Worked Into The Ground @ Pret A Manger

 

 


 

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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

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

A Day in the Life of a Pret A Manger Worker

 

And the emotional, mental, physical and financial cost to staff.

The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile

 

Timothy Noah Quote Emotional Labor

 

LINK to Emotional Labour article

Upfront, Pret staff will NEVER spill the beans on why they are so cheery! They remain professional because they fall for the Pret trap like everyone. They only out themselves anonymous on review websites, YouTube etc., further below. Just very few speak out publicly. Even during the darkest period in grief and being bullied, I NEVER EVER even hinted to a customer what was going on! I was complemented on my professional service, smile, giving free coffees, and no-one knew that after my shift I went to the bridge at times.

Here is the short version in a nutshell why ALL (most) staff members EVERYWHERE in Pret are ALWAYS so smiley, cheery, friendly and helpful. No matter how busy and stressful it is.

The magic word: Mystery Shoppers

Mystery Shoppers (MS) are tasked to probe into a list of things every week in every shop, like if there is an adequate amount of selection during certain times, or if the shop incl. toilets are clean and so on. The most important thing the MS have to probe is customer service. I call them the “Misery” Shopper because many times they were so micromanaging pointing out the smallest stain on a table or a smudge on the window!

For Team Members there are two “motivating” factors for the smiley customer service:

  1. Cash incentives. Overall bonus for the whole shop team which is £1 per hour worked. So if a Team Member (TM) worked 40 hours that week, they will get an additional £40 on top of their contracted wage for that week, provided the MS report was all in the green area and then gave the bonus to the whole team. Managers’ bonuses are given quarterly. But a TM can individually also earn extra cash on top of the bonus (or even if the bonus for the whole team was lost).
    This is called an “Outstanding Card” (OC) which is £50 extra if the MS is super happy with a particular TM or even General Manager (GM), Assistant Manager (AM) etc. Meaning, if the TM “kissed butt” especially hard, gave a freebie etc. they can earn that extra cash on top of their wages and team bonus. If the report is 100% perfect scores and the MS awards an OC to a staff member, that TM earns double = £100. So, that one staff member gets their weekly wages, the weekly bonus PLUS the extra £50 or £100 cash. £50 OC (Outstanding Card) or £100 SOC (Super Outstanding Card).
    Side note: An Outstanding Card is not literally a card, it’s just a name for the extra cash award. There are no cards given, “just” the money. So, when a TM is EXTRA SPECIAL nice, it is often (not always!) that they assumed they’re serving the Mystery Shopper!
  2. Fear Management. If any TM or several of the Team messes up in any way resulting in bonus being lost for the whole team incl. GM (bonus not awarded by the MS), the angry manager will have a word with them. Depending what the bonus was lost on, this often is done in subtle or direct fear management where staff are made to fear for their job or position.

 

2018-01-23 Outstanding Card

Link The reason why she got the Outstanding Card and with it the extra £50, or £100 if the shop had perfect scores, is the white writing on the red background. The Mystery Shopper rewarded this TM for this reason, quote:
“I noticed that the avocado in the remaining veggie box salads were brown and I asked if there were any fresher ones. The team member said she would ask the kitchen to make me a fresh one. She telephoned them and said if it was okay she would take the veggie box to the kitchen and they would replace the avocado for me.”

Other times a TM gives a free coffee to the Mystery Shopper but does NOT get an Outstanding Card. It is completely up to the MS what blows them away and what not.

 

And here comes the long version.

I cover mainly the “smiley” culture of Pret in: “How Companies force Emotional Labour on Low-Wage Workers“, but I want to take the reader through a typical day in Pret A Manger, and why this MS scheme is dangerous for mental health, not to mention patronizing and humiliating. This Tweet is by PAMSU (Pret A Manger Staff Union) who got fired in 2012 for starting a Union under the pretense of having made homophobic remarks ten months (!) before:

 

PAMSU Dismantle MS

Link

 

End MS

Link

 

First of all I want to start off by saying that I don’t think a Mystery Shopper scheme is a bad idea, I think it can be helpful to improve customer service where needed. The problem with Pret is, they take this to intense levels which I find abusive. The extreme “perfection” staff have to reach is done to create a picture to the public, that staff are so happy to work in Pret. In reality they are tasked to “perform” emotional labour (or “labor” for American readers!). It opens the door to abusive leadership, bullying environment forcing staff into “unnatural” behaviour they would normally not do, unless they “feel” it. And with many other abusive situations, like even domestic violence, bullying etc. people get conditioned to it, accept it as norm, but suffer internally and in silence also because it is systemic and seems acceptable. Everyone is subjected to this, so they feel they go out of line if they complain. At least that’s how I often felt, because everyone “is doing it”, it must be okay or normal to keep smiling even while bereaved. I share in my interview at the bottom of this page the horrific time I went through while already traumatized after I lost my brother.

Even journalists “get used” to abuse and accept it as the norm:

Journalists getting used to harrassment

Link

I want to share a rough timeline of activities on a day-to-day running of a Pret shop, as well as a little bit of the kitchen to paint a true picture of the immense stress staff are under on a daily basis. I was a Team Leader of the shop or also called Floor Leader (FL) and know working in the shop inside out. I can’t speak much about running a kitchen, but will briefly touch on the kitchen. The shop and the kitchen are like two separate businesses that need two separate leaders. Both have their own separate challenges as well as positives.

For example in the shop staff HAVE TO smile and perform a cheery presence, while in the kitchen they can just be themselves. In the kitchen they have no windows, have to work super fast assembling products WITHOUT time to breathe until their break. In the shop there are windows to take a breath, while still having to clean, stock up etc. I often “mediated” between the teams when they were at “war” pointing fingers where the kitchen felt the shop team is lazy or the shop felt the kitchen team have it easier. I always pointed out to both teams that each team have their challenges as well as good parts, but that EVERYONE works hard and has a lot of stress, just differently.

 

Shop hierarchy:
General Manager (GM) and Assistant Manager Floor (AMF) are in plain business attire
Floor Leader (FL)

Baristas/Coffee Makers
Hot Food Chef (HFC)
Team Members (TM)

And whatever other position Pret comes up with, as they sometimes add job roles. But these are the main roles distinguished in their colours (belt, name badge) so outside teams can quickly identify who’s who.  The most important who does most of the hard work is the Team Leader. They really are the ones that run the shop, if they are good and don’t imitate most GMs who like to sit in the office, don’t help and just shout like slave masters.

Kitchen hierarchy:
Again the same General Manager (GM) but a different Assistant Manager Kitchen (AMK), plain business attire
Kitchen Leader (KL)
Team Member Trainer (TMT)
Team Members (TMs)

Kitchen TMs, the sandwich makers who are called “chefs” by Pret to make them feel better and portray to the public as if there was some real cooking going on in the kitchen! Lots of patronizing and fooling slogans like “Lovingly made in this kitchen today” bla bla…

In reality all the food comes already cooked, except the frozen bread, croissants etc. But all ingredients are ready cooked and delivered daily from factories. Hence also “Ready to Eat”. The soups come in large plastic bags and are heated in water baths. All other ingredients are like we have at home after getting the shopping from the supermarket. There’s no cooking involved, just heating up and assembling a sandwich. Even the “poached” eggs that do come raw, are just heated in sealed plastic pouches in a water bath. There are no pots and pans and stoves in Pret kitchens!

One recent staff review:

2019-06-11 Nightmare Stop Being Evil

Link Under Show more: “The food isn’t fresh, it’s shipped already cooked in plastic bags and reheated. A joke.”

 

As the shop and the kitchen are like two separate businesses in each shop, the AMF and/or FL run the shops and do the ordering for the shop, look after the Team, customers etc. The AMK and/or KL do the ingredient ordering for the kitchen, look after the Team etc.

As all Prets I’ve worked in are under-staffed to maximize profit and managers’ bonuses (incl. area managers and upwards) many TMs are pushed to multi-task. If a shop is lucky, they have 3 TMs on the tills in the mornings if there are 6-7 tills. They have 1 Barista with the GM doing coffee as well, as this is easier than customer service at the tills! GMs don’t like to work on the tills! As there aren’t enough staff, they ring the bell for one or two of the kitchen staff to then come out and help serve the queues during the morning rush. This puts an immense strain on the kitchen staff, who then get behind on their production, where they are expected to do a certain amount of products per hour. If they fail to finish in time, including cleaning etc., again they will be motivated through fear management and are bullied (subtly or openly) to work overtime, unpaid.

 

LackStaff

Link Barista 2019

 

Unpaid

Link 2018

 

Unpaid2017

Link 2017 NY

 

Unpaid2

Link 2015

 

Unpaid2014b

Link 2014

 

Unpaid2011

Link 2011 NY

“It is clear they have little to know training and have absolutely no training or experience in employee relations or even customer relations for that matter. Every manager I have worked with – I have worked with 6 – will immediately try to belittle you. Not sure exactly why this is such a common practice among managers but it is an intrinsic behavior within the company itself. …Very, very sad reality of Pret. -Company culture….”

 

Unpaid2014

Link 2014 “Manager at my shop treated everyone really poorly. Expect you to stay longer to complete your job for free when not enough time is given. Constantly missing hours from extra shifts taken. Have to ask every week to see if they have repaid those hours and in some cases takes months to chase back.”

NOTE: The “for some reason” is more systemic than this and many other TMs realize. I had to chase my money CONSTANTLY.

 

2017-05-26 AM NYC Pure Misery

 

25 Staff complain in Twitter not paid HR

Link

 

03-wages2-1-e1554218697911.jpg

Link

 

Pret had to settle two class action lawsuits in NY within 4 years on wage issues. In the UK people never do a Class Action, but it would be high time for Pret staff to go to court on wage issues!

 

Wgae Lawsuit

Link

 

Customer observations:

2018-10-20 Staff cry

Link

 

2019-03-22 Customer Noticing busyness Pret1

Link

 

2019-03-22 customer kings cross emma observation stress

Link

 

MS Cough

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

I coughed while serving the Mystery Shopper as I had a cold. But I chose not to stay home as we were not paid the first 2 days even when we have a sick note.

 

Pret Staff Tweets:

2017 Mystery Shopper sick pay

Link

The £45 Mystery Shopper bonus she’s talking about is that she would have worked 45 hours that week. Each hour is £1 bonus, as Pret cuts the weekly bonus even when staff are sick for 1 day that week. And the rest £55 she means is the hours she lost for that 1 day. And Pret only responds to her Tweet because it’s public. In reality Pret does nothing and doesn’t care if staff are sick.

 

A recent Tweet to the CEO by a frustrated Team Member:

2019-06-05 TM bonus cut sick mystery shopper

Link

 

A typical day in Pret

(underneath the slideshow)

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

 

A typical day in Pret

Main “Crunch” Times based on an average shop:
5AM
6AM
Between 8-10AM
Between 12 Noon-2PM
Afternoons until closing time.

I share these times from all the shops I worked at, with an average of 6 – 8 tills and a team of about 25 – 35 staff.

 

5AM start of shift. The first TMs come in and hopefully no-one called sick, as even ONE person missing puts incredible stress on the rest of the team because every team is tightly staffed.

Between 5-6AM there are around 6-8 TMs and later from 6 or 7AM onwards more people start coming in.

Kitchen TM starts preparation of slicing vegetables.

Shop TM, often the HFC but can also be the Barista, starts baking frozen croissants and baguettes. Every shop decides their own way who starts the shifts.

A Team Leader, can be KL or FL, should be starting first with Health & Safety checks, like taking the temperature of all cooling systems in case any fridge/freezer broke down over night warming the food which has to then be thrown away to avoid food poisoning. They also start checking the huge delivery of ingredients and products to make sure that nothing is missing, which then has to be re-claimed from the suppliers.

But reality in Pret is, because they like to staff very tightly, the first 3 – 6+ people from 5AM have 1 hour to get everything ready for 6AM opening time. It is extremely stressful to get everything done in time for opening, especially when the evening shift before left the shop in a bad state.

Many who are new make the mistake and start before 5AM UNPAID!! Because when they can’t finish in the unrealistically short time they’re given, the GM pushes them in pretense that they were not working well or fast enough. It’s psychology that happens in most Prets! But most of the Teams I’ve worked with are extremely hard working and work very fast, but are fooled and manipulated by managers who come in at 8 or 9 o’clock pressuring the Teams via the Team Leader or AM. And because the Team Leader wants to move up fast to escape this culture, they become bullies and only spare those that make friends with them.

Most shops have the HFC who starts all the baking and also preps the coffee machines, brings the milk out etc. Depending on how the evening Team left the shop, this often is a nightmare when the previous shift didn’t close properly, didn’t stock up etc.

At times this is due to lack of staff etc. But often it is simply due to laziness, where the evening Team Leader sits in the office all night, while the 2 people outside slave away without support! As a FL it was important to me to not do that, but to support my Team and we mostly finished in time leaving an immaculate shop for the morning Team. The next shift then had a clean and easier start. But many shops don’t care for the next shift, which in turn comes back to them when they take over from the morning team who retaliate to the evening Team… vicious circle and it adds to the stress that’s already there.

But I always changed that behaviour in every shop I worked in. This created a relaxed atmosphere where the teams started to work together instead of against each other, because they realized that this actually became much easier to work in support of each other instead of a cliquish environment.

 

6AM opening the doors

Again, if the Team had a good start and nothing went wrong, no delays etc. the shop can be open smoothly and customers can be served in a relaxed way.

 

Between 7:30-ish and 9-ish depending on the shop and which area they are in, the shop then becomes humongously busy with the coffee rush. But still there are only 2-3 TMs on the till if they are lucky and 1, maximum 2 Baristas. This forces the HFC to interrupt their hard, hot and sweaty work, to constantly having to jump in to “bust” the queues as the Teams have 1 minute to serve each customer which the MS probes them to the second!

A Mystery Shopper report excerpt (I added the blue writing and yellow marking):

07 15 seconds

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

Pret: “We aim to serve our customers their hot drink within 1 minute of payment. Did you receive your hot drink order within a reasonable time?”
MS: “I received my hot drink very quick, after 30 seconds, quick service.”

And yet, the MS gave 4 out 5 points on each question as if 15 seconds wasn’t good enough. The point system is important mainly for managers. The more points the more bonus. So, even when the Team gets the bonus, but the points are not as high, GMs still stress and pressure the Teams because the manager’s quarterly bonus depends also on the point score. Managers are rewarded their bonus based on all the different results: profit, waste, labour, cleanliness etc.

But the Mystery Shopper reports and bonus system counts towards the largest chunk of managers’ bonuses! One GM was happy with his Team to cheat on everything, but the Mystery Shopper results. As a Team Leader new in his shop, he took me aside and said to me, “I close my eyes to everything, but not to the Mystery Shopper.” In other words, if I as a Team Leader failed to engage my Team and this resulted in poor MS results I’d get in big trouble. But on other things, even Health & Safety issues, he would have closed his eyes. … I’m not going to elaborate what my response was, but I communicated that he shouldn’t close his eyes to anything. I said that also because I was penalized for the smallest things in a previous shop. So, I made sure I covered all my basis and not let a greedy GM sabotage my job.

The MS being the biggest contributor of Managers’ bonuses creates even more stress because the Team get the message, “It is NEVER good enough what you achieve”. And I have countless example of how managers stressed us even when we got the bonus and even when someone got the OC. It’s never good enough unless it’s 100% perfect EVERY time. And even then, one slip, one mistake and all hell breaks loose!

This is the reason why so many customers complain on Twitter with half empty cups of cappuccinos, or a milky Americano where they asked for a black one. Because staff are so robotic, fast and on autopilot.

Only one of countless Tweets with photos like this:

2019-02-11 Stingy coffee

This is St. Pancras, one of the most busiest shops in Pret!

Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover into Pret (after having read my blog I’m proud to say!!) and writes about a conversation she had with a Barista during coffee rush. Quote (I added the bold):

“Undercover reporter Amy Sharpe worked inside the scandal-hit chain and discovered a potentially fatal blunder with labelling and staff who are hugely over-stretched. …

I am at a central London branch, where 10 staff vie for space, muttering apologies as we collide and stretch across one another to grab pastries and bags.

I shout orders to a barista while dashing to a beeping toastie machine to retrieve a baguette.

I make green teas and filter coffees while my other drinks orders are prepared. It’s stressful and confusing and the queue makes it even more so.

All the while, staff must be alert to the issue of allergens.

One barista tells me the cramped service area is a “nightmare”.

He says: “If I’m next to you, you have to shout. If you don’t shout I can make a mistake. A person can grab the wrong coffee. Make mistakes and the customer gets mad. You’ve got to focus, stay calm.”

When the bonus is lost, the boss will give the Team or the individual a good telling off. At times directly and loud, other times subtle manipulation threatening with the job security.

I survived this during bereavement! There was no mercy!

 

2019-01-16 small coffee area

Link by @terry_mcparlane Twitter of a typical cramped Barista working area.

 

 

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

 

A Mystery Shopper tweet:

2017 A Mystery Shopper tweeted

Link

 

2015 About Mystery Shopper

Link

 

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive

Link

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

 

2018 Emotional Labour Labor Quota Smiles2

Link

 

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

2019-04-16 Mystery Shopper Blame Culture

Link

 

Another of the many reviews along those lines:

2019-04-09 Mysterys Shopper Trap Happy Family

Link

 

Between 7 and 9AM or even later, the GM starts to come in. Depending on the GM, some come at 7AM, others at 9AM etc. Some sit in the office during intense stressful morning rush. Others help. But if they help, almost all GMs prefer to be at the coffee machines with their backs to the customers, as customer service is extremely stressful with the demand to SMILE CONSTANTLY … for the Mystery Shopper. This is the frustrating thing for the Teams, because the GM pressures staff to be perfect for bonus, while themselves “hiding” at the coffee machines!

When I was bereaved and wanted to get away from customer service as I could not afford to stay at home unpaid, having lost all my savings. I begged the GM at times when I couldn’t hold back the tears, to please let me work in the kitchen for a day because I was tearing up at times on the shop floor. But because I wasn’t used to the pace in the kitchen, the GM denied this. I stopped asking then. But at times I asked the GM or AM if I can please be at the coffee, as I was really fast at the coffee and wanted to get away from facing customers in tears. Again, it was denied because most GMs are selfish and always choose the easiest job, no matter how a TM or even I as a leader, was doing!

A rare observation and even rarer comment by a customer who noticed that the manager is always sitting in the office during busy times. Pret tasks the Mystery Shopper also to record if they see a manager on the shop floor and what the manager was doing. Pret leaves all this to the Mystery Shopper instead of having regular visits from the Operations Managers (OPs – area managers). OPs often themselves sit in the pub during busy lunch times, pretend to be busy and mostly communicate via email. I know this for a fact, I’ve seen it.

Customer observation:

2019-03-19 Response to customer complaint re manager

Link

 

Here I want to paint the picture and would ask the reader who is a regular customer in Pret to take a morning out of their work routine if they can, go to Pret, sit closest to the till area where they can observe BEHIND the counter all the TMs. Sit down and JUST WATCH for 30-60 minutes during the most busiest coffee rush. Just sit there, quiet and concentrate without any distraction or phone, reading… Just observe for a solid hour and then ask yourself HOW staff can smile, have eye contact and make polite conversation with EACH customer!

They can, but only because of the above mentioned cash incentive and fear management via the Mystery Shopper.

MS excerpts:

04 MS

Pret probing on the INDIVIDUAL Team Member:

Pret: “We aim to connect with every customer with eye contact, a smile and some polite remarks. Rate the engagement level of the person who served you at the till.”
MS: “I was not greeted at the till or given a smile. The conversation was what was necessary for the transaction. To be welcoming, the team member could have greeted me and smiled and be engage[d] and positive.”
(No concern if the TM was extremely busy and may have gone through person tragedy, depression etc.)

 

Pret probing on the WHOLE Team:

05 Attenditve to EACH customer

Pret: “We aim to be attentive to each customer’s needs. Rate the engagement level of the whole team in this shop during your visit.”
MS: The team members were focused on their jobs but were not welcoming customers. This could be improved by the team members smiling at customers when they entered the shop, and making friendly remark or small talk, where possible.”

 

ANY and ALL the Team are under CONSTANT observation and fear of being watched and rated! All the time. Every moment. Not only from the CCTV all over the shop and office, but managers, customers and Mystery Shoppers.

 

Yes, Pret states “reasonable time” and depending how busy it was etc. And the above MS contradicts themself by saying “where possible”. But the Teams are so conditioned and robotic, they always rush and the GMs stress them even during the quiet periods. If they can’t finish a task, they have to often stay longer unpaid. If they DO finish the task, they are criticized for not kissing the Mystery Shopper’s butt sweet enough when they enter the shop! It is always a lose-lose situation and NEVER good enough!!

And here is the perversion of Pret’s Emotional Labour abuse, and I call this perversion and abuse!!

Because this is what it is, PERVERSE, ABUSIVE, BULLYING and EXPLOITING!

Put yourself in their shoes.

A low-paid TM (£8.65 per hour in London) serves between 100 – 200+ customers before lunchtime going through the hellishly hectic coffee rush!

While they slave away like this, they have to smile, make eye contact, some conversation and go the “extra mile” give freebies etc. AND remember all the coffee order, hear the Barista call out the coffees that get constantly mixed up. They have to answer questions, especially on allergens, be polite to rude customers ETC! ………. and be like acrobatic clowns so that Clive Schlee CEO alone can pocket £30 million after JAB purchased Pret.

And customers remain fooled to think staff are so happy in this hellish environment forced to be like clowns because they have kids to feed!

AM ure Misery

Assistant Manager 2017 NY

Highlighting from above review:

“The kitchen staff is treated like slaves. They are expected to do the impossible. … Everything is over priced and you are forced to act like a happy jack-ass or your pay is cut. You don’t get paid your full hourly rate if you don’t impress the “mystery shopper”. This place is what hell must be like.
Advice to Management: Quit your jobs and go back to England and stay there.”

It’s not the first time that an American reviewer angrily wants Pret to go back to the UK.

 

01 Go back to UK

Corporate NYC Review

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

©2019 expret.org

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

Pret A Manger Overheated Shops / Work Condition – July 2019

 

Before I get into the detail of the ongoing issues of broken and inadequate Air Conditioning in Pret A Manger shops for YEARS and Pret not caring about it, I want to paint a picture from the perspective of staff.

I briefly explain below that staff have cash incentives via weekly Mystery Shoppers. They can earn up to an extra £100 individually ON TOP of their wages AND team bonus, if the Mystery Shopper is extra impressed with the individual Team Member’s service. If any staff member loses the bonus for the whole team because their service isn’t with a smile or whatever else the Mystery Shopper (I call them Misery Shopper) isn’t happy with, that Team Member and the Team get fear managed, because the MS bonus scheme counts towards the biggest chunk of Manager’s and upper Management bonuses.

One of many Mystery Shopper report excerpts:
Staff have to serve customers within 1 min of a person joining the queue and serve the coffee/drink within 1 minute of the customer having made the payment. Staff have to smile, make eye contact and brief conversation with EVERY customer. THAT is why they are still on this robotic autopilot even in 40ºC+ heat. I know, I’ve work in these conditions, brain-washed, fear managed, even during bereavement!

Mystery Shopper excerpt: (Click Ctrl and + to enlarge)

04 MS

 

What customers experience as heat and 35-40ºC, for staff behind the counter it’s 45-50ºC!

Dear customer, imagine yourself BEHIND the counter for an 8-10 hour shift every day! Look at this picture from brummie_photography on Instagram from a Birmingham shop. This shop at least is very airy, looks like a station or airports are like this. But most Prets have low ceiling, cramped areas, no air-flow. If the air conditioning then is broken or inadequate, it’s literally HELL in there!

I count about 11-12 Team Members (TMs) behind the counter (and worked like this myself). Now, imagine a low ceiling on the team like it is in most shops, and box them in:

Pret Sardines

brummie_photography on Instagram

 

Behind that counter of about 10 Sq Meters space there are:

  • In the shop the fridges (called Langars in Pret) blow out hot air from the back
  • Behind the counter and behind Team Members 2 – 3 coffee machines with heat and hot water/coffee
  • To the left or right or behind TMs 1 – 2 hot toastie machines
  • In most shops 1 – 2 hot ovens that are at the counter area (not like here in an extra room)
  • In front of TMs are the black hot croissant plates under the glass counter (I often switched it off in the summer!)
  • From above beaming bright lights on the low ceiling burning on their heads. Years ago staff members even had to wear caps no matter how hot. In Pret USA shops they still wear caps!
  • Large windows without any marquee for sun protection
  • Open doors so that shops don’t look closed from the outside when people walk by. This has been changed recently after environmentalists increasingly raised the issues regarding waste of energy. Unfortunately the same environmentalists don’t seem to bother about the staff burning in the heat! So, now for the most part Pret keeps the doors closed.
  • And from ALL AROUND hot body heat from colleagues who stand next to each other like sardines in a can! I felt my colleagues’ body heat left and right! Bad breath, sweaty smelly air, not allowed to drink water behind the counter or shop floor during work or use mints/peppermint gum!
  • And in many shops TMs are NOT allowed to drink water behind the counter for *irony on* “health and safety reasons” *irony off*. And are not allowed to go to the staff room to drink during the coffee and lunch time rush! I always broke that rule and went against manager’s instructions and let my team drink WATER!!

What for customers is excruciating in a few minutes, these low-paid workers endure ALL DAY every day. One TM in 2011 when I worked in one terrible shop like this, got pneumonia as she was going in and out of the walk-in fridge switching temperature between under 5 degree Celsius in the fridge and 35 – 40 degrees in the shop and kitchen.

Not to mention that the shop fridges (called Langars) are often dripping with water in the heat and are warm with food and drinks stored in them. I had to throw out many times £100s worth of food and drink after having taken temperatures of food and juices, much to the dismay of my bosses! But I didn’t care about the money. As a Team Leader, Health & Safety was not only part of my job description, it was my top priority! I didn’t even eat my free meal allowances in Pret during my breaks when the food was warm! Why would I subject paying customers to that, getting them food poisoning!!

My complaining and raising the issue never got me far in a Pret career, and neither did I care!

With most shops having low ceiling, loud music, rude customers, the 1 minute Mystery Shopper rule, a stressed and often bullying manager or team leader… Welcome to the REALITY of Pret A Manger!

Annihilate Humanity 41

>>> Anonymous Staff review on Indeed

 

Apart from the hellish work conditions for staff, this also affects the food. A customer complained regarding food poisoning from a New York Pret and noticed that the shop was warm:

 

2019-06-25 AC warm wrap

June 2019 NY

 


 

Customer Complaints on Twitter

(those who bother complaining, the problem is much bigger)

 

2018-07-25 AC Cannon St1

Link 25. July 2018

 

I link to a blog entry at the bottom on WHY staff smile ALL THE TIME come rain come shine!

I worked twice in shops with 40 degrees heat for weeks and months raising the issue. I was told if I speak to HQ my career is over. The manager who told me this and didn’t know how to make this issue urgent left Pret soon after. But we begged customers to speak to Pret on our behalf.

Below is a list of only a few customer Tweets, not everyone comments publicly. But this problem with inadequate little air cons in every Pret shop persists. Staff are surrounded by hot machines, body heat, beaming lights from above, ovens, toastie machines, hot plates where the croissants are on, large windows where the sun beams in … And the staff are still expected to do Emotional Labour, smile and pretend to be cheery so they don’t lose the Mystery Shopper bonus when they visit once a week.

I was often very disheartened that the weekly Mystery Shopper didn’t even mention the heat.

I worked at Pret for 10 years and this is an endless problem Pret knows about, but doesn’t fix unless customers go online, or staff persist. Staff became sick, one even with pneumonia because of the morning delivery check going inside the walk-in fridge back and forth between 30 degrees heat and then 3-5 degrees cold. That’s when I drew the line and asked for a transferal, not realizing many shops have this issue.

My traumatic story with Pret in the audio player interview at the bottom of this page.

I will say it loud and clear again to any new reader who does not know my and other staff story and blog: Pret A Manger does NOT care for their low-paid workers! They do NOT care!!!

Please take the time and really listen and look! Pret has been very successful with presenting an image of an “ethical” company! But having ignored customer warnings on allergen labels EVEN after two customers died, should ring massive alarm bells! But the public is lulled in again and want to believe the Pret fairy tale.

And Pret responds often with “oh dear” … “oh gosh” … “oh no” … “we are concerned to hear this” … bullshit, fooling the public as if this was a one-off. I really appreciate the anger and concern customers show for staff who suffer in this hell, while the millionaire senior leaders and Twitter staff sit in air-conditioned Head Office! Thank you for speaking up on behalf of low-paid workers!

3 of the most recent customer Tweets from days ago on the air conditioning problems in Pret. I didn’t go further beyond 2016, and even found one from 2013 … But this is forever going on!

2019-06-30 AC

1st Tweet — & — 2nd Tweet where Clive Schlee took a day to even respond, while on the day of the complaint he responded to another Tweet of someone wishing him farewell for his retirement (before the press got wind of it when I tweeted the press)! But the CEO was not concerned about the AC issue, even after 2 customer tweets!

Second customer Tweet 03. July, and Pret has NOT responded yet (06. July)!

2019-07-03 AC

Link

Third customer 05. July, and again NO response from Pret at the time of me writing this blog entry:

2019-07-05 AC

05. July 2019

 

UPDATE 25. July 2019

2019-07-25 No AC Bicester

Bicester still having issues as expected and Pret keeps sweet-talking
1st Tweet — and  — 2nd Tweet

 

Dan Brown raised this issue 3 weeks ago. 05th July Tweet (also screenshot above).

 

Also 25. July 2015, Great Eastern Street:

2019-07-25 No AC Great Eastern

Link to Tweet and Pret sweet-talking again

 

23. July 2019 London Bridge again

2019-07-23 No AC

1st Tweet2nd Tweet3rd Tweet

 

 

2019-07-25 No AC Great Eastern

 

 

2019-06-19 AC Bath Southgate

19. June 2019 Bath

 

2019-07-17 AC air con USA

UPDATE: 17. July 2018 NY, USA

 

2018-06-19 AC 240 Hi Holb

19. June 2018

 

2018-07-07 AC Hammersmith2

07. July 2018 Hammersmith

 

2018-07-23 AC Luton

23. July 2018 Luton – No answer from Pret

 

2018-07-23 AC Queen St

Also 23. July 2018 Queen St.

 

2018-07-24 AC Strand

24. July 2018 Strand

 

This Tweet is from the first Tweet above from the 25. July 2018. Two more from the 25th underneath:

2018-07-25 AC Cannon St2

 

2018-07-25 AC Queen St

25. July 2018 Queen St again

 

2018-07-25 AC Whitehall

25. July 2018 Whitehall. Pret here lets Teams have extra break instead of putting on the BRAKES to stop the work in these hellish conditions!

 

2018-07-26 AC Euston

26. July 2018 Euston. Pret slimey and patronizing response they always do when someone with an official Twitter account tweets: “Oh they’re all stars aren’t they?”

 

2018-07-26 AC More London

26. July 2018 again More London

 

2018-07-27 AC Milton Keynes

27. July 2018 Milton Keynes

 

This customer’s concern is brilliant.
I want to post the whole feed as she does not let go!
Well done and thank you @kerriewils!

 

2018-08-07 AC01 Victoria St 95

07. Aug. 2018 Pret’s “oh no” BS …

 

2018-08-07 AC02 Victoria St 95

 

DON’T be disappointed, this is NORMAL in Pret!!!

 

2018-08-07 AC03 to 07 Victoria St 95

 

2018-08-07 AC08 Victoria St 95

Thank You!!!

 

2019-08-10 AC South Ken

10. Aug. 2018 South Ken. This is August, and the Pret Twitter staff is taking the mick!

 

2017-12-10 AC Kings Cross

10. Dec. 2017 Someone registered a Twitter account especially to raise this issue. Cold in winter, hot in summer.

 

2017-08-06 AC Tower Hill

06. Aug. 2017 Tower Hill

 

2017-06-01 AC Westfield

01. June 2017 Westfield – Since AGES

I love this follow-up Tweet, and yet it’s very sad that Pret only listens to customers and let staff boil in hell! I can say again to any reader, please believe me when I say that Pret does NOT care for staff except when it is for PR or when they get caught!

2017-06-01 AC Westfield2

 

2016-09-13 AC Adwych Strand

13. Sep. 2016 Adwych / 182 Strand. This is one of the two shops I worked in where the AC was broken for MONTHS. That was in 2011!!!

 

2013 AC slower work

2013 And the staff still working FAST as Pret demand the 1 minute time of service via the Mystery Shopper!

… and so on …

These days Pret keeps the doors closed, but ONLY because of the Extinction Rebellion revolution. Pret only goes with pressure from the masses and what is “trend”. If staff suffer in the heat, doesn’t matter to them. The reason why Pret usually like the doors open, winter and summer is so that the shops don’t look closed from the outside, meaning customers walk by oblivious that it’s open. And it’s true, I walked by shops that seemed to be closed, because the door was closed and it looked darker inside. So, to avoid losing money, Pret likes to keep the door open, except lately since the waste of energy and environmental activists being on Pret’s case. But concerned for staff? Don’t believe a bit of it!

So, thank you to all customers and maybe next time, start a mass petition for Pret to act FAST!! Because this is an ongoing issue and Pret has the public fooled and staff feel stuck, because they are not paid sick days the first two days!

Employees remain professional because they have to in case the Mystery Shopper comes and all the Team loses the bonus. I write about this in “How Emotional Labour Harms us all” and “The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile” and why staff really keep smiling even during the most excruciating heat and work conditions.

Staff speak out, even if only anonymous on review websites (below).

Target1

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

 

Link: >>> Two Pret Staff have DIED recently
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret.
I survived. If I would have gone over the edge, to my current knowledge, mine would be #3 and it would be in connection to Pret!

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

Pano Christou now CEO of Pret A Manger

 

My message to Clive Schlee and Pano Christou upfront:

»Be careful how you treat people when you’re on your way up, you might need them on the way back down.«

 – found on Twitter profile

 

The announcement that Clive Schlee would retire in September 2019 came on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted to the press, having read Schlee’s response to a well-wisher on Twitter. The press then contacted HQ, got the confirmation and started “breaking” the news on Twitter.

Tweet to the Press early morning 01. July 2019:

2019-07-01 ExPretAManger to the press

01. July 2019

 

Quiet Tweet the day before on 30. June 2019, but no official announcement:

2019-06-30 Clive response to well wisher

Link Clive Schlee being all about himself again, while ignoring a Tweet a day before by a customer on excruciating work conditions (below Tweets).

I responded to the above well-wisher, and later tweeted to the press, as I told someone already months ago that Schlee would sneak out the back door quietly. I wrote about it hinting that this may happen in:

Clive Schlee and Pano Christou” 02. Apr. 2019
@Cliveschlee – Your Soldiers are Tired” 18. June 2019
Where is Clive Schlee?” 20. June 2019
The Difference between Profit and True Wealth” 22. June 2019
You are either the Captain” 30. June blog entry, but before I saw his above Tweet to the well-wisher. This blog entry lead me to check his Twitter when I then saw the well-wisher post on Schlee’s retirement.

Clive Schlee all being about himself, responded to the well-wisher’s Tweet on 30. June 2019, yet did NOT respond to a very serious health and safety issue of a customer Tweet on the 29. June 2019. The customer even tweeted twice. Schlee responded on the 01. July 2019 AFTER I wrote new blog entries about his retirement and after the press “broke” the news from my Tweet.

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is Pret A Manger leadership:

2019-06-30 AC

First and Second Tweet to which Schlee responded on 01. July AFTER retirement news broke.
Customer: “It’s shocking they are not supported by decision makers.”
Don’t be shocked, that’s typical Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger!

I did an extra blog entry on the ongoing Air Conditioning issues with over-heated shops that I worked in as well. Many customers tweeted to Pret about this: “Pret A Manger Staff work in Over-heated Conditions

 

The press then being the press, pretending to break the news with some “inside” knowledge “broke” it after I tweeted to them. That’s why I tweet publicly and not “secretly” in emails.

 

So, September has come early.

BUT knowing Pret and the poor scoring Clive Schlee leaves on his exit (44% recommend working at Pret and 50% recommend Schlee) he stays as the active CEO until September, but they placed Pano Christou onto Review sites to avoid more negative scoring for the CEO.

2019-07-15 Pano Christou CEO

2 Glassdoor ratings already 15. July 2019 as on 14. July Clive Schlee was still as CEO on the Glassdoor profile. Makes you wonder what two people in the first day rated the new CEO already.

 

Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account on 01. July 2019 when I linked to it in “Clive Schlee’s Legacy” as I had a lot of traffic on my blog after having tweeted to the press:

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter

Now leads to a deleted page.

So, Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted to the press and the press “breaking” the news and having visited my blog where he saw that I linked to his Twitter account.

But as Mr. Christou doesn’t have a new official Twitter account yet as CEO and Mr. Schlee still has his official Twitter account, this means Christou is NOT yet CEO, but just placed his picture on Glassdoor to avoid further negative voting for the CEO and Pret.

BUT Mr. Christou is the same and learned under Schlee. It’s just a different face to the same exploitative and bullying company. And the press is silent, because they cater to business.

UPDATE 24. September 2019

A new Twitter account under the same handle @ChristouPano has started in September 2019. Seems to be from Canada. So, someone snatched that handle, and I dound Pret’s Pano Christou will have an official CEO account like Clive Schlee has.

 

2019-09-24 New Pano Christou different Twitter

 

Pano Christou came from McDonald’s management and started in Pret as an Assistant Manager (AM). Even though he likes to portray that he started at the bottom, sorry, I worked with many AM’s who came from other companies. They work at Pret with a Team Member (TM) uniform for a few weeks or even just days, and then go straight into AM and in a few months if they aim for it, become General Managers (GM). So, yes he started in shops, but he never was under the intense pushing, stress and low pay TMs are subjected to.

He will do things differently of course, as his personality is different where he doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve or has “foot-in-mouth disease” like Clive Schlee. But he will do things the same in a profit-driven, exploitative company under the new owners who aim to topple Nestle off the throne and expand their wealth.

In my worst time in Pret in 2016 when my emailing started to increase in my trauma and at times drunk (I share my story at the bottom audio player in an interview), one email exchange with Pano Christou I remember very well, where he invited staff to contact him with any concerns, ideas etc. He responded and started his message about my email: »I must admit, beautifully written« and then went on in his email.

I remember this as odd, because only an “opponent” or someone who disagrees with you has to “admit” something. If I stand opposite an opponent that I respect, in or after a boxing match let’s say, we fought, I got caught out with not being on my best form, I may say to the opponent: ‘I must admit, good punch!’.

So, Mr. Christou, you will continue where Mr. Schlee left off, all the sweet-talk you learned under him, how to polish the facade, how to exploit low-wage workers behind that smile, but I don’t buy for a minute that Pret’s work conditions will improve nor that you will implement the Living Wage. So, we continue to work on unionizing Pret A Manger, no matter how long it takes.

 

Clive Schlee’s legacy:

… apart from two customer deaths (third nearly fatal) he didn’t act on until it became public and all the ignored warnings before AND after deaths!

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019

 

Clive Schlee’s Legacy” — & — “Late Night Girl Article on Clive Schlee

 

Las Vegas

 

17 Odd

Review by former Purchasing Director, NY

 

01 Go back to UK

Review by a Corporate, NY

 

HQ IT Analyst

London HQ Review

 

UPDATE 22. July 2019 Pano Christou’s “clean” start on Glassdoor. He’s been with Pret longer than Clive Schlee, and apart from doing a few things differently, when it comes to staff exploitation and low pay etc. he is not different than Schlee, just a different face on the profit driven company now under JAB that competes with Nestle for the top spot:

2019-07-22 43 staff - 0 Pano

 

UPDATE 19. September 2019, Pano Christou might need to do some “real” work instead of bullsh!tting staff and the public alike. My tip to Pano, check the #antiCEOplaybook

2019-09-19 Pano 40 29

 

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Slideshow can be paused

 

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

 

Link: >>> Two Pret Staff have DIED recently
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret.
I survived. If I would have gone over the edge, to my current knowledge, mine would be #3 and it would be in connection to Pret!

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

Pret A Manger Staff work in Over-Heated conditions (UPDATE 25. July 2019)

 

Before I get into the detail of the ongoing issues of broken and inadequate Air Conditioning in Pret A Manger shops for YEARS and Pret not caring about it, I want to paint a picture from the perspective of staff.

I briefly explain below that staff have cash incentives via weekly Mystery Shoppers. They can earn up to an extra £100 individually ON TOP of their wages AND team bonus, if the Mystery Shopper is extra impressed with the individual Team Member’s service. If any staff member loses the bonus for the whole team because their service isn’t with a smile or whatever else the Mystery Shopper (I call them Misery Shopper) isn’t happy with, that Team Member and the Team get fear managed, because the MS bonus scheme counts towards the biggest chunk of Manager’s and upper Management bonuses.

One of many Mystery Shopper report excerpt:
Staff have to serve customers within 1 min of a person joining the queue and serve the coffee/drink within 1 minute of the customer having made the payment. Staff have to smile, make eye contact and brief conversation with EVERY customer. THAT is why they are still on this robotic autopilot even in 40ºC+ heat. I know, I’ve work in these conditions, brain-washed, fear managed, even during bereavement!

Mystery Shopper excerpt: (Click Ctrl and + to enlarge)

04 MS

 

What customers experience as heat and 35-40ºC, for staff behind the counter it’s 45-50ºC.

Dear customer, imagine yourself BEHIND the counter for an 8-10 hour shift! Look at this picture from brummie_photography on Instagram from a Birmingham shop. This shop at least is very airy, looks like a station or airports are like this. But most Prets have low ceiling, cramped areas, no air-flow. If the air conditioning then is broken or inadequate, it’s literally HELL in there!

I count about 11-12 Team Members (TMs) behind the counter (and worked like this myself):

Pret Sardines

brummie_photography on Instagram

 

Behind that counter of about 10 Sq Meters space there are:

  • In the shop the fridges (called Langars in Pret) blow out hot air from the back
  • Behind the counter and behind Team Members 2 – 3 coffee machines with heat and hot water/coffee
  • To the left or right or behind TMs 1 – 2 hot toastie machines
  • In most shops 1 – 2 hot ovens that are at the counter area (not like here in an extra room)
  • In front of TMs are the black hot croissant plates under the glass counter (I often switched it off in the summer!)
  • From above beaming bright lights on the low ceiling burning on their heads. Years ago staff members even had to wear caps no matter how hot. In Pret USA shops they still wear caps!
  • Large windows without any marquee for sun protection
  • Open doors so that shops don’t look closed from the outside when people walk by. This has been changed recently after environmentalists increasingly raised the issues regarding waste of energy. Unfortunately the same environmentalists don’t seem to bother about the staff burning in the heat!
  • And from ALL AROUND hot body heat from colleagues who stand next to each other like sardines in a can! I felt my colleagues’ body heat left and right! Bad breath, sweaty smelly air, not allowed to drink water behind the counter or shop floor during work or use mints/peppermint gum!
  • And in many shops TMs are NOT allowed to drink water behind the counter for *irony on* “health and safety reasons” *irony off*. And are not allowed to go to the staff room to drink during the coffee and lunch time rush! I always broke that rule and went against manager’s instructions and let my team drink WATER!!

And in many shops TMs are NOT allowed to drink water behind the counter for *irony on* “health and safety reasons” *irony off*. And are not allowed to go to the staff room to drink during the coffee and lunch time rush! I always broke that rule and went against manager’s instructions and let my team drink WATER!!

What for customers is excruciating in a few minutes, these low-paid workers endure ALL DAY every day. One TM in 2011 when I worked in one terrible shop like this, got pneumonia as she was going in and out of the walk-in fridge switching temperature between under 5 degree Celsius in the fridge and 35 – 40 degrees in the shop and kitchen.

Not to mention that the fridges are warm with food and drink stored in them. I had to throw out many times £100s worth of food and drink after having taken temperatures of food and juices, much to the dismay of my bosses! But I didn’t care about the money. As a Team Leader, Health & Safety was not only part of my job description, it was my top priority! I didn’t even eat my free meal allowances in Pret during my breaks when the food was warm! Why would I subject paying customers to that, getting them food poisoning!!

My complaining and raising the issue never got me far in a Pret career, and neither did I care!

With most shops having low ceiling, loud music, rude customers, the 1 minute Mystery Shopper rule, a stressed and often bullying manager or team leader… Welcome to the REALITY of Pret A Manger!

Annihilate Humanity 41

>>> Anonymous Staff review on Indeed

 

Apart from the hellish work conditions for staff, this also affects the food. A customer complained regarding food poisoning from a New York Pret and noticed that the shop was warm:

 

2019-06-25 AC warm wrap

June 2019 NY

 


 

Customer Complaints on Twitter

(those who bother complaining, the problem is much bigger)

 

2018-07-25 AC Cannon St1

Link 25. July 2018

 

I link to a blog entry at the bottom on WHY staff smile ALL THE TIME come rain come shine!

I worked twice in shops with 40 degrees heat for weeks and months raising the issue. I was told if I speak to HQ my career is over. The manager who told me this and didn’t know how to make this issue urgent left Pret soon after. But we begged customers to speak to Pret on our behalf.

Below is a list of only a few customer Tweets, not everyone comments publicly. But this problem with inadequate little air cons in every Pret shop persists. Staff are surrounded by hot machines, body heat, beaming lights from above, ovens, toastie machines, hot plates where the croissants are on, large windows where the sun beams in … And the staff are still expected to do Emotional Labour, smile and pretend to be cheery so they don’t lose the Mystery Shopper bonus when they visit once a week.

I was often very disheartened that the weekly Mystery Shopper didn’t even mention the heat.

I worked at Pret for 10 years and this is an endless problem Pret knows about, but doesn’t fix unless customers go online, or staff persist. Staff became sick, one even with pneumonia because of the morning delivery check going inside the walk-in fridge back and forth between 30 degrees heat and then 3-5 degrees cold. That’s when I drew the line and asked for a transferal, not realizing many shops have this issue.

My traumatic story with Pret in the audio player interview at the bottom of this page.

I will say it loud and clear again to any new reader who does not know my and other staff story and blog: Pret A Manger does NOT care for their low-paid workers! They do NOT care!!!

Please take the time and really listen and look! Pret has been very successful with presenting an image of an “ethical” company! But having ignored customer warnings on allergen labels EVEN after two customers died, should ring massive alarm bells! But the public is lulled in again and want to believe the Pret fairy tale.

And Pret responds often with “oh dear” … “oh gosh” … “oh no” … “we are concerned to hear this” … bullshit, fooling the public as if this was a one-off. I really appreciate the anger and concern customers show for staff who suffer in this hell, while the millionaire senior leaders and Twitter staff sit in air-conditioned Head Office! Thank you for speaking up on behalf of low-paid workers!

3 of the most recent customer Tweets from days ago on the air conditioning problems in Pret. I didn’t go further beyond 2016, and even found one from 2013 … But this is forever going on!

2019-06-30 AC

1st Tweet — & — 2nd Tweet where Clive Schlee took a day to even respond, while on the day of the complaint he responded to another Tweet of someone wishing him farewell for his retirement (before the press got wind of it when I tweeted the press)! But the CEO was not concerned about the AC issue, even after 2 customer tweets!

Second customer Tweet 03. July, and Pret has NOT responded yet (06. July)!

2019-07-03 AC

Link

Third customer 05. July, and again NO response from Pret at the time of me writing this blog entry:

2019-07-05 AC

05. July 2019

 

UPDATE 25. July 2019

2019-07-25 No AC Bicester

Bicester still having issues as expected and Pret keeps sweet-talking
1st Tweet — and  — 2nd Tweet

 

Dan Brown raised this issue 3 weeks ago. 05th July Tweet (also screenshot above).

 

Also 25. July 2015, Great Eastern Street:

2019-07-25 No AC Great Eastern

Link to Tweet and Pret sweet-talking again

 

23. July 2019 London Bridge again

2019-07-23 No AC

1st Tweet2nd Tweet3rd Tweet

 

 

2019-07-25 No AC Great Eastern

 

 

2019-06-19 AC Bath Southgate

19. June 2019 Bath

 

2019-07-17 AC air con USA

UPDATE: 17. July 2018 NY, USA

 

2018-06-19 AC 240 Hi Holb

19. June 2018

 

2018-07-07 AC Hammersmith2

07. July 2018 Hammersmith

 

2018-07-23 AC Luton

23. July 2018 Luton – No answer from Pret

 

2018-07-23 AC Queen St

Also 23. July 2018 Queen St.

 

2018-07-24 AC Strand

24. July 2018 Strand

 

This Tweet is from the first Tweet above from the 25. July 2018. Two more from the 25th underneath:

2018-07-25 AC Cannon St2

 

2018-07-25 AC Queen St

25. July 2018 Queen St again

 

2018-07-25 AC Whitehall

25. July 2018 Whitehall. Pret here lets Teams have extra break instead of putting on the BRAKES to stop the work in these hellish conditions!

 

2018-07-26 AC Euston

26. July 2018 Euston. Pret slimey and patronizing response they always do when someone with an official Twitter account tweets: “Oh they’re all stars aren’t they?”

 

2018-07-26 AC More London

26. July 2018 again More London

 

2018-07-27 AC Milton Keynes

27. July 2018 Milton Keynes

 

This customer’s concern is brilliant.
I want to post the whole feed as she does not let go!
Well done and thank you @kerriewils!

 

2018-08-07 AC01 Victoria St 95

07. Aug. 2018 Pret’s “oh no” BS …

 

2018-08-07 AC02 Victoria St 95

 

DON’T be disappointed, this is NORMAL in Pret!!!

 

2018-08-07 AC03 to 07 Victoria St 95

 

2018-08-07 AC08 Victoria St 95

Thank You!!!

 

2019-08-10 AC South Ken

10. Aug. 2018 South Ken. This is August, and the Pret Twitter staff is taking the mick!

 

2017-12-10 AC Kings Cross

10. Dec. 2017 Someone registered a Twitter account especially to raise this issue. Cold in winter, hot in summer.

 

2017-08-06 AC Tower Hill

06. Aug. 2017 Tower Hill

 

2017-06-01 AC Westfield

01. June 2017 Westfield – Since AGES

I love this follow-up Tweet, and yet it’s very sad that Pret only listens to customers and let staff boil in hell! I can say again to any reader, please believe me when I say that Pret does NOT care for staff except when it is for PR or when they get caught!

2017-06-01 AC Westfield2

 

2016-09-13 AC Adwych Strand

13. Sep. 2016 Adwych / 182 Strand. This is one of the two shops I worked in where the AC was broken for MONTHS. That was in 2011!!!

 

2013 AC slower work

2013 And the staff still working FAST as Pret demand the 1 minute time of service via the Mystery Shopper!

… and so on …

These days Pret keeps the doors closed, but ONLY because of the Extinction Rebellion revolution. Pret only goes with pressure from the masses and what is “trend”. If staff suffer in the heat, doesn’t matter to them. The reason why Pret usually like the doors open, winter and summer is so that the shops don’t look closed from the outside, meaning customers walk by oblivious that it’s open. And it’s true, I walked by shops that seemed to be closed, because the door was closed and it looked darker inside. So, to avoid losing money, Pret likes to keep the door open, except lately since the waste of energy and environmental activists being on Pret’s case. But concerned for staff? Don’t believe a bit of it!

So, thank you to all customers and maybe next time, start a mass petition for Pret to act FAST!! Because this is an ongoing issue and Pret has the public fooled and staff feel stuck, because they are not paid sick days the first two days!

Employees remain professional because they have to in case the Mystery Shopper comes and all the Team loses the bonus. I write about this in “How Emotional Labour Harms us all” and “The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile” and why staff really keep smiling even during the most excruciating heat and work conditions.

Staff speak out, even if only anonymous on review websites (below).

Target1

 

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

 

Link: >>> Two Pret Staff have DIED recently
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret.
I survived. If I would have gone over the edge, to my current knowledge, mine would be #3 and it would be in connection to Pret!

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

 

Clive Schlee’s “Late Night Girl” Articles

 

Clive Schlee’s “Late Night Girl” Writings.

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

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

 

I said 6 months ago to a Union person that Clive Schlee will probably sneak out of Pret. And days ago I wrote to another person that he is very quiet lately and either on a Sabbatical or leaving.

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

~10am Tweet before the press started waking up:

2019-07-01 My Schlee retirement Tweet

Link

 


 

To Clive Schlee,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you good luck?

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

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

Regards,

Your “Late Night Girl”


Clive Schlee’s Legacy:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019

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

 

LINK: TWO Pret Staff have died
1 is said to be a suicide.
It’s not the first suicide in Pret.

 


 

NEW

 

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

23. Sep. 2019
Smile, Fool!

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

08. July 2019
Any Damn Fool can run Pret

 


 

While the Press was fast asleep:

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

 

30. June 2019
The Captain of the Ship

 

20. June 2019
Where is Clive Schlee?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

02. Apr. 2019
Clive Schlee, Pano Christou

 

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

 

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

and so on…


 

»It’s amazing to me how many business leaders separate their employees from their customers/patrons.
Your employees are your core target audience to put word-of-mouth out about your organization.«
 – by @minmilyjung

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

Clive Schlee’s Legacy

 

I knew something like this would happen. Going into “retirement”, huh! And he doesn’t even make a proper announcement, but through the backdoor it’s communicated.

Leaving a “legacy” behind after having opened the door to the wolves of private equity!

Customer deaths. Staff deaths including suicides. I survived.

And he’s sneaking out!

Or was it a dismissal?!

Mr. Schlee should still face court after the customer deaths and the repeated warnings on allergen labelling he ignored. Not to mention how staff are treated for profit under his leadership! He still owns half of itsu and who knows what other business he is part of. He’s got his millions and his employees suffered for it. So, he does what he does best, disappear from taking responsibility.

Of course not surprising.

And maybe he took some advise from those closest to him.

Clive Wife

Well, there you go.

From a 2016 Guardian interview

First Nicki Fisher skips out after all the PR stunt of the homeless house, now he does. Who’s next? Pano Christou? (UPDATE: Twitter profile deleted, screenshot*). Unless he’s the candidate for CEO. Andrea Wareham? …

* Pano Christou Twitter screenshot

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter

 

2019-07-01 Retirement Clive

Link

And another of those serious complaints he does not care about, nor even responds to. I have worked in 40 degrees (Celsius) shops for prolonged times before Pret fixed the issue. We also literally begged customers to speak to Pret on our behalf as Pret did not listen to staff feedback!

What an example of the worst leadership in a company that I have ever experienced!

2019-06-30 AC

First and Second Tweet
“It’s shocking they are not supported by decision makers.”
Don’t be shocked, that’s typical Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger!

 

My biggest regret ever having worked in that company!

 

»It’s amazing to me how many business leaders separate their employees from their customers/patrons.
Your employees are your core target audience to put word-of-mouth out about your organization.« – by @minmilyjung

 

Clive Schlee’s legacy:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

Glassdoor July 2019

 

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

 

Link: >>> Two Pret Staff have DIED recently
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret.
I survived. If I would have gone over the edge, to my current knowledge, mine would be #3 and it would be in connection to Pret!

 


 

UPDATE:

I wrote this blog entry early this morning before 3am UK time, being Clive Schlee’s “late night girl” that I am! I tweeted this to the press an hour ago approx. 10am and now other Journos or people in general who must have contacted Pret HQ state that news from HQ announces Clive Schlee’s retirement.

So, while the Press was sleeping again and me doing the usual Pret Tweet observations, his retirement was announced days ago very quietly.

Peace before the storm, hey.

2019-07-01 quiet retirement

Link

And promptly I get partially shadow banned for the next 48 hours after having tweeted to the Press. My Tweets are still visible within a feed if one clicks “Show more replies” but cannot be found in search.

2019-07-01 ExPretAManger NO Thread ban

Shadowban.eu/ExPretAManger
The ban will be lifted and all in the green on 03. July approx. 10:30am UK time.

~10am Tweet before the press started waking up:

2019-07-01 My Schlee retirement Tweet

Link

 

A brief list of writings regarding Clive Schlee: Clive Schlee’s “Late Night Girl” Articles.

Today Pano Christou deleted his Twitter account, but a screenshot on how it looked like until this afternoon:

2019-07-01 COO Pano Christou Twitter

Now leads to a deleted page.

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

Employees are the Core Target Audience

 

I found an excellent Twitter feed recently which I link here, that everyone can read from the top down. I’m not going to elaborate on it as it speaks for itself.

This one particularly got my attention:

Employees word of mouth

Link from the top of the feed

This is so simple and true, and it’s so stupid of companies to mistreat employees, forgetting that they are the best advertisers for that company’s reputation.

 

So, here are the word-of-mouth reports regarding Pret A Manger:

 

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

July 2019 overall Glassdoor figure

 

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

 

Link: >>> Two Pret Staff have DIED recently
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret.
I survived. If I would have gone over the edge, to my current knowledge, mine would be #3 and it would be in connection to Pret!

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

 

Pret A Manger Overtime NOT Paid

 

Here I list only a few of the many Pret staff reviews and complaints about being pressured and pushed for time. How they are pushed to work so fast they HAVE TO cut corners like on hand-washing, hygiene, cross contamination etc.

I witnessed this time and time again, having to prompt staff to wash their hands in-between production of different items (from meat to veggie) and after the toilet etc. Pret does have standards in place and a book to tick boxes of duties, incl. hand washing done. But these boxes are mostly just ticked and the jobs are not done because time is money… as usual. Doing all the duties expected will slow the teams down and get them in trouble. It’s a lose-lose situation which some of the below reviews show so clearly. And I have witnessed this countless times. As staff are not paid overtime, they stop caring. Period. The public is fooled by the shiny PR[et] facade, not matter how many customers die, they want to believe the fairy tale that is Pret A Manger.

 

Illusion

 

I let the reviews speak for itself.

 

LackStaff

Link Barista 2019

 

Unpaid

Link 2018

 

Unpaid2017

Link 2017 NY

 

Unpaid2

Link 2015

 

Unpaid2014b

Link 2014

 

Unpaid2011

Link 2011 NY

“It is clear they have little to know training and have absolutely no training or experience in employee relations or even customer relations for that matter. Every manager I have worked with – I have worked with 6 – will immediately try to belittle you. Not sure exactly why this is such a common practice among managers but it is an intrinsic behavior within the company itself. …Very, very sad reality of Pret. -Company culture….”

 

Unpaid2014

Link 2014 “Manager at my shop treated everyone really poorly. Expect you to stay longer to complete your job for free when not enough time is given. Constantly missing hours from extra shifts taken. Have to ask every week to see if they have repaid those hours and in some cases takes months to chase back.”

NOTE: The “for some reason” is more systemic than this and many other TMs realize. I had to chase my money CONSTANTLY.

 

25 Staff complain in Twitter not paid HR

Link

 

03-wages2-1-e1554218697911.jpg

Link

 

Pret had to settle two class action lawsuits in NY within 4 years on wage issues. In the UK people never do a Class Action, but it would be high time for Pret staff to go to court on wage issues!

 

Wgae Lawsuit

Link

 

Customer observations:

2018-10-20 Staff cry

Link

 

2019-03-22 Customer Noticing busyness Pret1

Link

 

2019-03-22 customer kings cross emma observation stress

Link

The 1 minute rule to serve customers which the weekly Mystery Shopper probes. If even ONE staff member takes too long, the whole team loses the bonus.

Mystery Shopper excerpt:

1 Minute Smile

The kitchen have targets of doing a certain amount of sandwiches/items per hour. The above reviews explain the system how they are pushed with little time given and then expected to stay longer, unpaid. UK Pret workers should file a class action like their colleagues did in the U.S.

More extensive writing about this in “The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile” and “How Emotional Labour Harms us all

More general complaints:

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

 

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

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

Where is Clive Schlee?

 

Oh, found him!

Not!

Glassdoor’s Top CEOs for 2019 Announced.

The average score of CEOs on Glassdoor is 69%.

Pret A Manger was never average! They always aimed to be special and extreme!

Glassdoor’s Top 50 CEOs in 2019 with over 90% ratings – Revealed.

@CliveSchlee, if you are reading this, as you read my blog at times, do you still name, shame and blame your managers when they fail?

Do you let HQ still send out mass emails to every shop with the lowest scores in Health and Safety for example, where a shop failed? Giving detailed report and the name of the shop?

I know you also “brag” on staff when they succeed to make others jealous to compete I guess, a typical strategy to “motivate” the workforce. I don’t like the term “workforce” as it sounds like an assembly line of robots.

But are you still naming, shaming and blaming your managers and staff openly?

What are you going to do about staff welfare and stopping this work environment for more profit?

What are you doing about Customer deaths before they become public?

And what about Staff deaths? Suicides?

When will you take responsibility and resign?

Have you seen your Glassdoor score, Mr. Schlee?

And what are you going to do about it without employing a PR company to clean it all up?

When are you going to stop to just paint and clean the outside facade while the inside is rotten?

 

2019-06-29 45 staff 51 CEO

Glassdor stats June/July 2019

 

HQ IT Analyst

Pret Head Office Review on Glassdoor

 

and …

 

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

 

2011 I Hate Pret Fuck Pret

Facebook group @preth8ers

 

TWO Pret staff have died recently.
More here >
Why is Pret not being Investigated?

 


 

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 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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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.

The Truth Behind the Pret A Manger Smile

 

And the emotional, mental, physical and financial cost to staff.

 

Timothy Noah Quote Emotional Labor

 

LINK to Emotional Labour article

Upfront, Pret staff will NEVER spill the beans on why they are so cheery! They remain professional because they fall for the Pret trap like everyone. They only out themselves anonymous on review websites, YouTube etc., further below. Just very few speak out publicly. Even during the darkest period in grief and being bullied, I NEVER EVER even hinted to a customer what was going on! I was complemented on my professional service, smile, giving free coffees, and no-one knew that after my shift I went to the bridge at times.

Here is the short version in a nutshell why ALL (most) staff members EVERYWHERE in Pret are ALWAYS so smiley, cheery, friendly and helpful. No matter how busy and stressful it is.

The magic word: Mystery Shoppers

Mystery Shoppers (MS) are tasked to probe into a list of things every week in every shop, like if there is an adequate amount of selection during certain times, or if the shop incl. toilets are clean and so on. The most important thing the MS have to probe is customer service. I call them the “Misery” Shopper because many times they were so micromanaging pointing out the smallest stain on a table or a smudge on the window!

For Team Members there are two “motivating” factors for the smiley customer service:

  1. Cash incentives. Overall bonus for the whole shop team which is £1 per hour worked. So if a Team Member (TM) worked 40 hours that week, they will get an additional £40 on top of their contracted wage for that week, provided the MS report was all in the green area and then gave the bonus to the whole team. Managers’ bonuses are given quarterly. But a TM can individually also earn extra cash on top of the bonus (or even if the bonus for the whole team was lost).
    This is called an “Outstanding Card” (OC) which is £50 extra if the MS is super happy with a particular TM or even General Manager (GM), Assistant Manager (AM) etc. Meaning, if the TM “kissed butt” especially hard, gave a freebie etc. they can earn that extra cash on top of their wages and team bonus. If the report is 100% perfect scores and the MS awards an OC to a staff member, that TM earns double = £100. So, that one staff member gets their weekly wages, the weekly bonus PLUS the extra £50 or £100 cash. £50 OC (Outstanding Card) or £100 SOC (Super Outstanding Card).
    Side note: An Outstanding Card is not literally a card, it’s just a name for the extra cash award. There are no cards given, “just” the money. So, when a TM is EXTRA SPECIAL nice, it is often (not always!) that they assumed they’re serving the Mystery Shopper!
  2. Fear Management. If any TM or several of the Team messes up in any way resulting in bonus being lost for the whole team incl. GM (bonus not awarded by the MS), the angry manager will have a word with them. Depending what the bonus was lost on, this often is done in subtle or direct fear management where staff are made to fear for their job or position.

 

2018-01-23 Outstanding Card

Link The reason why she got the Outstanding Card and with it the extra £50, or £100 if the shop had perfect scores, is the white writing on the red background. The Mystery Shopper rewarded this TM for this reason, quote:
“I noticed that the avocado in the remaining veggie box salads were brown and I asked if there were any fresher ones. The team member said she would ask the kitchen to make me a fresh one. She telephoned them and said if it was okay she would take the veggie box to the kitchen and they would replace the avocado for me.”

Other times a TM gives a free coffee to the Mystery Shopper but does NOT get an Outstanding Card. It is completely up to the MS what blows them away and what not.

 

And here comes the long version.

I cover mainly the “smiley” culture of Pret in: “How Companies force Emotional Labour on Low-Wage Workers“, but I want to take the reader through a typical day in Pret A Manger, and why this MS scheme is dangerous for mental health, not to mention patronizing and humiliating. This Tweet is by PAMSU (Pret A Manger Staff Union) who got fired in 2012 for starting a Union under the pretense of having made homophobic remarks ten months (!) before:

 

PAMSU Dismantle MS

Link

 

End MS

Link

 

First of all I want to start off by saying that I don’t think a Mystery Shopper scheme is a bad idea, I think it can be helpful to improve customer service where needed. The problem with Pret is, they take this to intense levels which I find abusive. The extreme “perfection” staff have to reach is done to create a picture to the public, that staff are so happy to work in Pret. In reality they are tasked to “perform” emotional labour (or “labor” for American readers!). It opens the door to abusive leadership, bullying environment forcing staff into “unnatural” behaviour they would normally not do, unless they “feel” it. And with many other abusive situations, like even domestic violence, bullying etc. people get conditioned to it, accept it as norm, but suffer internally and in silence also because it is systemic and seems acceptable. Everyone is subjected to this, so they feel they go out of line if they complain. At least that’s how I often felt, because everyone “is doing it”, it must be okay or normal to keep smiling even while bereaved. I share in my interview at the bottom of this page the horrific time I went through while already traumatized after I lost my brother.

Even journalists “get used” to abuse and accept it as the norm:

Journalists getting used to harrassment

Link

I want to share a rough timeline of activities on a day-to-day running of a Pret shop, as well as a little bit of the kitchen to paint a true picture of the immense stress staff are under on a daily basis. I was a Team Leader of the shop or also called Floor Leader (FL) and know working in the shop inside out. I can’t speak much about running a kitchen, but will briefly touch on the kitchen. The shop and the kitchen are like two separate businesses that need two separate leaders. Both have their own separate challenges as well as positives.

For example in the shop staff HAVE TO smile and perform a cheery presence, while in the kitchen they can just be themselves. In the kitchen they have no windows, have to work super fast assembling products WITHOUT time to breathe until their break. In the shop there are windows to take a breath, while still having to clean, stock up etc. I often “mediated” between the teams when they were at “war” pointing fingers where the kitchen felt the shop team is lazy or the shop felt the kitchen team have it easier. I always pointed out to both teams that each team have their challenges as well as good parts, but that EVERYONE works hard and has a lot of stress, just differently.

 

Shop hierarchy:
General Manager (GM) and Assistant Manager Floor (AMF) are in plain business attire
Floor Leader (FL)

Baristas/Coffee Makers
Hot Food Chef (HFC)
Team Members (TM)

And whatever other position Pret comes up with, as they sometimes add job roles. But these are the main roles distinguished in their colours (belt, name badge) so outside teams can quickly identify who’s who.  The most important role on the shop floor, the person who does most of the hard work is the Team Leader. They really are the ones that run the shop, if they are good and don’t imitate most GMs who like to sit in the office, don’t help and just shout like slave masters.

Kitchen hierarchy:
Again the same General Manager (GM) but a different Assistant Manager Kitchen (AMK), plain business attire
Kitchen Leader (KL)
Team Member Trainer (TMT)
Team Members (TMs)

Kitchen TMs, the sandwich makers who are called “chefs” by Pret to make them feel better and portray to the public as if there was some real cooking going on in the kitchen! Lots of patronizing and fooling slogans like “Lovingly made in this kitchen today” bla bla…

In reality all the food comes already cooked, except the frozen bread, croissants etc. But all ingredients are ready cooked and delivered daily from factories. Hence also “Ready to Eat”. The soups come in large plastic bags and are heated in water baths. All other ingredients are like we have at home after getting the shopping from the supermarket. There’s no cooking involved, just heating up and assembling a sandwich. Even the “poached” eggs that do come raw, are just heated in sealed plastic pouches in a water bath. There are no pots and pans and stoves in Pret kitchens!

One recent staff review:

2019-06-11 Nightmare Stop Being Evil

Link Under Show more: “The food isn’t fresh, it’s shipped already cooked in plastic bags and reheated. A joke.”

 

As the shop and the kitchen are like two separate businesses in each shop, the AMF and/or FL run the shops and do the ordering for the shop, look after the Team, customers etc. The AMK and/or KL do the ingredient ordering for the kitchen, look after the Team etc.

As all Prets I’ve worked in are under-staffed to maximize profit and managers’ bonuses (incl. area managers and upwards) many TMs are pushed to multi-task. If a shop is lucky, they have 3 TMs on the tills in the mornings if there are 6-7 tills. They have 1 Barista with the GM doing coffee as well, as this is easier than customer service at the tills! GMs don’t like to work on the tills! As there aren’t enough staff, they ring the bell for one or two of the kitchen staff to then come out and help serve the queues during the morning rush. This puts an immense strain on the kitchen staff, who then get behind on their production, where they are expected to do a certain amount of products per hour. If they fail to finish in time, including cleaning etc., again they will be motivated through fear management and are bullied (subtly or openly) to work overtime, unpaid.

 

LackStaff

Link Barista 2019

 

Unpaid

Link 2018

 

Unpaid2017

Link 2017 NY

 

Unpaid2

Link 2015

 

Unpaid2014b

Link 2014

 

Unpaid2011

Link 2011 NY

“It is clear they have little to know training and have absolutely no training or experience in employee relations or even customer relations for that matter. Every manager I have worked with – I have worked with 6 – will immediately try to belittle you. Not sure exactly why this is such a common practice among managers but it is an intrinsic behavior within the company itself. …Very, very sad reality of Pret. -Company culture….”

 

Unpaid2014

Link 2014 “Manager at my shop treated everyone really poorly. Expect you to stay longer to complete your job for free when not enough time is given. Constantly missing hours from extra shifts taken. Have to ask every week to see if they have repaid those hours and in some cases takes months to chase back.”

NOTE: The “for some reason” is more systemic than this and many other TMs realize. I had to chase my money CONSTANTLY.

 

25 Staff complain in Twitter not paid HR

Link

 

03-wages2-1-e1554218697911.jpg

Link

 

Pret had to settle two class action lawsuits in NY within 4 years on wage issues. In the UK people never do a Class Action, but it would be high time for Pret staff to go to court on wage issues!

 

Wgae Lawsuit

Link

 

Customer observations:

2018-10-20 Staff cry

Link

 

2019-03-22 Customer Noticing busyness Pret1

Link

 

2019-03-22 customer kings cross emma observation stress

Link

 

MS Cough

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

I coughed while serving the Mystery Shopper as I had a cold. But I chose not to stay home as we were not paid the first 2 days even when we have a sick note.

 

Pret Staff Tweets:

2017 Mystery Shopper sick pay

Link

The £45 Mystery Shopper bonus she’s talking about is that she would have worked 45 hours that week. Each hour is £1 bonus, as Pret cuts the weekly bonus even when staff are sick for 1 day that week. And the rest £55 she means is the hours she lost for that 1 day. And Pret only responds to her Tweet because it’s public. In reality Pret does nothing and doesn’t care if staff are sick.

 

A recent Tweet to the CEO by a frustrated Team Member:

2019-06-05 TM bonus cut sick mystery shopper

Link

 

A typical day in Pret –
underneath the slideshow

 

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

 

A typical day in Pret

Main “Crunch” Times based on an average shop:
5AM
6AM
Between 8-10AM
Between 12 Noon-2PM
Afternoons until closing time.

I share these times from all the shops I worked at, with an average of 6 – 8 tills and a team of about 25 – 35 staff.

 

5AM start of shift. The first TMs come in and hopefully no-one called sick, as even ONE person missing puts incredible stress on the rest of the team because every team is tightly staffed.

Between 5-6AM there are around 6-8 TMs and later from 6 or 7AM onwards more people start coming in.

Kitchen TM starts preparation of slicing vegetables.

Shop TM, often the HFC but can also be the Barista, starts baking frozen croissants and baguettes. Every shop decides their own way who starts the shifts.

A Team Leader, can be KL or FL, should be starting first with Health & Safety checks, like taking the temperature of all cooling systems in case any fridge/freezer broke down over night warming the food which has to then be thrown away to avoid food poisoning. They also start checking the huge delivery of ingredients and products to make sure that nothing is missing, which then has to be re-claimed from the suppliers.

But reality in Pret is, because they like to staff very tightly, the first 3 – 6+ people from 5AM have 1 hour to get everything ready for 6AM opening time. It is extremely stressful to get everything done in time for opening, especially when the evening shift before left the shop in a bad state.

Many who are new make the mistake and start before 5AM UNPAID!! Because when they can’t finish in the unrealistically short time they’re given, the GM pushes them in pretense that they were not working well or fast enough. It’s psychology that happens in most Prets! But most of the Teams I’ve worked with are extremely hard working and work very fast, but are fooled and manipulated by managers who come in at 8 or 9 o’clock pressuring the Teams via the Team Leader or AM. And because the Team Leader wants to move up fast to escape this culture, they become bullies and only spare those that make friends with them.

Most shops have the HFC who starts all the baking and also preps the coffee machines, brings the milk out etc. Depending on how the evening Team left the shop, this often is a nightmare when the previous shift didn’t close properly, didn’t stock up etc.

At times this is due to lack of staff etc. But often it is simply due to laziness, where the evening Team Leader sits in the office all night, while the 2 people outside slave away without support! As a FL it was important to me to not do that, but to support my Team and we mostly finished in time leaving an immaculate shop for the morning Team. The next shift then had a clean and easier start. But many shops don’t care for the next shift, which in turn comes back to them when they take over from the morning team who retaliate to the evening Team… vicious circle and it adds to the stress that’s already there.

But I always changed that behaviour in every shop I worked in. This created a relaxed atmosphere where the teams started to work together instead of against each other, because they realized that this actually became much easier to work in support of each other instead of a cliquish environment.

 

6AM opening the doors

Again, if the Team had a good start and nothing went wrong, no delays etc. the shop can be open smoothly and customers can be served in a relaxed way.

 

Between 7:30-ish and 9-ish depending on the shop and which area they are in, the shop then becomes humongously busy with the coffee rush. But still there are only 2-3 TMs on the till if they are lucky and 1, maximum 2 Baristas. This forces the HFC to interrupt their hard, hot and sweaty work, to constantly having to jump in to “bust” the queues as the Teams have 1 minute to serve each customer which the MS probes them to the second!

A Mystery Shopper report excerpt (I added the blue writing and yellow marking):

07 15 seconds

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

Pret: “We aim to serve our customers their hot drink within 1 minute of payment. Did you receive your hot drink order within a reasonable time?”
MS: “I received my hot drink very quick, after 30 seconds, quick service.”

And yet, the MS gave 4 out 5 points on each question as if 15 seconds wasn’t good enough. The point system is important mainly for managers. The more points the more bonus. So, even when the Team gets the bonus, but the points are not as high, GMs still stress and pressure the Teams because the manager’s quarterly bonus depends also on the point score. Managers are rewarded their bonus based on all the different results: profit, waste, labour, cleanliness etc.

But the Mystery Shopper reports and bonus system counts towards the largest chunk of managers’ bonuses! One GM was happy with his Team to cheat on everything, but the Mystery Shopper results. As a Team Leader new in his shop, he took me aside and said to me, “I close my eyes to everything, but not to the Mystery Shopper.” In other words, if I as a Team Leader failed to engage my Team and this resulted in poor MS results I’d get in big trouble. But on other things, even Health & Safety issues, he would have closed his eyes. … I’m not going to elaborate what my response was, but I communicated that he shouldn’t close his eyes to anything. I said that also because I was penalized for the smallest things in a previous shop. So, I made sure I covered all my basis and not let a greedy GM sabotage my job.

The MS being the biggest contributor of Managers’ bonuses creates even more stress because the Team get the message, “It is NEVER good enough what you achieve”. And I have countless example of how managers stressed us even when we got the bonus and even when someone got the OC. It’s never good enough unless it’s 100% perfect EVERY time. And even then, one slip, one mistake and all hell breaks loose!

This is the reason why so many customers complain on Twitter with half empty cups of cappuccinos, or a milky Americano where they asked for a black one. Because staff are so robotic, fast and on autopilot.

Only one of countless Tweets with photos like this:

2019-02-11 Stingy coffee

This is St. Pancras, one of the most busiest shops in Pret!

Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover into Pret (after having read my blog I’m proud to say!!) and writes about a conversation she had with a Barista during coffee rush. Quote (I added the bold):

“Undercover reporter Amy Sharpe worked inside the scandal-hit chain and discovered a potentially fatal blunder with labelling and staff who are hugely over-stretched. …

I am at a central London branch, where 10 staff vie for space, muttering apologies as we collide and stretch across one another to grab pastries and bags.

I shout orders to a barista while dashing to a beeping toastie machine to retrieve a baguette.

I make green teas and filter coffees while my other drinks orders are prepared. It’s stressful and confusing and the queue makes it even more so.

All the while, staff must be alert to the issue of allergens.

One barista tells me the cramped service area is a “nightmare”.

He says: “If I’m next to you, you have to shout. If you don’t shout I can make a mistake. A person can grab the wrong coffee. Make mistakes and the customer gets mad. You’ve got to focus, stay calm.”

When the bonus is lost, the boss will give the Team or the individual a good telling off. At times directly and loud, other times subtle manipulation threatening with the job security.

 

I survived this during bereavement! There was no mercy!

 

2019-01-16 small coffee area

Link by @terry_mcparlane Twitter of a typical cramped Barista working area.

 

 

 

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

 

A Mystery Shopper tweet:

2017 A Mystery Shopper tweeted

Link

 

2015 About Mystery Shopper

Link

 

2013 Mystery Shopper Group Incentive

Link

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

 

2018 Emotional Labour Labor Quota Smiles2

Link

 

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

2019-04-16 Mystery Shopper Blame Culture

Link

 

Another of the many reviews along those lines:

2019-04-09 Mysterys Shopper Trap Happy Family

Link

 

 

So, between 7 and 9AM or even later, the GM starts to come in. Depending on the GM, some come at 7AM, others at 9AM etc. Some sit in the office during intense stressful morning rush. Others help. But if they help, almost all GMs prefer to be at the coffee machines with their backs to the customers, as customer service is extremely stressful with the demand to SMILE CONSTANTLY … for the Mystery Shopper. This is the frustrating thing for the Teams, because the GM pressures staff to be perfect for bonus, while themselves “hiding” at the coffee machines!

When I was bereaved and wanted to get away from customer service as I could not afford to stay at home unpaid, having lost all my savings. I begged the GM at times when I couldn’t hold back the tears, to please let me work in the kitchen for a day because I was tearing up at times on the shop floor. But because I wasn’t used to the pace in the kitchen, the GM denied this. I stopped asking then. But at times I asked the GM or AM if I can please be at the coffee, as I was really fast at the coffee and wanted to get away from facing customers in tears. Again, it was denied because most GMs are selfish and always choose the easiest job, no matter how a TM or even I as a leader, was doing!

A rare observation and even rarer comment by a customer who noticed that the manager is always sitting in the office during busy times. Pret tasks the Mystery Shopper also to record if they see a manager on the shop floor and what the manager was doing. Pret leaves all this to the Mystery Shopper instead of having regular visits from the Operations Managers (OPs – area managers). OPs often themselves sit in the pub during busy lunch times, pretend to be busy and mostly communicate via email. I know this for a fact, I’ve seen it.

Customer observation:

2019-03-19 Response to customer complaint re manager

Link

 

Here I want to paint the picture and would ask the reader who is a regular customer in Pret to take a morning out of their work routine if they can, go to Pret, sit closest to the till area where they can observe BEHIND the counter all the TMs. Sit down and JUST WATCH for 30-60 minutes during the most busiest coffee rush. Just sit there, quiet and concentrate without any distraction or phone, reading… Just observe for a solid hour and then ask yourself HOW staff can smile, have eye contact and make polite conversation with EACH customer!

They can, but only because of the above mentioned cash incentive and fear management via the Mystery Shopper.

MS excerpts:

04 MS

Pret probing on the INDIVIDUAL Team Member:

Pret: “We aim to connect with every customer with eye contact, a smile and some polite remarks. Rate the engagement level of the person who served you at the till.”
MS: “I was not greeted at the till or given a smile. The conversation was what was necessary for the transaction. To be welcoming, the team member could have greeted me and smiled and be engage[d] and positive.”
(No concern if the TM was extremely busy and may have gone through person tragedy, depression etc.)

 

Pret probing on the WHOLE Team:

05 Attenditve to EACH customer

Pret: “We aim to be attentive to each customer’s needs. Rate the engagement level of the whole team in this shop during your visit.”
MS: “The team members were focused on their jobs but were not welcoming customers. This could be improved by the team members smiling at customers when they entered the shop, and making friendly remark or small talk, where possible.”

 

ANY and ALL the Team are under CONSTANT observation and fear of being watched and rated! All the time. Every moment.

 

Yes, Pret states “reasonable time” and depending how busy it was etc. And the above MS contradicts themself by saying “where possible”. But the Teams are so conditioned and robotic, they always rush and the GMs stress them even during the quiet periods. If they can’t finish a task, they have to often stay longer unpaid. If they DO finish the task, they are criticized for not kissing the Mystery Shopper’s butt sweet enough when they enter the shop! It is always a lose-lose situation and NEVER good enough!!

And here is the perversion of Pret’s Emotional Labour abuse, and I call this perversion and abuse!!

Because this is what it is, PERVERSE, ABUSIVE, BULLYING and EXPLOITING!

Put yourself in their shoes.

A low-paid TM (£8.65 per hour in London) serves between 100 – 200+ customers before lunchtime going through the hellishly hectic coffee rush!

While they slave away like this, they have to smile, make eye contact, some conversation and go the “extra mile” give freebies etc. AND remember all the coffee order, hear the Barista call out the coffees that get constantly mixed up. They have to answer questions, especially on allergens, be polite to rude customers ETC! ………. and be like acrobatic clowns so that Clive Schlee CEO alone can pocket £30 million after JAB purchased Pret.

And customers remain fooled to think staff are so happy in this hellish environment forced to be like clowns because they have kids to feed!

AM ure Misery

Assistant Manager 2017 NY

Highlighting from above review:

“The kitchen staff is treated like slaves. They are expected to do the impossible. … Everything is over priced and you are forced to act like a happy jack-ass or your pay is cut. You don’t get paid your full hourly rate if you don’t impress the “mystery shopper”. This place is what hell must be like.
Advice to Management: Quit your jobs and go back to England and stay there.”

It’s not the first time that an American reviewer angrily wants Pret to go back to the UK.

 

01 Go back to UK

Corporate NYC Review

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Smiling for Mystery Shopper cash incentives and to avoid getting fear managed:

 

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

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

 


 

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 also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, 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 is Pret A Manger not being Investigated on Staff Deaths?

 

NOTE upfront, as people, the press, customers will ask Pret on this, they of course will not give any info. That’s why Pret needs an independent investigation like the inquest did with the first customer, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died from an unlabelled product.

Amnesty International had independent investigations leading to 5 senior leaders resigning.

Two staff at Amnesty died by suicide last year which led to the investigation into a “toxic” work environment.

I may not be in the position of an investigator, but my knowledge of 10 years in Pret with my last 3 years traumatized and bullied during bereavement, I almost died by suicide and had close calls. I was completely out of my mind in shock, grief and the bullying environment of Pret. I’m just now slowly coming out of this darkness. I confront Pret on a suicide of an Assistant Manager in 2017. I may have learned about her turmoil a few months before she died.

I was also leaked an email in May 2019 that the Director of HR Andrea Wareham sent to all shops in that month, with the news that two Pret shop staff have died within a month. I was told that one died by suicide. The other staff member’s passing, the “leakers” don’t know the circumstances. This is the first time to my knowledge that Pret communicates staff deaths. I was a Team Leader and had access to Pret emails, even the death of the AM in 2017 was not communicated to us, let alone that it was a suicide. I only learned by word of mouth between shops, as this AM worked in the same area I worked in. And the two customer deaths were not communicated to us, not even to us leaders. Absolutely nothing was communicated, not even a hint to be more diligent with labelling and allergen info! Nothing!

This looks to me like Pret may have been advised by their legal team, but more likely a PR company to communicate when people have died, as this will come out anyway sooner or later since the press has a close eye on Pret and my website exposing from a behind the scenes perspective. Pret knows my website in case anyone is in doubt, I confront them on Twitter as well. And maybe they were even advised by the new owners JAB / Reimann via Chairman Peter Harf, who advised the Reimann family to research and publish their own Nazi past before anyone else does.

At least Pret may have heeded that advise if there was one. But they still don’t listen to the Staff Complaints and my speaking out. And when they lose a Tribunal case, they pay the peanuts and go back to business as usual.

Part of the email (I “smudged” out the names):

PretAMAnger_TWO_StaffDeaths_May2019

I always shudder when big companies refer to themselves as “family”. Especially those that exploit their employees behind the smiley facade. Psychology and manipulation of large corporations these days.

 

And this may be the reason a customer complained on Twitter of the unusual shortness of staff, if this is the South Terminal of Gatwick she was at. Pret shops are often short staffed, and when an emergency happens, there’s no backup. Even just 1 staff member calling sick puts enormous pressure on the rest of the team as Pret loves to staff very tightly to maximize profit and squeeze the life blood out of staff. The Job-center Tweets have increased lately on Gatwick positions. If this is the South Terminal, staff may have been upset of the death and called sick or quit as it isn’t unusual for staff to just walk out and never come back:

2019-06-03 Gatwick short staff death

Link

 

Also, Pret knowing and having been part of my trauma with the emailing, that the Director of HR brings the news of people having died via EMAIL shows that they not only don’t learn their lessons, but they don’t care! I keep saying to people to NEVER bring the news of someone’s death via email, text message, social media but only in person or via a telephone call, unless there is no other way. Pret could have had a meeting with all their General Manager (GMs) who then could have conducted team meetings in their shops or meetings with their leaders. Yes, this would take some extra time and effort, but CARE always takes effort! I write extensively about my emailing issues in “Not Quite a Beautiful Mind” and how abusive and discriminatory Pret A Manger really is.

Since the two customer deaths became public and my public writings against Pret, they may have changed and communicate people’s deaths now, yet continue to do this the quick and easy way via email!

I almost died after what I went through in Pret. Full story in below interview.

Another former Pret Assistant Manager lost his case against Pret for being overworked to the point of becoming suicidal. The judge ruled that the former Assistant Manager was too ambitious. Yet, I know Pret. I know how they overwork especially leaders, who are caring and hard working, compared to managers who just sit in the office blaming everyone around them. Shops at times have no General Managers (GMs). I have worked as a Team Leader and covered for managers when they were on holiday. I never received what they called a “step-up pay”, not even a “thank you”.

I can also relate to this AM’s claim that he was “scapegoated for failure” as this is a very typical Pret thing, to blame downwards which can also be seen in countless staff reviews I collected in the below slide show and long list linked to it. As a Team Leader I worked extremely well but was blamed constantly for the incapability and plain laziness of managers, especially when I became bereaved.

Pret cleared suicidal

Picture from the Daily Mail article.

The Daily Mail calls a 46 year old man an ambitious “young” manager. I first thought they meant a twenty-something year old ambitious young manager. 46 is not old, but close to 50 he isn’t a young man either. Even though the judge has ruled and Mr. Saad didn’t seem to have appealed, I really do think his story is valid, knowing Pret. Including having been in hospital! He was probably fed up and exhausted, not to mention having lost money in the case, but who knows what an appeal would have done.

The first comment under this Daily Mail online article also give a good insight into how big companies work their staff into exhaustion, and in Pret, I can verify that.
Quote:
»As someone who has been a manager for many years in retail and catering, I can confirm that companies totally use and abuse their managers. They make sure you sign the 48 hours opt out so that you can’t sue them for being forced to work excessive hours, usually before you are appointed, so that you feel pressured to agree, despite the fact their is no possible benefit to a salaried worker for opting out. I believe him, I bet they took complete advantage of him, expecting him to do a managers job for much less money when they had no intention of promoting him, which is wrong.«Thornbury9563

And yet in Pret, many managers are lazy and blame downwards, making the Team Leaders who care do all the hard work, while other Leaders who are “smarter” kiss up to management, getting promoted faster, exploiting hard working teams. Just the same old bullying mentality of elbows.

A little reminder that Pret was also cleared in New York where a customer sued Pret after he suffered an allergic reaction ALSO to an unlabelled sesame product, the same allergen that Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died of from a London shop. Even though Pret won the case it did not give them any sense of urgency or a wake-up call to start labelling products! ONLY when customer deaths became public did Pret slowly implement labelling! Hello? No alarm bells ringing still?!

So, Pret having been cleared on above case where the AM became suicidal doesn’t mean anything to me knowing how dangerously close I also came to end my life.

A Guardian article on the toxic work environment at Amnesty International. There are many toxic issues, even in charities that people often don’t realize are happening. In the Amnesty report they found that many staff have a “martyrdom” mentality where they overwork, as they care so much. The above former Pret AM is like many Pret staff are, they overwork, want to prove they are good at their jobs but get the life-blood sucked out of them. In the above case, the judge ruled against Mr. Saad. But I know Pret. I gathered many staff complaints from various websites (incl. YouTube, Twitter, FB and other sites) and just compiled a selection in below Slideshow, not to mention my horrific story with Pret! I explain in my interview at the bottom of this page why I withdrew my Tribunal claim against Pret.

Pret also has public humiliation in place, at least during my 10 years when I worked at Pret. Emails from HQ would be send to all shops, naming and shaming shops/managers when they failed in Health and Safety scores for example. Shops could also check every Friday via a link on complaints from customers all shops received that week. So my shop could see all the complaints about other shops and all shops could see our customer complaints. I myself was targeted during already traumatic grief via email from my then line manager, who would blame me in group emails, always copying in his line manager (our area manager). When I applied for my file I read emails from the area manager to HR and back, brainstorming on how to get rid of me. It was systematic and is systemic.

 

DW Amnesty Toxic

Photo on Deutsche Welle (DW report)

The FULL independent report.

After the news of the first customer, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died from unlabelled allergen in a Pret product, I asked on Twitter how many more there are if Pret was able to hide this. Knowing Pret and of at least 1 suicide of the AM in 2017, with myself also almost over the edge, I asked this question before the second death of Celia Marsh became public. I was aiming mainly at staff suicides after what I survived, but little did I know there really was a second customer who died:

2018-09-30 How many more suicide pret

Link

So, I ask again, how many staff have died by suicide that is related to work conditions in Pret. Who will investigate Pret A Manger that has a toxic work environment, after I presented my story and other staff experiences as if on a silver platter to the public. Sure Pret does their own investigations, but from my experience with HR hearings, these investigations are what a Tribunal Judge once called “fundamentally flawed“. That was also my experience.

In Pret TWO customers died, a third nearly fatal, several hospitalized, numerous warnings by customers to Pret on allergen labelling ignored until the deaths became public. Even a lawsuit by a man in New York, who went into anaphylactic shock after ALSO eating an unlabelled sesame product from Pret in 2016, did not wake Pret up to label their products!

Staff died, the work conditions are horrendous, and yet Clive Schlee, CEO and Pano Christou, COO (who deleted his Twitter account when I tweeted Schlee’s retirement to the Press) go full steam ahead, doing business as usual, fooling the public with sweet-talk and free coffees. And all this now under the new owners JAB / Reimann, expanding in the U.S. where Brexit is a far distance. The COO position in Pret is new since JAB purchased Pret. Pano Christou (who came from McDonald’s management before joining Pret) was before the JAB takeover Pret’s UK Managing Director, a position held before by Andrew Walker, who then became the CEO of EAT…which is now purchased by Pret (well, by JAB really!). And I always find it interesting in Pano Christou’s case who likes to keep a low profie and even has on his Twitter profile “@ Pret” not connected to “@Pret”. Don’t want to spilt hairs, but why I mention this is that Pret A Manger leadership is notorious for hiding behind a facade and not take responsibility, but blame downwards! This reflects on manager after manager, leader after leader I have worked with and so many in the below reviews complain about.

In all of this, the absolute WORST thing that can happen in a company: CUSTOMERS DIED!!! There is NOTHING worse that can happen to a company. And in Pret it happened TWICE with a third almost fatal as well… But there are no resignations, no investigations, no responsibility! UNBELIEVABLE!

Pret being a “fun” place to work? I would laugh if it wasn’t so dead serious! Pret has the most beautiful facade of any company I know, and the most toxic work environment behind that facade that I ever encountered anywhere!

Only few of the many reviews on Glassdoor

Las Vegas

Link

 

2019-06-1 Toxic no training StPanc

Link (St. Pancrass, one of the most busiest, stressful shops)

 

2019-06-11 Nightmare Stop Being Evil

Link “This company is everything that is wrong with the world…Corporate hell on earth.”

 

2019-06-11 First World Slavery

Link

 

2019-05-05 DON'T APPLY Team Leader

Team Leader Review

 

2019-05-08 Worst place barista Oxford

Barista Oxford Review

 

Go back

Corporate NYC Review

 

HQ IT Analyst

London HQ Review

I want to enlarge this review on Head Office by a former IT Analyst. I underline this, having gotten to know some from HQ with my horrific story (interview at the bottom).

Quote:
“Some people who got lured in by company PR
Manipulative and exploitative approach to employees as owners and senior management concerned about profit margin only. People are taken into account only if it makes good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”

 

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

July 2019 Glassdoor Stats
And this shows how the £1000 “carrot” was a big PR stunt and not a generous gift I’m writing about. In a nutshell: Clive Schlee made the £1000 announcement on the 29th May 2018 when he became aware of my website. I explain here in >>> The Timing of the £1000 Announcement.

 

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