Clive Schlee, please read

 

You are still presenting yourself on Twitter as the CEO of Pret, even though Pano Christou (who deleted his Twitter account after I tweeted to the press) is the new CEO now.

CEO

You continue to make the public believe that you are the CEO, and they keep tweeting to you with requests. Pret continues to maintain that it was founded in 1986 by two college friends!

You’ve let the wolves of private equity in, and handed over your employees like sheep for the slaughter!

I read a review which a GM left on Glassdoor on 31. October.

This review broke my heart!

This GM is about to lose his or her family!

2019-10-31 GM - Slavery - RVW30135565

 

An Assistant Manager lost his family already, and who knows how many more did.

Sheriff

 

In my 10 years in Pret, in over a dozen shops, I have only worked with 2 amazing Managers, who worked their freaking butts off and supported their Teams and Leaders.

Since Bridgepoint, and now even worse JAB, Managers are stretched to breaking point, losing their families, crying in the office. Really?

I appreciate that more Managers care, after all the bullying Managers bullshitting their way up. But I do NOT appreciate that they lose their families or get so unwell, they might lose their life!

You sneak out quietly, while remaining steady on Twitter?

Your staff are retiring from you, Mr. Schlee! You just haven’t accepted it yet!

While you sit in Austria enjoying your life and checking my blog from time to time?

Staff suicides not independently investigated yet?

Customer deaths already forgotten?

No, sir!

Not on my shift!

 

—>>> Customer witnessed bullying 4 days ago

 

2019-10-28 Bullying manager seen by customer3

 


 

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.

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.

Caught in the Act at Pret A Manger

 

If you have no time to read,
please scroll down to all the screenshots.

 

A VERY common bullying incident from a Manager towards a Team Member. But this time it didn’t happen behind the facade in the kitchen, office or staff room, hidden away from customers, this time it happened in front of customers. The “ethical profile” of Pret is a facade the public still believes, because the bullying is usually happening behind the scenes, away from customers’ eyes. And then, when the Manager or Leader has finished bullying the staff member, the intimidated and humiliated Team Member then is send out to the shop floor, and expected to smile for Mystery Shopper bonus and fool customers with a fake happiness. And as many are from other countries, young, have children to feed or Uni tuition to pay, they feel stuck, too exhausted to find a new job and not knowing where to turn to.

And when the bullying is happening on the shop floor, shops are so noisy with loud music, shouting of staff to make and get coffee orders, talking, busyness. Customers are busy on their phones or laptops, distracted with talking, eating etc. So, when it happens in the shop, people don’t even notice.

Even when I was bullied during bereavement under the watchful eye of HR, I NEVER told a customer or colleague. I was complimented by customers and received rewards from Mystery Shoppers for my service, smile, giving freebies etc. And after my shift at times I headed for the bridge and still don’t know how I survived. But none of my colleagues and customers knew my inner state and turmoil. I explain in detail at the very bottom YouTube slide about what weekly Mystery Shoppers test staff on, or via this link: “Smile for the Misery Shopper“.

This creates a host of mental health issues under Emotional Labour, that staff are forced to perform. What @Katecordon witnessed today is so familiar to me, and this would be a situation where I as a Team Leader then had to console the Team Member crying in the staff room and at times speak to the Manager. Only ONE time when I spoke to the Manager why they shouted at the TM, this Manager apologized to the TM. But this was only one Manager out of many who did not apologize and rather bullied me then as well for speaking out. But I didn’t care!

The Team Member in below customer Tweet made a very simple, innocent, normal mistake. No big deal. And by the way, the TM made that mistake because she was most likely NOT trained in the first place! The Manager must have stood nearby witnessing this mistake. To correct the mistake the TM then did give the 10% discount, but explained at the same time that she made a mistake and gave the 10% as a one-off. PERFECT customer service!!! In fact, a Mystery Shopper would have probably given the TM an “outstanding card”, meaning the extra £100 reward, or even £200 if the overall scores were perfect. Mystery Shoppers many times gave the reward, even when a mistake happened, but they rewarded the staff member due to how they handled the mistake.

The same is by law, when a price tag gives an old cheaper price even though the price has increased, the business is obligated to charge that old cheaper price, even if the till system is updated with the new expensive price. But this TM probably doesn’t know the law on this and did instinctively the right thing because she cares! The TM here did a perfect, correct and kind customer service, but was bullied by the Manager for making a simple mistake and then giving the 10% discount as a good will gesture, which is commendable! And this Manager is particularly offensive by talking down on the customer as well: “It’s company policy, love“. Very, very, very, very common bullying incident in Pret! Bullying and fear management by the book.

The reason this Manager makes a huge issue out of the 10% discount wrongly given as a student discount, is that Pret only does regular discounts in some places like malls or train stations (but not all malls or stations), where the other companies and train station staff within that station or mall get a 10% discount showing their staff badge. So, this Manager would have to do half a minute of paper work to explain for the financial file why the 10% was given in this Manchester airport, that doesn’t give student discounts. Managers hate to do little paper work issues like this as they want their financial records to look perfect. I got in trouble many times for doing it the proper way in recording mistakes, because Managers didn’t like mistakes in their financial files and rather stress staff to not make these mistakes. And at one time I’ve had enough and told one Manager that if a financial file is perfect without any mistakes, this would ring alarm bells with me if I was a financial auditor. But that’s another story. And honest mistakes that are effectively recorded can be traced back in the system and explained. Again, no big deal.

And also by the way, this Manager most likely continued the bullying later in the office, as bullying Pret managers and leaders can’t let go and continue later on, especially when caught out by customers and they “lost face” in front of the TM they just bullied. So, they try to “establish” authority and continue behind closed doors. I hope that young lady finds quick support! And if this Manager is disciplined by Pret, then only because he got caught by a customer who called him out publicly, like he did with his Team Member. If the TM alone would have complained to HR, nothing would have happened.

This shows as well in the very first review from the new LAX Pret shop that was opened in the summer 2019. I could not have put it into better words how this bullying environment thrives in Pret worldwide. I love American reviews, because they find amazing words!:

LAX review

Link

Fresh off the Twitter press today:

2019-10-28 Bullying manager seen by customer2

 

Full text:

2019-10-28 Bullying manager seen by customer3

Link to Tweet

 

A little reminder of Pret’s “ethical” profile and what staff dare to say in anonymity, away from the fear management. Clive Schlee “retired” with quite a legacy!

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

Glassdoor scores on Pret and its leadership. I wrote a new blog post as well on >>>  Pret’s new CEO Pano Christou, and Clive Schlee remaining in the background as a non-executive Director, while on his Twitter account he still presents himself as the CEO of Pret! I explain in above blog why Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account.

 

2019-05-05 Rude aggressive manager

Link

2013 Pret manager smile at customer snap at staff

Link

The latest review on Pret’s London Head Office from a current employee at the time of reviewing on Indeed. Again, this is a review on Pret’s HEAD OFFICE in Victoria, London where the CEO and other Senior Leadership also have their desks in the open plan offices where I saw them many times working on laptops etc.:

00 2910-10-21 HQ Bullies

Link People don’t seem to get promoted unless you are a bully or belittle your team members. The place is toxic.

Another one from January 2019

2019-01-23 Great Brand Poor Management - RVW24352473 marked

Link “… working really really long hours. No work life balance whatsoever”.

And a 2017 review on HQ from an IT Analyst on Glassdoor:

It Analyst HQ Head Office Review

Link

Las Vegas

Link “Pret has brought over many managers and leaders from the UK and ‘beheaded’ many of the US employees who built the brand…”
This is really upsetting, because I remember when I asked my managers over the years where such-an-such an OPs Manager or General Manager is, I often heard that they where sent to New York, as the American Managers can’t handle the work / can’t manage properly. I remember being confused about this, because I lived in Florida for almost 6 years and traveled to different cities over the years, visiting friends. I stayed 3 months on the West Coast, visited North Dakota, the East Coast, the deep South, often for several months. I have many American friends. Americans are one of THE hardest working people. They are inventive, passionate, disciplined, fun, helpful etc. I was confused, but then thought that I know how complex and micromanaging Pret is, so I didn’t think any more of it. But now I realize, reading all the American reviews that what I was told was bullcrap!

Reading the above review and all the other reviews from the U.S., the main thing the American reviews have in common is: favoritism and racism. And it’s really upsetting, because I know the American mentality vs. the British.

Bullying from the top down: A review by a Team Leader who runs the kitchen and the shop! OPs (area manager) bullying the manager who cries in the office. This OPs sounds particularly nasty, and reminds me of an OPs that I had before my brother died and I was still strong holding out under this kind of “leadership”! It’s also a recent review from 03. October 2019 (this is Chicago, but this happens in other countries/cities as well):

OPs yell Managers cry

Link Managers are secretly looking for new jobs right now to get out of Pret.

 

17 Odd

Review by former purchasing Director, NY

 

 

01 Go back to UK

Review by a Corporate, NY

 

 

2017-05-26 Pure Misery

Link “This place is what hell must be like.”
This is probably THE ANGRIEST review I have come across, and even by an Assistant Manager!

 

01 Brutal Nightmare

YouTube

 

2011 I Hate Pret Fuck Pret

“I hate Pret” group on facebook.com/preth8ers

A customer in Chicago in 2017, commenting about a Pret staff who died, and then making a general comment on Pret:

2017 Chicago Pret horrible company to work for2

 

2018-10-02 Anxiety Depression Dread

Link Depression…

 

2019-04-10 Depression review

Link Depression…

Dept Labor

Link “This job should be reported to the department of labor”.
Pret settled 2 lawsuits in New York, re-paying 4000 workers. In the UK hardly anyone sues because the legal system is different, low rewards that no lawyer wants to pick up. In the U.S. one reviewer on Indeed recently wrote that Pret is always getting sued.

0 Sued

2019-06-11 Corporate hell on earth - RVW27190460

Link “This company is everything that is wrong with the world. … Corporate hell on earth.”

 

A former Manager 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret:

2012-07-23 Ex GM

 

2015 PAMSU likes to see evidence of good jobs

Link to Tweet – Pret A Manger Staff Union, Andrej Stopa who got fired for starting a Union.

Times

The Times article and photo

 

Amy

Undercover report by Amy Sharpe, Sunday Mirror photo on “staff who are hugely over-stretched”.

 

2018-06-13 Hellhole - RVW21022161

Link  “… get down from that high horse you’re on”

 

2015 People Cry

Link “A lot of people cry in the staff room especially in their entry period”

 

0 Terrible Hiring Useless people cry

23. Oct. 2019 “I have work in different shops and they are all very similar, it is a toxic environment, Never in my life I have seen so many different coworkers cry in the job. Give more training to your managers, and hire better people, don’t allow them to abuse the staff, it is appalling.”

The next review from recently is a very typical scenario of abusive fear-management by Managers. Scaring low-wage workers that they’re “playing with lives” while the top Senior Leadership got away with TWO customer deaths, Clive Schlee sneaking out quietly, remaining in the background as a non-executive Director, while having ignored customer warnings (link to article), not acting until the deaths became public:

Playing with lives

Link

 

»This job can annihilate every piece of humanity inside of you.

You will lose everything that makes you human.«

Annihilate Humanity 45

Link I spend 6 months racing all day and barely spoke 3-5 words a day on my shifts if I’m not on till where you are required to have the widest fake smile on earth…”

 

Pret Abuse

Link


UPDATE: 31.10.2019

A brand new review by a current General Manager that absolutely breaks my heart! One of many along the lines of no work-life balance, due to under-staffed shops and not paid for overtime.

2019-10-31 GM - Slavery - RVW30135565

Link I am about to lose my family as I am never there. I leave to work at 4 am and get home 7 at night. My children looking at me like a I am a stranger. It’s not a life. … Bullying, long hours, shortage of staff, – it’s a proper Modern day slavery”

I think this is the most heart-breaking review I’ve ever seen by any staff member, let alone a Manager. I hope they find a way! I actually cried when I read this.

Another recent Manager review from Chicago tells a similar story, quote: “With the wrong management, the shops begin to break down and brings inner conflict. Pay could be better, especially for seasoned employees. Management gets overworked to save on labor costs. Don’t expect to see much of home as a manager.” Link

 

Another GM from London in August 2019:

2019-08-10 GM 5am to 8pm

Link A little side note, GMs go to quarterly meetings where the CEO and top leadership are present as well, so GMs know Senior Leaders more than the regular staff. Some GMs disapprove of the CEO – at the time it still was Clive Schlee. But I find it interesting that this GM has NO opinion of the CEO.

And another GM on Indeed from Glasgow, Scotland:
Amazing in the beginning – showered with benefits and entitlements and opportunities to advance. Terrible once you see how horribly mismanaged and micromanaged the company is. Zero care for human beings and nothing but boosting sales and company growth.

GM

Link

A little reminder that Clive Schlee pocketed £30 Million on bonus alone when JAB Holdings bought Pret! Link to article.


 

UPDATE: 10. November 2019
Brand new Manager review on Indeed worth reading!

2019-11-10 GM Horrible

Link Qoute:Managers are forced to cheat on results and break standards just so that the area manager looks good on paper, though he stays at home most of the days whilst the shops collapse.
Yes, but this has always been like this. OPs Managers sit in the pub at lunch time when shops are horrendously busy. OPs Managers fly out to Dubai, Paris or in the U.S. to Vegas, Orlando etc. as mentioned above, to party and blow the hard earned money the shops bring in. Many times I didn’t see my OPs Manager for at least THREE MONTHS at a time, and when they came in, they bossed us around and played scary fear management for a few minutes, before disappearing again for months! The only thing I saw regularly was EMAILS and pressuring us on numbers and Mystery Shopper results!

Quote: Since 2018 there is so much pressure in getting the standards right however I’ve seen kitchens running on two people on night shifts and even one on day shift (where four people are required per shift) as area management does want figures to be right on paper- this could cause enormous issues if something went wrong I.e. allergens.Bingo!

Quote: People are over stretched and tired since the pressure to achieve selection in stores is high but not enough labour in.

Quote:
“We as managers aim to make our teams happy and safe however the over stretching on labour just made us cover the gaps over and over not realising the biggest gap was within us unable to have a normal life or humanity due to the amount of hours being psychologically forced into work.”

Quote:
“I have met great people and higher management in this company but there is an unacceptable level of fear culture up here in Edinburgh, where people believe they won’t actually be okay if they quit their job if unhappy. It’s 2019 and if your employer raises you to be scared to develop elsewhere then it’s not a good employer.”

Nothing more to add!


 

This review is one of my absolute favourites, and brings some humour into all this! Absolutely LOVE this! Made my day! 😀
Also, pay attention to the YES vs NO votes on all these reviews.

2017-12-15 Lick asses Prayer

Link

I could go on and on and on, and add countless more along those lines of above reviews, but my posts tend to get too long. I just post one more which is the shortest review I have come across. It doesn’t take many words to describe Pret A Manger. This is even from a Team Leader. Well, it’s simply Pret:

2019-09-16 CoWOrkers bomb Company trash

Link

 

Above comments and articles are only a fraction of a long list of staff reviews and complaints. For an extensive, yet not exhaustive list please visit: Pret Staff Complaints (list needs to be updated, I stopped in August 2019) with a few collected in below slideshow.

When on Glassdoor, one has to register and be signed in to read reviews. The best to see the latest reviews is to click where it says by default “Popular” and select “Most recent”. On Indeed, click on the number of reviews, and then location select “All”. Glassdoor and Indeed post the positive reviews by default.

Finally, some very wise words I came across once on Twitter, but I know Pret will not heed (they read my blog) because they are stuck in this profit-driven business and always find ways to sweet-talk their way out of responsibility:

»It’s amazing to me how many business leaders separate their employees from their customers/patrons. Your employees are your core target audience to put word-of-mouth out about your organization.«  — @minmilyjung on Twitter

Any employee reading this, especially in Pret and the service industry: join a Union and leave reviews on Glassdoor, Indeed and any other platform:

The following Unions cover the food industry (links to Twitter):

BFAWU1McStrike (UK) — Fast Food Forward (USA) — GMB UnionUnitePret Staff Union (UK, not as active) and others. The BFAWU is very active with McDonald’s strikes and are very informed about Pret A Manger issues.

JavaScript required to view slideshow. May not work on mobile devices without Wifi

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Slideshow can be paused

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

Staff review: “Bad managemet, always being ‘hounded’.”

 

Staff review: “Worked into the ground without empathy.”

 

Smile for the Mystery Shopper. I renamed: “Misery Shopper”!

 

I continue to ask for independent investigation into Pret staff suicides.

 


 

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.

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.

Raped – Robbed – Ripped Off

 

It’s not normal to be raped

it’s not normal to be robbed

it’s not normal to be ripped off

So, why do we accept people in our #firstworldproblem society to be bullied and exploited by and for millionaires, billionaires and their heirs?

Huh?

I am tired of people telling me that “this is just the way it is”.

Well, maybe for you. Settle yourself.

But I drew the line.

Don’t just take note; stand up and speak out!

 

 

I continue to ask for independent investigation into Pret staff suicides:

Link: → Why is Pret A Manger not being investigated on staff deaths?

 

JavaScript required to view slideshow. May not work on mobile devices without Wifi.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slideshow can be pause

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

 


 

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.

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.

Request to Delete Tweet re: Food Safety

 

I’d like to respond to a request on Twitter for me to delete a Tweet regarding food safety. I respond via my blog, as I want to avoid posting 50 million Tweets to explain.

The thread is about food donation via apps. It’s a great way to safe food from being wasted. It’s an increasing way in many countries to tackle the food waste crisis, and it’s really amazing to see this trend grow.

Something caught my eye in the top right photo which I mentioned in the Tweet.

Initial Tweet:

2019-10-12 @LauraHodges_ Food waste 00

Link

On the top right photo (by @Laurahodges_) are cups of soups. I mentioned about Pret not giving out hot food due to health and safety reasons with the temperatures.

I was informed that as of recently Pret does give out hot food, as long as it is picked up within a 2 hour window.

I explain further below, underneath the Tweet screenshots:

2019-10-12 @LauraHodges_ Food waste 02

Link

 

2019-10-12 @LauraHodges_ Food waste 03

Link

 

2019-10-12 @LauraHodges_ Food waste 10

Link

The “shocking” response is about the daily food waste in plastic to landfill that I posted about in Pret A Manger Food Waste. The daily food waste to landfill is a reality that Pret wants to sweep under the carpet.

Just some of the photos and Tweets from customers, the problem is much larger as I had to waste for years, as well as Amy Sharpe, a reporter who went undercover into Pret after reading my blog and my suggestion to go undercover to see for herself:

2018-11-25 Amy Sharpe Undercover in Pret

@amylsharpe >>> Undercover Report

amy sharpe waste bag

The Sunday Mirror photo

 

2019-06-06 Food Waste from Fridge to Bin

Link

 

2019-07-22 Food waste

Link

September 2019, Chicago

2019-09-16 Chicago food waste

Link

A recent staff review, also from Chicago, on daily food waste:

2019-08-09 Review Chicago Food Waste

Link

The above are only a few of the photos customers post on social media.

Further in the food donation thread from today:

2019-10-12 @LauraHodges_ Food waste 08

Link

So, here’s the back-story.

I am being asked to remove a Tweet as this won’t look good on whatever is being portrayed to the public in regards to food safety.

I worked for TEN years in Pret, and for most of these 10 years I was a Front of House Team Leader (Floor Leader – FL), which in Pret is like a mini-manager. Team Leaders do the most work and get the blame for anything Managers don’t want to take responsibility for. Health and safety is one of THE responsibilities of Team Leaders. I took that very serious and was known for throwing out products that where of low quality or “off” as instructed by company standards. I was not a favourite of my bosses as I followed instructions while still helping to bring profit.

So, Managers were always in a pickle with me. For one, I did my job extremely well, even under difficult circumstances and in bereavement, helping to raise the profit in each shop I worked at. BUT I also followed standards and didn’t bow to pressure to do dodgy things to avoid waste.

One such incident was when I helped out in a shop that failed in health and safety, having to bring the shop back up to standard. As I was the Team Leader in charge of this shop one Friday evening closing shift, this shop was closed during the weekends. A Team Member was cleaning and closing the kitchen including washing the vegetable for the next business day’s production. Pret has the procedure that once the vegetables are washed with the chlorine solution, it should be used within 2 business days from THE DAY the veg is washed. So, if I wash vegetables today 12th Oct. 2019, the expiry date should be tomorrow 13th October at the end of that business day! In the case of Friday, the veg should be used or discarded on Saturday.

Most shops wash the veg towards closing time at about 5pm, and most if not all veg is used the next day. So, all is in the green. Part of my job as a Team Leader was to sign off the “product labels” for the ingredients. The person who closed the kitchen prepared the label for me to sign AFTER he washed the veg. But I couldn’t sign for the label as the shop was closed over the weekend, meaning the 2 days would be passed by Saturday closing time, and Monday would be the FOURTH day, with the veg being soggy.

I called the Operations Manager (OPs – area manager) as all Managers were in the big quarterly meeting and informed her that I need to waste all the veg as I cannot transfer it out to other 7 day (Mon – Sun) shops, without any vehicle and no Managers around to agree to take the veg for Saturday’s production. The OPs via text just said to me after I asked if I should throw the veg out, she just said: “Do what you know is right”. She tried to get herself out of responsibility by neither telling me to do the right thing by wasting, nor to do the wrong thing to keep the veg.

So, I did what I knew was right according to what I was taught and wasted numerous kilograms of vegetable!

A few days later I saw an email between that OPs and the Food Safety team, sending the email to the area of shops, asking if I did the right thing. I kept the email for my protection, which said that I DID the right thing, as I was constantly being targeted for every little thing to get me to fail (I explain in the audio player at the bottom).

The OPs being insecure, if what I did was right, as it cost a lot of money, asked for confirmation with HQ. And it seems that I again was the only one who followed procedure, whereas most shops extend and stretch products to avoid waste and not be in a clinch with management. And the procedure was changed then for a Team Member to come in earlier on Mondays to wash vegetables.

The Email between the OPs and HQ Food Team (I smudged out the names):

2015-08-11-email-hs-1.jpg

 

What Managers did then, they kept me as the Team Leader doing all the hard work, but never promoted me, as I didn’t want to do the short cuts for their bonus. It’s an open secret that Managers subtly coerce Team Leaders into doing wrong things like stretching products etc. And if getting caught, the Manager is off the hook, and the Team Leader gets fired as they can never prove that the Manager coerced them manipulatively to do dodgy things. And at the same time, Team Leaders should refuse to do short cuts, even if it means they’re never promoted. If a Team Leader does the dodgy things and never gets caught, they are promoted as they do everything requested of them. It always had this little “Mafia” or gang feel to it.

I worked in a dozen Pret shops that were my main shops, and worked in even more stores, helping out for a day or a week. I closed many, many shops for many years! Regarding food waste, when the charity pick-up did not happen or we had no manpower and time to apply the allergen labels for charity; when pick-up did happen, the instruction was always to NOT give out hot food as well as no sushi (raw fish / rice), when Pret stocked sushi. Basically, any high risk foods were to be wasted.

For 10 years, I and my Teams and my Team Leader colleagues were instructed to NOT give out hot food to charity or anyone picking up the food for charity / homeless people.

The reason we were explained is, that due to the temperature fluctuation, the food can go off quicker and wouldn’t be safe for people to eat.

Hot food in Pret is kept (or rather is “supposed” to be kept!) for 2 hours in the hot cabinet. This is for quality purpose as the food becomes dry, stale and hard after 2 hours, as well as not being as hot anymore. But due to under-staffing and pressure to have products on the shelves, staff cheat and “stretch” the hours by marking on the lid an hour or two hours longer. But the food is still in the HOT cabinet.

In this below Tweet from Pret it’s very clearly marked. In this case the porridge lid has 10 o’clock marked, meaning the porridge was prepared at 8am and then marked for 2 hours. But at times a staff member marks a new lid to let’s say 11am or noon, and replaces it, throwing away the earlier lid. This they do if they ran out of porridge/soup etc. to keep products for the Mystery Shopper bonus and to minimize waste.

2014 Soup Lid timed

Link (Side note: Pret’s being sued for the “natural” claim >>> Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat

Hot food being given out AFTER the 2 hour HOT cabinet storage fluctuates the temperature, and this is when it can become tricky with health and safety. The main thing that can happen to people eating a luke-warm or cold soup after it being heated (or rather RE-heated) is they get, in plain language, diarrhea. For a homeless person on the streets, this wouldn’t be very pleasant.

I want to mention as well that the hot food, particularly the soups are re-heated at least once. Pret soups are produced in factories and come ready cooked in bags to the shops. In the shops the bags are then re-heated in water-baths or if in a hurry put into the microwave. This is then the second time the soups are heated. There is NO cooking in pots and pans in Pret kitchens! Sometimes, due to lack of time, lack of staff and lack of soup products, the soups are even heated a THIRD time, even though staff are not allowed to do this!

For example, if a soup bag is still sitting in the hot water-bath unopened at the end of the business day, staff are supposed to WASTE the bag which holds 6 cups of soup. But due to the Manager always pressing to minimize waste for his/her bonus, staff cheat and let the bag cool down and store it back in the fridge for the next day to be heated up AGAIN.

They are not allowed to do this, but it’s an open secret that this keeps happening and it’s only a point of not getting caught. So, potentially soups are heated three times, but for sure always two times. Plus, if a person gets a soup or other hot product from the charity run, they may heat it up as well, for sure for the third time and maybe even fourth time!

Thus, if a person eating the soup gets any health issues, they can never trace back what happened or if the hot food was re-heated multiple times etc. I often got the “evil eye” from my bosses when I threw out unopened soup bags that were left-over in the water bath as I 1. didn’t want any health and safety issues for customers and staff, and 2. it wasn’t worth losing my job for Manager’s bonus by decreasing waste in a dodgy way.

And just today I saw a Tweet to a video of how Panera Bread heats their Mac & Cheese. Panera Bread is also owned by JAB Holdings that bought Pret last year. But this is exactly how the water-baths look like in Pret:

 

One recent review also states clearly that food is not fresh and comes in ready cooked from factories:

2019-06-11 Nightmare Food not fresh stop being evil RVW27190460

Link (Glassdoor incrasingly wants people to log in to see reviews that’s why I do screenshots).

So, I’m being asked to delete a Tweet, as it is supposedly false information. I speak from 10 years in Pret, having seen and witness countless times how food is handled and mishandled! The new “training” Laura Hodges has received may be due to the list of food waste that I’ve posted and that has outraged many people. I know how Pret works, I know their tricks, traps and ways in fooling the public.

My own story I share in below audio player in an interview on a podcast based in California.

I will not delete my Tweet and Ms. Hodges has already re-posted. I will not be silent and hush about what is going on behind the shiny PR[et] facade on various of issues. TWO Pret customers have died, a third nearly fatal incident and numerous ignored warnings on allergen labelling by Pret. I will not be silent nor delete. I also posted about the ongoing issues of mislabelling in Pret: >>> When Vegetarians Eat Ham

Ms. Hodges can feel free to block me. I have no concern about being blocked or reported.

The main issue I write about regarding Pret is the toxic work environment for profit. I almost lost my life and continue to ask for independent investigation into Pret staff suicides.

More here: Why is Pret A Manger not investigated on Staff Deaths / Suicides?

So, MS. Hodges can do with this what she likes, but I will always speak out after TWO customers have died (while I worked at Pret responsible for health and safety, never being told about it!). And Pret only started acting when deaths became public. I will also continue to write from a behind the scenes perspective on staff treatment and the forced happiness staff have to portray for Mystery Shopper cash incentives and to avoid fear management.

Clive Schlee, now former CEO of Pret “retired” with poor scores on Glassdoor & Co. for a reason while remaining as a non-executive Director in the background:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

New CEO, Pano Christou:

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 

Glassdoor Review: “Worked into the ground without empathy”:

 

Incomplete list of questions weekly Mystery Shoppers are tasked to test staff on, no matter how staff feel, if bereaved, depressed, even suicidal:

 


 

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.

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.

Secrets to Great Customer Service

 

How to guarantee a return to the business with vibrant, consistent service and a generous approach.

As recommendations of Pret A Manger customer service has increased lately, with praise for the great staff who with smiles, helpfulness and generosity are impressing customers, after I spilled the beans on why staff are so “happy”, I want to put into one blog entry the secrets for this. Why are staff who earn £8.25 an hour, always seemingly so “happy”, chatty and smiley in a highly intense, noisy, hot and stressful work environment for 8 – 10 hours daily?

In short: Mystery Shopper cash incentives and fear management.

I put a YouTube slide together with some of the questions weekly Mystery Shoppers (MS) are tasked by Pret to test staff on in every shop. In the slide I concentrate on the smiley service.

UPDATE: 28. October 2019

A customer witnessed a bullying incident that usually happens behind closed doors! In this post, scroll down to the screenshots of reviews and Tweets on what many staff experience behind the scenes:

Link: → “Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret A Manger

2019-10-28 Bullying manager seen by customer2


When the MS visit has been successful, all the staff in the shop receive their weekly bonus, which is £1 extra per hour worked that week. BUT, those who are sick that week, even just for one day, and those who come to work late, will not receive the bonus. Many Managers use this for fear management. If a Manager doesn’t like a particular Team Member, and that TM is late even just 5 minutes while usually being on time mostly, the boss cuts their bonus. No mercy. I worked with colleagues who even got their bonus cut when they came to work unshaven. Or I myself was threatened with a bonus cut when I forgot something banal. So, if a staff member received bonus and worked 40 hours that week, they get an extra £40 on top of their wages.

Additionally, if an individual staff member, including the manager do “outstanding” service and impress the MS, for example by giving free coffees or other items, this individual employee can get an extra £100 or even £200 if all the scores are perfect.

I write extensively about the free coffee “myth” in Pret and why many customers never get a free coffee in years, while others receive free items weekly, some even daily:

—>>> Free Coffees in Pret A Manger

Managers receive their bonuses each quarter on a variety of issues like profit, how much/little waste they have, how much they managed to save on labour, cutting hours (Pret under-staffs throughout the board to maximize profit and Manager’s bonus), routine health and safety checks etc.

A Tweet from a customer just today:

2019-10-16 Understaffed

Link

And a few days ago:

2019-10-12 Understaffed

Link

There’s more, but I want to keep it as short as possible.

A recent of the many staff reviews on chronically understaffed shops:

2019-07-02 Toxic chronically understaffed

Link

But the biggest chunk of Managers, upper Managers and regional Leaders bonuses is the Mystery Shopper results. That’s why staff are stressed intensely about this.

I had one Manager take me aside as I was the Team Leader and say to me: “I close my eyes to everything, but not the Mystery Shopper”. Meaning, if I made mistakes or even did dodgy things with health and safety, the cashing up, the Team etc. he would close his eyes and not get me in trouble. But if the Mystery Shopper results were poor, I would get in trouble, as part of Team Leader’s responsibility is to “engage” the Team to always smile etc. Like a cheer-leader. The above YouTube slide shows this clearly.

Not floating my own boat, but I had most of the time excellent MS results and still even kept the MS reports for my protection as one Area Manager targeted me alleging I didn’t engage the Team, while Mystery Shopper after Mystery Shopper and even regular customers said otherwise and constantly commended my Teams. Quite sad that I had to keep those reports for my protection. But for me, even if Pret would have scrapped the Mystery Shopper scheme, I would have still worked the way I worked as I love people and customers pay a lot of money for products.

I did not “push” my colleagues to smile, be friendly etc. I encouraged my Teams, I asked them how they were, I gave them extra breaks if they were exhausted, sick or depressed, I supported them and cared about them. And that reflected on their service and in interacting with each others and the customers. But the general tone in Pret is to “force” staff to smile, at times threatening them with disciplinary and even job loss. I’ve seen, heard and witnessed it all and had to console many many times Team Members crying in the staff room or on their way home.

Only two of the many Mystery Shopper comments below. The MS commented on both individual Staff Members and all the Teams as a whole in our service.

Excerpts from two different Mystery Shopper and shops/team: (Ctrl & + to zoom in)

MS Best Team

 

MS Best

So, shops are tested on if they have a certain amount of selection set for a certain time of the business times, are tested on cleanliness, how the overall atmosphere of the shop is, if the service doesn’t take longer than 1 (one) minute etc.etc. etc.

But the most important thing that shops are tested on is customer service. Are individual and all staff smiling, seem happy, chatty etc. The above YouTube slide goes into detail on this. Pret does not care how staff feel, if they are bereaved, depressed etc. I was traumatically bereaved and was bullied and targeted when the Mystery Shopper commented that I didn’t smile. I did smile most of the time and have that in black and white (sad to say!), but there is no mercy, no empathy as profits are more important.

An excellent article about this I found and commented on: “How Emotional Labour Harms us all” is about the increasing competition in the service industry and how low-wage workers are forced to perform emotional labour and a big hype to create the impression they are so happy in the company.

https://poetrasblok.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/emotional-labour-statesman-article.jpg?w=755&h=421

 

So, people seem to have been “recruited”, even on the Pret USA Twitter feed, to tweet about the smiley and great staff calling them by name and the shop. All these Tweets sound similar and seem to have been organized. It’s also easy to see that they are recruited because hardly anyone responds to my Tweets, so they know about my writings 😀 . But my response is important as new readers find these Tweets who don’t know about Pret’s Mystery Shopper scheme.

These “recruited” Tweets have massively increased since the beginning of October 2019 like I’ve never seen before, since I read Pret Tweets from 2018. These customer Tweets started at about the second week of October 2019, after I increasingly blog and tweet about the Mystery Shopper in Pret. It’s also clear they have been recruited as hardly anyone responds to my Tweets about the Emotional Labour and Mystery Shopper incentives, meaning these people who tweet know about me and my writings.

Also, knowing Pret and how they “respond” indirectly to my writings, they will NOW (compared to before) pass on these Tweets to the shops, so that staff think Pret cares. Pret has lost lots of staff, of course many apply for jobs, but my blog and others is a sore in Pret’s sight. So, the idea is now to encourage staff, which is good, but work conditions remain the same while staff continue to get brain-washed.

Of course it is better that customers go on Twitter & Co to commend staff (many wordings are similar 😀 … come on people, at least make an effort and get more creative!), than to complain about low-wage workers publicly, who in turn cannot defend themselves as they are unaware that they were just negatively called out, even by name on Twitter.

Yet, I respond as a former Team Leader having survived this abuse and fear management, that the reason why staff, some of whom are depressed, even suicidal, seem so happy, is the reality of Mystery Shopper cash incentives and fear management. People need their jobs, have kids to raise and Uni tuition to pay. And the staff reviews on Glassdoor and Co including YouTube, Twitter etc. give a grim reality how depressing it is to work like this.

One such review is THE most poignant report on behind the scenes in Pret. It’s from a kitchen worker who also had to jump in to do customer service with fake smiles, as shops are always understaffed.

The review is the one that starts with the large red letters in below slide show:
“This job can annihilate every piece of humanity inside of you.”
and ends:
“You will lose everything that makes you human.”

Direct Link to the Indeed review.

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

So, dear Pret Customer, if you have been recruited to leave recommendations of Pret staff or not, only you know, but I am writing to make people aware of WHY low-paid employees in a high intense, stressful work environment, with often bullying managers (NEW incident caught by customer), smile so much against their true emotions. I was recommended many many times by customers and Mystery Shoppers on my professional, friendly, generous and smiley service. But no-one knew that at times I left my shift headed for the bridge. My story is in the below audio player in an interview on a podcast based in California. 

There’s a reason why CEO Clive Schlee “retired” with such poor scores on Glassdoor & Co and the general Pret staff scores, as staff dare to speak out anonymous more than on the often rigged annual Pret questionnaires.

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 

A collection of writings on Emotional Labour with links to articles:
The Dangers of Emotional Labour

I continue to ask for independent investigation into Pret staff suicides.

 


 

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.

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.

OH the Americans, I love the Americans!

 

»This isn’t a company/business it’s a shit show!«

I haven’t looked at, nor updated my blog of new reviews on Glassdoor and Indeed for a while, but just yesterday a new review on Glasdoor made my day!

I will in time try to do an extra blog post on American reviews on Pret A Manger, because Americans are very blunt with their anger, and very passionate about what’s right and wrong! I am proud of these my former colleagues!

There’s also a new review on Indeed from an U.S. staff, mentioning that Pret is constantly being sued.

What this American reviewer doesn’t realize is, that in the UK people don’t sue as easily, because the legal system is a joke here. Even if you win after having been injured so badly, you’ll get peanuts and are left with a high bill!

TWO customers DIED from Pret products, and NOTHING happens, no-one is taken to responsibility, while now former CEO Clive Schlee sneaks out the back door, passing the buck to the new CEO Pano Christou (who came from McDonald’s management) on Glassdoor already in July 2019. Yet, even though Schlee’s retirement was set for September 2019, he quickly passed the buck to Christou! #coward

And yet, Christou will continue on the same lines, exploiting low-wage workers under private equity.

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

2019-09-27 Pano 39 27

 

Yes, sure, while in the U.S. people sue for every peep and poop, and it’s a little over the top, in Europe we let companies sh!t on us, and then we rejoice when getting a free coffee!

Yesterday’s Glassdoor review that needs no more comments:

2019-09-27 Shitshow Review USA

An “Everything” employee, sounds like they worked in all areas which many hard workers do

 

2019-09-26 WOrst place always getting sued

Constantly getting sued … out of date products

 

 


 

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 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.

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.

Bullies with Wings

 

In 2016 before I openly exposed Pret A Manger, I wrote a blog entry on another website on a bullying incidence I witnessed, but couldn’t do anything about.

I re-posted it on here last year: Picking on Cannibals.

In a nutshell, I came across a bleeding pigeon on a pavement in London on the many walks I do. Around this injured pigeon were other healthy pigeons literally “picking” on the injured one. I realized naively that this is where the term “picking on someone” comes from! Dah! I chased the pigeons away, and stayed put for a while just watching over the bird on the pavement. I explain in above blog post why I couldn’t help. But I vouched that I won’t walk away again.

Today on my usual walk I took a different route than usual and found this goose standing alone under a roof. It just stood there looking at me. I’m not a bird expert, not certainly in goose, but it was odd that this fellow was just standing there alone.

When I came closer I saw it had no feathers on both wings, and under the wings were more feathers missing as well as on the neck. On the other side of the property, the front side by the main road, were other healthy fat geese and some chickens, which I always see when walking by on the road. But this time I took the other road from the back.

I took some pictures and went to the vet that I know who lives nearby. He confirmed that it looked like this goose was picked upon by the other stronger geese.

I went home, contacted the animal rescue place via email, as the phone line was closed for the day. Then I went back with bread and water, and this goose literally drank the water for 5 minutes straight! I just recorded about 3 minutes of it as I missed the first part.

But it is a metaphor of a bullying situation, and how this critter had to hide under this lonely roof, away from his “peers”, his “race”, his “brand” that had no other thing to do than to pick on this goose because it was weaker, maybe?

I sure hope it will be there tomorrow, and I sure hope the animal rescue people bother enough to come by. But the owners surely don’t care. Any animal owner or farmer who loves their animals ALWAYS know EVERY SINGLE animal in their flock, some even know ever animal by name. But for this little one to be left aside, beaten and ripped apart, means the humans who own this property and flock, don’t give a shit!

What’s the message here, apart from jumping in to help? Maybe just to take a different route from time to time on your usual walks or rides to work. You’ll never know what you’ll find at the back.

I call this goose “Pret”, because it’s a pretty little one, and it reminds of the broken wings Pret leaves on many of their workers, not realizing how much they break their own wings!

So, pray or cross your fingers that little “Pret” is still there tomorrow, and that the animal rescue people care enough to get it out of there. I don’t want to have to climb over the fence, please.

IMG-20190925-00770

 

IMG-20190925-00773

 

IMG-20190925-00776

 

IMG-20190925-00775

It’s hard to see here, but under the roof thing on the other side of this picture are the other fat geese and chickens. Little “Pret” is just hiding from them, not having access to food and water.

 

IMG-20190925-00778

 

IMG-20190925-00779

 

I put the tub inside, poured water from a bottle and the goose drank for 5 minutes straight! I just captured about 3 minutes of it! It even dunk some bread into the water which I didn’t capture, but it had a little feast today.

Turn up the volume to hear the fella drink.

All you Vegans and Veggies out there, please think about humans as well, those who left their home countries of high unemployment in hopes for a better life, but find themselves exploited yet again.

Reality behind the scenes of Pret A Manger:

And why Pret staff smile so much:

 

2019-09-30 Pano 38 26

Glassdoor.com scores for CEOs and Pret.

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 


 

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 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.

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.

Smile, Fool!

 

Pret A Manger’s new fool can’t smile enough, it seems!

Clive Schlee, since September 2019 former CEO of Pret A Manger, has passed the buck to Pano Christou on Glassdoor in July 2019 already. Christou is the former UK Managing Director, and since JAB purchased Pret, the new role of COO was then filled by Christou. Before Chirstou took over as UK Managing Director in 2012, Andrew Walker filled this role before leaving Pret and via several companies became the CEO of EAT., which is now purchased by JAB via Pret. The official take-over of Christou as the new CEO of Pret was announced on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted to the press about Schlee’s retirement. Christou’s take-over was announced for now September 2019, but Schlee being who he is, not taking responsibility, he let Christou take over on Glassdoor in July to avoid further poor scoring for Mr. Schlee.

Now there’s a proper smile!

2019-09-20 Schlee retirement final announcement

Link to Tweet

 

A customer pointing out the poor scoring when the first official announcement was made after I tweeted to the press:

2019-07-01 Tweeter re Glassdoor

Link

So, Schlee quickly let Christou take over on Glassdoor!

July 2019 Glassdoor score:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

2019-07-15 Pano Christou CEO

 

So, what’s up CEOs? Your annual internal questionnaire for staff to fill in their reviews on Pret is often tweaked by shop managers to win prices, making Pret look good. But it doesn’t work on real review sites, where bullied staff tell it like it is!

Staff dare to speak out anonymously, and more will speak out openly soon.

I am proud to inspire former and current Pret workers to speak out in any way they are ready to speak out.

And I will not give up until there are independent investigations into staff suicides!

—> Why is Pret not Investigated on Staff Suicides?

For any new reader, why am I writing this?

If you are interested, my website is filled with my and others’ story. But in a nutshell, I’ve put together into a few minutes on YouTube the emotional labour that staff are forced to work under, no matter if bereaved, depressed, sick etc.:

 

»Any damn fool can run Pret.«

— Wife of Clive Schlee, former CEO of Pret A Manger

 

Smile, Fool!

2019-09-2019 Pano 39 27

Glassdoor

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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 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.

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 has a New Fool

 

organic-coffin-natural-fools-1.jpg

 

»Any damn fool can run Pret!«

Oh no, those are not my words!

Those are the words of the wife of Pret A Manger’s now former CEO Clive Schlee, who “retired” in September 2019!

On the question of Pret’s success and how much of it was luck or hard work, the CEO responds:

»We had some very good following winds. My wife always would say ‘any damn fool can run Pret‘.«

I comment on this interview in “Clive Schlee: A Case Study (of the Fun Factory)”

Why would the wife of a CEO keep saying this, what’s the conversation before such a statement?

Let the sweet-talk stop and let the women speak for a change! For real change!

Clive Wife

From a 2016 Guardian interview

On a side note, Clive Schlee here continues to say that Pret had “natural” food, even though Pret has been successfully sued for having Glyphosate in the food and having to take the word “natural” off signage and labelling. I write about this in “Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat“.

But this interview is full of @&%!… I can’t believe he keeps getting away with it, and I ask myself what does it take to face the truth away from the delusion?!

The problem with companies that have fools running it is, they may endanger their clients and employees lives. God forbid customers number 1. die, number 2. the company doesn’t do anything until these fatalities become public, and 3. get away with it!

And God forbid that this company gets away with not one, but two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal and numerous hospitalized …

And God forbid even further that staff struggle and suffer, some dying, even by suicide.

And of course who would think that a CEO would sneak out quietly into early retirement, remaining a non-executive Director in the background, working on fixing his reputation with some more charity work and finally reaching out to low-paid workers?

What company would have a fool running its business and ruining a lot of people’s lives?

Good thing the facade of Pret is still in tact! Let the free coffees flow to put the public back to sleep!

That’s all that counts these days.

So, »any damn fool can run Pret!«, and certainly any damn fool can ruin it!

Legacy of a Fool: 

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019

One of my many articles about and to Clive Schlee, one of which I dedicate to his farewell gift:

Foot-In-Mouth Disease at Pret A Manger

So, welcome Pano Christou about whom I write about in: Under New Management Pano Christou, Now CEO of Pret.

UPDATE: October 2019:

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

And here’s my welcome gift to Pano Christou:
(Smile Pano! Smile, fool!)

 

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

LINK: TWO Pret Staff have died
1 is said to be a suicide.
It’s not the first suicide in Pret!

I continue to ask for INDEPENDENT investigations into staff 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 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.

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.

Rat A Manger & Pret A Mouse

 

Two new businesses Pret A Manger adds to their empire after the Veggie Pret take over of EAT.

So, the recent Rat sighting on 6th September 2019 in a Soho Pret Branch has everyone on their chairs, not realizing this is just a visual of a bigger problem.

Rat

Daily Mail Video Link

 

These are just videos and photos some people took and posted. The problem is much bigger!

I worked in mice infested Pret shops and asked to be transferred to a clean shop, as Pret didn’t tackle the problem UNTIL an EHO closed down a shop due to pest infestation.

Pret only reacts when their pockets are squeezed.

 

Pret Mouse (2)

This picture is from a shop I worked at where a mouse built their house inside a Bloomer bread loaf. In one shop where Pret kept ignoring our plea to close down to clean up the place, the mice were so bold, they didn’t just come out at night when it’s dark and quiet, no, they strolled along under the coffee counter even during the busy and noisy coffee rush! It was ridiculous and like a Tom & Jerry clip how blunt the mice were. They were taking the Micky Mouse! I asked for a transfer.

I learned a lot about mice then. Their favourite Pret products are: seeded bloomer bread (above picture) which Pret uses for Toasties, but they settle for the Granary bread as well.
Seeded High Fiber muffin, but they don’t touch the Blueberry muffin, so, dear customer you can still enjoy.
Popcorn. Oh, do mice love popcorn!!! The amount of opened, nibbled on popcorn bags we had to waste I can’t count! Some customers even put a popcorn bag on the counter saying “Oh, this is already open!” And we staff blushed and apologized for this mishap, knowing exactly “who” was responsible for opening it! I wanted to SCREAM to the customer:
“WE HAVE MICE BUT PRET ISN’T DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!!!!!!”

So, as usual, it took an Environmental Health Officer from the Government to do a routine check, and close down a shop having found mice droppings all over the place.

If you ever pass by a Pret shop and they are closed in the middle of the morning or day with a sign saying something like, “For technical/internal reasons/issues…closed…” Then take a good look inside, and if you see the team frantically cleaning and moving furniture around, you may have gotten yourself a little pest issue in there.

And since the EHO closed a shop in 2011/12, Pret then FINALLY got an outside Pest Control company to do checks once there is a sighting of droppings or pests. But it took a shop closure. Before, I had more mice as colleagues than humans in two shops!

A Manager review from London in 2014 about mice droppings (poo) and advising people not to eat at Pret. This is AFTER an EHO closed down a Pret shop 2+ years before. Pret is never on top of their game, they always just play catch-up when it’s too late. The manager here points out the SPEED that is always at the center of work.

Pest Review

Link

A review from January 2019: “dirty place”

Dirty

Link

Another one from the U.S.

dirty2

Link

And a very recent review on poor hygiene due to time pressure:

Poor Hygiene

Link

I’ve put a video slide together on YouTube about the speed and time pressure staff are subjected to for £8.25 an hour. The weekly Mystery Shopper is tasked to probe staff on speed, smiles, eye contact, chit chat. Staff have to serve within 1 minute to get as much customer flow = £££ through the shops. If even just ONE staff member fails on any of the tasks they’re tested on they risk losing bonus for the WHOLE team and then get fear managed. I explain on YouTube WHY this is a problem, especially for health and safety of staff’s mental health and customers lives.

Smile for the “Misery” Shopper:

 

UPDATE: November 2019 – SEVEN mice where counted running around:

2019-11-07 Mice filmed in Pret TrafSq

Photo via The Mirror / video by David Nassim on Mirror.co.uk

This video where the mice run around openly because the shop is closed, but the shop where the mice strolled along under the coffee counter during busy coffee rush, it looked like this, just that the mice where more walking along the wall, not through the middle of the shop between customers:

(Forgive the language in the video…no I don’t mean the F & Sh word, I mean how he pronounces “Pret A Manger”! 😀 )

 

Here’s a rat in a Soho branch recently again, after another customer already posted a video of a mouse in a Soho branch in August 2019.

A video Tweet of a RAT via the Daily Mail in September 2019

Video Tweet ALSO of a Soho branch of a MOUSE in August 2019

Video of a MOUSE in Veggie Pret London

2 videos of a MICE infested Pret shop in New York. I love the commentator: “Pret A Manger, Good, Natural Mice”!

St. Pancras station, a customer sighted a MOUSE.

2016 Tweet of little Jerry chillin’

Pret Mouse 2016

 

UPDATE 19. September 2019

2019-09-19 Mice again

2019-09-19 Mice again3

Link to Tweet St. Martin’s Lane, off Leicester Square area 18. Sep. 2019

 

And many other Tweets but without videos/photos. Of course the problem is much bigger.

Pret didn’t do ANYTHING even after TWO customers died until it became public! You are kidding yourselves if you think they really proactively tackle pest issues, even now. The CEO Clive Schlee sneaks out the back door but remains as a non-executive director in the background! Getting away with customer deaths, injuries, ignored warnings, staff suicides not investigated yet……

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor

UPDATE:

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 

Las Vegas

New York review about senior management

 

HQ IT Analyst

London HQ review about senior management

 

The reality of the happy factory behind the shiny PR[et] facade. The cats that made Pret wealthy, but are stepped upon like worms. The reason why staff, who get exploited for £8.25 an hour, are unable to tackle the pest problems as well as labelling, cross contamination and allergen issues…

Arrow

 

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The above slideshow & YouTube 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 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.

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.

Lila Warren, David Carter, Clive Schlee

 

Lila Warren (the lady with a typical Pret A Manger smile) is the Development Manager at Pret A Manger for more than 15 years, and branched out into her dream role as a Therapist. She’s a Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner and Psychotherapist.

But in Pret, she was happy to be used as bereaved person to gaslight me. And she played her role well.

She either is a really good liar, or she really had a brother named Zain, who was dead in his flat for 10 days, like my brother was dead in his flat for 6 days. (Full story in below audio player).

I don’t know what this woman went through in her life to have gone down to such abyss!

I wish her well, but I will always tell people to avoid her “therapy”.

I raised a complaint with the National Hypnotherapy Society she is subscribed to and that equally have such big smiles on their front page, but they remained silent in the hopes I let go. And I did let go, because I had no strength left.

But I can only say, stay away from the National Hypnotherapy Society (Twitter) and from Lila Tighilt Warren.

Stay away from David Carter, who in my time was the Head of HR and is now promoted to UK People Director which is just another facade word for Human Resources. He is not for people, he is for money, protecting a bully company.

Stay away from Nick Davis, People Business Partner who came from Wetherspoon and who was THE main enabler in HR of the Area Manager who bullied and targeted me, using several managers and colleagues against me.

david carter nick davis

LinkedIn

Stay away from these smiley, nice looking folk who are toxic behind their facade.

Stay away from Clive Schlee, who uses vulnerable people for PR.

HQ IT Analyst

London HQ review Glassdoor

 

Las Vegas

New York review on senior leadership Glassdoor

 

Stay away from Pret A Manger that kill people and get away with it, as well as target and bully bereaved employees. Staff suicides still need to be investigated.

Lila Warren, I forgive you of course, but don’t ever cross my path, I will call you out on the rooftops “sweetheart”!

You guys “up there” tried to convert me to your level?

No, my people are on my level, and they are stronger than you. They don’t run away. You will face them, and what @__PAMSU__ started in 2012, I continue and others will soon grow to a proper confrontation with the Unions! There are more, be it the group preth8ers or all the others in the background.

What happened to me can be summed up in the following I found on Twitter. And it took the senior leadership of Pret, HR and HQ to “work” me out of the company in such a perverse way:

Bullying Summed Up Nutshell.jpg

Link

I do move on while I expose this toxic company!

Now “retired” CEO Clive Schlee, who couldn’t label food to save lives, labelled me his “late night girl”. He quickly passed the buck on Glassdoor to his predecessor Pano Christou, who came from McDonald’s management when he started at Pret. Schlee let Christou take over on Glassdoor mid July 2019, even though Schlee retires in September 2019 and remains in the background as a non-executive Director like he is in itsu.

Never take responsibility Mr. Schlee, hey? Always pass the buck!

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

Glassdoor results

UPDATE

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 

Staff speak out mainly in anonymity:

Arrow

Arrow

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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 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.

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.

Foot-in-Mouth Disease @ Pret A Manger

Arrow

(This is an x-ray of my left middle finger after an accident at work.
I wanted to use this picture, but am still waiting for permission to use,
but maybe I will leave my finger here. More fitting for Pret!)

 

foot-in-mouth disease
n. the tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

foot-in-mouth disease
The knack of always saying the wrong thing. The expression is both a verbal play on the foot-and-mouth disease that affects livestock and on the expression “to put one’s foot in one’s mouth,” meaning to make a verbal blunder. The latter dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The current cliché is much newer, dating from the mid-twentieth century.

TheFreeDictionary.com

 

At least Three Feet in One Mouth

 

I’m sure Clive Schlee, exiting (certainly not exciting!) CEO of Pret A Manger has been advised to lay low, and not spill the beans prematurely regarding internal things on Twitter & Co.

He gives himself away every opportunity he has, it seems. He certainly didn’t expect that his patronizing way in talking to me would end up with a “dot org” behind it.

For any new reader asking what happened? In short, Clive Schlee, pretending that my traumatic late night emailing to Pret was wrong (I also emailed tons of other people), he put his foot in his mouth, belittling me by introducing me to the Director of HR, Andrea Wareham in October 2017 as his “late night girl”. Two months later under his watch I was dismissed while my dad was in hospital, just out of a coma. My full story about this is in the interview audio player at the bottom of this page.

When I started this website, I started it as LateNightGirl.org, which still functions under this handle. Since then I have been writing about, and confronting Pret and Clive Schlee openly. I have “caught” them many times in their clumsiness on Twitter. And I use their “foot-in-mouth disease” to show the public how unprofessional, patronizing and non-caring they really are.

I write so blunt because I almost lost my life and witnessed too many times how Pret names and shames managers via emails to all shops when they fail. I keep asking for independent investigations into staff suicides. I also write extensively about the systemic bullying environment in Pret, something most in the public are surprised and shocked to hear about. Don’t be, if you live long enough, you will come to know that if something looks too good to be true, to better take a closer look. Two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal allergy reaction, several hospitalized and numerous warnings on allergen labels ignored, even after the deaths occurred. This should ring massive alarm bells! But here we are again, as long as it doesn’t affect us or our loved ones, we keep believing the fairy tale that is Pret A Manger, and our lives revolve around the free coffee and cookie marketing carrot.

 

Illusion

 

For a comprehensive list of issues in Pret that I experienced, observed, researched and gathered, please visit The Most Comprehensive Website on Pret A Manger.

 


 

So, where does Mr. Schlee put his foot in his mouth?

#One of the many opportunities he takes to spill the beans on things, is a little more hidden revelation he never expected to be caught out on. On his Pret blog on the former homeless employees, they call the “Rising Stars” they came up with the idea for the “Rising Stars” to solely run an entire shop by themselves, from the General Manager (GM) to the newest recruit. It all sounds so well, yet it is a dead give-away how the Pret Foundation is more a marketing tool than anything.

Clive Schlee writes:
“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.”

Again: “Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”

Leaving them too exposed for what?

And why being careful to integrate former homeless people into regular shop teams? (Short-term homeless and mainly young people mind you!)

Too exposed for this, Mr. Schlee?

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Some people in the public aren’t impressed and take a closer look:

2019-01-02 re Rising Stars too few2

 

Why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12K staff
Not impressed with only 450 “Rising Stars” having come through the program in 10 years, with 12K employees! Georgia Greenfield couldn’t be fooled either. Why so few? Because it only takes a handful of people or things to blow up a bigger picture than it actually is. It’s like advertising 5 cheap airline seats and winning hundreds of customers buying flights, as they assume many or all seats of that flight are cheap. The seats go fast and once a person goes online to book that seat, it’s gone and they find another flight just a bit more expensive.

 


 

#Two

It’s always good to have a second foot to put in one’s mouth. This one still gives me the chuckles. I wrote an extra blog post on the Timing of the £1000 announcement that Schlee made on Twitter. But in a nutshell, to this day 01. September 2019 the 29. May 2018 is the most visited day on my blog that I can see in my website statistics. Late in the evening on the 28. May 2018 I sent a link of my blog here to an Operations / Area Manager (OPs) I used to work under. I know this OPs to not keep secrets very well. Up until the 28. May 2018 my website was visited 3, 5 or even 10 times a day, sometimes even zero visitors.

I woke up on 29. May 2018 after having sent a link to the OPs late on 28. May 2018, and my website exploded into a three-digit number even before noon.

BEST views ever 29May2018

That day, early morning on 29. May 2018, Clive Schlee made the £1000 announcement for all staff on Twitter.

In October 2018 staff were still waiting for it to “moneyfest” (sorry had to!), and in August already started to get adjudicated, wondering if it was all a joke.

2018-09-16 WorshipBroccoli £1000

 

2018-09-19 Meme USA

 

2018-09-24 Kevin Pavain re £1000

 

2018-09-28 Meme People Team

 

2018-09-15 Staff Twitter Complaint £1000

 

Only few people at least saw through this PR stunt:

2018-05-29 Ann Donovan sees thru PR

 

2018-05-30 £1000 PR Union

 

Of course the money, which after tax came to £800, was finally paid out to staff who work(ed) longer than a year at Pret. But the announcement was made prematurely, once Clive Schlee and Pret became aware of my blog, quickly trying to win the public and staff over with a little PR carrot.

Fasting forward to July 2019, the bribe didn’t really convince staff after all, but I’m delighted to having pressed Clive Schlee’s panic button, but feel sorry for the staff who had to wait so long.

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

Being careful to integrate the “Rising Stars” into regular shops makes sense as Clive Schlee and the now new CEO Pano Christou not only are aware of work conditions, but set the tone for profit and the share holders / owners. I call the staff from the regular shops who mainly dare to speak out anonymously, the “Fallen Stars”. And no former homeless person or anyone with a difficult past or mental health condition, would last long in a “regular” shop. It would give Pret a bad name if a “Rising Star” was catapulted back on the streets after having suffered what these “Fallen Stars” suffer on a daily basis and what I have survived during bereavement:

 


 

#Three

This one gives me a feeling of anger at all the fear management Pret hurls at hard working people with the anxiety I have suffered under them, and then Clive Schlee being so careless, clumsy and seemingly narcissistic in his communication. They are not as scary after all! It also gives me a sense of almost feeling sorry for him. But I have no “pity” nor empathy for this millionaire under whose “leadership” two customers died, staff suffer and suicides still need to be investigated.

On 30. June 2019 I saw a little, quiet tweet to Clive Schlee and his response:

2019-07-01 quiet retirement

 

An unassuming tweet about Schlee’s retirement, yet no official announcement made. Not thinking before he writes or speaks, Clive Schlee responds:

2019-07-01 Retirement Clive

 

On 29. June a very concerned customer tweeted to Schlee about hellish work conditions in a shop where the air conditioning was broken and still not fixed. But the CEO did not respond. He only found time and care to respond to his (still unannounced) retirement:

2019-06-30 AC

 

Early on 01. July 2019 I tweeted the news of Schlee’s retirement to the press after I wrote a blog entry on his legacy. After confirmation from HQ the press then broke the news all over. But I had to tweet to the press again as everyone was fast asleep!

2019-07-01 ExPret tweet to the press retirement

 

Only then did Clive Schlee as well as Pret make an official announcement of his retirement AND Schlee finally replied to the 29. June 2019 concern of the broken AC:

Schlee AC

(A long list of other customer tweets regarding broken air conditioning in many shops for prolonged time I listed here: Overheated Shops / Work Conditions)

Schlee’s response tweet to the well-wisher on his retirement went completely over the heads of the press, except after I tweeted them.

Also on the 01. July 2019 after I posted new blog entries on Pret’s leadership and linked to the new CEO Pano Christou’s Twitter, he deleted his Twitter account @christoupano

But weirdly that day I made a screenshot as Mr. Christou blocked me, while Pret and Schlee didn’t. I am not blocked by Pret and Schlee as they collect my Tweets for a potential court case in the future. Christou who of course is different to Schlee, will most likely steer away from having an online presence as the new CEO. Smart move!

2019-07-01-coo-pano-christou-twitter.jpg

 

Pano Block

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter DELETED

¯\_()_/¯

 


 

Having run out feet, we can always continue after taking one foot out via the PR machine, and then put it right back in again! There are more issues where Clive Schlee spilled the beans on things, but they are not as interesting to mention here…

In mid July 2019 Clive Schlee has been quickly replaced by Pano Christou on Glassdoor, to avoid further poor results, even though the announcement was that Schlee retires in September 2019. But a customer pointing out the poor results, again only to protect their own skin does Pret under Schlee respond fast! Forget labelling products to safe lives, only label when customer deaths become public, but be fast to make £1000 announcements and disappear from Glassdoor to avoid further cracks in the facade.

Too late.

And Christou, having come from McDonald’s management and learned under Schlee, he won’t put his foot in his mouth, but he will continue in the same way to maximize profit. Low-wage employees will continue to struggle and the Unions will continue to get them unionized.

 

2019-07-01 Tweeter re Glassdoor

 

2019-08-29 Pano 42 33

 

 


 

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 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.

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.

Worked Into The Ground @ Pret A Manger

 

 


 

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 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.

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.

The Sequel – HOUNDED! 2.0

 

hounded; hounding; hounds

Definition of hound

transitive verb

1 : to pursue with or as if with hounds
2 : to drive or affect by persistent harassing

Merriam-Webster.com

2019-06-28 NY Hounded

Link

June 2019 New York … »Try your best not to work there … Bad management, Always being “hounded”.«

 

 

2015-03-24 TM - If you want to work in a happy env - RVW6182241

Link  »Being bullied Total disregard for health and safety Being made to feel incompetent Worked into the ground without empathy«

 

2015-09-01 TM - WORST Job - RVW7802756

Link … »I am with anxiety all the time, working in a tiny kitchen in a HORRIBLE atmosphere!!«

 

2014-02-11 GM - Great Company in Risk of Ruin Bullie Out - RVW3683526

Link … Former Manager: »Please get the bullies out …«

 

2012 Ex GM ExGM Ex-GM

Link Former Manager

 

2019-04-21 Harrassment

Link »Bad management, non ethical HR, slavistic management …«

Current CEO Clive Schlee “retired” in September 2019 while remaining as a non-executive Director in the background. He quickly got his follower, new CEO Pano Christou to take over on Glassdoor in July already to avoid further poor results. I write extensively about Pret’s CEO, how his “retirement” got communicated by him and Pret AFTER I tweeted to the press, and why the business world needs an “anti-CEO Playbook”:
CEOs and Leaderhsip (Pret A Manger)

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

38 26 Header

HOUNDED! 1.0

 

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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 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.

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.

Women and Emotional Labour

 

At first glance this may look like an article about the “emotional labour” in relationships and families. But this will not be anything in the direction of women multi-tasking, caring, “juggling” all the responsibilities and keeping their men happy. This is about emotional labour in the service industry.

I have commented on several articles about emotional labour and written my own experience with Pret A Manger. I list a collection of articles in The Dangers of Emotional Labour with the emphasis of my own and ex-colleagues experiences.

One of the articles that covers the “extreme” emotional labour Pret A Manger expects is an essay I found on academic-master.com “The Enforced Happiness of the Pret A Manger Employee“. Unlike the other articles I found, the author quotes from International Labour Review “that the females will be given preference for interactive services because of their expertise in managing emotions.”

This reminded me again on how Pret used a majority of women against me in grievance hearings, which I explain in “Pret A Mathematics – 10 Hearings – 20 People – 17 Women – 3 Men”. All these women, in leadership roles, were used to manipulate and gaslight me. Where especially the male bullies failed to mob me out of the company with their open aggression, Pret used females to do the “job” in a subtle way, with the ultimate perversion of using a female Development Manager from Head Office, who supposedly had the same loss as I had! My full story with Pret is at the bottom of this page in an interview in the audio player.

 

Quote from the Academic Master article:
“Another impact of emotional labour in the retail industry that is mentioned in the given case study is that the females will be given preference for interactive services because of their expertise in managing emotions. It will result in the dominance of women in the service economy.

Women show higher sensitivity and politeness in their speech. Their conversational style has been categorised as cooperative, unlike man whose conversational style has been classified as competitive, assertive and direct. These traits of female language play an important role in emotional labour.

Moreover, unlike men, women are taught to conform and compromise for the happiness of the other from their childhood (CLAES, 1999).”

 

This in itself can fill books, but I remember one particular manager in Pret who would task young, often blonde, female Team Members working on the shop floor greeting customers. The rest of the Team would make jokes about the manager’s preference of who’s going to be the FO (Floor Organizer) during lunch time.

The advertisement industry use mainly women to sell their product. Sexual images, that don’t make any sense in regards to the products, are used for ads, women’s (soothing) voices are recorded for public transport announcements, women’s hands, smiles etc. etc.

One funny but ridiculous ad that Pret did on social media is from December 2018, when Pret advertised the gingerbread man, using a female hand with very unappetizing finger nails. Again, like in other situations, I pointed this out and Pret photo-shopped the image and re-posted a few weeks later. But it shows the lack of professionalism and efficiency of this company.

10. December 2018 lack of manicure, this photo literally turned my stomach!

Melvin Fingernails OLD

Link to my Tweet

 

21. December 2018 photo-shopped version:

Melvin Fingernails NEW

Link to Tweet

A more recent ad isn’t the best manicure either, but I won’t waste more space on this here.

But the fact that women are preferred for emotional labour in the service industry and are sooner reprimanded when they don’t live up to expectations, also shows in many of the customer complaints on Twitter. I don’t have a list here, but the majority of complaints about poor customer service mainly mentions female staff members compared to male servers.

It is particularly unfair when customers mention the names of staff publicly on social media, at times using foul language. It shows what Sophie McBain writes in her article about the harm of emotional labour, “Workers are put at high risk of anxiety and burnout, while consumers are emboldened to behave aggressively.”

I remember many times when customers rebuked us and even cussed at us, and our managers wouldn’t stand up for our protection. Instead, they apologized to the rude customers and gave free coffees to avoid complaints, as Pret does not protect their staff for the sake of profit.

So, being female and having survived this abuse of emotional labour during the darkest time of my life, I have experienced the truth of the saying that “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger”.

Having worked with suppressed emotions, holding back tears with the loss of my brother and all the trauma I have survived; having smiled while giving my sweat, blood and tears in a company that isn’t worth the dirt under my soles, I turn this emotional labour around with my honest anger and unashamed exposing of a company that is toxic and hurtful to people’s mental and physical health, and plainly dangerous to their very lives!

I’m still doing emotional labour, but this time on my terms!

Pret A Manger has underestimated the power of females.

Clive Schlee, having refused to listen to customer warnings to label his products to save lives, has underestimated a woman he labelled his “late night girl”.

 

 

TWO Pret staff have died within a month, 1 is said to be a suicide.
It is not the first suicide in Pret!
>>>
Why is Pret A Manger not being investigated on Staff deaths?

 


 

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 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.

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.

Greed is a Thief

 

it’s not what Emily said

 

She said grief is a thief

and she declared it tongueless

 

I say no to this

because it’s a refusal to love those

who went before us

a little bit too early

 

They just went

without our permission

and they stole away

quietly

 

Grief is no thief

it just buries you

 

Greed is a thief!

 

Dear Thieves Schlee & Co,

 

 


 

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 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.

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.

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Pret A Manger Worker

 

And the emotional, mental, physical and financial cost to staff.

The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile

 

Timothy Noah Quote Emotional Labor

 

LINK to Emotional Labour article

Upfront, Pret staff will NEVER spill the beans on why they are so cheery! They remain professional because they fall for the Pret trap like everyone. They only out themselves anonymous on review websites, YouTube etc., further below. Just very few speak out publicly. Even during the darkest period in grief and being bullied, I NEVER EVER even hinted to a customer what was going on! I was complemented on my professional service, smile, giving free coffees, and no-one knew that after my shift I went to the bridge at times.

Here is the short version in a nutshell why ALL (most) staff members EVERYWHERE in Pret are ALWAYS so smiley, cheery, friendly and helpful. No matter how busy and stressful it is.

The magic word: Mystery Shoppers

Mystery Shoppers (MS) are tasked to probe into a list of things every week in every shop, like if there is an adequate amount of selection during certain times, or if the shop incl. toilets are clean and so on. The most important thing the MS have to probe is customer service. I call them the “Misery” Shopper because many times they were so micromanaging pointing out the smallest stain on a table or a smudge on the window!

For Team Members there are two “motivating” factors for the smiley customer service:

  1. Cash incentives. Overall bonus for the whole shop team which is £1 per hour worked. So if a Team Member (TM) worked 40 hours that week, they will get an additional £40 on top of their contracted wage for that week, provided the MS report was all in the green area and then gave the bonus to the whole team. Managers’ bonuses are given quarterly. But a TM can individually also earn extra cash on top of the bonus (or even if the bonus for the whole team was lost).
    This is called an “Outstanding Card” (OC) which is £50 extra if the MS is super happy with a particular TM or even General Manager (GM), Assistant Manager (AM) etc. Meaning, if the TM “kissed butt” especially hard, gave a freebie etc. they can earn that extra cash on top of their wages and team bonus. If the report is 100% perfect scores and the MS awards an OC to a staff member, that TM earns double = £100. So, that one staff member gets their weekly wages, the weekly bonus PLUS the extra £50 or £100 cash. £50 OC (Outstanding Card) or £100 SOC (Super Outstanding Card).
    Side note: An Outstanding Card is not literally a card, it’s just a name for the extra cash award. There are no cards given, “just” the money. So, when a TM is EXTRA SPECIAL nice, it is often (not always!) that they assumed they’re serving the Mystery Shopper!
  2. Fear Management. If any TM or several of the Team messes up in any way resulting in bonus being lost for the whole team incl. GM (bonus not awarded by the MS), the angry manager will have a word with them. Depending what the bonus was lost on, this often is done in subtle or direct fear management where staff are made to fear for their job or position.

 

2018-01-23 Outstanding Card

Link The reason why she got the Outstanding Card and with it the extra £50, or £100 if the shop had perfect scores, is the white writing on the red background. The Mystery Shopper rewarded this TM for this reason, quote:
“I noticed that the avocado in the remaining veggie box salads were brown and I asked if there were any fresher ones. The team member said she would ask the kitchen to make me a fresh one. She telephoned them and said if it was okay she would take the veggie box to the kitchen and they would replace the avocado for me.”

Other times a TM gives a free coffee to the Mystery Shopper but does NOT get an Outstanding Card. It is completely up to the MS what blows them away and what not.

 

And here comes the long version.

I cover mainly the “smiley” culture of Pret in: “How Companies force Emotional Labour on Low-Wage Workers“, but I want to take the reader through a typical day in Pret A Manger, and why this MS scheme is dangerous for mental health, not to mention patronizing and humiliating. This Tweet is by PAMSU (Pret A Manger Staff Union) who got fired in 2012 for starting a Union under the pretense of having made homophobic remarks ten months (!) before:

 

PAMSU Dismantle MS

Link

 

End MS

Link

 

First of all I want to start off by saying that I don’t think a Mystery Shopper scheme is a bad idea, I think it can be helpful to improve customer service where needed. The problem with Pret is, they take this to intense levels which I find abusive. The extreme “perfection” staff have to reach is done to create a picture to the public, that staff are so happy to work in Pret. In reality they are tasked to “perform” emotional labour (or “labor” for American readers!). It opens the door to abusive leadership, bullying environment forcing staff into “unnatural” behaviour they would normally not do, unless they “feel” it. And with many other abusive situations, like even domestic violence, bullying etc. people get conditioned to it, accept it as norm, but suffer internally and in silence also because it is systemic and seems acceptable. Everyone is subjected to this, so they feel they go out of line if they complain. At least that’s how I often felt, because everyone “is doing it”, it must be okay or normal to keep smiling even while bereaved. I share in my interview at the bottom of this page the horrific time I went through while already traumatized after I lost my brother.

Even journalists “get used” to abuse and accept it as the norm:

Journalists getting used to harrassment

Link

I want to share a rough timeline of activities on a day-to-day running of a Pret shop, as well as a little bit of the kitchen to paint a true picture of the immense stress staff are under on a daily basis. I was a Team Leader of the shop or also called Floor Leader (FL) and know working in the shop inside out. I can’t speak much about running a kitchen, but will briefly touch on the kitchen. The shop and the kitchen are like two separate businesses that need two separate leaders. Both have their own separate challenges as well as positives.

For example in the shop staff HAVE TO smile and perform a cheery presence, while in the kitchen they can just be themselves. In the kitchen they have no windows, have to work super fast assembling products WITHOUT time to breathe until their break. In the shop there are windows to take a breath, while still having to clean, stock up etc. I often “mediated” between the teams when they were at “war” pointing fingers where the kitchen felt the shop team is lazy or the shop felt the kitchen team have it easier. I always pointed out to both teams that each team have their challenges as well as good parts, but that EVERYONE works hard and has a lot of stress, just differently.

 

Shop hierarchy:
General Manager (GM) and Assistant Manager Floor (AMF) are in plain business attire
Floor Leader (FL)

Baristas/Coffee Makers
Hot Food Chef (HFC)
Team Members (TM)

And whatever other position Pret comes up with, as they sometimes add job roles. But these are the main roles distinguished in their colours (belt, name badge) so outside teams can quickly identify who’s who.  The most important who does most of the hard work is the Team Leader. They really are the ones that run the shop, if they are good and don’t imitate most GMs who like to sit in the office, don’t help and just shout like slave masters.

Kitchen hierarchy:
Again the same General Manager (GM) but a different Assistant Manager Kitchen (AMK), plain business attire
Kitchen Leader (KL)
Team Member Trainer (TMT)
Team Members (TMs)

Kitchen TMs, the sandwich makers who are called “chefs” by Pret to make them feel better and portray to the public as if there was some real cooking going on in the kitchen! Lots of patronizing and fooling slogans like “Lovingly made in this kitchen today” bla bla…

In reality all the food comes already cooked, except the frozen bread, croissants etc. But all ingredients are ready cooked and delivered daily from factories. Hence also “Ready to Eat”. The soups come in large plastic bags and are heated in water baths. All other ingredients are like we have at home after getting the shopping from the supermarket. There’s no cooking involved, just heating up and assembling a sandwich. Even the “poached” eggs that do come raw, are just heated in sealed plastic pouches in a water bath. There are no pots and pans and stoves in Pret kitchens!

One recent staff review:

2019-06-11 Nightmare Stop Being Evil

Link Under Show more: “The food isn’t fresh, it’s shipped already cooked in plastic bags and reheated. A joke.”

 

As the shop and the kitchen are like two separate businesses in each shop, the AMF and/or FL run the shops and do the ordering for the shop, look after the Team, customers etc. The AMK and/or KL do the ingredient ordering for the kitchen, look after the Team etc.

As all Prets I’ve worked in are under-staffed to maximize profit and managers’ bonuses (incl. area managers and upwards) many TMs are pushed to multi-task. If a shop is lucky, they have 3 TMs on the tills in the mornings if there are 6-7 tills. They have 1 Barista with the GM doing coffee as well, as this is easier than customer service at the tills! GMs don’t like to work on the tills! As there aren’t enough staff, they ring the bell for one or two of the kitchen staff to then come out and help serve the queues during the morning rush. This puts an immense strain on the kitchen staff, who then get behind on their production, where they are expected to do a certain amount of products per hour. If they fail to finish in time, including cleaning etc., again they will be motivated through fear management and are bullied (subtly or openly) to work overtime, unpaid.

 

LackStaff

Link Barista 2019

 

Unpaid

Link 2018

 

Unpaid2017

Link 2017 NY

 

Unpaid2

Link 2015

 

Unpaid2014b

Link 2014

 

Unpaid2011

Link 2011 NY

“It is clear they have little to know training and have absolutely no training or experience in employee relations or even customer relations for that matter. Every manager I have worked with – I have worked with 6 – will immediately try to belittle you. Not sure exactly why this is such a common practice among managers but it is an intrinsic behavior within the company itself. …Very, very sad reality of Pret. -Company culture….”

 

Unpaid2014

Link 2014 “Manager at my shop treated everyone really poorly. Expect you to stay longer to complete your job for free when not enough time is given. Constantly missing hours from extra shifts taken. Have to ask every week to see if they have repaid those hours and in some cases takes months to chase back.”

NOTE: The “for some reason” is more systemic than this and many other TMs realize. I had to chase my money CONSTANTLY.

 

2017-05-26 AM NYC Pure Misery

 

25 Staff complain in Twitter not paid HR

Link

 

03-wages2-1-e1554218697911.jpg

Link

 

Pret had to settle two class action lawsuits in NY within 4 years on wage issues. In the UK people never do a Class Action, but it would be high time for Pret staff to go to court on wage issues!

 

Wgae Lawsuit

Link

 

Customer observations:

2018-10-20 Staff cry

Link

 

2019-03-22 Customer Noticing busyness Pret1

Link

 

2019-03-22 customer kings cross emma observation stress

Link

 

MS Cough

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

I coughed while serving the Mystery Shopper as I had a cold. But I chose not to stay home as we were not paid the first 2 days even when we have a sick note.

 

Pret Staff Tweets:

2017 Mystery Shopper sick pay

Link

The £45 Mystery Shopper bonus she’s talking about is that she would have worked 45 hours that week. Each hour is £1 bonus, as Pret cuts the weekly bonus even when staff are sick for 1 day that week. And the rest £55 she means is the hours she lost for that 1 day. And Pret only responds to her Tweet because it’s public. In reality Pret does nothing and doesn’t care if staff are sick.

 

A recent Tweet to the CEO by a frustrated Team Member:

2019-06-05 TM bonus cut sick mystery shopper

Link

 

A typical day in Pret

(underneath the slideshow)

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

 

A typical day in Pret

Main “Crunch” Times based on an average shop:
5AM
6AM
Between 8-10AM
Between 12 Noon-2PM
Afternoons until closing time.

I share these times from all the shops I worked at, with an average of 6 – 8 tills and a team of about 25 – 35 staff.

 

5AM start of shift. The first TMs come in and hopefully no-one called sick, as even ONE person missing puts incredible stress on the rest of the team because every team is tightly staffed.

Between 5-6AM there are around 6-8 TMs and later from 6 or 7AM onwards more people start coming in.

Kitchen TM starts preparation of slicing vegetables.

Shop TM, often the HFC but can also be the Barista, starts baking frozen croissants and baguettes. Every shop decides their own way who starts the shifts.

A Team Leader, can be KL or FL, should be starting first with Health & Safety checks, like taking the temperature of all cooling systems in case any fridge/freezer broke down over night warming the food which has to then be thrown away to avoid food poisoning. They also start checking the huge delivery of ingredients and products to make sure that nothing is missing, which then has to be re-claimed from the suppliers.

But reality in Pret is, because they like to staff very tightly, the first 3 – 6+ people from 5AM have 1 hour to get everything ready for 6AM opening time. It is extremely stressful to get everything done in time for opening, especially when the evening shift before left the shop in a bad state.

Many who are new make the mistake and start before 5AM UNPAID!! Because when they can’t finish in the unrealistically short time they’re given, the GM pushes them in pretense that they were not working well or fast enough. It’s psychology that happens in most Prets! But most of the Teams I’ve worked with are extremely hard working and work very fast, but are fooled and manipulated by managers who come in at 8 or 9 o’clock pressuring the Teams via the Team Leader or AM. And because the Team Leader wants to move up fast to escape this culture, they become bullies and only spare those that make friends with them.

Most shops have the HFC who starts all the baking and also preps the coffee machines, brings the milk out etc. Depending on how the evening Team left the shop, this often is a nightmare when the previous shift didn’t close properly, didn’t stock up etc.

At times this is due to lack of staff etc. But often it is simply due to laziness, where the evening Team Leader sits in the office all night, while the 2 people outside slave away without support! As a FL it was important to me to not do that, but to support my Team and we mostly finished in time leaving an immaculate shop for the morning Team. The next shift then had a clean and easier start. But many shops don’t care for the next shift, which in turn comes back to them when they take over from the morning team who retaliate to the evening Team… vicious circle and it adds to the stress that’s already there.

But I always changed that behaviour in every shop I worked in. This created a relaxed atmosphere where the teams started to work together instead of against each other, because they realized that this actually became much easier to work in support of each other instead of a cliquish environment.

 

6AM opening the doors

Again, if the Team had a good start and nothing went wrong, no delays etc. the shop can be open smoothly and customers can be served in a relaxed way.

 

Between 7:30-ish and 9-ish depending on the shop and which area they are in, the shop then becomes humongously busy with the coffee rush. But still there are only 2-3 TMs on the till if they are lucky and 1, maximum 2 Baristas. This forces the HFC to interrupt their hard, hot and sweaty work, to constantly having to jump in to “bust” the queues as the Teams have 1 minute to serve each customer which the MS probes them to the second!

A Mystery Shopper report excerpt (I added the blue writing and yellow marking):

07 15 seconds

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 very quicly, after 15 seconds, very quick service.”

Pret: “We aim to serve our customers their hot drink within 1 minute of payment. Did you receive your hot drink order within a reasonable time?”
MS: “I received my hot drink very quick, after 30 seconds, quick service.”

And yet, the MS gave 4 out 5 points on each question as if 15 seconds wasn’t good enough. The point system is important mainly for managers. The more points the more bonus. So, even when the Team gets the bonus, but the points are not as high, GMs still stress and pressure the Teams because the manager’s quarterly bonus depends also on the point score. Managers are rewarded their bonus based on all the different results: profit, waste, labour, cleanliness etc.

But the Mystery Shopper reports and bonus system counts towards the largest chunk of managers’ bonuses! One GM was happy with his Team to cheat on everything, but the Mystery Shopper results. As a Team Leader new in his shop, he took me aside and said to me, “I close my eyes to everything, but not to the Mystery Shopper.” In other words, if I as a Team Leader failed to engage my Team and this resulted in poor MS results I’d get in big trouble. But on other things, even Health & Safety issues, he would have closed his eyes. … I’m not going to elaborate what my response was, but I communicated that he shouldn’t close his eyes to anything. I said that also because I was penalized for the smallest things in a previous shop. So, I made sure I covered all my basis and not let a greedy GM sabotage my job.

The MS being the biggest contributor of Managers’ bonuses creates even more stress because the Team get the message, “It is NEVER good enough what you achieve”. And I have countless example of how managers stressed us even when we got the bonus and even when someone got the OC. It’s never good enough unless it’s 100% perfect EVERY time. And even then, one slip, one mistake and all hell breaks loose!

This is the reason why so many customers complain on Twitter with half empty cups of cappuccinos, or a milky Americano where they asked for a black one. Because staff are so robotic, fast and on autopilot.

Only one of countless Tweets with photos like this:

2019-02-11 Stingy coffee

This is St. Pancras, one of the most busiest shops in Pret!

Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover into Pret (after having read my blog I’m proud to say!!) and writes about a conversation she had with a Barista during coffee rush. Quote (I added the bold):

“Undercover reporter Amy Sharpe worked inside the scandal-hit chain and discovered a potentially fatal blunder with labelling and staff who are hugely over-stretched. …

I am at a central London branch, where 10 staff vie for space, muttering apologies as we collide and stretch across one another to grab pastries and bags.

I shout orders to a barista while dashing to a beeping toastie machine to retrieve a baguette.

I make green teas and filter coffees while my other drinks orders are prepared. It’s stressful and confusing and the queue makes it even more so.

All the while, staff must be alert to the issue of allergens.

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.”

When the bonus is lost, the boss will give the Team or the individual a good telling off. At times directly and loud, other times subtle manipulation threatening with the job security.

I survived this during bereavement! There was no mercy!

 

2019-01-16 small coffee area

Link by @terry_mcparlane Twitter of a typical cramped Barista working area.

 

 

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

 

A Mystery Shopper tweet:

2017 A Mystery Shopper tweeted

Link

 

2015 About Mystery Shopper

Link

 

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive

Link

The psychology of “group incentive” is actually peer pressure and what a recent reviewer called “blame culture” which I totally underline. I spent 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 of 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

 

Another of the many reviews along those lines:

2019-04-09 Mysterys Shopper Trap Happy Family

Link

 

Between 7 and 9AM or even later, the GM starts to come in. Depending on the GM, some come at 7AM, others at 9AM etc. Some sit in the office during intense stressful morning rush. Others help. But if they help, almost all GMs prefer to be at the coffee machines with their backs to the customers, as customer service is extremely stressful with the demand to SMILE CONSTANTLY … for the Mystery Shopper. This is the frustrating thing for the Teams, because the GM pressures staff to be perfect for bonus, while themselves “hiding” at the coffee machines!

When I was bereaved and wanted to get away from customer service as I could not afford to stay at home unpaid, having lost all my savings. I begged the GM at times when I couldn’t hold back the tears, to please let me work in the kitchen for a day because I was tearing up at times on the shop floor. But because I wasn’t used to the pace in the kitchen, the GM denied this. I stopped asking then. But at times I asked the GM or AM if I can please be at the coffee, as I was really fast at the coffee and wanted to get away from facing customers in tears. Again, it was denied because most GMs are selfish and always choose the easiest job, no matter how a TM or even I as a leader, was doing!

A rare observation and even rarer comment by a customer who noticed that the manager is always sitting in the office during busy times. Pret tasks the Mystery Shopper also to record if they see a manager on the shop floor and what the manager was doing. Pret leaves all this to the Mystery Shopper instead of having regular visits from the Operations Managers (OPs – area managers). OPs often themselves sit in the pub during busy lunch times, pretend to be busy and mostly communicate via email. I know this for a fact, I’ve seen it.

Customer observation:

2019-03-19 Response to customer complaint re manager

Link

 

Here I want to paint the picture and would ask the reader who is a regular customer in Pret to take a morning out of their work routine if they can, go to Pret, sit closest to the till area where they can observe BEHIND the counter all the TMs. Sit down and JUST WATCH for 30-60 minutes during the most busiest coffee rush. Just sit there, quiet and concentrate without any distraction or phone, reading… Just observe for a solid hour and then ask yourself HOW staff can smile, have eye contact and make polite conversation with EACH customer!

They can, but only because of the above mentioned cash incentive and fear management via the Mystery Shopper.

MS excerpts:

04 MS

Pret probing on the INDIVIDUAL Team Member:

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 conversation was what was necessary for the transaction. To be welcoming, the team member could have greeted me and smiled and be engage[d] and positive.”
(No concern if the TM was extremely busy and may have gone through person tragedy, depression etc.)

 

Pret probing on the WHOLE Team:

05 Attenditve to EACH customer

Pret: “We aim to be attentive to each customer’s needs. Rate the engagement level of the whole team in this shop during your visit.”
MS: The team members were focused on their jobs but were not welcoming customers. This could be improved by the team members smiling at customers when they entered the shop, and making friendly remark or small talk, where possible.”

 

ANY and ALL the Team are under CONSTANT observation and fear of being watched and rated! All the time. Every moment. Not only from the CCTV all over the shop and office, but managers, customers and Mystery Shoppers.

 

Yes, Pret states “reasonable time” and depending how busy it was etc. And the above MS contradicts themself by saying “where possible”. But the Teams are so conditioned and robotic, they always rush and the GMs stress them even during the quiet periods. If they can’t finish a task, they have to often stay longer unpaid. If they DO finish the task, they are criticized for not kissing the Mystery Shopper’s butt sweet enough when they enter the shop! It is always a lose-lose situation and NEVER good enough!!

And here is the perversion of Pret’s Emotional Labour abuse, and I call this perversion and abuse!!

Because this is what it is, PERVERSE, ABUSIVE, BULLYING and EXPLOITING!

Put yourself in their shoes.

A low-paid TM (£8.65 per hour in London) serves between 100 – 200+ customers before lunchtime going through the hellishly hectic coffee rush!

While they slave away like this, they have to smile, make eye contact, some conversation and go the “extra mile” give freebies etc. AND remember all the coffee order, hear the Barista call out the coffees that get constantly mixed up. They have to answer questions, especially on allergens, be polite to rude customers ETC! ………. and be like acrobatic clowns so that Clive Schlee CEO alone can pocket £30 million after JAB purchased Pret.

And customers remain fooled to think staff are so happy in this hellish environment forced to be like clowns because they have kids to feed!

AM ure Misery

Assistant Manager 2017 NY

Highlighting from above review:

“The kitchen staff is treated like slaves. They are expected to do the impossible. … Everything is over priced and you are forced to act like a happy jack-ass or your pay is cut. You don’t get paid your full hourly rate if you don’t impress the “mystery shopper”. This place is what hell must be like.
Advice to Management: Quit your jobs and go back to England and stay there.”

It’s not the first time that an American reviewer angrily wants Pret to go back to the UK.