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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PretAMAnger_TWO_StaffDeaths_May2019

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

 

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

2019-06-03 Gatwick short staff death

Link

 

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

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

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

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

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

Pret cleared suicidal

Picture from the Daily Mail article.

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

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

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

 

DW Amnesty Toxic

Photo on Deutsche Welle (DW report)

The FULL independent report.

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

2018-09-30 How many more suicide pret

Link

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

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

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

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

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

Only few of the many reviews on Glassdoor

Las Vegas

Link

 

2019-06-1 Toxic no training StPanc

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

 

2019-06-11 Nightmare Stop Being Evil

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

 

2019-06-11 First World Slavery

Link

 

2019-05-05 DON'T APPLY Team Leader

Team Leader Review

 

2019-05-08 Worst place barista Oxford

Barista Oxford Review

 

Go back

Corporate NYC Review

 

HQ IT Analyst

London HQ Review

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

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

 

2019-05-05 44 recommend Pret 52 recomm Clive

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

 

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

Two more groups of former Pret staff that are not as active:
@__PAMSU__ got fired for starting a Union in 2012 (VIDEO) and
I Hate Pret A Manger (preth8ers) on Facebook started in 2011

 

2011 I Hate Pret Fuck Pret

 

UPDATE June 2019

I remember the news on the suicides in a French company and periodically over the years checked on this.

Between 2008 and 2009 THIRTY-FIVE (35) staff died by suicide! >>> France24.com

Appreciate that there was an independent investigation into Amnesty International for 2 staff suicides. ONE work related suicide is one too many!

The French news story disappeared. And now after 10 years…

Arrow

Guardian France Telekom Suicides

Picture from the Guardian Article

Who will look into Pret?!

 

UPDATED August 2019:

For the record and found on my Tweets, I asked the following people / organizations to look into this:

@jeremycorbyn, @MayorofLondon, @SadiqKhan, @H_S_E, @NSSN_NE, @hazardscampaign, @JonCruddas_1, @IanBFAWU and a lot of other private people and organizations who claim to care…

 


 

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 a recent 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.

 

12 Ways of the Pret Mess

 

Poop

 

As this is (supposed to be) a time of cheer and peace and celebration, although many don’t know anymore what Christmas is about, I want to add a rather humorous take on my ordeal in Pret. I will always speak about what I have been through and how toxic it is behind the PR[et] facade. But like a semi-Advents calendar, behind each “door” is another “treat” of what I’ve been through in Pret and during this dark time.

Please support small businesses that are ruined by the big guns that don’t care for customers’ lives or staff’s welfare. Large corporations that only want to exploit PEOPLE and their pockets, packaged in good deeds and a shiny front.

Merry Christmas and a healthy good year to all readers, new and regular visitors.

 

 

The 12 Ways of the Pret Mess

 

The worst way that Pret messed

with me-e once bereaved

a Development Manager’s grief

 

The second way that Pret messed

with me-e once bereaved

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

The third way that Pret messed

with me-e once bereaved

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s abuse

 

The fourth way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

The fifth way that Pret messed

with me-e once bereaved

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

The sixth way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

Six Untrained GMs

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

The seventh way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

Seven Hopes a-Slimming

Six Untrained GMs

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

The eighth way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

Eight Favours Faking

Seven Hopes a-Slimming

Six Untrained GMs

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

The ninth way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

Nine Shady Branches

Eight Favours Faking

Seven Hopes a-Slimming

Six Untrained GMs

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s abuse

 

The tenth way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

Ten Flawed Hearings

Nine Shady Branches

Eight Favours Faking

Seven Hopes a-Slimming

Six Untrained GMs

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

The eleventh way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

Eleven Unpaid Wages

Ten Flawed Hearings

Nine Shady Branches

Eight Favours Faking

Seven Hopes a-Slimming

Six Untrained GMs

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s abuse

 

The 12th way that Pret messed

with me once bereaved

12 HR Corruptions

Ten Flawed Hearings

Nine Shady Branches

Eight Favours Faking

Seven Hopes a-Slimming

Six Untrained GMs

Five Hidden Lies

Four Raising Voices

Three Months off Sick

Two bully bosses

and a Development Manager’s grief

 

©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.

 

Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust

 

UPDATED November 2018 – Undercover report sparked by my blog (at the bottom of this post).

UPDATE March 2019 – For the first time I share my story verbally on a podcast based in California.

 

NOTE: I am shadow banned all the time on Twitter and Facebook on Pret’s behalf to avoid bad press for them. I mainly get shadow banned when I tweet to the press. Please google what shadow banning means (in a nutshell: secret censoring). I also talk about it extensively in the interview. Also, at times it says on a Tweet “Tweet unavailable”, but always click on the link, because it IS available! And always click on “Show more replies” where Twitter hides posts from the public, as with this Tweet: LINK to TWEET at the bottom, click on the link as supposedly “This Tweet is unavailable”. But tweets are always there and are visible via direct links.

 


 

Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust

 

To whom it may concern at the PFT,

I want to start this open letter with one of your former assistant managers who became homeless after being unfairly dismissed. And he is just one who is public. How many more underpaid and for overtime unpaid employees went from the kitchen and shops to the streets? Only you know … I certainly almost did!

 

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff

Link

 

And as your “labelling commitment” has been placed again under the carpet and replaced by, what I find a patronizing slogan, to call former homeless people “Rising Stars” is to me again typical for Pret and the facade of your company.

 

2018-09-21 PFT

Tweet

 

The Pret staff on the left in the photo with the white shirt, Hind, has been to my shop several times when one particular FL was difficult for the whole team and I was going through trauma. The FL was later transferred to another shop. But Hind in the photo came to my shop several times, and was obviously briefed about what I was going through at the time with my personal loss and the grievances that were raised due to the bullying I went through in a previous shop. She came to speak with the FL who was challenging for the team.

But not one time did she speak to me, not even hello or bye. Nothing! I didn’t know who she was, but it was clear that she was involved with the apprentices as she came by also for catch-ups with a young apprentice.

 

This post links to a member of the Mosaic Clubhouse in Brixton who worked for 3 months under your Rising Star scheme. But he wasn’t taken on after three months and explains that his experience was positive. Quote: “I was very slow and so they didn’t offer me a continuation of job after the three months trial. … In the end the experience was very good and worthy. ”

It was positive for him as he was treated differently, not shouted at; placed in a branch that Pret knows can be used as an example compared to the usual atmosphere in shops; he worked steady and stable morning hours, Monday to Friday with weekends off etc. Ben, the manager of the Brixton shop wrote this to Hind:
“Please let him know that we were very impressed by his professionalism at work and always giving 100% in whatever he was doing. The quality of products he made were picture perfect EVERY time. Myself and the team would like to say a big thank you and we wish him luck in his new job and we hope he will pop by for a coffee on us whenever he is in Brixton as he will always be one of us.”

So, his sandwiches were picture perfect (a requirement in Pret) EVERY time, and yet he wasn’t employed beyond the three months trial period. He isn’t even completely clear why he didn’t get the job beyond his trial period, quote: “For what I understood I did my job very well but I was very slow and so they didn’t offer me a continuation of job after the three months trial.” He was not even taken in the shop front on the tills or any other place in the business, regardless of his 100% professional attitude AND picture perfect sandwiches! It urges the question if “slow” people, even while working with 100% excellence but with mental health conditions have a chance in Pret! Sergio certainly was treated really well but to me it looks like it was a show for him to give the positive report. If he would have stayed on, he would have eventually seen and be treated differently as Pret demands a high pace and a smiley front at all times.

One staff review makes this paradox and contradiction very clear. The expectation is to make picture perfect products, but super fast. Yet, Team Members are confused and frustrated because they want to work well, do their jobs with care and passion, but are pushed and pressed for speed: They expect you to follow six key points of production and have passion in making items. When you follow this they then moan that you are to slow and need to hurry up as everyone in a Pret kitchen says choppy choppy which is the worst thing because it only makes you less motivated.

LINK: Modern-day Slavery

 

And from experience I know how quick managers are to letting staff go, as a Team Leader I had the lucky position to be able many times to save a Team Member’s job when I learned that the manager wanted to let them go. I would put in a word for them asking for them to be under my wing in the shop. Fortunately at times managers listened and the TM bloomed in the shop where they struggled in the kitchen, or they did better in the kitchen after having struggled in the shop.

Sergio was treated differently, he worked Monday to Friday with the weekends off which is very unusual, unless you are a parent and stand up for your rights in regards to flexible working hours protected by law. But every staff member that I worked with, including myself, HAD TO be flexible and work on weekend, except if they really fought it through to be off on weekends. Even getting rotating shifts every other weekend off was often a struggle as managers are not disciplined in the rota setting and just want staff to be available non-stop.

I have a feeling that he would have eventually realized a different Pret than he experienced and there was no room for him there, no matter how well he worked. Not fast enough despite his excellent working ethics. It was a perfect way for Pret to show a front for him to share how wonderful Pret is. And then they add insult to injury by calling him “one of our own”. His contract was discontinued after his trial period, and yet they call him of their own. A typical “sweet-talk” in Pret of how they fool people into believing Pret cares, while not caring in reality, except when people play their games and for PR. And he certainly receives free coffees as a customer to keep him sharing “happy” moments with Pret.

Thus Pret indirectly, with sweet-talk and free products (and probably a big donation for Mosaic Clubhouse) shows that there is NO room for people with mental or physical disabilities in shops, as they cannot keep up the horrendous pace in shops. There is no room for people who suffer or struggle in any way that would hinder Pret to pressure them into high productivity. Pret being “careful to integrate” former homeless people into shops as Clive Schlee worded it, as they won’t last under the burden of management. Regular staff are bullied and pressured that after a while they break and either leave or get fired, putting them into mental health issues. 

I keep linking to the staff complaints that I collected unto one page, as this shows again and again how pressured and stressful it is and if staff are not fast enough, they don’t have much of a chance. One example that I know only too well about messed up pays and other issues I am sure Sergio did not experience as Pret was careful to treat him different for PR:

 

StaffComplain_Jan2018

Link

 

Also, Sergio didn’t get taken on after the 3 months trial as Pret would have had to pay him the £1000 that the CEO promised via Twitter. This would be paid after already one year of service.

And Pret announced that they will bring a report on the Rising Stars soon, and of course as I have confronted them with my “Fallen Stars” post, knowing Pret they like to counter this with slick videos and interview those who have had a great experience being invited to the CEO’s PRivate PRoperty in Austria and other places. As they are not pressured like the mainstream staff to cover up how horrible working there is. I responded with a Tweet myself, even though this is silly.

 

Being involved with the PFT and working with former homeless people, who have their story and reason why they were homeless, looks good from the outside and I’m sure a lot is meant well and fun. Oftentimes homeless people have lost someone, couldn’t cope with the trauma, and through various events ended up on the street. At the time I worked in Pret 7+ years and was bereaved and on top of that I was bullied during this horrific time. OPs managers who did the grievance hearings pretended that I wasn’t bullied. Grievances were not substantiated and in the appeals were partially substantiated, but just for tiny unimportant issues to keep up appearances. I was denied that I was bullied, and yet your lawyers mentioned that I was bullied in their reply to the Tribunal.

Everyone who knows my blog knows the story, and I will not go into further detail again. As a Team Leader I performed very well, helped bring success to every single shop I worked in, and then having lost my brother and on top of it being bullied from line managers under the watchful eye and guidance of HR. I approached HR early on since May 2015, but they ignored my efforts to bring suggestions in how to support bereaved employees, and just “sweet-talked” while behind the scenes pulling the strings as I could see in my file later.

And yet, all this time there was the Pret Foundation Trust that helps former homeless people back into work.

In a recent Tweet your PFT Director speaks about how she is supportive of people with mental health issues, and yet I was bereaved, bullied, became ill and you had no concerns whatsoever about staff whose “stars” are starting to fall right in front of you! I also keep confronting Pret on a suicide of an AMK last year. Of course you would want this under the carpet as well. But the person in the photo even came to my shop several times, but never ever even gave as little as a hello or good bye, let alone “How are you, my name is so-and-so I work with PFT and we care for people with mental health issues, bereavement and help them find back into work…”

To see how former (mainly young) homeless people are being used for PR while regular staff suffer in bereavement, a bullying work environment, and become an inconvenience, turns my stomach!

 

One of the rare persons on Facebook was thinking further than just from 12 to noon and asked Pret underneath their Promo video about the Christmas Ads on the “Rising Stars” program, quote:

this is great, but 450 in 10 years in really not much given pret have 12k staff this year alone? why so few?

Link (to be able to read, need to be logged into FB)

Screenshot in case her comment will be deleted, as mine disappear regularly:

why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12k staff

 

 

why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12k staff

 

And UPDATE 02.01.2018

 

2019-01-02 re rising stars too few2

Link

 

In the 10 years since the Rising Stars program exists, out of 12K employees only 450 came through the program. It does not take much to use people for PR, that is all I can say, dear Pret Foundation Trust. And the public falls for it, and only very few take a closer look.

 

I wrote extensively in “Pret Being Careful to Integrate” why Pret is careful to integrate former homeless people into regular shops, and that the idea came for them to run an entire shop by themselves. Clive Schlee wrote in his blog, quote: “People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.””

And this is the big give away that Clive Schlee is very very aware and as the CEO indeed the leading force behind how shop staff are treated. I explain in my blog entry as to why they would be “too exposed” and therefore great care is being taken to not integrate them into regular shops. They would be too exposed to the harsh treatment of managers who are tasked by this same CEO for targets and profits. Rarely does a GM step back from that for the sake of the teams:

 

2012-07-23 Ex GM

4 years after Bridgepoint took over

 

Or a former Assistant Manager’s review:

 

AM

Dec 2017

 

So, in order for the Mosaic Clubhouse member to not see the reality, he was not taken on as he was too slow, not even taken on in the shop as he would see reality after a while and that wouldn’t be good for PR[et]!

 

 

2018-07-23 Quote #27 Pret Hellhole

13. June 2018

 

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

YouTube

 

“Pressure, humiliation, unpaid work”

2018-10-21 #61 Slaves Company

18. Oct. 2018

 

 

“Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work”

2018-10-02 Modern Day Slavery

02. Oct. 2018

 

 

“You will lose everything that makes you human”

2018-07-12 Quote Pret #17

05. March 2018

 

 

“I have never worked in such a toxic, unprofessional corporate environment.”

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

30. Oct. 2018

 

… and many more along those lines!

 

And just one of the press reports where journalists are starting to wake up. Everything this article says I could have told him years and months ago incl. the class suit by staff in the U.S. on unpaid wages! Once the public started to see how appalling Pret’s senior leadership dealt with two customer deaths and kept it quiet until it became public, only then does the press wake up to how it really is behind the facade. And at least plenty of people, Unions etc. have an eye on you now! Don’t be fooled by the few followers I have. I keep it low on purpose! And I know you have people keeping an eye on my posts and automated bookmarking systems are used to register every blog post I publish. Be my guest!

 

Times report

 

Link to the article where the reader needs to register to read, but I gave my two cents to it in “Sliced Pret“. Sathnam Sanghera woke up so clearly that he even liked a Tweet I posted, one of many on his article that I linked to on Twitter:

 

2018-11-09 Times Report Like2

Link

 

So, you bet your former homeless people would be too exposed and you want to be careful to integrate them into regular shops as they may not last long like the above Mosaic Clubhouse member, who despite being such a good asset didn’t get the job! You let “Rising Stars” work together in one shop incl. management, make it easier on them and thus you show to the public what a lovely company you are, while your regular shop staff are suffering greatly. Instead of making it easier across the company, you create clusters of shops for PR. Again, my stomach turns.

The Head of HR and Recruitment who was tasked to speak with me once I contacted the CEO after being bullied and sent away by your toxic HR department for almost a year, he could have very easily placed me in another area of the business or introduced me to the PFT to help me recuperate from my trauma. But the plan was to place and keep me under suppressive management in the hopes I resign. Thus this whole PFT is not just hypocritical, it’s a scheme for marketing.

Well I didn’t. I rejected 4 settlement offers that were peanuts anyway if I resign. You don’t understand that a person who becomes bereaved has no interest in money nor do you realize that to mess with a bereaved person, you don’t know what you are getting yourself into! I wouldn’t budge because I have strong principles and values that cannot be polluted with money. Money comes and goes, but I don’t prostitute my values and convictions.

I kept going and then your company fired me while my dad was in intensive care, just out of a coma. You used your Development Manager who supposedly also lost her brother and didn’t know for days that he was dead like my brother. You stepped on her and my dignity by using her personal tragedy against mine to sanction me, instead of supporting me and her in our common grief. How perverse and corrupt does it get, Pret?!

I buried my dad a few months after losing my job, but I never told him that I was fired. In and out of dementia and being clear at times, surprised to see me again so soon, where I just left him a week before. I lied to him and said that my company gave me extra time off to be with him, while in reality I was fired three days after Christmas 2017, no job in sight, my father just out of a coma, money running out, a complete breakdown and suicidal. My dad was pleased that I seemed to work for such a great company. And thus I have the opportunity now to tell the public what a careless and corrupt company Pret A Manger is, that just likes to cater to PR.

It hurts me for people who continue to suffer under this greed-ridden corporate bully, disguised behind sweet-talk and fake smiles. And as a former IT Analyst reviewed the company and Head Office:

 

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

19. Dec. 2018

 

Even the £1000 announcement to all staff came in the night from 28th to 29th May 2018 when Pret became aware of my blog here. Quick PR RE-action, while not being bothered at all that customers died until this also became public.

I’ve written many times on Twitter and here in my blog that it is my biggest regret to have wasted 10 years of my life on a company that wasn’t worth my while at all. I struggled so much but kept giving Pret the benefit of the doubt while deeply traumatized and becoming ill. I never worked in such a hurtful place and had to learn my lesson hard.

You use former homeless people for your PR, giving them patronizing labels of “Rising Stars”, which is your CEO’s “trademark” suffering from “foot-in-mouth disease” to give people patronizing and disrespectful labels, like calling me his “late night girl” while pretending that my emails were wrong. Yes, take disadvantaged people to Austria and all over the world, I would even donate to that, treat them well, but to not soften the approach to all staff across the board, some of whose lives have been and are being destroyed by your company, THAT is my disgust of your lies, tricks and exploitation of hard working people. Once they become bereaved, unwell mentally they become an inconvenience for you.

And my experience that Pret never cared for bereaved staff, have absolutely nothing in place to protect and support them, and worse even bully bereaved staff that I have survived under a discriminating HR department. It is still going on and will not change unless the law here also changes and protects bereaved employees from bullying and toxic management and companies.

 

The bereaved keep getting penalized in Pret:

2018-11-01 Funeral

01. Nov. 2018

 

 

Fired

Link

 

 

To end this “letter” that you don’t care about anyway, Pret you step on people, including from HQ. I regret not having reached out to the AMK I was told about who later ended her life. And someday, someone, somewhere will pick this and other things up again.

I am a member of the Mosaic Clubhouse that you try to insinuate fishing for staff as Brexit is close. I am seriously considering cancelling my membership at the Clubhouse. I cannot be in a mental health facility that just cares for support from toxic companies who put people in mental ill-health in the first place.

I am proud to have made many Unions and other important people aware of you, and more and more people as well as your staff will rise and tell their story.

My tribute to the “Fallen Stars” who were trampled upon, some who became homeless, and God knows how many more suicides are under the carpet, when Pret can hide two customer deaths, a third nearly fatal, several hospitalized… how many staff found no way out then to go over the edge, as I almost did as well.

Pret, you are dangerous to people’s lives and health!

And more people will disobey.

 

A message to exploitative companies, “We’re coming for you!” – John McDonnell

 

 

 

 

FallenStars

 

 

Pret Staff Complaints Selected Quotes

 

 

Sparked by my blog Amy Sharpe from the Sunday Mirror went undercover in Pret. I added some comments to her findings in more detail from my 10 years in Pret in “Undercover Under Pressure“.

 

2018-11-25 Amy Sharpe Undercover in Pret

 

 

Other example on the “Rising Stars” Tweet where my Tweets are hidden from the public:

 

Tweet visible to me only while logged in:

shadowban risingstars visible

 

 

My Tweet NOT visible to the public when I’m logged out:

 

shadowban risingstars not visible

 

Link

 

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

 

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO Clive Schlee. 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 a recent article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

©2019 expret.org

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

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

Pret A Manager – Bad A Manager

 

I want to shorten some reviews here from the “Pret Poets Society” post to only link to Assistant Managers, General Managers and HQ Staff reviews.

The poor management style that so many Team Members complain about in Pret is enabled from the very top senior leadership and HR, who know exactly how their leaders are. If there is no clear leadership strategy in place, a zero tolerance on bullying and when a large part of Managers are poorly trained, discriminating and especially profit driven, than it becomes very clear that the fish stinks from its head. No company’s top boss can close their eyes and play innocent.

CEO Clive Schlee prides himself on how well he knows his people in this video, and that is why he has no excuse on how the Team Members, as well as Managers are treated! He is not able to say that he doesn’t know as he also visits shops regularly and makes himself approachable to TMs, who often complain directly to him or via his Twitter, risking getting fired for publicly outing their distress. But he does not change the terrible culture as the money keeps pouring in and he pockets £30 Million from the JAB take-over.

 

 

Because Pret’s CEO presents himself as this approachable top boss which impresses many, especially young shop based staff, it is like Clive Schlee plays the “good cop” while Managers are the “bad cop”. But both have one goal, make as much money as possible that they can squeeze out of their workers.

 

 

When I was going through the darkest, most hellish time in grief and on top being bullied by superiors, I was continuously being placed under bullying managers who supposedly cared. When the shouting didn’t work, they turned their bullying more subtle, by withholding information that I needed as a leader, not inviting me to leaders’ meetings and even Christmas dinner, holding me low with menial tasks, giving me the minimum hours even though I asked for more hours etc. In my traumatic state it took me many months to realize that this was on purpose. Clive Schlee and HR know their managers and placed me accordingly in hopes I would resign, as I was offered four settlements if I resign. There was no care nor interest to have me under empathetic or skilled leadership.

This leadership style is then continued, trickling down through the ranks. So, TMs try to rise up the ladder to escape the horrendous pressure and stress, because they see how managers and even Team Leaders sit in the office. And the incentive of managers getting huge bonuses paid while stressing their staff.

I have seen it countless times how good TMs who were very passionate, kind and hard working changed and got corrupted, once they started moving into management levels and attached themselves to this crowd of “leaders”.

 

I never wanted to be a manager even though I applied for Assistant Manager roles, but only to escape the bullying culture in shops. I was often asked through the years by many TMs why I wasn’t a manager, as I worked professionally, with skill and knowledge, and many customers often approached me with a query thinking that I was the manager until I pointed them to the plain clothes GM or AM. But I answered the question of why I was not a manager, very simple because I could not do what managers are pressured to do, cut hours and squeeze everything out of teams to maximize profit. And my TMs agreed and understood, as I was always helping my teams, encouraging them, supporting them, even when I was hectic myself at times.

 

 

goldfish-carassius-fish-golden-45910

I am glad to not be under such toxic “leadership” anymore!

 

 

The worst management often are Managers who come from the outside, from other places like Costa or Nero. They then start straight away as Assistant Managers for a few weeks before being “graduated” as GMs. They work a few weeks or months in the kitchen and do various jobs, but this does not help as they have not been at the very bottom level as a Team Member. But even Managers who started as TMs often turn very sour as I worked with two GMs who were some of the most difficult Managers I had.

The different job roles and how to progress on the ladder I cover in detail in the Pret Poets Society post. But as a short cut briefly:

The hierarchic order to rise up

  • Starting as TM
  • then HFC, Barista or TMT (or any other new job role Pret comes up with)
  • then as FL or KL
  • then as AMF or AMK
  • and finally on shop level as the GM.
  • Beyond this and outside of the shop it goes into area management levels / Operations Manager (OPs).

 

There are two types of Assistant Managers, as the shop in itself is like a business, and so is the kitchen. In larger busy shops there is the Assistant Manager for the shop floor (AMF), and the Assistant Manager for the kitchen (AMK). Smaller, less busy shops don’t have an AMF and sometimes not even an AMK to save on payroll costs. But this burdens down the Team Leaders as GMs often don’t care, are incapable to even do the ordering. When I returned from holiday many times, the shop stock room was a complete mess, over-ordered or missing stock because the GM filled in for my role and couldn’t do the ordering properly. Initially this was very shocking but also seems the norm. But when I as the Team Leader made a mistake on the ordering, there was immediate trouble from the Manager. No mercy while they themselves couldn’t even do the ordering.

Regarding the Operations Managers (OPs) for the areas, I am not concerned with them whose job it is to pressure the shop GMs, to pressure the FLs/KLs, to pressure the Teams. The typical pyramid of hierarchy trickling down with this “leadership” of fear management to reach higher “productivity” and profit. OPs like to sit in the pub during lunch time, visit some shops here and there to intimidate the hard working teams. They fly out to Dubai or if in the USA to Las Vegas, and throw their parties and receive their immense bonuses. So, I am not concerned with OPs managers who mostly don’t give a toss.

 

 

The following Reviews are just those who outed themselves as Assistant Manager, GM, HQ staff and who give an insight into upper and senior management from OPs to HQ.

 

 


 

The Reviews / Complaints

Leaving all mistakes in the reviews to keep it in their own words
and starting with the most recent reviews.

In each job role I highlight a few reviews that really hit the nail on the head.

 


 

 

AMF / AMK

 

20. Dec. 2017 LondonAvoid working thereToo 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 . Cons: Extra hours not paid”

02. Aug. 2017 Manchester, EnglandRespect yourself don’t let managers to overload you.”

26. May 2017 NYCPure Misery – The kitchen staff is treated like slaves. They are expected to do the impossible. The upper management is a bunch of heartless, evil British monsters that take credit for all the positives and assign blame for all the negatives. Quit your jobs and go back to England and stay there.”

11. Dec. 2013 NYC “Promotions bases on politics, inconsistency In polices , long hours”

09. Oct 2012 London “Too much pressure and managers with poor interpersonal skills. Respect your team, be patient and keep cool under pressure. Be fair to your team members.”

 


Highlighted Review:

19. Nov. 2014 LondonWorst company to work forPret was the best company 10 years ago, they were more about the people and it was beat place to work. now the company is just about the profit also it is run like mafia organisation where it is about who you know, the team member are over worked and managers are always working with fear, the way the company is going it will not last long.
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.”

 

 




 

GM

 

07. Juny 2018 A former Senior Manager’s response to my review:

 

GM response to LNG

 

 

03. Feb. 2018High demands not in line with pay, lack of support, inconsistent training, stressful/poor work life balance

 


Highlighted Review:

11. Mar. 2017Pret A Manger Reality – Long hours, inexperience Operation Managers.
Companhy values have been lost along do way, bonus scheme not very fair.
Pay raises no fair either,
You don’t get reward for results and work ethic, just if you have a close relationship with your Operation Manager, you are the new hot of the month.
Listen to your people more closely, massive turnover on Pret Managers at the moment and everyone just ignoring the reality, huge unhappiness amoung the managers.

Create and fair and competive process for development.

Opportunity Network for Pret employees, just another flawless (meant flawed) tool at pret, most of the vacancies have people already for them, they want to create an illusion you can develop yourself.

Focus on team members it’s essential, but managers dictated the success on your shops, and drive passion to the team.

HR doesn’t protect the managers.

PIP, pret Partners only people, whom have friends already in, not related if you can contribute to the company, just based on relationships.”

(NOTE: HR doesn’t protect anyone unless it suits Pret’s business.)


 

15. Nov. 2016 NYCToxic, low class, unprofessional culture – Racist, non-inclusive environment that upper management and hr are fully aware of but ignore.” (NOTE: worth reading this review in full!)

 


Highlighted Review:

25. May 2016 USA  “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.
Advise 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.”


Highlighted Review:

31. Oct. 2015 NYCHorrible 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. 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.”


 

20. Apr. 2015 Chicago, IL “Manager- horrible upper management, unrealistic goals, promotions based on politics. Favoritism with managementHiring is based on looks – All push with no supportNo integrity  – A lot of show and dance for support center and president/ceo Your employees will respect you if you offer genuine support. It is all about what your shop looks like when the CEO is in town. Stop favoriting managers, no one respects you for it.”

 

01. Feb. 2014 “Great company in risk of ruin! Please get the bullies out and revive Pret to its former glory. Used to be the most amazing company to work for, a job to be proud of. Now your people work in fear…..its time to listen!

 

 

Scrolling to the 23 July 2012 at 12:53 comment, 4 years after Bridgepoint purchased Pret and set the high target of 15% p/a to open all over the place in London specifically.

2012-07-23 Ex GM

 

 




 

 

HQ London or Offices in other countries

 

19. Dec. 2017 London Former IT Analyst: “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 a good PR. Genuinely fake and dishonest company.”

 

28. Feb. 2017 NYC Former Purchasing Director: “One of the oddest work experiences. Worked their during a transition period – so company going in one direction and then the opposite.

 

 


 

 

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.

 

 

The Perversion of a Toxic HR Department

 

… and how it poisoned me. What I have survived in a workplace that only cares for profit and the rest is just PR, has traumatized me so much on top of going through personal loss already. I have not dealt with this how I wished I would have, but I had no tools and am still learning how best to deal with this. I haven’t even started to come to terms about my brother and have lost myself in darkness and fear where I couldn’t see right from left.

Even with all the distance now to Pret and a lot of thoughts in hindsight, if I wouldn’t have all this in writing I would still shake my head in disbelief as if I just came out of a long and twisted Hollywood movie.

Regular readers know the story, so this will be a repeat, sorry for this, but I am still recovering and working through it all with the help of Therapy as well as sieving through the writings, emails etc. But I want to move away from writing in metaphors. I used metaphors a lot like the “Pret A Monkey Business” post to help me cope with the blunt memory of this “experience” that had me almost killed and try to make sense what happened and why.

 

head-1597565__340

 

I want to describe what to me was the greatest perversion I have experienced in Pret (or anywhere at that), twisted chain of events I have never experienced in my life anywhere. I lived and worked in three countries, traveled in more, lived and worked with countless people from all walks of life, from various countries, of different ages. I worked in several companies, mostly in the hospitality and service industry, had relationships, friendships, colleagues, bosses and had my share of betrayal and disappointments, like everyone. But I have never ever experienced the level of trauma, intrigue and viciousness that I experienced in Pret A Manger.

This is something I would expect in a law firm and certainly in politics, but a sandwich chain?? Maybe because I never experienced such dishonesty and trickery, I fell for it so easily. But I need to be kinder with myself and not keep blaming myself. Even if I would have experienced anything close to it, I was so traumatized already with the loss of my brother, which in itself was so out of this world, weird, unclear, with puzzle pieces I still have to put together.

Not having known for 5 weeks that he has died and was completely gone, already cremated without our consent in a country as efficient as Germany with its ID system. For us not being found still has me paralyzed how this could even happen. I recently found a video on YouTube where a family in the U.S. went through a similar event, losing a family member, not knowing that he died and was already cremated! I am not consoled that this happened to this family, but not feeling alone in a nightmare like this does help a little.

 

 

From the get go of my loss and all the terrible circumstances around it, I had not only no support in Pret apart from the basic stuff the company offers and then later when I contacted the CEO, but I was bullied in shop after shop as this is an issue with leadership which I also listed on one page from other current and former staff members. If a company does not have a clear policy for bereaved employees in place, like it has for pregnant women’s health and safety, a clear stand on homophobic and other discrimination issues, than managers are left to themselves. They have to figure out what to do, and most managers are overwhelmed, not trained, have no confidence which then manifests in leadership avoiding the bereaved at best and get angry at worst, or both. I went through it all.

Early on I approached HR informally to “help” them, where in reality I desperately needed help! I gave suggestions, even looked online for material and passed it on to HR, to managers and to area managers. But in my naive attempt to help them help me, I did not realize how uncomfortable the subject of death and grief is. A bereaved employee, especially if the loss is traumatic, quickly becomes an inconvenience.

Jimmy Edmonds from The Good Grief Project earlier this year shared in a Q&A in cinema where his film about grief was shown, that in Victorian times people frequently spoke about death, dying and grief. It was completely acceptable and normal to talk about death. But it was taboo to talk about sex. And today it’s the complete opposite. With the Good Grief Project they produce films, and travel to share and hear experiences of grief. They make the subject of death, dying and grief accessible in this day and age where we hide from this subject that will come to us all sooner or later. But they don’t do this in a gloomy way, I for one find it very relieving, and paradoxically lively the way they deal with this. It takes the sting out of this inevitable issue.

I wish I’d known their project early on in my own grief and in trying to find my way around the Pret maze where it felt like I was going through a war zone emotionally, and every step I took in a mine field could have been explosive, as it was many times.

I shared in several posts the different situations and bullying I went through. In a nutshell it was everything except physical and sexual violence. But I was shouted at repeatedly by different managers, as this is very common in Pret. I was avoided, not invited to leaders’ meetings, even a leader’s Christmas dinner days after my dad woke from his coma and I returned to London to earn money to visit him again, I wasn’t invited to the dinner. I wasn’t given information that I needed to do my job and when I made a mistake I was solely blamed. I was told off in front of my team as well as in group emails where the area manager was constantly copied in. It didn’t matter how I turned, it was always wrong and I felt with my back against the wall.

In all this I kept blaming myself mixed with the guilt of having let my brother down and silly things like not having replied to his last email to me five weeks before he died. The regret of not having emailed him back, and then five weeks after he died having received the news of his death via an email, all the group emails that my then line manager sent where he told me off several times or blamed me, and then later the emails I read between HR and managers about me. With all these email incidences I started to spiral into an ill emailing sprint that lasted many months.

It became so out of hand that I cried out to a line manager who just shrugged it off and even laughed with the leadership team. I brainstormed with therapist after therapist on how to stop this sickness, they couldn’t even diagnose what this is. Clive Schlee, CEO would later label me his “late night girl” to the Director of HR, due to late night emails to Pret (as well as my friends, therapists, anyone). He had a laugh two months before I was dismissed for emailing. I couldn’t stop, I went into a writing cramp again with my dad in a coma, coming to terms with another blow. I only started to come out of this writing cramp when I started this blog.

But the perversion I am speaking about really got to its peak when HR tasked a Development Manager from HQ to give me a disciplinary for the emailing. Up until then the Head of HR & Recruitment would deal a lot with my situation, after I contacted the CEO who then put the Head of HR on my case, as the bullying increased and no manager knew how to be normal, let alone empathetic. I approached HR and managers for almost a year, but was constantly sent away. One particular People Business Partner was heavily involved and already part from the beginning in my first approach to make suggestions to HR. I later raised a grievance against him after I read his emails and his involvement when I applied for my file. But of course it was a waste of time. I was just extremely out-of-sync.

I even apologized for a nervous breakdown I had two days before the first anniversary of my brother’s death, where the same line manager who would tell me off in the group emails and blame me constantly, rebuked me again in front of my team, and I just broke down.

But approaching HR and any leader didn’t help, I was sweet-talked and sent away … again. And I kept apologizing even though I had nothing to apologize for but needed an apology from those who targeted me for months under the guidance of HR. This was then when I finally contacted the CEO, something by the way one can see on Twitter keeps happening where employees contact Pret openly because they don’t get help from their managers or HR.

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet2

 

2018-09-13 #59 Staff Tweet3

Link

 

 

2018-10-15 No pay for 4 weeks1

 

Link

 

And one just from yesterday:

 

2018-11-01 Homophobic Complaint1

Link

 

— & — Pret’s generic response because it’s public:

 

2018-11-02 Homophobic Complaint deleted2

 

I know, I know, I tweet a lot 😉 But the reason for this is that most people still don’t understand the turmoil and because I gave Pret the benefit of the doubt time and time again while they had a laugh and I almost killed myself! The tweeting will eventually cease.

 

But because my concerns and trauma with the managers where constantly ignored or I was sent away, I went into extensive emailing which increased when I drank as I couldn’t cope with the grief and what happened at work. Later I applied for my file as I tried to understand why this happened to me, and one email had me shocked, one of many emails that had me shocked, but this one was from an HR Advisor who was at first involved in trying to put me on performance targets that would lead to disciplinaries, and a disciplinary quickly leads to dismissal, even though I performed extremely well, especially under traumatic bereavement on autopilot. This among the other emails between HR and managers, the email bringing me the news of my brother’s death and the group emails from a line manager had me spiral into emailing, which I explain extensively in another blog entry.

In this email from the HR Advisor to the area manager, the HR person is trying to come up with a plan but wants to first liaise with the PBP who was involved from the beginning and was present in the first informal meeting where I approached HR with suggestions. The HR Advisor even writes that she thinks that my “case” is going to be “very complicated”, meaning because I am bereaved they cannot just get rid of me, at least cut me down from my leadership position, as this would be blunt discrimination and would not look good on the company.

Side note, this HR Advisor later changed direction when she heard MY side for the first time and raised my experience as a grievance against this area manager to whom she wrote that my case would be complicated. But in the grievance hearing she wasn’t present even though she said she would be, which started a whole host of confusion and deeper trauma. This email is a response from the HR person to the area manager who forwarded my email, where I asked for a meeting with my line manager and area manager as the bullying got worse. But not only were they never willing to sit down and speak openly to clear up any misunderstanding there may have been, but they were then even advised by HR to not have any meetings with me until further notice:

 

2015-08-24-complicated-case-with-plan.jpg

 

Quote for larger print: “Thanks for sending this (my email asking for a meeting) through. I have a few ideas of how to proceed but as I think this is going to be a very complicated case I’ll pick up with XXXX (the PBP involved since the beginning) tomorrow and will get back to you very soon. In the meantime, please can you and XXX (line manager) avoid having any formal/informal meeting with XXX (me) until I get back to you with a plan of how to proceed with this.”

 

This area manager who targeted me for months, using this line manager and other leaders from the area, would not meet with me, even before this HR person’s request to avoid any meeting with me. She only had one meeting where she held an “informal” meeting while taking notes that she emailed me after the meeting, and in the meeting gave me a list of things that she wasn’t happy with. But this list was completely banal and it looked very obvious that she was targeting me for the tiniest thing, whereas my colleagues made much bigger and more serious mistakes. It was ridiculous, but it traumatized me further because I felt like no matter how I turned, there was a trap laid out. And up until that time the HR Advisor only had the PBP and the area manager’s version of events, until she heard my side and then raised it as a grievance against these managers. But the grievance hearing, the first of many, was a joke, which I cover partly in other blog posts in a sarcastic way where Pret has all these “How To Cards” for every peep and poop micromanaging the staff. I just turned it around.

 

Fasting forward, after all my emailing and the continued bullying where I continued to be avoided, not given important info, not invited to meetings, my hours cut to minimum, even though I was desperate to work more as my finances were low since my brother died. I used all my savings for travel, bills etc. I became suicidal and had several close calls where I would leave work to go home but headed straight for the bridge.

HR then came up with the most perverse “plan” that I still have to get my head around. I scratched on this and wrote extensively, but more in metaphors to come to terms. Using a Development Manager to give me a disciplinary, she told me in the hearing that she also had a brother who died in his flat and was not discovered until days later. Just like my brother. Our stories are so similar that I broke and embraced the disciplinary assuming Pret now really supports me. I was so ill with the emailing and wanted to get away from this writing cramp, that I felt supported after all the pretense support since involving the CEO. I even improved and moved away from emailing for a while as I bought this trick thinking they supported me. But in reality they stepped on her and my dignity, using a bereaved employee against another bereaved employee, especially with such similar stories (if it’s true, I don’t even know anymore). Instead of getting us connected to support each other in our common grief which they could have easily done, they just used her against me. I still feel sick to my stomach even while writing this.

She gave me the disciplinary for my emailing but the next day entered into secret contact with me, even though HR of course knew as this was the plan, not to support me (and her) but to get rid of me as a disciplinary is the first step towards dismissal. And not only did she enter into private contact, she did solely via text message and email for which she sanctioned me in the first place! Hello??!! I don’t have to explain how confusing and distressing the following weeks and months became. To make it worse, she allowed Pret to use her personal loss and went further by manipulating me and what a Psychologist assessing me labeled as her “abusing” me. This Development Manager is a Hypnotherapist (registered under the National Hypnotherapy Society), an NLP practitioner (as several managers in Pret are) and in 2017 studied to become a Psychotherapist. Hypnotherapy and NLP can easily be used to manipulate people, and they did that well.

Early on in our secret contact, as she wasn’t allowed to be in private communication as the hearing manager (but Pret of course knew unofficially), she wanted to meet up and interview me for an Essay on anger that she wrote for her university studies. She thought it would be great to have my input as I was very angry because of how my brother died and all the mystery about it, and the added turmoil with Pret. Of course I was angry! But I declined being interviewed as I didn’t know her and didn’t want to be her guinea pig. And from the beginning all of this was confusing, but I was so traumatized, in dark grief, anxiety, confusion, I couldn’t put two and two together, like I can now in hindsight and distance.

I did file a tribunal claim but withdrew which I explain in this post. And that is one reason why Pret does not block me on Twitter, so they can use all my Tweets in court should I file a second time. I have declined four settlement offers in turn to be silent and never go to court, including going to court against the Development Manager who is protected in her job regardless what she has done and allowed them to do through her.

But most every leader, HR person, this Development Manager while not having a clear policy to protect bereaved employees against discrimination, most of them were picking and choosing what for them was “useful”. The Head of HR met with me after I contacted the CEO for help (before I realized the game they were all playing) and in the first meeting he asked me to score on a scale of 1 – 10 how it was meeting with him. Again, confused about a question like this I wasn’t impressed to meet with a “big gun” as I just wanted my line managers to be confident and normal with me, not bullying and avoiding me. I wasn’t interested in scratching his ego because he is wohooo a big gun meeting with a “plastic pistol”! And the first time he offered me a settlement, when he left he wanted a “cuddle”, and again I just thought what does he want? Does he want me to leave or does he want a cuddle?! He can’t have both!

Or an area manager who after she got to know me wanted to stay in contact even if I left Pret as she said I have so much insight into many things. And yet this area manager held a dodgy grievance hearing where I met her initially and later forwarded my emails to my line manager who also held me low.

Or the Development Manager wanting my input for her Psychotherapy studies.

Or a line manager who would not let me leave his shop because I worked so well and helped bring success to his shop, he would not let me leave even after I raised a grievance against him. I had to firmly beg to get a transfer as I couldn’t work under his manipulative ways anymore.

I was like a supermarket for them where these “leaders” just helped themselves! My confidence was completely lost with the death of my brother and what happened in Pret. Anyone who has gone through loss, especially a traumatic loss will have the ground pulled from underneath their feet. You feel like you are on an emotional free-fall and never hit the ground. Everything is insecure, existential fears, even if irrational, are magnified ten times over. One of my line managers would laugh when I had a minor panic attack in the shop. He just laughed and said “Haha, I never saw you that scared” laughing further… Sure it was his insecurity, but what the f***!!!! They used my vulnerability well and trampled on my dignity repeatedly! I even would apologize where I had nothing to apologize for. I was just on constant electricity, hyper vigilant and in a panic mode.

This is why at times I have completely wiped out my Facebook and Twitter followers, because I fell into this paranoia of fear, thinking what the heck do people want from me. Of course it is stupid and irrational, but it’s my only explanation why I act like this at times, especially when I drank something. So, that’s another thing I’m working on, but it is much better. To all who have been “kicked out” from Twitter and / or Facebook, it’s not you, it’s me! Apologies again! Of course some people I have blocked consciously as they were either trolls or disrespectful.

This perversion of this toxic HR department using a Development Manager, who isn’t even an HR personnel, who lost her brother like I lost mine in such similar circumstances, has topped everything they have done. It is beyond me how educated, elitist people, from wealthy to middle class backgrounds with university degrees and even Therapists backgrounds, can stoop so low to use and be used in such undignified ways. It is amazing. The Development Manager could and should have declined doing the disciplinary and instead offered to support me outside the sanction. But she chose to play their game, maybe out of fear, maybe she got a promotion, a pay-rise, she certainly has gotten the protection of the Head of HR. But whatever her reason, she should have been woman enough to respectfully decline and asked to not be the hearing manager as she had personal conflict.

Pret will find a way to get back at me for making this public. So be it! I neither fear them, nor have anything to lose anymore, and any job reference they will do to my disadvantage, I am not in the slightest bothered anymore. And they will come with another trick in the future, @ Pret I wholeheartedly don’t care whatsoever.

People get hurt in such traumatic and dishonest ways. I have lived long enough to know that corrupt people and companies will get their fair share of exposure sooner or later. I am not worried about that at all. Even hiding two customers deaths under the carpet and not dealing with the allergen label promptly says it all!

 

 

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne Lamott

 

 

This is my story and I take the liberty to share it with the world after having given 10 years of my life to a company that was not worth my while. The last three year in Pret where so traumatic and surreal like living in Twilight Zone! I still don’t know how I survived this and am still recovering. Pret and any company or person forgets that when you don’t support the vulnerable, be it children, the elderly, sick people or traumatized and bereaved people, when you step on them while they are already on the ground, the time will come where children grow up and the vulnerable will become strong again if they survive. And then they will share their experience and/or retaliate through court or publication, standing up with other sufferers in unity. And with Pret I believe the time will come where more people will cut through the bull-crap and say enough is enough, and overcome the fear and intimidation of these giants, who in reality are dwarfs hiding behind their inflated shadow of fear management.

 

dwarf

 

Anyone who has come in contact with me has also been at the receiving end of my irrational fears and paranoia, especially when I drank something. I fall into this extreme fear of not knowing who to trust, as what Pret has done has so messed with my head, that I feel like a human going through an alien zone trying to figure out who’s the human and who’s the alien masquerading as a human. Sounds whacked up I know, but this is how I can describe it. Pret’s HR department especially are so skilled in being nice on the front, while behind this is another motive. Maybe I was this dwarf that became a deflated giant scaring people unnecessarily!

And many of you are very kind and patient, and I will always be indebted to you for this, and in time I will “repay” you for your kindness!

Thank you for reading and if I can give anyone any advise, join a Union and trust yourself, no matter how messed up you feel or indeed are!

 


 

Update 10.11.2018

A review from a former Pret staff from NYC who puts it in brief and better words than my long posts:

 

2018-11-01 Go back to UK

Link

 

Substantial list of staff complaints from other websites.

 


 

UPDATE March 2019 – The first time I share my story verbally in one go in this interview.

Interview:

 

 

Adam

 

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

We spoke about gaslighting, “shadow banning” and censorship on social media, as well as bereavement, trauma and mental health in general. 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.

 

 

©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 – Present – 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.

 

Pret Quotes of the Month – September 2018

 

Depression pexels-photo-246804

 

 

Key words in the quotes:

“GET REALISTIC and stop punishing your hard working teams.

Calm down and take a step back – proper communication is key, over-reacting doesn’t help anyone nor does assigning blame before even fixing a problem.

The manager is so rude. They treat their employees as slaves. It would be good if they educate their staff to treat workers (fair, well, good, better?), they are aggressive and badly educated.

… not worth if you have a manager who shouts at you every five minutes.

Managers are very bossy and unprofessional, a bit of exploiting. Be honest and kind.

Attitude of the manager towards the employees. No understanding to empathy.” …

 

Yep, no understanding to empathy. I survived being bullied during bereavement which was already immensely traumatic how I lost my brother. I was then manipulated, gaslighted, exploited and taken advantage of in my work and aim to better work conditions. To top it, I was then fired while my dad just came out of his coma in intensive care, still hooked on the breathing machine and tubes. I was dismissed two onths after Clive Schlee, CEO labeled me his “late night girl” (late night emails to Pret, friends, counselors out of trauma often drunk) further stepping on my dignity.

I wrote it somewhere else already that Pret with their shiny facade and well oiled PR(et) machine can meet me in the middle of their sugar coated look. Pret can do the PR and I do the ET. They do Public Relations and I Establish Truth with the quotes of the Review websites, YouTube etc. and my own traumatic experience.

 

 

2018-09-01 Do not apply

 

 

 

2018-09-05 Calm down

 

 

2018-09-10 Aggressive

 

2018-09-10 Aggressive2

 

 

2018-09-14 Exploit

 

 

2018-09-21 Managers Attitude

 

 

Collected Staff Complaints from various Employment Review sites, YouTube, Twitter etc.

 

Selected Quotes from the Staff Complaints list.

 

 

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.