The year hasn’t reached its first quarter yet, and this is already the “Staff Review Of The Year” for my annual Pret Year in Review.
Rarely does someone go out of their way to describe the hellish work conditions in Pret like this one. I can underline every dot and comma here. It’s a long review, but so poignant that I want to quote the whole thing here verbatim without correcting any typos as I like to leave reviews as they are in their own words.
I also quote the whole thing here because you have to be registered/signed into Glassdoor in order to read reviews, except one or two reviews, then you’re blocked from reading unless you register/sign in.
I used to post staff reviews DAILY calling it “Quotes of the Day” when I first came across Glassdoor and Indeed. I was shocked to see other similar experiences. I became OBSESSED and read ALL the reviews as well as social media comments from staff.
I wish I’d seen those while I worked at Pret, as I often felt alone in my traumatic experiences with Pret’s top leadership, former CEO Clive Schlee, then UK Managing Director/now CEO Pano Christou, then Head of HR now People bla bla whatever he’s called now, David Carter, Lila Warren the development manager who was used to gaslight me claiming she also had a brother who died in his flat and wasn’t discovered for days, and many managers and OPs managers.
Unintentionally I poked into the HEART of Pret! I explain in detail in the audio player at the very bottom of this page.
I don’t check reviews much anymore, maybe once a month, and this recent one is a treasure of knowledge in how the reality of Pret is behind the facade. This is Manchester, but this is across the company.
I will not comment on any of what the person wrote because the whole review stands on its own, only to say that apart from agreeing with all this person wrote, I can completely relate to the “shell shock” comment. I still heard my colleagues voices outside of work ordering lattes, “extra hot”, shouting, “latte is ready, who ordered the latte!”, the shouting barista: “pick up your drinks!!!” etc. etc. And I still suffer with tinnitus.
While I worked at Pret and went through the horrific bullying DURING bereavement I had this roaring tinnitus in my right ear roaring like a heater-pump in the cellar. That tinnitus type is gone and only returns when I feel stressed about something. But the beeping tinnitus in both ears remains and I’ve learnt most times to tune it out.
And the other thing which is spot on is that all foreigners work in the kitchen and get abused. Shop workers get abused as well, but differently and more covert while in the kitchen it is overt, away from customers’ eyes. But occasionally customers witness the bullying, which I posted here: Caught in the Act at Pret.
I can only implore investigative young, preferably foreign journalists to go undercover into Pret. Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror made a good start after I asked her to send someone in, but she only worked the late shift in the shop for a week. It needs at least a full month in the kitchen AND shop in the morning, and in several shops to see the systemic issues.
Pret love to employ foreigners and also put foreign managers in shops to take advantage of staff. It’s VERY common to have a Spanish or Polish shop manager who then employs mainly from their country and then only speak in their language. This is so the worker, who often just arrived in England weeks before and got a job via a friend, doesn’t learn English. The worker is completely dependent on the manager for information and is lied to left, right and centre. The worker doesn’t know their rights and where to turn to as they trust the manager thinking the manager helped them get the job.
What I want to add here on my blog is that it’s also common for managers, OPs managers and HQ staff to coerce staff into sex for promotion. I’ve worked with incapable managers where it was an open secret how they got into that position. And a former manager recently told me that half of HQ is sleeping with the other half of HQ, even giving me specific names of who slept with who even the very top executives. But I will refrain from naming the names here as even though I believe the former GM, I only post issues with evidence. But it’s very common in Pret and therefore trickles down to shops.
Just a few reviews on this:
etc. etc. etc.
And the question the reviewer below asks is right, how can Pret be allowed to operate like this?! My only guess is since they are under this corrupt Tory government where many politicians shop at Pret, do Pret get away with even customer deaths and injuries and due to their demand for shops to reach high targets sell mouldy food.
Pret have gone unchecked on these issues, especially in the UK and Europe for years, while in the USA staff sue Pret because the legal system is different there. And the unions don’t mobilise but wait until they’re approched by burnt out staff who have no strength or will left.
A review from the USA from 2014 said a similar thing, that Pret should be reported to the Dept. of Labor, and this is from years ago before the pandemic and is from across the pond. This is across the company as Pret’s executives are the head of the fish that stinks.
And I’ve found the American reviews, especially from the no-nonsense New York staff, amongst the most angry reviews on Pret.
Pret remains dangerous, even more so now.
I don’t correct any spelling mistakes, the only thing I do is separate the sentences to make reading easier. I wish people would put spaces in their reviews! Grrrrrr. And I wish I knew who that is, I’d congratulate them for the effort and how spot on it is.
The only thing I want to briefly explain in below review about the “move off the till”. In EVERY Pret shop (sweat shop!) I worked in over 30 management always demand that the 2-3 staff members on 7 tills move from one till to the next to make it appear to Pret that the tills are well manned.
Every button the staff press on the screen is recorded. Every 15 minutes is seen in the system. If one staff uses one particular till too much having 30 transactions on that till within 15 minutes, but the next till has no transactsions, then Pret see that the tills are not manned.
So, staff are ordered by management to move tills to have 15 transactions on this till, 15 or 20 on another etc. I even had a manager who had a timer that beeped every 15 minutes and we 3 staff then had to move to an empty till. It’s basically to even out all the tills while being understaffed.
I refused to move and therefore was bullied. Pret KNOW about the moving of tills, I even told CEO Pano Christou when he was still UK Managing Director. But apart from his usual sweet-talk, nothing changed.
But this is what the reviewer here means by “move off the till”, meaning move till or move to another till. One day out of frustration I tilted the till up a little bit saying to the manager, “I’m moving the till”. Very humiliating work conditions!
Join a union!
Now to the review, my new favourite review! From 02.04.2023 in Manchester:
“Treated like garbage, unless your face fits”
“A horrible experience for anyone with a strand of morals, decency and self respect. One of the most demoralizing workplaces I have worked at. I never knew places like this existed in the country.
The kitchens are glorified sweat shops but just in Western garb. The working conditions are really poor and I know this is made so not by stereotypes like physically poor working conditions (like dilapidated buildings for example that wouldn’t pass health and safety) or a third world country – but the deprived workplace culture, company direction and standards that exists.
It’s distressing to know sweat shops exist in the first place but to know they exist in the UK and on the high streets of every town or major city in shops like Pret takes my shock and horror to a whole other level. People work like robots for an entire shift in the kitchen with 30 minutes break (unpaid) churning out food for the shop, many of them who don’t speak English or have very poor English speaking skill and have no desire to interact with you. Exploitation comes to mind.
The people working (who are immigrant workers with poor integration) wouldn’t survive in sane decent working conditions unless they were hidden away in a shady warehouse or production plant. Instead they are hidden away in slave driving kitchens like Pret that glorifies it’s upmarket brand while they take as much as they can from their employees and bleed them dry.
If for example these people HAD to speak English and be prepared to do so daily, these people would be jobless which gives Pret as a company A LOT of power. These people, by the way, are keeping the kitchens running and therefore the shops open and they are exploited in the process. I’ve never met anyone but marginalized immigrants which explains sadly what target demographic Pret are looking for to churn out their ‘fresh food’ on a daily basis.
The same can be said for most other staff who are from demographics that represent immigrant workers where job security, advancement and opportunity are already low. Pret exploits this very evidently.
The front counter is a nightmare. Chaos all day, mismanaged and people shouting and being rude and obnoxious to customers. No structure, no team work, NO COMMUNICATION. You’re manic all day and then go home with the echoing of “CAPPUCINO!” or “ANYBODY ORDER A MOCHA?!” in your ear like some form of mild shell shock, and it repeats daily.
There’s no team cohesiveness to gel things together or make it worth the stress even in the tiniest bit. You’re on your own. Everybody for themselves, except the clique of course. If you don’t gossip, don’t backstab, don’t push others around, don’t triangulate and bully etc, you’re not welcome. Managers on power trips daily, along with leaders.
Lots and lots of posturing and this goes on in front of customers as a show of power. Constant moaning, bickering, point scoring, passive aggressiveness. Run by incapable ‘leaders’ who are nothing but manager pets whose face fits, and managers who do nothing for you but talk at you, treat you with utter contempt, demand of you and expect you to guess how to do your job effectively and then undermine and humiliate you if you ask questions or don’t know.
I was told contradictory things all the time by ‘leaders’ which was incorrect as told by managers. Manager instructions would be contradicted by leaders. Do this, don’t do this. This is okay, no it’s not okay. Move off the till as you’re putting too many orders through, why have you moved off the till, move off the till now. Most staff above team member are in positions because of favoritism and very evident discriminatory bias, not through achievement or actual skill and capability.
There are NO leaders, just very insecure and challenged individuals. All staff above team member are in a clique and know each other. Bullying is common. There is a clique around the local managers in Manchester where if you’re not in with them you have no chance from the get go and if you speak out about your concerns, you will quickly be ganged up on and ousted. These managers openly speak in European languages so you have no idea what they are saying but it’s clear it’s an us vs them environment.
Their actions speak far louder than their words. The vibes I got from working this job are some I’ve never experienced before and I’ve worked my fair share of unsavory jobs but this TOPS it. I don’t know how this company is allowed to operate.
Please read the reviews other people have created. They are NOT exaggerated, people are really suffering working for this company, and also please read up on Pret’s controversial history. The customers are also far from happy if you do your research you will find out. I did not do this and I wish I did to save me the headache of getting involved with this company. Avoid avoid avoid. There are jobs you get because you’re desperate and then there are jobs you get because you’ve made a BIG mistake. This is the latter.
Advice to Management
I have no advice for management except to say that management should be broken up to rid the toxic dynamic shared between area stores as this is clearly a main starting point for all the problems as every store is part of an ‘inside’ group where all the managers . This would allow change to occur within individual stores”
End of full review.
Link to review
I agree with breaking up management, but Pret are not interested in that, the fish stinks from its head. CEO Pano Christou, like his predecessor Clive Schlee are just the smiley clowns of Pret, fooling everyone.
When I read reviews on Glassdoor it’s best to click “Recent Reviews” or “Lowest Rated” to see systemic issues, and on Indeed click on ALL (not just UK).
I cannot imagine a more poignant and detailed review to come this year, so this review will go as the “Review of the Year 2023” in my yearly YouTube Pret summary!
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying (in which Manny Matern was part of) 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.
Please also see the MEDIA page for more.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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