Recruited Tweets on Pret’s Customer Service

 

To avoid repeating words in Tweets, I put this in a blog entry.

I mention in my other blog entry already that Pret seemed to have recruited Tweeters to post on the smiley customer service and freebies. This started around the first week in October 2019. Knowing Pret’s little tricks, I want to post for any new reader oblivious to why Pret staff always seem so “happy”, while in reality they smile, are “generous” etc. for Mystery Shopper £200 incentives and to avoid getting fear managed.

I put a few questions that weekly Mystery Shoppers are tasked to test staff on in a YouTube slideshow. I concentrated mainly on the smiley service questions and the Barista 1 minute rule. I left out other questions like Mystery Shoppers counting the product lines – how many products at certain peek/off peek times are on display, or how clean the shop is etc.

If staff fail on ANY of those points, the whole team loses bonus. If ONE staff member doesn’t smile enough or isn’t chatty, the WHOLE Team is in danger of losing the bonus. If the Team get the bonus, or even if the Team does NOT get the bonus that week, but ONE Team Member does “outstanding service”, that Team Member can get extra £100 on top of their wages and bonus. If the overall scores of the shop is perfect and the 1 Team Member blows the Mystery Shopper away with their “outstanding” service, then the TM can get £200 on top of their wages.

That’s why throughout Pret shops worldwide customers wonder why staff are always so “cheery”, even while low paid, stressed, loud shops etc.

 

For visually impaired readers, I put some examples below on what Mystery Shoppers are tasked to test staff on. I concentrate mainly on Emotional Labour.

Just a few reviews from staff on Glassdoor, Indeed & Co., there is much much more, but to not get the blog too long again, I just post a few. For an extensive, but not exhaustive list that has to be updated, please visit: Long List of Pret Staff Complaints

2019-10-02 Mystery Shopper happy

 

2019-09-16 Stressful not worth Mystery Shopper

 

2014-08-01 TM - Good first job Too much pressure Mystery Shopper - RVW4701443

 

Smile Please

 

2019-04-16 Mystery Shopper Blame Culture

 

A few customer Tweets:

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive marked

 

2009 Cheerleaders Smile

 

2013 Low Wage Exploitation Smile marked

 

There are many more Tweets from customers / the public on this, but I try to keep it short.

Here are some of the questions the Mystery Shopper tests staff on, in particular on the service. I used comments from different Myserty Shoppers: (Some of the words I underlined to highlight)

Pret: We aim to create an enjoyable atmosphere in all of our shops. Taking into account how busy the shop is, please rate the atmosphere in the shop at the point of entry.
Mystery Shopper: The atmosphere was enjoyable. The staff members that I came into contact with were helpful and polite.

Pret: We aim to keep the exterior of our shops looking inviting at all times – this includes: the outside seating area, the outside signage, outside windows and door frames and outside entrance area. Please rate how inviting the shop was from the outside, bearing in mind how busy the area was.
MS: The cleanliness of the exterior was exceptional. The windows, door frames and signage were very clean.

Pret: We aim to serve our customers within 1 minute of joining the queue. Were you served in a reasonable time, bearing in mind how busy the shop was and the number of open tills?
MS: I was served very quickly, after 15 seconds, very quick service.

Pret: We aim to serve our customers their hot drink within 1 minute of payment. Did you receive your hot drink order within a reasonable time, bearing in mind how busy the shop was?
MS: I received my hot drink very quickly, after 30 seconds, quick service.

Screenshot of comment:

MS Mystery 15 seconds to Mars

It took 30 seconds in above and 20 seconds in below screenshot to get the drink. And then customers go on Twitter complaining why they received a half empty cup, or their coffee is too cold etc. I wrote in the YouTube slide that customers are happy to wait 10 minutes at Starbucks, but are not willing to wait 2 minutes at Pret. Pret has spoiled customers and the speed of service is to have a fast customer flow = money flow.

20 seconds drink

 

Pret: We aim to connect with every customer with eye contact, a smile and some polite remarks. Rate the engagement level of the person who served you at the till.
MS: Team members should smile at customers and may be not work when ill, as team member was coughing whilst serving me and was therefore not feeling cheerful enough to smile that day.

Screenshot of above comment:

2014-12-01 MS cough

 

Pret staff not only lose a day’s wages when sick per day, but also the whole week’s bonus.

A Tweet by a Pret staff on this sickness policy forcing her to work while having the flew:

2017 Mystery Shopper sick pay

 

Another upset staff member on the sickness policy, losing income:

2019-06-05 TM bonus cut sick mystery shopper

 

Pret: We aim to be attentive to each customer’s needs. Rate the engagement level of the whole shop team during your visit.
MS: The team member was friendly but to be engaged and positive, the team member could have made small talk or a friendly remark.

Pret: Was any one member of our team very helpful, extremely charming and/or absolutely outstanding?
MS: No.

If there was outstanding service, then the MS would briefly describe and this 1 Team Member or Manager would get the “outstanding card”, which is not literally a card, but the £100 or if perfect scores the £200 cash reward. That’s why staff compete for this and “bounce” around like seemingly happy bunnies on speed!

This is what an MS wrote about a TM’s outstanding service:

Pret: Was any one member of our team very helpful, extremely charming and/or absolutely outstanding?
MS: [Name of TM] was the team member who served me. I thought that she offered a charming service. [Name of TM] is female, about 5′ 6″ tall, with medium length, blonde hair worn in a ponytail, and was not wearing glasses. She went out of her way to be friendly and engaging, and even brought over my toastie for me. I was made to feel as though my custom was valued.

In this case the TM got the £200 because the overall scores of the shop was perfect. If some points were missing, the TM would have gotten £100 reward. Even if the whole shop Team lost the bonus, the TM could still get the cash reward of £100 as their individual reward if the Mystery Shopper is blown away by their service.

If Team bonus is lost, whoever responsible for losing the bonus because that person didn’t smile for example, this person will get fear managed and peer pressured.

I was told of by my boss because I coughed while the Mystery Shopper as I was sick. The Mystery Shopper commented on this that staff should stay home when sick as I wasn’t feeling cheerful enough to smile while sick. What the MS doesn’t know nor seems to care about is, that staff are not paid sick leave the first 2 – 3 days, depending on age.

So, we had to constantly decide if to stay home and lose income, ro go to work and risk losing Mystery Shopper bonus for the whole and then get in trouble.

I wrote it in other places several times that Pret A Manger’s Mystery Shopper scheme that forces emotional labour is emotional abuse. PAMSU who got fired for starting a Union called this scheme “humiliating” and challenged Pret to end the Mystery Shopper scheme.

PAMSU Dismantle MS

Link to Pret A Manger Staff Union Tweet demanding to Pret and CEO at the time, quote: “@pret @Cliveschlee Dismantle the humiliating mystery shopper!”

To cut this short, I write and collect on the subject of forced Emotional Labour on low-wage staff in the service industry. It is amazing how people don’t want to accept that low- paid workers are forced to smile all day and most people seem to enjoy getting “stroked” in their own emotions by low-wage staff. What PAMSU called “humiliating” I go a step further and call this “emotional prostitution”. Staff who have to top up their low pay, compete for Mystery Shopper cash rewards and recognition.

I was bullied during bereavement when I couldn’t always smile. But when I did smile while being traumatized and on autopilot, my bosses never bothered to encourage me whatsoever. Only when a negative comment came, did they see it fit to warn me and my colleagues.

Mystery Shopper bonus count towards the largest chunk of Manager’s and Upper Managers’ quarterly bonuses. So, the pressure on this fake happiness is the biggest on staff.

If anyone who regularly goes to Pret really cares about this, I collected writings on Emotional Labour: The Dangers of Emotional Labour

One particular article by Sophie McBain in the New Statesman, I want to highlight, which describes perfectly how harmful Emotional Labour is:
How Emotional Labour Harms us all

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

I end with a quote from another excellent article on this by Timothy Noah:
“The Enforced Happiness of Pret A Manger”.

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

Timothy Noah quote, highligths by me:

»For a good long while, I let myself think that the slender platinum blonde behind the counter at Pret A Manger was in love with me. How else to explain her visible glow whenever I strolled into the shop for a sandwich or a latte? Then I realized she lit up for the next person in line, and the next. Radiance was her job. …

Pret keeps its sales clerks in a state of enforced rapture through policies vaguely reminiscent of the old East German Stasi. A “mystery shopper” visits every Pret outlet once a week. If the employee who rings up the sale is appropriately ebullient, then everyone in the shop gets a bonus. If not, nobody does. This system turns peers into enthusiasm cops, further constricting any space for a reserved and private self.

Why do Pret workers accept the customer’s emotional state as their personal responsibility? … In England, the vast majority of Pret workers are foreign immigrants, but that seems less true here [USA]. “My only thought,” says Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown, “is that it is such a buyer’s market in the labor market—because of so many unemployed workers per job—that employers can get away with a lot of demands on their workers that ordinarily wouldn’t be possible.” In other words—shhhh!—Pret clerks love-bomb customers for the money…«

Timothy Noah in the New Rebublic

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

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger 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.

Open Letter to the “Misery” Shopper

 

Dear Mystery Shopper,

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

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

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

 

 

Face off man-845847__340

 

 

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

 

2012-10-12 MS 1

2012-10-12 MS 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

In detail:

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

Pret Uniform2

 

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

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

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

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

 

Bullying can kill

 

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

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

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,

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

Late Night Girl2

 

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

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 


 

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

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.