Pret A Manger Service Secrets REVEALED

Pret A Manger’s strict Mystery Shopper scheme.

 

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness3

 

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Or click here: https://expret.org/2020/01/22/pret-a-manger-mystery-shopper-scheme

 

Introduction

This is a very detailed account on Pret A Manger’s Mystery Shopper scheme with a full report, and why staff everywhere always smile and chat so much, and give freebies etc. I walk the reader through the steps in how staff are drilled to perform to perfection for low pay, and why they do it. If you don’t have time to read, please scroll down to the large red writing (about halfway down this post) on the 30+ questions Mystery Shoppers are tasked to test staff on every week. A current staff member sent me a recent Mystery Shopper report, and I want to post the whole report here. I renamed the Mystery Shopper to “Misery” Shopper for a reason!

I write so detailed and extensive to show the public how micromanaging, brainwashing, exhausting and patronizing Pret’s Mystery Shopper scheme is.

PAMSU Dismantle MS

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I touched on this already in other blog posts, but also on a YouTube slide I made from excerpts of real Mystery Shopper reports. But I only used about 4 – 6 questions that Pret tasks Mystery Shoppers every week to test staff on. I concentrated mainly on the smiley service part and speed of service. In this post I want to put a current and FULL Mystery Shopper report, to highlight the micromanaging scheme that stresses staff every minute, as they anticipate Mystery Shoppers for cash incentives and to avoid getting fear managed.

A brief YouTube slide on real Mystery Shopper reports I combined from several years:

 

Pret makes no secret that they have Mystery Shoppers (MS), but they portray themselves to be such a happy place, when in reality staff are checked on  micromanaging questions every week.

If you want to skip this long intro, please just scroll down to the 30+ questions from current Mystery Shopper reports.

But as a taster, here are the questions without the answers. I posted the answers further below. Out of these 32 questions, 28 are “scoring” questions, meaning the results affect Managers and Team bonuses. Halfway through this post the answer from the Mystery Shopper are posted under the Qs. But here first of all just the questions, which span over 8 pages with the MS answers. When I worked at Pret it used to be 4 – 5 pages max.

NOTE: categories 1 – 6, Style, Selection etc. are the “6 steps of Service” that I explain further below that affect the whole Team bonus.
Category 7 is about an individual staff member’s service and their individual cash reward, even when the Team bonus is lost.
Category 8 is about the Government Value Added Tax (VAT), which currently is Pret’s “focus question” since about 2012-ish when the Government increased pressure on companies (I explain further in the post).
And in Category 9 are the 4 “non-scoring” questions that don’t affect bonus, and are just for market research.
The numbers in brackets i.e. (16 out of 20) is 16 points reached out of 20.

Quick rundown of the 32 questions:

1 – Style (30 out of 30)

1 – How inviting was the shop from the outside?

2 – How clean was the shop entrance?

3 – How welcoming was the atmosphere at the entrance?

4 – How was the presentation of food and drink in our display units, fridges, fruit stand, crisp baskets and queue stands?

5 – How presentable was the till counter and bakery display?

6 – How well presented were team members?

2 – Selection (16 out of 20)

7 – 1 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets in the cold fridges had less than 2 items.

8 – 2 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets in the hot food display had NO stock.

9 – 3 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets for pre-packaged cakes, cold drinks and snacks had NO stock.

10 – 4 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets for unwrapped bakery (behind the glass till counter) had NO stock.

3 – Speed (10 out of 10)

11 – 1 – Please rate the time it took to be served from joining the queue.

12 – 2 – Did you receive your hot drink within reasonable time from payment?

4 – Service (10 out of 10)

13 – 1 – How well did the person at the till connect with you with a smile, eye contact and some polite remarks?

14 – 2 – Were all your items stated during the transaction, were you charged correctly and did you receive the correct products?

3 – Please select which scenario question you asked. Asked for more information on a product Asked for more information on a product

15 – 4 – Based on the scenario you selected, please rate your experience when asking our team member your enquiry.

5 – Seating (13 out of 15)

16 – 1 – How clean were the bin stations inside the shop?

17 – 2 – How clear and clean were the floors, tables and chairs inside the shop?

18 – 3 – How well presented and stocked were the toilets INSIDE the shop (if applicable)?

6 – Say Thank You and See You Again (5 out of 5)

19 – 1 – How well did your server or any member of the team end the transaction by thank you and/or giving a pleasant parting comment?

7 – Additional Scored Question (5 out of 5)

1 – Was any ONE member of our team very helpful, extremely charming and/or outstanding?

2 – Please provide the name or a description of this outstanding member of staff.

8 – Additional Information (0 out of 5)

1 – It is a legal requirement for our teams to charge VAT for all ‘Eat In’ items/transactions. When served, were you asked if you were ‘taking away’ or ‘eating in’, and charged correctly? Asked & Charged

2 – Did you notice someone in charge and, if so, what were they doing?

3 – Did BOTH questions 2.1 and 2.2 achieve the top answer OR N/A?

4 – If you ordered a dairy free alternative milk, was the correct sticker applied to your cup to indicate the milk used?

5 – If you bought a hot food item, did the label on your product match the product you purchased?

6 – Did the label on your cold fresh food product match the product you purchased?

9 – Customer Segmentation (non-scoring)

1 – Based on your overall experience on this visit, how likely are you to recommend Pret to people you know on a scale of 1-10?

2 – In order for you to have the perfect visit, which of the following aspects should we prioritise to improve?

3 – From the list below, please choose which area is our main strength.

4 – Where do you normally go to purchase similar products?


 

When breaking down the questions, these reports are very complex as you will see with the answers the MS gives further below. Any tiny issue can penalize the whole shop team. Staff HAVE TO smile, HAVE TO chat, HAVE TO make eye contact and are drilled to give freebies, as every shop has a weekly marketing budget. For space and to keep the post as short as possible (yeah right!), I just mention a few of the many, many ways shop teams can lose or gain bonus, and individual Team Members, including Managers, can earn an extra cash reward called an “outstanding card” (OC) of £100 or a “super outstanding card” (SOC) of £200 per week / Mystery Shopper visit. An outstanding card is not a literal card, it’s just the name of the cash reward. This reward can be earned ON TOP of the wages AND on top of the Team bonus. Sounds, generous? No, if you experienced the daily stress, headache, depression, tinnitus, anxiety, physical pain, rude customers, bullying … this is 1. peanuts, and 2. even if the reward was higher, it’s not worth what your mental and physical health goes through on a prolonged period of time, every day, having to bend backwards for a little more money and small recognition.

Also, the following week this reward is forgotten, especially if you fail on a Mystery Shopper visit. It is never good enough.

A recent review from LAX, that was just opened in the summer of 2019, shows as well the bullying culture and how the reviewer doesn’t care if they get $15.25 per hour. Even a higher amount of wages isn’t worth the abuse they’re subjected to. Also, in a New Shop Opening (NSO), they pay a little more and usually have a lot of staff, as the first year of the NSO, the store doesn’t have targets to reach, as they first want to build a customer base. After about a year the pressure really starts on the targets, profits, cutting labour etc.

LAX

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The “outstanding card” (OC) used to be a £50 reward for an individual staff member, or “super outstanding card” (SOC) of £100 if the shop scores were perfect. And even if the whole shop lost the bonus on an issue I explain below, an individual staff member can still get the extra £50 (now £100) cash reward. So, it used to be £50 OC or £100 SOC if perfect scores were reached. And now it is £100 OC or £200 SOC with perfect scores.

2018-07-04 Outstanding Card Prets Response

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The irony is, I gave suggestions to an OPs (area) Manager, who asked me for my input on how Mystery Shopper scores can be improved company wide, as our shop was always very successful. And one of the suggestions I made was to double the MS reward from £50 or £100 to £100 or £200! Thank me later Pret staff! 😀 – I still have the email with the suggestions to the OPs!

No, I’m not floating my own boat here, but as a Team Leader I was responsible for “team engagement”, and everywhere I worked, I helped improve the scores by organizing the teams and encouraging them, NOT blaming them. I worked to lift them up, not put them down. And that showed in the Mystery Shopper reports. But my Managers never encouraged me, in fact one OPs tried to use one Mystery Shopper report that had bad scores (when I was in bereavement) to target me. I then collected all Mystery Shopper reports where I / we succeeded, just for my protection. Sad, but reality! And that’s how I was able to put above “Misery” Shopper YouTube slide together.

NOTE: I have been asked by some Journalists on the Mystery Shopper requirements, one Journo asked me if a staff member ever got fired for making mistakes with the MS scores. But that will never happen in an open way. I know of a Team Member who received what they used to call a “file note”, now called “note of concern”, when he didn’t smile and that lost us the bonus. A “note of concern” is NOT a disciplinary / written warning, but it is a first step to get a person towards a disciplinary and out of the company. If the management is looking for something to pin on the employee, they will find it fast. And Mystery Shopper result is the perfect way in that direction.

Many insecure Managers who work a lot with fear management, hand out “note of concerns” like staff hand out napkins. It’s always a clear sign to see which Manager is scared themselves by the amount of “notes” they “motivate” staff with. In my 10 years I only received 1 “note of concern” on a stupid thing, but not another time as I saw through this manipulation quick and wasn’t impressed. But I was the recipient of a lot of verbal fear management and unfavourably shift times etc.

Quick Sack

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I have been targeted by an Area Manager when we lost points, NOT bonus, but points as I didn’t smile. The Area Manager KNEW that I just lost my brother 6 months before. I have this as evidence if anyone doubts this. I was invited for a meeting and was presented with a list of (silly!) things I was doing wrong, including the non-smiling when I served the Mystery Shopper.

And I was often spoken to in a manipulative way when I didn’t achieve the highest points or some stupid remark the MS made about my service. I know of Team Members where the Manager would say something like, “maybe this job is not for you”… or “maybe you would do better in the kitchen” … etc. And I know of people who have been placed in the kitchen as a penalty to get them off the shop floor into the kitchen like Cinderella separating peas! And especially when staff are younger or new to Pret, they are very quickly manipulated with subtle undertones of fear management.

What the Managers didn’t know was, that I as the Team Leader took the Team Member aside later and told them not to be afraid, and I put in a good word for them, and that I know how well they do their job etc. The relieve on their faces, and at times calming their tears, was more worth to me than any effing Mystery Shopper reward! I also told my colleagues when they are harsh with the person who lost us the bonus, the day will come when they also lose the bonus and will be treated with the same measure! 

My message always was: We ALL make mistakes, let’s look after each other and not let the big guns upstairs throw crumbs at us to fight over!

As I was the shop Team Leader, responsible to “engage” the Team (to kiss butt all day!), one Manager took me aside in the beginning of me working in his shop and he said to me, “I close my eye to everything but the Mystery Shopper”. In other words, I can mess up on everything including Health and Safety issues, cutting corners everywhere, but if I mess up on the Mystery Shopper, he won’t close his eyes. I made clear to him, that he shouldn’t close his eyes on ANYTHING. I just came from a previous shop where I was targeted for small things, so I was not going to get sabotaged on ANYTHING! And I was still angry and distraught about what happened in the other shop, so I clearly spoke my mind! But this was also due to me being traumatized and in great anxiety to make the smallest mistake that could be used against me.

Pret cannot and would not openly fire someone on the grounds of having messed up the Mystery Shopper. But the targeting and bullying with the help of Mystery Shopper reports is very vast, subtle and extensive. If the Manager doesn’t like you or is angry with you for messing up the Mystery Shopper, they will arrange for you to fail further in other areas to get you fired or in the “least” transfer you out to another shop. Anyone who has been through systematic (and systemic) workplace bullying, knows what I’m talking about.

On a side note, I really recommend watching the 3-part mini-series “Sticks and Stones” from ITV, regarding subtle and systematic workplace bullying that was screened in December 2019. In this case a Team Leader is bullied and sabotaged by his Team for his position. And as the company has announced redundancies, he is put through an ordeal that is throwing him off and leads to a breakdown, that makes him look like the bad guy, incapable to do his job, out of control. Oh, how I can relate to that!!! This was another part where Pret HR gaslighted me after I raised grievances. They turned it around and used a breakdown I had after my line manager bullied me in December 2015. I broke down, sobbed and became erratic in front of my team and boss, two days before the first anniversary of my brother’s death. And Pret made me look like an angry person who causes trouble. In reality I had a breakdown similar to the breakdown the actor has in below “Sticks and Stones” Trailer.

Unfortunately the series is offline now, as ITV.com just screened it until the end of December 2019, but in case you see it on Netflix & Co. please watch! It is really well portrayed how subtle bullying happens, and how hard it is to proof without solid evidence! I watched this twice back to back and cried as I was triggered, even though Pret shops are not an office environment and I was bullied and targeted by my superiors, not by my Teams. But the principles are the same.

The Trailer on YouTube:

 

So, I can only suggest for Journalists to go undercover into Pret for AT LEAST 4 weeks, best in the mornings, where the pressure is the most intense and where the Mystery Shopper requirements are felt hard every single moment of the day! Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover only for a week in the evening shift where it’s quieter. Amy made a good start, but to really feel the Pret “blow”, people need to work in the mornings from 5AM in both the shop and the kitchen. The most poignant review by a staff member who jumped between the kitchen and the shop, is the following review on Indeed, and I can verify every word of it:

»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…”

 

Brainwash

Now, what I explain here may sound harsh, and of course it is commendable when a business looks nice, friendly, clean and fully stocked etc. But the price low-wage workers have to pay, so that company leaders reap their millions, is ridiculously high and damages a lot of people physically, mentally and even financially.

£30m

Daily Mail

Pret Mystery Shopper requirements are very militant and what Timothy Noah even called “Stasi” like, quote: “Pret keeps its sales clerks in a state of enforced rapture through policies vaguely reminiscent of the old East German Stasi”. From his excellent article Labor of Love: The Enforced Happiness of Pret A Manger. And I totally underline his article. More about the exploitation via strict Mystery Shopper emotional labour demands, I cover extensively in: The Dangers of Emotional Labour.

Side note: For any person wanting to criticize me on silly spelling because you have no other arguments to defend Pret, I write from England on WordPress that uses American spell-check. I also respect American and British spelling, so when I write “labor” it’s because an American author wrote it, vs. “labour” from a British or European writer. Also, English is NOT my first language, and I think I’m doing pretty good so far. So, before you criticize me on silliness like this, click away and watch a film or something.

Having said that, I welcome genuine corrections on typos and spelling mistakes.

Pret has a lot of brainwashing slogans in place that staff have to memorize and follow. The most appalling wordings I always found while working at Pret is on their packaging: “Lovingly handmade in this shop today”! When you work at Pret, this particular slogan can make you puke, and the many staff reviews at the very bottom page slideshow explain why!

 

The 6 Steps of Service

In the shop there is what Pret developed as the “6 Steps of Service”, which all start with an “S”. In the kitchen Pret has the “6 Steps of Production” which all start with a “P”. A lot of psychology went into developing those. But I will just concentrate on the shop 6 steps of service here, and can cover the kitchen another time. The kitchen concentrates on the speed of production (productivity), while the shop concentrates on appearance (happy facade), yet also speed.

These 6 steps are in a particular order for Mystery Shoppers to check every week. Mystery Shoppers basically work their way in, from the entrance to the food display/fridges to the counter to the seat and out again, via a D-tour to check the toilets. The 6 steps are:

1. Style (atmosphere of the shop, this is in their own discretion. What one MS likes, another MS dislikes the next week)

2. Selection (clear rules the MS has to follow)

3. Speed of service (also called “SOS”)

4. Service (if staff always smile, chat, are attentive, efficient etc. Giving freebies always helps and often gets the Team Member the extra £100 or £200 “outstanding card” reward)

5. Seating (if seats / tables etc. are cleaned within 1 minute of customers leaving, sometimes even crumbs are a big problem)

6. Say Thank you and See you again (a departing remark of some kind)

And then some non-scoring questions at the end, which even though are not scored, still fear manage especially the shop Managers.

The questions and some answers below are self-explanatory, but I want to highlight the stress and peer-pressure Pret puts on Teams and the Mystery Shopper reports being used as a tool to bully staff to always perform with a fake front, no matter what. Smile, chat, eye contact etc. to achieve maximum scores, to appear as such a happy and efficient company, while in reality it is VERY stressful and depressing!

One person on Twitter has put it in simple, but poignant words on how Pret penalize the whole Team if ONE person makes a mistake. I have experienced this countless times. And this is done on purpose where hard-working staff lose their bonus and effort after ONE person messed up. This one person is then shunned or dealt with the silent treatment. As a Team Leader I went the opposite and encouraged the one person, instead of putting them down, as this is counter productive and hurting them. I signaled that we all make mistakes and not to let others pressure them! But Pret wants peer pressure… to always appear happy… to draw people in… to increase profit:

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive marked

 

Bonus is £1 per hour worked for hourly paid staff in shops. So, if I worked 40 hours that week and as a Team we receive the bonus, I get an extra £40 on top of my weekly wages. Sounds great, but is very, very stressful for the peanuts you get extra! If I am sick even just for one day, I automatically get my bonus cut and don’t receive it. Also, there’s no bonus when you are on holiday which is fair. But if I am late, even 5 minutes, the Manager in their own discretion can cut my bonus. As in Pret there is a lot of favouritism, which can also be seen in the many staff reviews I collected, some staff members make friends with the Manager, and then get away with a lot of sh!t. And those who work their butts off, who are very reliant, but are not the Manager’s favourite, come late ONE time for 5 minutes, and bam! – get their bonus cut! The bonus is used for a lot of abuse by Management.

Managers, Assistant Managers and upper area Managers (OPs) get their bonuses not every week, like hourly paid shop staff, but every quarter which are huge amounts of money! Managers’ bonuses are based on many things, like profit, how little waste the shops have, how little labour costs (that’s why Pret under-staffs), health and safety checks and other things. But the biggest chunk of Managers’ and upper Managers’ bonuses are the Mystery Shopper scores. That’s why Managers stress a lot about the Mystery Shopper and the point system that is VERY important to Managers to compete in their area of 10 – 14 shops, and company-wide.

So, it’s the typical greed of the few to squeeze the many. Pret cuts staff, so that the few Managers on top get a lot of bonus, instead of staffing appropriately, giving everyone a piece of the cake, value and respect workers, lowering their stress, and with an adequate amount of staff also giving customers a much better and calmer service.

 

Examples on how a shop can lose or gain bonus

On product selection for example, Pret demands a certain amount of selection during certain business hours. The Mystery Shopper is also tasked to count the “lines” of products. Any product is a line. The Tuna Cucumber Baguette is a line. The Egg-Mayo Sandwich is a line. The Tomato Soup is a line in the hot food section. Every different product is a line.

Usually between 12 noon and 2:00 or 2:30PM (depending on the area) Pret wants FULL selection of all products they offer in that particular shop. But Pret changes that at times. But from my experience it was between 12 noon and 2:30PM. Staff are NOT allowed to run out of a product (line) at that certain time. Staff are also not allowed to take the product label off the shelf if they run out of a product (line). If a Manager or Leader is caught taking out the label, they risk getting a disciplinary. This is to stress staff to ALWAYS have products available or MAKE them on demand to increase profit. At the same time, Managers and Leaders are stressed by OPs Managers when they have too much waste. It’s an absolute nightmare to balance without a lot of pain! And beyond the charity PR is daily food-waste in plastic packaging to landfill because of over-production to have the shelves full and the money rolling in!

2019-06-06 Food Waste from Fridge to Bin

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Waste

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2016-01-28 food waste bin bags

Link etc.

For a longer list of customer photos and complaints on wasted food, please see: Pret A Manger Food Waste. I had to waste countless bin bags like this over the years due to overproduction and under-staffing to manage the waste properly. And Pret now use increasingly NON-transparent bin bags to hide the food-waste in the streets.

Before 12 noon and after 2:30PM Pret demands a certain amount of products. This may vary from shop to shop and area. But in a nutshell, let’s say Pret wants 15 different products (lines) after 2:30PM on the shelves, but my shop has only 14 different lines, and if the Mystery Shopper happens to be there at that time (they have to count the lines), and if 1 line is missing, the whole Team lose the bonus.

This means, if I worked in the morning in the kitchen, worked my butt off to get the products on the shelf, then at 2PM I go home and at 5PM the shop is missing 1 line because the afternoon Team is understaffed to make more products, the Mystery Shopper happens to be there at that time and counts the lines. I then, who have already left hours ago, and can contribute NOTHING more, I lose my bonus for that week! Or even if I was off that day, working 5 out of 7 days, and this was my off-day, I lose my bonus if ONE person messes up in any way on the day I was off! And I can do nothing about it. My efforts went down the drain. And THAT is what Pret wants, colleagues to get mad at that one person or shift that made a mistake, even if it wasn’t their fault due to under-staffing!

 

Pret even goes a step further

Each product line HAS TO have at least 2 items behind its label. So, if the MS counts 15 lines of products, but ONE line only has 1 item, instead of 2, it means it is 14 lines. If the fridge has 15 different products (lines) but out of these 15 lines I only have 1 Cucumber Baguette (in its line) instead of 2 baguettes, I am “out of selection” and we as a Team lose the bonus!

An example I found on Twitter. These 2 BLT sandwiches in 1 LINE. If there was only 1 sandwich, this would NOT be a line. (Side-note: 4,70€ for a sandwich!)

2020-01-25 @GillyBerlin Pret Berlin 2 Sandwiches behind sticker2

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Managers often find ways to “cheat” by taking a label out until they fill the shelf with the product. But this can get them a disciplinary as Pret wants the machinery to run perfectly at all times. Another way to cheat, and this is when it gets dangerous, is when they take a DIFFERENT baguette from a different line that looks similar to the Cucumber Baguette, and place this baguette behind the Cucumber Baguette to make it look like they have TWO. This way they avoid losing Mystery Shopper bonus, as the MS doesn’t have time to check all products perfectly but often just scans and counts the lines quickly. 

This is also not allowed, but because Pret under-staffs and workers are stressed to the max, it forces Managers to cheat! One recent review by a Manager highlights this, and the danger it brings as customers take the WRONG item behind a label. Managers cheat in many ways to make the numbers look good, so as not to get bullied by their superiors, the OPs Managers. I was never promoted, because I refused to risk my job for Managers and OPs Managers bonuses! But this Manager’s (GM) review is very brave, as they even mention their city. But also in regards to the “fear culture” mentioned at the bottom of this review, this is not only in Edinburgh. I worked in over a dozen shops and it is systemic and everywhere:

GM cheat

Link Quote: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.

I often said to my Teams and bosses, who were frustrated at Pret, I always said that Pret is like a company that binds our feet together in a tight rope, and then demands from us to run! Any way you turn, you have to make constant decisions if to cheat and risk getting caught, losing your job  – or if to lose bonus and get fear managed by the OPs Managers. OPs Managers who often sit in the pub at lunch time (I’ve seen it), or are at home as the above review states. I didn’t see an OPs for 3 – 4 months at a time. Once an OPs “visited” a shop for a few minutes to let their bossy attitude scare Managers and Teams, you knew immediately when they were there, as everyone was always talking about it in fear or annoyance the next day. So, OPs Managers get a shit-load of money, while having a laugh in the pub or at home during busy lunch-time rushes. And the only “presence” they show is via Emails stressing the shops for higher numbers! Typical Pret “leadership”.

This also shows in a recent review by a Team Leader from Chicago of the bullying environment:

GM cry

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Las Vegas

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Coming to the full Mystery Shopper report

The below Mystery Shopper visited shortly after 11AM when the shops are quiet and Team Members have more time to “kiss butt” to receive the cash rewards, as Mystery Shoppers come mainly before and after the busy morning and lunchtime rushes. In this case the Team Member got the “outstanding card”, the £100 even though the shop lost bonus on selection. The “outstanding” service described below wouldn’t be possible during intense coffee or lunch time rushes. Most rewards are received at quiet times, not so much at peek times, as Mystery Shoppers visit more quieter periods to properly check everything they can’t check during manic busy times. But I want to also say that Team Members LOVE to give freebies and good customer service if they are not stressed and have the time, BUT even if they have a bad day, they have to function like smiley robots or get fear managed and peer pressured. 

My favourite thing to do was to give freebies, which is Pret’s number 1 marketing tool that I write extensively about in Free Coffees at Pret and why Pret doesn’t do a loyalty card system. But when I was ill, and especially going through traumatic bereavement and being bullied by my superiors under HR, it was HELL having to perform like an emotional prostitute for a few more peanuts. And I smiled, not for money, but to get my bosses off my back suffering in anxiety! 

What always bothered me was when some Team Members only lingered around the till area for a chance to serve a potential Mystery Shopper. So, they love-bomb customers letting their colleagues work their butts off, do the cleaning and stocking up, while “sliming” customers. And while those who try to get the cash rewards, love-bombing customers, they are being rude to their colleagues behind the scenes. I was always disgusted at this and made sure there was a good rotation of staff doing a variety of tasks, not the same people cleaning or the same people being stuck on the tills trying to get rewards, while others made the shop look good. And it worked, because it improved team-work and encouraged the shy ones to have some success without always doing the dirty work.

So, dear reader, get yourself a cuppa, maybe even while you’re in Pret reading this, because this will take a while! Know WHY staff are always so attentive, cheery, chatty, even if they are not well or are depressed or bereaved or ill or pregnant or bullied etc. Read the DETAIL and micromanaging actions, that Mystery Shoppers are expected to test staff on to perform like acrobatic clowns, stretching themselves like octopuses in all directions for low pay and some small recognition! Know the high emotional, mental and physical price they pay for little return!

And no, don’t make it so easy on yourself by saying that staff can just look for another job! Oh no! Don’t assume that people can just switch jobs, especially when they are so exhausted and burnt out, unable to look for another job! Pret keeps them busy, even wanting staff to “never stand still”.

Many employees left their countries to find work and a better life, have kids to feed, Uni tuition to pay, and so on. Many even have degrees, but their degree is not accepted in the UK, or their English is still improving. Staff are brain-washed and promised a lot (see next reviews here below), not realizing the intense work and stress they will be subjected to. Pret hangs a carrot in front of employees, and staff always hope for that breakthrough that never comes, because the price for it is too high. And by the time they do reach that goal, they are embittered, exhausted, discouraged. It is my experience, and also from many staff reviews, that if you make friends with upper Managers (sometimes even in the bedroom!), and are willing to do anything expected, even if it’s wrong, you will make it far in Pret! And what’s so disgusting about it is, that you’d expect this in a law firm, and certainly in politics and Hollywood, but a sandwich chain? Very sad!
(Also, pay attention to the amount of “Yes” vs. “No” votes on the reviews!)

A recent Manager review and I can underline this from experience:

Step on others

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A recent review on HEAD OFFICE:

HQ Bullies

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Another Manager from 2016:

Kiss bum

 

2017-12-15 Lick asses Prayer

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And a recent Manager review:

GM Horrible

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etc. etc. etc. …

In some of the below Mystery Shopper comments I make a remark in blue and italics to briefly explain further. I also changed names of Team Members into italics “Name of Team Member” etc.

Also, regular customers can be Mystery Shoppers. But once a Mystery Shopper has visited one particular shop to do a job, they are NOT send back to that shop to do a job for 3 months, so as not to be spotted as MS by staff. They can of course visit privately, but as Mystery Shoppers not for 3 months after a job.

 

The 32 questions Pret tasks Mystery Shoppers to test staff on every week:

This is a real recent Mystery Shopper report:

MS scrores

 

MS scrores2

 

1 – Style (30 out of 30)

1 – How inviting was the shop from the outside?

Clean and Tidy (5)

“The outside signage, windows, and door frame were reasonably clear and clean. There is no outside seating at this site.”

2 – How clean was the shop entrance?

Clean and Tidy (5)

“The entrance area and door mat were reasonably tidy with no visible debris or litter.”

3 – How welcoming was the atmosphere at the entrance?

Friendly (5)

“There was a good buzz of energy at the entrance. The team members were not close enough to acknowledge people entering the shop.”

(These kinds of comments from Mystery Shoppers always upset the Teams, as the MS expects staff to kiss butt from the get go at the entrance, not taking into consideration that shops are understaffed and workers get in trouble when they don’t finish all the cleaning, stocking up etc. It’s that thing again of having ones feet bound together in a tight rope and expected to run or stretch in all directions like an octopus!)

4 – How was the presentation of food and drink in our display units, fridges, fruit stand, crisp baskets and queue stands?

Well presented (5)

“All food and drink displays were tidy and well organised.”

5 – How presentable was the till counter and bakery display?

Well presented (5)

“The bakery display looked attractive and well arranged. There was no mess on the till counter. ”

6 – How well presented were team members?

Very smart (5)

“The team members that I saw were well groomed and wearing clean pressed uniforms.”

 

2 – Selection (16 out of 20)

7

1 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets in the cold fridges had less than 2 items.

4 or more tickets had less than 2 items (1)

“A baguette, a sandwich, a flat wrap and a salad.”

(THIS is where this shop lost their bonus.)

8

2 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets in the hot food display had NO stock.

No tickets without stock (5)

(…psst, unless the Manager or Leader took the label off 😉 )

9

3 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets for pre-packaged cakes, cold drinks and snacks had NO stock.

Every ticket had at least 1 item (5)

“There were no labels without products.”

(Here the “lines” don’t need to be at least 2).

10

4 – FULL SELECTION: Count how many price tickets for unwrapped bakery (behind the glass till counter) had NO stock.

Every ticket had at least 1 item (5)

“There were bakery items for each label.”

 

3 – Speed (10 out of 10)

11

1 – Please rate the time it took to be served from joining the queue.

Perfect (5)

“I was served immediately.”

(Because it was at the quiet period after 11AM and before the 12noon lunch rush).

12

2 – Did you receive your hot drink within reasonable time from payment?

Perfect (5)

“My hot drink was ready within 30 seconds.”

(Pret changed their question now, as they also read my blog where I mention the 60 seconds rule as featured in the first YouTube video at the top of this post. It used to be that staff had to serve within 1 minute from the time payment was made. So, Pret changed the wording as this high pace expectation adds to a lot of mistakes with the non-dairy milks, allergen issues etc. A recent interview of the new CEO Pano Christou still mentions the 60 second rule. A current staff member told me that Pret briefly changed the 60 seconds to 90 seconds after a staff member died. But now they changed it back to 1 minute:
“We aim to serve our customers within 1 minute of joining the queue. Bearing in mind how busy the shop was and the number of tills open, please rate the time it took to be served?”
~and ~

“We aim to serve our customers their hot drink within 1 minute of payment. Bearing in mind how busy the shop was, did you received your correct hot
drink in a reasonable time?”

Here is an excerpt on the 60 seconds rule from 2017).

1 min

 

I got confirmed by a current Pret staff that this 1 minute rule still applies to the Mystery Shopper.

Back to the current 2020 MS report:

MS scrores3

 

4 – Service (10 out of 10)

13

1 – How well did the person at the till connect with you with a smile, eye contact and some polite remarks?

Friendly (5)

“Both Name of Team Member A and Name of Team Member B were welcoming, making eye contact, smiling and interacting in a cheerful manner.”

(Pret change the wording here. It used to be worded:
“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.” – screenshot of MS excerpt from 2015, but this question was still worded like this at least till 2018).

Every customer

14

2 – Were all your items stated during the transaction, were you charged correctly and did you receive the correct products?

All correct (5)

“The items were clearly stated, charged, and served, exactly as ordered.”

(Because of the allergen deaths, staff have to name the items, in case the customer took the wrong one).

3 – Please select which scenario question you asked. Asked for more information on a product Asked for more information on a product

“No comments are required for this question.”

(Again: since the customer deaths, Mystery Shoppers have to ask staff about a product, for example on allergen, or calories etc. to test how well staff can answer the question. Staff are supposed to call the Manager to take over, but that’s not always possible).

15

4 – Based on the scenario you selected, please rate your experience when asking our team member your enquiry.

N/A

(The Mystery Shopper chose NOT to ask any allergen related questions, which used to be mandatory straight after the customer deaths became public).

Friendly (5)

“I approached a manager who was checking stock at the fridge. I asked him about identifying low fat products. Manager’s Name said that he could bring the allergy guide, or we could use the electronic wall mounted screen for more information. He showed me the display label detail of fat content per 100gm and encouraged me to ask for any further assistance if required.”

(If the Manager wasn’t helpful or not knowledgeable, this would have consequences for him and the Team).

 

5 – Seating (13 out of 15)

16

1 – How clean were the bin stations inside the shop?

Clean and Tidy (5)

“The bin stations were very tidy and clean.”

17

2 – How clear and clean were the floors, tables and chairs inside the shop?

Presentable (4)

“There was a large seating area that was clean and clear of debris and litter. The table tops that I could see needed a full wipe as there was some very small residue of crumbs.”

(Some “very small” residue!)

18

3 – How well presented and stocked were the toilets INSIDE the shop (if applicable)?

Presentable (4)

“The toilet I visited had adequate toilet roll, hand soap and a working hand dryer. There was some paper litter on the floor.”

 

6 – Say Thank You and See You Again (5 out of 5)

19

1 – How well did your server or any member of the team end the transaction by thank you and/or giving a pleasant parting comment?

Friendly (5)

Name of Team Member A thanked me and wished me a good day.”

 

7 – Additional Scored Question (5 out of 5)

1 – Was any ONE member of our team very helpful, extremely charming and/or outstanding?

Yes

Name of Team Member B was preparing the hot drinks and heard me talking to Name of Team Member A about trying a new variety. She asked if I liked coffee and said that she would be happy to make me another drink for me to taste. Name of Team Member B explained the drink and prepared it for me, making helpful comments and encouraging me to let her know if I liked it. The drink was amazing, absolutely delicious, and something I would never have known about without her taking the initiative. It added value to my visit and I savoured the drink with pleasure.”

2 – Please provide the name or a description of this outstanding member of staff.

N/A

Name of Team Member

(This Team Member received the £100 reward. £100 because the scores weren’t perfect and the shop lost bonus. If the shop had perfect scores which also would have won the Team bonus, this Team Member would have gotten £200 reward.)

 

8 – Additional Information (0 out of 5)

1 – It is a legal requirement for our teams to charge VAT for all ‘Eat In’ items/transactions. When served, were you asked if you were ‘taking away’ or ‘eating in’, and charged correctly? Asked & Charged

Asked & Charged Correctly Correctly

Name of Team Member A carefully asked me and charged accordingly.”

(It used to be between about 2012 and 2017-ish that the Government put pressure on companies as they realized there isn’t as much VAT payment coming through. So, the Mystery Shopper was tasked to eat inside the shop. And when the Pret server, who rung up the Mystery Shopper order, did 1. not ASK “eat in or take away” OR 2. did not CHARGE the eat-in price, forgetting to press the eat-in button even when they asked, the whole Team lost the bonus! Pret tried to avoid getting fined by the Government for not having a certain amount of VAT payments to pay these Government taxes. So, Pret turned around as usual, and put that burden on low-wage workers, penalizing them if they didn’t charge the eat-in VAT price.
I once lost my Team the bonus because I gave the wrong receipt from the SHARED receipt machine, where we took receipts in a hurry having to serve fast. Mystery Shopper ask for receipts 1. to proof they visited the shop – also have to take a photo from outside the shop, 2. they need the receipt to get reimbursed, 3. the server’s name is on the receipt for the reward or critique).

2 – Did you notice someone in charge and, if so, what were they doing?

Yes

Name of Manager was the manager and during my visit was concentrating on filling stock for a full display. ”

(Here again, Pret uses the Mystery Shopper to even check on management, while OPs Managers, who could come by more often sit in the pub or at home! This again is the constant “surveillance” staff go through).

3 – Did BOTH questions 2.1 and 2.2 achieve the top answer OR N/A?

No

“N/A”

4 – If you ordered a dairy free alternative milk, was the correct sticker applied to your cup to indicate the milk used?

Yes

“There was a yellow soy sticker on my cup.”

(Mystery Shoppers HAVE TO purchase a hot drink to also time baristas the 1 minute rule)

5 – If you bought a hot food item, did the label on your product match the product you purchased?

N/A N/A

“I did not buy a hot item.”

6 – Did the label on your cold fresh food product match the product you purchased?

Yes

“The wrap and baguette contents were as described on the shelf and package labels.”

 

9 – Customer Segmentation (non-scoring)

1 – Based on your overall experience on this visit, how likely are you to recommend Pret to people you know on a scale of 1-10?

10 10

“The service was excellent and the food and especially drink were very enjoyable.”

2 – In order for you to have the perfect visit, which of the following aspects should we prioritise to improve?

Other

“I was disappointed not to find any breakfast products when I arrived a few minutes after 11 on a Saturday morning.”

(This disappointment by the MS can also put pressure on staff to have more breakfast items on display at a quiet time after 11AM, and thus increase the waste. These unnecessary expectations put extra pressure on staff. I once had a Mystery Shopper comment that I didn’t ask them “Anything else?” After that comment, my Manager pressured me to say this! I remember feeling humiliated and stunned at this stupid thing! This is why the former staff member tweeted to Pret and its former CEO:)

PAMSU Dismantle MS

Link

3 – From the list below, please choose which area is our main strength.

Service

“No comments are required for this question.”

4 – Where do you normally go to purchase similar products?

Pret a Manger

“It is interesting to try different food and drink at a new Pret site.”

 


 

If any current Pret staff has read this and found that I missed something important, or some things have changed, feel free to contact me anonymously and add to it via my contact page.

In September 2019 Clive Schlee “retired” but let the new CEO, Pano Christou aleady take over on Glassdoor in mid July to avoid further poor scoring. Schlee retired with quite a legacy, as Pret staff always spill the beans in anonymity, away from the fear management. Yet, he remains in the background as a non-executive director. But this is his legacy:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

New CEO Pano Christou:

2020-01-22 Pano 39 34

 

Finally,

JOIN A UNION!

On Twitter and online check: BFAWU who are the best informed about Pret and have helped Pret staff already. The BFAWU have been instrumental on the first ever McDonald’s strikes in the UK. Also another vital and very active Union that help foreign workers a lot is IWGB.
Also check, The McStrike Union, GMB Union, Unite The Union. Just DON’T stay alone!

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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 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.

Professional Complainers adding to Mental Stress of Staff

 

I came across a person on Twitter who complained to Pret that their baguette was over-salted. Now I don’t run to the rescue of Pret to defend them, by all means, but having worked at Pret and having had to deal with countless fake complaints of “customers” who were fishing for a cash refund and/or freebie, or even attention, and stress staff unnecessarily via HQ or Twitter complaints, I explained to this person that Pret does not put “plain” salt in this baguette, or any products at that. And also she said that she “ordered” a baguette in Pret, I explained to her that products are not ordered in Pret! These 2 things gave her away as it being a fake complaint!

She had no photo of the baguette and refused to describe how the over-salted baguette looked like, before then diverting to my spelling because she didn’t know what to say anymore! 😀 I’ve had customers who put a heap of salt on a product, from the salt sachets Pret provides by the sugar and cutlery, then came to me and demanded a refund. When I was new at Pret I fell for it, because I didn’t know that Pret doesn’t put salt like this on products. I was informed by a colleague and later worked in the kitchen for a few weeks to learn how the products are assembled. Since then this number didn’t work with me anymore.

I explained to her that it would be better to find a REAL and truthful reason of complaint to get a freebie.

And then I checked her Tweets and Replies and found the most professional complainer, who also has an “accomplice” who “likes” most her Tweets 😀

Let’s take a deep breath and start this blog entry with some positivity and some heartwarming quotes which this professional complainer either posted or retweeted (lol!). Let’s start with a grateful attitude, shall we?!

2018-02-24 RT about greatfulness

 

2018-04-24 Quote

“Never be ashamed of who you are” – Yeah, but let’s shame others publicly who work their butts off, hey!

 

2018-04-13 Hypocisy

 

So, here’s a handkerchief for poor poor Rosie Gillard

CryMeARiver

 

And it is fitting that you see a bunch of toilets on her current (5th January 2020) Twitter profile as it goes well with the fact that some people are so full of shit!

2019-01-05 Rosie Gillard toilets

 

Now to business. THIS is how Rosie Gillard “lives” the above quotes she quoted or RT’d, and then it makes a whole lot more sense what Sophie McBain wrote in her excellent article on emotional labour, quote:

»Workers are put at high risk of anxiety and burnout, while consumers are emboldened to behave aggressively.«

From The NewStatesman “How Emotional Labour Harms us all” by Sophie McBain.

I hope you’re sitting down and not eating or drinking anything that may get stuck in your throat! This is THE worst “customer” complainer I have ever come across, and I’ve seen a lot as a Team Leader / MOD especially! It’s the frequency and that she seems to be looking for things to complain about, with such coldness, naming and shaming service workers, what makes this so bad. And even where she compliments a staff member, it comes across very manipulative and insincere. I shudder at people’s behaviour like this! And I frankly don’t believe many of her complaints, or the “severity” of her complaints. Apart from the 2 Toilet complaints with photos, there are no photos, just public naming and shaming staff of various businesses.

From the above hypocritical quotes, to this verbal brutality and rudeness towards hard-working, low-paid people. It’s one thing to have a genuine complaint, it’s another to do it seemingly professional and with such coldness and attention seeking towards overworked staff. If this girl was in my business, I would throw her out in a heartbeat! And I’m sure in a small independent business she would not DARE to put this bahaviour on, she would find herself outside faster than she entered! She takes advantage of the political correctness and the aim for profit in large businesses. But low-wage workers are paying the price for her disgusting conduct.

In chronological order starting with a Tweet she tweeted into the atmosphere without explanation or tweeting as a response to someone, just an insult into air, like as so many of her Tweets by her “accomplice” who equally is looking for fault and wants to go the “extra mile” in customer service:

2018-10-11 Full of shit

Look it the mirror cupcake, look in the mirror!

 

2018-02-12 H&M

2018-07-04 Nandos

2018-07-05 easyJet

I don’t blame them, bunny, or are those pigs ears?

 

2018-08-05 H&M

 

2018-09-28 Argos

2019-02-27 Premier Inn

 

Here she RT’d someone complaining about OTHER people’s selfishness who gave HER a GIFT and wrote her a note on the gift tag! 😀 The ungratefulness and appalling, really embarrassing rudeness to call the gift giver “selfish”, because they wrote a note on the tag of THEIR gift to her!

I am rarely for loss of words, but this one did it! And Rosie RT’d this, as this rudeness and ungratefulness is just up her alley!

2019-03-15 RT about selfish to write on gift tags

 

2019-04-01 Heathrow

 

2019-04-21 Argos

I have never even seen or heard a Pret customer being so disgusting and rude! And some are bad! But this gal tops them all, hands down!

 

2019-04-21 Argos2

2019-07-22 Tesco

 

2019-07-28 Heathrow T3

 

2019-09-14 Nandos

 

2019-12-29 Pret

Link to my conversation with her. Her complaint is fishy for many reasons! 😀

And I finish with how I started, with her words to hit home the appalling hypocrisy and viciousness she portrays. Absolutely disgusting!

2018-04-13 Hypocisy

Well smile Rosie Gillard customer police! Smile!

And in case she deletes the feed, here are the screenshots. My conversation with her was before I saw her professional complaining feed to different companies:

2019-12-29 Rosie fake complainer 00

 

2019-12-29 Rosie fake complainer 02

 

2019-12-29 Rosie fake complainer 03

 

For new readers of my blog, please read on Emotional Labour. I collected articles and write on it myself of the abuse by companies and customers alike. I know from having lived and worked with many people, in many places, that sooner or later this kind of attitude will bite her in the butt. I hope she’ll learn her lesson sooner rather than later, because otherwise she would make a bitter old woman should she continue on this path.

A collection on Emotional Labour articles from my own experience and from brilliant journalists and researchers:

>>> The Dangers of Emotional Labour

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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 customers:

Caught in the Act at Pret

How Pret forces low-wage workers via Mystery Shoppers to always smile, eye contact, chat etc. no matter if bereaved, ill, pregnant etc.

 

 


 

©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 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.

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

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

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

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 

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

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

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by
The Adam Paradox, and wrote 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.

Secrets to Great Customer Service

 

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Or click here: https://expret.org/2019/10/12/secrets-of-good-customer-service

 

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

As recommendations of Pret A Manger customer service has increased lately which look like recruited Tweet, 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. There has been an increase of Tweets about the “great” and smiley staff in Prets, calling them by name etc. These are obviously RECRUITED Tweets as I have been exposing Pret A Manger on their bullying culture and the forced happiness.

Anyone can research and see that these Tweets started increasingly around mid October 2019 with 2 – 5 Tweets like these daily. How much did Pret pay those recruits? A free coffee? A £5/$5 gift card? Pret has no courage to respond to me, so they do their typical tricks to continue to fool the public.

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.

Why are staff who earn £8.65 an hour, always seemingly so “happy”, chatty and smiley in a highly intense, noisy, hot and stressful work environment for 8 – 10 hours daily?

In short: Mystery Shopper cash incentives and fear management.

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

UPDATE: 28. October 2019

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

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

2019-10-28 Bullying manager seen by customer2


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

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

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

—>>> Free Coffees in Pret A Manger

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

A Tweet from a customer just today:

2019-10-16 Understaffed

Link

And a few days ago:

2019-10-12 Understaffed

Link

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

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

2019-07-02 Toxic chronically understaffed

Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

MS Best Team

 

MS Best

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct Link to the Indeed review.

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 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:

 

©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.

An IMAGINARY but Honest Interview with Pret

 

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.

Quote of the Day #17 – Pret A Shame

 

Quote of the day: “The training should be more about encouraging people than shouting and shaming them. … it has been the most stressful job I have had in a couple of years.”

dollar sign_only_poic

Dear Pret Leadership,

why are you doing this to your staff?

You need more money?!

I have a few pennies in my purse

I have some water to quench your thirst

I have more patience to help your patients

who are left behind after the grind

on a psychiatric ward

What about those who want to end their life

while you continue to thrive

in your millions and billions

and whatever …illions that are left

to strive

for what?

I survived.

Are you enjoying yourself?

I hope so.

Life is short

Be kind to yourself and to those who make it happen

for you.

©Late Night Girl

Quote Pret #12 Tough Job

Link

 

Featured on Pret Staff Complaints. A compilation.

 


 

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:

 

©2018 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.

 

Open Letter to James Hoffmann

Dear James Hoffmann,

first of all, thank you for responding to my comment on your video, unfortunately my comments and your response are hidden from the public, and I re-checked via different browsers and devises, my initial comments are not there, but it’s not important anymore. Please forgive me that I made a screenshot and am publishing it here. I do so because I suffered greatly, became ill and almost lost my life.

You seem a sensible person trying to look at business news objectively. And if I was looking from the outside in myself without my inside experience, I would even like your take on this. The problem though is, you as most people looking in from the outside seem very easily blinded by the brilliant PR that Pret is so good in.

I’d like to post your thoughts on the JAB purchase of Pret A Manger here and respond with my experience and real “insights”, having worked in Pret for close to 10 years helping with their success. I also tried to improve work conditions internally to no avail, while becoming out-of-sync after my brother died and being mistreated on top of it, making many mistakes and sliding into ill behaviour. But having spent 10 years of my life working for Pret is my biggest regret with my future unclear and my mental health in shambles.

There are many good things in Pret, but the bottom line is that the senior leadership and HR are far removed from the painful reality on the shop floor. And yet, they do know very very well how brutal it is, that’s why most staff (mainly British) are aiming for jobs in HQ, away from the “front lines” of the business. Yes, they do what they call “Buddy Days” where once a year a staff member from HQ works in a Pret shop and kitchen for a day, BUT when they do, the management and teams in the shops are well behaved like this is their dream job. When the “buddy” is gone, it’s back to business as usual. I’ve always disliked this hypocrisy. And also with the HQ staff coming in at 8 or 9am, often being late and starting their “shift” with breakfast. Whereas if I would have been the manager, I would have explained to them to start their shift at 5am sharp, or whichever time a particular shop starts the shift as this varies from shop to shop. But they would have needed to be ready in uniform on the dot! If they would have been late, I would have send them home or have a serious talk, just like shop leaders do with a new person, no mercy! Welcome to reality in a Pret shop! Now, enter the “fun”.

But unfortunately as a Team Leader the only thing I was able to do, was asking the HQ staff to do the dirty work of changing the bins, checking the toilets for cleanliness, smiling at customers non-stop, having the shop in an immaculate state at all times, stop using their mobile phones on the shop floor and putting it in the locker like the rest of the team was required to, get their fingernails dirty and cracked, and their feet hurt with their backs “broken”… I’m sure they hated my gut, but I loved and cared for my team who worked their hearts out oftentimes in pain and sometimes in tears. So, an HQ staff surely can pass a few hours a year doing just that.

Stress

I typed up a transcript on your thoughts: JAB Holdings Buys Pret A Manger and included it here word for word. Please bear with any mistakes as I am not a professional in typing transcripts, I type with 2 fingers only.

Transcript – I highlighted a few things which I am commenting on at the bottom of this open letter:

“What I wanna try today is something a little bit different, a short, sweet response to a piece of news in our industry.

Today I want to talk about JAB buying Pret A Manger, which is both interesting and incredibly, incredibly boring.

What makes it interesting? They (JAB) paid or is going to pay £1.5 Billion for Pret A Manger, which is a lot for a business that makes “only” a £100 Million in profit a year. They’re paying 15 times that, it’s a 15x multiple. Which implies there’s gonna be really, really fantastic growth coming.

Now, Pret kind of have about 500 locations, most of which are in the UK, most of which, most of that profit is actually in London. And while they’ve expanded in the U.S., that hasn’t gone quite as well as you’d think.

So, if they struggle to expand, well, why is there this huge potential?

Pret makes about £880,000,000 a year as a business, and if you work this out, this is kind of interesting: Each Pret location on average makes £1.75 million a year. Now, for the kind of business they have, where they sell questionable coffee and sad little triangles, called sandwiches, that seems like an enormous amount of money! Considering what they sell is not particularly expensive.

And this is the thing that’s interesting, this is the thing where we don’t give Pret enough credit and enough attention. Yeah, I don’t really like the product in terms of its coffee, for sure! But, they’re all about speed! Pret values their customers’ time. Perhaps in a way not many businesses do. They have a publicly stated goal of serving you within 60 seconds of you walking in the door. And I think they do a pretty good job of getting there.

And that is hugely important to an enormous number of people. That’s how they’re able to process as many people as they do. Sure, they have a lot of people on anyone time, but they’re still making good profit, they’re still making 11-12% each year in terms of Net profit. So, their business model is pretty sound. But they value people’s time.

And if you have a coffee shop and you’re looking at this deal and you’re thinking, how is that happening? Why would you buy this business? It’s because the model is actually pretty interesting. In the world of specialty we haven’t really, really valued our customers’ time. We’ve been very product focused. And as a result, I think we haven’t valued people’s time adequately. We’ve made people wait, often wait just far too long for what they’re ultimately getting. And in doing so, I think we’ve excluded a large number of people, who either value their time very highly or just aren’t willing to invest that kind of time that we ask of them. And I think if we took a little bit of that from Pret, it would allow us to access a much larger community of people who’d be interested in what we’re doing.

And right now one of the biggest challenges specialty faces is growing its audience. Right now the audience isn’t really growing but the number of Cafes is. We’re all competing for the same customers instead of finding new customers. And I think embracing a little bit of what makes Pret so incredibly valuable, a multi-billion pound company, embracing, valuing our customers’ time, will be extremely worthwhile.

So, that is a little bit of business talk for today…”

END of transcript.

——————————————————————————

Here is the screenshot of my comment and your response which I can only see when I am logged into my YouTube channel:

YT_JamesHoffmann_Reply1

Close-up:

YT_JamesHoffmann_Reply1a

I also pointed you to another comment further below your video from a YouTuber called RPQ who left this comment in the beginning of July 2018:

YT_JamesHoffmann_Reply2

My response to your thoughts from the transcript:

“What makes it interesting? They (JAB) paid or is going to pay £1.5 Billion for Pret A Manger, which is a lot for a business that makes “only” a £100 Million in profit a year. They’re paying 15 times that, it’s a 15x multiple. Which implies there’s gonna be really, really fantastic growth coming.”

Yes, it means that the shop and kitchen staff will be squeezed even worse now than they already are. They made and will make this growth happen at a high personal price with their mental and physical health. I have a roaring tinnitus myself still and can only reduce it by seeking quiet places. And the price I paid with my mental health you have already read on my blog here. I have no illusion anymore and know that my way to recovery will be a very long one. And just in case I won’t make it, you and many more people now will not be able to say that you didn’t know what and who made this “fantastic growth” happen!

Quote: “And this is the thing that’s interesting, this is the thing where we don’t give Pret enough credit and enough attention. Yeah, I don’t really like the product in terms of its coffee, for sure! But, they’re all about speed! Pret values their customers’ time. Perhaps in a way not many businesses do. They have a publicly stated goal of serving you within 60 seconds of you walking in the door. And I think they do a pretty good job of getting there.”

I want to give credit to my countless ex-colleagues with whom I worked shoulder to shoulder, day-in day-out, in an intensely stressful, bullying, discriminating and ungrateful work environment, all my colleagues and myself who made this success and the wealth of the few at the top happen.

Pret does not value customers’ time, Pret, as most businesses, value customers’ pockets! And it is disheartening that you and most people seem blinded by the age-old reality in business, that time is money, and the quicker you get customers in and out the store, the more money flow is happening … faster! But who makes that happen? Who pays the price? If a company has NO regard for the health and value of their staff who are human beings but driven like machines, valuable humans as much as their customers are, than I question the motif of their business.

Sure Pret pays a little more, gives more holiday, puts on elaborate parties etc. and now even giving £1000 incentive to retain and gain staff, but if Pret wouldn’t give more incentives and benefits they would hardly have anyone working for them, as the job is WAY too stressful and harsh. Even if you are bereaved, you are not safe and are tricked and trapped as you have learned my story. I used to be an enthusiastic person, working highly motivated, and I am not an old person, but I feel like I am in my 70s, ready to call it a day. My old self is gone after my brother died with the added turmoil in Pret.

Quote: “And that is hugely important to an enormous number of people. That’s how they’re able to process as many people as they do. Sure, they have a lot of people on anyone time, but they’re still making good profit, they’re still making 11-12% each year in terms of Net profit. So, their business model is pretty sound. But they value people’s time.”

Again, they value people’s money, and time IS money, as you word it perfectly: “they’re able to PROCESS as many people as they do…” Why do I have to think of cattle being lead to mass slaughter when I read the word “process”?!

Quote: “Sure, they have a lot of people on anyone time, but they’re still making good profit”

No, they don’t have “a lot of people” at anyone time, 10 years of working understaffed to maximize profits has had me never ever wanting to work fast again, not to mention not being able to work currently. You may ask, why did you stay so long? Simple, I had a life outside of Pret where I had friends and projects I was passionate about. I was healthy, strong and able to mostly leave the stress at work. My life and personal projects were overriding the stress from work. And in a nutshell I and many people are like frogs that are sitting in a pot of warm water by being lulled in by good PR and where Pret’s CEO calls the company “family”. The PR is the warm water and very slowly the heat is turned up where we don’t realize that we are being cooked alive! I certainly am well over cooked, chewy and tasteless like rubber now. And just like a used and stained Pret paper cup that is of no use anymore, I landed on a pile of rubbish! When my brother died and I was mistreated on top of it, tricked and trapped by HR, they crossed a line, and I was turning ill.

Rubbish Paper Cups2

Quote: “In the world of specialty we haven’t really, really valued our customers’ time. We’ve been very product focused. And as a result, I think we haven’t valued people’s time adequately.

Okay, here is the challenge and my plea: please could you STOP only valuing customers’ pockets and being product focus, and start valuing the staff who make all the products and who are the ones serving customers? Employees who are left behind in this cut throat greedy multi-millionaire business!

Someone please stop this modern-day slavery and stop closing your eyes to what is REALLY behind successful businesses. As a rule of thumb: if it sound too good to be true… it isn’t! Someone, somewhere is always paying the price for this business model you so admire, and it is the majority who pay for the rewards of the few on the top. And if the few only reap the rewards that the many make happen, ask yourself if you really want this kind of business model. If you are on the side of greed, this indeed is very good for you. If you are on the side of most human beings, seeking a fair share in life by contributing with an honest hard working job, this indeed is too good to be true and the cost, the bill will come later. And we all know who’s paying for it.

Quote: “And in doing so, I think we’ve excluded a large number of people, who either value their time very highly or just aren’t willing to invest that kind of time that we ask of them.”

Well, you exclude an even larger number of people who are the staff making this happen, oftentimes at their physical and mental costs.

Quote: “And right now one of the biggest challenges specialty faces is growing its audience. Right now the audience isn’t really growing but the number of Cafes is.”

Yes, unfortunately every business wants a slice of the cake, and the crumbs are dished up by those who break their backs to make that cake.

The biggest challenge is to find a way to stop the greedy ways of the few and to really make their workforce part of the success and with it really leave behind a legacy that shows that businesses can indeed go the right way. As Gandhi so poignantly said: “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

I can only say that when Pret fired me in my ill conduct out of trauma, with their HR tricks while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma, Pret fired me right into activism. My dad has died now and I would have preferred to write a blog on how amazing the company I worked for has treated me in my bereavement and trauma.

Mr. Hoffmann, could you look deeper, please, on what really is behind a successful business model?

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,

 

———-

Edit, 22.07.2018: I can imagine that either you have been contacted by Pret or you contacted Pret for an explanation. I can tell you how Pret responds. Pret responds by sweet talking their way out of this and victimizing me into the corner of mental illness (which happened to me while working in Pret during mistreatment in bereavement).

They will lull you in with numbers and their annual staff questionnaire and awards, which is a flawed system because shops cheat by Pret-ending (pardon my word-game, couldn’t help it) to be team members, partaking in the questionnaire answering questions positive. I have declined doing the questionnaire and yet my shop’s result was a 100% participation, even though I didn’t participate in this voluntary questionnaire.

They will have advised you to not respond in the hopes this goes away.

If you or the public want to be lulled in by good PR that is your prerogative. But you and the public won’t be able to say in the future that you didn’t know about the tactics and work conditions in Pret.

I still suffer and at times hold on to mere life not trying to give up, and many others struggle, no matter how sweet the words of Pret’s leadership and HR will be trying to talk their way out of this.

Bullying, and especially bullying bereaved employees is unacceptable and dangerous to people’s lives. I will never be silent again.

Thank you for reading.

 


 

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:

 

©2018 expret.org


Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Quote of the Day #7 – Pret A Bullied

 

Quote: “The image of the happy environment is a joke.”

 

Quote Pret #07

 

Pret Staff Comlaints

 

 

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

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