The Smell of Bullshit, part 61: VAT cats getting vatter

Have a look at this post I did earlier this year. Lush seem to have found a solution to the issue of non-EU customers being charged VAT on purchases from Lush UK when they shouldn’t be. Their website says

We just wanted to let you know that from the 1st November prices have changed for our online customers that live outside of the EU. We believe in equal prices for everyone which is why all our customers that shop with us at www.lush.co.uk will pay the same price regardless of where they live. The price you see in your basket is the price you will pay.

 

Lush UK prices for goods sold to EU customers include VAT at whatever rate VAT currently is – 20%? 17.5%? I dunno. When non-EU customers bought from Lush, the VAT should have been removed, so the price would be lower. But as we saw in the post linked to above, the retail website didn’t remove the VAT when it should have done, and Lush asked non-EU customers to place their orders by phone instead so that the VAT could be removed manually.

And now? They’re just not bothering. Non-EU customers will pay the same prices as EU customers pay, which are inclusive of VAT. Will Lush declare that extra to the taxperson as VAT or will they just pocket it as extra profit? Either way, they’re charging non-EU customers more than they have to and trying to pretend it’s fair. It might be because they’re too lazy or too incompetent to sort the issue out with the website, or it might be because they see it as an easy way to make more money out of people. But it’s definitely not fair.

 

The Smell of Bullshit, part 60: holiday pay again

I refer you to previous posts here and here. And I remind you of the fact that Mark Constantine said on the Lush forum that he didn’t see why Lush should have to pay attention to employment law because they’re a small family business and it’s not relevant to them (he’s wrong).

This week an employment tribunal has ruled that overtime should be included in holiday pay. A legal bod of my acquaintance had this to say about it

This is major. But not for any of the reported reasons. Men get massively more cash than women from additional payments such as overtime, commission etc. The fact they now get some credit for that work when they go on holiday is important but it’s not a game changer. So what’s the big news? Employers, especially so-called charities and councils, deliberately employ women on contracts for a token number of hours (10 or 12) but then insist they work 25-30 hours (with no overtime premium). Sometimes the contracted hours are actually zero, hence “zero hours contracts”. This leaves workers in a precarious position not knowing what there actual hours and income will be. Mortgages and loans are also hard to come by. Pensions are reduced etc. The flexibility all lies with the employer.
All this feeds into sick pay,holiday pay and other benefits. A worker with a 10 hours contract gets 10 hours holiday pay even if their regular working week is 30 hours. All part of the average life time pay difference between women and men of one quarter of a million pounds!
From now women will be able to take well earned holidays without taking a pay cut when they take time off. And what is even more significant, we have removed one of the incentives for employers to offer bogus contracts with artificially low working hours. Which is an all round good thing. Chipping away at the position of employers who abuse their power over low paid women is slow and arduous work. But when the Institute of Directors and the CBI are bumping their gums you know your doing something worthwhile. As for the charities and councils? They should have known better. Now they do.

So why bring it up here? Well, because we know that Lush have previous for putting people on part time contracts, giving them full time hours, but only giving them part time holidays. If you are an employee of any organisation, including Lush, and you ever do more hours than your contract specifies, you are entitled to have the overtime pay included in your holiday pay. See your union rep, get it sorted out. If you’re not in a union, join one.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 59: Suicide is Painless, Sorry, Passion

An email today from an ex-employee, who says she has been told (but did not witness) that when Lush fired a manager in another country, the manager attempted suicide. Rather than express sympathy or concern for someone in such distress, MC used it as a punchy anecdote to show how passionate Lush employees are, and topped it off with “she was probably on drugs – as most girls who work for us- and in their mid-twenties are.”

What a guy. What a company.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 58: Calm Down, Dear

Email from an employee, informing me that Mark Constantine closed a manager’s meeting with “People say we’re an ethical company. I don’t think we are when it comes to management. I’m not sure how you’re gonna take this, but I want to discuss hormones.” Then he talked about an argument between him and a female staff member where they screamed at each other and it finished with her shouting “you can’t fire me because I quit.” Having spent some time thinking about it, his suggestions for managing conflict with female staff were “That’s why she’s acting the way she is: it’s a full moon. It’s down to the managers to learn to control their hormones: when they’re on their periods, it’s up to managers to curb the way you’re dealing with staff when they’re on or curb the way you’re speaking to people when you’re on.”

I don’t think I need to comment here. It speaks for itself.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 57: trouble at t’mill

An email that was sent to southside socialist at hotmail dot co dot uk.

All has been quiet on the Bullshit front lately so I thought I’d share with you some things that are going on here at head office that no one is happy about but everyone is just too afraid to speak of for fear of their jobs.  It’s not just the elephant in the room it’s a whole herd!
Lush Digital, the new company that was set up with Jack Constantine at the helm, is a complete joke! He is such a meglomaniac that no one wants to work with him once they get to know him and around 2/3 of the staff have either left, relocated or been ‘replaced’ after having the ‘we don’t think you’re happy’ or ‘we don’t think you’re financially viable’ chats.  If your face doesn’t fit it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job, your days are numbered.  If you’re not ‘Lush’ enough and don’t embrace the ‘Lush Culture’ you’ll be out the door – unless your looks catch Jack’s eye and you suddenly get a job as his PA, until he’s fed up with you and then you’ll be sidelined for another one.
Everyone can see that he is running the place into the ground,  losing millions of pounds in sales in the process because the website is so crap that it’s making a loss for the first time ever.  He makes a mockery out of something that, with the right people at the top, could be hugely successful but he will make it fail, like he does with every thing he touches because, quite frankly, he’s an idiot who couldn’t run a bath let alone a company.  It’s only because daddy has given him a free rein to do what he likes that he is even in that position of power.  He has spent millions on decorating the building, making it look really nice but, unfortunately, the staff who work there are so unhappy, depressed, demotivated, demoralised, underpaid (well, the women anyway), overworked (well, some are and some wander around all day and don’t appear to do anything), that it is a horrible place to work with a very unpleasant atmosphere that just isn’t healthy.
Even those higher up are getting fed up with him.  But no one can touch him.  He could say he wanted everyone to dress in red and hop everywhere and they’d have to do it for fear of reprisals. He was furious because someone had a mug that wasn’t a Lush one! But Mark won’t have a word said against him.  He has given Jack a free run to do whatever he likes with the place and I’m sure he won’t stop until it all goes pear shaped and someone external has to step in and fix it.
Even higher up the food chain there is trouble.  Lush’s money man, co founder and shareholder Andrew Gerrie doesn’t like the direction that Mark is taking the company or that Jack is just allowed to play shops and mess with peoples lives.  He said this to Mark but anyone who makes any negative comments about the Constantine clan is doomed to failure so it didn’t go well and he has, sensibly, decided to sell his shares in the company and get out.
Bear in mind though that it was Andrew Gerrie (CEO) who steered Lush through the recession.  He is a very smart man who knows the global money markets and invested incredibly wisely offshore and in foreign currency etc. so that Lush didn’t go under in the recession so they will fare very badly without him.  Mark offered to buy his 21% share for half of what it was worth and Andrew, very sensibly, told Mark to fuck off.  Mark can’t afford to buy him out so is taking Andrew to court.  Yes, Lush in court again!  Andrew could sell the shares to anyone who wants them; the chuckle brothers maybe? Or L’Oreal?   Andrew is currently banned from entering any buildings or from talking to any staff on Mark’s say so.  In fact Mark is so petty and childish that he will probably victimise him the same way as he did the Amazon boss when he trademarked the name ‘Christopher North’.  We’ll have Andrew Gerrie toilet wipes next or something equally pathetic.
This isn’t confidential information though, it was quite openly discussed at the managers meeting and in subsequent digital meetings. It’s another one of those shameful company things that proper companies would try to keep quiet about or would deal with in a sensible way – listening to their shareholders and taking advice of people who really know what they’re talking about – but Lush seem to love washing their dirty linen in public because ‘any publicity is good publicity.’ They don’t seem to realize that it puts them in a bad light because their egos are so huge that they don’t think that they could ever be thought badly of.
Anyway, soon a fifth of the company will be owned by new shareholders that the Constantines can’t control and bully. This could be interesting.  As soon as the new investors realize that the man a the top is a dictator and his right hand man is an imbecile I wonder whether they will try to change things.  Watch this space!
Oh and another little snippet of news:
The new Oxford street shop that is massive and huge and costing millions has 4 excellent managers and trainees hand picked from successful shops running it and doing all the donkey work.  Who’s fronting it up, being made to look good and being paid to watch them work? Claire Constantine.  Us minions can only serve the masters of the universe.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 56: further alternatives to Lush

See previous posts here, here and here for other alternatives I have tried.

Mainly I’m still looking for an alternative hand cream, as my hands are the part of me most prone to eczema. In The Smell of Bullshit part 54 I had started to try Arbonne. I didn’t get on too well with them. The nappy cream was way too heavy and made my hands sweaty and then itchy, but for other people with very dry but not too sensitive hands, I can see it would work well. It smelled nice too, if I remember correctly. The shea butter hand and body lotion was lovely – rich but not too thick or greasy texture, and a lovely rich scent. I would have liked this more if the scent wasn’t so powerful. It’s not a body lotion that you can use with another perfume; the scents would compete, but you could use it as a scented body lotion á la Future Primitive if you wanted. The smell was too rich for me for a hand cream, but it did work well. I didn’t find the FC5 ultra-hydrating hand cream to be hydrating at all for me – my hands were still as dry as paper after use. So, not great results for me for Arbonne but those of you whose skin is less particular, or is equally particular but in a different way might get on very well with it. If you’re in the Lothians area and you’d like to try Arbonne, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with my pal who sells it. I am getting on very well with their chocolate-flavoured protein shake though and bought a big bag of it the other week.

The other stuff I’ve tried recently and had poor results with is Niki’s Balms. I bought the smallest sizes of the Original Balm and the Lavender and Camomile Balms. I don’t like them. The Original Balm has a lovely light fresh scent; the Lavender and Camomile doesn’t smell of anything much. Both balms somehow manage to leave my hands oily but still completely unmoisturised and dry, and the Original makes them really itchy too. They’ll do for moisturising my shins when I get out of the shower or out of the pool, but that’s about it.

This month’s success has been Our Tiny Bees. By the way, have you read The Bees by Laline Paull? I love it. Buy it now! Our Tiny Bees make their products from beeswax, so not suitable for vegans. I have tried the Lavender hand balm, which smells lovely and lavendery, and the Uber Balm for sensitive skin which smells very neutral. Neither of these products are as actively healing for my eczematous hands as Dream Cream, but they’re the next best thing I’ve found. Both of them work well, soothing and moisturising without causing further irritation, although when my hands are going through a period of heat making them worse, the Uber Balm is a bit heavy and stifling for them. But yes, I really like these and at present they’re the front-runners to be my permanent Dream Cream replacement. The lip balm is nice too.

 

The Smell of Bullshit, part 55: merry Christmas, temps!

A couple of quick questions for those of you who have worked as Christmas temps for Lush.

1) Were you told that you were accruing holiday/annual leave during the time you worked for Lush?

2) Were you given the opportunity to take the annual leave you accrued during the time you worked for Lush?

3) Lush contracts specifically forbid taking holiday during November and December because it’s so busy – so if you were only employed during November and December, and you were accruing annual leave during that time, and you were forbidden to take your holiday during the time you worked – how does that work?

The Smell of Bullshit, part 54: more alternatives to Lush

I’ve been exploring alternatives to Lush for a while now, as discussed here and here.

Rhodes to Heaven were weirdly reluctant to give me a list of the ingredients in their hand, nail and cuticle cream. They were willing to email me a list of the “active” ingredients, but I had to press quite hard for a full list. It seems very odd to me that they wouldn’t make the total list available on the website. Everyone should have the opportunity to know exactly what’s in a product before they buy it, whether they’re reading it off the packaging in the shop, or reading it online on the website. Anyway, I bought the 50ml size and have been using it for several weeks. It’s nothing special. I don’t find it particularly moisturising for my very dry hands and nails (swimming several times a week wrecks them). I mean, it moisturises, but not enough for my needs, and it doesn’t soothe the itchiness at all. And I don’t like the smell. Some people would describe it as a light floral, I think, but it reminds me of Sanctuary’s Mande Lular, in that other people love the scent and all I can smell is cheap detergent. I’d use Rhodes to Heaven if it was all there was, without fear of it making my eczema worse, but it’s not good enough for my everyday needs.

Dr PawPaw looks interesting but it has petrolatum in it, so I won’t be buying it.

Odylique look like they’re worth further investigation.

Our Tiny Bees also looks interesting, although not for vegans. Again though, no full list of ingredients on the website. Come on people, we want to know what we’re buying!

My current trials are with Arbonne. I had never heard of Arbonne until a friend of mine started working for them. I think it’s a bit like being an Avon lady – she buys the products from Arbonne and sells them to her customers, and the more she sells, the more she earns. She’s aiming for a white Mercedes! I’m willing to try the products, and if I like them, I’ll buy them, but I’m not going to buy a cupboard full of stuff I won’t use just to support her new business! So as I review the Arbonne things I’m trying, rest assured I’m not trying to sell you them, I’m just telling the truth as I have throughout these posts. But if you do want to buy from Arbonne, buy through my friend!

My first Arbonne products to try are the shea butter hand & body wash and hand & body lotion, the FC5 ultra-hydrating hand cream, the skin conditioning oil, and the nappy cream which my friend assures me works as a good rich overnight hand cream. I’ll probably stick to using just one at a time for a couple of weeks each, so I can see how they work for my skin. Further reports to follow. But Arbonne are another company who don’t put their full ingredients list on their website or in the their paper catalogue – boo, hiss.

I’ve also tried a chocolate (plant-based) protein shake mix (palatable in a disgusting sort of way) and a fruit-flavoured (plant-based) protein bar (so disgusting it made me gag and I had to spit it out). I often don’t eat enough protein, so if I can stomach the protein shakes, I might get some of those.

So, Arbonne is what I’m trying just now. I will keep you all updated.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 53: VAT cats

Lush launched their new website on 31st March this year. It’s been set up in such a way that customers ordering products from outside the UK are charged VAT, even though they shouldn’t be.

The web team have been “looking into it” since it was first reported to them. I would strongly advise non-UK people not to buy from the Lush website unless they’re certain it’s been sorted out. Surely a website for a company which ships abroad should handle removing VAT for non-UK orders as a matter of course. Are Lush incompetent?

ETA:

I received an email from a non-UK Lush customer today, which I think deserves a place here in the main blog rather than being relegated to the comments. I think it answers any lingering questions about Lush’s competence.

Lush are saying on their twitter/facebook a bit ago that international customers should all call our orders in instead of using the Lush Kitchen website to order. They said that way we can ask them manually to take off the VAT since it doesn’t seem to be taking the VAT off automatically as the old website has done for years. And Lush suggests calling in also because there are issues with the ordering system. This came at the same time I was told that my issues have been fixed, (which is incorrect because I still have the same one issue left). People have been working on my messed up orders for weeks, and it seems to be *almost* fixed. And from reading around others’ orders still seem to be messed up. Is there a professional company working on trying to install this new kitchen website or is it one of the Lush staff? So it sounds like now international people may have to call in their orders, making it even less likely that we’ll be able to get in and order. What about the people whose first language isn’t English? What are they supposed to do? Lush has on their site that this new site has been a year in the making, and had a Beta site with people testing it before they put it up. Next time, they should test the website as a customer, and not test it as only Lush employees.’

 

I would bet my Future Primitive body whip that the new website has been done by one of the Constantine offspring.

They’ve set up a new website, and arsed it up so badly that it doesn’t remove VAT for non-UK customers, they still haven’t fixed it, and their response is to ask non-UK customers to phone their orders in – even though they might not speak enough English to do that, or might have to get up in the middle of the night to do it. Omnishambles clusterfuck just about covers it, I think.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 52: alternatives (revisited)

In this post, I talked about alternatives to Lush. I thought it was time to give an update on the products I have tried since then.

I have tried the Future Primitive bubbling sugar buffs, and I really like them. They leave my skin feeling very soft and not dry, but not actively moisturised in the way the previous sugar scrubs did. I prefer the sugar scrubs, but I like the sugar buffs enough to keep buying them. Future Primitive have just released some products with new scents, and the Green Coconut might be the nicest scent I’ve ever smelled.

Gaia Creams – I have now tried the Lavender & Patchouli hand therapy cream, and the Raw Healing & Soothing Cream. I don’t dislike them, and I’ll finish the pots, but I won’t be buying more. They’re incredibly expensive for the size of pot, and I don’t find they work well for me. The Healing & Soothing Cream doesn’t heal or soothe my eczema, and I find the Lavender & Patchouli cream doesn’t moisturise my hands at all. I’ve tried rubbing it in and then sleeping in cotton gloves, and my hands were as dry as paper in the morning. Not for me, sadly.

Klorane haircare has turned out to be great. I’m using the mango butter shampoo and conditioner, and I love it. It cleans and conditions very well, even after swimming, smells great, and lasts a long time.

I have tried Sugarloaf Soap Company soap and lipbalms. The soap seems a bit meh – cleans ok, rinses away ok, not too drying, but the scent has gone from the bar after about three weeks. I do like the lipbalms more, both the tin and the twist tube.

I’m interested in trying the Rhodes to Heaven hand, nail and cuticle cream, but they haven’t responded to my requests for a full ingredients list. I’ll try once more, and if they don’t respond, they’re off the list for rudeness!