Why do Pret A Manger Staff continue under Harshness

 

I want to address something that I have been part of and influenced under, which many people from the “outside” have asked about, or cannot understand without having been under this kind of work environment.

If you are a new reader to my blog, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”, an overview to my experience as a former employee of Pret A Manger and what I’ve survived under Pret’s leadership including CEO, HR, HQ staff. My story sounds like out of a twisted Hollywood script, but I have written evidence and my open confrontation of Pret on Twitter, Facebook etc. is met with Pret reporting me and letting social media platforms “shadow ban” my accounts. Shadow banning is secret censorship Twitter denies doing, where my Tweets and comments are hidden from the public at times. But I keep writing as I almost lost my life in this toxic work environment.

 

2018-12-23 my twittel star re to shadow ban lie1

 

 

My response to this lie:

 

2018-12-23 my twittel star re to shadow ban lie2

Link

 

 

Regular readers know my story, but as a brief introduction:

I worked for almost 10 years in Pret on the shop floor, for the most part as a Team Leader (Front of House Leader, also called Floor Leader – FL). The kitchens have their own team leadership, Kitchen Leader (KL) responsible for running the kitchen teams and production. FLs are responsible for running the shops. All leaders responsibilities, apart from looking after the teams, is like being a mini-manager. The Leaders are actually the ones who do the real work, where the General Managers (GMs) are often sitting in the office, getting paid for shouting at teams, not being trained properly in people- and leadership skills.

Leaders look after health & safety, do the ordering, waste management, look after customers, work on “busting the queues”, make sure the Mystery Shopper requirements are met, organize the teams and many other responsibilities. In all their hard work they are being underpaid, overworked and always blamed. Many bear under this to rise on the career ladder to become just another complacent manager getting paid for sitting in the office and being off most weekends.

After 7 years in Pret my brother died, which my family and I didn’t know for 5 weeks that he was dead and already cremated! I am still putting the puzzle pieces together, investigating myself what happened, what is fact, what is fiction, why everything was handled so apathetically and carelessly by the police, what legal options I have not able to afford legal aid. The only “consolation” I was given by the police was, that once they rule out fowl play, they are not interested in the cause of death anymore and hand the case back to the coroner. Too much paper work frankly. Of course, would it have been one of their own, they would go to town to investigate AND find relatives before completely “destroying” my brother’s remains! No chance of getting an autopsy even after burial.

I went into a mental war zone that I am still moving in, even though much calmer now, but in my mind I am in a grey wasteland.

What made it even worse, and to this day I cannot believe I went through this, was that I had not only no support from Pret, but was bullied and targeted by superiors under the watchful eye of HR. Some support started after I contacted the CEO having tried for almost a year to raise issues of bullying with HR, unbeknown to me at the time that this put a target on my back. Yes, this sounds unbelievable, and if anyone doubts this, I have plenty of written evidence and confront Pret including the CEO Clive Schlee, mainly on Twitter openly.

Clive Schlee patronized me, having a laugh by calling me his “late night girl” which I explain on my blog. But now they neither respond, nor do anything except letting Twitter and Facebook secretly censor me (shadow ban) by hiding my posts from the public and even isolating my account from supporters where I don’t get notified at times of their Tweets.

I also want to point out the fact that Pret did not act on numerous customer warnings regarding allergen labelling, even after TWO customers died, a third nearly fatal and several hospitalized over time, that should send alarm bells through the public.

But this is another blog entry on how the public is lulled in with slogans, sweet-talk, free coffees (that are funded by prices being increased) and an approachable CEO with a smiley facade. I question even if he really is behind all “his” tweets as he told us once that he has trusted people who answer mails for him when his work load gets too much. And as I have emails from the CEO and know how he writes, I doubt he’s behind all his tweets. But that’s not important and I leave it as speculation.

So, the main issues I want to point to can be found as I linked above to the overview: “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger

Also, to start I want to link again to the Pret Staff Reviews & Complaints and Selected Quotes from that long list that I collected from Employment Review sites, YouTube, Twitter and other websites.

 


 

I started in Pret in 2008 just when Bridgepoint purchased Pret and started to squeeze the life out of staff, with high targets to open on every corner. One recent article by The Times briefly scratches on this, “Pret was the best thing since sliced bread but private equity ruined it”.
Quote: “To my surprise, I also find myself feeling bothered by the sheer number of Pret outlets in London. … It’s obvious what the owners are trying to do. As one veteran private equity investor put it recently: “We buy a business, work out how many restaurants you can get away with in an area until it’s become saturated, then try to convince a new buyer that there is plenty more runway”.

I remember noticing the increase of Pret shops from around 2009-ish on. I cannot compare to pre-2008 but heard that it used to be a little easier, and certainly with much more staff, even though still harsh and fast paced. But all I knew was from 2008 onward. From the beginning I felt the stress, but as I am a hard worker having worked in the food business almost all my life, I just put it down to just being a very busy work environment. Yet, I always told my teams where Pret was their first job, that Pret is very different to all the other companies I worked in three countries over the years.

I had a life, I had friends, projects, all the usual things one enjoys. I managed to not take the stress home too much, although was complaining to friends a lot. And here is where a lot of people also make the mistake, I often narrowed it down to me being very efficient, passionate about everything I do, and thinking I just expect too much. With expecting too much, I mean that to me very normal things like: integrity, honesty, hard work, communication, training etc. was a given. And in my previous employment I either did not experience any bull-crap or I was completely ignorant of it. I don’t know. All I know is I never had issues at work.

I expect a lot from myself and often thought that my expectations were too high. So, I stood back and made the mistake to come under intense stress and harshness. I always understood that leadership has in its word and meaning “lead”. We all lead by example, no matter if good or bad example. But in Pret I and colleagues were always perplex about the lack of integrity of managers, the lack of efficiency and care. But you go on, do your job, go home and have a life.

I used to visit 3, 4 and at times 5 events per week. I am a sucker for live gigs and music in general. I visited over 100+ concerts, theater productions, museums, art events in 5+ years. I traveled, especially visiting family in Germany and friends in the U.S. where I used to live. I was extremely active in my personal life. I published a book of German texts, worked on projects for other artists, enjoyed dinners and cinema with friends. And even while Pret was stressful, I managed often to shrug off the harsh management, complaining to friends, but getting on with my personal passions.

And then my brother died.

What happened then, I would have never ever imagined could happen. I knew Pret was a tough place to work in, but I am no stranger to hard work and just got on with it. Again, I had the wrong expectation to assume Pret would support me as a longtime staff member, or as an employee, no matter how long my service. I write extensively about the bullying I went through while already traumatically bereaved and in shock.

During the main issues of being targeted I applied for my employee file as I tried to understand why the harshness even during bereavement kept happening. One of the emails by a People Business Partner, who responded to a mail from an HR advisor who was the note taker of the first grievance appeal’s hearing against a bullying line manager. I said in the hearing that there is no support and the HR advisor passed this on. Later in another grievance hearing this PBP changed his mind after I pointed out his email. He then said that maybe in hindsight he made a mistake.

It was a complete fog and confusion. In hindsight a lot of this was “gaslighting”, making me think that I was the problem, making me think that I was not bullied, even with all the written evidence I presented, they pretended I was not bullied. In another Tribunal where the Judge ruled unfair dismissal, the Judge also concluded that Pret’s grievance and then appeals hearings were “fundamentally flawed” at the top of page 10 with the check marks. I also went through flawed hearing after flawed hearing which I cover in other posts. And the PBP saying that in Hindsight he made a mistake had me speechless and in a Twilight Zone.

The email regarding my pointing out the lack of support:

 

2015-10-22 Chris & Laura re SUPPORT

 

So, him changing his mind later in a hearing after I pointed out his email, was just another typical way of Pret leadership playing games. But I just crumbled again and again.

My system just switched into autopilot, while working extremely well and making the mistake to approach Pret’s HR with suggestions on how to better support bereaved staff. Little did I know that by doing so, I put a target on my back. Only now do I understand why so few people approach HR as Prince William points out after some research they have done, that only 2% of employees approach HR regarding mental health issues. After my trauma with Pret I understand why so few try to raise awareness and/or make suggestions to HR.

I wrote it somewhere before that I still would approach any HR department again, but this time not alone and not without a note-taker, as Pret “lost” an important document which I applied for in my file. Their note-taker took notes that would have proven that I had no support. But because I never experienced anything remotely of a hell I experienced in Pret, I always approached leadership alone, knowing I act with integrity, came with open hands, but I had to learn my lesson hard.

This is why I write so bluntly and intensely now and have a zero tolerance on bullshit!

But during that time, I blamed myself for having been bullied, I blamed myself for being a burden. I even apologized for a nervous breakdown I had in the office during a team brief after being shouted at in front of my team, two days before the first anniversary of my bother’s death. I put it down to my own grief and what psychologists call, “sibling survivor guilt” having survived my brother. I always knew how well I worked, and it is not cocky when I say that I was one of the best team leaders. I know how well I work and I know all the feedback from my teams, customers and Mystery Shoppers. But when you work under insecure management who pretend that your work is never good enough to pull you down on their level, it’s a constant struggle to figure out what’s going on, why are you not promoted, but held low etc.

I am not a psychologist, but I know that human beings are prone to come under a cloud of suppression and get used to it because they have pure intentions and blame themselves. This is being taken advantage of. One Pret Assistant Manager review highlights the lack of self-respect here very clearly:

“Respect yourself don’t let managers overload you” Link

But Team Members and especially Team Leaders have no choice, because they are manipulated and often subtly to even openly threatened with their job security. Or a very common tactic is to give them unfavourable shifts where the manager knows that a TM either cannot work, or does not like certain shifts. I was given the minimum contracted hours after I lost my savings when my brother died. My boss knew that and rarely gave me more hours to work, even though I asked many times. There is so much manipulating control going on and bullying has many facets from right out shouting at staff, excluding them, withholding important information, transferring them to difficult shops setting them up for failure etc.

I went through it all during bereavement and only in hindsight can I see how much this was a plan under HR in hopes I resign. But I didn’t. I even declined 4 settlement offers if I resign and never speak about my ordeal, 3 offers while still working in Pret and the 4th via Acas when I filed a Tribunal claim, but withdrew because my dad just died in the middle of preparing for the case. I collapsed and knew without legal aid I could not mentally see through a complex court case.

Not having signed my rights away, I buried my dad, went under for a couple of months, and then decided to go public.

Another Assistant Manager’s review (I leave the mistakes to keep it in their own words):

“Avoid working there – Too much pressure working there, company expects you to do all your job within the time you are schedule but it is impossible , you will end up working hours for free, no work life balance at all , they have he mistery shipper but it is all a fake thing you can not control , the standards are so high the only thing it will drive is you stress everyday. Don’t work there. Link

 

The Mystery Shopper, or as I have renamed it the “Misery” Shopper, is the driving force behind the expected happiness. When I left Pret in Dec. 2017 the reward for an individual staff member for being extra nice when the Mystery Shopper witnessed their special service is £200 tax-free. Even if the team loses the bonus, an individual Team Member can still earn up to £100 on top of their wages. With the bonus and perfect scores = £200 when the Mystery Shopper nominates them for their “outstanding” service. This is why staff are constantly smiling, chatting and giving free items in the hopes the MS is around witnessing this or even better, be the recipient of this extra kissing butt.

 

2018-07-04 Outstanding Card

 

 

And customers are so impressed with the constant “happiness” of staff not realizing that staff have financial incentives, especially when giving free items away in hopes the MS is present receiving or witnessing this generosity.

Financial incentives when successful, and fear managed and micro managed when not.

 

A Tweet from the former Pret employee who was fired for having started a Union:

 

2018-05-09 PAMSU EndTheMysteryShopper

Link

 

Different Mystery Shopper excerpts. Pressing Ctrl & + enlarges pictures for easier read, and Ctrl & – to decrease size again.

 

04 MS

 

 

05 MS

 

 

I was told off in the office after the Mystery Shopper comment on me having coughed as I had a slight cold:

 

MS_Cough

“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 to smile that day.”

I wish I could have told this MS that staff are not paid sick leave for the first 2 and 3 days depending on their age. So you had to decide if to stay home sick and lose income, or go to work unwell and get a telling off from the manager as I did because I coughed when I happened to serve the MS. When we were sick we were never even asked by our bosses how we were! Nada! And when we happen to serve the MS and cough, not even then, just put downs constantly as managers rely on the MS points which count towards the biggest chunk of their quarterly bonus.

 

Yes, the extra cash is a good reward and gives great customer service. But firstly, not all are motivated by financial incentives, especially while being stressed and pushed on a daily basis. And secondly the flip-side of this is, that when staff don’t smile and the Mystery Shopper comments on it, or customers flock to Twitter with complaints, staff find themselves in the office or other back room, away from customers and get told off. And then they are commanded to smile. I mentioned it in another blog post that the most ridiculous telling off I and my team received after losing bonus as no-one smiled, was where our non-smiling and moody boss said, “Your smile is part of your uniform. You are expected to wear a smile like you wear your uniform…”

He also said that we need to leave our problems at home etc. I was in the middle of a grievance appeal’s process due to my former line manager openly bullying me, and still coming to terms about my brother’s death. I will not get into this particular shop further, but teams are getting conditioned to this type of “emotional and mental abuse”, and yes, I call this abuse!

The press called this “emotional labour”. Quote:

“… in The New Republic, Timothy Noah observes that the sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger aggressively monitors its employees’ displays of enthusiasm. If any worker at any particular store seems insufficiently pleased to see their customers, he and all of his coworkers could suffer the consequences. Pret CEO Clive Schlee even monitors whether his employees are making enough affectionate physical contact with each other.” Link

 

This pressure not only from Mystery Shoppers and Managers but also from cutsomers who quickly run to Twitter and publicly at times even naming staff members, not thinking for one minute that Team Members are human beings who might be going through a hell they don’t see! I smiled, gave freebies, was complemented on my service by customers, and after my shift went for the bridge.

 

3 years of good service, then ONE incidence and this lady blackmails Pret with losing her business. This then is fed back to the manager who pressures the TM or even the whole team:

2018-11-28 Bad Service after 3 years

Link

I decided today to respond with a .gif handing her a handkerchief. Something I was never able to do while in Pret.

 

2019-02-04 Response to Nov tweet on bad service with gif

Link

 

CryMeARiver

 

 

I responded to some of these Tweeters on why they call out hard working staff’s names publicly, not even bothering how intense working on the front lines in Pret is:

 

2018-10-24 Re No Smile

Link

 

 

2018-12-31 Customer calling staff name for rude service2

Link

 

 

A customer who has no boundaries to call hard-working people the C-Word and Pret even apologizing, kissing butt for profit:

 

PretBehaviour01a

 

etc. etc. …

 

Horrible Company Pret

YouTube further down the comments.

 

Fear management, manipulation, exploiting vulnerabilities and good will of staff etc.

I  often ask people if they really believe or even bother to care if Pret staff can smile, show a happiness, friendliness and being polite for 6, 8, 10+ hours EVERY day in a fast paced, intensely loud and stressful work environment.

 

So, why do staff subject themselves to this and continue for years?

The answer is not simple but manifold:

  • For one, most are foreign workers who are glad to have found a job after leaving their debt-ridden country behind. They have kids to feed in hopes they will have it better one day.
  • Often people think that with time it will get better and certainly once you climb up the career ladder. At least I was under this illusion as I’ve never had problems in other companies and kept giving Pret the benefit of the doubt time and time again.
  • Many staff members have the ability to just keep their heads down, play the game and unfortunately many play it on account of hardworking people.
  • Other times it’s just simply assuming this is just the way it is, and they just get on with it, not realizing how damaging it becomes for their mental health in time.

 

I found an interesting Tweet yesterday that shows that even investigative journalists who are under life threatening situations come under this:

 

2019-02-04 Getting used to Harassment2

Link

 

I used to ask like many people do why battered woman who are beaten and abused by their husbands/boyfriends stay so long in a toxic and violent relationship, often for decades before breaking out.

After what I have been through during already traumatic bereavement, I don’t ask that question anymore. I for one became extremely vulnerable, I was emotionally broken on the ground so-to-speak. I was in a fog of shock and grief, still functioning on autopilot, trying also to distract myself, exhausting myself physically to cover this excruciating pain of loss and unanswered questions. I was often literally begging my bosses and HR for help, I became ill with emailing, irrational. I started to have panic attacks, the first ever which happened in my sleep! I woke with or from a panic attack thinking I had a heart attack.

I even tried to find another job, had a trial day, but either I overdid my work or I didn’t sell myself well, or both. I was lost in where to turn, couldn’t take off unpaid leave as I had no financial means, having lost my savings after my brother died, running errands, traveling between Germany and London etc. A friend of mine understood when I gave up hope and thought I could never find another job, she said to me that it makes sense that I stayed with Pret as this is the “devil that I know” compared to the devil that I did not know in a new company.

Many battered women partly take a long time to leave their violent “partners” as this is what they come accustomed to.

How I survived my Pret ordeal having had several close calls at the bridge, I don’t know. Partly it may have been the intense anger I had because of how my brother’s death not only happened, but was dealt with, and certainly I didn’t want to put more grief on my mum. Added to that how Pret had nothing more to do then try and get rid of an inconvenient employee, whose only “crime” was that they became bereaved, while having been a very good asset to the company for several years.

Welcome to Pret that uses former homeless people for PR.

I had many conversations throughout the years with colleagues who felt stuck, scared to know if they can even find another job. And make no mistake about the low paid workers in Pret, many of them have degrees from their countries. I worked with a woman from Finland who had PhD in some technical work which I forgot. I worked with a Spanish woman who was a fully educated lawyer. One colleague from Brazil who was the secretary of the mayor of the small town he lived in. Another Brazilian lady was a bank manager in her town. Many artists, IT people, musicians, I worked with a trained pianist, I myself self-published a book from scratch by myself, financed it, organized it etc. etc.

For most, their degrees are not accepted in the UK, they would have to study some extra semesters. Others lack the language and just work to improve their English to get a start in the UK. Sure, Pret pays a little more, give a few more perks, throw parties etc. But the work they expect is like working for 2 or 3 people to get their Investors their money back plus profit! Labour is cut in most shops to maximize profit and with it managers’ bonuses. CEO Clive Schlee pockets £30 million from the JAB take-over and whatever sums of money all the top leadership get thrown at. All on the backs of low-paid workers needing to feed their kids and pay the bills.

A Barista review just from last week 30.01.2019 highlighted this:

2019-02-02 Pret A Lack of Staff

Link

 

Staff get used to this as this seems the norm and no-one is standing up. And if people do stand up, like Andrej Stopa who was fired for starting a Union, or like I did internally and now from the outside, staff remain intimidated and hopeless. Fear is a huge thing in Pret, and it’s so subtle how one can get sucked in without knowing it, until you are so paralyzed. You’re almost brainwashed by the slogans and harshness. Rarely do people have longevity in raising these unacceptable issues. The only option they find, apart from resigning or getting dismissed, is to give anonymous reviews on Indeed, Glassdoor, Twitter etc.

in 2011 someone even started a Facebook group “I Hate Pret A Manger” which is hard to find even when looking for it, as FB is also shadow banning. But I stumbled on it by coincidence just recently.

 

2018-01-07 I Hate Pret Facebook Page2

 

I have been contacted by current staff with the plea to not out them, and I never would. But I urge every staff member, even in other companies to join a Union. Take it from me, I had to learn the hard way, but that is why I am now so outspoken and not intimidated anymore, no matter what tricks and traps Pret comes up with. For fastfood workers I can only recommend the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) that has been instrumental in the first ever McDonald’s strikes in the UK that started in the U.S. years ago. Everybody knows how poor work conditions in McDonald’s are. But Pret has been successfully lulling in the public and controlled staff, so people often don’t believe how it is behind the facade when this is pointed out. I don’t blame them. All I ask, if something looks too good to be true, take a closer look.

And the £1000 that Clive announced on 29. May 2018, well Pret became aware of my blog on the night from 28th to 29th of May 2018. I know how Pret’s CEO reacts fast when reputation is at risk! And in October staff were still waiting and forbidden to further tweet or get a disciplinary with the risk of getting dismissed. Well, I’m delighted to have been instrumental for all staff to get an extra £1000 which they usually would have to wait 10 years to receive!

I couldn’t help but spill the beans on that Twitter feed, but most of my Tweets are of course hidden!

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement

 

 

2018-09-30 1000

 

 

 

2018-10-01 £1000

Link

 

If you have read this long blog entry, and indeed some other of my writings, it means you care (apart from Pret that also read my blog ;-] ). But those of my readers who care, I do not take it lightly that people give of their time to subjects that are easily avoided by most people. It is always hard to have ones “bubble burst”. We want to believe a shiny facade, in this case Pret’s facade, that they have so carefully presented over many years.

 

Illusion

 

All I ask is to look closer. Ask questions and give ear when you hear critique or something that surprises you, as we all were knocked over by Pret having been silent about two customer deaths and not done anything until it became public. And most importantly, don’t victim blame the staff who came and come under this harshness. It’s so easy to judge from the outside that they should just get another job! Don’t judge when people cannot find their way out or become hopeless. It needs a lot of support like a Union, friends, professional helplines to get a healthy perspective of what is acceptable behaviour towards decent and hardworking people. It goes faster than one thinks to slip under a workplace bullying environment, especially when it is systemic as it is so rampant today. Amazon for example is one of the worst, and YouTube is full of undercover reporting within Amazon warehouses and drivers.

Yes, many Pret customers also go on Twitter recommending Team Members by name who give great service. But it is even better to speak to the Team Member themselves, because I was told over the years by some of my customers if I received some goodies as they wrote to HQ or Twitter about my service. And most managers don’t even care to tell their staff when a good report is given on Twitter, especially if that Manager doesn’t like the Team Member. Reach out directly, or even in the presence of the manager. Pret does not have time by the amount of daily Tweets to pass on every message, even though they always say they do.

One card with a £20 note inside kept me going when I was in my darkest time in a shop with a bullying manager. The customer who only knew me a few days did not know what hell was raging inside me with my grief and the turmoil in Pret. If he would have gone to Twitter naming me and how he appreciated my service, I would have never gotten this message, as the manager of the store targeted me. But him giving me this card, even if without the money, it meant the world to me and I broke in the office later after closing time because I had moments I was ready to quit and go over the edge… And even though it’s very sad to me that this card kept me going like a glass of fresh water in the desert, but people do not understand how staff feel, in depression, even suicidal.

 

Pret Reality for many:

 

“Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work”

2018-10-02 Modern Day Slavery

Link

 

And this is my campaign to say that every person deserves to be treated with respect and their dignity protected.

Thank you for reading.

 

I wish I got some contact details from the customer who gave me this card that kept me going to let him know how many times this card reminded me that people care. I read it after closing time in the office and just sobbed.

 

pk-customer-card-aug-2015-aldgateeast_smudged.jpg

 

 

 


 

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

 

©2019 LateNightGirl.org

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

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

 

1. Quote of the Day #62 – Pret A Noxious

 

I decided to do two “quotes of the day” today as they are both from New York within days of each other.

 

 

dirty-water5

 

Full review as Quote of the Day:

 

Go back to the UK, Pret
I have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment. Employees relocating from UK were given preferential treatment, better salaries for equal experience, HR was mostly a joke, ‘leaders’ displayed zero initiative in mentorship of their teams, roles were unclear and the company had tunnel vision on decision making based on the opinion of one or two people who paid little attention to local market data.

 

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

30. Oct. 2018 NY

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

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

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

A Chink in the Armour of a Firm

 

or as I call it a crack in the PR(et) facade!

 

With plenty of press on Pret now this one I’d like to put my salt on in-between some sentences of this article:

“It’s difficult to say when, but at some point over the last ten years Pret A Manger became ubiquitous.”

It’s very easy to say when, it was indeed 10 years ago when Bridgepoint bought Pret and set the target of opening shops at 15% per year. I can still feel it in my bones and mental health how we were driven while staff were cut to increase profit and a 7 times return for Bridgepoint’s investment and £30 million for CEO Clive Schlee.

 

“Pret’s coffee is organic, its sandwiches are handmade, its marketing is self-aware and it wants you to know that doing the right thing is “what makes Pret, Pret”.”

Handmade by human machines while “doing the right thing” ignoring numerous warnings from customers regarding allergen and labelling, bullying staff to the point of suicide including bereaved staff. It what makes Pret, Pret.

 

“There’s never a shortage of “avo” at Pret.”

And never a shortage of complaints how hard the avos are. I only copied this complaint as an example how Pret is kissing butt while a customer offends shop staff with the C-word. But there were many complaints on hard avo. Amazing also how some people’s days are “ruined” while others lose a child and a mother to Pret products. Poor pepo!

 

PretBehaviour01a

 

 

“The people at Pret are always happy, so happy that they might give you a free sandwich if they like you”

So happy. 🙂

 

“In fact, the staff at Pret are so happy that in 2013, the chain was accused of using “emotional labour” tactics – monitoring staff to ensure they retain a cheerful demeanour – on its own workforce.”

Correct. Staff are being bullied, ordered into the office when the Mystery Shopper, or as I call them the Misery Shopper, commented that the server didn’t smile. A good telling off in the office with plenty of fear management and fear for job security. Then the staff is send out and ordered to smile! Even during illness having a cold and during bereavement!

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

Mystery Shopper comment: “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 to smile that day.”

 

The worst telling off I experienced was when a line manager, who himself never smiled, held a sermon in the kitchen with us team and said that smiling is part of the uniform! He then finished his speech and said that if anyone wants to say anything to say it ‘now’, then and there, or otherwise we shouldn’t come to him later. I lifted my hand and mentioned that I rather want to tell him something in private as I didn’t want to confront him in front of my team as I was their team leader wanting to lead by example not embarrassing the boss in front of them. But he maintained to speak up now and that later would be no opportunity.

So, I did. I said, “So-and-so, you never smile! (when serving customers)” … At least he changed a bit, but I certainly did not make friends saying this. Neither did I care.

 

“…the list of “behaviours” staff must exhibit reportedly contains over 50 items.”

Correct. A list of brainwashing that some staff threw into the bin.

 

“Pret ran into trouble earlier this year, when the Advertising Standards Authority took issue with two ads the company had run in 2016. Pret was found to have been “misleading” in its claims that products were “good natural food”. Whilst this didn’t grab headlines, it was a chink in the armour of a firm that’s clean and ethical image has been a source of its success.”

I appreciate the writer pointing out this being the “image”. It used to be quite dirty in Pret with pest problems that turned Pret into Pret A Mice until an EHO closed a shop and Pret only RE-acted, whereas before ignored staff’s and internal pest control people’s concerns.

 

“It was an early caution, perhaps, to the crisis that has engulfed the firm in the last two weeks where two of its customers were believed to have died after allergic reactions to is products.”

Plus one assistant manager who died by suicide last year that is known of within Pret and my repeated approach to confront Pret internally on this when I still worked in Pret, and now publicly, as I almost ended my life as well during my ordeal in Pret.

 

“It follows the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who passed away in 2016 after eating a Pret baguette that did not have any allergen labelling on its packaging.”

Not only on the packaging, but the fatal Sesame Natasha died of was missing on the fridge label of the “lovingly made” PR(et) baguette that Natasha and her dad read …

 

No Sesame on Label

(Sesame info missing)

 

… while each product that is given to charities for the homeless and people in need is being labeled with allergen info since years:

 

2018-10-20 Pret charity labels2

(Products with allergen labels for charity)

 

 

“Her father accused the chain of a “complete dereliction of duty””

… as well as being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and rightly so.

 

All in all you just got another crack in the wall

 

crack-695010_960_720

 

“Pret CEO Schlee said that the chain would “ensure meaningful change”, and will start “trialling full ingredient labelling, including allergens, on product packaging” from November.”

Trialling from November. Starbucks closed 8000 stores in the U.S. After their incidence with racial issues, training their staff. ACTION is the best PR! But Pret is going full steam ahead doing business as usual, trialling…….! A death, let alone TWO the public knows about doesn’t mean anything to this sweet-talking company. If that doesn’t tell people something of the reality behind the “doing the right thing ” with even the arrogant slogan that Pret’s HR has of “doing the right thing naturally”, then I rest my case!

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

“’We cannot begin to comprehend the pain the family have felt, and the grief they will continue to feel,’ said Schlee.”

He certainly took two years to “begin” to realize that he can’t begin to imagine and finally wrote to Natasha’s family!

 

“Was Pret too late to act? It is not legally required for stores to put allergy labels on food made on site, but the warning signs were there. According to the Times, Pret “ignored” nine cases of allergic incidents related to sesame, including six related to its “artisan baguettes”.”

More than nine!

 

“The lawyer for the Ednan-Laperouse family told a West London court that there was a “clear concern being repeatedly raised that artisan baguettes were causing sesame seed allergy problems, which were not properly responded to by Pret”. Pret’s compliance director said the firm responded appropriately to each individual complaint at the time.”

The Director of Risk-taking and Complacency did not respond properly.

 

“Schlee, who is reportedly set to pocket a £30m windfall when the JAB sale goes through, didn’t write to the bereaved relatives personally until this August, the family claims. Not a good look for a brand that trades on an image of wholesomeness and honesty.”

Anyone in business who claims honesty should always get a closer look!

 

“Despite being undoubtedly the biggest crisis in its history, no one expects the burgundy star to vanish from the high streets anytime soon. Its ruthless expansion under private investment is widely expected to continue stateside thanks to JAB’s experience in the American market (JAB also own Douwe Egberts coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts).”

Yes, that’s true, they will not vanish and I appreciate it being coined as “ruthless” expansion. They will just go through a year of a little nose-dive in profits and will re-emerge with more bull-crap PR. But I lived long enough to know that when people are lucky enough to be on their death-bed and able to look back on their lives and “achievements”, I don’t want to be in their skin.

 

“If the chain loses its avocado-driven charm, no number of free coffees will pep it up.”

That’s true, but also the time is coming when even Pret workers will start standing up with Unions and demand respectful treatment, apart from the poor wages and the brainwash they’re subjected under.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Quotes of the Decade – Pret A Slave

 

slave-2614959_960_720

 

I shouldn’t be surprised nor appalled at Pret’s statement regarding Modern Slavery, and this may be concentrating more on their suppliers and farmers in other countries etc. while ignoring Modern Slavery on their doorstep in shops. Pret does what they often do, spilling the beans on something that is happening while white-washing it either in small-print or out loud through PR.

After the second customer dying due to allergy, and taking a deeper look again, I leave this without any more comments, just to say that Pret does what they do well, getting caught before getting caught.

“Good jobs for good people”, the beautiful PR(et) facade needs more fixing.

 

Pret’s Modern Slavery Statement

Quote from the Introduction on page 3:

“…  we remain steadfast in our commitment to eradicate modern slavery if and when identified in our business and supply chains. We know there’s a lot to do and we will continue to make our journey transparent, sharing our successes as well as the challenges we encounter along the way.”

 

We know there’s a lot to do?

 

Rephrased: “We have modern slavery in Pret, but we work on it once we get caught. We stay quiet until it becomes public and in the meantime make a statement in advance to cover our shiny PR(et) facade.”

Like the kid with the chocolate stained fingers behind his back from the cookie jar saying to his mum who hasn’t even noticed the missing cookies yet, “It wasn’t me, mum. I don’t know where the cookies are!”

 

I’m happy to help Pret with the “transparency” part of their statement and operations: Pret’s Staff Modern Slavery Statements and how it looks behind the facade.

 

Some selected Quotes:

NEW Slave’s company (18. Oct. 2018)

Modern Day Slavery (2nd Oct. 2018)

Workers are slave (June 2017)

Slave-like environment (Oct. 2017)

Felt Like A Slave (Nov. 2014)

Quoting further from this which appears when clicking on “Show More”, quoting including the ALL CAPS:

“DO NOT WORK THERE YOU WILL REGRET IT!! DONT LET THEM LIE TO YOU WITH THE PAY OF $10 A HOUR NOT WORTH IT
I FELT MISTREATED, FELT LIKE A SLAVE, THEY LOWERED MY SELF ESTEEM BY TELLING ME I DONT WORK HARD ENOUGH EVEN THOUGH I WAS THE FIRST ON TO FINISH.
THIS JOB SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE DEPT OF LABOR

Advice to Management

Fix Your Attitude care about your employees dont over do the staff be reasonable be fair try everybody equally and so on such a bad experience.”

 

Slavery hasn’t been abolished (Oct. 2017)

Leaders treat you like a slave (May 2018)

For this company you are numbers, robots, machines, you are no humans. (Dec. 2017)

 

A full review from June 2018 without the term “slave” or “slavery” but with very clear words on the subject:

Hellhole!”

“0 respect for employees
Too much stress, let’s face it pret, you’re a sandwich shop
Not that good wages anymore, everyone around you is raising the hourly wages, 10p is not enough
Communication sucks
Crazy standards impossible to follow
0 motivation for staff, if you treat people like they’re useless and worthless, they won’t work so well anymore
Employees are the blood of the company, not customers, not ingredients, not the shops, TREAT PEOPLE PROPERLY!!!!

Rethink your whole policies, they sucks, get down from that high horse you’re on

 

PLUS scrolling down in the comments on YouTube to Branzinotito’s comment:

Horrible Company Pret

 

 

On Andrej’s Pret Union video more comments:

 

logic 2000: “… pret is pure exploitation of foreign workers modern day slavery. systematic abuse disguised as productivity target.”

2012 Andrej Stopa Video Comments1a

 

… and further …

 

Saif Khan: “Pret exploits and abuse their employees. ..thats true fact…I can say after working 5 years there..”

2012 Andrej Stopa Video Comments4

 

etc. etc.

 

PLUS comprehensive, but not exhaustive list of Pret staff complaints and selected quotes from the list.

 

I added comments in the PDF document with more extensive thoughts on some points.

 

 

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

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Before they mute my response to Pret’s CEO regarding Death…

 

Not good enough, Pret!! Not good enough!

Some of my tweets have been muted lately since the news broke of the girl who died (in 2016 already) from a Pret baguette due to allergy.

Before my response is deleted or muted again, here it is again.

Pret has absolutely NO excuse for this!

What I wrote in the tweet regarding “going the extra mile”, “striving for perfection”, “doing the right thing naturally”….

These are slogans, suggestions, requests and demands Pret has in place for staff. These always bothered me because Pret is not living up to their own demands.

Shortly after my brother’s death and mistreatment in the middle of grief, my suggestions since May 2015 to Pret’s HR department regarding staff treatment, especially of the bereaved have not only been ignored, but I have been bullied on top of it. Only when I involved Clive Schlee, CEO (who later labeled me his “late night girl”) did some support start, but a lot of it was to cover Pret’s own back. A lot was “Pret-entious”!

The bullying which became more subtle later on in the middle of my already traumatic bereavement have made me mentally ill with my emailing, which I extensively explain in other blog entries and how my ordeal started.

I still may be too naïve to have hopes that Pret TRULY can change direction if they put their priorities right. But I firmly believe Pret’s toxic and corrupt HR department needs a serious re-vamping in new leadership, as well as a new CEO who doesn’t just sweet-talk their way out of a disaster or tragedy when Pret gets caught “doing the wrong thing naturally”!

My response to Pret’s CEO as it may be deleted or muted like it was done with some of the other tweets:

 

2018-09-28 MY Response 2 Clive BBC2

 

Link to Tweet

 

Dear Clive Schlee and Pret,

I still have hopes that you change direction regarding work conditions, true customer care, quality of training staff to assist customers… away from your well oiled PR(et) machine and truly live up to your slogans. Not just for customers, but also  for staff, as we all are human beings, sir, not staff as work-machines and robots or customers as piggy banks for your millions.

For the sake of many who suffered to the point of even becoming suicidal, as well as for the public, that is becoming aware of the negligence in Pret which is not an isolated incidence.

Selected Quotes from staff complaints.

Sincerely,

Your Late Night Girl

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Pret Quotes of the Month – September 2018

 

Depression pexels-photo-246804

 

 

Key words in the quotes:

“GET REALISTIC and stop punishing your hard working teams.

Calm down and take a step back – proper communication is key, over-reacting doesn’t help anyone nor does assigning blame before even fixing a problem.

The manager is so rude. They treat their employees as slaves. It would be good if they educate their staff to treat workers (fair, well, good, better?), they are aggressive and badly educated.

… not worth if you have a manager who shouts at you every five minutes.

Managers are very bossy and unprofessional, a bit of exploiting. Be honest and kind.

Attitude of the manager towards the employees. No understanding to empathy.” …

 

Yep, no understanding to empathy. I survived being bullied during bereavement which was already immensely traumatic how I lost my brother. I was then manipulated, gaslighted, exploited and taken advantage of in my work and aim to better work conditions. To top it, I was then fired while my dad just came out of his coma in intensive care, still hooked on the breathing machine and tubes. I was dismissed two onths after Clive Schlee, CEO labeled me his “late night girl” (late night emails to Pret, friends, counselors out of trauma often drunk) further stepping on my dignity.

I wrote it somewhere else already that Pret with their shiny facade and well oiled PR(et) machine can meet me in the middle of their sugar coated look. Pret can do the PR and I do the ET. They do Public Relations and I Establish Truth with the quotes of the Review websites, YouTube etc. and my own traumatic experience.

 

 

2018-09-01 Do not apply

 

 

 

2018-09-05 Calm down

 

 

2018-09-10 Aggressive

 

2018-09-10 Aggressive2

 

 

2018-09-14 Exploit

 

 

2018-09-21 Managers Attitude

 

 

Collected Staff Complaints from various Employment Review sites, YouTube, Twitter etc.

 

Selected Quotes from the Staff Complaints list.

 

 

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

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Open Letter to the “Misery” Shopper

 

Dear Mystery Shopper,

I hope you forgive me for calling you the “Misery” Shopper. That is how I often experienced you: merciless, unrealistic, arrogant and plainly non-caring. You gave us often very good comments, recognizing my hard working teams and with it also my hard work with my teams. Thank you for that. But many times I suffered deeply under your unfair comments, especially while going through bereavement with equally merciless bosses who only cared about their bonuses and reputation.

I can forgive you as you didn’t know what I and colleagues were going through, but my bosses knew and had no consideration nor care. The Mystery Shopper results count for the biggest chunk of management and OPs Manager’s bonuses, so this was the greatest pressure as well as torture, and the rewards were just too little for us teams. One manager said to me once when I was new in his shop that he closes his eyes to anything but the Mystery Shopper. In other words, he was happy for any mistakes or shortcomings, be it in the finances, health & safety etc. but was not willing to accept poor MS results. I just came from a branch where I was bullied for tiny things, and I responded to him that he should not close his eyes to anything! Of course that did not make me favourable towards bosses like him, but I wasn’t concerned! I had the loss of my brother on my mind.

And yet, even if Pret would have canceled the Mystery Shopper scheme, I would have worked exactly the same, as I love quality and giving customers the best service they deserve, not just because they pay money, but because I love people. Full stop!

 

 

Face off man-845847__340

 

 

You can only be a Mystery Shopper if you have never worked in retail or the food industry, so you would not empathize with the staff, but judge as a “proper” customer not understanding the pressures of the business. You are being instructed to be fair but firm, whereas I often looked at it hoping you would be firm but fair. You often choose to be firm. I have had outstanding comments throughout the years, including twice being commented on as having the best team yous have ever experienced. That was very kind for you to write, it didn’t help with my bosses, though, as it was never good enough, what we as the teams achieved. But that aside, it is about you in this open letter.

 

2012-10-12 MS 1

2012-10-12 MS 2

I and my teams received many comments like this throughout the years, but they have not helped me against the harshness of my line managers. It was never good enough. Towards the end of my employment in Pret I would even submit 4 pages of ideas on how to improve the Mystery Shopper and passed it on to my OPs manager. I had another 4 pages of ideas, but never submitted those as that OPs manager promised me as the Team Leader extra incentives if the Mystery Shopper results would improve (as if we needed improvement with almost always perfect scores!), but she never lived up to her promise. I delivered, but as usual left empty handed with broken promises. Another typical Pret “behaviour”, suck everything out of your staff and leave them stranded.

As with any other job, every Mystery Shopper is different, there are those who really take it serious at the same time have an eye on fairness. Others of you don’t really care too much, you come in and out so fast to just finish that job and within minutes you decide for the team to not get the bonus for whatever wasn’t right for you. Never mind them working and toiling since 5am or earlier with an angry manager giving them a good telling off later, because their bonus got even a bigger dip down.

Your job is to judge, no matter how long or short your visit. I hope you forgive me when I re-name you as the Misery Shopper as many times when the scores weren’t so good, even when we still had the bonus, the manager would give us a harsh telling off, because the managers and OPs rely on the scores to increase their bonus and competition in the areas. The Misery Shopper contributes most to their bonus and the ranking, that is why the teams get the most pressure from it.

It was particularly hard when I served you and your feedback was that I didn’t smile or that team members should not work while sick because I coughed during service. I am sure you are under the impression that the teams get paid when they are sick at home. But they aren’t paid sick-leave for the first 2 -3 days depending on age regardless if they have a sick note. Thus forcing them to go to work, cough, receive negative ratings for it and the manager gives them a hard time.

It’s a complete 100% lose-lose situation. If you stay at home because you are sick, you won’t get paid after your “well-being days” are used at the sole discretion of your manager. Also, your manager doesn’t like you being off sick, especially if you are a leader, like I was. They doubt your illness, I had that even while depressed and with a panic attack on sick leave, my manager didn’t believe me, but that’s another blog entry in itself.

If you do go to work because you need to pay your bills, the danger of serving you and receiving a bad report, and with it a telling off from your boss in the office, nothing is ever in your favour, no matter what you do.

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

Quote: “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 to smile that day.”

I didn’t feel cheerful to smile as well after the telling off from my line manager afterwards. You got told off in the office because you didn’t smile, and while the boss is telling you off (who by the way does not smile themselves, just as a side-note!) and then the non-smiling boss orders you to smile! You go out extremely humiliated, discouraged, with low motivation, and yet forced to smile if you don’t want to find yourself penalized or losing your job.

Another example of a Team Leader who complained on Twitter about being sick:

 

2018-09-13-59-staff-tweet-e1536844434384.jpg

 

 

In detail:

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

Link to tweet plus, I responded to Pret’s saying sorry, but my tweet has been deleted or is hidden somehow. But it is still on my Twitter as well as a screenshot in one of the “Quotes of the Day“. Pret of course keeps any of my tweets they may use later against me. That’s fine with me.

 

 

But I can more than relate to this Team Leader’s “review”. You are made to feel guilty when you call sick, because when you are off sick as a leader, the manager has to pull up their sleeves and work instead of just sitting in the office!

So, dear Misery Shopper, what exactly would be a cheerful occasion to smile? And you probably think that this is an exception and that surely if a team member goes through bereavement there would be empathy and understanding. Wrong again. Having to smile NON-STOP especially for 8 – 10 or more hours a day, in an intensely, excruciating and brutal work environment, and on top of that just having buried a loved one…

 

This is nothing short of developing either superhuman abilities or mental illness!

 

 

Pret Uniform2

 

I wrote it to the real Pret customers already, that I wished sometimes I would have been able to wear a badge like a pregnant woman does with the “Baby on Board” badge, or a disabled person with a “Please offer me a seat” badge. I would have needed a “Please bear with my grief” badge, as my manager was merciless when I didn’t smile, even during bereavement. When I did smile and this feedback was given in your report, my manager never acknowledged it either. Never a word of, “I know you are going through a terrible time with the loss of your brother, and you still come to work and even smiled, well done, I don’t know how you do it, but you are doing good, if you need anything, a little break to take a breath, just let me know.” … Nothing of the like. Just a telling off and you go home later wanting to end your life.

I would do this with my team members once I was aware of problems in their lives. I’d encourage them, offer them some extra break or if they need to disappear for a few minutes when I saw them in tears. But for some reason I did not receive this common human kindness from my line managers, except from only one I worked only for a few weeks when she then went on maternity leave.

I wonder, dear Mystery Shopper, if you would also be so harsh with a team member if you knew they had a loss in their life preventing them from smiling. Would you be as merciless as the managers?

I survived the bullying and harshness, I became ill and at times suicidal when I couldn’t take this brutal treatment anymore. And I know of others who became depressed, ill, suicidal. But I survived and live to tell my story, and I tell it so bluntly because the thought that I may be dead now, jumping of a bridge because of the turmoil I went through, my body still freezes when I think of the close call I’ve had!

 

Bullying can kill

 

You will continue to do your job trying to be fair but firm, I would just want to ask you to rather be firm but fair, or better even, kind and fair. The people in HQ who come up with these rules and penalties don’t care about the stress on the shop floor and in the kitchens. They know very well how difficult and cold it is, but it is not of their concern.

Your job is to feed back if the team smiled amongst other things you check on, no matter what hell they are going through. I hope you won’t be judged so hard when you go through tragedies.

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,

Ex-Employee of Pret, or as I call us “Ex-Prets” 🙂 ( <<< now that’s a real smile!)

Late Night Girl2

 

A compiled list of staff complaints from various review sites, YouTube and Twitter. Selected reviews as Quotes of the Day.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

A Question on Suicide in Pret & a £1000 Announcement

 

I am aware that this is a “handful”, but bear with the below and please look deeper to know what really is going on behind some announcements.

 

I write so “blunt” because I almost lost my life.

 

Pret is recruiting, and £1000 is the carrot. Pret minus Bridgepoint + the German JAB Holding Company based in Luxembourg = Pret has arrived in tax haven!

Pret’s leadership became aware of my blog and website here on the 28th into the 29th May 2018. The CEO of Pret tweeted the below at night on the 29. May, probably as a reaction to my blog? As I don’t believe in coincidence anymore and as Pret is mainly reacting to issues when confronted.

I almost lost my life working in Pret, having been bullied during bereavement and with all the tricks, traps and gaslighting the toxic HR department dealt me with. I wasted my sweat, blood and tears for close to 10 years in this company, making the mistake to try and improve work conditions while being completely traumatised in grief and mistreatment. Having worked in Pret is my biggest regret in life.

 

An assistant manager died by suicide in 2017 after I was told by HR of an AM who was also bereaved and mistreated at work like I was. I almost ended my life as well. And Natasha having died in 2016, but we only learn about this two years later… HOW MANY MORE ARE THERE?!

 

——————————————————

UPDATE

07. Oct. 2018: Pret a Manger investigates second death linked to sandwich

——————————————————

 

Pret’s slogan of “Doing the right thing naturally” is just another of the many slogans to crank up the PR(et) machine. But in reality, this is what Pret does “naturally” behind the shiny facade: Pret Staff Complaints collected from various Employment Review websites, YouTube and Twitter, as well as my own traumatic experience.

 

 

 

The CEO working the PR(et) machine after my blog was revealed to him:

 

 

12K vs 20K

 

It used to take 10 years of service in Pret to receive £1000. If Pret is giving all their staff £1000 it means they are desperate to recruit or desperate to counter my public outcry regarding staff treatment.

The CEO pockets £30 million, and then giving £1000 (from the sale, not his £30 mil!) to each employee as Brexit is at the door and many, especially Eastern European workers return to their home countries or move on to other opportunities. Several of my ex-colleagues already told me of their plans to return home. Usually Pret gives cheap cakes to their shops when another financial milestone was reached, over-sugared cakes that end up half-eaten and stale in the shop fridges. But this generosity means Brexit is advancing fast and my publication is a sore in their sight. New recruits are needed and the facade needs another polishing shine.
Also, to announce the £1000 ahead of the deal being finalized, as usually rewards are given after a deal or a milestone has been reached not before, is nothing short of interesting.

 

On 12th September 2018 and beyond the shops are still waiting for this announcement from three months prior to become reality:

 

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement

 

 

A month before that someone already inquired about it:

 

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement2

 

 

UPDATES:

 

2018-09-30 1000

 

 

2018-09-30 1000 JAB

 

 

Well, I’m delighted to have been part in Pret’s CEO making this premature announcement on 29th May when he became aware of my public outcry regarding my ordeal and staff treatment in general. The JAB deal will go through and the money will flow, but the work conditions will get worse as there is now much much more money in the purchase involved. How many more people, customers and staff alike will pay the price for this greed @ Clive Schlee, how many more that we don’t even know about?

 

When the bullying started, or rather continued during grief adding to my trauma, I became ill. There were no appraisals where I could learn where I was strong or where I can improve, never a reward, no feedback, absolutely nothing. Only targeting, bullying and manipulation were standard. One later GM’s tactic was to hold me low while I was going through the worst time, being vulnerable, having had the floor underneath my feet ripped away. This kind of “leadership” is common in Pret. This GM, who didn’t want “the area to feel sorry for him anymore” because I was thrust into his shop in the middle of trauma, grievance hearings and under shock, was one of the worst management experiences I worked with because it was very subtle bullying hard to put ones finger on until it was too late.

I became ill and wrote countless emails which I explain in detail here. One of my last line managers just laughed about it with the leadership team, the CEO labeled me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, the Head of HR tried 4 times to pay me out (peanuts) if I resign, and the peak came when the gaslight really took on full swing as described below…
There is no protection against the discrimination of the bereaved and mentally ill in Pret A Manger.

 

 

2018-09-16 Re Emily to Pret

Link to Tweet

 

 

Wasting 10 years of my life in a company that is only profit and target driven with extreme good PR in place and a smiling, approachable CEO who is fully aware of what’s going on in his company as he visits the shop floor regularly, Pret-ending everything is jolly good while lulling in the public and staff. Grievance hearing after grievance hearing that I raised in my traumatic state were conducted in tricky ways, not impartial.

For three years I approached HR and managers with suggestions and ideas on how to improve support for bereaved staff. I had a target on my back from the moment I approached HR informally to bring suggestions in May 2015. I was naive, fooled and in the darkest time of my life. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was the beginning of the end for me. It is no wonder that hardly anyone approaches HR in this systemic and toxic work environment in society today.

 

Pret has become like the majority of multinational corporations mistreating their workforce, especially in the fast-food industry. One former Assistant Manager “pleads” with Pret to return to the basics, a General Manager pleads to “Please get the bullies out and revive Pret to its former glory” and poignantly says of Pret being “a great company in risk of ruin”. But I think these concerns and pleas may be too late as once a company licks blood of the Millions and Billions that are made, it’s like an addiction that is hard to beat. And now with the JAB takeover, it’s a point of no return.

Being bullied during bereavement and all the mistreatment from superiors towards workers, Pret is moving more and more towards the jungle and swamp of Amazon that is notorious for their brutal bullying tactics. The only difference is that Pret is excellent in PR and still relatively small in this corporate world of greed, lulling the public and staff in with sweet-talk. And in-between they throw in a £1000 carrot for each employee to polish up their facade.

Word PR.Isolated on white background.3d rendered illustration.

The most disgraceful thing they have done was to “introduce” me to a development manager who supposedly had a similar loss with her brother, but our introduction was not to support me (or her), it was for her to give me a disciplinary for all my emailing (electronic communication) and then entering into secret solely electronic communication (text and email), confusing and frustrating me further that my ill emailing behaviour intensified again. This was gaslighting in a nutshell.

I was then dismissed just 5 months short of my 10 years service where I also would have received £1000, the development manager of course is safe in her job as she served them well. Pret went all the way in “doing the right thing naturally” again by firing me three days after Christmas 2017 while my father was in intensive care just out of a coma! Again, the toxic HR department “doing the right thing naturally” two months after Clive Schlee labeled me his “late night girl”, patronizing me in his typical self-assured arrogance.

 

On 02. Oct. 2018 staff are still waiting for the bonus. And my Tweets have since been deleted by Twitter, also called “shadow banned”.

 

1000 announcement still waiting 2018-10-02b

Link

 

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

 

When you read that all staff now receive £1000, whereas before it would take 10 years to receive £1K it shows how desperate Pret is to gain and retain staff. I was never after money and have declined 4 offers of settlement, not only because of the peanuts they offered. Not even a million pounds would have done it, because I don’t prostitute my values or sign away my rights for money, no matter the amount.

 

@Pret, too many people suffer, become depressed, even suicidal that someone needs to stand up and tell their story! Does Pret, does Clive Schlee really believe that a £1000 and all the sweet-talk will hold up this facade in the long-run? Staff will take the money, but the truth cannot be bought, held under and sugar-coated forever.

 

I was ONE, you were and are many, you have all the resources, sophistication (bottom page), manpower, money and whatever you can come up with. You still refuse to acknowledge how out of proportion this was and is. No amount of money could have fixed this.

To be entrenched in this system that you probably don’t even realize how wrong so much of how you, as a GROUP of influential professionals have acted towards ONE single person, and indeed everyone on the “front-lines” of the business, who are the ones making you all this wealth. Sure, you seem desperate to recruit now being suddenly so generous to all staff. Don’t turn too socialistic now, though, it doesn’t come across as genuine!

Do you know the hope I felt when I met a person of similar loss, as my grief became so complicated, and still is? And then to just find out after a while that this was yet another trick!? Again? Gaslighting at its best. If Pret truly takes inventory of their conscience, they would have to face that this absolutely crossed the line! They stepped one too many times on my dignity. And that one nailed it!

I survived to speak about it openly and I will never be silent, no matter what you come up with out of your trick-box from a corrupt and discriminating HR department.

It would be good to heed this reviewer’s advice to management from June 2018: Fire the HR staff because a £1000 quick fix won’t do it, the reviews from Pret staff on Employment Review websites and other online platforms will continue on these lines and crack the PR(et) machine until Pret truly lives up to its slogans and words. The annual staff questionnaire Pret holds won’t help as they are tweaked at times by shop management. The truth will always come to light sooner or later.

And maybe, just maybe instead of firing all the hardworking people who work with integrity and commitment in the high stress environment, the top leadership with its top HR leaders may need to get a dose of their own medicine, and get fired for a change to really turn this company into what they claim it to be.

 

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

Quote of the Day #56 – Pret A Mask

 

Pret Uniform2

The Pret A Manger Uniform Cupboard.

Take your pick Team Member, any of those will do.

 

Quote of the Day:

“Forced happiness…management tends to have a patronising approach to employee, and a customer service way that request people to show a “fake” happiness.

 

I got in trouble when I didn’t smile at times after the Mystery Shopper mentioned my lack of smile. What the “Misery” Shopper didn’t know (and probably didn’t care about anyway) was that I just buried my brother and my managers had no mercy on me.

But even before that, I had a cold once and coughed while serving customers, and the Misery Shopper wrote this report after which my then line manager had me in the office, giving me a good telling off.

Side note, Pret staff are not paid sick leave unless they have a sick note from 1 week sickness onward, the first 2 days are not paid *cough*:

 

MS_Cough

 

Magnifying the small print (or press ctrl & + until you can read the comment, to decrease size again ctrl & – ).

The Misery Shopper commented: “Team member 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.”

Amazing observation. I also wasn’t cheerful enough to smile when my brother died AND Pret A Manger bullied me during bereavement. What now dear Misery Shopper?!

 

 

2018-08-30 #56 Forced Fake Happiness

Review from a former Assistant Manager, London Nov. 2017

 

One GM would hold a meeting in the kitchen and tell us team to leave our problems at home and that our smile is part of our uniform (while he never smiled during customer service).

 

PLUS

” This job can annihilate every piece of humanity inside of you. … you are required to have the widest fake smile on earth, highly pitched voice and again be as fast as possible, its all a race. … You will loose everything that makes you human.”

PLUS

“One of the things that I absolutely hated about working at pret, was the fact that management wanted you to act like you were were having fun and smile at all times.”

PLUS

“extremely rude co workers, unprofessional management, not properly trained however expected to know what you’re doing and smile while doing it.”

PLUS

“Minimum salary for everyday smiling … We have to be smiling a being polite to a bunch of unpolite people.”

AND

“Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees as owners and senior management concerned about profit margin only. People are taken into account only if it makes a good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.” Former IT Analyst reviewing Head Office, Dec. 2017

ETC. ETC. …

 

FAKE happiness; FORCED happiness; FAKE smile; Pret-ense; EMOTIONAL labour; SMILE while sick; SMILE while bereaved; NO MERCY, smile for the millions that Pret’s CEO is pocketing and the thousands upon thousands of £$€ the top leadership reap in bonuses.

@Pret, it’s your turn to smile and keep your PR(et) machine working!

 

Selected “Quotes of the Day” taken from the complied list of Staff Complaints to highlight the common thread of the problem in all of Pret in different countries and cities.

Substantial list of Staff Complaints from various Employment Review sites, YouTube, Twitter etc.

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

©2017 – 2019 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.