video:

https://expret.org/2021/02/05/pret-a-manger-continues-bullshtting-customers

In a nutshell, it’s basically ripping people off in many many little ways, and it all adds up.

Thieves who steal credit card details, don’t rob your whole bank account in one go, no, they purchase items in small amount of money over a period of a long time until people notice it.

People don’t notice the odd £5 disappearing from their account, especially if they have a good income and use mainly card to pay.

That’s how Pret does it. Take a little here, and a little there, but spread it out over MANY customers and for a LONG time … KATCHINK!!! That’s where the profit comes in.

They would only stop when called out publicly by MANY people and especially the press, the ASA, lawsuits and heavy fines. Other than that, the rip-off continues.

I put a YouTube slide together with some of the MANY customer complaints on this:

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And the BBC recently reported on this after I was contacted by the journalist who covered it as I expose Pret on their shady practices:

“Pret A Manger customers complain over drinks subscription deal “

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59634846

End of quote of my own text on reddit.

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UPDATE June 2022

A customer cancelled her subscription in August 2021 and realized now that Pret continued to charge her, altogether £210. From all the complaints I’ve seen on social media, there have been several who were charged 3, 6+ months after cancellation, but this is the longest, almost 9 months. And not all customers complain publicly, only Pret know how many complain via email/DM or try to get through via phone where Pret customer service rarely picks up.

If people have enough or a lot of money in their bank account, it will take a long time to notice that the odd £20 goes missing every month, except if they check their accounts regularly like I do, as I have been overcharged on several occasions. Clever thieves who steal credit card details often don’t wipe the bank account out of all its funds, but they withdraw or make purchases of small amounts over a long period of time until the account holder realizes.

Same with Pret. Take a little here and there from MANY customers over a long period of time, that’s how they make profit. Pret should seriously get investigated by financial standard and trading standard bodies.

Link

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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.

Please also see the MEDIA page for more.

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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 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 unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Smoothie Operator – The Pret A Manger Lie

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!

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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:

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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

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For complaints on Pret’s false advertisement go to:


https://www.asa.org.uk/make-a-complaint.html

It takes less than 2 minutes.

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NOT Natural

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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:

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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.

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One customer days ago sees it with more humour:

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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. …

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

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!

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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.

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UPDATE 23.04.2021 NEW video on a systemic issue with McDonald’s ice cream machines broken down and the disgusting reason behind this.

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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.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:


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.