Pret A Marketing 2 – “On the House”

 

What are the news on the homeless house?

One guy advertised for it with Nicki Fisher.

What’s with the house of the “Rising Stars”?!

I put it in brackets as I find this patronizing to label former homeless people like this, especially since the majority of Pret staff are like “Fallen Stars“.

I wrote on the Social Bite homeless village project in July 2018. It took Social Bite 2 years to build a village. It took Pret, a multi-million (by now billion) pound company 5 years to plan, buy and advertise a house for homeless people in London? Mind you, those former homeless people Pret takes, interestingly seemed to have been short-term homeless and mainly young people…all with little “baggage”, compared to those who were on the streets for years with addictions and loads of “life” behind them … not easy to bulls**t anymore.

And now Nicki Fisher who headed up the Pret Foundation Trust (PFT) goes to rural places in the hopes to help some burnt out people? Really?

I thought the Pret house is helping former homeless people back into work and accommodation? Ah, I see, it’s all in the wording.

From the below Tweet:
“Nicki will be embarking on a new adventure with her wife as they open their home in the East Sussex countryside as a rural retreat for those in need.”

Open to interpretation as to who’s in need and what the need is.

2019-05-30 Nikki Fischer rural

Now there’s a proper Pret smile!

Link & Link

The Pret homeless house in London just doesn’t seem to be doing it for Nicki. And it makes sense, because people who were homeless, traumatized, vulnerable etc. need rural and quiet places to recover. Daah!

Pret’s homeless house of the “Rising Stars” is just another smile on Pret’s face … facade!

And why is none of the “Rising Stars” on Twitter etc. telling how great it all is? Instead, they are only sharing, if at all, with Pret’s camera on them. But outside of Pret? What’s their take?

It takes rural places to recuperate from tragedy of homelessness, trauma, loss etc. And here are the brutal places of Pret A Manger and their “Fallen Stars”:

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff and plenty of Deputies

 

Sheriff

Sheriff Bajo, former Pret Assistant Manager and father of a young child was unfairly dismissed and ended up sleeping in his car, losing everything.

 

In the PRet CEO blog about the “Rising Stars” former homeless employment program, Clive Schlee shares how the idea came up for these “Rising Stars” to solely work together in a Pret shop. From the manager to the kitchen sandwich makers, having all former homeless people work in one shop.

Why?

CEO Quote (I added the colour to highlight something where he’s indirectly giving himself away):

“Our shop idea lost momentum when we returned home. People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”

 

2019-01-02 re Rising Stars too few2

 

And on the 450 “Rising Stars” since the 10 years of the Pret Foundation Trust, working with former homeless people, some people finally probe deeper also on Facebook and are just not buying it:

 

Why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12K staff

 

Here’s why Georgia:

“Careful to integrate”?

Might be leaving them “too exposed”?

Too exposed for what?

The same CEO who takes former homeless people to his Austrian PRoperty for a hike in the beautiful countryside, is the same CEO who has a highly stressful workplace with bullying managers who are drilled for targets and profit repaying the investors since private equity took over.

Also, is it coincidence that the PFT was founded in 2008 just when Bridgepoint Capital purchased Pret and started squeezing the lifeblood out of employees? With Pret A Manger I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. My own story where Pret used a development manager who supposedly also had a brother who died alone in his flat and wasn’t found until days later. Yet, after Pret bullied me and I became ill, she was introduced to me, but not for mutual support as we (if she!) had the same loss, but she was used to gaslight me. Full story in my interview at the bottom of this page.

 

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2018-07-06 Head Office PR

19. Dec. 2017

 

2019-02-11 Critical Tweet re Homeless house

 

The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in —> Pret Staff Complaints

 

Who will investigate staff deaths, in particular suicides?

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

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.

FREE Coffees in Pret A Manger

 

… and why Pret doesn’t do a Loyalty Card system.

 

First of all some Pret shops outside of big cities had Loyalty Cards, because the volume of coffee sales being much less than in London and other busy cities. Not sure if those shops still do Loyalty Cards. Tweets from 2012:

 

Pret Loyalty Card 2012-09-13

Link

 

Terms and conditions at the bottom of this below Loyalty Card:

“Redeemable at the Manager’s discretion. Excludes Pret shops within Central London Zones 1 and 2…”

It even has an expiry date on it, forcing the customer to buy coffees before that date to get a free one … and at the manager’s discretion mind you! Pret showing its true “generosity” here!

 

Pret Loyalty Card 2012-03-29

Link

 

2017 Pret Loyalty Card

Link to a 2017 Tweet

 

So, here I am making free advertisement for Pret, but there’s more than meets the eye… I am not a journalist nor an established writer (although I have one self-published book under my belt with a now bankrupt publisher… out of print), and writers like to peek and copy what they find here, but I am writing from behind the scenes of having worked at Pret for 10 years. I don’t copy & paste articles under lazy journalism.

Pret is next to nothing when it comes to marketing and winning new and retaining regular customers. I think to gain customers, the best thing is to give freebies, and Pret does this fantastically. No business does this as best as Pret A Manger. So far so good.

But …

There’s that hairy but(t) again!

 

THE PRICE

Of course this brilliant marketing strategy has not just one catch apart from the ultimate goal of profit. People don’t realize how cheap the coffee is. If customers knew how much 1 cup of coffee costs for Pret, incl. the milk, cup, lid, labour and then would see the profit margin… people’s stomach would turn on what they pay for a regular latte! (There are reasons why CEO Clive Schlee pocketed £30 million in BONUS alone after JAB purchased Pret, not to mention all the other senior leaders and shareholders! Plus Schlee owning half of itsu and whatever else business he’s involved in).

Even while I worked at Pret I always wondered how Pret’s claim to be certified Organic and Fair Trade can even be valid. Not making allegations, just raising questions! To get certified as being organic is super expensive for companies. Pret has been sued for their claim to be natural while the food contains glyphosate for which the mighty Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, currently has 11,000 lawsuits on their neck, with two major lawsuits lost in the hundred millions, due to denial that their main product Roundup causes cancer, which has not been labelled on the product… But that’s another story altogether.

So, if the public is paying attention, I have seen it more lately that Pret signs are changing due to the successful vs. “natural” claim lawsuit.

 

2018-12-10 Pret froced to remove Natural from sign

Link

 

From the above familiar signage where the “natural” is replaced with “good”.

Even on Pret’s website, the word “natural” seems to have completely disappeared.

 

good-food-new-sign.jpg

Link to Pret USA Twitter

UPDATE 23. May 2019

A customer on Twitter posted this picture confused on why the word “natural” was covered over at LAX airport. In the U.S. Pret has to act while in the UK everything is lenient again.

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over2

 

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over3

Link to David Blumenstein’s Tweet

I write extensively on the “Natural” issue in Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat.

But, back to the free coffee marketing. Even while working at Pret I always questioned how Pret can have Fair Trade AND certified Organic coffee while the coffee is so cheap. This may be another area some may be looking into after having looked at the “natural” food claim.

So, all the free coffees (and at times cookies, especially items at the end of the day or when products are expiring…) while being low in price for Pret, someone still has to pay for all these free items. And it won’t be Pret! Pret keeps raising prices regularly also to cover the cost. At the end of the day customers still pay for all the free coffees etc.

2019-04-17 Pret price increase

Link


 

THE PSYCHOLOGY

Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret and master of marketing with an approachable smile, his words on the freedom for staff to give free coffees and why:

Quote:
»We looked at loyalty cards but we didn’t want to spend all that money building up some complicated Clubcard-style analysis.
Instead the staff have to give away a certain number of hot drinks and food every week.
They will decide “I like the person on the bicycle” or “I like the guy in that tie” or “I fancy that girl or that boy”.
It means 28 per cent of people have had something free. It’s a nice, different way of doing it.«  *
From ThisIsMoney.co.uk

(*cough* while 72% go empty handed… see below)

Yes, the “having to give away” is even a pressure point for managers that push team leaders when the targeted percentage of freebies for the week has not been reached. It was part of my job as a shop team leader to keep an eye on the numbers and encourage teams to keep giving freebies OR stop giving, when we reached the percentage for the week, before the new week’s budget started again.

2017 Free coffee budget punishLink

 

2018-12-31 re free coffee marketing2

Link

 

On a side note, when the two customer deaths became public and the outcry was loud for a while, there was also an increasing Twitter “storm” on freebies where customers went online to post with enthusiasm about their free coffee or cookie…

And here is how that “fancying” is out of proportion with Clive Schlee’s admitted 28% as well as my experience as a team leader:

 

~ MULTIPLE FREEBIES at times even within ONE WEEK ~

 

 

2019-03-28 4th Free coffee

Link

 

2017-04-17 free coffee AGAIN

Link

 

2016 TWO free items in ONE week

Link

 

2018-06-21 2 free items

Link

 

2015 TWO Free coffees.jpg

Link

 

2019-04-13 Regular free coffee

Link

 

2019-04-09 Free coffee 1 to 2

Link

 

2019-04-13 Patience Smiles for Free Coffee

Link

 

2019-04-16 Free coffees often

Link

 

2017 Getting freebies free coffee for ages

Link

 

~ vs NOTHING for YEARS ~

 

2019-01-11 1st Free since years

Link

 

2019-04-18 Free Coffee after YEARS

Link

 

2019-03-21 Free coffee since years

Link

&

2019-03-21 Free coffee since years2

 

2019-03-28 free coffee today was the day

Link

 

2017-02-25 After lifelong devotion free coffee

Link (I love typos on Twitter… from devotion to devolution!)

 

2015 Free nonsense loyalty card

Link

 

2017 In 5 years no free coffee

Link (Another lovely typo: Pret as in looking for “Prey” >:-] )

 

2018-12-13 NOT attractive for free coffee

Link

 

2015 Never etting free coffee

Link (And Pret having a laugh!)

 

Political jokes Free Coffees 2015 Discrimination

Link

 

2019-04-16 five 5 years no free coffee

Link

 

2019-04-16 Free Coffee Legend replie

Link

 

… and so on….

Needless to say that those customers who get free coffees regularly, even daily, will not spill the beans on Twitter. 😉

As a team leader I had to “re-adjust” my teams’ choices to give solely at their own “discretion”, especially flirting baristas giving free coffee EVERY TIME to specific (to them) attractive customers. Or one team member would give free coffees every day to a customer who was an editor of a weekly celebrity tabloid magazine bringing that TM a free magazine every week. Company policy would be dismissal to “exchange” services for private purposes. But that’s how it works and Pret would never admit how discriminating the give-aways are in the name of “random acts of kindness”. That’s why staff are not allowed to have friends and family members eating on the 50% rebate WHILE staff are on the shift working.

Staff also are not allowed to ring up the 50% rebate on their staff discount themselves on the till while serving customers, as some customers make friends with staff for freebies and rebates. So, this was always a struggle to shake up the “policy”. I loved to give freebies, it was my favourite thing giving whole lunches on the house. But I often gave it to the moody and even rude customer to “kill them with kindness” or “heap burning coals on their heads” or just be kind to someone who looked pretty down…
I looked for the “underdog” to give freebies as we never know what hell they may be going through!

 

And another reason why Pret aims to have Taxi parking spaces in front of shops… Cabbies move around London being the BEST advertisers, especially to tourists looking for a coffee place!

2014 free coffee taxi cabbies

Link

 


 

CONTROL (of the carrot)

 

Carrot

 

2017 Behavioural science free coffee loyalty card

Link

And this is how the psychology works that Pret is so cleverly using. A Loyalty Card system, apart from costing additional money for Pret as Clive Schlee rightly said, would give the customer control over the timing of free items. And as Pret whips out coffees like no other coffee chain (the 1 minute Mystery Shopper pressure on workers for fast service is another reason for high profit in Pret via Emotional Labour) a Loyalty Card system would guarantee customers free coffees at their chosen time, especially all the regular customers who go to Pret EVERY DAY.

For staff to give freebies at their discretion (or discrimination!) gives Pret the control on when customers get freebies (the timing is completely out of customer’s control) AND serves like a carrot in front of the donkey that keeps going to Pret like a gambler, spending money and hoping to get that free coffee or cookie or whole lunch …

 

2019-01-15 waiting for next freebie

Link

 

Carrot

 

2019 No free coffee for a while

Link

 


 

FREE ADVERTISEMENT

To shorten the already long blog entry with more customer tweets on freebies, I mainly put journalist tweets here. Only a few tweets by a host of journalists who are supposed to be neutral, reporting on events rather than making free advertisement for Pret, while not looking deeper as one would expect from “investigative” journalism. Mainstream media for you:

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2013

Link

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2015 Guardian Journo

Link

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019

Link A boost in self esteem even with a freebie!

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019 to other half

Link

 

One journalist even goes a step further and plays Job-center for Pret, recruiting low-wage workers:

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019 Jobcenter

Link

etc.

Makes you wonder if they are paid under the table or are so infatuated with the cheap free coffees, and then being blinded to do real neutral journalism. Kind of sinks your heart how the majority goes with this freebie scheme so easily.

Staff hope the Mystery Shopper is nearby or even serving the MS when the staff member is extra generous. As staff can earn up to extra £50 or if perfect even £100, if the Mystery Shopper is even more impressed with their service (butt kissing). Often this is quickly done by giving a free coffee and BOOM! if it was the Mystery Shopper receiving the freebies, that staff member gets extra cash award. I write about this extensively in The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile.

 

A customer’s observation most people are blind to:

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

 

A Mystery Shopper tweet:

2017 A Mystery Shopper tweeted

Link

 

Customer Tweets:

2015 About Mystery Shopper

Link

 

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive

Link

And the psychology of “group incentive” is actually peer pressure and what a recent reviewer called “blame culture” which I totally underline. I spend a lot of time building my team member UP when they messed up the Mystery Shopper after our manager put them DOWN, because putting down is counter productive and leads to mental health problems. If I had buckets for the tears that were flowing after the harsh telling off when the Mystery Shopper wasn’t happy …

 

2018 Emotional Labour Labor Quota Smiles2

Link

 

A Pret employee’s review on the Mystery Shopper pressure:

2019-04-16 Mystery Shopper Blame Culture

Link

Or the “happy family” trap and the pressure on ONE person who loses the bonus for the whole team turning the team against that one person. Again, I had to many times step in-between the 1 person to protect them from the group and the bullying mentality Pret encourages.

Another of the many reviews along those lines:

2019-04-09 Mysterys Shopper Trap Happy Family

Link

 

So, the marketing of Pret is simple:

  • Give LOTS of free coffees (& cookies, lunches, but mainly coffees) that costs very little for Pret.
  • Lure customers in with the free items and 99p coffees or even better, 49p with a reusable cup (& now free water tap refills even if not a customer – they will become customers while in the store! 😉 ). The carrot is getting them into the shop so they’ll spend on other products they never intended to buy. Reason for the oven in the shop vs kitchen is the smell of freshly baked croissants enticing to purchase…
  • Don’t do freebies on a Loyalty Card system to have the control over customers, luring them in with the freebie carrot while they keep spending and hoping for that free coffee like a gambler waits for the next win.
  • Raise the coffee and product prices as someone needs to pay for all the freebies. And it won’t be Pret.
  • Give staff the feeling of power over their decision whom to give freebies, but deny that it is done discriminatory (take my word as a former team leader, it IS discriminatory).
  • In return just watch how customers from street-smart cabbies to text-book polished journalists flock to Twitter giving FREE advertisement on behalf of Pret.
  • The free advertisement of free coffees, as well as now free water taps for non-paying “customers” also, brings people in who then spend money they didn’t intend to spend …
  • Lean back and watch the profits rise, doing the math in how much money people spend before getting that free coffee… if at all!
  • Good luck to all the customers paying it forward for the other customers to get the freebies while faithfully waiting to crack that jackpot one day! 😀

 


 

A long list of reviews and complaints from current and former Pret Staff >>> in this LINK.

 

UPDATE May 2019
TWO Pret staff have died.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?

 

For the first time I share my traumatic story with Pret verbally in one go in this podcast interview:

 

Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.

The main subject being workplace bullying, we also spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general and what to look out for in an interview for a new job. I further talked about the significant timing of Pret CEO’s announcement of the £1000 Tweet for all staff. I also talked about a regular day in Pret and how staff have to cut corners, in order to fulfill the immense workload under constant pressure.

It is hard to squeeze my traumatic experience into a podcast segment, but we covered enough to get a good picture of today’s systemic stress environment for profit driven global companies.

Please visit his Podcast and Twitter @1AdamParadox.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

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.

Quote of the Day 69 – Pret Abuse of Team Members

 

One current Pret employee who found the courage to speak out on the Pret post for the House for the Homeless project. This now has put a target on his back with HR having an eye on him, and I won’t be surprised if he will get an invite for a disciplinary hearing, or an “informal” meeting to intimidate him. But as Pret is reading my blog, they will find something small to hang on him to dismiss him. Don’t look over your shoulder, put your head up, look ahead, and join a Union.

 

Quote of the day:

 

“There’s one thing to say. Pret has to look after their own people because whatever [is] going on behind the scenes it’s pretty bad. I repeat myself; Team members are abused by work in terms of quantity of work and responsibilities… Unfair management for sure… I truly understand fear of speaking for people that work in Pret because they need a job…”

 

Nothing more to add, except: Respect for speaking out! Good luck, and don’t let Pret intimidate you into silence, Ciovica! Join a union ASAP! >>> @bfawu1 or @NSSN_NE or @__PAMSU__ ‏among many others …

 

2019-02-09 Response to Homeless House Tweet2

 

Link to Facebook comment The link will load a few seconds and needs to settle before this direct comment appears. This comment from yesterday’s was after the initial comment on the Pret house for the homeless Facebook post that I used for yesterday’s “Quote of the Day”: Pret A Money Hungry

 

2019-02-08 Response to Homeless House Tweet0

Link, again needs to load before the comment appears.

Featured in “Quotes of the Day” selected Pret reviews and long list of “Pret Staff Complaints“.

 


 

As my blog has grown into a maze of writings, I created a “Mind Map”, an overview to the most important blog entries for the reader not to get cluttered with posts. To understand the main issues that I have survived, please visit My Ordeal with Pret A Manger overview, click on the arrow next to each heading that you choose which will lead directly to posts back onto this blog. Thank you for reading.

 

©2019 LateNightGirl.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

The Best thing that happened to Pret A Manger

 

… is CEO Clive Schlee in terms of PR, marketing and presenting a well polished facade. But the CEO is not the best thing that happened to staff. Him being approachable and friendly is acting while staff suffer and are being fooled. I am a former Pret employee of 10 years and have survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement under Pret’s leadership. My interview on a podcast at the bottom of this page.

No matter how many customers died, a third nearly fatal allergy reaction, several hospitalized and multiple ignored warnings: the CEO will fix every mess with an approachable smile.

Clive Schlee labelled me his “late night girl” and I survived his “friendliness” to publicly speak about my ordeal and many other staff complaints I collected onto one page: Selected Quotes and long List of Reviews and comments on the web.

How easy it is to take a few former homeless people who are vulnerable and easy to be manipulated, taking them to Schlee’s PRivate PRoperty in Austria for a hike, or going to Stone Hedge and now giving them accommodation and a low paid job, separating them from regular shops, as quoting Schlee they don’t want to keep them “too exposed” being slow to “integrate” them into regular shops.

In the meantime regular shops are harsh places with poorly trained bullying managers who are tasked to reach high target and profit, so that Mr. Schlee can pocket his £30 Million. So, what does he compensate this poor treatment of staff with?

Yep, good deeds via charity.

I posted several blog entries on the facade that Clive Schlee like the Ronald McDonald Clown does for McDonald’s, Clive does for Pret. Clive is the good cop, shop management are the bad cops, but all have one goal, squeeze as much “productivity” out of staff to maximize profit. And in all this throw in some good works and lots of free coffees for customers (that are paid by raised prices) and the public is hypnotized and lulled in to sleep.

With all things in life where we want to believe a facade and are shocked beyond believe when the quiet neighbour next door who was always so involved in the community turns out to not be what everyone around him believed. The truth always comes to light about a company, person, system, ideology…

 

Illusion

 

Some blog posts I wrote regarding Clive Schlee:

 

Cry Me A River – Translating Crocodile TearsClive Schlee not acting on customer deaths until this became public.

The “Fallen Stars” of Pret – Regular staff have a different story behind the scenes. Yes, there are good shops and good managers as well, but I worked in over a dozen shops and have only worked with 2 maximum 3 managers who were good and “normal”. The majority is terrible management.

The Great Pret-ender (Genius of the Crowd)

Pret Poets Society Explaining the different job roles in Pret shops and reviews from those.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly Another writing to Clive Schlee

 

… and some other indirect posts on the overall atmosphere behind the Pret facade.

 

2018-01-07 I Hate Pret Facebook Page2

Facebook group since 2011 that Facebook hides on behalf of paying companies like Pret

 

 

2018-05-09 PAMSU EndTheMysteryShopper

Former Pret staff who was fired for starting a Union

 

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

Former IT Analyst having worked in HQ

 

17 Odd

Former Purchasing Director NYC

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

Former Corporate Employee NYC

 

 

2018-10-15 Staff complain in Twitter not paid HR

Link

 

 

Brutal Nightmare

YouTube comment towards the bottom

 

10 Chicago Pret horrible company to work for

A comment from a customer in Chicago who knew a deceased Pret employee

 

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The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in —> Pret Staff Complaints

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO. 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

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.

Pret A Manger’s Typical Marketing Strategy (and their Fallen Stars)

 

I may not be a Guardian or New York Times writer, where the public easily believes the Press and find it hard to believe a report on the appalling work environment a person’s inside knowledge shares publicly.

I write as an insider of Pret A Manger having worked on the front lines of a stressful and discriminating workplace. I have survived workplace bullying even during bereavement which I write extensively about on my blog and Social Media as well as share for the first time verbally on a podcast (at the bottom of this page).

I experienced Pret, especially CEO Clive Schlee as dishonest, shop managers as bullying and excellent in hiding this profit-driven behaviour behind the PR[et] facade. Like neighbours who hide abused and smiling children behind a beautiful house, but when the truth comes out, everyone is shocked. Really? No, I’m not comparing Pret to the smiley Turpin or other abusive families, what I am pointing out is the age old trap, where people fall for a facade of a friendly looking leadership and PR. I just use an EXTREME example to make a point of how things can be hidden in broad day-light. Behind the “happiness and smiles” in Pret is the Mystery Shopper and the £100 incentive if staff are extra nice. And if Mystery Shopper results are bad, staff are “motivated” through fear management. Sorry to burst the bubble on the happiness illusion in Pret. I cover this extensively in “How Companies force Emotional Labour on Low Wage Workers“.

Customers see how stressful it is in Pret, but have been so conditioned an plainly spoiled where they are happy to wait in Starbucks for up to 15 minutes, but complain in Pret when the coffee isn’t ready in 2 minutes! Pret produced this for high profit, and just very few say something, most customers want their coffees fast and don’t care to look closer let alone mention something!

Rarely do customers point out the stress, chaos and upset they observe. Most just want their coffees, believe the nice facade and off they go:

 

2018-10-20 Staff cry

Link

 

2019-03-19 Response to customer complaint re manager

Link

 

2019-03-22 Customer Noticing busyness Pret1

Link

 

2019-03-22 customer kings cross emma observation stress

Link

 

2013 Customer being treated nice by manager then snap at staff

Link

 

And then, a breath of fresh air!

 

VillageForHomeless

A village built for the homeless by cafe chain Social Bite. I covered this in 2018.

It is super easy for a multi-billion pound company to do some charity work, like I would flip a penny in a beggars cup which doesn’t cost me anything. And thus Pret, lulling the public in again with good deeds, while behind the scenes it is very different. All the free coffees and product give-away, which is very good customer service of course, absolutely, but who’s paying for these freebies? No, it’s not Pret. It’s customers paying it forward by other paying customers as Pret keeps raising the coffee and product prices. Among other bills prices are raised to pay for all the freebies while staff are underpaid and overworked. The few pennies more that Pret pays staff compared to the competition, is because Pret has no choice as the job is so horrendously harsh and stressful, no one would stay for the minimum wage. But for a team leader who has responsibilities almost like a manager to get £9.30 an hour is an insult! It’s better to work for less pay and in turn less stress.

 

2018-12-31 re free coffee marketing

Link … and increased coffee prices paying for the “free” coffees and free advertisement customers then give on Twitter.

 

Schlee tries to compensate this “leadership” style by treating former homeless people (whom he patronizingly calls “Rising Stars”) with kindness and more consideration. In his own words Pret is “careful to integrate” them into regular shops, as the work environment is brutal and may catapult them back unto the streets, further adding cracks to the facade.

While this is a great thing to do, helping people back into work, giving them a beautiful break, by flying them out to his Austrian home, or hike in the English countryside etc., I question the motive behind this kindness. Many staff in the main “population” of the  workforce are treated horrendously bad (my own story in the interview at the bottom). People are fired unnecessarily and unfairly, staff become depressed and suicidal. I was bullied during grief under Schlee’s watch and him even being part of my ordeal calling me his “late night girl”, two months before I was fired while my dad was in intensive care just out of a coma!

This contrast to the “Rising Stars” program should make anyone question the true intention of Pret’s “kindness” as I pointed out in my Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust. It is like what one reviewer compared Pret to a “Mafia” organization I posted in Pret A M*ffin. No, of course Pret is not a Mafia organization, but what does a Mafia organization do best? They rule in every corner of a region, give money to the city and charities, to school projects and hospitals, and of course to the police and politicians. Even the press is influenced, while the Mafia is getting free range and their backs covered to build their organization and destroy lives. So, I can empathize with this reviewers comparison.

 

Quote from his blog about the Rising Star program and the idea for them to run a shop entirely by former homeless people:

“Our shop idea lost momentum when we returned home. People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”

The CEO gave himself away again, knowing very well how horrendous work conditions in shops are, pushed by his profit-driven agenda, especially since private equity took over, to repay the investors on the backs of low-paid workers. They who work double for a few pennies more.

 

Clive Schlee Blog Rising Stars

“we are usually careful to integrate”

… worried they may be

“leaving them too exposed…”

 

for this:

 

Horrible Company Pret

Further down in the comments

 

and this:

 

2018-06-27 Horrible

Link

 

and this:

 

2018-01-12 Never Ever

Link

 

and this:

 

2017-05-29 Bad experience

Link

 

and this:

 

2018-07-23 Quote #27 Pret Hellhole

Link

 

and this:

 

2018-10-02 Modern day slavery depression

Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work

 

and this:

 

2017-12-20 Avoid AM

Link

 

and this:

Lose Everything That Makes You Human2

Link

 

and this:

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

Link

 

and these:

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The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in —> Pret Staff Complaints

 

The News reports on Pret supporting a house for the homeless and patronizingly labelling former homeless people “Rising Stars”, is another typical “initiative” that looks to me like the usual diversion Pret likes to do from the allergen deaths, not acting on labelling until customer deaths became public. This should send alarm bells through the public who is easily put to sleep with freebies and PR. Other crisis of the company that the public is being informed are:

  • Pesticides in “natural” food
  • 4000 Pret staff in the U.S. gone to court for unpaid overtime (TWICE in 4 years) and the illegal practices Pret used. Pret Staff in the UK also are not paid overtime and have to constantly chase their wages. I had to do this all the time as managers tend to “forget” to pay the correct hours worked… I collected those complaints from many staff reviews on “Quotes of the Day” selected staff complaints. Countries like New Zealand as of recent years criminalized “wage theft”. The UK is way behind this issue that is rampant.
  • The Class Action Suit regarding deceptive packaging and customers still feeling misled on it days ago with many complaints and photos on Twitter.
  • Many Staff Complaints that I collected onto one page linked to other review websites, YouTube, Twitter etc.
  • My own story that sounds like out of a twisted Hollywood movie, except that I have all the written evidence, and Pret’s only reaction is to report me and let Twitter hide my public posts.

And other issues.

 

Pret keeps reporting me to Twitter, Facebook etc. to let them censor me by hiding my Tweets from the public. This secret censoring is called “shadow banning” and the public for most part is unaware this exist, many don’t even realize they are shadow banned. Facebook even deletes PRIVATE messages where I link in the message to my blog here. Check Twitter hashtags #ShadowBan #ShadowBanning #StopShadowBanning #TwitterCensorship etc. Also, google James O’Keefe undercover journalist who infiltrated Twitter with hidden cameras on the issue of shadow banning.

And as Pret reads my blog, the £1000 announcement for all staff came on 29. May 2018, the night when Pret and the CEO Clive Schlee became aware of my blog. They also learn as I have given Clive Schlee himself several tips on things he then implemented and took the credit for.

There are companies that have done for many years what Pret does now. A coffee chain Social Bite that built a VILLAGE for homeless people. Or the Timpson shoe repair & key cutting company, a family business since 1865 goes into prisons since many years recruiting ex-convicts. They even train prisoners while in prison, so that when they come out they go straight into Timpson employment without being “in between” in danger to re-offend or fall through the cracks.

Timpson aims to employ 20% of ex-prisoners. Many ex-offenders are in high positions including finance, as they are more reliable being appreciative having gotten another chance. Timpson is also the company that has as one of its slogans: “Great service by great people”…. Pret has their slogan “Good jobs for good people”. And sure, companies always “steal” ideas as the market is competitive. But I always love when people come up with true ideas like Social Bite to really help and make a lasting impact, not just for PR and own gain while Pret’s CEO pocketed £30 million for himself. A house for the homeless is nothing for him to do. It’s a penny in a beggars cup. And Pret staff behind the scenes suffer.

One comment on Facebook in Feb. 2019 by a current Pret staff on Pret’s homeless house post, also points this out that Pret does this to gain customers while behind the scenes it’s “chaos”:

 

2019-02-08 Pret Staff Facebook Comment Complaint2

Link to Facebook comment. The link needs to settle a bit before it becomes visible.

 

Timpson trail blazing:

 

And yes, it’s good to have a house for the homeless and do all these good things. And it is better to do those things even if this is used for PR, but I want to keep pointing out how harsh it is behind the scenes in Pret, so much so to the point of people becoming suicidal, depressed, disheartened as I had close calls at the bridge.

 

2018-10-13 Clive Schlee Clown Tweet

Link

 

Some criticism from a former homeless person who works with the homeless and has immense knowledge on housing issues etc.

 

2019-02-08 Former Homeless Tweet re homeless house Pret

Link

 

A response from another person on this charity that Pret has teamed up with. With “HB” the person means “Housing Benefit”, rent that is paid by social services for people without a job:

 

2019-02-09 Response to former homeless tweet

Link

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM2

 

A rare observation and acknowledgement of the forced happiness/friendliness of staff:

 

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

Link

 

2018-05-09 PAMSU EndTheMysteryShopper

#EndTheMysteryShopper

 

And the undercover report that was sparked by my blog: Undercover Under Pressure.

 

 

My Open Letter To The Pret Foundation Trust and how Pret use vulnerable people for PR, while not giving people with mental health issues a job beyond the trial period despite them being 100% and EVERY product picture perfect. And Pret treating regular staff with unbelievable harshness. I survived to publicly speak about my and others’ ordeal. 

 

If you want to restore or protect your reputation or keep maintaining a nice public image to get lots of customer support (£££), what do you do? You go out and look for the most vulnerable people and placate everywhere your good deeds. Even the Mafia does that, and they do that very well.

And then there are others who don’t do so much shouting about their good deeds as they want to help and not just polish their facade. A Village for the homeless built by Social Bite that I posted in July 2018, and I am always happy to help Pret with ideas. And in the meantime I continue to tell the public how it is behind the scenes, including confronting Pret on a suicide of an assistant manager in 2017, and what Pret has done to me and many others.

Pret can continue to be silent and let Twitter etc. shadow ban me. It always gets more clicks on my blog when I’m shadow banned. Thank you.

 

UPDATE:

A Tweet today from a former homeless person on the press release, who looks beyond the PR of Pret as they know how it is and the political correct issues they face as they work with the homeless as well:

 

2019-02-08 Response to Homeless House Tweet.jpg

Link to 2 consecutive Tweets ONE & TWO by former homeless @Homeless_Info that are semi-hidden where one has to click on “Show More”.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO. 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>> podcast interview based in California. Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

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