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Sandwich and coffee chain Pret a Manger has been told that it should look at how it advertises its monthly subscription service after reports of complaints from customers.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had told Pret to “consider reviewing” its advertising campaign for the £20-a-month subscription.

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Pret subscribers can choose five drinks, including coffees, teas, frappes and hot chocolates, every day as part of the deal by scanning a code at checkout.

But customers complained to the BBC that they were often unable to get smoothies under the deal, as many shops said they were unable to make them.

We noted that their ads should not state or imply that the service was available in all store locations, or that it covers their entire range of products if that wasn’t the case

Advertising Standards Authority

The broadcaster said that customers had made about 5,000 complaints to Pret about the deal, which was launched a little over a year ago.

The ASA said: “Following a handful of complaints, we sent an advice notice to Pret suggesting that they consider reviewing the ads for their subscription service.

“We noted that their ads should not state or imply that the service was available in all store locations, or that it covers their entire range of products if that wasn’t the case.

“An advice notice is where we consider that there are potential problems under our advertising rules but do not consider the issues raised are so significant as to warrant a full formal investigation.”

However, the advice notice likely means that the chain will not face any more action from officials.

They looked into the complaints, but found they did not warrant a full investigation.

“We will not seek an assurance of compliance or contact the advertiser again regarding the matter,” the ASA said.

“We will also write to the complainant to explain the action we have taken.

“We encourage anyone with concerns about any ads they’ve seen to get in touch.”

We always welcome feedback to try and provide the best possible experience for every customer

Pret a Manger

Pret said: “Our coffee subscription was launched last year and is the first of its kind in the UK.

“While it’s been incredibly popular, we’re constantly working with our teams and customers to make it better, so that we’re able to continue to deliver the outstanding service our people are known for.

“Significantly less than 1% of all coffee subscribers have raised any concerns about this issue; however, we always welcome feedback to try and provide the best possible experience for every customer.

“We continue to work with shop teams to make sure they have what they need to keep team members and customers happy, and we are incredibly grateful to all our colleagues for their hard work during this uniquely challenging time for the sector.”

John Phillips, General Manager at Zuora commented “In the coming weeks and months, the company needs to be careful not to overpromise and under deliver. When adopting a subscription-based model, in order to ensure success, businesses need to focus on delivering real value. But the consumer definition of value is much more than simply a price point. Whilst saving money is important to 72% of consumers when signing up to a subscription service, it will often not be enough to make them stay long term. This is because the overall customer experience is the true driver of subscription decision making.” 

“The team at Pret need to remember that consumers have higher expectations for a subscription model than they do with a single purchase, as they are committing to a long term relationship with them. Moving forward, there should be a firm focus on ensuring both flexibility and convenience. These are the areas that are likely to set a business apart and encourage brand loyalty long-term.”

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