#MentalHealth #FirstWorldProblem & other issues

 

I’ve had one of my “flip-outs” again after a long time of improvement. I’ve hurt some people on Twitter and don’t expect my apology to be taken serious. It’s a circle of trauma, anxiety, anger, and when mixed with alcohol it’s explosive in words.

I really am sorry, but I understand for it to not be taken serious!

I fought on my own, it seems, for so long now since my brother died. And yes, I’ve had support in whatever capacity people can help. And I had plenty a back stabbing. My odyssey through the UK NHS mental health system will be a book in itself. I have been sent away two times from hospital while seeking help, and only people with mental health issues in the UK will understand the challenge to find help. I’m not “fighting” for my own sanity anymore, and maybe shouldn’t fight for others so much. I am waiting for someone to take the “baton” and not rely on my public writing so much. There are groups out there that could do something, but their priorities are in other places.

When you present information like on a silver platter, people seem to rely on you or they fight their own battles. I have to be honest without sounding too gloomy, I have no confidence that there will ever be any investigation into staff deaths in Pret A Manger. Low-wage workers are not worth the effort in this society. And they themselves are too conditioned in fear management to stand up for themselves. They have kids to feed and often left their home country to find a better life. But they find themselves being exploited by millionaires, who smile to the front and ruin lives behind the scenes. And those who do stand up, do so loudly, fight for a while, and then retrieve.

And then there are the silent readers in the background who will take the credit one day, collecting material for their own gain. It’s a selfish society. Prove me wrong if I’m too pessimistic.

People complain to Pret on Twitter about their coffee not having enough milk, or plastic forks stored behind the counter having to ask for it. Then they complain why the plastic cutlery and straws are within reach of customers in this environmental crisis. Others can’t handle that a popular cookie is off sale … and a lot of these complaints have one thing in common, they call this #FirstWorldProblems.

But most people don’t care to know that one #FirstWorldProblem among other issues is exploitation of low-wage employees. And at the same time, customers who spend over £1500+ a year on coffee and snacks, are lulled in to believe this company is an ethical and caring employer. Humans have always been easily bribed with cheap products, as long as it’s occasionally free. Free things make people feel special, not realizing how easily they fall for the cheap marketing and aim too low. And then the company raise prices as someone needs to pay for all the freebies.

Customers are equally exploited. They are treated nice, especially on social media, for their continued custom. Yet, when even customers die due to the neglect and plain complacency of the company, even they don’t get justice.

Years ago a clever feisty man invoiced Pret A Manger and EAT (which is now purchased by JAB via Pret) for time spent waiting in shops. He posted the invoices and email correspondence on his website. He successfully charged Pret, EAT and other companies almost triple of what a sandwich maker earns per hour. He received compensation in cash and vouchers for waiting in shops: “He charged them £25.50 an hour.” And it seems that Pret, EAT & Co. went along for the ride. These millionaires must have had a laugh, throwing around with pennies that low-wage workers slaved for.

2009 Man Invoices Pret

From Telegraph.co.uk article 2009

I’m sure this stint won’t succeed now, but it would be worth a try. If all the customers, that post #FirstWorldProblems of missing cookies and cold coffees, would actually send invoices to Pret & Co. combined as a group, it may be interesting to see how Pret would deal with it now in 2019.

And it’s futile to think that customers, staff, Unions and the press would combined demand answers on why customer deaths where not acted on until it became public, and why staff deaths, especially suicides, are not investigated.

What IS a first world problem? Anything that is supposed to be of less suffering than people dying in other crisis-ridden places?

People die here, too.

Customers from unlabelled products.

Staff by suicide.

Systemic workplace bullying under a toxic HR department and CEO in their profit-driven “leadership” style.

Excruciating work conditions for prolonged times in 40°C heat!

As long as we keep distinguishing between worlds we won’t care for our immediate neighbour!

We will only stand up if we ourselves or our loved ones are affected, and at times if we FEEL first hand what others go through. Other than that we keep separating worlds and peoples, and occasionally give some spare change into far away places, while closing our eyes to the issues right in front of us. Only hindsight will teach us again, often when it’s too late.

 


 

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.

 

how to SPOT workplace bullying — #SpotStop

 

and how to STOP it!

How to spot it, is a question many ask. I have read a lot of workplace bullying sites and organizations. And most of the time I read the same:

  • How to spot it – Good!
  • How to raise the issue with HR – Good!
  • How to find support in organizations – Good!

What I don’t read, is these organizations addressing the issue deeper as a systemic problem in global corporations, where the bullying (masqueraded as coaching for targets) is coming from the top down!

I don’t read how HR departments are toxic and puppets on the string for corporate leaders to put the workforce in line or get rid of them! I don’t like the term “workforce”, nor am I keen on Human “Resources” as working people are NOT treated as humans, but as machines.

I followed some Facebook Anti-bullying groups for a while until I saw that they made advertisement for Amazon Smile, where when a person orders something from that Amazon branch and mentions the Anti-bullying site, this site received a certain percentage. Amazon to me the largest systemic workplace bully today. What the workplace was in the industrial revolution in England more than 100 years ago, to me is Amazon today. I should write an extensive blog post about it, but it would be easier to just check YouTube, especially on undercover reports in Amazon warehouses as well as the other branches.

I also believe there are some fake Anti-bullying sites out there. Those sites have no substance, often give vague examples of real-life bullying, there’s no anger, no resolution, no urgency. And to top it, they support and receive support from Amazon.

I spare the reader of more detail and YouTube links and articles… as most don’t seem ready nor bothered about systemic workplace bullying until they themselves are affected.

I keep saying that survivors of workplace bullying need their own #MeToo movement… laws need to change and be implemented, senior executives need to be held responsible, especially when suicides and injuries are involved…

With Pret A Manger, the public for most still wants to believe the facade of Pret. Every generation has their group of onlookers and indifferent people who, when not affected turn a blind eye.

I keep it short today as I am tired of writing my fingers into a carpal tunnel on this issue …

#SpotStop

 

AntiBullying Spot Stop

LINK

 


 

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.

 

A Classic Pret A Manger Bullying Experience

… by the book!

I’ve seen this review and “logged” it into the general “Pret Staff Complaints” page a while ago, that I update periodically. When I saw this first, I flew over this review initially, but never really looked at it closer as I am used to this type of account, especially from own experiences, but also countless of the other reviews. But today I stumbled on it again and took the time to really read through it thoroughly. I can only say that this review is a very typical Pret staff experience of systemic targeting and bullying. Many reviewers complain about favouritism. This person is a typical hard worker who cares a lot, and also raises issues. But once they raise issues, they become a target which I share in an interview at the bottom of this page in the audio player.

I decided to pick this one apart, like I do sometimes with long reviews and recently did with (current) CEO Clive Schlee’s interview which I simply called “Clive Schlee – A Case Study (on the fun factory)”

In Pret the Kitchen Leader (KL), or other senior kitchen staff member, has to do a daily “line check”, but for lack of time they just fill in the book with numbers and don’t actually do the line check. But a line check is where the KL chooses any product off the shop fridge, like a sandwich for example and takes it apart in the kitchen. They weigh out each ingredient if it is up to Pret standard and best quality. If ingredients are too many or too little, they are supposed to check on this batch and re-train the person who usually does this product daily. Sounds good on paper, but again for the lack of time and not being paid overtime, staff just fill in numbers in the book.

So, I take this as a metaphor and did a “line check” on Clive Schlee’s interview I linked above for the accurate “weight” of his words compared to my and many other people’s experience.

The same with the below review, I do a line check on its weight and can say already, a lot is pretty accurate in its “quality” of experience! But this review walks the reader through a typical day in Pret. And in this case, it looks to me that the reviewer worked the late shift as there is lots of cleaning and multi-tasking involved which can not be done during the morning and lunch-time rushes.

 

THE REVIEW (April 2019)

Upfront, the 23 “yes” to 0 “no” votes (as of July 2019) also speak for itself on how systemic this is in Pret!

Yes, this is a long review, but it is important as this gives a very good picture of how it is in most Prets. And anyone who writes that extensively really cares in general! I will write in-between the text underneath the screenshot. As usual I leave any mistakes in to keep it in their own words.

2019-04-18 Understaffed Review

Link

Reviewer in bold black and my comments in grey. At times I use blue to highlight something:

 

Constantly understaffed

“Worked in this company for a year.Typical day at work would be clearing tables,working on tills,coffee machine,making hot and cold food.”

Typical late shift tasks. Late shift times differ from shop to shop, but on average shifts start either at 11am until 8 or 9pm depending on opening times. Other shifts start at 2pm after the lunch rush and go till 11pm etc. All depending on closing time and how many people work on a shift. But the main crunch times in the afternoons are from 1pm till 7pm (ish).

 

This company promises you pay above minimum wage,but they will slave your for every extra penny,that they pay you.Manager constantly cutting hours,to get their bonus(managers only).So we are always understaffed.”

Nothing more to add really! But this is in every shop I’ve worked in. What “saved” me and my teams often, was that I was very organized and able to structure the teams, also helping them to finish in time. That way we had a strong team spirit, supporting each other without having to work overtime too much. But it was always a struggle for time, especially with new staff who were not given time to learn.

Another review states this clear as well: “Either stop cutting hours or stop giving teams a ridiculous amount of tasks to complete.”

Either stop cutting hours2

Link

 

“They have high standards to ask you to smile constantly and have everything perfect at all times,but by cutting hours some staff are forced to work for 3 people or so fast,that you are literally catching your breath and running a marathon from the minute you start to shift to the end of it.”

Bingo!
I wish I could put these words into a visual, a video of sorts, because it really is like a marathon. And Pret even expects and demand to “never stand still”. This is written in their “values and behaviours” booklet. They drive people to never stand still, so they look like always active! Activity looks like a lively atmosphere for customers, while in reality it is draining the staff!

 

“Constantly being dehydrated at work,because you are not allowed to keep your water bottle while working(often felt thirsty and having headaches).Sometimes didn’t even have time to go to bathroom properly.”

This is a massive problem where my Manager saw a Team Member drink water behind the counter, I was then instructed as the Team Leader by the Manager to tell the Team to not drink behind the counter or anywhere visible, except on their breaks. But with different Managers and shops I found a compromise. Teams are not allowed to leave the tills, especially during busy times. And because water is a necessity to stay hydrated I did not follow this instruction and let my Teams drink water. Sure, if they wanted to drink a Mocha or Frappe with Cream, those are luxury drinks and can be consumed later. But water needs to be available at all times, especially since shops are overheated from all the machinery and body heat.

If Team Members were not allowed to leave the till area I said that they can drink water discretely in a corner behind the counter, especially when the staff room was too far away to quickly go in to drink. If the Manager got mad, I took responsibility and demanded for the Team to be able to drink water when they needed to! It was for me either, they were allowed to go into the staff room to drink, communicating and taking turns, or they were allowed to drink behind the counter. But either way, depending on the shop size etc. I always went against this stupid rule and let them drink water, especially since Managers like to sit in the office drinking, eating, playing on their mobile phones …

Most, no ALL air conditioning in shops are not adequate and cannot cool the overheated shops in the summer. It’s hell in there!! I worked twice for months in overheated shops and was always the one ending up to raise the issue further. When my shops were out of AC we literally begged the customers who mentioned the heat, to please talk to HQ on our behalf, as Pret does not listen to staff. They simply don’t care, except for show! Three customers recently went to Twitter complaining about this as well, in the UK and the U.S.

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

Link

 

And these 3 customers are only those who care to raise this publicly! But the problem exists in most shops with inadequate air conditioning. We took a temperature at one point and stopped looking at it when it was close to 40 degrees Celsius.

 

“And I have been used to hard work in busy places my whole life as I worked in fast paced food industry for more than 10 years.They have mystery shopper bonus,but lately it was also a fail as they will ask you allergen related question and you have to direct them to Team leader or manager so technically they will take over and you loose your chance for outstanding service bonus,which you can get if your service is excellent(100£ or 200£).”

Since the customer deaths became public – and I want to emphasize again, as many people keep saying “since the customer deaths Pret started labelling …” – NO! Since the customer deaths became public, did Pret slowly start the labelling! Up until the press published this, Pret did NOTHING whatsoever!
I’m doing a thorough “line check” here!

But since the deaths became public Pret also tasks the Mystery Shopper to ask allergen specific questions. Staff are told to pass the customer on to the Manager or if the GM isn’t available, then to the next Leader who is in charge. This reviewer then is not able to get a chance for the extra cash they can earn personally if this customer happens to be the Mystery Shopper. So, the reviewer having passed on the customer to the Manager, the reviewer then cannot serve the MS anymore, giving a free coffee and being extra special nice for a chance to get the “Outstanding Card” = extra money.

 

“The best part of this place was my colleagues,that I worked with.When I started,some of them were so experienced and working many years-I learned a lot from them.But through this one year at least 8 long term staff has left,few of them working 5 years at least because of manager,that doesn’t care about their staff,doesn’t appreciate their hard work and and if she have personal dislike,she will sack you and find reasons how to get rid of you.”

Yep, sounds familiar! Pret keeps shooting themselves in the foot by being profit-driven, making lots of money fast, but losing a lot of high caliber people while keeping those who bully and do the short cuts for quick gain! Pret, like many profit-driven companies forget who the REAL advertisers for the companies are.

 

Target1

 

“I literally can’t tell if my review is based on company overall or just this manager, …”

Oh no, you can base it on the company!! 😀

And here is where the marathon and stress is explained well:

“…but she surely has ruined my view at company,because I felt like I have been working so hard and literally multitasking to another level,where you are left on tills alone,quickly running to clear tables,wash china and trays,clean toilets,run to kitchen to make soups,come back make coffee,do the delivery,make sure you food display has proper amount of food available for sale,bake hoot food and above all the serve customers at the same time and manage to prepare to close shop,where you have to wash every table and chairs-sofas,floor,bin stations,toilets etc.(the area is huge).”

And here again I quote from the beginning of this review:

 

“They have high standards to ask you to smile constantly and have everything perfect at all times”

 

Yes, and then most Team Leaders sit in the office abusing their position and let the Team or Team Member struggle out in the shop on their own. Then when the Team Member can’t finish the ridiculous amount of tasks or loses the Mystery Shopper bonus for the WHOLE TEAM because they were swamped with work and did not SMILE while breaking their backs, they get pressured and bullied and gaslit to think they didn’t do a good enough job!

 

This is Pret A Manger in a nutshell!

 

“I have learned,how to travel in time here.Like I said I don’t mind working hard apart from that You always end up late to finish your shift,which nobody pays for and if you leave unfinished ,you will get sacked or given note of concern.”

Yep! The “Note of Concern” formerly called “File Note” is a very typical Pret manipulating tool! Staff members received this piece of paper, which is not a formal written warning or disciplinary, but a step before that to fear manage staff. And those who mostly get this Note of Concern are those who work already like donkeys and seem intimidated easily.

In my early months in Pret I worked with a Spanish guy who didn’t understand English well yet as he just arrived from Spain a few weeks prior to joining Pret. He served the Mystery Shopper, didn’t smile and lost our whole team the bonus. The bonus for the managers are paid quarterly and can be huge or little. And the Mystery Shopper reports count towards the biggest chunk of their quarterly bonus.

So, the Spanish colleague got a Note of Concern to intimidate him to smile. He left Pret a few weeks later, just never turned up for work again.

A Mystery Shopper excerpt of Pret wanting staff to smile, make eye contact and brief conversation with EVERY customer. And dare you not smile when you happen to serve the Mystery Shopper!

1 Minute Smile

 

“This lovely manager will give you note of concern for smallest things,that you do wrong,so prepare to be perfect or robot.She has also taken my bonus,when I arrived at tills 2 minutes late and never taken it from people,that she favours more for the same time of lateness.”

In my first weeks of becoming a Leader, I was threatened by a Manager that my bonus would be cut if I forget again to slide the opening sign from “closed” to “open”. It was something I forgot 3 times that week. But I was a new Leader and not trained how to check for things. These belittling and abusive behaviours by Managers is so common that you just switch into autopilot and move like a robot. And it’s true as well that even ONE minute lateness gets you a lot of drama and cut bonus!

 

“Never paid my minutes after I had to stay after my working hours,or she would go telling,that am bad staff.”

Very, very, very, very typical Pret management of manipulation, fear management and bullying! Extremely immature and poor management skills that doesn’t care about people.

 

“She lied about Christmas period holidays,when she told me no one is allowed to go on holidays,but 5 people was.Ended up few people working including me during the busiest season of the year,some of the got sick from overworking.”

Yes. Those that the Managers favour get the best holiday slots, and those who work like animals get dumped all the heavy shifts and seasons.

I’m getting triggered as I sieve through this review!! Phew!

 

“Also finally let me to get trained on coffee for coffee start specialist during Christmas season(because she had no one else to work) and literally did not provide any training,because she was to busy for that.After Christmas period ended.when I asked If I can be promoted to barista,declined-said I not good enough for that-don’t want to pay you more.”

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!! Also, very typical! People are put on coffee and Hot Chef jobs for weeks and even months. They are not trained properly and then their “graduation” to the role is delayed so the Managers can delay the appropriate pay-rise for the role. Or they are promised the role of a Barista for example, get put on the coffee machines during Christmas and other holiday periods when the main Barista is gone. When the main Barista returns, the coffee maker who was promised the role is told they were not doing a good enough job!

Bottom line, they were just used to fill in for Baristas who are on holiday, because if they are not promised things, they often don’t want to step in doing extra work not paid accordingly.

Happens in nearly every shop! When I went through my Team Leader training, my Manager kept postponing my graduation day. She also promised me a certain amount of pay, but then broke to me that she cannot pay what she initially said. After a few weeks of this and her breaking her promise, I finally said that I will step down from this role as I should be a Team Leader already and receive the promised pay. And I meant it. I was in the middle of taking the green Team Leader badge off when she then said that I would graduate that day and get the promised pay.

But since then I never trusted her words again and kept my cards close to my chest.

 

“So did not train me at all and expects master coffee specialist straight away. Just felt like I have been used to patch up her Christmas period time.”

Nothing more to add to that!

 

“Finally gone to all staff,that ever had some dislike with me and promoted them to write abusive and false letters about me,because I reported Christmas understaffed period to head office.”

And this one is what I really want to highlight here, something Managers do systemically when they want to get rid of people. This is what I went through when the bullying really started, when an Area Manager (open letter to her), who was upset with me, because I couldn’t join her New Shop Opening (NSO) as a Team Leader at that time, because I was in the middle, in the first 6 months of my traumatic grief about my brother’s death! With the help of HR she pursued me for 6 months were I was moved around back and forth between shops and the bullying was the worst!

When I applied for my file the following year to understand what happened to me, I read all those lies in emails from colleagues whom I loved to work with! One particular email was from the Area Manager who was the catalyst of me getting targeted, and in that email she asked another Manager, who was also bullying, to write their thoughts about me as soon as possible! I’m not gonna go into the emails and lies here too much, but this is a very strategic foul thing people in management level do. In my case, only few people either wrote positive about me or neutral. But these emails to the bullying Area Manager were not in my file as she must have deleted them. But those people who wrote positive or neutral told me that they wrote. And I never found any email or notes from them in my file.

But this Manager I’ve worked with just a few weeks and she was very harsh, threatening us Leaders with our job security constantly. I approached her twice about her harsh tone, and only in the second time I briefly mentioned my brother and that I don’t need any extra unnecessary stress where I still come to work on time, work with high standards etc. She just listened and then later in the email the Area Manager wanted her to write about me, she was stupid enough to label me a “drama queen”.

Here I was, still working everyday with high standard, on time, hard working WHILE traumatically bereaved. And she called me a “drama queen” and that even in writing! No-one expected that I’d apply for my file, and her email was one of several emails I raised grievances based on those written statements. She did get disciplined but only because she’s a small fish in management. The higher ups I raised grievances against got off the hook!

This screenshot is the email the Area Manager wrote to the Manager. I blacked out any names and location. But when I read those emails of the Area Manager wanting colleagues and Managers to write about me, the blood in my face dropped and these terrible emails were one reason I spiraled into emailing for a prolonged time in trauma, for which the CEO Clive Schlee later labelled me his “late night girl”. And under this patronizing label I write and decided to be a sore in his and Pret’s sight!
I share this in my interview at the bottom audio player.

Area Manager email to Manager wanting a written statement about me to get rid of me. Hundreds of emails and papers I read in front of me like a fly on the wall, going from shock to shock to shock…:

Drama Queen NamesDeleted

 

“The last straw,that I have had enough,is allowing for 11 months of the service I am there taking free coffee before I start to work and suddenly I have to pay for that.Why are you allowing it and then decide to not allow it anymore? and just for me,because the favorite staff she still allows it and even to give food outside their food allowance for girlfriends,family etc”

I’m so sorry you were bullied, dear Reviewer! You went through a typical bullying scenario by the book!

 

“Because of this she has yet again got me in trouble for creating situation,where she allows something,writes a complain,that I am doing something against her will and denies ,that she have ever said,that she allowed in first place.She doesn’t care about nothing unless it’s dollar signs in her eyes.Everyone,who she feels threatened by or have different opinion about something-she will eliminate.She is a boss,not a leader.”

Yes, sounds like a typical Pret A Manger Manager.

And the last sentence cannot be said better:

“She is a boss,not a leader”

 

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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.

 

The BEST Description of Systemic Workplace Bullying

… under HR and Senior Leadership.

I have spent over a year writing my hands into a carpal tunnel (not really, just using a metaphor!) on what I’ve been through in Pret A Manger. I described how systemic and toxic Pret’s bullying is behind the smiley facade!

I can wrap up my whole experience and website in this one text I came across on Twitter:

 

Describtion Systemic Bullying

From Twitter @scwb_now

 

Nothing more to add, except …

 

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

 

LINK > Two Staff have died recently within a month
One is said to be a suicide. It’s not the first suicide in Pret!

 

The Truth behind the Pret A Manger Smile and a Typical Day in 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.

 

 

 

Long List of Pret A Manger Staff Complaints (Updated July 2019)

 

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

NOTE upfront:

Since the CEO retires with poor results on Glassdoor, most of below links have been changed in such a way, that when you click on them you come to the general Glassdoor page, but you have to register or sign in. Once you sign in, you won’t be re-directed to the particular Link of the review, but have to do the general search for Pret A Manger reviews.

This long list of staff complaints is being visited daily since Pret became aware of the poor results. It seems that someone from Glassdoor has been asked by Pret to “disable” every link I’ve posted here.

So, the best thing to do, when on Glassdoor, register/log in, and on the front page for Pret reviews click on the right above the CEO, click by “Sort” on “Lowest Rating and this way you’ll see all the links I’ve posted here.

 

For the first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview.

Underneath the interview section are reviews/complaints from current and former Pret Staff.

You can still listen to the interview while scrolling below to the many staff complaints. Links to the reviews open in a new window or tab depending on what’s selected.

On Vimeo:

 

Or Audio Player:

 

Above interview is with Adam from The Adam Paradox podcast on my experience in Pret A Manger.

The main subject being workplace bullying, we also spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general and what to look out for in an interview for a new job. I further talked about the significant timing of Pret CEO’s announcement of the £1000 Tweet for all staff. I also talked about a regular day in Pret and how staff have to cut corners, in order to fulfill the immense workload under constant pressure.

It is hard to squeeze my traumatic experience into a podcast segment, but we covered enough to get a good picture of today’s systemic stress environment for profit driven global companies.

Please visit his Podcast and Twitter @1AdamParadox.

 

2019-04-22 NEW on TWITTER

Link

 

2011 I Hate Pret Fuck Pret

 

Las Vegas

Link – There are a lot of complaints from the U.S. Pret staff on discrimination from UK managers coming over to the States.

 

Glassdoor review 05.05.2019 from a Team Leader

2019-05-05 DON'T APPLY Team Leader

Link

 

Glassdoor again 08. June 2019 from a Barista in Oxford

2019-05-08 Worst place barista Oxford

Link

July 2019 Glassdoor percentage:
44% of staff (all positions incl. Shops staff, HQ staff, Management etc.) recommend working for Pret; 50% recommend the CEO. Occasionally these numbers rise again when suspiciously 5+ positive reviews in a row appear listing each position. But the truth will always surface:

2019-06-30 44 staff 50 Clive

 

I write extensively about Clive Schlee’s “legacy” on “Late Night Girl Articles“. For new readers Clive Schlee labelled me his “late night girl” which I explain in my interview (audio player) and I used this label to be a sore in his sight!

On 14. July 2019 Clive Schlee was still on Glassdoor as the CEO. But since I post these percentages on my blog and on Twitter, since 15. July Pano Christou who’s to take over as CEO in September 2019 appears already as the CEO:

2019-07-15 Pano Christou CEO

And on 22. July 2019 he starts on a “clean cut”:

2019-07-22 43 staff - 0 Pano

 

A customer complained on Twitter about how when it is very busy the manager is not helping on the shop floor but sitting in the office. I mention this in my interview as well.

2019-03-19 Response to customer complaint re manager

Link

The second Tweet is a response to the CEO’s reply to the above tweet, yet it’s not addressed to his Twitter account nor posted in the same feed as above. I wonder what that’s all about:

2019-03-19 Customer re managers

Link

 

Another customer

 

2019-03-22 Emma Customer observation

Link

 

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness3

 

2018 Emotional Labour Labor Quota Smiles2

Link


 

If you want to skip this long intro, scroll down until the red writing, and below it click on any of the many staff complaints I linked from outside Employment Review websites, YouTube, Twitter etc. as well as what I survived in Pret.

 


 

Horrible Company Pret

 

2019-03-02 Team Leader Never Again

 

01. June 2019 “Exhausting work, slave labour”

2019-06-01 Sanish exhausting slave labour

Link

 

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

 

2019-03-01 Paris horrible

 

2019-02-09 Response to Homeless House Tweet2

 

Italian: Exploitation, racism …

Rough translation: Not very professional company and very low paid, little social life. And too long shifts, bullying and racism was everyday routine

2018-11-21 Italian Exploitation Racism

 

2019-02-28 I hate work in Pret

 

A customer in Chicago commenting on a deceased Pret staff and Pret itself:

Chicago Pret horrible company to work for

Link

 

2017-05-26 Pure Misery

»Everything is over priced and you are forced to act like a happy jack-ass or your pay is cut. This place is what hell must be like.«

Link

 

A rare observation and acknowledgement from the outside of the forced happiness/friendliness of staff:

2018-12-14 Customer recognizes forced friendliness happiness

Link

 

PAMSU Dismantle MS

 

2018-05-09 PAMSU EndTheMysteryShopper

#EndTheMysteryShopper

 


 

When customers who are so impressed with Pret because they only see the outside, the facade through the PR[et] machine, they ask Pret about these complaints and then are too easily sweet-talked into believing that this is just an unfortunate exception. But the truth will always come to the surface, no matter how long it takes.

I have chosen to do this public because I suffered so much and almost lost my life. I do this publicly for my own protection.

I wasted close to 10 years of my life in Pret! It is my biggest regret.

One major reason, but not the only one why there are so many complaints: Bridgepoint Capital. With the new JAB takeover, it will get even worse unless Pret radically changes their approach to the work conditions, and a £1000 fix won’t do it in the long-run, it is just an incentive to lure new workers in and retain current staff.

In the end, when nothing worked to make me resign because my grief was in the way of Pret’s business and my suggestions to improve work conditions was an inconvenience. When nothing worked (bullying, threats, file notes…) Pret used a Development Manager from HQ who also is a Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner, both that can be very dangerous tools in manipulating people, and they used it well. This development manager supposedly lost her brother similarly to how I lost mine and that way they used her to get to me, stepping on her as well as my dignity.

On a side note, she is governed under this therapy body who have a commitment right on their front page that I have not seen on other therapy sites: “Our accredited Register status helps to ensure the safety and protection of the public.” I find this  odd, as if they have therapists who are not working for the safety and protection of the public. This Development Manager who is also a Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner certainly is not adhering to safety and protection.

I became suicidal and ill. I was tricked and trapped again and again by management and HR, and my ill emailing out of trauma, having started to drink, I was fired while my father was in intensive care just out of a coma. I declined 4 settlement offers not signing anything and survived to speak of the ordeal I went through. This is Pret “doing the right thing naturally” as their HR department, and Pret in general claims.

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

I want to “let” others speak as well, complaints from even recently on employment review websites, YouTube, Twitter and other sites in the long list below.

 

Complaints from current and former staff members and managers, you can “blindly” click on ANY link below at RANDOM and it will read the SAME in a nutshell, at different times/years, from different positions: Discrimination, horrible, biased and incapable management, overworked, not paid for overtime, favouritism shown to own country-men etc…. Pret has extremely good PR in place and is sweet-talking their way out of this or post their “good deeds” online to cover up what really goes on behind the scenes, when customers contact Pret regarding these Staff Complaints.

 


 

The first person ever to stand up publicly against Pret’s terrible work-conditions was Andrej Stopa. I am the second, and in time more people will stand up.

Link

 

In my own way to cope with this be it sarcastically or with humour to get away from the seriousness and pain, I take a complaint from below’s list and put them daily as “Quotes of the Day” on my blog and collect them HERE, to stress the point how toxic Pret’s work environment is, and how it is hurting people hidden behind the shiny PR(et) facade.

 

NOTE:

Since I compiled all the staff complaints there seem to be quite a lot more “positive” reviews appearing, especially regarding “good” management and work environment. If there are fake news, I am not alleging anything, but there may be fake reviews! And also the Pret website as well as the CEO’s has as the main pinned Tweets the “good” deeds Pret & the CEO are doing, again excellent PR. There are good managers and good shops of course, but the management style in Pret to pressure for more profit, is poisoned throughout the company. And in time the truth will always come out. Knowing how Pret and their corrupt HR dept. manipulate, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is tasked to write these reviews. In my 10 years in Pret I worked with over a dozen managers, and only 2 were decent, fair and caring, not to mention hard working. The majority I worked with are immature, discriminating, bullying, insecure, complacent and oftentimes incapable due to lack of training.

True reviews will always continue be written on the same lines of horrible and bullying management until this changes. Pret does annual staff questionnaires that are at times manipulated by management. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if some are leaving fake reviews.

 

One quote from a former barista in Pret NYC mentions that every shop they have worked in, it is the same story re: bad management, favouritism etc. And it really is, also in London, UK: “I worked in 4 different shops and the song and dance was the same in each one.”

Another review also from NY: “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 …” And I can verify this even in London, and I have worked with more than a dozen managers! Only 2 of them were exceptional and good, but it is the sad exception even now in 2018 as my experience and the below reviews show.

On the subject of missing pay and overtime not being paid as I have experienced as well in 10 years countless times that I had to chase missing pay from managers. This was draining and a job in itself.

Pret staff in the UK and elsewhere should do the same as Pret staff in the USA have done, go to court to reclaim missing pay: Pret A Manger settles overtime wage claims of 4000 employees!

You can click on ANY of the below reviews and read the same in a nutshell: bullying, discriminating management, over worked, missing pay, discrimination etc.

 

I did not correct any mistakes in the below reviews to keep it in their own words.


Start of the long list
of staff complaints / review

 

Get ready to lick so many a***es to advance
“Dear Lord, protect me from ever need to work for Pret a Manger ever again. Amen.
For this company you are numbers, robots, machines, you are no humans.”


horrible managementmanagement is disrespectful, they fire people when they are having rough times in life even if they talk to a manager about it , i was penalized for calling out for a funeral.


Go back to the UK, PretI have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment. Employees relocating from UK were given preferential treatment, better salaries for equal experience


Horrible place they shout at you all the time for any little mistake. … push you to be more and more quickly treat you like a robot not a human being … Dumb and bossy staff members….” Review from 27. June 2018


July 2019

Barista – “Not good – I always stay longer without pay. Change managers, treat your workers with respect! Pay more!

Team Member – “Stressful and unsocial – stressful, poor management, rude and unempathetic”

Team Member – “Very bad experience – Advice to Management: You don’t listen to us! Nothing more to say! Bad experience and company!!

Team Leader – “depressing workplace – quick money but depressing work place stop shouting

Team Member, London – “horrible company!
Pros: nothing at all, low pay for slave work
Cons: horrible manager and leaders. lies and discrimination. horrible company!
Advice to Management: get new managers”

 

Team Member, Gatwick, UK – “Awful, vile kitchen staff – Constant bullying and harassment by the Team Leaders and staff. Low pay Disregard for employee’s wage payments Unhelpful managers

Hot Chef, London – “Toxic, Stressful, chronically understaffed … baking over 200 pastries. Most of staff members are required to work over 45 hours a week. Staff members are being denied holidays booked with several months of notice.”

Team Member, London – “Aweful! Terrible work experience. Stressful and demanding for minimum pay. Not worth.

Barista, London – “Micromanaged slave work I expected slave work to be in the past but at Pret A Manger you are treated like dirt!!!”

Team Member, London – “I don’t recomment working for pret.”

Team Member, Manhattan NY – “Apply to this job if you want to work for a role and not get paid for that roleas a team member I was made to hot chef, be a team member trainer, and an A team member, and was only being paid minimum wage whereas those key roles get paid more money.

Barista, UK – “waste of time – very busy coffee shop, no work/life balance, staff calling sick every day so every day was short in staff, no pay for doing extra hours,unexperience and unprofesional managment

Team Member (TM) London – “abusive leaders and low pay for hard work”

Team Leader, Massachusetts, USA “don’t bother – Its a mess management is horrible and the higher ups are worst. all they care about is saving themselves from trouble and will throw anyone under the bus for their benefit

Team Member, New York – “Bad management, Always being “hounded”.”



May / June 2019

Team Member, New York – “supervisors dont care about you low pay for a lot of work

Kitchen Manager, New York – “Too much pressure Disorganize operations Asking for too much comparing to competitors

Barista, Stansted UK – “All the good management keep leaving

Team Leader, London – “too Stressful, too high standards”

Barista, Paris, France – “They accept anybody and pay the minimum possible in each role.”

Team Member Trainer (TMT) New York – “They don’t give you raises when its time. Inconsiderate and care more about gossip than why their stores are failing.

Pret A Manger bad place to work – “Biased management favouritism discrimination racist

Robotic, Repetitive, Stressful – “robotic work everyday same work. no time to learn and my leaders are horribel”

Barista, Philadelphia, PA – “A lot of drama and favoritism.”

Don’t work at Pret, slavery in 2019 – “They promise pay rise and promotion just to keep you slaving for hours and you have to remind manager to pay you the right amount of hours you work

Nightshift, St. Pancrass, LondonToxic environment – Unprofessional superiors that scream a lot and treat you like slaves; Managenent not present during the nightshifts; Training programme not delivered appropiately. Stop treating your staff like slaves and give them a proper training

Barista, Gatwick – “Stressful – Early hours To busy Stressful Hard to handle

11. June 2019 “Nightmare – If you want to feel like a slave, work here. All management who will not accept you if you aren’t one of them…All phonies with fake smiles. They look down on the workers with spite. This company is everything that is wrong with the world.”

11. June 2019First world slavery!! – There aren’t any positives the negatives are too many…You don’t need to leave the first world to experience slavery. Pret is a extremely harsh and rude place.”

09. June 2019 NY Barista: “Poor Management and FavoritismI had basically no work life balance for the almost two years I worked there just to have someone who was only there a few months get promoted to leader because she was friends with management.

08. June 2019 Barista, Oxford: “Worst place in my life
Cons: All! Everything is bad! Slave job! Bad managers who put always the blame on you… Learn to be more kind with the workers!

05. June 2019 Team Leader: “DON’T APPLYYou meet great coworkers that get you through the dayYou have disgusting managers that only worry about themselves and their pockets. Never threaten an employee. Be honest and upfront….”

05. June 2019 NY: “Nice people, tedious work – You are doing the job of three different positions because they are low on staff.
Pros: Money
Cons: Everything else

01. June 2019: “Just Ugh
Pros: Free food, that’s really it. Not much more
Cons: Everything else. You get worked like a slave for pennies – treat it like a VERY temporary job to put cash in your pocket”

01. June 2019 Spanish: “Exhausting work, Slave labour”

Rough Translation:
“Working in the kitchen is like slavery, they force you to make sandwiches in very little time under pressure, the supervisor/leader is always “screwing” up. When you finished your job you have to stay longer for free. It’s physically and emotionally draining/exhausting. You sweat for 8.65€ (£? as this reviewer is in Edingburgh and Pret’s wage is £8.65). Stop crushing people.
Pros: Free food and coffee
Cons: Slave Labour”


 

28. May 2019massive pressure on kitchen leaders, early hours, stressful environment”

28. May 2019Favoritism everywhere, all the hardworking people continuously got in trouble for the lack of job the favorites did.

27. May 2019Robots welcome, humans go work somewhere else!!

2019-05-27 Robots welcome depression

 

27. May 2019 General Manager (GM): “Pret is great place to work if you want to make some money – on management level. However pressure is so high you can’t rest when you’re off or even on holiday

27. May 2019 “Work politics, blame games, pressure to deliver highly set targets”

23. May 2019 “Not good – Bad manager and team leader is lazy in the office long hours little wage Not a good company to work for

23. May 2019I did not like working in Pret. My team leader is aggressive, I could not finish my bench in time.
Pros: going home at end of shift
Cons: horrible place

23. May 2019 Hot Chef: “Thank you, NEXT! Training for me and others mostly happens at home when we are not getting paid. There is no appreciation for those who actually are acting as team members because one tiny mistake and you’re on the chopping block… being made to feel like I don’t matter, daily new rules and expectations

22. May 2019 “Most Managers are super bad – Get more involved within the shop instead of sitting in the office. Learn to make better rotas.”

22. May 2019Do not work here – Management are rude and unreliable. Listen to ALL EMPLOYEES!”

21. May 2019 “-terrible managment -early start at 5:00am -long hours –rotas never ready can’t plan week -GM is stressing us all time -low pay -fake smiling even when feeling down -mistery shopper unfair -too much stress -no team work -manager stress and not available”

20. May 2019A lot of the raises that were given have been taken away. Not enough front of house workers

13. May 2019the mystery shopper pressure is too much – every little detail is a problem your hard work is lost by the smallest mistake.

13. May 2019very neurotic environmenteveryone is so afraid of little mistakes – management manipulate in fear and are always stressing us. very stressful not worth the pay.
Advise to management: get some psychological help – your leaders are neurotic – what do you do to them?

12. May 2019Don’t work at Pret, not recommended! – Huge stress and constant lack of staff. Very bad management. Terrible workplace. No point in giving advise, they don’t care.”

12. May 2019Pret A Manger is like the military and a cult!! If you work at Pret you go between brainwash and abuse. You get told nice things and given a few perks but for the peanuts you have to work like an animal

09. May 2019 NY: “robotic work that eats away at your soul one day at a time. The turnover rate was ridiculously high, and for good reason.”

07. May 2019 “Scrap the bonus and pay us the £1. We work reallly hard.”

04. May 2019Stress, discrimination, mental health problemsDo not work there, HR cannot be trusted. Worst place ever. Pret has gotten much worse over the years, cut benefits, even less staff as before. Terrible place.

02. May 2019 Barista: “Pret soldiersYou’re not a human in their eyes, more like a slave. The management rubbish, they doesn’t care for you. no opportunity, no life.
Pros: Non
Cons: everything

01. May 2019 “Most staff english is not there first language, so this is often confussing – To speak english and not shout



April 2019 …

If you want to know what depression is work at Pret a Manger.”

30. Apr. 2019  “False promises and chaos

30. Apr. 2019Dishonest and incapible managers, long hours, stress, noise, low pay, no room to grow and learn”

27. Apr. 2019Constantly understaffed – No one listens to staff members,your advertising ,that you care for people,but it’s often complete opposite-discrimination,abuse no equal rights,constant favorism,most of times managers are in their positions ,because of licking their way up ,not because of hard work or honesty.”

25. Apr. 2019Dishonest company

24. Apr. 2019Bad environment

22. Apr. 2019I don’t recommend Pret – What is your training for managers?? Why are many so careless and some so rude and bullying?? What is your problem???”

16. Apr. 2019Toxic work environment – very poor management, long hours, fake smiles, too high expectations … stop be racist

13. Apr. 2019bad place to work don’t go there – we give you lot of advise already you don’t listen. it’s only about profit and cutting corners to do all the jobs. not worth”

01. Apr. 2019Treated like a slave Rude to new staff Over working So much pressure”

07. Mar. 2019Modern slavery
Pros: it does not have anything good
Cons: modern slavery and bad manager

ToughBe careful not to fall in the trap of the happy family: it’s a brainwashing strategy to make you forget you’re just the piece of an engine to them.

man-320273__340

 

Getting harder to stay here – In the last 6 months everything has gone downhill, many new standards which make it difficult to focus on customer service and turns us into robots.

factory work with lot of pain – Advice to Management: why are you so mean and don’t care for team?”

Poor Management – If management sucks you’ll be overworked,treated unfairly,lose of standards due to negligence”

Don’t work for Pret – Discrimiation from managers – bad HR experience

not good culture, not clean

Wouldn’t recommend this job to anyone. – Too much work for too little pay – Rude and inconsiderate managers”

Always lacking team members, poorly managed”

Harrassment, emotional abuse, exploitation of young people – Bad management, non ethical HR, slavistic management of your time at work

Terrible workplace, very uncomfortable atmosphere, lazy managers”

Toxic environmentyou are just a number, everyone is pushing you like a slave

painful jobpret a manger is painful job. feel like a slave. no time for breath. depress. bad paid. anxiety bad boss.

 

cyborg-2765349__340

 

Not good for young peoplePhysically, emotionally and spiritually draining.

Never againPrêt a Manger is an appealing company from the outside, but once you get in you realise how rotten the sistem is.

Painful jobpret a manger is painful job. feel like a slave. no time for breath. depress. bad paid. anxiety bad boss. work so fast. loud and shouts. tired. lot of pain

Temporary job to get on your feet – Working for 8 months was easy at first then became very stressful and I couldn’t wait to leave that job. Managers lack management and pushes it off for employees to handle. They sit in the office all day. Play favoritism

Don’t even bother – The baristas for some reason act like management and hurl abuse at you. Horrible People

Worst company, dishonest, discrimination, lying to young people”

Would give 0 stars if I couldMost of the managers are also passive aggressive and just generally neurotic and stressed and have a go at you for every small detail.

NY: “This isn’t the workplace to get to comfortable – Pros: Free lunch traveled frequently benefits and pay – Cons: Most of it’s corporate staff and managers

Treated like a slave – Rude to new staff”

Team Leader: “A lot of favouritism, if you don’t lick butts it’s complicated to develop your career there, unless you don’t mind to work there for ages to become Assistant Manager.”

Exploitation!!! – there is never enough team members we have to work double and pick up the mess manager leaves behind.

Not enough staff on purpose – Pret always has low staff. every shop I go has not enough people. Manager is happy when they got big bonus but they got it by team members woking extra hard”

Tried for a week not goodOn my first day a guy got fired he was very upset in the staff room.

Didn’t stay long – I spend a few days but it’s not for me. Manager didnt like me. Very hard job. Dont believe the hype.”

Horrendous Place to Be – Hiring process is robust and Engaging. Sadly its terrible beyond this. Demotivating Team Leads.Grossly biased unless you are from their country/background. Floor was supposed to be cleaned with a Blue Role,By Hand.

Sugar-coated SlaveryThe worst company I’ve ever worked for. Dishonest. Exploitative. Discriminatory. The HR depertament is a joke and the general managers or operation managers are either highly psychopathic or incompetent.

Don’t care about where you are travelling from or change hours – Be more considerate we are not robots”

Very poorly run U.S. Company.”

USA “Treated like trashEmployees were treated like trash -Advice to Management: Treat employees better”

Nightmare!!too loud, too fast, too stressful, manager is shouting, not many team members, worked more then 50 hours all the time… The emotional labour of having to always smile and be super friendly is exhausting and also ridiculous. We are retail workers not customer’s friends.

Brexit saved me!!! Leaving London – …get training how to treat people nice and fair. terrible bossy attitude.”

Managers expect you to work like a robot and never get tired or worn out. Customers would get away with shouting at us and being abusive for no reason and the managers would just apologise and offer them some free food to avoid getting a complaint.”

Floor Leaderextreme pressure for minimal pay -company constantly changing rules and adding standards”

Team LeaderRasism, discrimination ,team leader favorism ,screaming at you on daily basis high expectations people working for 2-3 people”

Modern Slavery – Pros: it does not have anything good -Cons: modern slavery and bad manager”

“Finally found another job and resigned! Do some anger management classes and stop treating your team like slaves!

Team Leader: “Never again – very poor screening system when choosing management, lots of hr issue unsolved … reconsider the Happy Team, Happy Customer scenario and solve the hr issues from headoffice

Not for britishI felt like an outsider in my own country. Train your managers! They look unhappy and stressed. I kept a low key to not become a target and just left.”

Paris: Charge de travail horrible.Entreprise a fuir absolument, des rushs épouvantables parfois 7 jours de travails consécutifs sans repos.

Never left a job so fastI worked only a few week in Pret but fell used and stressed out. Expectations is high but no help from manager. Don’t recommend work there. Not helpful manager, stessful, not enough help, small team but lot of work

If I could give zero stars I wouldPret does not deserve even 1 star. I regret having worked there. Pret looks good from the front but once you work thete it’s a lot of stress and dushonest managers

Barista: “You can do betterI was stressed out nearly everyday. The manager was very unprofessional and disrespectful. All she cares about was the money and working hard. But the pay didn’t match up with the amount of work. You’re required to do so much and know so much yet no one is taught the correct way. It just began to get too crazy for me. Drama, poor management skills and attitudes everyday.
Toxic work environment

to much stress for little paybad managers in most shop I worked, dirty work kitchen don’t wash hands, no real training, blamed for everything, no support, bad paid

NoThe place was always dirty. People wouldn’t take the job seriously. Everyday people would call out. I wouldn’t recommend working at this company. Avoid.

Italian: Exploitation, racism:Sfruttamentoazienda poco seria e stipendi molto bassi, poca vita sociale e turni troppo lunghi, bullismo e razzismo erano all’ordine del giorno

Barista: “Horrible managementmanagement is disrespectful, they fire people when they are having rough times in life even if they talk to a manager about it , i was penalized for calling out for a funeral.(Note from me, this one is close to my heart as I was bullied during bereavement under HR and CEO’s knowledge and cover-up).

Intense and stressful environmentThe coworkers are very demanding and rude. The managers don’t fix issues with coworkers properly which causes a hostile work environment.

Barista AND Hot Chef: “HorriblePret A Manger is honestly a very unprofessional work environment. I’ve met great people at the job but the job itself is very stressful and not worth the pay. Cons: Horrible management, pay, hours

I hate work in Pret A MangerTreat all fair and don’t push so much. Boring job, learn nothing but have to work so fast. I hate working there!!!!”

Wouldn’t recommendThere are lot of slogans and promises of awards but when you do well there is no award. Manager is stressed and hectic no time to learn and make mistakes. ”

Discrimination and favouritism If you can play games Pret is perfect. Hard work doesn’t count but only when you push teams hard for bonus and not train them. ”

Unfriendly environment people were too mean”

Management don’t always train new members or keep up with experienced members”

Don’t work for Pret when you sickI have disability from doctor but manager don’t believe me. they push hard no matter when you sick or not.

General Manager review, London:
Not the best place to workNot much support to the management from the Operations Team. Had to work there at least 12 hours, as there was no other manager in the store, due to some HR issue, and hadn’t received the bonus, due to lack of staff which influenced my Family tree…
was left with quite a lot of food waste, instead of having an ability to increase sales.
As well, there was no charity collection, as they always use in their marketing

As much as they “Like to promote internally” you are still just a pawn for them.”

It’s all gone downhill…”

“Other locations were filthy. Seriously… I worked at a relatively new location with staff that enjoyed themselves… but I was sent to a couple other locations at times if they needed help and ooooh was it a different story. There were some seriously gross violations, health and cleanliness wise, as well as duty and customer service wise.
Listen to employees if we say there is something wrong going on… there definitely is.”

Head Office: “Great brand poor management – Poor management resulting in poor decisions. Office culture is working really really long hours. No work life balance whatsoever and constant office politics.”

Bad experience – don’t be racist

Neutral – There is too much tedious work.”

Employees made the place hell to work

They don’t pay leaders enough money. They transfer you from store to store if the gm don’t like you

Manager: “Standards have dropped in recent years, growing animosity between team members and even their managers, training new employees is very sporadic and not everyone is trained properly, management standards have also lowered, if you’re a manager, good luck trying to have a life. You guys really need to start training people by following a system, not however and whenever you feel like it. ”

Ehh not worth it at all – Unprofessional staff, youre not even trained properly they just throw you in there and if youre lucky someone who isnt BRAND NEW (btw literally had someone that got hired 4 days before me showing me the ropes) will notice you dont know what youre doing and assist you…not enough breaks…I do not recommend!”

If you are a team member you are a cleanerCons: management, shifts, salary, conditions, timetable”

“Very busy, mentally and physically exhausting – Care more about your employees.”

Greedy Company – Long hours, very repetitive tasks, Bad management”

Too stressing for no reason – Rude management – Too many rules”


 

February 2019 on Facebook regarding the new house for the homeless (marketing):

#68 Pret A Money Hungry Regarding doing charity for the homeless: “The help they do is just for public to bring more customers in. Behind is chaos.

#69 Pret Abuse of Team MembersTeam members are abused by work in terms of quantity of work and responsibilities”

Pret does not deserve even 1 star. I regret having worked there.

need to hire different managers, ones that respect staff. the ones there now, shout at staff, don’t understands there circumstances or disabilities


Review on YouTube towards the bottom beginning of July 2018 from RPQ who now changed the name to Branzinotito, quote:
“I used to work for Pret. What a truly brutal nightmare is was. Horrible company.”

YT_JamesHoffmann_Reply2

Same comment, new name:

2018-07-24 RPQ now Branzinotito comment on James Hoffmann video

 

I am an ex GM. I walked out last year as I couldn’t take the way we had to treat TMs to achieve ever increasing demands for profit and efficiencies.” (Full review in the picture below.)

The “certain venture capitalist firm” this Ex-GM is talking about is Bridgepoint who set the immense target since the 2008 purchase of increasing shops by 15% per year and were set to make a seven times return on their investment in 2018. It is “deal hungry” JAB’s turn now to take the baton from Bridgepoint and squeeze even further the life out of staff. Good luck Pret employees!

2012-07-23 Ex GM


Terrible experience one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had … lots of stress … under payed … long hours/ short brakes … terrible management … really unflexible schedule.”


My initial comments to James Hoffmann’s video and his response, which are still not released but only visible when I am logged in to my YT account. I wrote an Open Letter to James Hoffmann because my comments weren’t visible, otherwise I wouldn’t have written one. He still hasn’t responded and just briefly recognized it via Twitter, as I have a hunch that he might have contacted or has been contacted by Pret who may have sweet-talked their way out of this again, as “PR”et is very efficient for the outside facade:

YT_JamesHoffmann_Reply1a

 

 

Unfairly dismissed Worker was unfairly dismissed, became homeless, lost his relationship, slept in his car for a few weeks. 

Unfairly dismissed Flawed HR Hearings and Appeal’s Hearings.

Dismissed for starting a Union.


 

A review regarding Pret’s Head Office from a former IT ANALYST!

Quote: “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.”

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

 


 

A review from a former Purchasing Director in Pret NYC.

One of the oddest work experiences. Worked their during a transition period – so company going in one direction and then the opposite.

2017-02-28 NYC ODD A Manger

 

 

Quote Pret #20 Terrible Company

Quote: “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…”

This, dear New York Employee, is because like you already mentioned that there is no training in leadership and employee relations. I have had over a dozen managers, and even more managers I’ve worked with when I helped out in other branches for a few days. In my 10 years in Pret there were only 2 of them that had people and leadership skills, one of which is this wonderful person, who’s also proven that a manager can be nice, hard working and still be really successful, as she was often at the top (#1, 2 etc.) out of all the shops.
Also, Pret pays a little more than the competition and gives incentives, more holiday, bits and pieces here and there, because if they won’t give more they would have no one wanting to work in Pret as Pret is just way too stressful and hard work. To me, the hard work was not so much the issue, the issue was the UNNECESSARY bullshit = bullying and discrimination. And for Pret to dare bully me while I was going through extreme trauma with the loss of my brother and all the tricks and traps I could not clearly see until later, you bet I will speak about this openly no matter what they come up with next.

 

James Ashword video comment by Hailey Hyein Lee

From YouTube ca. February 2018

 

Perat A Manger London video comment by Budai Andrea

— and —

Perat A Manger London video comment by justineyouloulou

— and —

Perat A Manger London video comment by Logic 2000

From YouTube 2008 this was before Pret became increasingly and intensely bullying But it has always been difficult, but since the 2008 Bridgepoint takeover, it became more systemic bullying as Pret was tasked and pressured to open more and more shops fast on almost every corner in London at least. I won’t point out who, but in the video is one person I later worked with, who became a GM later (I worked with them when they were AM) and is one of the rare people/GMs being good to their TMs.


The idea of proper training is also rediculousMost people are taken in under promises (including being a front of house or kitchen person but then dumped where they are needed and not where they were promised) but find that often by day 2 or 3 are thrown on a bench on their own in the kitchen and nagged at due to not being fast enough and expected to reach TM* productivity levels within the first few weeks with hardly any proper training.”

Throughout all my time in Pret I have mentioned the lack of training again and again and again and did my utmost best to train my teams even though many of my managers tried to stop me because I was investing time in my teams, but managers wanted me and teams to just be busy on the tills and in the kitchen… Training hardly exists in Pret. Development Managers are just doing their 9-5, Mon – Fri job, not being bothered if what they train is even implemented in the shops! There is a huge chasm between HQ and shops, no matter how much “PR”et is trying to convince otherwise!


“I’ve learned a Lot!…” “Cons: In Spite of the wonderful Pros of this company, Your subjected to emotional blackmail and serious labor issues with Most shops being run by Unprofessional and Bias Managerial staff backed by a corrupted HR Dept. Advice to Management: The Core Values you instill in your Employees are Virtuous , And is the the secret to your success!…..On the Contrary, I strongly suggest a Labor Union! so employees that are treated unfair have a platform for their voice to be heard without resentment or the sinuous backlash from your Inadequate Managerial staff & Flout HR Dept.!!!! who support them.”


If you want to work in a happy enviroment without being bullied then whatever you do DON’T work for PretBeing made to feel incompetent. Worked into the ground without empathy. Managers treat staff like idiots. The image of the happy enviroment is a joke. It would be good for the BBC or Dispatches to go under cover and work in a shop for a week to show the world what really goes on behind the scenes.”


“fire the HR staff”

and replace them with more educating indiviuals and ones that dont discriminate … Nothing but aggravation and a discriminating HR” <– (This review is as recent as 12. June 2018! I have my own extensive experience with the Pret HR dept. as the Head of HR said that I “Exhausted the HR department”. Sorry about that @ Head of HR, but as a Tribunal Judge already ruled that your hearings are “fundamentally flawed” I can more than verify this after raising grievance after grievance that were NOT conducted fairly and impartially).


 

First review 4 months before this review underneath. 

“Interesting comments. My husband now works for pret and is being treated so badly by his area manager. I am astounded that they can get away with it. It seemed like such a nice place to work but it’s like some kind of sect… ”

My response: they get away with it because it is systemic and they are trained to treat staff like this, for more and more profit.

— 4 months later: —

“Further to my previous comment [scrolling up above this review] about my husband having problems with his area manager. They stitched him up good and proper and fired him…this was done in such a way that they found a couple of things to hang him on which wouldn’t normally result in him being sacked. They clearly did all of this because he was going to put in a grievance against his area manager for bullying (he was talked out of this and thought it had all smoothed over) and then wham! The company disgusts me – how they could treat an employee with a wife and 2 small children like that I don’t know. The management of this company are pure evil.”

Response to above review:

“Regarding the area manager, yeah they just sit on their fat bums all day, and email on their phones or look at stupid graphs. End of the day its about increasing sales, meeting targets and reducing labour. They will always cover there own backs first, to watch there bonuses, and not care about the workers.

Alot of managers i have met, are complete arrogant snobs, that know nothing about even running a store, yet alone trying to explain things to you, they sit on there high throne, and blah blah blah things.”

 

pexels-photo-262218

 

“Please get the bullies outForced to work without pay, … bullying tactics used by Heads, unfair salaries, descrimination


“I want to be as loud as possible here – PRET DOESN’T CARE!” … “I just feel very strongly that the general public view of this company is very far off from the truth, and I believe in using my voice.


Pret doesn’t care about workers. The most important is business, profits. That’s why they cut working hours and made you work harder.”


“Hellhole … you treat people like they’re useless and worthlessget down from that high horse you’re on”


“Poor … Lack of defined management, finger-pointing, politics and poor organisation.”

Poorly trained management Too much dependency on skillful employees.”

“Squandered opportunities” “Poor management, broken promises, stressful work environment.”

“”rude behaviour at the workplace (kitchen manager shouting at everybody)”

“Pure Misery … kitchen staff is treated like slavesThe upper management is a bunch of heartless

“Overworked and Aweful Managers everyone complains how much they hate this job”

“If you want to follow the company standards, you need to have enough labor. Do not kill your employees.”

“Workers are slave Very bad management. They treat you like a slave. You have zero value for them. They don’t recognize your effort

extremely rude co workers, unprofessional management, not properly trained however expected to know what you’re doing and smile while doing it.

Would not recommend … Managers do not care about they team. Never get 2 days off in a row. Practice favoritism”

“Hell job for minimum salary.”

Bad management who talk to staff rudely, and yet don’t do their jobs properly

“even when you are having a bad day you must smile” Not just on a bad day, even during traumatic bereavement!

do not give power to irresponsible people

“Stressful and dominating … Supervisors/Team Leaders treat you like a slave”

“It’s a trap” “listen to your employees. Say something nice from time to time. Don’t insult them!

“Head Office” “People are taken into account only if it makes a good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.

“Manager- horrible upper management, unrealistic goals, promotions based on politics.”Favoritism with managementNo integrityA lot of show and dance for support center and president/ceo.

“The brainwash is real”The coffee calling system is broken. During busy times it is nearly impossible to keep up with the orders without hating everyone around you. managers/team leaders are not properly trained when it comes to simple communication. Especially towards female staff members. A lot of people cry in the staff room especially in their entry period. Advice to Management: Get some proper training regarding real people skills.” (Absolutely true!)

“Bad jobs for sometimes good people” “Advice to Management: Good luck with Brexit!” … (Well, that’s why this is happening: Pret is giving £1000 to each employee now)

“… Team Leader … Every shop has less people than required as this affects shops profitability” True about the Mystery Shopper! But even if you do well with the Misery Shopper (yes MISERY Shopper!) as I did again and again for years, I never gotten rewarded other than the usual bonus, even during bereavement doing really well, no mention. But the moment a few points are lost, hell breaks loose!

“Managementhas no clue how to manage people

“Very demanding … Nothing you do there is appreciated “… Horrible atmosphere and you feel too much pressure all the time. Advice to Management: Please treat employees as humans not as robots! It seems like you enjoy making people unhappy.

“Not kitchen, food factory” “Not everybody has to be a leader who works long enough for Pret and shouts loud enough. Management should assess the personality, the leadership skills and the interpersonal skills before making someone a leader.” 

“Horrible training, too many lies” “Training sucks, people are treated like crap. Upper management do not care about you, will never recommend this company. Bottom line as a British company they treat employees as machines, they don’t care about how they feel, expect too much for too little. Horrible environment. Advice to Management: Treat people with respect and appreciate their hard work. Stop using your British mentality when it comes to deal with people. You’re people are horrible at this.

 

Robot sad crop

 

“Toxic, low class, unprofessional culture … upper management and hr are fully aware of but ignore. … Terrible management training program” really unprofessional and have very low management skills.

“Advice to Management: Treat people like human beings“”

“Worst place..” “Advice to Management: Absolutely less stress and please cut the roles because looks to work like slaves. Terrible experience.”

“Worst first day experience” “Pros: Nothing at all….. Not even a 0.0005 star. …Lies about family team vibes… They don’t recruit you for your work ethic…”

“Slavery hasn’t been abolished!”

“Most of the managers are really difficult, they forgot where they come from”, please treat the people as human beings, We know the profit and your career are important but you don’t have to be rude.”

“Worst company to work for”managers are always working with fear … Advice to Management: Get back to basic, care about the team and always listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt.” (And I thought I was tough with my critique!)

Very hard work … No support and respect from Manager

“The worst job I’ve had in London” “the good payment is not enough for getting worse my health (my back and my heart). l am with anxiety all the time, working in a tiny kitchen in a HORRIBLE atmosphere!!” (Yes, I was bullied during bereavement and tricked and trapped via HR, high five!)

I have asked for several transfers to other shops due to management. Either a manager was extremely “lazy”, un-supportive, but gave the team a hard time when things didn’t go well, or another manager was like a tyrant, constantly threatening the team & individuals with & giving file notes for the smallest things. Ops Managers either aren’t aware of it, mostly being concerned with mystery shopper results for their own bonuses or not bothering about how the team is “motivated”.”

 

“You are of course right, hiring happy people is only a part of the solution. If an employee is unhappy, and its affecting their work, ask them what’s up (gently).”

My response: I lost my brother and in my bereavement was NOT asked “gently” what’s up, I was bullied, targeted, tricked and trapped by Pret’s HR dept. to get me out and ultimately fired while my father was in intensive care, just out of a coma. So, here I am again having survived to tell my story as “gently” as possible collecting all these reviews from other sites.

 

pexels-photo-278303

 

Pret A M*ffin “…team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear … listen to the little people, also be open and get rid of some top management who are so corrupt

Pret A Robot “People are treated inhuman way in terms of sickness and work load. Employees are being treated more like robots than human beings

Pret A JokeYou have a limited time to do your job everyday but this time limit is a joke. they give me the next rota just the day before the week starts.

Pret A Nothingdidn’t learn nothing as i have things to give to that shop as i came with lots of experience and skills.

Red A Manager “their [managers] personality only is good for business, but not for the people that work under.”

Pret A Unhappy If an employee is unhappy, and its affecting their work, ask them what’s up (gently)”

Trap A Manger “It’s a trap! … Huge stress. Never stops.Shouting all around. … Say something nice from time to time. Don’t insult them!

Pret A Unpaid “Very unfair company”

Pret A ScreamOne of the things that I absolutely hated about working at pret, was the fact that management wanted you to act like you were having fun and smile at all times.

Pret A Managerthe staff are great the guys who do the real work. The management suck

Pret A No RespetarLos managers son penosos“, “un horror!!” “desastrosa” and “todo… no tiempo libre, no respeto..”

“When the job takes over your life”

“Too much pressure and managers with poor interpersonal skills. … Advise to Management: Respect your team…”

“Brainwashed sandwich making”

“Fun but stressful, not worht it”

“… hot chef…” (Hot Chef in Pret shops is the hardest job!)

“Too Much Pressure”

“Really working at Pret” (“Advice to Management: quit”)

“Team Leader”

“Sometimes long shifts due to lack of people. Advise to management: take care of workers.”

“too much work. Poor leadership

“Minimum Salary for everyday smiling”

My response: Yes, even smiling while going through trauma, dare you not smile when you just lost a loved one!

 

emoji-happy-thumbs-upSIDE Down

 

“Good but not perfect”management should do their jobs

“Never ever!” I hate all manager…”

NOTE: I don’t agree with the racism here! But the trend of complaints about management and leadership should be clear.

“Hot Chef Advice to Management: Be human. It’s not your own business.”

My response: That’s what I said once to a line manager who told us leaders that if we don’t like it in “his” shop to f*** off, I replied that he is also only employed by Pret, he does not own “his” shop!

“Brain wash, Control, Never stop…” “Cons: Aggressive and mortify management, brainwashing, mobbing, after working hours NON PAID, if you don’t finish YOUR DUTIES you stay after the working hours non paid… Advice to Management: Respect people that work hard! Don’t exploit them!”

“Assistant Manager Respect yourself don’t let managers to overload you.”

My response: easily said when they immediately threaten with Note of Concerns, disciplinary and job security!

“…also has a motto: FIFO or Fit In or Fu*k Off. I always got the impression that Pret was actually a free-thinking company…but perhaps they are becoming too large too and need to do the conforming thing.

 

silhouette-2480321__340

 

“high rated company”

“Pret A Manger Reality”

“Good jobs for good people” (“Look after your people and figures will look after themselves.”) Amen!!

“Will be leaving soon”

“Overworked environment”

“Not much training” True! I had to train myself most of the time.

“It was fine” “… lots of micromanaging”

“Favouratism”

“Barista” another

“Team Member”

“Cliquey environment…”

“Good jobs for idiots”

“Bad experience” “Treat your employees with respect. Be polite .”

“TMT”

“Not for British”

“Cool”

“Not for me” “Advise to Management: Don’t be so brainwashed and scared.”

“Not the best place to work”

“Good jobs for part time” “lazy managers high demanding ops”

“Overworked, High expectations, No recognition” “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.”

“I regret working there (don’t go)” “Team Leader who was working with me during the weekends (I was a part timer) was very rude to me , calling me stupid etc. … And I also ”love” how the company itself tries so hard to create this friendly enviroment for the employers by putting these sweet posters around etc. etc. when in reality it is very miserable and stressfull place to work for ! … People working in your company are not robots with smiles on their faces 24/7 !!!”

“Diverse place”

“place for foreigners young people”

“Good progression tree…” “Management bonuses are profit driven so hours are cut often… I would recommend joining a union”

“Team Leader” “Listen to your team” Absolutely!

Pret a Manger “leader use to shout people.”

“Very average”

“Barista-role part time … There are no appointed qualified trainers there like you promise beforehand, why say it then?”

“Horrible Experience”

“Some of the management are rude or never show up … They always make mistakes like ‘adjust the rota’ resulting in me not being able to work …”

“Disappointing”

“Barista” another one

“My Experience” “Put same manager know how to organize the team and what you have to do”

“Team Member” “Managers are pain”

“very bad team” “manager was very bad he was all day on face book in his office”

“Less than 1 year…”

“No sick pay…”

“Disappointed” another

“Not a good company to work for…”

“Good first job … as foreigner” “Often happen to work “unpaid” overtime to finish daily duties … Limited progression career if you’re not in the state of grace of the Head of your working Area … In many cases I’ve weighed up a big incompetence and lack of skills between Team Leader and Assistant Manager’s position.”

“too much expectations” “management is a joke. numbers are more important than people”

“Eh” “The management is terrible.”

“Demanding. Can be fun” “High demands not in line with pay, lack of support, inconsistent training, stressful/poor work life balance”

“horrible management, super biased” “super biased managers most of the girls in my store are from the same place even the assistant manager and FOH so they tend to group together against people they don’t like even if they don’t know them. … make sure the store isn’t just a bunch of biased friends that if you aren’t part of their group they’ll make your life hell”

“Horrible experience” “Lack of communication b/t managers and staff. – Immature workers – Slave-like environment – Biased behavior – Too strict on simple task. Advice to Management: Work on communication and stop treating co-workers like robots.”

“Team Member” “my location had a rude manager who cleaned up her act after I tried relocating. There is no HR, just a recruitment team who will give you phone numbers to where you wanna go. Overworked for sure; management expects perfection for their weekly shopper. You’ll be running from the basement to the first floor, between tons of customers, and up to the second … ”


The one thing that did frustrate me and ultimately caused me to leave was the way it dealt with the enthusiasm troughs. In fairness to Pret, I left 8 years ago; so this may have improved since but in my experience the company was not good at dealing with people’s frustrations. There was a strong message for people who were frustrated with something and couldn’t get it resolved – leave! I saw a number of people become shunned and passed over if they had feedback which wasn’t entirely positive. Often people left disgruntled having started out as the desirable happy employees. I suppose in someways it was a useful self selection process – when I became frustrated with a few things and felt threatened that my feedback would fall on highly judgemental ears I knew it was time to leave – leaving the happy people behind me. ”

My response to this review: This person left in 2008 out of frustration, I started in Pret in 2008 and can only say in all fairness to Pret, that it gotten worse.


unskilled managers, racism, bad pay, they take advantage of staff”

“Great company, but will take advantage” “Rude young team members and too many managers in 1 store. Advice to Management: Cut back on all the chiefs we need more indians” – My speech for 10 years!

“Come to your shop at weekends from time to time to see how it’s look like when it’s understaffed”

“Team Member” “Multiple Supervisor – Confusing Leadership … Lack of leadership … Add some structure & look for ways to encourage workers to work hard and have fun without risking their jobs”

General Manager “Very racist upper management. They make you work 60 hours per week and they don’t pay you for it (just basic salary). They don’t appreciate your work no matter how good you are. Tendency to promote british managers than american ones. Advice to Management: Open your mind towards american managers. stop racism that is happening to workers. Get involved with the employees and don’t let the operational managers act as they own the people.”

“Takes advantage of your kindness”

“cashier / hot chef” “Some managers are very anal! The customer is more important then workers. Advice to Management: Listen to your employers suggestions!!” – (I think they meant “employees”)

“Advice to Management: Be kinder to your employees they are not slaves.”

“The management plays favorites more often than not”

“Great things preacherd, not always practiced” ” If you are a Pret Person, quirky, and in with the right crowd, you’re golden. If not….good luck. Pompous and thinks too highly of itself.”

“Pret Graveyard shift” “Terrible hours and poor management and training some people…”

“over worked” “hours are constantly changing … team members are constantly training themselfs”

“management talks to you with little respect.”

“Pressure is crazy especially if you work in the kitchen. … Paperwork is excessive at times. Advice to Management: Reward those who work hard for you and give them a raise. Catch them doing the right thing and praise, and dont just discipline the bad”

“team member” “stressful environment, too many people trying to overpower others. Advice to Management: think like a team member and your key roles to understand success of the team”

“just terrible”Discriminatory management. Unprofessional atmosphere … Abusive staff. Don’t just promote the people that you like, promote the people that are the most qualified.”

“working at pret”Lack of accountability … poor management.” (Absolutely!!!)

“Long hours, unrealistic expectations…”Unrealistic targets, little support, long hours. Advice to Management: Stop changing everything all the time with poor execution

“Terrible experience…” “Cons: Pretty much everything is a con: -lots of stress -under payed -long hours/ short brakes -terrible management -really unflexible schedule.”

“Spoiled, selfish upper management…” “upper management thinks they are better than everyone else. They spend (waste) lots of money on dinners for themselves and “leadership conferences” that are really just excuses to party in Orlando or Vegas. “Business” trips to Boston and Chicago are really expensed vacations for their families. The Brits have taken over NYC. Pret has brought over many managers and leaders form the UK and ‘beheaded’ many of the US employees who built the brand to make room for them. Advice to Management:get over yourselves.”

I will shorten the comments now as this is never ending… Links can just be clicked and read….

Horrible,OverWorked For The Pay,Bad Management And Bad Treatment Felt Like A Slave. Fix Your Attitude care about your employees dont over do the staff be reasonable be fair try everybody equally and so on such a bad experience.”

DISCRIMINATION of [in] PRET A MANGER!!!!!!!!!!?”

Retrain management

Horibble management

They expect perfection

Politics

They hire if you don’t know the language
(That’s true, because that way you won’ t be able to complain or know your rights).

Horrible management … expecting perfection

Biased management

Listen to your employees, some have great potential that needs to be channeled not blocked

Heavy workload, borderline demeaning, discrimination.

Hard hard working culture, to much pressure to be working 100% every sec.

Careless

most of your employees don’t look forward to working there because you are staring them down every second

Poor senior leadership due to lack of experience and diversity. Promotion and staff recognition based on personal favourites

Management is very incompetent. It is clear they have little to know training and have absolutely no training or experience in employee relations

Interior is very clumsy, depressing sometime.


Other review site “Indeed”

Avoid working there

Terrible

Unorganized management

Good benefits, poor management

You will lose everything that makes you human

Very little positive feedback

Rude lower management

Could be more human

Kitchen managers tend to pressure employees excessively

You get to know many different people but nobody really stands for the job.

Very stressful

Everything revolves around achieving the weekly bonus

Poor and terribel mangement

to meet MS standards you have to cheat, ops manager should spend some time with team members (No, they are too busy sitting in the pub during lunch time rush and flying to Dubai to party “their” hard work)

Forced happiness (even during traumatic bereavement!)

When they don’t need you, they make so many displinary needed for you left the job.

Bad Management

I assume this is a complaint with the 1 star 😉

Very disappointed … they never praised me

What the head office ask to us is more than 100% perfomance.

The culture overall was a very rude tone

unfortunate tradition on keeping a dynasty of friends in power while others that don’t make it into the friendly circle will perish.

manager was very rude to another member of staff in front of the rest of us which was very unprofessional

The management of the company seems to have no principle based.

Pret is now too productive and cost minimising company. Labour cost is the key, then customer satisfaction.

many Shop Manager they were very rude and unprofessional

Good company but bad management … You have thousand of standards to respect, but it’s impossible to finish on time NO, when the majority of managers are bad management, then it is a bad company! “The fish stinks from its head” as the saying goes.

Apply there, work for few months and run away a soon as you can.Managment and somemembers of staff were extremely rude and patronising, was often a lot of eye rolling and sighs (Bullying environment)

Crazy management , promoting people from their homeland only . overworking staffs

Harsh Environment. HR problems, employee is treated really badly

I felt like I was being patronised the entire time I was there.

Excessive control. Stress.

Little training was just pushed at the deep end as soon as I started the job

Micromanagement, too many rules

Not fun at all due to management approach

Robots

Fake people, cheat

for every shop the job was done by, let say 20 people. now it is done by 10

Managers treats you like poorly. they are racist and discriminating. if you want to get promotion you have to sleep with someone and kiss manager bum.

Management is trying to squeeze you like a lemon, there is no time to catch a breath, no weekends off, not even 2 days off together.

My own review with a former Senior Manager’s response to my review.

 

….. and so on.


 

In an Imaginary but Honest Interview with Pret I made up the acronym of what Pret stands for: PRET is a four letter F-Word spelled F E A R which stands for: Fire Early At Request. Or one can say Fret.

@Pret, at any company, please treat your people right, as a team leader I have shown you that when you treat your team right, you will still be successful and the money comes in and the team feels truly respected. You don’t want people like me who raise the standard while still treating the team good. I was too loud for you, and yet, if you would have protected me in the darkest time instead of continuing to put me under suppressive management, I would be writing a completely different blog now.

Thank you for reading.

Kind regards,

 

I take back what I wrote at the end of this “video” that Pret has a “good” heart after what I’ve been through and the customers’ deaths, but I leave the “video” as a reminder of Pret’s “legacy” with what I went through and the above list of staff complaints.

 


 

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:

 

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Why do Pret A Manger Staff continue under Harshness

 

I want to address something that I have been part of and influenced under, which many people from the “outside” have asked about, or cannot understand without having been under this kind of work environment.

If you are a new reader to my blog, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”, an overview to my experience as a former employee of Pret A Manger and what I’ve survived under Pret’s leadership including CEO, HR, HQ staff. My story sounds like out of a twisted Hollywood script, but I have written evidence and my open confrontation of Pret on Twitter, Facebook etc. is met with Pret reporting me and letting social media platforms “shadow ban” my accounts. Shadow banning is secret censorship Twitter denies doing, where my Tweets and comments are hidden from the public at times. But I keep writing as I almost lost my life in this toxic work environment.

 

2018-12-23 my twittel star re to shadow ban lie1

 

 

My response to this lie:

 

2018-12-23 my twittel star re to shadow ban lie2

Link

 

 

Regular readers know my story, but as a brief introduction:

I worked for almost 10 years in Pret on the shop floor, for the most part as a Team Leader (Front of House Leader, also called Floor Leader – FL). The kitchens have their own team leadership, Kitchen Leader (KL) responsible for running the kitchen teams and production. FLs are responsible for running the shops. All leaders responsibilities, apart from looking after the teams, is like being a mini-manager. The Leaders are actually the ones who do the real work, where the General Managers (GMs) are often sitting in the office, getting paid for shouting at teams, not being trained properly in people- and leadership skills.

Leaders look after health & safety, do the ordering, waste management, look after customers, work on “busting the queues”, make sure the Mystery Shopper requirements are met, organize the teams and many other responsibilities. In all their hard work they are being underpaid, overworked and always blamed. Many bear under this to rise on the career ladder to become just another complacent manager getting paid for sitting in the office and being off most weekends.

After 7 years in Pret my brother died, which my family and I didn’t know for 5 weeks that he was dead and already cremated! I am still putting the puzzle pieces together, investigating myself what happened, what is fact, what is fiction, why everything was handled so apathetically and carelessly by the police, what legal options I have not able to afford legal aid. The only “consolation” I was given by the police was, that once they rule out fowl play, they are not interested in the cause of death anymore and hand the case back to the coroner. Too much paper work frankly. Of course, would it have been one of their own, they would go to town to investigate AND find relatives before completely “destroying” my brother’s remains! No chance of getting an autopsy even after burial.

I went into a mental war zone that I am still moving in, even though much calmer now, but in my mind I am in a grey wasteland.

What made it even worse, and to this day I cannot believe I went through this, was that I had not only no support from Pret, but was bullied and targeted by superiors under the watchful eye of HR. Some support started after I contacted the CEO having tried for almost a year to raise issues of bullying with HR, unbeknown to me at the time that this put a target on my back. Yes, this sounds unbelievable, and if anyone doubts this, I have plenty of written evidence and confront Pret including the CEO Clive Schlee, mainly on Twitter openly.

Clive Schlee patronized me, having a laugh by calling me his “late night girl” which I explain on my blog. But now they neither respond, nor do anything except letting Twitter and Facebook secretly censor me (shadow ban) by hiding my posts from the public and even isolating my account from supporters where I don’t get notified at times of their Tweets.

I also want to point out the fact that Pret did not act on numerous customer warnings regarding allergen labelling, even after TWO customers died, a third nearly fatal and several hospitalized over time, that should send alarm bells through the public.

But this is another blog entry on how the public is lulled in with slogans, sweet-talk, free coffees (that are funded by prices being increased) and an approachable CEO with a smiley facade. I question even if he really is behind all “his” tweets as he told us once that he has trusted people who answer mails for him when his work load gets too much. And as I have emails from the CEO and know how he writes, I doubt he’s behind all his tweets. But that’s not important and I leave it as speculation.

So, the main issues I want to point to can be found as I linked above to the overview: “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger

Also, to start I want to link again to the Pret Staff Reviews & Complaints and Selected Quotes from that long list that I collected from Employment Review sites, YouTube, Twitter and other websites.

 


 

I started in Pret in 2008 just when Bridgepoint purchased Pret and started to squeeze the life out of staff, with high targets to open on every corner. One recent article by The Times briefly scratches on this, “Pret was the best thing since sliced bread but private equity ruined it”.
Quote: “To my surprise, I also find myself feeling bothered by the sheer number of Pret outlets in London. … It’s obvious what the owners are trying to do. As one veteran private equity investor put it recently: “We buy a business, work out how many restaurants you can get away with in an area until it’s become saturated, then try to convince a new buyer that there is plenty more runway”.

I remember noticing the increase of Pret shops from around 2009-ish on. I cannot compare to pre-2008 but heard that it used to be a little easier, and certainly with much more staff, even though still harsh and fast paced. But all I knew was from 2008 onward. From the beginning I felt the stress, but as I am a hard worker having worked in the food business almost all my life, I just put it down to just being a very busy work environment. Yet, I always told my teams where Pret was their first job, that Pret is very different to all the other companies I worked in three countries over the years.

I had a life, I had friends, projects, all the usual things one enjoys. I managed to not take the stress home too much, although was complaining to friends a lot. And here is where a lot of people also make the mistake, I often narrowed it down to me being very efficient, passionate about everything I do, and thinking I just expect too much. With expecting too much, I mean that to me very normal things like: integrity, honesty, hard work, communication, training etc. was a given. And in my previous employment I either did not experience any bull-crap or I was completely ignorant of it. I don’t know. All I know is I never had issues at work.

I expect a lot from myself and often thought that my expectations were too high. So, I stood back and made the mistake to come under intense stress and harshness. I always understood that leadership has in its word and meaning “lead”. We all lead by example, no matter if good or bad example. But in Pret I and colleagues were always perplex about the lack of integrity of managers, the lack of efficiency and care. But you go on, do your job, go home and have a life.

I used to visit 3, 4 and at times 5 events per week. I am a sucker for live gigs and music in general. I visited over 100+ concerts, theater productions, museums, art events in 5+ years. I traveled, especially visiting family in Germany and friends in the U.S. where I used to live. I was extremely active in my personal life. I published a book of German texts, worked on projects for other artists, enjoyed dinners and cinema with friends. And even while Pret was stressful, I managed often to shrug off the harsh management, complaining to friends, but getting on with my personal passions.

And then my brother died.

What happened then, I would have never ever imagined could happen. I knew Pret was a tough place to work in, but I am no stranger to hard work and just got on with it. Again, I had the wrong expectation to assume Pret would support me as a longtime staff member, or as an employee, no matter how long my service. I write extensively about the bullying I went through while already traumatically bereaved and in shock.

During the main issues of being targeted I applied for my employee file as I tried to understand why the harshness even during bereavement kept happening. One of the emails by a People Business Partner, who responded to a mail from an HR advisor who was the note taker of the first grievance appeal’s hearing against a bullying line manager. I said in the hearing that there is no support and the HR advisor passed this on. Later in another grievance hearing this PBP changed his mind after I pointed out his email. He then said that maybe in hindsight he made a mistake.

It was a complete fog and confusion. In hindsight a lot of this was “gaslighting”, making me think that I was the problem, making me think that I was not bullied, even with all the written evidence I presented, they pretended I was not bullied. In another Tribunal where the Judge ruled unfair dismissal, the Judge also concluded that Pret’s grievance and then appeals hearings were “fundamentally flawed” at the top of page 10 with the check marks. I also went through flawed hearing after flawed hearing which I cover in other posts. And the PBP saying that in Hindsight he made a mistake had me speechless and in a Twilight Zone.

The email regarding my pointing out the lack of support:

 

2015-10-22 Chris &amp; Laura re SUPPORT

 

So, him changing his mind later in a hearing after I pointed out his email, was just another typical way of Pret leadership playing games. But I just crumbled again and again.

My system just switched into autopilot, while working extremely well and making the mistake to approach Pret’s HR with suggestions on how to better support bereaved staff. Little did I know that by doing so, I put a target on my back. Only now do I understand why so few people approach HR as Prince William points out after some research they have done, that only 2% of employees approach HR regarding mental health issues. After my trauma with Pret I understand why so few try to raise awareness and/or make suggestions to HR.

I wrote it somewhere before that I still would approach any HR department again, but this time not alone and not without a note-taker, as Pret “lost” an important document which I applied for in my file. Their note-taker took notes that would have proven that I had no support. But because I never experienced anything remotely of a hell I experienced in Pret, I always approached leadership alone, knowing I act with integrity, came with open hands, but I had to learn my lesson hard.

This is why I write so bluntly and intensely now and have a zero tolerance on bullshit!

But during that time, I blamed myself for having been bullied, I blamed myself for being a burden. I even apologized for a nervous breakdown I had in the office during a team brief after being shouted at in front of my team, two days before the first anniversary of my bother’s death. I put it down to my own grief and what psychologists call, “sibling survivor guilt” having survived my brother. I always knew how well I worked, and it is not cocky when I say that I was one of the best team leaders. I know how well I work and I know all the feedback from my teams, customers and Mystery Shoppers. But when you work under insecure management who pretend that your work is never good enough to pull you down on their level, it’s a constant struggle to figure out what’s going on, why are you not promoted, but held low etc.

I am not a psychologist, but I know that human beings are prone to come under a cloud of suppression and get used to it because they have pure intentions and blame themselves. This is being taken advantage of. One Pret Assistant Manager review highlights the lack of self-respect here very clearly:

“Respect yourself don’t let managers overload you” Link

But Team Members and especially Team Leaders have no choice, because they are manipulated and often subtly to even openly threatened with their job security. Or a very common tactic is to give them unfavourable shifts where the manager knows that a TM either cannot work, or does not like certain shifts. I was given the minimum contracted hours after I lost my savings when my brother died. My boss knew that and rarely gave me more hours to work, even though I asked many times. There is so much manipulating control going on and bullying has many facets from right out shouting at staff, excluding them, withholding important information, transferring them to difficult shops setting them up for failure etc.

I went through it all during bereavement and only in hindsight can I see how much this was a plan under HR in hopes I resign. But I didn’t. I even declined 4 settlement offers if I resign and never speak about my ordeal, 3 offers while still working in Pret and the 4th via Acas when I filed a Tribunal claim, but withdrew because my dad just died in the middle of preparing for the case. I collapsed and knew without legal aid I could not mentally see through a complex court case.

Not having signed my rights away, I buried my dad, went under for a couple of months, and then decided to go public.

Another Assistant Manager’s review (I leave the mistakes to keep it in their own words):

“Avoid working there – Too much pressure working there, company expects you to do all your job within the time you are schedule but it is impossible , you will end up working hours for free, no work life balance at all , they have he mistery shipper but it is all a fake thing you can not control , the standards are so high the only thing it will drive is you stress everyday. Don’t work there. Link

 

The Mystery Shopper, or as I have renamed it the “Misery” Shopper, is the driving force behind the expected happiness. When I left Pret in Dec. 2017 the reward for an individual staff member for being extra nice when the Mystery Shopper witnessed their special service is £200 tax-free. Even if the team loses the bonus, an individual Team Member can still earn up to £100 on top of their wages. With the bonus and perfect scores = £200 when the Mystery Shopper nominates them for their “outstanding” service. This is why staff are constantly smiling, chatting and giving free items in the hopes the MS is around witnessing this or even better, be the recipient of this extra kissing butt.

 

2018-07-04 Outstanding Card

 

 

And customers are so impressed with the constant “happiness” of staff not realizing that staff have financial incentives, especially when giving free items away in hopes the MS is present receiving or witnessing this generosity.

Financial incentives when successful, and fear managed and micro managed when not.

 

A Tweet from the former Pret employee who was fired for having started a Union:

 

2018-05-09 PAMSU EndTheMysteryShopper

Link

 

Different Mystery Shopper excerpts. Pressing Ctrl & + enlarges pictures for easier read, and Ctrl & – to decrease size again.

 

04 MS

 

 

05 MS

 

 

I was told off in the office after the Mystery Shopper comment on me having coughed as I had a slight cold:

 

MS_Cough

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

I wish I could have told this MS that staff are not paid sick leave for the first 2 and 3 days depending on their age. So you had to decide if to stay home sick and lose income, or go to work unwell and get a telling off from the manager as I did because I coughed when I happened to serve the MS. When we were sick we were never even asked by our bosses how we were! Nada! And when we happen to serve the MS and cough, not even then, just put downs constantly as managers rely on the MS points which count towards the biggest chunk of their quarterly bonus.

 

Yes, the extra cash is a good reward and gives great customer service. But firstly, not all are motivated by financial incentives, especially while being stressed and pushed on a daily basis. And secondly the flip-side of this is, that when staff don’t smile and the Mystery Shopper comments on it, or customers flock to Twitter with complaints, staff find themselves in the office or other back room, away from customers and get told off. And then they are commanded to smile. I mentioned it in another blog post that the most ridiculous telling off I and my team received after losing bonus as no-one smiled, was where our non-smiling and moody boss said, “Your smile is part of your uniform. You are expected to wear a smile like you wear your uniform…”

He also said that we need to leave our problems at home etc. I was in the middle of a grievance appeal’s process due to my former line manager openly bullying me, and still coming to terms about my brother’s death. I will not get into this particular shop further, but teams are getting conditioned to this type of “emotional and mental abuse”, and yes, I call this abuse!

The press called this “emotional labour”. Quote:

“… in The New Republic, Timothy Noah observes that the sandwich shop chain Pret A Manger aggressively monitors its employees’ displays of enthusiasm. If any worker at any particular store seems insufficiently pleased to see their customers, he and all of his coworkers could suffer the consequences. Pret CEO Clive Schlee even monitors whether his employees are making enough affectionate physical contact with each other.” Link

 

This pressure not only from Mystery Shoppers and Managers but also from cutsomers who quickly run to Twitter and publicly at times even naming staff members, not thinking for one minute that Team Members are human beings who might be going through a hell they don’t see! I smiled, gave freebies, was complemented on my service by customers, and after my shift went for the bridge.

 

3 years of good service, then ONE incidence and this lady blackmails Pret with losing her business. This then is fed back to the manager who pressures the TM or even the whole team:

2018-11-28 Bad Service after 3 years

Link

I decided today to respond with a .gif handing her a handkerchief. Something I was never able to do while in Pret.

 

2019-02-04 Response to Nov tweet on bad service with gif

Link

 

CryMeARiver

 

 

I responded to some of these Tweeters on why they call out hard working staff’s names publicly, not even bothering how intense working on the front lines in Pret is:

 

2018-10-24 Re No Smile

Link

 

 

2018-12-31 Customer calling staff name for rude service2

Link

 

 

A customer who has no boundaries to call hard-working people the C-Word and Pret even apologizing, kissing butt for profit:

 

PretBehaviour01a

 

etc. etc. …

 

Horrible Company Pret

YouTube further down the comments.

 

Fear management, manipulation, exploiting vulnerabilities and good will of staff etc.

I  often ask people if they really believe or even bother to care if Pret staff can smile, show a happiness, friendliness and being polite for 6, 8, 10+ hours EVERY day in a fast paced, intensely loud and stressful work environment.

 

So, why do staff subject themselves to this and continue for years?

The answer is not simple but manifold:

  • For one, most are foreign workers who are glad to have found a job after leaving their debt-ridden country behind. They have kids to feed in hopes they will have it better one day.
  • Often people think that with time it will get better and certainly once you climb up the career ladder. At least I was under this illusion as I’ve never had problems in other companies and kept giving Pret the benefit of the doubt time and time again.
  • Many staff members have the ability to just keep their heads down, play the game and unfortunately many play it on account of hardworking people.
  • Other times it’s just simply assuming this is just the way it is, and they just get on with it, not realizing how damaging it becomes for their mental health in time.

 

I found an interesting Tweet yesterday that shows that even investigative journalists who are under life threatening situations come under this:

 

2019-02-04 Getting used to Harassment2

Link

 

I used to ask like many people do why battered woman who are beaten and abused by their husbands/boyfriends stay so long in a toxic and violent relationship, often for decades before breaking out.

After what I have been through during already traumatic bereavement, I don’t ask that question anymore. I for one became extremely vulnerable, I was emotionally broken on the ground so-to-speak. I was in a fog of shock and grief, still functioning on autopilot, trying also to distract myself, exhausting myself physically to cover this excruciating pain of loss and unanswered questions. I was often literally begging my bosses and HR for help, I became ill with emailing, irrational. I started to have panic attacks, the first ever which happened in my sleep! I woke with or from a panic attack thinking I had a heart attack.

I even tried to find another job, had a trial day, but either I overdid my work or I didn’t sell myself well, or both. I was lost in where to turn, couldn’t take off unpaid leave as I had no financial means, having lost my savings after my brother died, running errands, traveling between Germany and London etc. A friend of mine understood when I gave up hope and thought I could never find another job, she said to me that it makes sense that I stayed with Pret as this is the “devil that I know” compared to the devil that I did not know in a new company.

Many battered women partly take a long time to leave their violent “partners” as this is what they come accustomed to.

How I survived my Pret ordeal having had several close calls at the bridge, I don’t know. Partly it may have been the intense anger I had because of how my brother’s death not only happened, but was dealt with, and certainly I didn’t want to put more grief on my mum. Added to that how Pret had nothing more to do then try and get rid of an inconvenient employee, whose only “crime” was that they became bereaved, while having been a very good asset to the company for several years.

Welcome to Pret that uses former homeless people for PR.

I had many conversations throughout the years with colleagues who felt stuck, scared to know if they can even find another job. And make no mistake about the low paid workers in Pret, many of them have degrees from their countries. I worked with a woman from Finland who had PhD in some technical work which I forgot. I worked with a Spanish woman who was a fully educated lawyer. One colleague from Brazil who was the secretary of the mayor of the small town he lived in. Another Brazilian lady was a bank manager in her town. Many artists, IT people, musicians, I worked with a trained pianist, I myself self-published a book from scratch by myself, financed it, organized it etc. etc.

For most, their degrees are not accepted in the UK, they would have to study some extra semesters. Others lack the language and just work to improve their English to get a start in the UK. Sure, Pret pays a little more, give a few more perks, throw parties etc. But the work they expect is like working for 2 or 3 people to get their Investors their money back plus profit! Labour is cut in most shops to maximize profit and with it managers’ bonuses. CEO Clive Schlee pockets £30 million from the JAB take-over and whatever sums of money all the top leadership get thrown at. All on the backs of low-paid workers needing to feed their kids and pay the bills.

A Barista review just from last week 30.01.2019 highlighted this:

2019-02-02 Pret A Lack of Staff

Link

 

Staff get used to this as this seems the norm and no-one is standing up. And if people do stand up, like Andrej Stopa who was fired for starting a Union, or like I did internally and now from the outside, staff remain intimidated and hopeless. Fear is a huge thing in Pret, and it’s so subtle how one can get sucked in without knowing it, until you are so paralyzed. You’re almost brainwashed by the slogans and harshness. Rarely do people have longevity in raising these unacceptable issues. The only option they find, apart from resigning or getting dismissed, is to give anonymous reviews on Indeed, Glassdoor, Twitter etc.

in 2011 someone even started a Facebook group “I Hate Pret A Manger” which is hard to find even when looking for it, as FB is also shadow banning. But I stumbled on it by coincidence just recently.

 

2018-01-07 I Hate Pret Facebook Page2

 

I have been contacted by current staff with the plea to not out them, and I never would. But I urge every staff member, even in other companies to join a Union. Take it from me, I had to learn the hard way, but that is why I am now so outspoken and not intimidated anymore, no matter what tricks and traps Pret comes up with. For fastfood workers I can only recommend the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) that has been instrumental in the first ever McDonald’s strikes in the UK that started in the U.S. years ago. Everybody knows how poor work conditions in McDonald’s are. But Pret has been successfully lulling in the public and controlled staff, so people often don’t believe how it is behind the facade when this is pointed out. I don’t blame them. All I ask, if something looks too good to be true, take a closer look.

And the £1000 that Clive announced on 29. May 2018, well Pret became aware of my blog on the night from 28th to 29th of May 2018. I know how Pret’s CEO reacts fast when reputation is at risk! And in October staff were still waiting and forbidden to further tweet or get a disciplinary with the risk of getting dismissed. Well, I’m delighted to have been instrumental for all staff to get an extra £1000 which they usually would have to wait 10 years to receive!

I couldn’t help but spill the beans on that Twitter feed, but most of my Tweets are of course hidden!

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement

 

 

2018-09-30 1000

 

 

 

2018-10-01 £1000

Link

 

If you have read this long blog entry, and indeed some other of my writings, it means you care (apart from Pret that also read my blog ;-] ). But those of my readers who care, I do not take it lightly that people give of their time to subjects that are easily avoided by most people. It is always hard to have ones “bubble burst”. We want to believe a shiny facade, in this case Pret’s facade, that they have so carefully presented over many years.

 

Illusion

 

All I ask is to look closer. Ask questions and give ear when you hear critique or something that surprises you, as we all were knocked over by Pret having been silent about two customer deaths and not done anything until it became public. And most importantly, don’t victim blame the staff who came and come under this harshness. It’s so easy to judge from the outside that they should just get another job! Don’t judge when people cannot find their way out or become hopeless. It needs a lot of support like a Union, friends, professional helplines to get a healthy perspective of what is acceptable behaviour towards decent and hardworking people. It goes faster than one thinks to slip under a workplace bullying environment, especially when it is systemic as it is so rampant today. Amazon for example is one of the worst, and YouTube is full of undercover reporting within Amazon warehouses and drivers.

Yes, many Pret customers also go on Twitter recommending Team Members by name who give great service. But it is even better to speak to the Team Member themselves, because I was told over the years by some of my customers if I received some goodies as they wrote to HQ or Twitter about my service. And most managers don’t even care to tell their staff when a good report is given on Twitter, especially if that Manager doesn’t like the Team Member. Reach out directly, or even in the presence of the manager. Pret does not have time by the amount of daily Tweets to pass on every message, even though they always say they do.

One card with a £20 note inside kept me going when I was in my darkest time in a shop with a bullying manager. The customer who only knew me a few days did not know what hell was raging inside me with my grief and the turmoil in Pret. If he would have gone to Twitter naming me and how he appreciated my service, I would have never gotten this message, as the manager of the store targeted me. But him giving me this card, even if without the money, it meant the world to me and I broke in the office later after closing time because I had moments I was ready to quit and go over the edge… And even though it’s very sad to me that this card kept me going like a glass of fresh water in the desert, but people do not understand how staff feel, in depression, even suicidal.

 

Pret Reality for many:

 

“Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work”

2018-10-02 Modern Day Slavery

Link

 

And this is my campaign to say that every person deserves to be treated with respect and their dignity protected.

Thank you for reading.

 

I wish I got some contact details from the customer who gave me this card that kept me going to let him know how many times this card reminded me that people care. I read it after closing time in the office and just sobbed.

 

pk-customer-card-aug-2015-aldgateeast_smudged.jpg

 

 

 


 

As my blog has grown into a maze of writings, I created a “Mind Map”, an overview to the most important blog entries for the reader not to get cluttered with posts. To understand the main issues that I have survived, please visit My Ordeal with Pret A Manger overview, click on the arrow next to each heading that you choose which will lead directly to posts back onto this blog. Thank you for reading.

 

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

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Quote of the Day 66 – Pret A Scared

 

angst-807726__340

 

 

Quote of the Day: (Bold highlights by me) from YouTube, currently at the top of the comments:

Horrible place to be , pret a manger looks brilliant to the outsider but poor workers are inslaved … they work hard and they always on edge and being told to be fake and be extra nice and sweet and if someone is just him/her self he will be taking into the office and will be warned and told off and been given a letter saying that u have not been performing and from that time u will be on risk to be fired or put in the kitchen to work even harder and be threatened! Poor staff are sooo scared that they do what they are being told out of worry to lose job , so if you get free item not because of the staff member is being generous but that’s because of her manager and area manager. Who says to give about 2 to 3 items free on that day and since you are at least showing her that she is still a human she will give it to you rather than a rude heartless customer

 

This is what I wrote in several Tweets and on my blog that staff are threatened, and depending how insecure they are even get a letter pressuring them to perform better or risk being dismissed. I remember vividly when a new Team Member received a “File Note”, now called “Note of Concern” because our shop lost the Mystery Shopper because he didn’t smile. This Note of Concern was a typical tool of fear management.

Depending on the staff member, some did “only” receive a telling of, others this kind of “letter” or even further a disciplinary which is a secure step towards dismissal. The more intimidated a staff member is, the more these tactics are used. And that is why Clive Schlee, CEO is “careful to integrate former homeless people into regular shops, saying that they would be “too exposed”.

I am exposing WHY this concern is, because Clive Schlee KNOWS his managers as they are trained to work in fear management. A former homeless person being subjected to this management style would not serve PR very well as they are in danger to be catapulted back to the streets as they couldn’t handle this manipulative and harsh approach.

Hence, Pret puts what they patronizingly call the “Rising Stars” into one shop, including former homeless manager, thus showing to the public how lovely Pret is, while Team Members in regular shops have their “stars fall” in fear management, dismissals, resignations etc.

The above highlighted quote also is what I meant when I wrote my Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust:

Above quote: “…been given a letter saying that u have not been performing and from that time u will be on risk to be fired or put in the kitchen to work even harder and be threatened!”

 

Pret plays the game for the public by giving people with mental health issues a three months trial, but after the trial period are not taking them on even though, in this case Sergio from the Brixton Mosaic Clubhouse mental health place, gave 100% excellence and EVERY item picture perfect. He was just too slow and wasn’t even taken into the shop front were he wouldn’t need to be that fast.

If Sergio would have stayed on, he would have eventually needed to be pressured, but that would have gone sour as he would have clearly felt the discrimination. Thus, he was treated nice for 3 months, not taken on and he did exactly what Pret wanted: he spoke well of his experience, not realizing how he was used for PR.

 

My Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust explaining exactly the game Pret is playing.

 

 

Also, staff are drilled to be friendly, smiley, happy at all times no matter how they really feel as I have survived being bullied even during bereavement. The weekly Mystery Shopper probed if staff smile, give eye contact, make small talk, serve hot drinks within 1 minute etc. etc. etc. Staff switch into autopilot, and I still don’t know how I survived this. I was hard on myself, the added “sibling survival guilt” didn’t help to productively deal with this fear management.

 

Mystery Shopper excerpts on the forced friendliness and 1 minute service demand:

Please press Ctrl & + to enlarge picture for easier read, and Ctrl & – to decrease size again.

 

04 MS

 

05 MS

 

Also, the second Tweet of former Pret employee who was dismissed for having started a Union, scratching on the Mystery Shopper with the hashtag #EndTheMysteryShopper

 

2018-05-09 PAMSU EndTheMysteryShopper

 

 

If Mystery Shopper comments aren’t as favourable and points are lost, and worse even, bonus is lost, TMs find themselves individually in the office or in the kitchen as a group, away from customers, being told off and warned. And then they are being send out commanded to smile.

I will do an extra blog entry on the Mystery Shopper. But the main point with the MS is that the whole team can gain bonus on a list of things the MS is tasks to look out for like variety amount in products selection, cleanliness, atmosphere and especially the service. If one Team Member (TM) messes up the service, the whole team loses bonus incl. and especially the manager. This is done for peer pressure. But if everything is more or less good, the team gets the bonus which is £1 per hour they’ve worked the week f the MS visit. So, if a person worked 40 hours that week, they get an extra £40 on their wages.

This can be increased if an individual TM is extra nice or does something extraordinary and the MS happens to witness this. The TM doesn’t need to serve the MS to get what they call an “Outstanding Card” (OC) which is not a card, but a name for an additional bonus the TM gets. When I left Pret in December 2018 the extra reward was increased to £200. So if the MS is either served by or witnesses an outstanding service by a TM, the MS can decide to give this OC and that TM receives an additional £100. If the points are perfect, that extra bonus for that individual TM is doubled to £200. And that is why customers are so impressed with the non-stop friendliness, because they don’t realize like the person in the YouTube video getting a free cookie every time, that TMs often suspect a customer to be the Mystery Shopper and hope to get that extra cash when being extra nice.

There is a daily budget on how many free items staff are expected to give away. This is what the below person comments on below on their complaint under the YouTube video. And then customers wonder why the price for coffee has been increased twice within a short time. Part for this is that someone has to pay for all the freebies, and it isn’t Pret.

If bonus is lost, managers get extremely angry as the Mystery Shopper reports count the most towards quarterly management and area management bonuses. The money grows the higher the management, the more the bonus.

Needless to say what turmoil and depression some develop being “commanded” to smile, make small talk etc. And customers are so impressed, assuming staff are so happy working for Pret. Again, how I survived this even during traumatic bereavement, I don’t know. Maybe anger kept me going, pressing forward in a complete fogged up mental state.

 

Today’s quote, a YouTube comment from early January 2019 or late December 2018. This comment shows what Pret purposely did NOT do with Sergio for the sake of PResenting a nice facade and why the CEO said that they are “careful to integrate” former homeless people into regular shops as they would be “too exposed”:

 

2019-02-01 #66 YouTube under free cookie video

Link

 

 

Featured in “Quotes of the Day” selected Pret reviews and long list of “Pret Staff Complaints“.

 

 

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

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

 

1. Quote of the Day #62 – Pret A Noxious

 

I decided to do two “quotes of the day” today as they are both from New York within days of each other.

 

 

dirty-water5

 

Full review as Quote of the Day:

 

Go back to the UK, Pret
I have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment. Employees relocating from UK were given preferential treatment, better salaries for equal experience, HR was mostly a joke, ‘leaders’ displayed zero initiative in mentorship of their teams, roles were unclear and the company had tunnel vision on decision making based on the opinion of one or two people who paid little attention to local market data.

 

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

30. Oct. 2018 NY

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

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

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

 

 

 

Doing the PR[et] Thing Naturally

 

My 10 years in Pret A Manger which has always been stressful, trying to figure out why it felt so toxic and negative in this company, and this long road in hardship at work has taught me to not give Pret the benefit of the doubt anymore, as I did too many times. The last three years have been extremely traumatic after I lost my brother and on top of this being bullied in Pret, which I explain extensively on this blog and which will turn into a chronological book, as the story is very complex. But it was important for me to put the story out in creative writing as best as it comes out, and to do it publicly as I was in these last years balancing on the edge of life. Even if life ends prematurely due to illness, accident, while my suicidal thoughts will be left behind, I want the public to know what happened to me in Pret, and not take my ordeal to the grave, apart from what my friends know and witnessed through my distress. I also collected numerous staff reviews on the bullying culture in Pret and listed them onto one page for easy access to each review.

When people learn of my experience, the question comes up if I went to court against Pret. I explain that I did and then withdrew for these reasons in this blog entry.

The other question that comes up is why on earth I stayed so long in this environment that almost killed me. I scratch on this in several blog posts but will write an extra blog entry on this in more detail. Watch this space.

Many people who read my story don’t know what to do with it, let alone what to say. Understandably. My writings sound angry at times, and they are, but I am not the “monster” that people may view me from afar with my loud and public outcry. I am actually a very peaceful person who loves and cares deeply about people, even if this doesn’t look like it. This probably was one reason why I struggled so long in Pret and approached them internally, even in ill emailing out of trauma and a drunken stupor later on. But my integrity and my honest, even if weird approach was to my disadvantage. And yet integrity and honesty is what I am proud of, it didn’t make me rich, but it makes me sleep at nights.

I don’t have a nice front to show you, I don’t plaster my life with a nice facade while rotten inside. I show you ‘my’ back first (this website picture is not me of course). For 10 years I was forced to smile in Pret, even during traumatic bereavement. There was no mercy from my line managers. The Mystery Shopper, who is sent weekly to each store with the assignment to let the shops know if the Team Member smiled, made eye-contact, made some small-talk even during extreme busy times, is the main contributor to the “friendly” hell that I and all shop staff went and go through. Of course I would have loved to wear a badge one can apply for to use the public transport in London. A badge like pregnant women or people with a disability wear that says, “Baby on board” or “Please offer me a seat”, as the pregnancy or disability is not always or immediately visible to assist the person who may be in pain or uncomfortable in general.

 

 

BabyBoard    tfl-please-offer-me-a-seat-badge-and-card

 

 

In my trauma and bereavement I wish I could have worn a badge that said, “Please offer me a smile for a change” or “Abnormal load on board” or “In grief, please be kind” or “Please help me I want to die” …

I collected a list of Staff Complaints from external Employment Review sites as well as YouTube, Twitter and other websites. I did an extra category on the forced happiness and another on the fake smiles that Team Members are tasked to perform. And customers are so impressed with the service, not knowing what is the driving “force” behind the happiness con. The amount of times I and team members were summoned into the office or kitchen, away from the customers, and then told off when we didn’t smile.

I had a good telling off in the office after the Mystery Shopper (I call them Misery Shopper) commented that I should stay home when sick as I couldn’t smile because I was coughing. Mystery Shoppers either don’t know or don’t care that weekly paid staff are not paid sick-leave the first 2 or 3 days (depending which age) when sick, no matter if they have a sick note from the GP. Sure, there are what Pret calls “well-being days” depending how long you worked in Pret and other times at the discretion of the GM, but for things like having a cold or illnesses that take 2 or 3 days to recover, you have to make a choice if you want to stay in bed to recover and lose income, or drag yourself to work and then be told off for not smiling because you coughed!

Excerpt of the Mystery Shopper’s comment after I served the MS and coughed:

 

2014-12-01 MS cough

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

 

It was also impossible to “feel cheerful” when my boss was constantly telling me off for the smallest issues and then ordered me to go out to the shop floor and smile. It was even more impossible to “feel cheerful” when I just buried my brother and there was no mercy from my superiors nor from HR. And the line manager who warned me verbally in the office after the above comment on my coughing, countless times being told off, never once asked “how are you, are you ok?” And I did it, I smiled again and again and again and again and again and again…, and received many compliments from customers as well as Mystery Shoppers, while neither of them knew what turmoil and trauma was raging inside me. No customer would have guessed that I left work after my shift and walked towards a bridge, wrestling with life.

 

I even received a thank you card with a £20 note inside from a customer pair whom I served in a shop where I helped out for a week. This card I received WHILE in the middle of the darkest time, it was about 8 or 9 months after the news of my brother’s death AND the middle of being bullied by my superiors. I didn’t let it show and have to say as well that these two customers, who sat in that shop every day working on their laptops as they were graphic designers, were extremely pleasant. They made my job very very easy and cheered me up the best I was able to relax during trauma. They were a fantastic distraction and kind people. In my ten years in Pret, these two people come to mind immediately when I think of a nice customer experience. This exchange was brief but very organic.

We chatted every day as they sat in the shop for hours using the Wifi for their work. And they spent quite some money everyday, buying food and coffee, work some hours, buying some sweets and another coffee, work more hours, buying another drink etc. Every day they spent a good amount, not like some students on a budged who would buy the cheapest item just to use the free Wifi for hours. On my last day for that week I told them that it was my last day and where my usual shop is so that they won’t be surprised why I wasn’t there anymore as we had lots of conversations and laughs in-between.

They never knew my loss and the added turmoil I went through in Pret. As sad as it is, but this card was my life-line for a while. I put it on my desk at home to remind me that my service wasn’t as bad as my superiors tried to make me believe. I knew how good I was at my job and with my teams, with all my mistakes, flaws and shortcomings as well. But when you go through loss AND bullying on top of it, you lose the floor underneath your feet and all, absolutely all self-esteem and self-confidence disappears. So, as sad as it is, but this simple card heaved me out of a black hole many a times, and I wish I had a way to let the customer know what a small gesture like this did to me, I didn’t care for the money, but his words were life to me as I became increasingly suicidal! When they learned that it was my last day, he briefly left the shop, returned and gave me this card. Later in the office when reading this after closing time, I broke down and sobbed:

 

PK Customer Card Aug 2015 AldgateEast_smudged

 

It is an extremely rare occasion for customers to go out of their way to acknowledge staff like this. I’ve seen customers giving gifts to my colleagues as well throughout the years, but it is extremely rare and mostly happens around Christmas time.

 

And with the Mystery Shoppers, I kept these MS comments because of that same area manager who targeted me during the darkest time, saying that I didn’t engage my teams, and yet countless MS comments as well as regular customers said otherwise:

 

2012-10-12 MS 1

 

Another year, different MS:

2012-10-12 MS 2

 

These two and much more MS reports were my protection as my name was on them, and even if my name wasn’t mentioned, I was on the shift the days of these and other comments as the responsible Team Leader running the shifts. Again, it is sad that I had to keep those for my protection against bullying superiors who tried to look for the smallest issue to get rid of (for them) inconvenient staff.

Of course there is some true smiling going on as well, especially within the teams who often work very well together, trying to protect each other from the line managers who tend to kiss upward and kick downward. But the job in Pret involves having to smile no matter what, or as one of my GMs (General Manager) once told us off in the kitchen saying that, “Your smile is part of your uniform” while he never smiled when serving customers.

 

Pret Uniform2

The Pret A Mask Staff Uniform Cupboard

 

This is the reality behind the smiles of team members where even during bereavement, depression, illness and a personality that may not be naturally cheerful, you have to smile. You either develop superhuman capabilities or mental illness. And I’m sure you’ll figure which one of the two is more likely. Anyone would know that no-one can smile and be happy for 8 hours straight, let alone in a high stress, fast-paced, brutal work environment; LET ALONE during bereavement and mental strain! But the public loves to buy this facade, because it is so easy to be lulled in. So easy.

 

And just when I finished the majority text of this draft today, I see this Tweet from a customer who is appalled at the poor service and lack of smile, even naming the Team Member, and Pret of course in a generic cut & paste response will pass this on to the GM in that shop. And Adil S. will find himself in the office today or tomorrow depending on when he is in the shop. The GM or even AM will most likely not ask Adil how he is doing, if he has any problems or issues, if everything okay? Adil might have just buried a loved-one and his boss is even aware of this, or certainly he might have just been in the middle or just finished an extremely busy coffee morning, or he might have just come out of the office where his line manager had a go at him. And there certainly is no guarantee that he will find any mercy or empathy from his boss after this Tweet below where he is named publicly!

The customer does not give a second’s thought on why Adil was rushing and not smiling and not giving the customer a “warm feeling” and “naturally smiling” to ALL customers. And why should he, he paid a lot of money for cheap coffee. The customer will most likely also respond to my comment angrily, as my pointing out that Adil, or any staff member at that, might be going through hell. It may burst his bubble and that it may be too much to give a warm feeling to a staff member who cannot share what may be going on in his life.

Many customers do recognize how intensely busy it is during a Pret morning coffee rush. It is called a coffee “rush” for a reason. On an average busy morning, especially when the GM cut staff, I myself alone served approximately 25 – 30 people in a 15 minute period which was visible in the system for later scrutiny by managers. This means on an average I served between 80 – 100 customers within an hour during extreme busyness.

If any reader here is a regular customer in Pret and thinks I am exaggerating, do an experiment, go to any Pret, especially the really busy ones and go when you know the busiest time is in the morning or lunch time, as this varies a little bit from shop to shop. Sit close to the till area where you can easily observe the Team Members. Take a stop watch, pick the fastest Team Member and time them within a 15 minute period. It will be hard to concentrate only on one Team Member, but give it a go. Count how many customers (transactions) this TM serves in that time. And I specifically mean the busy morning coffee rush and / or the busy lunch time rush, not the more quieter afternoons and evenings or the quieter time after the morning and before the lunch rush.

One can do the math throughout the day including the busy lunch “rush”. But from the log on the system, I often did around 500 – 600 transactions (1 transaction with the minimum of 1 customer, but often serving more than 1 person per transaction, serving a family or friends, but the number showed as per transaction, not per customer) in a 6, 8 or 10+ hour shift. Every day!

PLUS all the customers that you spoke to that weren’t logged as transactions via the till system, people who approached you by the fridges with a question. PLUS customers who called in on the phone with a query. PLUS customers who knew you were staff even when you were on your break and with your Pret uniform covered up, customers still approached you with a question during your break……. and dare you decline to help them during your break, being worn out, exhausted after busy breakfast and lunch rushes!! How quickly do customers tweet to Pret about any and every peep that bothers them. It’s safe to say that I myself alone was dealing with around 1000+ people EACH DAY plus my team and bosses…………..

And you are required to smile for EACH and EVERY customer. The Mystery Shopper will make sure you do, while also making sure you keep eye contact AND have a little conversation! In all this you are expected to be natural, not robotic.

Forget the “aim” to “connect”, if you don’t smile you get into trouble. One comment here from the MS on a colleague who was a very hard working Team Leader herself in her service, but I have had similar comments on my service like this as well. And no matter how hard you worked or how good your service was before and after you happened to serve the MS, reading those comments discouraged you further, not to mention your boss telling you off later:

 

Mystery Shopper poor comments

Quote: “I was not greeted at the till or given a smile. The only 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, the team member could have given me a friendly remark or made small talk.”

 

I know that this team leader also had 500-600 transactions each day on top of her leadership responsibilities as we were always looking at our till reports if we were too slow or even too fast. Total nightmare and the most ungrateful, unrewarding and dehumanizing job. Autopilot happens and it turns into mental illness.

 

Yes, customers pay a lot of money, they deserve the minimum of a decent service, as in fact every paying customer, as well as the homeless person does who asks for a free Tea which happens all the time. Every person deserves respect and the best service possible. But again, the bullying environment in Pret, cutting staff to maximize profit, overworking and stressing staff to breaking point … no one wants to know about this. It’s all about “me, myself and I”. No thought of my fellow man and woman. Let’s just name, shame and blame them publicly, right?

I know of one suicide of a staff member, I almost ended my life as well, as my regular readers know my story by now. Others have repeatedly reviewed on the stress, depression, anxiety etc. working in Pret, and I cannot help thinking of how many more may have ended their lives or became suicidal, even after they left Pret or got fired and broke.

So, I keep my fingers crossed for Adil, and hope the feedback he receives will be constructive, not pulling him down further as GMs don’t like the “shame” of feedback like this from HQ via a public Tweet. I certainly know how it is to get pulled down in the office by my bosses because of a Tweet, or customers writing in because their day got ruined for whatever reason…

 

Today’s Tweet from a customer to Pret:

 

2018-10-24 Re No Smile

 

2018-10-24 Re No Smile2

Link to Tweet

 

And who is the best in this smile and friendliness? Of course Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret. What Ronald McDonald is to lure kids to McDonald’s, Schlee is to Pret. His job is to present (and Pret-end) this happiness and friendliness, and portray to the public that Pret is a lovely place that provides “good jobs for good people”. And he paints this facade extremely well.

But he doesn’t stop there, he goes the “extra mile” and takes the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable and broken ones, homeless people (mainly young people) off the street, offers them jobs, flies them out to Austria where he has property, hikes with them and then making nice photos to show what a great company Pret is, and how well he and Pret cares for staff.

 

Some free PR on the house:

 

2018-10-20 Careful 2 Integrate Homeless1

 

 

How easy it is, as a millionaire business man to take the most vulnerable people, shower them with good deeds and an overdose of luxury, and then post this on his blog and on Twitter. And the public goes ‘Aaaawww isn’t that lovely’.

In the meantime staff across the board in Pret shops and kitchens are bullied, overworked, underpaid, have to work overtime without pay. And when they complain they are being threatened with their job security; disciplinaries are handed out like napkins, hardworking and loyal staff being unfairly dismissed and put on the streets, fear management is thriving, staff becoming suicidal etc. etc. Selected quotes from the long list of staff complaints, as well as my traumatic experience that I survived.

That is why Schlee writes on his blog of the idea for the Rising Stars (well sounding slogans) to run a shop by themselves, as solely former homeless from the manager down to the kitchen and shop staff and that Pret is “careful to integrate” them into shops. I write about why Pret is careful to integrate them in this blog entry more extensively.

But in a nutshell, for people who were homeless, vulnerable, have mental challenges and traumas to overcome, for them to work in the mainstream shops could catapult them right back on the streets as the work environment in shops and kitchens is brutal. So, when these Rising Stars run shops entirely with solely former homeless people on staff, they would be treated not as harsh as mainstream shops with high targets and unrealistic expectations. These Rising Stars would get an easier ride.

Thus, the well oiled PR[et] machine puts on its famous smile and portrays to the public what a lovely company they are. And yet, reality looks very different as I share my traumatic survival of Pret and all the staff reviews I collected unto one page. I keep referencing back and forth with links so that the reader doesn’t need to take just my word for it and because many people are new readers. This is so appalling because instead of making it easier across the company, treating ALL people with respect and kindness, and in this way still be really successful, the Rising Stars are treated softer, while the mainstream shops continue to suffer, and who knows how many ended up on the streets after they broke.

The CEO is very aware of how it is in shops, as he also visits shops regularly. One approach also is that shops are named, shamed and blamed when things go wrong like poor Health & Safety results. Of course shops are also named when they do extremely well as an incentive to make shops jealous to compete and raise the profit. But the atmosphere is hellish and I was able to take it for a long time while I had a “normal” life, not taking this home too much. But when my life got turned upside down when my brother died, this became a roller coaster that I don’t know how I survived this.

 

Only some of the many collected “reviews” on Pret’s work conditions:

 

This person keeps appearing on several YouTube comments regarding Pret (like I do on Twitter). One comment from YouTube scrolling down in the comments:

 

2018-07-24 RPQ now Branzinotito comment on James Hoffmann video

 

 

 

Ex-GM:

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM

 

 

 

 

Cons: “Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work”

 

2018-10-02 Modern Day Slavery

 

 

A very blunt but true review:

 

2018-07-12 Quote Pret #17

 

… Compiled with more reviews along those lines collected on the usual page I created.

 

The way Pret and the CEO dealt with two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal, ignored numerous complaints and warnings regarding allergen and the lack of labelling, that only once the deaths became public and people started to boycott Pret, some even saying they will never shop there again, only then does Pret start slowly to trial labelling each product. And yet, each item has been labeled with full allergen guide for the homeless each night since years. The main characteristic in Pret is to make shop staff and customers responsible to figure out what is in the products. The homeless and  / or people in need cannot check after closing time nor do many have access to the Internet to check for allergen information online. So, staff and customers while in the shops are made responsible to search for ingredient and allergen information. A typical Pret “behaviour” to blame downwards should things go wrong.

 

2018-10-20 Pret charity labels2

 

 

I am all for taking homeless people off the streets, please do. Please help people back into jobs and get accommodation. But please, while you are doing this, also include homeless people who are in their 40s and 50s and not just in their 20s where your investment may pay off longer! There is too much discrimination going on, and even while older people are not as easily molded and brainwashed anymore, as they have a zero-tolerance on bullshit with their life experience, your reputation would get a better shine in the long-run. And yes, take them to Austria, Stonehenge, Hawaii or to the freaking moon if you can, but to take the most vulnerable for PR while regular shop staff are suffering, is the greatest hypocrisy and self-serving thing! If I was a former homeless person, I would be ticked off being used for PR[et] like this.

The catering and hospitality industry is already stressful as it is, but the unnecessary stress is what makes this so terrible and the PR facade so ugly, once the reality behind this facade comes to light.

 

Former IT-Analyst’s December 2017 review of HQ and Top Leadership:

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

 

 

My story at least I will tell again and again because it took 10 years of my life to come to a point to not give Pret, and indeed any company with double-standards, the benefit of the doubt anymore. I have to say though that I never experienced this turmoil in any company until I came to Pret. Maybe this is why it took me so long and such a traumatic journey to finally conclude that Pret was not worth my while.

 

I want to end on a positive note this time. I was at a gig yesterday of one of my favourite artists whose music has gotten me through a lot of dark times. I used her song “The Greatest” on a ‘video’ I did for my brother shortly after I learned that he died, and which I posted at the bottom of this page for him. My website here, which started and also still goes under poetrasblok.com, used to be all about my brother with a lot of poems I wrote and videos I made in my trauma, until the LateNightGirl.org thing took over. I will eventually turn it back into my sole tribute page for my brother and re-upload all the poems and videos that I posted before, as well as now also for my father who died in March this year.

But I had a little chat with this artist two days ago at a signing she did at Rough Trade East, London. I am not a fan of getting an autograph as this doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t ask for autographs, even though I met some artists that I love. Artists scribbling their name for a stranger on something doesn’t mean anything to me. But a small conversation, as little as 2 minutes means the world to me.

But as this was specifically a signing, it would have been a little bit odd not to take some of her albums for signing. Exchanging words was more important from human to human than any autograph could have been written into stone. Yesterday in the Roundhouse the thing she said at the end resonates so much with me. It wraps up my wasted years in Pret and my aim to not waste my short life on brutal and self-serving people or companies:

 

“Take care of yourself and those who love you. We spent sometimes our entire life taking care of those who don’t really even give the tiniest little shit about us. Make sure you take care of yourself and those who love you.”

Cat Power

 

Thanks, Chan! I will!

Chin up!

 

Roundhouse, London 23. Oct. 2018

 

 

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

©2017 – 2018 poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

 

A Question on Suicide in Pret & a £1000 Announcement

 

I am aware that this is a “handful”, but bear with the below and please look deeper to know what really is going on behind some announcements.

 

I write so “blunt” because I almost lost my life.

 

Pret is recruiting, and £1000 is the carrot. Pret minus Bridgepoint + the German JAB Holding Company based in Luxembourg = Pret has arrived in tax haven!

Pret’s leadership became aware of my blog and website here on the 28th into the 29th May 2018. The CEO of Pret tweeted the below at night on the 29. May, probably as a reaction to my blog? As I don’t believe in coincidence anymore and as Pret is mainly reacting to issues when confronted.

I almost lost my life working in Pret, having been bullied during bereavement and with all the tricks, traps and gaslighting the toxic HR department dealt me with. I wasted my sweat, blood and tears for close to 10 years in this company, making the mistake to try and improve work conditions while being completely traumatised in grief and mistreatment. Having worked in Pret is my biggest regret in life.

 

An assistant manager died by suicide in 2017 after I was told by HR of an AM who was also bereaved and mistreated at work like I was. I almost ended my life as well. And Natasha having died in 2016, but we only learn about this two years later… HOW MANY MORE ARE THERE?!

 

——————————————————

UPDATE

07. Oct. 2018: Pret a Manger investigates second death linked to sandwich

——————————————————

 

Pret’s slogan of “Doing the right thing naturally” is just another of the many slogans to crank up the PR(et) machine. But in reality, this is what Pret does “naturally” behind the shiny facade: Pret Staff Complaints collected from various Employment Review websites, YouTube and Twitter, as well as my own traumatic experience.

 

 

 

The CEO working the PR(et) machine after my blog was revealed to him:

 

 

12K vs 20K

 

It used to take 10 years of service in Pret to receive £1000. If Pret is giving all their staff £1000 it means they are desperate to recruit or desperate to counter my public outcry regarding staff treatment.

The CEO pockets £30 million, and then giving £1000 (from the sale, not his £30 mil!) to each employee as Brexit is at the door and many, especially Eastern European workers return to their home countries or move on to other opportunities. Several of my ex-colleagues already told me of their plans to return home. Usually Pret gives cheap cakes to their shops when another financial milestone was reached, over-sugared cakes that end up half-eaten and stale in the shop fridges. But this generosity means Brexit is advancing fast and my publication is a sore in their sight. New recruits are needed and the facade needs another polishing shine.
Also, to announce the £1000 ahead of the deal being finalized, as usually rewards are given after a deal or a milestone has been reached not before, is nothing short of interesting.

 

On 12th September 2018 and beyond the shops are still waiting for this announcement from three months prior to become reality:

 

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement

 

 

A month before that someone already inquired about it:

 

 

2018-09-16 my response to £1000 29May announcement2

 

 

UPDATES:

 

2018-09-30 1000

 

 

2018-09-30 1000 JAB

 

 

Well, I’m delighted to have been part in Pret’s CEO making this premature announcement on 29th May when he became aware of my public outcry regarding my ordeal and staff treatment in general. The JAB deal will go through and the money will flow, but the work conditions will get worse as there is now much much more money in the purchase involved. How many more people, customers and staff alike will pay the price for this greed @ Clive Schlee, how many more that we don’t even know about?

 

When the bullying started, or rather continued during grief adding to my trauma, I became ill. There were no appraisals where I could learn where I was strong or where I can improve, never a reward, no feedback, absolutely nothing. Only targeting, bullying and manipulation were standard. One later GM’s tactic was to hold me low while I was going through the worst time, being vulnerable, having had the floor underneath my feet ripped away. This kind of “leadership” is common in Pret. This GM, who didn’t want “the area to feel sorry for him anymore” because I was thrust into his shop in the middle of trauma, grievance hearings and under shock, was one of the worst management experiences I worked with because it was very subtle bullying hard to put ones finger on until it was too late.

I became ill and wrote countless emails which I explain in detail here. One of my last line managers just laughed about it with the leadership team, the CEO labeled me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, the Head of HR tried 4 times to pay me out (peanuts) if I resign, and the peak came when the gaslight really took on full swing as described below…
There is no protection against the discrimination of the bereaved and mentally ill in Pret A Manger.

 

 

2018-09-16 Re Emily to Pret

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Wasting 10 years of my life in a company that is only profit and target driven with extreme good PR in place and a smiling, approachable CEO who is fully aware of what’s going on in his company as he visits the shop floor regularly, Pret-ending everything is jolly good while lulling in the public and staff. Grievance hearing after grievance hearing that I raised in my traumatic state were conducted in tricky ways, not impartial.

For three years I approached HR and managers with suggestions and ideas on how to improve support for bereaved staff. I had a target on my back from the moment I approached HR informally to bring suggestions in May 2015. I was naive, fooled and in the darkest time of my life. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was the beginning of the end for me. It is no wonder that hardly anyone approaches HR in this systemic and toxic work environment in society today.

 

Pret has become like the majority of multinational corporations mistreating their workforce, especially in the fast-food industry. One former Assistant Manager “pleads” with Pret to return to the basics, a General Manager pleads to “Please get the bullies out and revive Pret to its former glory” and poignantly says of Pret being “a great company in risk of ruin”. But I think these concerns and pleas may be too late as once a company licks blood of the Millions and Billions that are made, it’s like an addiction that is hard to beat. And now with the JAB takeover, it’s a point of no return.

Being bullied during bereavement and all the mistreatment from superiors towards workers, Pret is moving more and more towards the jungle and swamp of Amazon that is notorious for their brutal bullying tactics. The only difference is that Pret is excellent in PR and still relatively small in this corporate world of greed, lulling the public and staff in with sweet-talk. And in-between they throw in a £1000 carrot for each employee to polish up their facade.

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

The most disgraceful thing they have done was to “introduce” me to a development manager who supposedly had a similar loss with her brother, but our introduction was not to support me (or her), it was for her to give me a disciplinary for all my emailing (electronic communication) and then entering into secret solely electronic communication (text and email), confusing and frustrating me further that my ill emailing behaviour intensified again. This was gaslighting in a nutshell.

I was then dismissed just 5 months short of my 10 years service where I also would have received £1000, the development manager of course is safe in her job as she served them well. Pret went all the way in “doing the right thing naturally” again by firing me three days after Christmas 2017 while my father was in intensive care just out of a coma! Again, the toxic HR department “doing the right thing naturally” two months after Clive Schlee labeled me his “late night girl”, patronizing me in his typical self-assured arrogance.

 

On 02. Oct. 2018 staff are still waiting for the bonus. And my Tweets have since been deleted by Twitter, also called “shadow banned”.

 

1000 announcement still waiting 2018-10-02b

Link

 

 

Right Thing Naturally

 

 

When you read that all staff now receive £1000, whereas before it would take 10 years to receive £1K it shows how desperate Pret is to gain and retain staff. I was never after money and have declined 4 offers of settlement, not only because of the peanuts they offered. Not even a million pounds would have done it, because I don’t prostitute my values or sign away my rights for money, no matter the amount.

 

@Pret, too many people suffer, become depressed, even suicidal that someone needs to stand up and tell their story! Does Pret, does Clive Schlee really believe that a £1000 and all the sweet-talk will hold up this facade in the long-run? Staff will take the money, but the truth cannot be bought, held under and sugar-coated forever.

 

I was ONE, you were and are many, you have all the resources, sophistication (bottom page), manpower, money and whatever you can come up with. You still refuse to acknowledge how out of proportion this was and is. No amount of money could have fixed this.

To be entrenched in this system that you probably don’t even realize how wrong so much of how you, as a GROUP of influential professionals have acted towards ONE single person, and indeed everyone on the “front-lines” of the business, who are the ones making you all this wealth. Sure, you seem desperate to recruit now being suddenly so generous to all staff. Don’t turn too socialistic now, though, it doesn’t come across as genuine!

Do you know the hope I felt when I met a person of similar loss, as my grief became so complicated, and still is? And then to just find out after a while that this was yet another trick!? Again? Gaslighting at its best. If Pret truly takes inventory of their conscience, they would have to face that this absolutely crossed the line! They stepped one too many times on my dignity. And that one nailed it!

I survived to speak about it openly and I will never be silent, no matter what you come up with out of your trick-box from a corrupt and discriminating HR department.

It would be good to heed this reviewer’s advice to management from June 2018: Fire the HR staff because a £1000 quick fix won’t do it, the reviews from Pret staff on Employment Review websites and other online platforms will continue on these lines and crack the PR(et) machine until Pret truly lives up to its slogans and words. The annual staff questionnaire Pret holds won’t help as they are tweaked at times by shop management. The truth will always come to light sooner or later.

And maybe, just maybe instead of firing all the hardworking people who work with integrity and commitment in the high stress environment, the top leadership with its top HR leaders may need to get a dose of their own medicine, and get fired for a change to really turn this company into what they claim it to be.

 

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

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

 

Darkness, Trauma, Work without Pay

 

always_smile

 

There is a British company that named itself “Ready To Eat”, or better known for its foreign branding term: Pret A Manger.

British food is not known to be the most culinary experience one can lick their fingers to, especially in the 1980s. So, a French name had to help to draw to its “cuisine”.

Many PR(et) slogans later the facade keeps shining, as the slogans are so many and offensive to their hard working people.

Over three years ago on 12. January 2015 I learned through an ice cold email that my brother has been found dead in his flat on 15. December 2014. He lay in his apartment for approximately 6 days before the neighbours smelled the odour of his corpse.

Police supposedly tried to find next of kin, but weren’t successful in the efficient country of Germany! They then just cremated my brother and all the other nightmare things they have done. They did NO autopsy, finding no clear cause of death. The city council sent his urn from his city via the POSTAL SERVICE to the city council in the town where my mum lives. They destroyed his belongings that had no value and sold the things that had value because he was in debt…

I could look at this as if this was a twisted Hollywood script that no producer wants to finance. But if that nightmare wasn’t enough I had to go into Alice Wonderlandish-nightmare…

UPDATE: Only recently I stumbled on a YouTube video where a similar thing happened to an American family. Son/brother died unbeknown to them and was cremated without their consent. I am still in search of legal advise myself how to proceed even while friends say I should let it go … But I am torn and not sure how I can cope mentally without much support to investigate myself further, without just putting my own puzzle together and if the police can be made responsible …

 

From the get go I was an inconvenience in Pret for which I worked 7 years at the time, 10 years altogether. The first 5 months during bereavement I was put on mainly late shifts which kept me from seeing friends during a nightmare I cannot describe!

I was then transferred at my request to a shop to have rotating shifts, but there the bullying really started.

In May 2015 I approached Pret’s HR department informally to make suggestions on how to support bereaved employees. What I didn’t realize then was that I put a bulls eye target on my back, as the People Business Partner who was present at the meeting, was involved in targeting me later on. I only understand now that People Business Partners are there for business, nothing else.

 

What staff really think.

 

I am tired to explain what went on for three years. Really really tired.
@Pret, your silence won’t help you.

I started my website initially as poetrasblok.com which is still running under this name and was solely for my brother. But the trauma I have been through in Pret and being patronized and labelled by Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret as his “late night girl” made me decide to speak openly about what I’ve been through.

My site will eventually turn back again on my brother, my father who died in March, my family, friends and passions I have with writing and music. But for now, as the public is lulled in by the PR[et] facade and I almost lost my life in Pret, after being bullied during the worst time of my life. I cannot be silent.

 


 

UPDATE 15.10.2018

A staff member confronted Pret on Twitter openly, this is only one example happen to become public and the cut & paste response from the Pret-Tweet employee (probably HR). I gave my own responses and suggested for him to join a Union. I know exactly how it is when managers “forget” to pay you, happened so frequently, at times putting me into rent arrears and other stressful situations having to raise this with HR which in turn put a target on my back with the line manager. No matter how you turned, you were at the losing end. And Clive Schlee is counting his £30 Million + and the £1000 “Pay Rise” for all staff that they are still waiting for is exactly what it is, PR.

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks3

 

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1

 

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©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

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

 

The Cost of Systemic Workplace Bullying – 2

 

As I tend to not want to waste time as life is short and no-one is guaranteed another second on this earth, I went straight into the ultimate cost of systemic workplace bullying in my first post, the cost of life. Death by suicide.

In this second post I want to highlight a precursor to suicide: mental health, mental illness in all its forms.

What bullying does to mental health and how I am experiencing it in my struggle to recover is very simple.

 

pexels-photo-278303

 

Systemic bullying sends a distorted and twisted message to the mind.

In a nutshell, if you are in a room with 10 people and 1 person is treating you disrespectfully or attacks you, while 9 people treat you kindly and respectfully, you think to yourself ‘What’s wrong with that person?’

If you are in a room with ten people and 1 person is treating you respectfully and kind, while 9 people treat you with contempt, disrespectfully, attack or exclude you, you think to yourself ‘What’s wrong with me?’

That is what systemic bullying does to the mind and mental health.

Systemic bullying from a group is like democracy gone wrong!

It is not always the majority that is right! It is the majority that is set up of individuals who have their own set of “values”. They have little to no values and principles that are universal and that robs them of courage, blinding them to opportunities to make a positive, and sometimes even life-saving difference.

 

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One of my favourite poems by Emily Dickinson, which I interpret in my own way and a favourite poem in general, always reminds me to chose my crowd carefully:

 

The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone — 

 --- Emily Dickinson

 

I choose my society based on the values that I have. And if a majority chooses to bully an individual or a certain people group, then there is something wrong at the foundation of the values and principles of that majority.

If a company does not have a clear zero tolerance on workplace bullying, than I question the foundation on which this company builds their “values” on.

Mental illness is the cost of systemic bullying and is the precursor to suicide.

Is this really the legacy and the cost a company is willing to have on their record, as I believe things will always come to light sooner or later, unless it is dealt with from the root at top levels.

 

Bullying at work

 

©2018 LateNightGirl.org

 

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

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