The Smell of Bullshit

http://chiefcustomerofficer.customerbliss.com/2013/03/14/do-you-talk-to-your-customers/#comment-40374

The above is a link to a post on a site called Chief Customer Officer, and it’s an article extolling how well Lush interact with their customers on their online forum. That’s Lush, the “ethical” toiletries and cosmetics company. The post says

Founder Mark Constantine of LUSH Cosmetics keeps it real with thousands of self-proclaimed “Lushies” on its online forums who chat with Constantine and his staff. Here you see back-and-forth debate and straight talk usually reserved for friends.

Customers often plead the case for products scheduled for extinction. LUSH lets people know ahead of time so they can stock up on their favorites headed for the chopping block. These exchanges set the tone for the honest, passionate, and straightforward relationship the rest of the company is encouraged to build with customers.

Likened in the media to Willy Wonka, Constantine orchestrates a cacophony of wild discovery techniques to find the scents (and textures) that will explode in the bath or soothe the skin, transporting LUSH customers to their quiet reverie. Some would say LUSH has drawn women back into the bath. LUSH has elevated the art of taking baths with the invention of the “bath bomb,” calling it “a giant Alka-Seltzer for your tub.” For the $7–$9 price of a bath bomb, they provide a bit of therapy for the soul. Laugh if you want — LUSH is laughing all the way to the bank. This unique, all-natural company, which hires people to crack open coconuts and peel mangoes to make its products, has created a legion of followers. LUSH Cosmetics has blossomed from one store in 1995 to more than 600 shops worldwide.

Companies become beloved because of how they connect with customers and how they connect in their customers lives.

  • They relate personally with customers.
  • Their personalities come through during interaction with them.

I was a customer of Lush for many years and a regular user of their forum for probably about ten years. When I say regular user, I mean daily. Daily for about ten years. I left the forum about a year ago, and I now only buy a couple of things at Lush – a particular soap and a particular body moisturiser which my prone-to-allergies very eczematous skin can’t do without. The reasons I have stopped using the forum and stopped buying the vast majority of their products are multiple but can be boiled down into two sentences. I don’t believe they give a shit about their customers. I don’t believe they give a shit about their staff.

As for how it treats customers, particularly on the forum, well, it really does vary. Mark Constantine, the founder of Lush, who goes by the name of BIG on the forum, has been incredibly generous to many customers and forum users. He sent me and others products worth a lot of money for doing user testing on a previous incarnation of the forum. He regularly invites forum users to the factory for tours, puts them up in a hotel and pays for dinner. They even made me a raspberry & lime body lotion I had been suggesting for years. These are nice things to do. I enjoyed my factory trip very much and I still appreciate it. And I still use some of the products he sent me, and I will be sad when I use the last of the lotion. But that does not mean that he or Lush is perfect. I have seen Mark Constantine be incredibly rude to a customer/forum user, apologise and send her an entire truckle of soap as an apology, then berate her for ingratitude several years later when she criticised a poor quality product. Other staff using the forum – Jill of the Chester shop, whose username was tittywalls, was outrageously rude on more than one occasion. I’m not talking about the to and fro of banter, discussion and cheek you see on internet fora where people are relaxed and know each other well enough to be informal and tease each other. I’m talking about someone in the role of customer on the forum interacting with someone in the role of Lush employee on the forum, and that employee/employer being very very rude.

The Lush forum used to be a nice internet space to hang out. It was fun to interact with Lush headquarters staff, to give them feedback, to take part in competitions, and all the other fun stuff. The forum was a nice place to hang out generally. I have laughed till I cried at some of the things that went on on there and I have made friends who I hope will be my friends for life. One very memorable event was “the truck of love.” A teenage single mother was offered a tenancy on a flat which she couldn’t afford to furnish. Without her knowing the forum as a whole donated furniture, hired a van and sent the van up the country collecting donations and delivered her a van full of furniture. This was an internet forum – most of these people had never met and never will but they still cared enough to help. Every year the forum would get drunk and watch Eurovision together, online. The hilarity was immense.

But now it’s miserable. Staff don’t go near the place, Mark’s answers to criticisms are rolling eyes smilies or to tell people they’re ungrateful. There is currently good reason to believe that a Lush North America employee has stolen from a customer (via submitting a paypal claim for items she bought from the customer then said she hadn’t received, even though she was selling the same items on ebay) and Lush say it’s nothing to do with them. Lush have always said that the forum is unmoderated and that accounts are not deleted, but the account of the employee who stole from a customer was somehow deleted. Strange, no? Customers/forum users feel unheard and neglected. Valid complaints like those raised on http://anonylush.tumblr.com/ are dismissed as whinging. Mark gets huffy if he isn’t worshipped.

The Lush forum used to be a vibrant place with benefits for customers and staff far beyond the discussion of the products. Now, it’s a sad shadow of what it could be – much like the company’s attitude to employment law.

Mark Constantine has said numerous times on the forum that he can’t see why Lush should have to abide by employment laws because they’re a small family-based company. (They’re a multi-national organisation). When it was pointed out to him that all employers are obliged to abide by employment law, he disagreed. He genuinely seems to believe that he and his company are above the law. Can you believe that a company the size of Lush doesn’t have an HR department?

Even companies which respect their obligations and requirements under the law get it wrong sometimes and make mistakes which are harmful to staff. One can only imagine how a company which believes the law doesn’t apply to it treats its staff. One can only imagine how a company which treats its paying customers so badly treats its staff. One  can only shudder to imagine how a company which says it doesn’t believe employment law applies to it in public treats its staff in private.

It’s Lush policy, apparently, that their shop doors should remain open during opening hours. Fine if you’re in a shop in a shopping mall. Maybe even fine if you’re in a shop on the warmer southwest coast of England – such as Poole, for example. But can you spot any obvious problems with an open door policy for high street shops say in Aberdeen or Edinburgh? That’s right. It gets cold in winter! Quite apart from Lush’s “ethical” stance on the environment and the problems of shop heating rushing straight out of the front door into the January cold, what about the staff in the shop? I have been in Lush shops in Scotland in mid-winter and when the doors are open they get very very cold. And the staff get very very cold. And that is problematic. UK law does not state a minimum working temperature, but the temperature in workrooms should be at least 16C. The Regulations say

The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing. Where such a temperature is impractical because of hot or cold processes, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable. ‘Workroom’ means a room where people normally work for more than short periods. The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity

Forum users realised that Lush shop staff were freezing their fragrantly-moisturised tits off, and complained on the forum. The aforementioned queen of customer relations tittywalls retorted that staff would only get cold if they were standing around doing nothing and that if they got on with work they’d warm up. No understanding of the dangers of inhaling cold air and lowering core temperature. No acknowledgement that staff should not be so cold they have to wear hats, scarfs, coats and gloves in a shop. Eventually, after a lot of fuss, Lush told the forum that shops had been instructed they could close their doors if necessary. Forumites checked with local shops. Many local shops said they’d had no such instruction. Forum users continued to complain. Some shops did start shutting their doors in the coldest weathers. Lush continue to insist shops are allowed to shut their doors if the weather requires it. Customers continue to see very cold staff in very cold shops with open doors. I will no longer shop in Lush, for many reasons, but be assured, if I knew a shop was keeping its doors open in an Edinburgh winter and staff were suffering, I would go for a browse with a thermometer in my bag, and if I felt it was necessary, I would notify the Health & Safety Executive. Anybody else could do the same, if they wanted to. Staff could even do it anonymously.

If any Lush staff or their families are friends are reading this and are concerned about how Lush behaves towards employees, you do not have to worry alone. You have the legal right to join a union. USDAW might be the most appropriate, but there are others. General advice on employment law and employment rights is available from the TUC and STUC. The TUC produce a number of leaflets related to workers’ rights and the law is very clear that you have the right to join a union if you want to, and you cannot be dismissed or disadvantaged at your work for doing so. They also have a useful page about your basic rights at work. The TUC and STUC can help you work out which union is the most appropriate for you to join, and you do not have to tell your employer that you have joined if you don’t want to. Of course, it would be to everyone’s benefit if everyone joined, and sometimes you can only do that by going public, but that’s a big step to take if you’re scared of your employer.

Of course, all of this advice applies to anyone who is concerned about how they are treated at work. You have rights, there is support available, and you do not have to put up with it. Join a union today. Don’t be scared to get help. And if you want to leave a comment here with examples of you or someone you know being treated badly by Lush, please do. It helps people to know they’re not alone.

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68 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit

  1. I want to thank you for calling me out on this. You were not alone! Today was a day of venting and giving me very good feedback on the store that fell so far in terms of their customers’ admiration. I’m grateful for your feedback.

  2. Jeanne, I’m not calling you out. I’m calling Lush out. Everything you said used to be true, very much so. It’s just that things have changed and that is all down to Lush.

  3. My experience of the Lush Forum is that the MD can no longer see past the end of his own nose. It is my opinion (from what he posts) that he is an egotist with a healthy dose of narcissism on the side. Anyone who has been reading the Lush International Forum of late will note he seems to have an unwavering belief that his company his infallible and it’s my opinion that such a blinded attitude will be to the company’s ultimate demise. The interesting thing is, any other company MD speaking to customers in such a way in a public forum would have been pulled up by the press by now – it’s interesting he hasn’t considering how predisposed he is to media hobnobbing.

    As the company has increased in size, both in the UK and internationally, us forum customers have witnessed his ego growing exponentially. As flattering as that may be as a man who often touts that he made his way up from nothing, he has forgotten the golden rule that no-one is bigger than their customers – whether those customers are satisfied or dissatisfied. Everything a retail company does she be with the end goal of enticing, exciting and delighting their customer, whether in terms of service, product or overall value. Forget that the customer is key to the equation and you’re lost. I think that Lush has forgotten the fundamental core of its We Believe mantra, “…that we should make a profit and that the customer is always right”. Ignore your customer and you no longer deserve to make profit. What started off as sound business principles are now merely marketing, and if your customer doesn’t even believe your marketing, you’re in trouble.

  4. May I add please, in terms of staff comfort and safety, I visited a Lush shop some time ago and a staff member was heavily pregnant. I knew her and went over to ask how she was and as she looked pretty much exhausted, suggested that she might like to sit for a while – there was a stool near the counter. I was horrified to find that she had been told that she could only ever sit down if no customers were in the shop. I have to do a risk assessment if anyone that I supervise is pregnant and I repeat this as needs change through pregnancy. All employers have the responsibility of ensuring that their staff are as comfortable as they can be in pregnancy and I found this unacceptable.

    • I don’t know what she’s on about because it says right in the employee handbook that you SHOULD be sitting down with each and every customer. I spent 6 out of 8 hours sitting down with customers yesterday on my shift.

      • I was always told never to sit down during a shift as it makes you look uninviting. Even when with a customer, the store i was in only had one chair and one stool (for the customer)

  5. And you know, it would be very easy to believe that there was a genuine mistake on the part of her manager and that if she had raised it as an issue, it would have been sorted out. But when Mark Constantine says openly on his company’s public forum that he doesn’t feel employment law applies to his family-owned business, I think there’s more to it than an honest mistake.

  6. I am so glad that you have written this. I’m a Lush employee, and have been for about three years in two stores. I’m about to work my very last week.

    At Lush I have seen stores remain open with no lighting or heating – simultaneously. I have seen snow literally blowing into a shop through the door. I have seen my breath while working. I have worked in a building where the only heating was on the shop floor and consequently staff areas were simply too cold to use. I have worked with people who were clearly too unwell to be at work, but who felt obligated to come in due to Lush’s ‘policy’ of finding your own shift cover if you can’t work.

    They are also a very greedy company – and as time goes and the more ‘services’ they decide to offer, the greedier they get. We work for £6.33 – 14p over minimum wage. Only recently did supervisors get anything above this – they were previously expected to do it ‘for the love’. For sales assistants, the pressure to link sell is immense. Lush have always said that they didn’t do pushy sales, but in my recent experience that’s exactly what we do. We’re expected to sell as if we earn commission. In fact, I’ve been asked by customers on numerous occasions whether I’m earning commission. People are always shocked when I tell them ‘no!’ We are also expected to host children’s parties until all sorts of hours of the night (I got home at 9:40pm tonight after starting my shift at 8:30am), provide hand and arm massages and mini-facials, asked to rub and scrub peoples’ feet (yuck!), and give long in-depth consultations. That’s a lot to expect for 14p over minimum wage, and when any staff member points this out, we are told that “that’s just what Lush offers, so you have to do it.”

    It’s a shame because Lush does seem to attract lovely people, but when they are hired they see the ugly side of Lush and all of the great experiences they’e had with products and demos in the past are tainted by the disinterest the company have in its people.

    I have reached my limit working here and I’m glad that people are finally speaking up. It’s only anonymously that I feel I can express these things – it’s so sad.

  7. I wanted to add this but have been frightened to say anything previously. I do work for this company in question and have recently joined the union after finding out more about what they do. Several colleagues have also joined and I am encouraging more. Any colleagues reading this, please see what I say below. I am frightened about posting this but I feel I have to, after reading all of the above.

    Towards the end of our LushFest meeting last year, there was a question & answer with the board – they had been asking us over the week (although I was only there for a few days) if we had questions for the board and then they picked some and presented them on stage (they filmed people asking the questions). Someone asked about the company recognising trade unions. Now I didn’t understand much about unions at the time but their responses led me to find out more. They seemed so against them to the point of a really old fashioned & right wing point of view – which confused me as although I’ve only been here 18 months, I thought we were kind of ‘right on’. Our shop is run like that, I presumed it must have come from the top? They talked about unions as if all they do is demand employees for money or go on strike. I made an effort to find out more after that, then shortly after I joined. As I see it, in my opinion the company wouldn’t be so aghast at the idea of trade union recognition if they had nothing to hide. As a supposed ‘ethical employer’ it would be one step further towards actual ethical & fair employment. My experience is that they are neither. I love the people I work with, and I am slowly starting to hate the people I work for.

    Don’t get me started on the “Best Companies to work for”. I read the entry in the paper when it came out and didn’t recognise it as the same company I work for. It’s an absolute joke. When you see the states of our shops, staff rooms (for those of us who have them), even basic amenities like toilets, it’s disgusting. Policies just don’t exist. My manager tries her best she really does, but she can only work within the parameters she is given – she does try to give us appraisals and such (there is formal thing for appraisals) but cannot give us pay rises or anything even if we are performing well, as there is no performance related pay for us in the shops. Not sure if it’s different in other bits of the business.

    Regarding the issue you have talked about above – many of us like the customer forum (although it can be scary), enjoy reading it and have been on there for a few years, but feel too frightened to contribute. After several prominent figures who posted on there have suddenly vanished (no idea why) it puts people off even more. They say it’s not moderated – I am guessing it isn’t? – but as a member of staff you feel heavily leaned on to self moderate. Within unwritten rules, on hearsay. So what’s the point in contributing if it may lead to being told off or if you have no idea what you are doing is right or wrong?

    Ever since I have joined the union I have been scared that they will find out but I do feel more protected. I urge anyone else to join Usdaw too (thats the one for retail workers), they are very good and the company doesn’t need to know, they promised me they wouldn’t tell the company unless they ever needed to intervene with something. I hope I never have to use them.

    Some people may ask why not leave – the fact is I love the basics of my job and the team I work with are brilliant. For a shop job, it’s pretty good. However, I know that if I want an actual career in retail I will have to go elsewhere. Many people at the top are cherry picked on a whim, it seems (not all, but some), the proof of which can be seen below. Talent or any particular achievements are not pre-requisite, I can’t work out what some of them do.

    A quote from the article I am linking says the following (direct from Mark)

    “I’m not saying everyone at Lush gets that kind of personal development, it’s absolutely accidental and very patchy.”

    Link to article here: http://www.seekernews.co.uk/2012/12/the-smell-of-success/

    Right there is admittance that there is some kind of favouritism going on. How are the rest of us meant to move up? It seems the loud, silly ones are the ones who will prosper, really, the ones who jump up and down and catch their eye. I think it’s wrong. There are others, of course, who seem to have genuinely worked hard to get there and have actual talent, then they vanish without trace. It’s all very confusing. For an ‘ethical’ company on so many levels, it is my experience is that they do not look after their own people.

    I finish with a quote from that article – from Mark himself – because I am feeling braver after writing all of that out:

    “It reminds me of some 1990s business thinking – everyone knows the boss is a dick, but nobody will tell the boss why he’s a dick”

    Mark, I am telling you you are a dick. You could have any number of reasons but the 3 I can give you here is a) You ignore your staff b) You ignore your customers c) You run a business on nepotism.

    • I think that all if these issues stem from Lush UK. I work for Lush NA and it’s pretty great. If it’s cold- we are allowed to close the door. If you’re pregnant and tired- you take extra breaks. We get paid a living wage (or better) and they often send us on trips and pay us for volunteer hours. These conditions sound horrific and I hope someone is looking in to it!

  8. Thank you for this blog and the outlet. And @Squishy, thanks for your post, you gave me some bravery to post too, although I haven’t resigned (yet). Maybe I will build up the courage soon?

    I feel the need to add, working within the company is cult like. If you are being treated well and enjoying it, you really can see no wrong. You may get current employees posting up “they’re talking rubbish, it’s ace”. And for them it may very well be. If you are in favour, it’s great, I’m sure. Until you end up ignored, downtrodden or on the ‘wrong side’ then you just do not realise how bad it can be. Or, maybe like me, just never one of the chosen ones, just a day-to-day plodder.

    Many of us often liken it to being in an abusive relationship – a senior manager said it to me at the beginning of my employment and I was shocked but now I realise it’s true. It sounds like it is trivialising domestic abuse, but I shall explain the similarity, as it isn’t meant to be disrespectful. The bad times are bad – really bad. I have seen bullying, harassment and threatening behaviour. I have seen people be treated so badly they have had no option to resign. I have heard quite senior people badmouth others to the point of slander. You could complain, but where will it get you? There are no guiding policies in place. There is some kind of loose ‘support function’ but they are in Poole and I am not confident of confidentiality. People say ‘why do you still work there?’. Well, the good times are brilliant. The good times are what you stay for. Like a nugget of gold you find sifting through a muddy river. Those nuggets become less and less frequent and all you have left is the stinking mud. My confidence was so low at one point I felt I couldn’t leave and find another job, but of course I can, any of us can. We don’t need to work in this oppressive environment. I know other workplaces can be like that, but you just expect this company to be better. I think that’s what is most upsetting and why I keep waiting to see if it comes good.

    I suppose this could sound really bitter but I promise it isn’t, I have no great plans to be a retail supremo, I just hate the hypocrisy. An ethical company with a genial boss on the face of it, but dig a little deeper and it’s rotten to the core, I think it really is. I think most people would be hugely surprised if they knew what it was really like.

    • The “cult” mentality really stood out to me while I worked there. As employees we are getting discounts, able to take damaged products home, given trips/ parties/prizes; staff are “absolute “Lushies” and totally obsessed with the company and its self-proclaimed and so called “ethics.”

      I found myself at a shop that had a high turnover in staff as well as management; had little to no training for staff; and was running reactively rather than according to any standards, LUSH or other. I voiced concerns, to no avail. I then voiced them to HR and was fired 5 days after the fact, through a voicemail…for four reasons that I had not been aware of — and that were absolutely falsified.

      However, it took several months to fire an employee that was mentally unstable and actually endangering our staff…

      That is how LUSH hushes its employees and stays running as it does.

  9. Other people have told me stuff, ex-employees, that makes my blood run cold. I’m not posting it here because it’s not my stuff to share, and I don’t think it’s down to me to post things I can’t verify from what I’ve seen and heard myself. That’s what the comments are for – anyone who has an experience of their own can share it if they want to.

  10. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit: Part 2. | Mitherings from Morningside

  11. As an employee who works at Lush I’m sad to say Jocasta is right. Lush dont want people to join unions because they are terrified of being held to account for their unethical behaviour. They know that they can get rid of people at whim if people are ignorant to unionising. Even the supposed HR (not sure they could call it that legally) is biased towards the family over doing the right thing by employees under law. The company makes people redundant every year even though they work so hard for little money and they do it because one of the family doesnt like them. No one speaks out because lush buys them off and forces them to sign agreements that they wont ever say anything about it. Lush is not the company you think it is.Many staff members are too afraid to speak out. I am trying to leave at the moment but its very tough out there.

  12. I’d also agree with what’s said here – having not just worked for the company for a while (I got out fast – and was fortunately in a position where I could do so), but having been a member of their forum for many many years, too. I pretty much left the forum shorlty after I started working for them, as it became apparent to me from early on that their facade of ethics was paper-thin, and I didn’t want to be unprofessional in what I wrote about them while I was paid by them(!). I returned to the forum after I left Lush because I missed the community there, but it was never the same for me and I left it again. And yes, the essential issues are that they care not a hoot about either their customers (apart from their money, obviously) or their staff. Suffice, for now, to say that from my perspective, I was especially shocked to realise that their failure to ever get ‘fair trade’ labelling of any sort had a lot to do with the fact that they’d be very unlikely to be *able* to make the grade for any worthwhile labelling, and are terrified of any external scrutiny whatsoever, anyway – because they know, of course, that external scrutiny would bring to light a whole host of issues around the ethics they proclaim… And yeah, fwiw, I’m not especially bitter either, on a personal level: But I was *disgusted* at what I saw of the way they treated employees and spoke about customers as well as staff when I worked for them. It was quite despicable, and a workplace I was very glad to leave; I sympathise with those for whom leaving has not/will not be as easy as it was for me. I feel for you!

  13. Over the years I’ve seen Lush talk a lot about oh, we don’t want that approval label and we don’t want that approval label because we hold ourselves to higher standards and we do our business in such a way that we don’t meet their standards but ours are better. Was it BUAV or Beauty Without Cruelty, something like that anyway, who won’t certify Lush because Lush will use ingredients from companies which have tested on animals in the past? And Lush’s answer was if you refuse to use ingredients from companies which have ever tested on animals in the past, you give them no incentive to change. Which is fair enough, but now I wonder if it’s just spin.

  14. I too work for Lush, but in North America. The way that they treat there employees here is quite the same. I’ve been working there for nearly a year and have had one very small raise, I constantly don’t get scheduled enough to pay my rent, and they’ve been telling me that I’ll get promoted to a supervisor position for close to six months while instead promoting people who are less qualified or have been working there a shorter time then me. The only reason I still work there is because I have had trouble finding another job. The company’s ethical standpoints and the way they treat their employees are totally opposite, and working there was fun at first but has now become more of an extreme frustration than anything else.

  15. Seconding the same treatment in North America. Employees being required to do more and more (yes, scrubbing feet) with no more pay than minimum wage. This article hits it on the head for being symptomatic of larger problems with the company as a whole. The lack of an HR department in either country is absolutely frightening.
    Having previously been with the company for five years and seeing NA profits rise hugely, none of these profits are going back to the employees. Staff who were absolutely amazing and recommended for advancement/promotion were denied and positions were given to external hires repeatedly because seasoned staff have to jump through imaginary hoops while external applicants are hired on one experience with another company, with promises of a happy, healthy work environment. Would chalk it up to my own personal experiences had I not seen and heard it happen it countless times, in varying locations around the globe. Running on personal favouritism and constant turnover is not sustainable. This article’s points on staff treatment are the reason I finally left with a heavy heart after five years, having seen nothing change. There is no denying that this treatment of staff eventually trickles down to the customer. I loved my job (and was objectively amazing at it) and I loved this company, and it outright refused to love me back.

  16. Welcome to the commenters from North America. Hearing similar stories from a whole other continent does make it harder to believe that these problems are just down to a couple of bad experiences. It seems to me that there are deep rooted problems with how the company treats its staff around the world. I know employment laws vary around the world but I would recommend any employee (of any company) contact their own trade union in their own country for advice and support.
    I would also say that some of these issues have been raised on the Lush IF numerous times. Certainly the doors open in winter issue was talked about over and over again, and there was at least one forum conversation with Mark Constantine about how Lush are not exempt from employment law, so they can’t pretend to be unaware of their responsibilities.
    I think it’s easy for poor employment practice to thrive where staff are scared to speak out and employers know they won’t be held accountable for what they do. Although this is my personal blog, I have no problem at all with Lush employees (current, ex or prospective) posting on the Lush-related entries regarding their experiences of working for Lush, and anyone is welcome to use the links buttons to share the Lush entries around. Perhaps making these issues public will kickstart the company into improving matters. It’s sad if a company has to be shamed into doing the right thing, but if that’s what it takes, so be it. Lush have been trading for many years now and they are a multi-national organisation. They can’t expect to behave like a one-man show in a garden shed. They have legal duties towards their staff and they should take that seriously.

  17. I left Lush just over a year ago after I had a huge wake up call. Lush is nothing more than a cult. When you are on the inside you can see no wrong and it’s all lovely and fluffy and caring but as soon as you speak out about something you feel is wrong they close ranks quicker than a bear trap (tho they’s probably start a campaign about bear traps). No wonder the top management call themselves ‘The Mafia’. If your face doesn’t fit you’re out, especially if all you want to do is get your head down and do a good job. If you say you don’t like the way the company has changed Mark says ‘well what have you done to make it go wrong then?’ his way of once again accepting no responsibility for anything that happens there – even tho it’s his name over the door.

    I worked there for 7 years and was constantly put upon to do more and more work, all unpaid, because it would ‘stretch me and get me recognition and, ultimately, promotion’. All total bullshit! They just like to get something for nothing. If you’ve seen this link: http://www.seekernews.co.uk/2012/12/the-smell-of-success/ it mentions that Mira Manga (ex Retail Support with Lush) is writing a book about Lush. The reason she is doing this is because her job role was abolished and she would have been out of a job otherwise. This happened after a particularly nasty managers meeting where Mark Constantine stood there in front of around 250 managers, trainee managers and head office staff discussing whether we needed the Retail support department, what they actually did, how good they were and whether what they did was actually beneficial to the company. All this was in front of the Retail Support department themselves! In an ethical, caring company things like this would be discussed at appraisal with the department – in private. A hotel in Bournemouth with such a huge audience was neither the time or the place. The humiliation on the faces of the Retail Support department was painful to look at, but that’s how Mark works. Under his facade of hippy geniality he is a cold, calculating dictator who doesn’t care who he hurts as long as everyone knows he’s the boss. So if he has discussions in public like this he should have no problem with his staff doing the same on here!

    After I left I could see that all Lush is is a soap shop that has got a bit above it self, that isn’t as ethical as it makes out, who treats animals better than people and that doesn’t listen to its staff or customers.

    I have moved on. There is life after Lush. I now work for people who genuinely appreciate me and my hard work and effort has been rewarded with 2 pay rises in a year, more than I ever got at Lush in 7 years.

    Thank you for the chance to vent. And I’m glad I’m not alone in my thinking.

  18. I came apon this post because it was posted on Mark Constantine’s page and I have read this as well as part 2 and all of the comments. Since this is a space where we are telling experiences I thought I would respond

    I always tell people that the more I find out about Lush the more I love them.
    That being said I want to assure you that I read all of this with an open mind.

    I have been a customer for 10 years and I have worked for Lush north america for 5 years

    I want to first say that the opinion I am about to give is my own also that I do believe that all of you had these experiences that your feelings a valid.

    So here is my perspective Lush creates some of the most amazing things I have ever had the pleasure of putting on my body. They have developed an artistry in cosmetics, they approach the making of their cosmetics with a love for every part of the process. They are making strides in the cosmetic industry that are un -like any other company out there. This being said they are humans, they are artists, They are experienced and older now, and in their hopes to grow and succeed (hopes many of you talked about here for yourselves) they are now the larger company standing before you all with more transparency then most asking you to judge them.

    And judge them we do as informed consumers and employees. Lush is constantly challenging us to use our brain and to listen our hearts. CHALLENGE is the important word here. The ethical campaigns they do make us think about things that are not pretty or easy to see or feel. But these things are still reality.

    Lush does ethically source all their ingredients and they do have the highest standards out there for cosmetics. They are supporting communities and positively effecting our world environmentally.

    This still doesn’t change the way you all feel and I acknowledge that!

    One thing that life has taught me is that you have to constantly force yourself to have perspective. .
    Human interaction is the hardest thing we have to deal with as humans. (that’s why retail is so hard)

    My perspective after reading all of your stories is that yes not every aspect of this company is perfect and sometimes the message is construed at times

    .( i.e. Please manager of those stores where its snowing just shut the door yes the open door does work as far as drawing customers in but every location is unique” I know that if this was my store, my manager would have closed the door and sent a report to head office as to why during this time of year the door was closed complete with pictures. )

    But every aspect of a human being is also not perfect, every aspect of things we make as humans therefore is not perfect.

    Have you ever baked a cake and it came out shitty you did everything right but something just went wrong?
    Have you ever gone into a situation with the best intentions and then it just went wrong?
    Have you not understood where someone was coming from until later when you had more perspective?
    Have you ever went to an art show and said I don’t get it?

    As I age I keep having all these realization, when I re-watch movies from my youth I see so much more, when I re-read books I get more out of them because of my experiences have made me more aware of the world around me.

    All I am saying is vent, get it out, do whatever you feel the need to do, but just make sure you have an open mind that is the only way we learn…….

    There are soooooooooo many companies out there doing actual physical harm to animals, to communities of people they are exploiting. To their customers by not telling them what is in their products. Hiding the way they do business, hiding everything if they could. Why do you think they put their products in those pretty packages? In hopes that you will not look any further!!!

    Lush is Naked!! literally, and sometimes naked is pretty and sometimes its not.

    Love is easy sometimes and sometimes its hard.

    I say join those unions, voice your opinion don’t be afraid don’t be worried. Life is hard, work is hard, just make sure that you keep your mind open and that you find something that you love and do it!!!!

    sincerely,
    Someone who just wants to contribute to the conversation

  19. Don’t you think people would be justified in saying Lush hide how they do business too though? A company which touts itself as ethical while breaking employment law left, right and centre is not an honest company.

  20. I think you really have to have worked in the UK to understand what its like in Poole with the senior mangement. With all respect to our North American Lush friends, the overseas teams have different directors. And yes, you really DO have to keep your doors open.
    Since the Constantine children joined the business it has changed. One is pleasant but lazy, one is pleasant but silly and one is a complete dick. You can get fired for critisizing them. If Mo hears about you, there will be a way to get you fired. And people can’t be bothered to make a fuss, usually because they are nice people, which is why they joined Lush in the first place.
    They belieev in paying as little as possible, so you have to work extra hard just to pay the bills. Mark has written on his facebook page that in his opinion only a financial bonus will get people to work hard, ignoring the many times that that TED talk about money as motivation not working got posted up there too.
    Except with his children. He buys them houses. This is his right, and maybe that’s why they don’t work hard, but it is a bit hard on everyone else watching that happen.
    Mark says he believes he gives people a purpose in their lives by including them in a campaigning company that wants to change the world and make it better for animals, plants and people. But he could help by keeping the shop doors shut and helping them to pay their rent.
    He says he pays ‘market rate’ but really that means ‘as little as I can possibly recruit someone for’ which isn’t kind.
    I was invited into a ‘mafia’ meeting once when he gave someone’s job to someone else without any discussion, just to give the first person a kick in the pants. They were both there at the time. It just went quiet, No one dared say anything.
    You shouldn’t have to leave to restore your faith in yourself. I did. And true there is life out there.
    One of the Mafia said to me that if your name is not Constantine then the family just think you are a hired help. They said that the Constantines think they are the most creative people on the planet but they don’t have time to do everything themselves, so they have to hire other people to grow the company. That is a financial drain on the family, so they want to pay everyone else as little as possible.
    And I heard Mark say that if someone comes to him with a crisis, he gives them extra work because that always sorts them out and he gets more productivity out of them. He thought this was funny.
    But I also still buy some products because I like them. And some lovely people work for Lush, which is why people stay there instead of leaving. I learned a lot, but it was nice to get back to a job where there is a structure and some hope for the future. At Lush you’d have to marry a Constantine to get a pay rise.

  21. I agree Miss Terry, I have been at head office and have heard first hand the contempt with which top management hold their loyal hardworking employees. It is an elitist, out of touch and short sighted way of running a company. The Constantine offspring ride roughshod over the whole company and they don’t care who they upset because they don’t have to, daddy will always bail them out. and if he takes no responsibility for things that go on there then why should they?

    During a managers meeting about 5 years ago they decided to allow managers to see what went on at a mafia meeting, so they had one on the stage. What a total waste of time! For around an hour and a half they wittered on about pointless stuff and made no decisions about anything. Everyone who loved the sound of their own voices had a say, but nothing was actually said, no issues were resolved. Definitely a case of too many engine drivers!

    Take Lushfest too. At the first one in 2011 Mark told us proudly that it had cost 800,000 to put on. For what? What did anyone learn? It was Mark’s chance to polish his ego by saying he had put on a festival. As a manager I learnt nothing – apart from how Lush waste money when they could be paying their staff better. There were quite a few mutterings among staff that it was a waste of money but of course no one said anything as they would have been ousted from their job for disagreeing and not whooping with joy to be stuck in a muddy, smelly tent with a load of pseudo do gooders.

    Lushfest 2012 was supposed to be bigger and better. It cost at least twice as much and the only thing that was different was the amount of mud we were expected to slosh around in. We put up with it because our jobs were on the line if we didn’t attend. We still learnt nothing.

    But the Constantines enjoyed their weeks camping holiday.

  22. Even those closer to the top have a rough ride a lot of the time, it’s not just shop staff. Working all hours for nothing, changes happening all around them (often last minute) without having a say, getting bullied, criticised and humiliated during meetings. I’ve seen carefully designed and created products kicked across the room when the boss doesn’t approve. People get set up for a bashing and no-one steps in to intervene, they’re too scared of being next. Ms Ethical Director is the worst. Comes across all caring when she’s got an audience, but a nasty bully in real life. And when that behaviour is accepted as the norm at the top, it filters down.

    It’s so sad the number of people who leave Lush as a nervous wreck, often having given many years of hard work. Emails come round out of the blue, “it’s my last day tomorrow” and no-one has any idea why. No disciplinary procedure, nothing. Apparently it’s all about not wasting time and energy on ‘dead wood’ but often it’s just another poor unsuspecting scapegoat, someone whose spoken out of turn or just not up for playing the game.

    Lush do many great things, which we should all remember. There are far far worse companies out there and perhaps there are bigger problems in the world right now than this. But for the people who are affected none of those things matter. You can do so much better Lush. It’s not hard to treat people with care and respect.

  23. Lush UK employee here. Currently being bullied into leaving at Lush by my managers, which is not uncommon within Lush. Examples come down from “on high” all the time about people who have left the company because they’ve been forced out.

    I don’t think posting this is going to get me anywhere, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone!

    Oh also, our shop doesn’t have a door, it has a shutter so if we close it (to keep it warm) we close the shop. It reached -5 on the shop floor this winter.

  24. I’d just add that, contra the NA post above, I don’t think the complaints voiced on this blog and elsewhere are ‘just’ normal venting about problems with an essentially sound company. In my experience and from what I’ve seen and know directly about others’ experiences, it was and remains pretty much the *norm* for very many – too many – Lush employees (at many levels, in Poole and in the shops) to face really nasty, truly unpleasant and job-threatening as well as genuinely stress-inducing workplace issues. (Fwiw, I’ve worked in several places, in differect sectors, and all have had their workplace issues. None were as pervasive and as consistently ‘unethical’ as those I experienced at Lush.) When such issues arise from a managment style typified by bullying, as well as from breaches of legal rights and obligations, that *is* a real problem – not some kind of legitimate ‘challenge’ for staff and customers.

    Also, the notion that all ingredients are ‘ethically’ sourced is at least debatable; I do think customers (and staff, except of course they daren’t) should really *interrogate* why it is that Lush shies away from getting labelling (e.g. Fair for Life, Far Trade, or similar) rather than accept assertions about it being because Lush’s internal standards are somehow ‘better’ than that… it’s not entirely convincing, especially if one considers that part of ethical sourcing and labelling products as ‘fair’ and ethical involves treating factory and shop workers ethically, as well as producers and suppliers: the IMO, for instance, writes that ‘Fair for Life Social & FairTrade Certification guarantees that human rights are guaranteed at any stage of production, that workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and that smallholder farmers receive a fair share’ (see http://www.fairforlife.net/).

  25. So much I want to say, so much I can’t say. I am just too scared.

    Well done to others speaking out. I left the company some time ago and it wasn’t pleasant. People need to see this company for what it is. It’s not some hippy happy-clappy outfit, it is a capitalist company, and in my opinion, riddled with nepotism and based entirely on elitism. There is no equality. In fact, Lush makes me think of “Animal Farm”; what started out as a small scale, possibly very lovely company, with all the right intentions of equality and fairness has become an oligarchy with a few key people (the family and their confidantes) essentially holding all the power. Those who know the company won’t need me to tell them who Napoleon and Snowball are, or the guard-pig master-of-spin Squealer.

    I am not saying there isn’t a good side to the company, there is, and you can see that good side walking into the shops, seeing the sales staff with big smiles ready to serve you and look after you. However, for me, all the bad stuff totally negates it. I am sure there are other equally horrid companies to work for, but they don’t crow about how wonderful they are either. My experience is that this company is very much a matter of style over substance, a great big wash of gloss paint over crumbling MDF.

    Anyway, that’s all I can say. But anyone still in, get unionised and don’t become Boxer – carted off to the knacker’s yard – like me. There is a life out of Lush, I promise! There are green pastures on the other side, sunshine, blue skies, freedom. There are far better jobs, in terms of company culture, in terms of pay, in terms of progression. I know the good times are good, but the bad times are awful, and it only takes one step out of line (imaginary line, there are no fixed parameters, what is sauce for the goose isn’t necessarily sauce for the gander) for you to be facing one hell of a battle.

  26. I just had to say something on here, after seeing your post on Mark’s facebook.
    I have never in my 2 years working at Lush (N.A.) experienced anything close to what you people have been experiencing. I am not a regular on the forum, but I am familiar with it. I also have never gone to lushfest. All I have to say, is that there seem to be some really bad things going on with your management, and it sounds to me like your managers are not raising their concerns within the company.
    I have NEVER been told to keep the doors open to the extent you are saying you are forced to. If we feel its cold as a general store, we close the damn doors. That simple. To my knowledge there is nothing saying you have to leave them physically open all the time. Summertime, sure. Leave them open, it brings people in; but not if you are uncomfortable. I have heard of some pregnancy issues with a co-worker, that entailed her having to bend down for long periods of time to do foot treatments. At our store we would NEVER in a million years do this. Again, this is a management issue, that you would think people would be compassionate enough to avoid. There have also been a few issues between staff members. But at our store, we are a family. If you do not treat your family right, or act as if they are below you, it is a serious concern that receives serious action. We do not accept bullying or putting people down on ANY level. I have rarely if EVER received this sort of treatment from people higher within the company, and would say that generally everyone is extremely pleasant.
    In my opinion, you are not working for the lush I work for. I do not blame you for leaving or for wanting to leave. You are not being given the lush experience you deserve as an employee. I think that what it also comes down to, is you as staff members standing up for yourselves, and going YOURSELF to upper management and telling them how you feel, and what you think is wrong about company practices. If you don’t do that, nothing will change. Do not expect your below par management to do it for you. They will not, if they are as passive as you are making me believe them to be. Any issues with scheduling, pay raises, etc. is up to your STORE manager, not the company. You seem to all be working at stores with shitty managers, and I hate to say it but I have seen quite a few before. My hope is that they do not last long, and that more compassionate, excitable people are hired in their place. I don’t know if you have ever filled out a survey when you exited the company, but I am sure there is an accessible document available. I wish all of you luck in the future, and I am very sorry to hear all of this. I welcome you to bring your concerns up to the people who might actually want to hear it, instead of ranting on the internet about it. I will be lush for life, as long as MY personal experience with lush never becomes something that I would not stand for. It never has, and I hope it never will.

    • The thing is, Speaking Out, that when even the founder of Lush, Mark Constantine, says quite openly he doesn’t see why Lush should have to follow employment law, what hope do people have that they will be listened to when they complain?

      • Quite true. I have been a trainee manager, a manager and have also worked at head office and it doesn’t matter where you are you’re not listened to – unless you’re saying the right things. You are lured to head office with promises of being able to ‘make a difference’. You go there with a vision of being able to make things better but they don’t want anyone to make a difference, they’re quite happy with the way things are already. They are not prepared to listen to anything constructive you have to say. Anything negative towards the company or the products or the directors or the offspring or the management and you’re earmarked for removal, placed on a waiting list to be disposed. Now, in a week, a month or even a year – you’ll be gone when it suits them. They’ll find a way and it will probably involve being told that they don’t think you’re happy there and would be better off somewhere else, in some cases being given a payoff to go quietly. Most who leave aren’t even aware of their rights as employees because they’ve never been told by their ‘ethical, people friendly’ employer.

  27. I find it sad that people who are enjoying working for the company are so distrustful towards those who are having a hard time, and how often the blame is shifted to the victims with comments such as “I welcome you to bring your concerns up to the people who might actually want to hear it, instead of ranting on the internet about it”. Why can’t we all support each other?

    There’s no question some people have a great time working at Lush. If you’ve got a great manager who fights your corner and looks after you, you’ll love it. On a management level, if you don’t mind massaging the egos at the top, and happen to also be amiable, hardworking, talented and unquestioningly loyal (some of these interchangeable with being pretty or buddies with the family) you’ll probably be ok. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the 3 day stays in fancy hotels by the seaside several times a year. You just have to learn to turn a blind eye to the bullshit.

    Bullying and unfair working conditions are common throughout the company. If your manager takes the lead from the top you’re in trouble. After all, if a company doesn’t respect and value employees enough to pay them properly, what does that tell management about how they should treat their staff? And the problem is, when you’ve been bullied it’s very hard to speak out, especially if it’s been going on a long time and you’re emotionally fragile, and when you know there are some quite fierce characters who will think nothing of bad mouthing and humiliating you, let alone the implications for future employment. They won’t let unions in either.

    Lush will often give staff the opportunity to give feedback, through the best companies survey, three wishes and Mark is openly on Facebook etc, but action to rectify anything is very slow. They do want people to push the company to be as good as it can be, but are just very selective in what areas they invest in, they’d rather open new shops and new countries than pay staff what they deserve. It took years and years of shop staff complaining before salaries were increased. Often they just make excuses and point the blame elsewhere if people point out anything that threatens their view that they are the most brilliant, creative, ethical organisation the world has ever seen. Perhaps the fact that they are all so far up their own arses explains why they cannot see the discrepancy between what they say and what they do.

  28. I have also heard of pregnant employees having their hours reduced because of the pregnancy, not because the woman was tired/having a difficult pregnancy and needed fewer hours, but as unfair treatment because of the pregnancy. And I have heard reports of some managers employing staff on very few hours a week, part time hours, but scheduling them for full time hours for months on end and then (unlawfully) only giving them part time entitlements such as holiday entitlements. Again, if this is happening to you, contact your union.

  29. I work for the company and when they do solicit feedback for things like 100 Best Companies, they choose the staff they know will give a positive response (which you aren’t supposed to do!!!!) so I refused to fill mine in.

    • I can affirm this. I know this to be true. I witnessed this from the periphery.

  30. I was one of the ‘lucky’ forum members who won a visit to the Lush factory as part of a competition. I was excited to go as I had become a brainwashed & sycophantic fanatic, much like many of my (now) real life friends.

    I was invited to what they call a ‘mafia meeting’. Imagine a King, if you will, holding court with jesters and clowns and courtiers throwing themselves at his every utterance. I won’t compare Mark Constantine to a King as his ego is big enough, but you get the picture.
    The meeting consisted of Mark telling everyone how wonderful he was, how great his inventions were, how lucky we were to be in his presence etc. There were some surprising revelations such as a senior ‘Mafioso’ slagging off staff members who wanted to fly down from Scotland to a meeting, which s/he declared was selfish and that s/he would rather they be sacked than increase Lush’s carbon footprint. “Wait!”, I hear you ask, “Didn’t Hilary Jones (Director of ‘Ethics’) recently fly to LA to collect an award for ‘Ethics’?” Yes, you’re correct.
    Now let’s move on to one of the inventors and a founder, who stated that members of the forum were all losers, sat in their bedrooms being geeky on computers. S/he hated the forum, s/he said. That’s fine, s/he’s entitled to an opinion of course. But a) members of the forum were sat there and b) s/he was forgetting that it was the forumites who helped make Lush become so successful. Let us also not forget that they have used the forum to canvass opinion, do free market research, be a general money spinner and the ‘Don’ has often trumpeted about the special relationship with customers. Yes, a special relationship with what some in the Lush ‘mafia’ have called ‘fat and crazy’ customers. Oh, did I mention that some also voiced that people who use the Lush forum are all fat with mental issues? Yes, that was said too. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

    Lush – not only displaying completely unethical and immoral behaviour but pretty nasty about their own customers.

  31. Hang on, Lush customers are ‘fat & crazy’? If the illustrious leader said that (and I am not insinuating he did, just wondering out loud), it is my opinion that ‘It takes one to know one’. Allegedly. Etc etc.

  32. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit part 5 – competition prizes and limited edition goods vs Consumer Protection Regulations | Mitherings from Morningside

  33. So so so much to say. I’m an ex Lush employee. I was a supervisor at one of their major, major stores for nearly two years from 2004-2006. When I say supervisor, read Trainee Manager without the extra pay. I was working 50/60 hour weeks with about £5 extra for opening and closing the shop (which I was made to feel was an amazing perk!). I regularly had to walk through a busy tourist area to the bank carrying over £5,000 in cash, and I once had to transport a very heavy scale between our shop and another by myself, and just using a taxi. The other shop was in a pedestrianised area, so the taxi could only take me to the next street along.

    As a supervisor I was put in a strange limbo, where I had no say in running the store, but was also segregated from the regular SAs, I was made to do all the jobs the managers didn’t want to do, including telling off the staff, sorting out lunch schedules, running parties, cleaning the office/toilet/staff room (which were all minuscule), payroll, cashing up, ordering stock, programming tills, telling Xmas staff we didn’t want them back – actually what did the managers do?

    We had experience of all of the classic Lush health and safety – in winter the upstairs of our shop, where the doors were on two sides of the shop a few metres apart, was so cold that SAs had to be on a rota of an hour each up there. We would be told to “wrap up warm” with a laugh, and although there was a heater we were told off if we were stood anywhere near it. It’s always fun to see your breath while working, isn’t it? And even more fun to have numb hands while handling 12 inch knives. There was no sick pay – I was once guilt tripped into coming into work with conjunctivitis, once I was there they treated me like a leper & they tried to get me to work on the shop floor, but I refused.

    There is so much more I could tell you. By the end of my two years there I was broken, and left to temp in an office. Here’s some excerpts from my blog at the time, I think they show how worn down Lush left me:

    “Had the interview for trainee manager last monday, which went ok. Found out that both positions were now going, as C is leaving. But then found out that C is leaving because they sat her down and told her what a shite trainee she was being, and how no-one respected her, that all she had done was make mistakes, and she should grow some balls. And basically find another Lush to work in, but just as an SA. Lovely. Started me off thinking did I really want to work under two people who bottle stuff like that up until it’s escalated into massive proportions, and who laugh, yes, laugh, when they’re saying it to you. Answer is, not really.”

    “I’m fed up of working hard for shite pay and not getting any credit for anything. I’m fed up of being in a company that doesn’t give a shit about it’s long-standing employees, with a bully for a manager. I’m very disillusioned with a certain company at the moment.”

    “Just sick of it. Sick of tidying after people only for it all to be ruined five minutes later. Sick of talking to people who don’t care. or assume I’m stupid because I work in a shop. Sick of doing the same old thing, day after day. Sick of the elevated position that has no perks whatsoever and simply serves to separate me from everyone. Not a manager but not a lowly sales assistant either. Have to stay behind for longer but don’t get any bonus for it. Get made to feel like a child for following someone else’s instructions and daring to take initiative. Just feel unappreciated. And tired. So f*ing tired. Feel dirty and oily and low.”

  34. You know something, I’ve just heard that Lush Cosmetics won “Retailer of the year” from Which? magazine last year. I couldn’t believe it! Do they know this is how the company behaves? I always thought Which? had high standards. It’s disgraceful. Lush are disgraceful and the biggest fraudsters on the high street. In the words of Malcolm Tucker, Lush is a fucking omnishambles.

  35. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit: the comments post | Mitherings from Morningside

  36. you are bonkers. get a life already. have you worked for lush or just have a lot of time to accept free travel and products. you shouldnt be venturing out and saying they don’t treat their staff well when you have no idea. i only read one paragraph sounds like a load of shit.

    • Manda Lushie: Try reading the rest of the blogs (like over 100,000) others have and you may get some idea. Most of the comments on here are from people who have worked for Lush or who still do work for Lush. We know that Lush don’t treat their staff well, we have been those staff.

      What free products and travel are we accepting? Free stuff comes at a price. Free product = being paid below the living wage and treated like shit. There’s no such thing as a free lunch and there’s no such thing as free product.

      The only thing that’s free is the feeling you get when you’ve escaped from the maniacal farce that is Lush. I hope you realize that soon.

      Get a life already? Well I have, I got out when I could. I feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t. Your time will come.

  37. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit, part 42: baby, it’s cold outside, but we’re heating up the whole world | Mitherings from Morningside

  38. Jeez, I just came here after Googling the Lush NA Forum, wondering where it had gone.

    I wanted to grab some Snow Fairy products because it’s the one thing everyone in my family loves. But the prices, even on sale and with BOGO, are nuts. So I was hoping there was mention on the forum of bigger sales to come.

    But then I read this above: “Customers often plead the case for products scheduled for extinction. LUSH lets people know ahead of time so they can stock up on their favorites headed for the chopping block.”

    …and just rolled my eyes. The reality is more like “They strategically retire beloved products and give warning to customers to encourage hoarding and irresponsible spending on products that expire quickly and shouldn’t be “stocked up on,” and that inevitably come back three months later ANYWAY because THEY ARE BIG SELLERS.”

    Forget it, I will buy some Snow Fairy knock-offs, it isn’t exactly a hard scent to mimic. Buh-bye, Lush.

  39. I’m really sorry to read all of this.

    I was in at the early days of Lush working at the head office in Poole. I’m afraid to say that things were exactly the same then.

    I saw people being bullied on a daily basis, people reduced to tears and hounded out of the organisation. Even within the team of directors you were either in or out and if you were out then you were in for a world of pain.

    The way that the Constantines spoke about the shop managers was disgusting and he openly admitted during a meeting that he endeavoured to get the very most out of people whilst paying them the very least. People who complained were wimps or not team players.

    Don’t get me wrong there were some really nice people there but the place was run on favouritism and if you massaged a few egos then you’d get handsomely rewarded. I know, I saw the figures.

    The fact is that the business is built on other people’s talent. Without people like Helen and Andrew Gerrie the firm would have gone bust a year after it started just like CTG.

  40. I used to dream of working for Lush, until I did and was then sacked in the cruellest way possible. I was taken on for the Christmas period of 2013, things started out relatively well. I thought I was doing a good job though deep down I was disappointed to find out what a hard sell Lush actually is, it changed my perspective on my previous experiences as a customer knowing what I know now. While I generally believe in the products I felt like I almost had to ‘mug’ the customer for as much as I could get out of them which made me feel seedy, especially when many customers were clearly vulnerable and not in possession of a lot of spare cash. Anyway, I started to notice that I was being treated differently to the other staff, ignored often and on one occasion I sold a ‘Wow’ and added to it and not a word was said to me about it, whenever I was around the manager I felt uncomfortable and like he had been bitching about me at every opportunity. He even made an offhand comment about my weight one evening. One week I got very ill with a chest infection and did my best to get through two shifts and yet another training event with no voice before giving in and letting my doctor prescribe anti-biotics and bed rest, missing three shifts. When I returned I was sacked at the end of my shift. I was sat down with the manager who had clearly taken a dislike to me early on and another permanent member of staff who had made it fairly plain that she pretty much hated my guts, I was told I was too slow on the till (I had kept pace with the others and have worked till jobs before), that I was too slow approaching customers (in my personal opinion untrue but who is to say?) and that my general behaviour was unacceptable (and this was the real shock as I have never been anything other then polite and professional at all times, I would never dream of being any other way. Not to mention that one other staff member had been taken aside for sexual harassment of the female staff and yet MY behaviour was unacceptable?!), I was in shock at this comment and dumbfounded. I was then sacked on the spot without so much as a verbal warning and when they had finished this ruthless task (the lady who hated me having sat there with a smile on her face the entire time not saying a word) they walked away leaving me in tears to collect my things and get out. I have never received such appalling treatment from anyone in any environment. It has really tainted my view on Lush, many people told me to complain but knowing the cult attitude that so many possess I figured they would just close ranks and these abysmal individuals would just gain further gratification from knowing just how hurt I am. It is still relatively fresh and has knocked my confidence terribly, I still have dreams that I am there but nobody will speak to me. I was blocked on facebook by many of the staff who had supposedly been my friends after I left so I can only imagine what has been said about me and I will never understand why. I will never set foot in that shop again.

    • Sadly it happens a lot. Shops are such cliques. The way you were dismissed was totally wrong, 2 against one is not fair or ethical or even allowed (according to the marvelous ‘helping hands’ departments training – by people who don’t know their asses from their elbows). If you still feel strongly about it and can prove that you did nothing wrong, you should sue them for unfair dismissal. contact ACAS for advice. I know of a case of unfair dismissal that has just been won by the member of staff that was dismissed. They didn’t get much money but the satisfaction of knowing their manager was in the wrong knows no bounds.
      However, at the end of the day, be thankful that you had a lucky escape. Things are set to get worse very soon, so watch this space!
      Good luck with your next venture.

  41. This sounds like the company I work for–in fact, most retail companies in the US. It’s just standard business practice now. I’ve never shopped at Lush, and I’m not going to start now. The stuff is full of chemicals anyway, and I’m perfectly capable of making my own toiletries in my kitchen. I did so tonight; I made an herbal hair rinse that without the alcohol I use to preserve it would be edible. It wouldn’t taste good, but it could be consumed. Can Lush say that about its “handmade” products? No care for the customers nor the staff, apparently.

  42. I felt I just had to write something here. I worked for the Constantines et al in the years before Lush existed for their previous company CTG (closed 1994 due to financial problems).

    Reading the comments here made me shudder and recall lots of occasions when I witnessed, or was on the receiving end of, such treatment. We didn’t call them ‘The Mafia’ then, but the same things all applied. It’s just got lots, lots bigger and more ‘powerful’ now!

    If your face doesn’t fit, if you aren’t lucky enough (or loud enough) to get noticed, if you feel like a threat or say the wrong thing…watch out. You may as well start looking for work elsewhere as your days are numbered.

    It’s scary that those same late 1980s / early 1990s practices are still being tolerated. I had truly hoped that things would be different now that more people are involved in the senior management, and that all the bad stuff and insecurity would have been squashed as (quite frankly) highly unprofessional behavior.

    It is very sad. The idea of Lush (and CTG before it) is a great one. ‘The Founders’ – as they are now known – are all indeed very creative people and deserve to be applauded for their work but I fail to see why they can’t appreciate the immense talent of ALL the other people who work for them…If not, then the time is surely upon us when they need to either improve the way people are recruited and trained.

  43. Read all this a while ago and decided not to apply for the job I had my eye on at Lush afterwards. Just reading through the info about the BECTU Ritzy strike, and had a look at the living wage website: http://www.livingwage.org.uk/employers – why is Lush listed here if they only pay minimum wage? Do you pay to have the status or something? It seems backwards. Surely current staff could contest this if it is not the case – write to the Living Wage Foundation?

    Just thought I’d leave it here, don’t want to stir anything up but if they DON’T pay the living wage then it should be brought to light!

    • They pay the living wage in London but nowhere else. That’s why it says Lush London on the listing – which is horribly deceiving. To an outsider it would look like they are whiter than white and ethical to the last when in fact they are dirty rotten scoundrels.

  44. I’m a lush employee and I hate it there. So much. I used to work for h&m and they treat they’re employees LEAGUES better than Lush does. Everyone that works for the company is brainwashed, or is doing the brainwashing. I get crucified every single time I’ve called in sick and I girl was recently fired for not popping items at the till. Everyone gets paid minimum wage except “floor leaders” who get paid about 1 dollar above minimum, and my store manager who earns salary at about $22.00 per hour. These people are fucking evil. Don’t shop there.

  45. I worked for lush a long time ago as a Christmas temp. A friend and I walked in together looking for work and they interviewed us on the spot at the same time. They would ask me a question and then her the same question. It was so unfair and we had similar work/ voluntary experience so I was trying not to cover everything so my friend had something left to say. One of the interview questions was “what’s your star sign and are you a typical Sagittarius?” – ridiculous. I got the job and she didn’t and I think that was down to their unfair interviewing.

    The management could be close minded.
    I had dreadlocks and the assistant manger would ask me EVERY SHIFT if I could wash my hair. It was so irritating.

    I heard a lot of horror stories about people being fired on a whim at head office…

  46. Thank you! I have the flu and bronchitis and provided a medical certificate from my doctor saying that I am unable to work and they STILL made me work and touch customers. Ended up leaving halfway through my shift and after 10 months of this ongoing bullshit I am ready to give up. LUSH care so much about ethics but don’t even care about ethics when it comes to their own employees

  47. Thank you for writing this. I was a LUSH Employee and was wrongfully fired after I made a complaint to HR about being understaffed, under-supported, and all of us undertrained. It’s good to know that there are people out there that can see through the company’s manipulative jargon and bullshit. Products are absulutely fabulous, however, I don’t agree at the cost. After this experience, I am making my own handmade cosmetics and supporting another former employee who has started their own shop,

  48. I am a current member of staff being treated appallingly. The below is a message I left on the staff room page (welcoming free speech) . It was deleted immediately.

    I am a 34 year old woman & mother with a successful Trading / Relationship Banking career behind me. I began working for Lush as Xmas temp at an Essex store in September 2015. I was the number one sales advisor selling 5 WOW / Lush Legends boxes. I also solely sold almost the same amount of charity pot as all my other colleagues put together on an average shift of 16hrs pw. In my previous roles I have lead teams to smash targets of 7 million plus (delivering 9 million) so my targets at Lush were achievable. I was quickly promoted to a Supervisor within the Management Team.
    The Management Team at that store is made up of cliques, best friends and demoralised staff that have not managed to obtain promotion.
    The Following are examples of comments / environment I’ve had to endure: –
    ‘Oh at least you’ve got a pretty face, it’s a shame about your body’.
    Comment made about me, to me by XP (ex Trainee Manager, in presence of YA, Branch Manager. XP then repeated the same comment during a full staff meeting, yet again, making me the butt of the joke.
    There was no point in raising a complaint as YA is a best friend with XP. An ex member of staff can confirm this was said in open forum. I doubt any existing members of staff would come forward in fear of reprisal. I wouldn’t want to put my ex-colleagues in that position either.
    On several occasions I was left waiting to be focused for up to 20 minutes at a time while both YA and XP were having ‘bants’ (I think that means banter) about their sexual exploits with their personal trainer at the gym.
    I’ve had to endure several conversations involving YA demoralising another Lush Branch Manager for having difficulty conceiving a baby. YA joked that her ‘friend’ was too fat to carry a child. I struggled with this as it took my husband & I seven years to fall pregnant having suffered multiple miscarriages.
    Long-standing members of staff have had to formally apply for more work hours whilst YA’s friends are given roles that haven’t been formally advertised.
    The above comments / actions are the tip of the iceberg just to give you a brief insight into my work environment within Lush.
    After speaking out, YA has used any means to make my life unbearable. I resigned on 20th of September & am currently within my notice period. Prior to this, I was suspended for recording examples of above conversations. Even if I did record such conversations, what other choice did I have given my managements behaviour / cliques? I had nowhere to turn, it would be my word against my management (best friends).
    YA has threatened to provide me with a negative reference, bombarded me with emails during my personal time. She has not allowed me access to my personal belongings. I have a positive work history to date and have resumed my role in Corporate Banking. My current employers have no interest in obtaining a reference from YA. They have worked with me for several years and can vouch for my ability, work ethic and integrity.
    My family Solicitor has advised me to proceed to Tribunal citing age discrimination, victimisation, body shaming and discrimination against being a parent. The only reason to go to Tribunal is for monetary gain, which is not my goal. There are several ways I can defend my position / suspension and the way I am currently being treated.
    I honestly do not want to slander Lush Cosmetics. I have a great deal of respect for the founders as we have crossed paths at charity events in the past. Our families have very similar ethics; despite having wealth we live ‘normal’ lives with the exception of great generosity & genuinely wanting to help without gain or recognition. Instead of defending myself against YA or fighting back I have dealt with the negativity by volunteering at one of the several respite centres my family fund in the UK, this always helps me restore balance.
    On Saturday 1st of October, There was an electrical fault at the Lush store I worked in. They posted a notice on the stores Facebook page. I made an upbeat comment on FB, joking about closing the store to go to the pub in order to avoid crowds on Christmas launch day. I then followed on by saying that I was only joking and Xmas launch day is the most exciting day of the year. My comment was in line with my personality and no different to how I would usually interact. I also asked if the store had 2 Wow boxes in stock, as I needed to purchase as gifts. My issues are with YA, not with the Company, my colleagues or customers. I have no reason to spread negativity on the stores FB. If anything I was maintaining normality. I liaise with many Lush stores social media in a similar way, they alway respond with a joke, usually drawing others into the conversation.
    I popped into Lush this morning, as my 5-year-old daughter is desperate for a Monsters Ball bath bomb. YA approached me in store (in my own time) to tell me I am banned from the store permanently… She has used my comment on Facebook to enforce this ban. She felt it was appropriate to scorn me in front of colleagues & customers, with the main office door propped open so our conversation could clearly be heard.
    I visited the store a few days earlier spending a significant amount of money, I would have spent more but Z (supervisor) didn’t know how to process the 4 spa treatments I was trying to purchase. I had nothing but positive interaction with my ex-colleague’s.
    YA is literally using whatever little power she believes she has over me to publicly bully and humiliate me. If its policy to ban me from the store during the joke, which is my suspension, surely there are less humiliating ways that either YA or People Support could have communicated this to me. Also, Monday is my non working day, does that mean I am at YA’s beck and call during my notice period?
    We spend £2000 to £3000 on Lush products/spa treatments annually. I have championed and supported Lush from the beginning. I only ever use the Lush Spa and have hosted several pamper parties at Lush over the years. Now, I’m banned from my local store because the manager is behaving like a 2 year old, throwing her toys out of her pram.
    I chose to work for Lush as I have a deep respect for the companies founders & ethics. I championed the charity pot because I believed in the causes. I loved the quirkiness of the Mission Statement; coming from my corporate background it was a sigh of relief. My childcare costs were more then I earned, money was not my motivation.
    This Company has the best customers. I got lost in the products and consultations, that’s why I was successful at delivering my role.
    I’m sure there are some great store Managers at Lush that respect their staff and act with respect and decorum. Unfortunately that has not been my experience. If any other staff members within the organisation are feeling bullied, has cliques in their management or feel unable to speak out. My advice is to LEAVE. This situation has caused me much distress and has impacted my family. My heart goes out to those that are in similar positions but need their jobs / salary / reference. There seems to be a culture of institutionalised bullying if you are a store Manager that leads by their ego instead of example.
    Personal note to YA – I asked to shake hands and walk away civilly. Clearly you are not adult or professional enough to do so. How else do you intend to continue harassing me? You are using my notice period as a ‘hold’ to continue bulling me & keeping me at your mercy. I do not need a reference from you; I have no intention of mentioning Lush on my CV. I do not need the notice period or associated salary – keep it. You have banned me from the store for no reason at all, alienated me from certain colleagues I care about. What more can you do to hurt me? Clearly you have an unhealthy obsession / vendetta against me, you should consider contacting Health Assured. I sway between finding you amusing and pitying you. At this point your behaviour is simply dirt off my shoulder. It’s time to walk away and leave me alone.
    The reason I am posting this is because I implore someone out there in the world of Lush. Please, let me walk away with some dignity & respect for a brand that I genuinely love.
    Thank you

    • Thank you for your comment. I have replaced the full names of staff with initials as per blog policy.
      I’m really sorry you were treated that way, and I’m glad you’ve found something else. For other people in similar situations, bullying at work is not acceptable and you have the right to expect your employer to protect you from it. If your managers can’t or won’t step up, please join a union and get their help.

      • Thank you for removing the names. I’ve moved on & enjoying my new job. For the few moments my post was available to view on the staff room Facebook page, 32 staff members private messaged me describing worse acts of bullying / harassment then I’ve endured. That makes me feel awful😢 I wish I could help them.

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