Day 24: The 3 Vice Men – Kneeling at Pret A Manger

 

Day 24 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

Merry Christmas, if you can!

Let the Fools NOT be with you!

 

 

organic-coffin-natural-fools-1.jpg

 

What Managers and Corporate employees, including Head Office staff, say about Pret throughout the years and in various cities/countries (only few of many reviews and comments):

Go back Pret

Link

2012 Ex GM ExGM Ex-GM

Blogspot –  4 years after Bridgepoint took over.

Mafia

Link

HQ

HQ London 2017

HQ BulliesHQ London 2019

Managers cry

Leader Review on abusive Area Manager – Shop Managers crying in the office.

I could go and on with countless more reviews along those lines, but I want to put only one more that broke my heart. I was actually crying when I read this because it triggered so much pain I’ve been through and seen colleagues go through. For a longer, but not exhaustive list of staff reviews and complains: >>>

GM slavery

Manager review London, October 2019

Ruin

Manager Review 2014 – 6 years after Bridgepoint took over.

So, who are the 3 Vice Men?

  • Pano Christupido (Current Fool who deleted his Twitter account after my blog entry on Clive Schlee’s “retirement” in July 2019)
  • Clive Leech (Former Fool who, with full steam ahead ran the Titanic into an iceberg, but continues to present himself as CEO of Pret. Pscht! He’s in denial!)
  • David Cartel (The Fixer – he’s out and about on behalf of the CEO putting out fires and seeing to it that hardworking people get fired)

 

Pret_Dwarfs

Pano Christo (left), Clive Schlee

David Cartel

David Carter, HR Fixer

»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!

 

My wife always would say, ‘any damn fool can run Pret

Clive Wife

From a 2016 Guardian interview

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 allergy reaction, and numerous hospitalized …

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

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 ruin 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. Cheap freebies people settle for.

So, »any damn fool can run Pret!«. Sure. And certainly any damn fool can ruin it!

I want to say again that Pret A Manger is NOT what they portray to the public!

 

2016 Review.jpg

Link “the general public view of this company is very far off from the truth”

 

2019 Review GM

Link Manager Review

 

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

New CEO, Pano Christou about whom I write about in: Under New Management. But Clive Schlee remains in the background as Non-executive Director pulling the strings under JAB Holdings.

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

Smile Pano! Smile!

 

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

I continue to ask for independent investigations into 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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 23: Pret A Pedia

 

Day 23 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

The Most comprehensive website on Pret A Manger anywhere on the Net that the press is trying to ignore and remain quiet about. Writings from a former Pret employee, having survived systemic workplace bullying and gaslighting under Pret’s HR, CEO Clive Schlee and a Development Manager from HQ, who’s also an NLP Practitioner and Hypnotherapist under the National Hypnotherapy Society. On a side note, many Pret leaders from HQ and Operation Managers are NLP practitioners. It seems Pret encourages them to the NLP course, and if one researches on Neuro-linguistic Programming, it is or can be a tool to manipulate people.

As my website has become quite large with various writings from behind the scenes, I decided to create an Index to the most important issues regarding Pret A Manger, that portray themself as this ethical and caring company.

I am still in disbelief myself on what I went through, and writing about it helped me survive and come back to my senses, and expose Pret A Manger! I declined 4 settlement offers from Pret if I am silent about my ordeal and never go to court. I explain in full in my interview at the bottom of most pages here or as the first feature of the below index.

The very fact that Pret did NOTHING after TWO customer deaths, a third nearly fatal, several hospitalized, and numerous warnings ignored, should ring massive alarm bells! But the public remains lulled in, especially in the UK whereas in the U.S. it would hail a storm of lawsuits! The German Reimann family behind JAB, the new owners of Pret, work very hard to divert issues opening in various countries in a whirlwind, more charity work etc.

I write so boldly and loud because I almost lost my life, having been targeted and bullied during already traumatic bereavement. I had several close calls at the bridge and am very proud that I made it through to expose this company!

If this is the only thing I do, having survived this toxic company that hides behind the shiny PR[et] facade and fake smiles, I will do it as thoroughly and detailed as I did when I worked for Pret! I wasted 10 years of my life in this company and explain in my interview how I went through this. This is not about a dis-grunted former employee, this is more. This is about a company that portrays itself to the public as this ethical company and lures in customers as well as employees, exploiting staff for profit. This is just a usual business out for profit as any company is, but the public has been lulled in for years about Pret A Manger and it is human nature to want to believe a fairy-tale…

I confront Pret on a suicide of an assistant manager in 2017 of whom I learned prior to her death. I almost went over the edge, Pret hid TWO customer deaths until it became public, how many suicides of current or former staff happened no-one knows about.  I was recently leaked an email that Director of HR Andrea Wareham sent to all Pret shops informing them that two Pret staff have died in two different UK shops. One of them I was told was a suicide, the other person’s death is unclear to the persons who leaked the email. The press is informed and in my 10 years in Pret having had access to Pret emails as I was a team leader, I have never seen an email regarding staff deaths.

Pret must have learned from the customer deaths they never even told us  about and also my situation that the truth will always come out.

It is my biggest regret having wasted my time, skill, effort and care for Pret A Manger.

If people don’t believe my story, I have evidence and confront Pret openly on Twitter, Facebook etc. Again, I explain in my interview why Pret is not responding. All I can say to everyone regarding the nice facade of Pret or any company is:

If something looks too good to be true, take a closer look!

The below Index takes openness to read, as many people want to believe the fairy-tale that is Pret A Manger. Only the Unions, Activists and some from the Press know better and look closer.

 

Illusion

 

I start the index with my own story in an interview and continue with general issues, categorizing as best as I can. Any reader and writer, please be aware of the work I’ve put into this website before you just cope & paste and mind the copyright. I have other websites as back-ups. I am open for any interview and article feature, as well as questions.

Any new writings in the future that I may add, I will indicate as UPDATE or NEW.

 

Index:

Links open in a new window / tab

 

INTERVIEW

For the first time I share my story with Pret verbally in an interview on a podcast based in California. Interview with The Adam Paradox: (The interview can be played while scrolling through this page and is featured on my website at the bottom of most pages)

 


 

ARTICLES

Two articles I wrote that is featured in the monthly Scottish Left Review editions –

May/June 2019: “On the Frontline: Crushed by Corporate Capitalist Culture

Nov/Dec 2019: “Pushing Back Against Pret

 


 

PRESS

Journalist Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover into Pret after reading my blog, and having suggested to her to go undercover. I added my thoughts to her report in “Undercover Under Pressure

 


 

May 2019

LINK >>> TWO recent Pret staff deaths

I was leaked an email that HR Director Andrea Wareham sent to all Pret shops mid/end of May that TWO Pret staff have died within a month. One staff I was told was a suicide, the other TM the “leakers” don’t have the info. It’s not the first suicide in Pret!

 


 

£1000 FOR ALL STAFF
(£800 after tax)

Timing of Clive Schlee’s £1000 announcement (after he became aware of my Blog)

 


 

PRET STAFF REVIEWS & COMPLAINTS

On the below slideshow I added just a selection of staff reviews and comments to save long blog entries. These are from review websites like Glassdoor and Indeed, but also from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other websites where people commented on the work environment in Pret.

Just some examples, before the Slideshow, from former Pret employees in NYC, London etc.:

Pure Misery Go back to England - RVW15228294

 

Go back to UK

Link

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM

Four years after Bridgepoint took over Pret and tasked to open on every corner in London specifically. Scrolling to the 23 July 2012 at 12:53 comment.

 

2019-03-07 Modern Slavery

Link

Las Vegas

Link

 

IT Analyst HQ

Link

 

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

June/July 2019 overall figures on Glassdoor

 

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

YouTube

 


 

CEO CLIVE SCHLEE RETIREMENT
NEW CEO PANO CHRISTOU

01. July 2019: Announcement of early “retirement” of Clive Schlee supposedly in September, but new CEO Pano Christou is already featured on Glassdoor, probably to avoid further negative voting for Schlee.

A list of articles I wrote on Clive Schlee: “Clive Schlee – Late Night Girl Articles

Article on Pano Christou, new CEO officially from September 2019.

 

2019-07-22 43 staff - 0 Pano

July 2019 New CEO, new start on Glassdoor

 

October 2019

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 


 

CUSTOMER OBSERVATIONS
on Stressful Work conditions

The Pain of Working at Pret A Manger

Pret Staff work in overheated shops. Customer complaints on behalf of employees regarding excruciating work conditions in 35-40ºC+ heat for prolonged time, weeks and months.

Caught in the Act at Pret – Customers witnessed bullying.

 


 

FORCED SMILES & HAPPINESS
for Mystery Shopper Team bonus, extra £200 individual cash rewards and fear management

How Companies Force Emotional Labor on Low-Wage Workers

The Truth Behind the Pret A Manger Smile via cash incentives and fear management

How Emotional Labour Harms us all – my comments on an article in the NewStatesman

 

Pret Uniform2

 


 

PRET’S MARKETING with Charity
and Former Homeless People

Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust

 


 

ALLERGEN DEATHS
and Pret’s procrastination

Ongoing Issues – Hospitalization, mislabelling, cross-contamination, understaffed …

Vegetarians eat Ham and Meat products – more ongoing issues

Pret’s Labelling Commitment?

Allergen Label Warnings Pret ignored before and even after customer deaths

Pret on Trial after Allergen Death – 6th December 2019


 

VARIOUS LAWSUITS
(that I’m aware of, there are more, but depending how public they are)

A recent staff review from New York mentions that Pret is constantly being sued. In the UK the legal system isn’t as helpful:

Worst

Link

USA: Two Wage Lawsuits settled that Pret employees filed, re-paying 4000 workers (middle section of page).

USA: Deceptive Packaging Class Action settled. But the misleading packaging still continues.

Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat Lawsuits vs. Pret on the “Natural” Food claim while Glyphosate was found in food. Change of signage, packaging and Website.

USA: 2016 “sesame reaction” Lawsuit and Pret doing ZERO
At the bottom of the page: A New York customer suffered an anaphylactic shock from unlabelled sesame in a Pret Wrap. He lost the case, yet Pret still did nothing to label food even after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died from the same unlabelled allergen in the same year of 2016.

USA March 2019 Court PDF Document of new lawsuit regarding Pret’s “Natural” claim. List of chemicals from page 10 onward.

No Lawsuit, but ongoing complaints regarding the watery Chicken Broccoli and Brown Rice soup

NEW Slideshow: Pret A Manger Bang Bang Rip-Off Wrap

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FREE COFFEES MARKETING

And why Pret doesn’t do a Loyalty Card System

 


 

EXTERNAL PRESS ARTICLES

Pret A Manger and “broken windows” syndrome

My Comments on Sathnam Sanghera’s article in The Times: “Pret was the best thing since sliced bread but private equity ruined it”

Man invoices Pret A Manger and EAT. for time spent waiting in shops

The Guradian article: “The brilliant Pret a Manger marketing con we want to fall for

 

… more to come

 

10 Chicago Pret horrible company to work for

A customer’s comment in Chicago regarding a deceased Pret employee and Pret in general.

 


 

Lastly, THE Best description of SYSTEMIC Workplace Bullying and what I have gone through under Pret’s senior leadership and HR, is summed up in this text I found on Twitter.

I have spent over a year writing my hands into a carpal tunnel (not really, just using a metaphor!) on what I’ve been through in Pret A Manger. I described how systemic and toxic Pret’s bullying is behind the smiley facade!

I can wrap up my whole experience and website in this one text:

 

Describtion Systemic Bullying

From Twitter @scwb_now

 

Further Staff Reviews, one which states that they felt always being “hounded”. I based more reviews in a YouTube slide on this statement:

 

“Worked into the ground without empathy”

 

Smile for the Mystery Shopper – Forced to do emotional labour for cash incentives and fear management (I re-named as the “Misery” Shopper)

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 22: Clive Schlee’s Late Night Girl – Articles

 

Day 22 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

Clive Schlee’s “Late Night Girl’s” Writings.

For any new reader, my full story in an interview at the bottom of this page on the audio player.

For a comprehensive list of writings about Pret A Manger, please visit:
>>> The Most Comprehensive Website on Pret A Manger

Since Clive Schlee, now former CEO of Pret labelled me his “late night girl”, I return the favour and call him Clive Leech. This label was inspired by a recent staff review, plus all the many other reviews and my experience of Pret being exploitative and sucking the life-blood out of employees. Review: >>> Leeches <<<

I said in early 2019 to a Union person that Clive Schlee will probably sneak out of Pret. And days ago I wrote to another person that he is very quiet lately and either on a Sabbatical or leaving.

 


 

My blog entry on the 01. July 2019:

I tweeted to the press this morning, and of course now they have “breaking” news 😉 He since has now tweeted his announcement himself AFTER I contacted the press and they “broke” the news.

~10am Tweet before the press started waking up:

2019-07-01 My Schlee retirement Tweet

Link

 


 

To Clive Schlee,

unfortunately your early retirement you chose not to announce and I had to tweet again for the press to pick this up. Sure, Pano Christou will take over, having come from McDonald’s management (nobody’s perfect!) he will continue where you left off. Pano became UK Managing Director after Andrew Walker “left”. Andrew Walker then became EAT’s CEO which is now swallowed by JAB via Pret. What a cold cold business! It may be good for the press to properly investigate on the Andrew Walker issue!

Pano will do some changes of course, but from his emails years ago, he wasn’t straight forward with me either, and I’m afraid Pret will continue business as usual with a lot of the chaos behind the scenes.

I’m sure you’ve done a lot of good things and many will sing your praises. But for me and many others this PR[et] facade and the reality behind the scenes has been a terrible “ride” and the worst, traumatic experience I have ever had in any workplace! Only my brother’s untimely death supersedes this trauma in an even greater nightmare!

I always shuddered when as a shop Team Leader, working in the office doing the ordering or whatever I had to do, when an email from HQ came in. And that email was sent out naming, blaming and shaming shops that had poor scoring in Health & Safety or other issues. This fear management, also to your low-paid workers via Mystery Shoppers, was always a terrible experience to read and witness.

And you think you can just sneak out of Pret, not taking any responsibility?

I worked in the catering industry all my life, in 3 countries. I never shied away from hard work and was self-sufficient since my teenage years. I lived and worked with integrity, principle and care. And what I received in return was humiliation, trauma, and discrimination. You need to understand that Pret A Manger under your leadership has almost destroyed my life, literally almost killed me!

I survived Pret, which I experienced as toxic, corrupt and exploitative.

You can count yourself very lucky, Mr. Schlee, that my mental health is too low to see through to court without a lawyer and my father having died in the middle of preparation for the Tribunal claim I had to withdraw!

And this is YOUR legacy, sir. And I can never write any other story-line, as much as I miss my old life of writing with encouragement and positivity, having given the benefit of the doubt to you one too many times. Those days are gone when it comes to Pret A Manger!

I’m sure by now with all my writings that you have read (you still haven’t blocked me on Twitter as you collect for a potential court case or to ruin my future further! Pano Christou blocked me and today he closed his @christoupano account!), but I’m sure by now you have learned of amazing CEOs like Guy Singh-Watson from Riverford, or Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani who revolutionize the business world. I hope you learn from them, not just for the typical Pret facade and fake smile you are so known for. But a full turn around to make a true difference in the LIVES of HUMAN BEINGS that labour and give their sweat, blood and tears so that you can count your millions!

I am proud to have declined four settlement offers in turn for silence! I have many regrets, but not this one!

Wishing you good luck?

I wish that you would for once take responsibility, sir!

I wish that you would be taken to court for what people have suffered under you!

Regards,

Your “Late Night Girl” – 01. July 2019


Clive Schlee’s Legacy:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019

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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.

 


 

 

21. Sep. 2019
Pret A Manger has a New Fool

23. Sep. 2019
Smile, Fool!

01. Sep. 2019
Foot-in-Mouth Disease at Pret

08. July 2019
Any Damn Fool can run Pret

 


 

While the Press was fast asleep:

01. July 2019 approx. 3am post
Clive Schlee’s Legacy

 

30. June 2019
The Captain of the Ship

 

20. June 2019
Where is Clive Schlee?

 

18. June 2019
Clive Schlee’s Soldiers – My suspicion that he would be leaving!

 

03. April 2019
The Timing of Clive Schlee’s £1000 Announcement

 

16. Nov. 2018
Clive Schlee’s Crocodile Tears – His negligence on customer warnings regarding allergen labelling

 

08. Dec. 2018
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: to Clive Schlee

 

17. Feb, 2019
Pret’s Unprofessional Twitter Staff incl. Clive Schlee

 

02. Apr. 2019
Clive Schlee, Pano Christou

 

08. Aug. 2018
An IMAGINARY but Honest Interview with Pret A Manger

 

UPDATE:
01. July 2019
Clive Schlee’s “Retirement” vs. Resignation

and so on…


 

»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.«
 – by @minmilyjung

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 21: Pret A Manger’s Rip-Off Wrap

 

Day 21 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

A very light airy wrap with lots of room for imagination…

Get the popcorn out, put the kettle on… this will take a while!

Arrow

(Recent updates not included here, but some are added underneath the slideshow, there is more which is not included on this page)

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For a full visual list: Pret A Manger Misleading Packaging and the Class Action vs Pret for Deceptive Packaging settled in New York February 2019, and a Tweet to a customer that Pret deleted after seeing my blog entry on the misleading packaging issue.

UPDATE:

New complaints keep coming that are not featured in above slideshow. And keep in mind, not everyone complains on Twitter about it or makes photos:

To save space and scrolling time, a little collage (links underneath):

Air Wrap Collage

05. Dec. 2019

29. Nov. 2019

27. Nov. 2019 Boston, USA

27. Nov. 2019 Also USA, but Pret didn’t respond this time

15. Nov. 2019

21. Oct. 2019

19. Oct. 2019

10. Oct. 2019

… and still more underneath Lawsuit article:

Settled

Link

2019-12-20 Air Wrap

20. December 2019

2019-12-18 Air Wrap

18. Dec. 2019

 

2019-10-01 Air Wrap


TWO on 18.09.2019

2019-09-18 Air Wrap Victoria

Victoria

2019-09-18 Air Wrap

#Shrinkflation

 

2019-09-11 Air Wrap USA

 

2019-08-27 Air Wrap

27. Aug. 2019 USA

 

2019-08-21 Air Wrap

21. Aug. 2019

 

2019-09-09 Air Wrap

09. Aug. 2019

 

2019-08-07 Air Wrap

07. Aug. 2019

 

Since having settled the lawsuit, Pret’s having a laugh with a customer who helps them; the wrap looks like having been a little stretched out here:

2019-08-07 Air Wrap taking mick

Also 07. Aug. 2019

 

2019-08-06 Air Wrap

06. August 2019

 

NEW 2019-07-29 Air Wrap USA

29. July 2019

 

NEW 2019-07-26 Air Wrap

26. July 2019

 

NEW 2019-07-24 Air Wrap

24. July 2019

 

NEW 2019-07-10 Air Flat Wrap

10. July 2019

 

Some from 2014 that I missed 😉

2014-04-16 Air Wrap

16. Apr. 2014

 

2014-03-10 Air Wrap

10. Mar. 2014

 

to be continued unfortunately …

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 19: Secrets To Outstanding Customer Service

 

Day 19 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

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.

UPDATE November 2019 / February 2020

And here’s the proof that Pret recruited people to tweet! 😉

November 2019 and February 2020

With the collections I do of staff reviews, of course Pret stole the idea to collect their own customer reviews. YET, Pret keeps missing to have genuine staff reviews on Twitter as they don’t want me to confront recruited staff Tweets.

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.

And here’s the first Tweet on 20. November 2019, in this case by Pret’s USA Twitter account of the “recruited” customer Tweets. Pret again steals what I’ve been doing, keep on keeping Pret! 😀

2019-11-20 Pret Recruited Tweets

Link

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.

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

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 18: An Imaginary Interview with Pret

 

Day 18 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

Pixabay_interview-2071228__340

 

LNG: Thank you for your time and agreeing to do an imaginary but honest and transparent interview, this has been a long time in the making and I am grateful you finally agree to give us an unprecedented look into your business, especially staff treatment, and what makes you stand out on the high street.

PAM: Oh, no problem at all. Sorry it took so long to agree to an imaginary yet open and honest interview, but we’ve been really busy with our success as you know.

LNG: Yes, well done! May I call you Pret?

PAM: Sure, we love to be on first name basis here. We are family.

LNG: Thank you, you can call me what your CEO calls me.

PAM: Great! Okay Late Night Girl, what do you want to know about our company?

LNG: My first question….

PAM: (interrupts) Oh, would you like a coffee? On the house? The first hit is always free! 😉

LNG: No, thank you, I got my own! 🙂

 

Coffee paper cups

 

 

LNG: So, my first question is, what is the secret ingredient to your success?

PAM: Well, if we stay on the first name we have a secret spelling system here, we love to work with acronyms to really emphasize that we mean business when it comes to motivating our staff. Pret is French for “ready”. So, Pret A Manger means “ready to eat”. Fast food, from already cooked and processed products that arrive daily and are then assembled in the kitchens on the premises. But it is not just food ready to eat, we want our staff to always be “ready to work” come rain come shine, in good days and in bad days, till FS do us part.

L: What’s FS?

P: That’s another meaning, “FS” is the Firing Squad, but officially they are called “HR”, meaning Human Resources, of course. Our HR department have a really great slogan to sell their mission as, “Doing the right thing naturally”, and people buy into this slogan without questioning it, as PC is too common. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? HR don’t do the dismissing themselves, no, they like others to execute this nitty-gritty muddy business. They…

L: (interrupts) What’s PC now?

P: Oh, common’?!

L: Ah, yeah, right. Sorry.

P: Tztz, you didn’t do your homework when preparing for this interview?! You don’t know our 6 P’s?!

L: No, no, yes, uhm, I know them all! (nods, while getting a first glimpse into the intimidation tactics) It’s just a lot to remember what you give your staff to memorize.

P: Yes, that is how brainwashing works, repeated bombardment of silly word games.

L: Sure.

P: So, where were we?

L: With HR not doing the dirty work.

 

ronald-mcdonald-you-re-fired-meme

 

P: Ah yeah, so they fire indirectly using their operational side of the business, managers who are tasked to hold hearings that are “fundamentally flawed” as one Tribunal Judge called it, they are unfair and only impartial if we need to cover ourselves.

L: Ah! So, it’s a lot to do with fear management?

P: You got it.

 

L: And how does the fear management work exactly? Talk me through a typical day in a Pret shop.

P: No problem. First of all, we don’t like to be known as a sandwich “factory”, even though we are hundreds of little sandwich factories. So, we put intensive incentives in place, pay a little bit more here, give a little more holidays there, put on elaborate parties, let the kitchens play loud and fast music to speed up their work pace and avoid them talking too much with each other wasting our precious time, no matter if they get a head ache or a tinnitus etc. etc.

In reality we have no choice but give a little here and there as the job is way too harsh, stressful and non-rewarding. So we apply psychology where we call our sandwich makers “chefs”, let them go through patronizing “graduation” so they assume they achieved something and won’t leave as easily.

 

L: Ah, clever!

P: Yes, it’s all psychology. We have slogans on our packaging saying “Lovingly made in this kitchen today”, we’re having a laugh with our staff because in this high-paced and stressful environment making something “lovingly” would only be to resign!

But our real main ingredient and the real spelling behind our acronym as already hinted early on is, Pret really is a four letter F-word spelled F E A R. It means Fire Early At Request or with the nickname of “Fret” to make it more appealing. Fear management is the main motivator for our lovely and hard working people, but we facade this in the perfect packaging of “Good Jobs for Good People”. We have a lot of good people, but after a while they get so burned out, feel devalued and dehumanized that they are not “good” anymore, and there are plenty of young people lining up for the job. We give out disciplinaries like napkins, we make sure that our staff always worry about their job security, and we don’t tolerate people being vulnerable (takes a sip from the organic coffee).

L: What do you mean by “vulnerable”?

P: Well, simply inconvenient occasions like bereavement or even mental illness of our staff. We feel that especially bereavement is “imposed” on us. That’s not nice.

L: (looking confused) So, it would be best to not be vulnerable, as staff wouldn’t be safe in their jobs?

P: That’s right.

 

L: So, if staff are bereaved, or suffer from a mental illness or disability that might affect their day-to-day work, and even if they work still really good while in bereavement, there is no policy in place to protect them from potentially being bullied by superiors?

P: Yes, something like that. We have a large HR department, larger than the IT or even food team. But it isn’t large enough yet, as one of our former employees has exhausted our HR department after being bullied during bereavement and being held low in shops. So we want to expand our HR staff to not let this happen again.

L: Wow! Must have been hard work. But at least you learned from this and won’t let the bullying happen again. That’s great.

P: No, we won’t let it happen again that anyone approaches HR with their concern about bereavement and bullying like this anymore, even though we advised that person (whom the CEO called his “late night girl”) to raise grievances, as we didn’t want to interfere with how the managers were mistreating her. As we don’t have an anti-bullying policy in place to protect the bereaved, we aim to divert to the grievance procedure as we don’t want to admit that we have a huge problem. A grievance procedure often deters the employee to raise the issue formally, as this is quite stressful to have to come up with all the evidence, not to mention becoming a target after speaking up.

For other issues like sexual orientation, pregnant women, physical disabilities, religious beliefs, equal opportunities etc. we have a strong and clear zero tolerance policy on discrimination, because there are laws in place and we would get into trouble if we’d let those groups be bullied. Sometimes we even use any of the above groups in discrimination to get rid of other inconvenient employees, the laws for the protection of the above groups really come in handy here, even if we have to tweak our reason for dismissal a little.

And our luck is that there are no laws to protect the bereaved, we can openly and even in writing express that this is “imposed” on us without any problems. We just don’t really want to bother with grief and mental issues, even while we know that we all will die, and 1 in 4 of us will at one point or another suffer from a mental health condition. Death and illness can happen to any person at any time for any reason. But we don’t want to think about it and want to just concentrate on the material world with all the money that can be made. If you work for us, your mind needs to be of steel and you better have “Metal” Health.

L: Just like a machine or a robot?

P: Exactly!

L: I see. Hm…

P: You’re catching on fast, I like that.

L: Oh, thank you, I feel honoured! *blushing*

 

flick2

 

P: So, to finish the thought, we pride ourselves in our HR department. They are super busy with all the grievances raised and disciplinaries issued, and of course the firing squad, ready to fire anytime for any and no reason (checking the phone as a text message comes in).

L: Sounds quite efficient. I’m impressed.

P: Thank you. Yes, could we speed this up a little? I have to attend to some business.

L: Sure, just finally I’d like to throw some questions out that you cannot skip, but have to answer honestly.

P: Uuuh, I’m intrigued, fire away!

 

L: Who was the first one you ever kissed?

P: Oh, I’ll never forget my first kiss! It was McDonald’s. We even got married so I can get a green card to the U.S. But we are divorced now, as I gotten my green card and dual citizenship now and won’t need McD anymore. But we are still friends.

L: Any kids?

P: Naa, we were always married more to our jobs, and our different tastes in food finally split us up! Career is more important, and as soon as I had my foot in the door to the U.S. our divorce was imminent.

L: It was a “marriage of convenience” then?

P: You got it!

L: I see. Okay, while on the subject of super mergers, what super powers would you like to have?

P: To fire all the shop staff in one go and exchange them with perfect smiley robots that are so real looking to customers unlike the current prototypes, fooling them, and so increase our profits even more. That way we won’t have to deal with staff not being as productive when they go through personal issues like bereavement or illness. We also won’t have to deal with any human being thinking for themselves. But mostly that way we can truly “man” all the tills at all times and have enough staff, almost more than customers. We could even place a human looking robot with each and every customer, raising sales going through the roof. We would also scrap the Misery Shopper, as we won’t need them anymore since we have perfect robots. Can you imagine the amount this would slice off our labour costs and bring out the maximum? (sigh, what a dream!) But it also means that we would need to rethink the HR department, maybe turning them into mechanics fixing the robots when they break. (ponder ponder)

 

L: Sorry, what did you say, the what? The “Misery” Shopper?? What’s that?

P: Did I say that??

L: Uhm, that’s what I heard.

P: Sorry, I meant the Mystery Shopper *smile*

L: Maybe I just misheard as I had a miserable coffee this morning! The competition hey. Should have gone to Pret instead!

P: Yes, that’s it, it’s all your fault! You misheard, it was your mistake, not mine! It’s one of our important Pret attributes, always blame downwards, never take responsibility. As long as we can smile, we’re fine!

robot-916284__340

 

L: Okay back to my questions. What time period would you like to visit, past, present or future?

P: The future, always the future as the present is a blur and the past is done with and not worth keeping fond memories of. We move on quickly, whoever can’t keep up with the pace will be left behind.

L: No regrets then, huh?

P: Hello? We are Pret we don’t regret!

L: I see. Who would you like to collaborate with in business?

P: Anyone and No one. Anyone who could pour more money into us, so that we can squeeze even more out of our workers to repay the investors. We don’t like to share the spoils except only with our HQ people and high up leaders. But if we do have a moment of generosity with our shops, it is mainly to try and keep them before they leave or our aim to win new ones (whispers: Brexit’s advancing fast now).

 

L: What is your greatest accomplishment?

P: Okay, that’s another tough one, as we have so many. But I would say… (looking up at the ceiling, tapping with the fingers on the coffee cup) I’d say it really is our HR department with that ever impressive slogan of “Doing the right thing naturally”.

L: What do you value so much that you would put your money where your mouth is, so-to-speak?

P: Again, investing in our HR department, making them bigger, even though they are already bigger than any of the other departments. We’d like them to give more disciplinaries, neglecting the bereaved and mentally ill, and fire faster. Any support that is in place, most are just Pret-ense for our own fear of the Tribunal, as we like to live up to our name.

L: Which was what again?

P: F E A R.

L: Ah yeah, that’s right.

 

L: What was the moment when you felt you’ve made it?

P: When our staff bought into fear management and unnecessary pressure.

 

robot-3486900__340

 

L: What was the scariest encounter you’ve ever had?

P: Tribunal Judges at first, but when we lose our case in court, we just pay the peanuts the Judges order us to pay in compensation and then go back to business as usual. Our most scariest encounter will always be the customers and public pressure, not to mention the Unions!

L: And the greatest?

P: All our hard working people in the shops, especially those with integrity and longevity during hard times. We really feel intimidated by them, as they show real passion which we only Pret-end to have for them. But don’t tell them, they need to think that they are not valued and their work is never good enough, so they work harder until they burn out and are exchanged with “fresh blood”. It’s like one of our main acronyms: FIFO, First In First Out or our internal acronym BPOFBI: Black Pudding Out Fresh Blood In. If they find out our tactics, it would also be the most embarrassing encounter, but that’s between us.

L: Of course! You do love your acronyms and slogans, don’t you?

P: (Smiling) It’s what makes Pret PRet!

L: Yes, Pret is next to nothing when it comes to PR.

P: That’s right, we are especially successful in this by employing former homeless people to confirm this when the pressure on us gets high to explain why we treat our staff so poorly. The CEO invites a group once a year to his private Austrian property, and that way we win them for our reputation to speak up for us should we reap criticism from the public regarding staff treatment. We also aim to not integrate them too much into regular Pret shops, but are working on having shops run entirely by former homeless people, as they won’t cope in the long-run in a regular mainstream Pret shop, with all the bullying and high stress environment. It wouldn’t look good on our PR.

 

L: Makes sense. To continue with the questions, which food item are you currently working on to be the best selling of all time, not only in Pret but in the world.

P: Well, now you want to know some secrets here, what food item our food team is working on. I can’t let you in on that one, even though I agreed to do an open and honest interview. But I will say this much: it has to do with the Hearts of our staff.

L: Interesting! Similar to dishes like Liver Mousse or Kidney Pâté, but only with Hearts? Like Hearts on a Platter? Are some Minds part of the new stew as well? Oooh, I can’t wait for the new product launch!!

P: (motions with a gesture of sealed lips)

L: What, if any, is your hidden talent?

P: Doing the wrong thing naturally.

 

People-who-are-dishonest-are-perceived-as-incompetent-

 

L: On a personal level, which instrument would you like to play?

P: Hearts and Minds.

L: You can only choose one!

P: That’s not fair! I can’t choose! *biting on the coffee lid*

L: Well, strive for perfection here, a little extra mile will go a long way.

P: Okay Minds, as Hearts are often broken already and useless therefor. The Mind still needs tuning and somewhat breaking like a wild horse that is thinking on its feet too much. We are not in the horse whispering business, we break them!

 

L: Starbucks or Caffee Nero?

P: Pret!

L: Prosciutto or Posh Cheddar?

P: Well, since we go towards more Vegan, it would be Hearts. Organic Hearts of course!

L: Of course!

L: Mystery Shopper visits or Senior Management visits.

P: (regaining posture after the Heart vs Mind decision) Senior Management visits of course, we love to see the nervousness and fear on the faces of our managers and teams when we walk into shops.

L: Makes sense, that F E A R thing again, I really get to know you now and how consistent you are, very reliable.

P: (lifting the head with pride) Thank you. Now I am almost blushing.

L: Comedy or Drama?

P: Since we have too much Drama already, I’d choose Comedy, although they both go very close together in our company.

 

stressed-woman-3309731__340

 

L: Which micromanaging rule are you most proud of and why?

P: Letting our staff sign countless training rules without having the time to really train. We just like to cover our backs.

L: Which other countries would you like to conquer for Pret?

P: The whole world of course, even jungles where the monkeys live.

 

L: While on the subject of monkeys, if you were an animal, what would you be?

P: A Pret-Bull.

L: Why?

P: We like to look intimidating to our staff, but they don’t know that barking dogs don’t bite. We only bite together in groups and when we smell fear, which brings us back to fear management.

L: All well thought out then.

P: Yes. Are you sure you don’t want that coffee? It’s free!

L: No, thank you.

 

L: Final question, what was the best advise you’ve ever received?

P: Hire fast and fire even faster. Made today, gone today.

L: Thank you.

P: Well, that was fun!

L: Yeah, wasn’t that bad, was it? It must feel good to be honest.

P: Absolutely, never thought it would feel so relieving. I’ve learned a lot about myself today. Well, unfortunately, since it is lunch time I have to get back to the pub with my OPs managers for a few pints while our good and hard working people make it happen for us.

L: Of course, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. And thank you for this imaginary but honest and open interview.

P: Any time! And let me know whenever you want that free coffee 😉

L: Thank you. But no thank you. I am on my way to interview Sainsbury’s, one of the big ones to have signed up for the Disability Confident employer scheme, I want to avoid too many toilet breaks during this important interview.

P: Disability what?

 

L: Never mind, you wouldn’t be interested in that.

P: I guess you’re right. We need to keep that fear thing going.

L: That’s what I meant. Thanks again. See you again soon. *not*

P: Yes, oh while you are with them, could you ask them if they would be keen to have a Pret shop inside their supermarkets, like Costa does with Tesco with those rather unhygienic automates? That way at least we could Pret-end again to be part of this Disability thing you talk about without really being part of it of course. 😉

L: I see what I can do… *not*

 

Late Night Girl2

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 17: The Pret A Manger Brainwash

 

Day 17 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

Pret’s Values and Behaviours are not a set of rules staff have to follow, but a little booklet of brainwash the staff are subjected to. Pret has changed the wording in 2015. Where it now says:
“Needs Work” — “Good” — “Great”

Pret loosened up from the previous wording:
“Don’t want to see” — “Want to see” — “Pret Perfect”

I was reminded to post these Pret “values and behaviours” from an article by Timothy Noah on the emotional labour, the enforced happiness in Pret. Noah contacted Pret, but did not get any response and mentioned Pret’s values and behaviours that Pret had posted on their website, but after Noah’s article deleted from the site.

I was given this little booklet by David Carter, then Head of HR, when I contacted Clive Schlee, then CEO of Pret after my almost year long ordeal with management. I share my full story on this at the bottom audio player interview. David Carter, whose HR department ignored my plea for help and even were involved in my turmoil, was tasked to meet with me a few times as grievances were raised. In hindsight I understand that Carter met with me to brainwash me away from going to court. He later made 3 settlement offers for me to resign and be silent about what I went through. The fourth offer came via the court process when I raised a Tribunal claim, but withdrew as my dad died at the time and I had no lawyer.

I was extremely traumatized at the time with the loss of my brother and the bullying from Pret management under the watchful eye of HR. So, Carter’s aim was to gaslight me, and he succeeded of course, because I was so out of my mind and in trauma, I could not see left from right. But one thing he said puzzled me at first. After our first meeting he asked me at the end to tell him on a scale of 1 – 10 how meeting with him is for me. Later I realized he seemed to needed his ego strokes, as I wasn’t impressed to be meeting a “big cheese” from head office. My concern was my immediate line managers, Mr. Carter in case you’re reading this! My concern was not to stroke his ego or whatever else he wanted scratching!

He “promised” me to bring this little booklet for our next catch-up meeting. And at the second meeting he reminded me of his promise to bring this little booklet to show me something. Again, by then I knew what bullshit this is he’s doing. A “promise” woohoooo, to show me something, oooohhhh, aaaaahhh! What a big deal.

I did realize fast as well after he showed me a sentence in the booklet that they updated because of my situation. And I was supposed to go wooooohhhhoooo, aaaahhhh… that after he showed this to me. Pret tried to bullshit me that they are putting “policy” in place for bereaved staff. In reality this booklet is just a set of suggestions and brainwash that puts the ball back into the court of the shop management.

Shop management were ALL, except for one, overwhelmed with my situation. Not only did managers not have the tools and guidance from Pret to deal with bereaved employees, upper management under the watchful eye of HR bullied me, using a host of other people, managers, colleagues, even supposed customer complaints in emails about my service.

I found a description on Twitter of what EXACTLY was happening to me at the time, I just didn’t realize while in grief and trauma. But this is word for word what I went through in Pret;

Bullying Summed Up Nutshell

 

My situation went all the way to the top and infiltrated Head Office. Pret tried everything to get rid of me, as bereaved employees are an inconvenience for Pret, even long-term staff. I highlight later which sentence David Carter showed me, that was updated because of my situation. Yet, in reality this change was just another sentence of suggestion, and one that was supposed to show how caring Pret is. But again, no change in company policy on how to manage bereavement in the workplace.

I sent Pret management and HR several times a link to the ACAS guide of Bereavement at Work. Everytime they ignored the guide. In fact one HR People Business Partner even admitted that Pret could improve in supporting bereaved employees. I have his email because I applied for my file after the bullying.

The HR note taker wrote to a People Business Partner about my complaints when I was bullied by managers. 1. Pret never wanted to admit that I was bullied, and they worked all together to prevent this from being admitted. 2. the People Business Partner admitted that Pret can improve on this etc. A few months later this PBP was the note taker of yet another grievance appeal hearing that I raised against his colleague, another PBP who was in the background supporting the bully managers against me. I showed him this email of what he wrote, and he then said, “Well, in hindsight he might have been wrong.”

The email of the note taker in yellow and the response of the PBP in red:

 

No support from Pret

 

Yet, nothing changed. Again, for new readers, my story on how Pret not only NOT improved, but continued to bully me, including now former CEO Clive Schlee patronizing me, is in the interview at the bottom audio player.

A review I stumbled across from a Pret worker in New York who got penalized for going to a funeral:

Personal Issues1

Link

And a recent review of no support when having personal issues:

Personal Issues2

Link

Here are the Pret Values and Brainwash … uhm Behaviours in their typical psychology and wordplay:

img291

The brainwash in wordplay here is simple: Pret claims to give shops a “hand”, while in reality these suggestions are just something people can follow if they want to kiss butt to be promoted. Pret values, in fact are spread all over my blog, on Glassdoor and Indeed etc. (Slideshow at the bottom).

 

img292

 

The above is more for regular Team Members and all staff. The “Strives for perfection” part was always a stomach turner! But it is a very typical Pret thing. Pret expects staff to be perfect while themselves having a laugh.

 

Las Vegas

Link

And only a few recent Manager and Head Office reviews that are not only heart-breaking, but show Pret Senior Managers’ true faces:

2019-10-31 GM - Slavery - RVW30135565

Link

2019-11-10 GM Horrible

Link

Head Office Reviews

HQ Bullies

Link

It Analyst HQ Head Office Review

Link

01 Go back to UK

Review by a Corporate, NY

 

Those reviews are only a hint of the many on the sites and the ones I collected. Staff spill the beans in anonymity on how reality is behind the “happy” facade. There’s a reason why Pret and its “leadership” have such poor scores on Glassdoor & Co.

 

Clive Schlee’s legacy:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

New CEO Pano Christou:

2019-11-19 Pano 40 vs 31

 

 

img293

This part is now moving into leadership roles.

 

img296

 

This section is now for Leaders and Managers. And this is the part that David Carter “promised” to show me. On the “Great” column, the 6th point. The part he showed me: “Tackles people issues early and sensitively, showing great compassion.”

 

Mittelfinger

This is an x-ray of my left middle-finger after an injury. This is for the blank page.

The tackling early and sensitively, showing great compassion Pret shows AGAIN in the end when they tasked a Development Manager, who supposedly had a brother as well who died alone in his apartment and wasn’t discovered for days. I share this in my interview at the bottom audio player and wrote about it here:

Lila Warren, David Carter, Clive Schlee

and

Lila Tighilt Warren and “her brother” Zain

 

Some reviews on the brainwash in Pret:

 

2013-07-30 Brainwashed Sandwich Making - RVW2875416

Link

2015 People Cry

Link

2015-12-04 TM - Brain Wash Brainwash - RVW8825267 marked

Link

Brainwash

Link

 

Brainwashed scared

Link

etc. etc. etc. … more on this Slideshow:

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slideshow can be paused

The above slideshow is just a selection, the list goes on in Pret Staff Complaints and extensive accounts of Pret’s systemic bullying behind the facade, even witnessed by a customer: Caught in the Act at Pret.

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

 

 

Day 16: Pret A Manger Soup Rota

 

Day 16 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

The soup rota for the week goes as follows:

Monday – Chicken Broccoli and Rice without chicken
Tuesday – Chicken Broccoli and Rice without rice
Wednesday – Chicken Broccoli and Rice without broccoli
Thursday – Chicken Broccoli and Rice without a label
Friday – Chicken Broccoli and Rice with a veggie label
Saturday – Chicken Broccoli and Rice with a flat wooden spoon
Sunday – Chicken Broccoli and Rice with vegan turkey
Any other day – Chicken Broccoli and Rice without chicken, broccoli and rice. Water-detox soup!

 

2018-12-10 Chick BrocRice Soup Nooooo

Link

 

Sure, no problem:

 

2018-10-17 Chick BrocRice Soup NEVER any chicken

17. Oct. 2018

 

2019-05-12 Chick BrocRice Soup

12. May 2019

 

2019-05-01 Chick BrocRice Soup

01. May 2019

 

2019-04-24 Chick BrocRice Soup

24. April 2019

 

2019-04-19 Chick BrocRice Soup

20. March 2019

 

I love this “etc” soup 😀

2019-04-13 Chick BrocRice etc Soup

13. March 2019

 

2019-04-11 Chick BrocRice Soup

11. March 2019

 

2019-04-10 Chick BrocRice Soup2

10. March 2019

 

2019-04-07 Chick BrocRice Soup

07. March 2019

 

2019-04-05 Chick BrocRice Soup

05. March 2019

 

2019-02-27 Chick BrocRice Soup

27. Feb. 2019

 

2019-02-23-chick-brocrice-soup-1.jpg

23. Feb. 2019

 

2019-02-20 Chick BrocRice Soup

20. Feb. 2019

 

2019-02-08 Chick BrocRice Soup

08. Feb. 2019

 

2019-01-27 Chick BrocRice Soup

27. Jan. 2019

 

2019-01-18 Chick BrocRice Soup

18. Jan. 2019

 

2019-01-15 Chick BrocRice Soup

15. Jan 2019

 

ALSO the 15. Jan. 2019

2019-01-15 Chick BrocRice Soup AGAIN

15. Jan. 2019

 

2019-01-14 Chick BrocRice Soup

14. Jan. 2019 Video

 

2019-01-04 Chick BrocRice Soup

04. Jan. 2019

03. Jan 2019 Disappointed …

 

TWO for the price of … happy new year!

2018-12-31 Chick BrocRice Soup

31. Dec. 2018

 

10. Dec. 2018 True disappointment…

04. Dec. 2018 A little light on the chicken

 

2018-11-20 Chick BrocRice Soup

20. Nov. 2018

 

2018-11-12 Chick BrocRice Soup Video

12. Nov. 2018 Video

 

2018-11-10 Chick BrocRice Soup Increase Price

01. Nov. 2018

 

2018-10-29 Chick BrocRice Soup Video

29. Oct. 2018 Video

 

Note: People with white/blue “ticks” are not patronized with “Oh no/Oh dear” responses, the rest of the customers are patronized like idiots!

2018-10-22 Chick BrocRice Soup RENAME

22. Oct. 2018

 

2018-10-08 Chick BrocRice Soup Video

08. Oct. 2018 Video

 

Jumping over a host of more Tweets and going back to 22. March 2017… and then I just stopped…

2017-03-22 Chick BrocRice Soup

22. March 2017

 

Not only is the Chicken Broccoli & Rice soup a see-through meal without the main ingredients, Pret adds some glass to it to make it more transparent:

2019-02-28 Chick BrocRice Soup GLASS

28. Feb. 2019

 

And finally, the Soup Question of the Day:

2019-01-05 Why ALWAYS Chick BrocRice Soup

05. Jan. 2019

 

2018-11-26 Why ALWAYS Chick BrocRice Soup2

26. Nov. 2018

 

2018-11-21 Why ALWAYS Chick BrocRice Soup

21. Nov. 2018

Because it has hardly any ingredients in it, making the profit margins fatty for those millionaire pockets…

 

Class Action Suit against Pret
settled in NYC for deceptive packaging;

A Visual of the
Misleading Wrap Packaging Size.

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 15: PRotesting Giants, PRotecting Clients

 

PReserving Reliance

 

Day 15 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

Note: If you prefer to read on a green background, not white, please delete the amp/ in above url and reload. Linked from Twitter, for some reason it has white background and an addition to the url. On green background comments at the bottom will be visible compared to white background page.

 

A Crash-course on the PR[et] stunt and how businesses PRostitute their values and demand their staff to do the same.

 

PRet’s

PRactices in

PRocrastinating

PRoper labelling when

PResented with concerns to

PRotect people and

PReventing

PRemature deaths from

PRepared

PRoducts, taking

PRecedence by being

PReoccupied in

PRioritizing and

PReferring

PRosperity, while being

PRetentious, but not

PRoactive,

PRactical,

PRagmatic,

PRimarily

PRofessional,

PRincipled and with

PRide

PRoviding all ingredients by

PRinting labels to

PReserve and

PRolong life … is so out of

PRoportion!

 

The PRefabricated

PRemeditated and

PRedictable

PRopaganda,

PRoclaiming

PRomising and

PRofessing that “nothing is more important right now” after an Inquest

PRobing a death, public

PRostests and

PRessure from the

PRess is typical for the

PR[et] machine with

PRofits over

PRivate lives

PRoving their negligence

 

PRoblem remains: no

PRocecution, no

PRison sentence, and no

PRoposed new leadership

 

Pret A Manger

PRovokes anger,

PRevails and regains

PRominence by hiring and

PRomoting

PR firm

Headland, Tovera Consulting and former FSA Chief Tim Smith to fix the mess and repaint the facade, like colouring a rotten egg after having ignored multiple warnings.

 

PRecious lives paid the

PRice, financially

PReyed and

PRowled upon by greedy

PRicks!

 

If Public Relation is not for the sake of both, the company AND the public; if a company cannot relate to families having lost loved ones, due to the company’s negligence, going full steam ahead with business as usual, then Public Ramifications won’t fix lost Reputation.

 

PRaying for the families, especially this Christmas time.

 

©2018 expret.org

 

P.S. Mind intellectual PRoperty.

 

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

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment:
Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by
The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:

 

©2020 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.

Day 14: Cheer Leader vs. Fear Leader

 

Day 14 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

THIS is how Leadership looks like that motivates its employees with respect and mutual inspiration (Employee owned company):

 

And THIS is how Fear Management looks like (Pret A Manger under Private Equity):

 

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 13: A Day in the Life of a Pret Worker

 

Day 13 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

The Truth behind the Pret A Manger smile, and the emotional, mental, physical and financial cost to staff.

 

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 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 words: 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 £100 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 = £200. So, that one staff member gets their weekly wages, the weekly bonus PLUS the extra £100 or £200 cash. £100 OC (Outstanding Card) or £200 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 £100, or £200 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.

NOTE: The bonus is also used by abusive management to manipulate staff members. For example: company policy is that when a staff member (except Managers & Assistant Managers who are on the monthly pay-role, not on hourly pay) calls sick, even just for one day, they will not receive their bonus for that week. Also, when staff members come to work late, they get their bonus cut. BUT while the bonus cut for sickness is company policy and already bad enough, the lateness issue is supposed to be in the discretion of the Manger. So, if I come to work always on time, even earlier, and one time I am late 5 minutes due to traffic issues etc., the Manager could (and should) be merciful as they would know me to always be on time.

But I have worked with Managers who didn’t like me or another Team Member and cut our bonus mercilessly! We had to then fight and reason with management why they are so harsh, while letting their favourite staff members off the hook regularly.

Also, bonus is cut for stupid reasons. I was threatened by a Manager early when I just became a Team Leader and wasn’t even trained well. In those days Pret had the burgundy plastic opening/closing sign that you needed to slide open for the opening time, and slide close to the closing time. In my early days I forgot to slide it to “open” about 2 – 3 times a week. But instead of training me how to double check everything before opening time, I was threatened that if I forget to slide it to open, that my bonus for that week would be cut. It was absolutely kindergarten and ridiculous. A colleague of mine got his bonus cut because he came to work after a few days off with a beard. Pret demands staff to speak with management first when they plan to grow a beard! Yes, I’m not kidding! So, the staff member flipped out, had a big verbal fight with the Manager and left Pret because that was just the last drop on the barrel for him.

Abusive, insecure and immature Managers use the bonus as fear management.

Pret Staff Tweets:

2017 Mystery Shopper sick pay

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 Tweet to the then CEO before his “retirement” in September 2019, by a frustrated Team Member:

2019-06-05 TM bonus cut sick mystery shopper

Link

 

~~~ And here is 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.

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. Or in the words of a case study, quote:

»The case is about the enforced happiness of the employees of Pret A Manger. Here, the employer demands those persons who have specific attributes and capability to appeal to the senses of the customers to attract them. … It presents an extreme case of emotional labour that the employees of Pret A Manger are made to practice while selling cheddar and tomato sandwich. Emotional labour is conceptualised as a practice that sabotages the rights of the employees

— From Arsalan, Case Study

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, harassment etc., any aggressive behaviour that is systemic, 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.

2019-11-29 View into Pret kitchen photo2

Link

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 think until their break (or until they literally break!). In the shop there are windows to get daylight and space, while still having to clean, stock up etc. In the kitchen the staff can choose their own music BUT the music has to be LOUD and FAST, so they work fast! Pret sells this as “fun” while working, but in reality it is a beating drum to set the pace. But at least they can choose their songs. In the shops staff cannot choose and have to listen to the same old, same old, same old tunes every single day for months and months, until Pret changes the playlist! And many other differences between the two work areas. (Side note: the music in shops is also loud so that customers don’t linger around too long occupying seats 😉 The money has to flow…) And many other things that vary between the kitchen and the shop.

I often “mediated” between the two 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 has their challenges as well as good parts, but that EVERYONE works hard and has a lot of stress, just differently.

The most poignant Pret staff review I came across. It’s from a worker who mainly worked in the kitchen, but also had to jump in helping at the tills doing customer service. This jumping back and forth is VERY common in Pret, and very frustrating for staff:

Annihilate Humanity 45

Link

Hierarchies

Shop hierarchy:
General Manager (GM) and Assistant Manager Floor (AMF) are in plain business attire
Floor Leader (FL) – Green belt and name badge

Baristas/Coffee Makers – Black belt, shirt and name badge
Hot Food Chef (HFC) – Red belt, and name badge
Team Members (TM) – Burgundy belt and white name badge. Sometimes wearing red apron to help the Hot Chef out.

The colour of the badge is the main indicator of position, not the apron or even shirt.

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) – Green belt and name badge
Team Member Trainer (TMT) Blue belt and name badge
Team Members (TMs) – Burgundy belt and white name badge

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.

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.

Recent General Manager review on higher/area management:

2019-11-10 GM Horrible - marked

LinkManagers 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.

 

Customer observation on store management:

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.

 

01 Go back to UK

Corporate NYC Review

 

I could add countless reviews like this also from YouTube, Twitter, FB and other sites, but to shorten this, the smile behind Pret is forced via Mystery Shopper’s bonus / cash incentives and fear management.

Anyone who falls for this facade that staff are so happy to work in Pret can remain lulled in if they want to.

I have to also say that staff truly love to give freebies and help customers, they really do. I did, my teams did etc. BUT becoming conditioned to this and then being bullied when personal tragedy hits you like it did me and many others, will add to mental health problems, even depression.

I was leaked an email recently which the Director of HR wrote to all the shops that two  staff members died within a month. I was told by the people who leaked the email to me that one was a suicide. They don’t know the circumstances of the other TM.

But I know of an AMK who died by suicide in 2017 and I may have learned about her turmoil before she died.

I almost went over the edge with what I’ve been through in Pret. If I would have gone through, my death would be the third suicide in Pret. And my suicide would certainly be related to Pret A Manger’s bullying environment. I explain in full in below interview.

So, dear reader, if you have an hour to spare in the weekday morning, go to your local, or even better, another Pret where they don’t know you, sit close to the counter where you have a good view of all TMs. And just observe WITHOUT being distracted. But observe in a subtle way as TMs will assume you are the Mystery Shopper if you “stare” at them. But then again, you may get a free coffee or even breakfast if the Team thinks you are the MS! 😀

If you read though all this, thank you for reading and caring! Please know, I never take people’s time lightly. I know I write a lot, it’s my passion. But I always appreciate people’s time with difficult subjects and when their perception is crushed. I always say, if something looks too good to be true, especially in profit-driven multi-billion pound business, please take a closer look.

Some of the questions weekly Mystery Shoppers are tasked to test staff on:

 

The Clever Marketing of the Free Coffee give a way, and why Pret may not be doing a Loyalty Card Scheme: FREE Coffees in Pret A Manger.

 

Article: Why is Pret A Manger not being Investigated on Staff Deaths?

 

Clive Schlee’s “retirement” and the
Dangers of the Lack of Leadership“.

 


 

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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 12: Ready to (ch)eat – Pret A Manger

Day 12 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat
“Organic Coffee NaturalGood… Glyphosate Food”

NOT Natural

Link to TheDrum.com article

UPDATE 29. June 2020 – SECOND class action suit against Pret on the “Natural” Food claim
(at the bottom of this page)

Even while I worked at Pret I always wondered how Pret’s claim to be certified Organic and Fair Trade regarding their coffee can even be valid. Not making any allegations, just raising questions! To get certified as being organic is super expensive for companies.

The mistake most people make, and why companies employ expensive marketing and psychology is, when looking at the signage that is being fazed out now after the class action suits on the natural claim, it says in a round logo: “Organic Coffee Natural Food”. Or now the new signs “Organic Coffee Good Food”. Clever marketing knows “eye-level, buy-level” and in most countries we read and write from left to right and from the top down. And many times I read it on Twitter especially that people recommend Pret to others as this “organic food” chain…

But even if Pret would claim to sell organic food, the ingredients that are delivered from factories every morning are PERFECT, the eggs are all the same size and often the same bleak yellow colour, the bananas are perfect etc. But Pret claims their coffee is organic, okay, we have to “swallow” that until someone can prove otherwise. I just raise the question as I know how much the coffee costs having had to do the ordering for the day-to-day running of shops. If customers knew how much it costs for Pret to produce a cup of latte, including the coffee, milk, cup, lid and labour… people would get sick at the profit margin. That’s why Pret can afford to give so many free coffees and then turn around, raise the price as someone has to pay for all the freebies. And it won’t be Pret!
On the Free Coffee marketing I write extensively on Free Coffees in Pret A Manger.

Back to the “Natural” issue. The round logo gives us the impression of “Organic Food” as our brains move automatically from left to right and top down. But Pret will say they never claimed to have organic food, but organic coffee. They “throw” the perception back at the customer again and I wonder if anyone is looking closer into the organic coffee claim.

Pret has been sued for their claim to be natural while the food contains glyphosate for which the mighty Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, currently has more than 13,000 lawsuits on their neck. With three major lawsuits lost in the billions, due to denial that their main product Roundup causes cancer, which has not had a warning label on the product. Bayer upon purchasing Monsanto in 2018 set aside $250 Million for the expected lawsuits, but has bitten out a bigger chunk than they can chew in legal bills, and the shares have tumbled towards the basement since the verdicts. Bayer never expected that the jury would now draw the line, as the fake laboratory tests Monsanto conducted saying that Roundup is safe, coming to light. But that’s another story altogether.

So, if the public has been paying attention regarding Pret’s signage, I have seen it more lately even in London that Pret signs are changing due to the successful vs. “natural” claim lawsuits. More and more it says “Organic Coffee Good Food” now. How about changing it to “Organic Coffee Labelled Food”!!

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

Link

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

Even on Pret.com, the word “natural” seems to have completely disappeared.

good-food-new-sign.jpg

Link to Pret USA Twitter as the U.S. shops have to act fast

A customer on Twitter posted the below pictures confused on why the word “natural” was covered over at LAX airport that is getting ready for its first Pret on the West Coast, as JAB / Reimanns are on a mission to expand fast, trying to restore Pret’s reputation and divert from all the scandals, especially the TWO customer deaths. They divert with swamping first airports and busy train stations in new areas. In the U.S. Pret has to act on the “natural” signage while in the UK everything is lenient again.

Two customers died from hidden allergen in Pret products, a third nearly fatal, several hospitalized and Pret did not act after numerous warnings before and even after the deaths occurred. Pret only started acting slowly after the deaths became public.

Same with the “natural” food claim.

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over2

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over3

Link to David Blumenstein’s Tweet

Pret to remove Natural

Link to Daily Mail article

And from TheDrum.com article, quote: “Pret A Manger has been told by the ASA that it must “not claim or imply that its food was ‘natural’, unless its products and ingredients were in line with consumer expectations of the term ‘natural.”

Classaction in NY vs Pret on the natural claim.

The court document lists all the chemicals Pret is sued for while claiming to have natural food: >>> Filed March 2019 – Document. Scrolling down to the list of chemicals in Pret food.

From page 10 onward are listed:

Maltodextrin
Citric Acid
Malic Acid
Lactic Acid
Ascorbic Acid
Diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides
Mono- and diglycerides
GMOs
Glyphosate

Well, let’s add sulphites to the list

2019-12-11 Not Natural

Link

Now it makes sense why Pret never wanted to label their products, even after numerous complaints and warnings regarding the allergen issues, and even after TWO customers died of hidden allergen in products. Pret only acted when customer deaths became public! But avoiding labelling Pret’s “natural” food is because it is LOADED with chemicals!

And the current update is that Pret’s argument to get the case thrown out is, in a nutshell: We tell people that our food is natural, but they should know that it’s not natural. 😀

Quote:

September 13, 2019

  1. Pret A Manger Looks To End $5M Suit Over ‘Natural’ Label Pret A Manger has again asked a New York federal court to toss a $5 million proposed class action that claims the sandwich chain’s “natural” label is misleading because its products contain GMOs, saying its customers know that no processed food is completely free of synthetic ingredients.” 😀

Wow! A yes is not a yes, and a no is not a no anymore! If the Judge buys that? Oh my, Justin K Small certainly is pissed off!

Pret argument natural

Link

“Processed food” ~ vs. ~ “Lovingly handmade” psychology?

No Sesame on Label

“Processed food” ~ vs ~ “Freshly prepared” and ‘made’ vs ‘prepared’ psychology

Freshly

UPDATE 29. June 2020 – SECOND class action suit against Pret on the “Natural” Food claim

2nd Natural Lawsuit

Link to Top Class Actions article


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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
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.

Day 11: Pret A Manager – NEW Management

Yes, Manager!

 

Day 11 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

Below is a collection of some reviews from Pret A Manger managers, assistant managers, leaders and Head Office staff. Manager and leader reviews have increased in the last months.

I will not comment on these and just let them speak for themself. Most reviews are from Glassdoor and Indeed, but one is from a Blogspot site.

Clive Schlee retired as CEO of Pret in September 2019, but remains in the background as non-executive director and let new CEO Pano Christou already take over on Glassdoor in July, probably to avoid further bad scores. Typical Pret leadership, passing the buck. Schlee is also still posted as Pret’s CEO on Twitter while Pano Christo deleted his Twitter account on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted to the press regarding Schlee’s retirement and blogged about his legacy linking also to Pano Christo’s Twitter account. So, maybe Mr. Christou uses Schlee’s account as Clive used to also give access to trusted people to check his mail. It is sad, that this lack of transparency and lack of taking responsibility continues. That is why I continue to write.

 

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 

The latest review on Pret’s London Head Office from a current employee at the time of reviewing on Indeed. Pret’s 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 HQ review from January 2019

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

Link

 

A 2017 review on HQ from an IT Analyst on Glassdoor:

It Analyst HQ Head Office Review

Link

Las Vegas

Link

OPs yell Managers cry

Link

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.”

 

2011 I Hate Pret Fuck Pret

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

 

A former Manager 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret:

2012-07-23 Ex GM

 

2015 PAMSU likes to see evidence of good jobs

Link

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”

 

»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…”

 

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”

 

Another 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

 

2019-08-10 GM 5am to 8pm

Link

 

And another GM on Indeed from Glasgow, Scotland:

GM

Link “Zero care for human beings…”

 


 

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

 


 

2019-11-10 GM Horrible

Link 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.

 

2019-11-16 GM - Not as they present it

Link


 

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

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.

»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.

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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 to “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 two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:

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Day 10: Vegans Eat Meat at Pret A Manger

 

Day 10 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

Just when you think nothing more ridiculous can happen in Pret, this happens:

2019-11-27 Chicken as Veggie sticker

Link to Tweet from 27.11.2019 – I responded to SCLFT that the real @Pret killed two people in Britain! And side note: a baguette for $8!!! No wonder former CEO Clive Schlee pocketed £30 million on bonus alone! But he left a legacy behind, where low-wage staff speak out bluntly in anonymity on Glassdoor & Co.

And THIS happens: (I put the whole fe