Pret A Manger Mystery Shopper - Emotional Labour forced on staff

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@expretDOTorg
A mystery shopper is contacted to do a job. We are not employees of either the client (i.e. Pret) or the company (MSC) that hires us. Our contract has us visit the location on certain days and times and make observations as seen by a customer. We are told what to observe and, often, given specific questions to ask. We then fill out a survey that is designed by the client and MSC. As a general rule, we only answer objective questions about what we see, hear, or experience. ("Was the associate smiling?" "How quickly were you greeted?" "How long did it take for your food to be served?" "Were the displays clean and orderly?" Etc.) Once we turn in the surveys, unless the MSC asks us for clarification, we have nothing more to do with the report. We do not generally know who reads our reports or how they are utilized. We answer the questions and move on to the next job.

We do not have anything to do with how the reports are used by the clients - that is a decision made internally by the clients. I have not shopped any "Pret" stores. However, the questions you cite are very typical for all quick-service restaurants: Are employees smiling? Are customers greeted quickly? Is the food served fresh/hot? Is the food served quickly? Etc. These are are reasonable expectations of such a store. Yes, it is reasonable to expect employees to be cheerful when serving customers.

The concerns you raise have nothing to do with what we, as mystery shoppers, do. They have everything to do with how the management runs its business. Yes, sometimes the client does a poor job utilizing our reports. Yes, bullying does happen in the workplace. However, as long as we honestly fill out the surveys, that is not something we control.

Both in this post and on your blog, you raise a concern about the expectation to "smile." I don't wish to be harsh, but smiling is an expectation in most retail and sales jobs - even on bad days. The reasoning is simple: Customers are far more likely to return to a business and make purchases if they perceive the employees as friendly and happy. A good manager/boss will recognize that "life" happens. A good employee will be able to know when/how to grieve - and when/how to do a job when needed. An employee and manager need to work together when "life" happens and determine how to best serve both the employee's needs and the company's needs.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@expretDOTorg wrote:

My post is mainly directed to Mystery Shopper, especially those who do the job in Pret A Manger to understand that when they are too micromanaging it costs people's mental health, even jobs.

Well...you are on a mystery shopping site and your issue is with your employer, not with mystery shoppers. We are just doing the job we are hired to do. What your employer does with that data is up to them.

No matter how many mystery shoppers you reach, there will always be another one to replace them if they decline an assignment for this business, so you would be better served to address the problem at it's core.
@Shop-et-al wrote:

I always wonder about the outcome for employees. Who reads the reports, and who delivers the results? Even a "good" report delivered by a baboon is a bad thing.




I never have performed a mystery shop at a
Pret'. However, I would like to know more about the culture at 'Pret'. If it is as the OP describes, then there is cause for concern. Even though I do not intentionally do anything that would have an unacceptable outcome for an employee, I have thought more and more about how the information I provide is used.

@OP: Is it possible that mystery shop reports are neutral while the use of the information contained in those reports is skewed, weaponized, or otherwise caused to seem different than what the mystery shoppers were contracted to do?

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. - John Muir
I could be wrong, but your post screams to me that you are a very young adult, so I will put this as nicely as possible, to try not to hurt feelings, and give you an important life lesson that it seems you are not aware of...

"Faking happiness DAILY" is part of life. It's part of being an adult. Working is also a part of life, and unless you own your own business, you are going to have bosses and have to do things their way.

When you work in retail, or the restaurant business (which I've done at both the associate and management levels), it is your JOB to smile, be polite, and project the type of attitude that will give the customer the best possible experience. If you are not, then it is not the boss bullying you when reprimanded, it is you not doing your job. Take responsibility for that.
@OP: Can you tell us more about the hostility in that workplace? I ask this because I have been in all kinds of workplaces. Some have been pleasant. In workplaces, there are lines, nuances, and tipping points. There are nutty owners and bosses. There are perfectionists. There are angry people and scape-goaters and tyrants. Despots show up from time to time. What, exactly, have the OP and their people experienced?

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. - John Muir
...and this also brings up numerous issues with the corporate environment and how a business deals with those issues.

If the company cares about having employees smile, should they not be doing their best to create a happy work environment and incentivizing employees to smile? If they are not bonusing employees that perform well on shops then perhaps they should reconsider their policy...and are they giving PTO for bereavement? A responsible manager could send an employee home if they are grieving and not capable of doing their job.

None of these issues are related to the mystery shopper themselves, however.

That said, we are humans and should show compassion when it's due. Years ago when I used to do retail shops, I approached a register to find an employee who was not smiling. When she went to greet me, she broke down into tears and started sobbing. Another employee came over and told me that the cashier had just been dumped by her boyfriend while on e break...via a text message.

I knew that particular report would not have the option to explain the circumstance, so I left my purchase at the register, offered some words of encouragement and emailed the scheduler to assign the shop for a different day. It wasn't worth $10 to add more injury to the cashier's day.
@SteveSoCal wrote:


If the company cares about having employees smile, should they not be doing their best to create a happy work environment and incentivizing employees to smile? If they are not bonusing employees that perform well on shops then perhaps they should reconsider their policy...and are they giving PTO for bereavement? A responsible manager could send an employee home if they are grieving and not capable of doing their job.

I can say that I have done two or three of these shops. There is a bonus question at the bottom of the form to name an employee that gave exceptional service, and really made your experience great. That employee gets a monthly bonus.

You are definitely correct that businesses should treat employees well in order to get the most out of them. I have never worked for Pret, but not many other reports ask for that info to give the employee a bonus, so my guess is that they do treat their employees well. Having a bad manager sometimes is just life. You deal with it, or find a new job. If it is a normal thing for the employees to be treated poorly, that business won't last.
@Sobrokeigot2dothis wrote:

I get bullied by these mystery shoppers in here everyday. LOL! They are just mean and miserable I don't know why. LOL!

Maybe because you insult people with your posts?
"You will take this *smack!* and you will like it!" *sneer* Now, get out there and smile, you sorry piece of shhhit!

This might be what the OP means. If so, then what?

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. - John Muir
@Shop-et-al wrote:

If so, then what?

Like Pete said above, then you move to another job. There is a surplus of jobs out there right now and companies will compete for the best employees.

Yes it's life that sometimes you will have to deal with unproductive people in the workplace, and how you handle that may define your life and career.
@SteveSoCal wrote:

@Shop-et-al wrote:

If so, then what?

Like Pete said above, then you move to another job. There is a surplus of jobs out there right now and companies will compete for the best employees.

Yes it's life that sometimes you will have to deal with unproductive people in the workplace, and how you handle that may define your life and career.

"Labour" is not American English. Where in the large world is the OP? How easy is it for that person and their peeps to get another job?

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. - John Muir
Then you charge them with assault for smacking you. If the smack never happened, and all that happened was your second part of that statement, you leave. If you need the job, you suck it up like an adult that has been called names before, and start looking for another job.
Or, you come here and tell us in hopes that someone will do more than tell you what you already know.

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. - John Muir
You are clearly misplacing the blame. If you didn't smile and it was reported, that is a fact. All companies have metrics for measuring their success in all aspects of business, and that includes customer service. If you think the standards are unreasonable - to smile 500x a day - don't blame the mystery shopper. We do not set the standards.

I am sorry that you are emotionally abused by Pret. I don't doubt that corporations put this kind of pressure on their employees. However, you are blaming the wrong entity.

btw just an observation but I also believe that you are the person who wrote some of the negative reviews that you screenshotted in your post, based on your writing patterns.
Judging by the fact that the OP thinks he was being bullied because of being reprimanded for not doing his job, and thinks it is unreasonable to have to smile and be "fake" polite to customers at a business, I'd say he just found out something he doesn't know. His job was to smile and be polite to customers. He obviously didn't do his job. Sounds to me like he believes he shouldn't have to do his job every day, for as many hours as scheduled.

And what are we supposed to "do" about it? Give him a hug? Call Pret and tell them that it's unreasonable to ask their employees to be professional at work? Give him a magic pill that makes him not have to be an adult anymore?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/14/2019 04:50PM by KSSPete.
P.S. If anyone finds one of those magic pills, I could really use one too. I'd love for my only problem in life to be someone calling me names.
@KSSPete wrote:

P.S. If anyone finds one of those magic pills, I could really use one too.

Is it too late to refer you to the thread about dispensary shops? You could absolutely pair those with the delicious burger shops winking smiley

@expretDOTorg I concur that your issue is with the employer and not the shopper. You should not be showing up to work while sick if you work in the food industry. The corporate policies may be at fault, but that's careless and irresponsible on your part if you did so.
Does anyone have a really good recipe for yellow rice ?

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Just wow...

First off, you are comparing doing your job to Nazi soldiers "following orders". Last I checked, they weren't asked the "difficult" task of just smiling and being polite. That statement alone takes away what very little credibility you had.

Second, you have no idea how many people in this world confront trauma and don't kill themselves. I've lost people VERY close to me (by suicide even), been homeless, taken advantage of, humiliated, embarrassed, and called names. I've been fired for not doing my job. Battled depression too. Yet, here I am, still reading and responding to your nonsense.

Not once did I believe it was my employer's responsibility to make sure I wanted to live each day. Their responsibility is to make sure their business runs smoothly, and effectively. Can they handle some things differently at times, yes. They are human too. Your job is to do what is asked, as long as it is legal. Last I checked, being polite at work is legal all around the globe.

In my job now, there are plenty of people I don't want to be nice to. There are even more that aren't nice to me. But see, I'm what you call a grown up. I understand life is difficult at times, and it is my responsibility to improve that, not everyone else's. I also understand that I have a job, and that job entails being nice when I don't want to be, working 7 days a week for sometimes 12 hours a day, smiling when I don't want to, and not projecting my attitude towards others when I am not feeling like being nice.

I think everyone can feel for someone battling depression. That does not make it everyone's responsibility to give that person special treatment, or allow them to ruin their business.
@SteveSoCal wrote:

@KSSPete wrote:

P.S. If anyone finds one of those magic pills, I could really use one too.

Is it too late to refer you to the thread about dispensary shops? You could absolutely pair those with the delicious burger shops winking smiley
.

We need a laugh button here.

Unfortunately, I moved from a state that has them, to a state that views it as the "devil's lettuce" LOL.

I'm also not lucky enough to have any of those burger shops that I hear are so delicious in my state sad smiley
@KSSPete I'm sorry for your loss.

I literally salivate in a Pavlovian response when I get emails from you.
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