Day 15: PRotesting Giants, PRotecting Clients

 

PReserving Reliance

 

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

 

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

 

PRet’s

PRactices in

PRocrastinating

PRoper labelling when

PResented with concerns to

PRotect people and

PReventing

PRemature deaths from

PRepared

PRoducts, taking

PRecedence by being

PReoccupied in

PRioritizing and

PReferring

PRosperity, while being

PRetentious, but not

PRoactive,

PRactical,

PRagmatic,

PRimarily

PRofessional,

PRincipled and with

PRide

PRoviding all ingredients by

PRinting labels to

PReserve and

PRolong life … is so out of

PRoportion!

 

The PRefabricated

PRemeditated and

PRedictable

PRopaganda,

PRoclaiming

PRomising and

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

PRobing a death, public

PRostests and

PRessure from the

PRess is typical for the

PR[et] machine with

PRofits over

PRivate lives

PRoving their negligence

 

PRoblem remains: no

PRocecution, no

PRison sentence, and no

PRoposed new leadership

 

Pret A Manger

PRovokes anger,

PRevails and regains

PRominence by hiring and

PRomoting

PR firm

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

 

PRecious lives paid the

PRice, financially

PReyed and

PRowled upon by greedy

PRicks!

 

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

 

PRaying for the families, especially this Christmas time.

 

©2018 expret.org

 

P.S. Mind intellectual PRoperty.

 

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

 


 

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


Interview:

 

©2020 expret.org


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

Day 4: The Day Clive Schlee had a Bright Idea!

 

Day 4 of >>> Away in Pret A Manger Ad-VENT Calendar

 

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Or click here: https://expret.org/2019/12/04/day-4-clive-schlee-lightbulb-moment

 

Remember Pret’s £1000 announcement to all Staff?

First of all, now former CEO Clive Schlee left a legacy behind that even a £1000 “bribe” couldn’t fix. Glassdoor and Indeed reviews by staff at the bottom of this page.

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

I wrote about this already on various blog entries and made an extra post, but I want to put a visual of the timing of the announcement here, and why this is important.

Pret A Manger’s now former CEO Clive Schlee made an announcement on 29. May 2018 on Twitter, welcoming the new owners of Pret, JAB Holdings under German billionaire family Reimann. The Reimann’s also own Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread and a list of other companies. The press is full recently of Reimann’s Nazi past, but that’s another story.

For my full story with Pret please scroll down to the interview in the audio player at the bottom of this post.

I started this blog and website in May 2017 under poetrasblok.com where I posted poetry and videos I made for my brother, who died in December 2014. I had another website before, but it was loaded with advertisement, and I wanted a clean looking homepage that didn’t distract the reader with blinking, and I mean literally blinking imagery!

After my ordeal with Pret I added the URL LateNightGirl.org to my website in May 2018, and then mid 2018 added expret.org, as Late Night Girl doesn’t make much sense for people who don’t know my story. In short, Clive Schlee labelled me his “late night girl”, so I put a “dot org” behind it! All three URLs will lead to this same site. Again, I explain in detail at the bottom of this page.

Late on 28th May 2018 I sent a link of this blog to an area manager I worked under, whom I know cannot keep a secret. I was angry still and wrote to the area manager that she can do with it what she wants. I know she can’t keep a secret because she sent my emails on after promising she wouldn’t and is in general VERY talkative, I just sent my link to her.

On 29th May I woke up before 7am and found my website statistics skyrocketed!!! Before that date I had just a handful of visitors every day, like 5 visitors one day, then 3 visitors the next, zero visitors, 10 visitors etc. Suddenly on the 29th in the morning it went into the hundreds, and to this day (4. December 2019) it is still the most visited day my blog has ever received! My website gets a lot of traffic now, but nothing like the 29th May 2018!

2018-05-29 Stats Prets Visit

On 28. May 2018 late in the evening I sent my blog LateNightGirl.org to the area manager. On 29. May 2018 in the morning I could literally watch the visitors and clicks increase LIVE as they happen! From that day on my stats have increased visitors, but never as much as the 29th May 2018 to this day.

BEST views ever 29May2018

And on the 29. May 2018 Clive Schlee, then CEO of Pret, posted this tweet in the early hours:

2018-05-29 Clive Announcement

Link

And what do the public write? How wonderful Pret is and that the CEO is the BEST!

PR[et] at its best for sure! 😀

Now, I don’t believe that he just came up with the idea then and there to give £1000 to all staff, but I strongly believe the timing was due to him getting informed of my website late on 28th May 2018 into the 29th May, because in October 2018 staff were still waiting and going on Twitter frustrated why the bonus hasn’t been paid yet! And I know how Clive Schlee reacts when confronted with difficulties, he quickly counters with “charity” to win people over, sowing doubts that Pret ever would be harmful to people, staff as well customers.

So, I’m proud to have been part of getting all staff some extra cash, although I feel for them being fooled, as the timing of the announcement was premature and a typical panic reaction Clive Schlee does when he’s about to face difficulties or Pret is in danger of getting exposed.

A quick gesture and PR stunt was supposed to “eliminate” any doubts towards Pret, once, more people become aware of my website and exposing Pret for what they really are behind the facade. Frankly, Pret is not the ethical and caring company they portray to the public.

Las Vegas
Link

Weeks and months later though, staff got frustrated and confused on when the £1000 would finally be paid. And Schlee of course put responsibility downwards unto his managers, wanting staff to get away from public tweeting. I tweeted in his announcement feed, but got shadow banned at that time without realizing, as I didn’t know what shadow banning was then. But I did notice that my tweets weren’t visible when I was logged out. They are still there, but visible when one has the direct link.

So, here he is, making this announcement and when the going gets tough and staff complain on when the promise will “moneyfest” (sorry, couldn’t help it!) Schlee diverts to managers and the People Team (HR).
In August, 3 months after the announcement, the first staff members started raising questions, some even started a Twitter account just to confront the CEO on his promise, as staff didn’t get any info from the shops. My response at the bottom is the only one that didn’t get shadow banned (secretly censored/hidden):

2018-08-29 My response to £1000 delay

Link
Into September and October:

2018-09-01 Pret Staff Twitter £1000

2018-09-12 Pret Staff Twitter £1000

2018-09-15 Staff Twitter Complaint £1000

2018-09-16 WorshipBroccoli £1000

2018-09-19 Meme USA

2018-09-24 Kevin Pavain re £1000
Kevin makes an important point about the timing of the announcement. What Kevin and all the others don’t know (he knows now), is WHY Clive Schlee announced it prematurely! I even posted the reason in September, but was shadow banned unbeknown to me at the time. I’m not sure if people got the message then and there. I retweeted the info a few times after that on different occasions on some of my “late night girl” shifts!

So, needless to say, “Stockholm Syndrome” is not my problem anymore, THIS is NOT my fault that he made this announcement prematurely, giving an untimely hope to all his staff! This is solely Clive Schlee’s TYPICAL panic reaction to a problem he faces!

2018-09-28 Meme People Team

My response to Meme was hidden as I must have been shadow banned at the time without knowing it. Meme in the USA doesn’t even know what the Pret “People Team” is, because in the U.S. many complain that they are discriminated against, British staff are preferred, they aren’t trained, HR is non-existent or a “joke” etc.
My hidden/shadow banned tweet visible via my Tweets & Replies:

2018-09-28 Meme People Team my response

And the ridiculous slogan of Pret’s HR department:

Right Thing Naturally

One Team Member got it right, money isn’t everything, but family is!

Typo: Hay here means “employee” not employer.

2018-09-29-hay.jpg

Last complaint in that feed before the £1000 (£800 after tax) got finally paid out to those who worked longer than 1 year at Pret:

2018-10-01 Staff Twitter £1000

I am contacted by Pret staff who were warned that if they tweet or post openly on social media with any complaints, they get a disciplinary or dismissed.

But, basically the deal wasn’t finalized until September 2018. Managers and probably HR were in the air about it. Team Members thought Managers were secretive. But knowing Pret and managers, they were not secretive, they were CLUELESS because Clive Schlee made the announcement too early. On 29th May 2018 after being informed about my blog, he jumped quick to do a PR announcement, so that when the public becomes aware of my blog, they won’t believe me, but assume that Pret is so wonderful to its staff. Good one Mr. Schlee, but not good enough, because throwing money at a problem is just temporary while not working on the root issue.

It used to take 10 years service to receive £1000 and now suddenly all staff members would receive it even new employees after one year of service. If the CEO originally planned to give all staff £1000 only he knows, but staff on Facebook have complained that the 10 year £1000 reward has been cancelled.

When I worked in Pret still in 2017 Pret already cancelled the 5 year award of £500. So, it looks to me that the plan was to slowly faze out all these awards as Pret has entered the nasty business of fast-food workers exploitation even more now with the JAB take-over.

The £1000 announcement to all staff looks to me like a farewell gesture where no other awards will be given anymore as they did before.

So, the wording of the CEO “Today is a big day for Pret” … why TODAY when the sale wasn’t finalized?! Staff still waited in October for the promised cash, which by the way is around £800 after tax is deducted!

My thought: “TODAY” was the big day when Clive Schlee and Pret got confronted with my blog as I have declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal with Pret.
And sadly only 2 people immediately saw through this PR stunt among all the euphoria:

2018-05-29 Ann Donovan sees thru PR
Link

2018-05-30 £1000 PR Union
Link

Pret also suddenly became very selective in staff, even after the 3 months trial period being excellent in his work, this kitchen Team Member in the below link, who has a mental health issue did NOT get the job as Pret would have had to pay him £1000 after a year of service. Ben, the manager* of the Brixton shop even wrote the following to Hind from the Pret Foundation trust: (I added the bold but the manager wrote in capitals EVERY).
*The OPs manager of the Brixton shop area is called Ben:

“Please let him know that we were very impressed by his professionalism at work and always giving 100% in whatever he was doing. The quality of products he made were picture perfect EVERY time. Myself and the team would like to say a big thank you and we wish him luck in his new job and we hope he will pop by for a coffee on us whenever he is in Brixton as he will always be one of us.”

In a nutshell, Sergio was only used for PR and he is oblivious to it and does what we all do when we believe nice sounding words. Sergio was treated exceptionally well, worked only Monday to Friday in the morning which is very unusual as Pret excepts staff to be flexible. Sergio was NOT pushed, and yet, even though they were impressed with him, he was excellent and his products picture perfect EVERY time, he wasn’t even taken on in the shop! They had no work for him… hello, anyone smell a rat??

He shares on this website of the Mental Health Club. I know him, because I am a member of the same Mental Health Club that Pret tries to infiltrate to fish for workers and mainly use people for PR. I cover this and the trap Sergio fell into extensively in my Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust.
Even with this “generosity”, the recommendation on Glassdoor for Pret and the CEO in July 2019 (1 year after the £1000 announcement) speaks volumes. Clive Schlee “retired” with this legacy (while remaining in the background as a Non-Executive Director):

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

New CEO Pano Christou:

2019-11-19 Pano 40 vs 31

A recent review by a Manager which needs no addition:

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

GM slavery

Go back Pret

etc. etc.

For a detailed report on Pret’s systemic bullying environment with many reviews from the UK, Paris, USA from Workers, Managers and HQ Staff alike, please scroll down to the screenshot of —> Caught in the Act at Pret.

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Two Pret staff have died within a month.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?

 


 

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.

Pret A Marketing 2 – “On the House”

 

What are the news on the homeless house?

One guy advertised for it with Nicki Fisher.

What’s with the house of the “Rising Stars”?!

I put it in brackets as I find this patronizing to label former homeless people like this, especially since the majority of Pret staff are like “Fallen Stars“.

I wrote on the Social Bite homeless village project in July 2018. It took Social Bite 2 years to build a village. It took Pret, a multi-million (by now billion) pound company 5 years to plan, buy and advertise a house for homeless people in London? Mind you, those former homeless people Pret takes, interestingly seemed to have been short-term homeless and mainly young people…all with little “baggage”, compared to those who were on the streets for years with addictions and loads of “life” behind them … not easy to bulls**t anymore.

And now Nicki Fisher who headed up the Pret Foundation Trust (PFT) goes to rural places in the hopes to help some burnt out people? Really?

I thought the Pret house is helping former homeless people back into work and accommodation? Ah, I see, it’s all in the wording.

From the below Tweet:
“Nicki will be embarking on a new adventure with her wife as they open their home in the East Sussex countryside as a rural retreat for those in need.”

Open to interpretation as to who’s in need and what the need is.

2019-05-30 Nikki Fischer rural

Now there’s a proper Pret smile!

Link & Link

The Pret homeless house in London just doesn’t seem to be doing it for Nicki. And it makes sense, because people who were homeless, traumatized, vulnerable etc. need rural and quiet places to recover. Daah!

Pret’s homeless house of the “Rising Stars” is just another smile on Pret’s face … facade!

And why is none of the “Rising Stars” on Twitter etc. telling how great it all is? Instead, they are only sharing, if at all, with Pret’s camera on them. But outside of Pret? What’s their take?

It takes rural places to recuperate from tragedy of homelessness, trauma, loss etc. And here are the brutal places of Pret A Manger and their “Fallen Stars”:

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff and plenty of Deputies

 

Sheriff

Sheriff Bajo, former Pret Assistant Manager and father of a young child was unfairly dismissed and ended up sleeping in his car, losing everything.

 

In the PRet CEO blog about the “Rising Stars” former homeless employment program, Clive Schlee shares how the idea came up for these “Rising Stars” to solely work together in a Pret shop. From the manager to the kitchen sandwich makers, having all former homeless people work in one shop.

Why?

CEO Quote (I added the colour to highlight something where he’s indirectly giving himself away):

“Our shop idea lost momentum when we returned home. People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.”

 

2019-01-02 re Rising Stars too few2

 

And on the 450 “Rising Stars” since the 10 years of the Pret Foundation Trust, working with former homeless people, some people finally probe deeper also on Facebook and are just not buying it:

 

Why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12K staff

 

Here’s why Georgia:

“Careful to integrate”?

Might be leaving them “too exposed”?

Too exposed for what?

The same CEO who takes former homeless people to his Austrian PRoperty for a hike in the beautiful countryside, is the same CEO who has a highly stressful workplace with bullying managers who are drilled for targets and profit repaying the investors since private equity took over.

Also, is it coincidence that the PFT was founded in 2008 just when Bridgepoint Capital purchased Pret and started squeezing the lifeblood out of employees? With Pret A Manger I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. My own story where Pret used a development manager who supposedly also had a brother who died alone in his flat and wasn’t found until days later. Yet, after Pret bullied me and I became ill, she was introduced to me, but not for mutual support as we (if she!) had the same loss, but she was used to gaslight me. Full story in my interview at the bottom of this page.

 

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2018-07-06 Head Office PR

19. Dec. 2017

 

2019-02-11 Critical Tweet re Homeless house

 

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

 

Who will investigate staff deaths, in particular suicides?

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

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

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

Why Pret A Manger doesn’t do Loyalty Cards

 

… in Central London… and the Free Coffee “myth” or legend as some assume.

First of all some Pret shops outside of big cities had Loyalty Cards, because the volume of coffee sales being much less than in London and other busy cities. Not sure if those shops still do Loyalty Cards. Tweets from 2012:

 

Pret Loyalty Card 2012-09-13

Link

 

Terms and conditions at the bottom of this below Loyalty Card:

“Redeemable at the Manager’s discretion. Excludes Pret shops within Central London Zones 1 and 2…”

It even has an expiry date on it, forcing the customer to buy coffees before that date to get a free one … and at the manager’s discretion mind you! Pret showing its true “generosity” here!

 

Pret Loyalty Card 2012-03-29

Link

 

2017 Pret Loyalty Card

Link to a 2017 Tweet

 

So, here I am making free advertisement for Pret, but there’s more than meets the eye… I am not a journalist nor an established writer (although I have one self-published book under my belt with a now bankrupt publisher… out of print), and writers like to peek and copy what they find here, but I am writing from behind the scenes of having worked at Pret for 10 years. I don’t copy & paste articles under lazy journalism.

Pret is next to nothing when it comes to marketing and winning new and retaining regular customers. I think to gain customers, the best thing is to give freebies, and Pret does this fantastically. No business does this as best as Pret A Manger. So far so good.

But …

There’s that hairy but(t) again!

 

THE PRICE

Of course this brilliant marketing strategy has not just one catch apart from the ultimate goal of profit. People don’t realize how cheap the coffee is. If customers knew how much 1 cup of coffee costs for Pret, incl. the milk, cup, lid, labour and then would see the profit margin… people’s stomach would turn on what they pay for a regular latte!

Even while I worked at Pret I always wondered how Pret’s claim to be certified Organic and Fair Trade can even be valid. Not making allegations, just raising questions! To get certified as being organic is super expensive for companies. Pret has been sued for their claim to be natural while the food contains glyphosate for which the mighty Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, currently has 11,000 lawsuits on their neck, with two major lawsuits lost in the hundred millions, due to denial that their main product Roundup causes cancer, which has not been labelled on the product… But that’s another story altogether.

UPDATE 01. June 2020

Pret’s coffee is NOT fair trade anymore. Facebook post:

2020-06-01 No more fair trade marked

Link

So, if the public is paying attention, I have seen it more lately that Pret signs are changing due to the vs. “natural” claim issue.

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

Link

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

Even on Pret’s website, the word “natural” seems to have completely disappeared.

 

good-food-new-sign.jpg

Link to Pret USA Twitter

UPDATE 23. May 2019

A customer on Twitter posted this picture confused on why the word “natural” was covered over at LAX airport. In the U.S. Pret has to act while in the UK everything is lenient again.

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over2

 

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over3

Link to David Blumenstein’s Tweet

I write extensively on the “Natural” issue in Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat.

But, back to the free coffee marketing. Even while working at Pret I always questioned how Pret can have Fair Trade AND certified Organic coffee while the coffee is so cheap. This may be another area some may be looking into after having looked at the “natural” food claim.

So, all the free coffees (and at times cookies, especially items at the end of the day or when products are expiring…) while being low in price for Pret, someone still has to pay for all these free items. And it is not Pret! Pret keeps raising prices regularly also to cover the cost. At the end of the day customers still pay for all the free coffees etc.

2019-04-17 Pret price increase

Link


 

THE PSYCHOLOGY

Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret and master of marketing with an approachable smile, his words on the freedom for staff to give free coffees and why:

Quote:
»We looked at loyalty cards but we didn’t want to spend all that money building up some complicated Clubcard-style analysis.
Instead the staff have to give away a certain number of hot drinks and food every week.
They will decide “I like the person on the bicycle” or “I like the guy in that tie” or “I fancy that girl or that boy”.
It means 28 per cent of people have had something free. It’s a nice, different way of doing it.«  *
From ThisIsMoney.co.uk

(*cough* while 72% go empty handed… see below)

Yes, the “having to give away” is even a pressure point for managers that push team leaders when the targeted percentage of freebies for the week has not been reached. It was part of my job as a shop team leader to keep an eye on the numbers and encourage teams to keep giving freebies OR stop giving, when we reached the percentage for the week, before the new week’s budget started again.

2017 Free coffee budget punishLink

 

2018-12-31 re free coffee marketing2

Link

 

On a side note, when the two customer deaths became public and the outcry was loud for a while, there was also an increasing Twitter “storm” on freebies where customers went online to post with enthusiasm about their free coffee or cookie…

And here is how that “fancying” is out of proportion with Clive Schlee’s admitted 28% as well as my experience as a team leader:

 

~ MULTIPLE FREEBIES at times within 1 WEEK & DAILY ~

 

2019-03-28 4th Free coffee

Link

 

2017-04-17 free coffee AGAIN

Link

 

2016 TWO free items in ONE week

Link

 

2018-06-21 2 free items

Link

 

2015 TWO Free coffees.jpg

Link

 

2019-04-13 Regular free coffee

Link

 

2019-04-09 Free coffee 1 to 2

Link

 

2019-04-13 Patience Smiles for Free Coffee

Link

 

2019-04-16 Free coffees often

Link

 

2017 Getting freebies free coffee for ages

Link

 

~ vs NOTHING for YEARS ~

 

2019-01-11 1st Free since years

Link

 

2019-04-18 Free Coffee after YEARS

Link

 

2019-03-21 Free coffee since years

Link

&

2019-03-21 Free coffee since years2

 

2019-03-28 free coffee today was the day

Link

 

2017-02-25 After lifelong devotion free coffee

Link (I love typos on Twitter… from devotion to devolution!)

 

2015 Free nonsense loyalty card

Link

 

2017 In 5 years no free coffee

Link (Another lovely typo: Pret as in looking for “Prey” >:-] )

 

2018-12-13 NOT attractive for free coffee

Link

 

2015 Never etting free coffee

Link (And Pret having a laugh!)

 

Political jokes Free Coffees 2015 Discrimination

Link

 

2019-04-16 five 5 years no free coffee

Link

 

2019-04-16 Free Coffee Legend replie

Link

… and so on….

Needless to say that those customers who get free coffees regularly, even daily, will not spill the beans on Twitter. 😉

As a team leader I had to “re-adjust” my teams’ choices to give solely at their own “discretion”, especially flirting baristas giving free coffee EVERY TIME to specific (to them) attractive customers. Or one team member would give free coffees every day to a customer who was an editor of a weekly celebrity tabloid magazine bringing that TM a free magazine every week. Company policy would be dismissal to “exchange” services for private purposes. But that’s how it works and Pret would never admit how discriminating the give-aways are in the name of “random acts of kindness”. That’s why staff are not allowed to have friends and family members eating on the 50% rebate WHILE staff are on the shift working.

Staff also are not allowed to ring up the 50% rebate on their staff discount themselves on the till while serving customers, as some customers make friends with staff for freebies and rebates. So, this was always a struggle to shake up the “policy”. I loved to give freebies, it was my favourite thing giving whole lunches on the house. But I often gave it to the moody and even rude customer to “kill them with kindness” or “heap burning coals on their heads” or just be kind to someone who looked pretty down…
I looked for the “underdog” to give freebies as we never know what hell they may be going through!

 

And another reason why Pret aims to have Taxi parking spaces in front of shops… Cabbies move around London being the BEST advertisers, especially to tourists looking for a coffee place!

2014 free coffee taxi cabbies

Link

 


 

LOYALTY CARDS (slowing down the service)

Another reason why I believe Pret doesn’t do loyalty cards, apart from saving money is the sheer mess it would create. Pret staff have 60 seconds per customer to serve by the time a customer joins the queue, and another 60 seconds per customer to get their hot drinks handed to the customer. Shop staff are tested by Mystery Shopper every week on the timing, if they smile constantly, chat, give eye contact etc. Basically, low-wage workers are performing as acrobatic clowns, bending over backwards for a little extra cash and to avoid getting fear managed.

I write extensively about this with a full Mystery Shopper report in “Pret A Manger Service Secrets Revealed“. Any regular customer who visits Pret in the morning coffee rush knows how bonkers the rush time is for Team Members. If they then have to stamp loyalty cards, trying to have a designated area in the busy, at times messy counter area, the potential cross contamination of ink getting smeared on the counter etc. would be a greater nightmare than it already is.

Also, stamps can “disappear” for external (illegal) use. Also, from my experience at Caffe Nero, having to count and file the paperwork on the fully stamped cards at the end of the day is also an extra workload, as stamped cards are treated like cash, have to be stored in the safe, send to HQ at the end of the week etc. etc. etc.

So, the mess, extra workload and potential abuse of stamps in such a busy environment is too risky and not worth the headache. That part I can fully understand from the perspective of staff that already have to think about a million things in a highly stressful environment.

 


 

CONTROL (of the carrot)

Carrot

 

2017 Behavioural science free coffee loyalty card

Link

And this is how the psychology works that Pret is so cleverly using. A Loyalty Card system, apart from costing additional money for Pret as Clive Schlee rightly said, would give the customer control over the timing of free items. And as Pret whips out coffees like no other coffee chain (the 1 minute Mystery Shopper pressure <- YouTube slide – on workers for fast service is another reason for high profit in Pret via Emotional Labour) a Loyalty Card system would guarantee customers free coffees at their chosen time, especially all the regular customers who go to Pret EVERY DAY.

For staff to give freebies at their discretion (or discrimination!) gives Pret the control on when customers get freebies AND serves like a carrot in front of the donkey that keeps going to Pret like a gambler, spending money and hoping to get that free coffee or cookie or whole lunch …

 

2019-01-15 waiting for next freebie

Link

 

Carrot

 

2019 No free coffee for a while

Link

 


 

FREE ADVERTISEMENT

To shorten the already long blog entry with more customer tweets on freebies, I mainly put journalist tweets here. Only a few tweets by a host of journalists who are supposed to be neutral, reporting on events rather than making free advertisement for Pret, while not looking deeper as one would expect from “investigative” journalism. Mainstream media for you:

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2013

Link

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2015 Guardian Journo

Link

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019

Link A boost in self esteem with a free cuppa!

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019 to other half

Link

 

One journalist even goes a step further and plays Job-center for Pret, recruiting low-wage workers:

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019 Jobcenter

Link

etc.

Makes you wonder if they are paid under the table or are so infatuated with the cheap free coffees, and then being blinded to do real neutral journalism. Kind of sinks your heart how the majority goes with this freebie scheme so easily.

 

Staff hope the Mystery Shopper is nearby or even serving the MS when the staff member is extra generous for a chance to receive the £200 reward.

 

A customer’s observation most people are blind to:

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

 

A Mystery Shopper tweet:

2017 A Mystery Shopper tweeted

Link

 

Customer Tweets:

2015 About Mystery Shopper

Link

 

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive

Link

And the psychology of “group incentive” is actually peer pressure and what a recent reviewer called “blame culture” which I totally underline. I spent a lot of time building my team member UP when they messed up the Mystery Shopper after our manager put them DOWN, because putting down is counter productive and leads to mental health problems. If I had buckets of the tears that were flowing after the harsh telling off when the Mystery Shopper wasn’t happy …

 

2018 Emotional Labour Labor Quota Smiles2

Link

 

A Pret employee’s review on the Mystery Shopper pressure:

2019-04-16 Mystery Shopper Blame Culture

Link

Or the “happy family” trap and the pressure on ONE person who loses the bonus for the whole team turning the team against that one person. Again, I had to many times step in-between the 1 person to protect them from the group and the bullying mentality Pret encourages.

Another of the many reviews along those lines:

2019-04-09 Mysterys Shopper Trap Happy Family

Link

 

So, the marketing of Pret is simple:

  • Give LOTS of free coffees (& cookies, lunches, but mainly coffees) that costs very little for Pret.
  • Lure customers in with the free items and 99p coffees (& now free water tap refills) carrot so they’ll spend on other products they never intended to buy (reason for the oven in the shop vs kitchen is the smell of freshly baked croissants entices to purchase…)
  • Don’t do freebies on a Loyalty Card system to have the control over customers, luring them in with the freebie carrot while they keep spending and hoping for that free coffee like a gambler waits for the next win.
  • Raise the coffee and product prices as someone needs to pay for all the freebies. And it won’t be Pret.
  • Give staff the feeling of power over their decision whom to give freebies, but deny that it is done discriminatory (take my word as a former team leader, it IS discriminatory).
  • In return just watch how customers from street-smart cabbies to text-book polished journalists flock to Twitter giving FREE advertisement on behalf of Pret.
  • The free advertisement of free coffees, as well as now free water taps for non-paying “customers” also, brings people in who then spend money they didn’t intend to spend …
  • Lean back and watch the profits rise, doing the math in how much money people spend before getting that free coffee… if at all!
  • Good luck to all the customers paying it forward for the other customers to get the freebies while faithfully waiting to crack that jackpot one day! 😀

 

UPDATE:

Why staff in every Pret shop smile so much and ALWAYS seem so happy and “generous”. In a nutshell: Weekly Mystery Shopper visits that test staff on several points like how much selection is in stock, how clean is the shop, how is the overall atmosphere etc. But the MAIN thing staff are tested on is service. Do individual AND all staff smile, give eye contact, make small conversation with EVERY customer!
Details in below YouTube slide with Mystery Shopper excerpts that I’ve put together, but I left out a lot of other issues and concentrated on the smiley, “happy” facade.
I also write extensively and collect articles on “Emotional Labour” in the service industry that hurts and harms low-wage employees: —> The Dangers of Emotional Labour

And there’s a reason why Pret and its leadership have such poor scores on Glassdoor & Co as staff always speak out in anonymity while at work pretend towards customers to be happy to keep their job having kids to feed and Uni tuition to pay. People fall for the friendly facade, but staff know how it really is.

And customers who go on Twitter complaining about non-smiling staff, even when it’s quiet, just do not realize how EXHAUSTED staff are, having come out of coffee/lunch rush, or working 7-10 days straight without a day off!

And those customers who do commend staff on Twitter, often their recommendation and praise is NOT passed on to staff. I was told by customers several times over the years if I received feedback from my boss as they commended me to Pret HQ or social media. But I never received the feedback from managers. So, dear customer, please praise the worker INSIDE the shop IN FRONT of the manager and team, because many managers bully staff, and THIS would help the worker to get some much needed feedback and “vindication”, so to speak.

I found only 1 Tweet where a customer not only bothered to ask the staff if they received feedback, but then confronted Pret on it:

2019-08-06 Customer recommendation praise not passed on

 

Mystery Shopper Slide:

 

Clive Schlee’s “retirement” exit on Glassdoor:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

Pano Christou, New CEO:

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 


 

A long list of reviews and complaints from current and former Pret Staff underneath the Interview section in this LINK.

UPDATE May 2019
TWO Pret staff have died.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?

 


 

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.

Questions to Journalists

 

2019-03-28 Swiss journo advertises for Pret crop

LinkA Journalist turned Jobcenter case worker, recruiting for Pret.

 

Dear Journalists,

I just want to throw out a few questions to any journo, be it that you are independent, mainstream, at the beginning of your career testing the waters, or as a hobby writer, blogger, radio host etc. Twitter is full of “writers” of course, but my question is to the serious writers and show hosts who dig deeper than just the copy & paste journalism that we’re swamped with! And yes, I’d love a response and a dialogue, but I understand that most remain just observers from a save distance.

Of course I must be naïve to assume that journalists are neutral, just reporting news to the public. I often lose hope if there are more journos who particularly would expose the truth, lifting the carpet on issues which in turn makes it hard for them to get published to the masses. I can relate, even though I’m not a journalist or an established writer. Most jump on the bandwagon once a story breaks and everyone then copy & pastes. This happened with the recent JAB/Reimann Nazi story that supposedly broke from the German BILD at the end of March 2019. And yet, the Daily Mail published this already in September 2018.

Sathnam Sanghera wrote a good article in The Times after the customer deaths became public when he started to take a closer look. And yet, everything he wrote about, except the part on how investment and private equity works, I already publicly wrote about since May 2018.

I don’t have a clue on how private equity and business works, but I know how Pret works. And I have dangerously felt the impact of, what CEO and farmer Guy Singh-Watson from Riverford calls, those “bastards”. His clear and passionate words, as a multi-million pound employee-owned business is music to my ears: “To sell my business … to one of those bastards (venture capitalists) would feel like selling one of my children into prostitution!”

Having worked at Pret for 10 years and further researching extensively after my ordeal with the “firm”, trying to understand why Pret is the way it is, a lot makes sense now. I narrowly escaped the spiral of suicidal thoughts after my ordeal with Pret while already under a cloud of trauma. So, please understand why I am so loud against this company and their PR[et] machine.

@Sathnam‘s article with my thoughts and experience on it, I renamed: When a Star became Sliced Pret.

Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went 100 steps further, going undercover into Pret for a few days after having read my blog and I suggested to go undercover. My huge respect to her! I wish she would have gone for at least a month, covering all of the business, morning shifts, kitchen etc. But it was a good start, and I won’t complain as I can write books on Pret from my 10 years “inside” and Amy covered a lot from the little time spent in a shop.

 

Amy Undercover

“… and staff who are hugely overstretched.”

 

She worked only in the late shift on the shop floor. But to really get the Pret blow, anyone should work longer, as staff are often treated better in the beginning and the evening shifts, until Pret starts pushing them hard after the little training they received, if at all trained. I wrote my thoughts on it as well in Undercover Under Pressure, and I still remember vividly how I felt when I found her article on Twitter after she was very silent about going under, and rightly so. Not to be sentimental here, but I literally teared up when I saw her article!

And then there are some other articles on Pret which many journalists and some bloggers keep referring to and copying from. But I lived through it.

MSNBC article on the Emotional Labour in Pret, Starbucks & Co.

Class Action suits, one on deceptive packaging which was settled out of court recently. I cover this extensively from Twitter posts on Class Action vs Pret where Pret even deleted a Tweet after I posted this.

Class action suits of workers in the U.S. regarding unpaid wages and illegal practices Pret used.

The Guardian on “The brilliant Pret A Manger marketing con we want to fall for”

… and many other early articles I leave to the reader to do their home-work searching for.

I recently wrote a post on the free coffee give-away and marketing Pret is excellent in and why Pret doesn’t do a Loyalty Card system. The psychology behind not doing a Loyalty Card is my interpretation and not something we have been told, but anyone who understands marketing just a little bit might get the idea behind all the freebies.

But in the free coffees post I concentrate on Journalists who tweet making advertisement for Pret.

So, my questions to Journalists are: what is your motivation for a story? What makes for neutral journalism, if that even exists? Is money, reputation and statistics as a journalist and writer really the driving force behind articles and tweets?

Of course asking so bluntly won’t get me anywhere. But I’m a writer, too, even if I never get established. I just have “established experience” and write about it now. And I certainly am not neutral when it comes to Pret A Manger.

 

JavaScript required to view slideshow – May not work on mobile phones

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slideshow can be paused

 

Longer list on above slideshow Staff Complaints.

 

Teaser to the 1 hour 42 minute interview:

 

Full interview:

 

 


 

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

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

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

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

 

FREE Coffees in Pret A Manger

 

… and why Pret doesn’t do a Loyalty Card system.

 

First of all some Pret shops outside of big cities had Loyalty Cards, because the volume of coffee sales being much less than in London and other busy cities. Not sure if those shops still do Loyalty Cards. Tweets from 2012:

 

Pret Loyalty Card 2012-09-13

Link

 

Terms and conditions at the bottom of this below Loyalty Card:

“Redeemable at the Manager’s discretion. Excludes Pret shops within Central London Zones 1 and 2…”

It even has an expiry date on it, forcing the customer to buy coffees before that date to get a free one … and at the manager’s discretion mind you! Pret showing its true “generosity” here!

 

Pret Loyalty Card 2012-03-29

Link

 

2017 Pret Loyalty Card

Link to a 2017 Tweet

 

So, here I am making free advertisement for Pret, but there’s more than meets the eye… I am not a journalist nor an established writer (although I have one self-published book under my belt with a now bankrupt publisher… out of print), and writers like to peek and copy what they find here, but I am writing from behind the scenes of having worked at Pret for 10 years. I don’t copy & paste articles under lazy journalism.

Pret is next to nothing when it comes to marketing and winning new and retaining regular customers. I think to gain customers, the best thing is to give freebies, and Pret does this fantastically. No business does this as best as Pret A Manger. So far so good.

But …

There’s that hairy but(t) again!

 

THE PRICE

Of course this brilliant marketing strategy has not just one catch apart from the ultimate goal of profit. People don’t realize how cheap the coffee is. If customers knew how much 1 cup of coffee costs for Pret, incl. the milk, cup, lid, labour and then would see the profit margin… people’s stomach would turn on what they pay for a regular latte! (There are reasons why CEO Clive Schlee pocketed £30 million in BONUS alone after JAB purchased Pret, not to mention all the other senior leaders and shareholders! Plus Schlee owning half of itsu and whatever else business he’s involved in).

Even while I worked at Pret I always wondered how Pret’s claim to be certified Organic and Fair Trade can even be valid. Not making allegations, just raising questions! To get certified as being organic is super expensive for companies. Pret has been sued for their claim to be natural while the food contains glyphosate for which the mighty Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, currently has 11,000 lawsuits on their neck, with two major lawsuits lost in the hundred millions, due to denial that their main product Roundup causes cancer, which has not been labelled on the product… But that’s another story altogether.

UPDATE 01. June 2020

Pret’s coffee is NOT fair trade anymore. Facebook post:

2020-06-01 No more fair trade marked

Link

So, if the public is paying attention, I have seen it more lately that Pret signs are changing due to the successful vs. “natural” claim lawsuit.

 

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

Link

 

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

Even on Pret’s website, the word “natural” seems to have completely disappeared.

 

good-food-new-sign.jpg

Link to Pret USA Twitter

UPDATE 23. May 2019

A customer on Twitter posted this picture confused on why the word “natural” was covered over at LAX airport. In the U.S. Pret has to act while in the UK everything is lenient again.

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over2

 

2019-05-23 Natural Food labeled over3

Link to David Blumenstein’s Tweet

I write extensively on the “Natural” issue in Pret A Manger – Ready to (ch)eat.

But, back to the free coffee marketing. Even while working at Pret I always questioned how Pret can have Fair Trade AND certified Organic coffee while the coffee is so cheap. This may be another area some may be looking into after having looked at the “natural” food claim.

So, all the free coffees (and at times cookies, especially items at the end of the day or when products are expiring…) while being low in price for Pret, someone still has to pay for all these free items. And it won’t be Pret! Pret keeps raising prices regularly also to cover the cost. At the end of the day customers still pay for all the free coffees etc.

2019-04-17 Pret price increase

Link


 

THE PSYCHOLOGY

Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret and master of marketing with an approachable smile, his words on the freedom for staff to give free coffees and why:

Quote:
»We looked at loyalty cards but we didn’t want to spend all that money building up some complicated Clubcard-style analysis.
Instead the staff have to give away a certain number of hot drinks and food every week.
They will decide “I like the person on the bicycle” or “I like the guy in that tie” or “I fancy that girl or that boy”.
It means 28 per cent of people have had something free. It’s a nice, different way of doing it.«  *
From ThisIsMoney.co.uk

(*cough* while 72% go empty handed… see below)

Yes, the “having to give away” is even a pressure point for managers that push team leaders when the targeted percentage of freebies for the week has not been reached. It was part of my job as a shop team leader to keep an eye on the numbers and encourage teams to keep giving freebies OR stop giving, when we reached the percentage for the week, before the new week’s budget started again.

2017 Free coffee budget punishLink

 

2018-12-31 re free coffee marketing2

Link

 

On a side note, when the two customer deaths became public and the outcry was loud for a while, there was also an increasing Twitter “storm” on freebies where customers went online to post with enthusiasm about their free coffee or cookie…

And here is how that “fancying” is out of proportion with Clive Schlee’s admitted 28% as well as my experience as a team leader:

 

~ MULTIPLE FREEBIES at times even within ONE WEEK ~

 

 

2019-03-28 4th Free coffee

Link

 

2017-04-17 free coffee AGAIN

Link

 

2016 TWO free items in ONE week

Link

 

2018-06-21 2 free items

Link

 

2015 TWO Free coffees.jpg

Link

 

2019-04-13 Regular free coffee

Link

 

2019-04-09 Free coffee 1 to 2

Link

 

2019-04-13 Patience Smiles for Free Coffee

Link

 

2019-04-16 Free coffees often

Link

 

2017 Getting freebies free coffee for ages

Link

 

~ vs NOTHING for YEARS ~

 

2019-01-11 1st Free since years

Link

 

2019-04-18 Free Coffee after YEARS

Link

 

2019-03-21 Free coffee since years

Link

&

2019-03-21 Free coffee since years2

 

2019-03-28 free coffee today was the day

Link

 

2017-02-25 After lifelong devotion free coffee

Link (I love typos on Twitter… from devotion to devolution!)

 

2015 Free nonsense loyalty card

Link

 

2017 In 5 years no free coffee

Link (Another lovely typo: Pret as in looking for “Prey” >:-] )

 

2018-12-13 NOT attractive for free coffee

Link

 

2015 Never etting free coffee

Link (And Pret having a laugh!)

 

Political jokes Free Coffees 2015 Discrimination

Link

 

2019-04-16 five 5 years no free coffee

Link

 

2019-04-16 Free Coffee Legend replie

Link

 

… and so on….

Needless to say that those customers who get free coffees regularly, even daily, will not spill the beans on Twitter. 😉

As a team leader I had to “re-adjust” my teams’ choices to give solely at their own “discretion”, especially flirting baristas giving free coffee EVERY TIME to specific (to them) attractive customers. Or one team member would give free coffees every day to a customer who was an editor of a weekly celebrity tabloid magazine bringing that TM a free magazine every week. Company policy would be dismissal to “exchange” services for private purposes. But that’s how it works and Pret would never admit how discriminating the give-aways are in the name of “random acts of kindness”. That’s why staff are not allowed to have friends and family members eating on the 50% rebate WHILE staff are on the shift working.

Staff also are not allowed to ring up the 50% rebate on their staff discount themselves on the till while serving customers, as some customers make friends with staff for freebies and rebates. So, this was always a struggle to shake up the “policy”. I loved to give freebies, it was my favourite thing giving whole lunches on the house. But I often gave it to the moody and even rude customer to “kill them with kindness” or “heap burning coals on their heads” or just be kind to someone who looked pretty down…
I looked for the “underdog” to give freebies as we never know what hell they may be going through!

 

And another reason why Pret aims to have Taxi parking spaces in front of shops… Cabbies move around London being the BEST advertisers, especially to tourists looking for a coffee place!

2014 free coffee taxi cabbies

Link


 

LOYALTY CARDS (slowing down the service)

Another reason why I believe Pret doesn’t do loyalty cards, apart from saving money is the sheer mess it would create. Pret staff have 60 seconds per customer to serve by the time a customer joins the queue, and another 60 seconds per customer to get their hot drinks handed to the customer. Shop staff are tested by Mystery Shopper every week on the timing, if they smile constantly, chat, give eye contact etc. Basically, low-wage workers are performing as acrobatic clowns, bending over backwards for a little extra cash and to avoid getting fear managed.

I write extensively about this with a full Mystery Shopper report in “Pret A Manger Service Secrets Revealed“. Any regular customer who visits Pret in the morning coffee rush knows how bonkers the rush time is for Team Members. If they then have to stamp loyalty cards, trying to have a designated area in the busy, at times messy counter area, the potential cross contamination of ink getting smeared on the counter etc. would be a greater nightmare than it already is.

Also, stamps can “disappear” for external (illegal) use. Also, from my experience at Caffe Nero, having to count and file the paperwork on the fully stamped cards at the end of the day is also an extra workload, as stamped cards are treated like cash, have to be stored in the safe, send to HQ at the end of the week etc. etc. etc.

So, the mess, extra workload and potential abuse of stamps in such a busy environment is too risky and not worth the headache. That part I can fully understand from the perspective of staff that already have to think about a million things in a highly stressful environment.

 


 

CONTROL (of the carrot)

 

Carrot

 

2017 Behavioural science free coffee loyalty card

Link

And this is how the psychology works that Pret is so cleverly using. A Loyalty Card system, apart from costing additional money for Pret as Clive Schlee rightly said, would give the customer control over the timing of free items. And as Pret whips out coffees like no other coffee chain (the 1 minute Mystery Shopper pressure <- YouTube slide – on workers for fast service is another reason for high profit in Pret via Emotional Labour) a Loyalty Card system would guarantee customers free coffees at their chosen time, especially all the regular customers who go to Pret EVERY DAY.

For staff to give freebies at their discretion (or discrimination!) gives Pret the control on when customers get freebies (the timing is completely out of customer’s control) AND serves like a carrot in front of the donkey that keeps going to Pret like a gambler, spending money and hoping to get that free coffee or cookie or whole lunch …

 

2019-01-15 waiting for next freebie

Link

 

Carrot

 

2019 No free coffee for a while

Link

 


 

FREE ADVERTISEMENT

To shorten the already long blog entry with more customer tweets on freebies, I mainly put journalist tweets here. Only a few tweets by a host of journalists who are supposed to be neutral, reporting on events rather than making free advertisement for Pret, while not looking deeper as one would expect from “investigative” journalism. Mainstream media for you:

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2013

Link

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2015 Guardian Journo

Link

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019

Link A boost in self esteem even with a freebie!

 

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019 to other half

Link

 

One journalist even goes a step further and plays Job-center for Pret, recruiting low-wage workers:

Journos adversiting for Pret 2019 Jobcenter

Link

etc.

Makes you wonder if they are paid under the table or are so infatuated with the cheap free coffees, and then being blinded to do real neutral journalism. Kind of sinks your heart how the majority goes with this freebie scheme so easily.

Staff always anticipate the Mystery Shopper and hope the MS is nearby or even serving the MS when the staff member is extra generous for a chance to receive the £200 reward.

Staff can earn up to extra £100, or if the the shop has overall perfect scores, can earn even £200, if the Mystery Shopper is even more impressed with their service (butt kissing). Often this is quickly done by giving a free coffee and BOOM! Giving a freebie to a Mystery Shopper is THE best way for an individual staff member to get the extra cash award. Even if the shop lost overall Team bonus because there were some products missing or the shop was dirty, an individual Team Member can still get the cash reward if they “wow” the Mystery Shopper. I write about this extensively in The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile.

 

A customer’s observation most people are blind to:

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

 

A Mystery Shopper tweet:

2017 A Mystery Shopper tweeted

Link

 

Customer Tweets:

2015 About Mystery Shopper

Link

 

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive

Link

And the psychology of “group incentive” is actually peer pressure and what a recent reviewer called “blame culture” which I totally underline. I spent a lot of time building my team member UP when they messed up the Mystery Shopper after our manager put them DOWN, because putting down is counter productive and leads to mental health problems. If I had buckets for the tears that were flowing after the harsh telling off when the Mystery Shopper wasn’t happy …

 

2018 Emotional Labour Labor Quota Smiles2

Link

 

A Pret employee’s review on the Mystery Shopper pressure:

2019-04-16 Mystery Shopper Blame Culture

Link

Or the “happy family” trap and the pressure on ONE person who loses the bonus for the whole team turning the team against that one person. Again, I had to many times step in-between the 1 person to protect them from the group and the bullying mentality Pret encourages.

Another of the many reviews along those lines:

2019-04-09 Mysterys Shopper Trap Happy Family

Link

 

So, the marketing of Pret is simple:

  • Give LOTS of free coffees (& cookies, lunches, but mainly coffees) that costs very little for Pret. (Side note: if a customer gets surprisingly repeated Gingerbread cookies or Maccaroni & Cheese, then they should check the expiry dates, as staff love to give soon-to-be expired items, even though they’re not supposed to!)
  • Lure customers in with the free items and 99p coffees or even better, 49p with a reusable cup. NOTE: As of January 2020 coffee prices have increased to 99p with reusable and £1.49 with paper cup. Also, draw people with free water tap refills even if not a customer – they will become customers while in the store! 😉 . The carrot is getting them into the shop so they’ll spend on other products they never intended to buy. Reason for the oven in the shop vs kitchen is the smell of freshly baked croissants enticing to purchase…
  • Don’t do freebies on a Loyalty Card system to have the control over customers, luring them in with the freebie carrot while they keep spending and hoping for that free coffee like a gambler waits for the next win.
  • Raise the coffee and product prices as someone needs to pay for all the freebies. And it won’t be Pret.
  • Give staff the feeling of power over their decision whom to give freebies, but deny that it is done discriminatory (take my word as a former team leader, it IS discriminatory).
  • In return just watch how customers from street-smart cabbies to text-book polished journalists flock to Twitter giving FREE advertisement on behalf of Pret.
  • The free advertisement of free coffees, as well as now free water taps for non-paying “customers” also, brings people in who then spend money they didn’t intend to spend …
  • Lean back and watch the profits rise, doing the math in how much money people spend before getting that free coffee… if at all!
  • Good luck to all the customers paying it forward for the other customers to get the freebies while faithfully waiting to crack that jackpot one day! 😀

 

UPDATE:

Why staff in every Pret shop smile so much and ALWAYS seem so happy and “generous”. In a nutshell: Weekly Mystery Shopper visits that test staff on several points like how much selection is in stock, how clean is the shop, how is the overall atmosphere etc. But the MAIN thing staff are tested on is service. Do individual AND all staff smile, give eye contact, make small conversation with EVERY customer!
Details in below YouTube slide with Mystery Shopper excerpts that I’ve put together, but I left out a lot of other issues and concentrated on the smiley, “happy” facade.
I also write extensively and collect articles on “Emotional Labour” in the service industry that hurts and harms low-wage employees: —> The Dangers of Emotional Labour

And there’s a reason why Pret and its leadership have such poor scores on Glassdoor & Co as staff always speak out in anonymity while at work pretend towards customers to be happy to keep their job having kids to feed and Uni tuition to pay. People fall for the friendly facade, but staff know how it really is.

And customers who go on Twitter complaining about non-smiling staff, even when it’s quiet, just do not realize how EXHAUSTED staff are, having come out of coffee/lunch rush, or working 7-10 days straight without a day off!

And those customers who do commend staff on Twitter, often their recommendation and praise is NOT passed on to staff. I was told by customers several times over the years if I received feedback from my boss as they commended me to Pret HQ or social media. But I never received the feedback from managers. So, dear customer, please praise the worker INSIDE the shop IN FRONT of the manager and team, because many managers bully staff, and THIS would help the worker to get some much needed feedback and “vindication”, so to speak.

I found only 1 Tweet where a customer not only bothered to ask the staff if they received feedback, but then confronted Pret on it:

2019-08-06 Customer recommendation praise not passed on

 

Mystery Shopper Slide:

 

Clive Schlee’s “retirement” exit on Glassdoor:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

Pano Christou, New CEO:

2019-10-02 Pano 38 26

 


 

A long list of reviews and complaints from current and former Pret Staff >>> in this LINK.

 


 

UPDATE May 2019
TWO Pret staff have died.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by
The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.


Interview:

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