Thousands of people have complained to British retailer A Manger about its drinks subscription service since not all of the advertised drinks are accessible.
Unlimited hot and cold drinks are included with the £20 monthly subscription.
However, according to the BBC, the High Street establishment has received 5,000 complaints about the deal, including smoothies being frequently unavailable.
Ex-Pret employees have also told the BBC that the additional workload has made them feel overwhelmed.
After sales plummeted during the Covid lockdowns, Pret a Manger started the subscription in September 2020.
“If our Baristas brew it, blend it, or steam it, you may have it!” the firm said, adding that it was “very happy” with the response to the membership offer.
“It’s been incredibly popular with Pret customers. We continue to work with shop teams to ensure they have what they need to keep team members and customers happy,” the company said.
But some customers said that this is not always the case.
A customer of the company Isabelle, tweeted: “Have been to four Prets this morning that have ‘stopped doing smoothies’. Is this because of the subscription? The smoothies were a key part of me wanting to sign up.”
Other customers have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority in the United Kingdom (ASA).
Pret a Manger has been contacted by the regulator, who has advised them to “consider examining the marketing for their membership service.”
“Their marketing should neither indicate or imply that the service was offered in all store locations, or that it covered their complete range of products if that wasn’t the case,” the ASA ruled.
“We have spoken with the ASA to ensure all Pret marketing for the coffee subscription is in accordance with their latest guidance,” Pret said.
Meanwhile, some former Pret employees claim that after the subscription was established, working conditions became “unbearable.”
One employee stated that employees turned off blending equipment on purpose because preparing a smoothie takes one and a half minutes.
If a “mystery shopper” is present, they will be marked down and the team will lose bonuses if they do not provide drinks within a certain amount of time.
Other coworkers, he claims, pretend the machines are malfunctioning, being washed, or that there is a supply issue and they’ve ran out of the small blue bags containing a precisely portioned amount of fruit.
“Staff are just frustrated and tired with the endless smoothie and frappes giveaway, and they just boycott it, ” he said. “It is just easy to say that ice or smoothies or frappe are gone for today.
“They are really time consuming. Try to make 50 smoothies daily one by one and you will feel it.”
A Pret barista who recently quit revealed that he had worked for his store in the Thames Valley since it opened three years ago: “But the whole demeanour changed when they brought in the subscription. The blending machines can’t take it.
“I can understand why Pret think it makes commercial sense but the staff can’t take much more.”
Another Pret employee was so fed up with the working conditions that she created a website to collect complaints. Expret.org is kept up to date with the latest annoyances, as she felt no one was listening to her or her coworkers.
Pret maintains that the lack of smoothies or frappes is responsible for less than 1% of customer complaints about their membership.
When Pret suggested frappes and smoothies would be removed from the subscription earlier in 2021: “There was a public outcry so Pret listened and kept them as part of the subscription,” added a spokesperson of the company.
Pret’s rival Leon offered a similar deal for £15 a month in the same month, but it was limited to 75 coffees a month and excluded other drinks like teas and hot chocolate.
“To help our teams during these difficult circumstances, we have halted taking on new subscribers,” Leon said at the time.
(Adapted from BBC.com)