The authenticity of being happy is important
by Arran James
Pret is a great example of this. Workers at Pret are criticised for not smiling sufficiently, . Their boss observes “The authenticity of being happy is important”. Staff are instructed to “use personal phrases that you are comfortable with and treat customers as if they are guests in your own home”. Maintaining the “Pret Buzz” for customers, the happy emotional feeling customers get when dining at Pret has a direct effect on one’s wages. Impressing a mystery shopper gets your “team” £1 extra an hour, an amount that will cause your wages to remain just under the London living wage (Wages are £8.25 with this bonus, the London living wage is £8.55). Considering that the living wage is calculated on the minimum amount required to survive in London, your ability to sheerly live may be dependent of your ability to offer more than simple politeness and efficency at the till (though these are, of course, required), but to create a buzz by going the extra mile to sink money into the bosses pockets. Fighting against Pret means fighting against this bullshit – against affective labour that is so much work in capitalism.
From a document detailing the reasoning behind protest against fast food/coffee shop Pret a Manger. Here.