The Smell of Bullshit: the comments post

There are lots of comments now underneath the various Bullshit posts, but if you haven’t signed up for notifications of new comments, you might have missed some of them. Some of them are very enlightening, so I thought it was worth re-posting them in an entry of their own just to be sure the people who are interested have seen them.

From the first post,

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

and

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

A short while after the first Bullshit post, I did the second one. That didn’t attract quite so many comments.

I work well over my contracted hours every week. I get into work when it’s still dark and often leave 10-12 hours later. I don’t see my fiancee – whom I live with – for days on end because of the shifts we work. I approach every customer; I demo as many products as possible; I provide good advice; and I grit my teeth and deal with the obnoxious children whose parties we have to host, and through every pamper session we provide to a yummy mummy while she unleashes her destructive offspring and treats our shop like a creche. I smile, I’m kind, I massage (not that I’m even remotely qualified to do so), I link sell, and I offer till-point add-ons.

Since working at Lush I have developed both the physical and mental symptoms of stress and anxiety. I talked about my job with my GP and she told me I should leave. She told me my working conditions were illegal. I was never a negative person in my life before – and I’m near 30 so it’s not like I’ve got teenage angst issues!

I work my butt off. The reason I am stressed, depressed, and unhealthy is because I work in the cold for excessively long hours, often with inadequate breaks, because if I don’t I can’t afford to live. We can’t drink water, lean, or sit down on the shop floor, so we have to effectively leave the shop to do either. The problem with this is that if it’s a busy day, you don’t drink or rest because you can’t leave. I’ve actually been asked to “hold it in” when I’ve needed to pee during a busy spell! I was furious! I also work with people who have been asked not to go into university, but to work a shift instead because their availability no longer works for the shop. That is out of order!

And on the last post someone mentioned the hygiene. Oh my gosh, I could write a novel! We’re not allowed to use any proper cleaning products because they aren’t ‘green’. We are expected to use vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda to clean our toilets, sinks, and surfaces. Have you ever seen a toilet that is used by tens of people and has never been properly cleaned? It’s disgusting. We are also expected to use Lush shampoo to wash dishes and cutlery – with the same brush that we use to clean out customers’ mouldy returned pots. It’s really quite amazing that nobody has come down with dysentery! When someone mentions the state of the toilet, the stock response – whatever store you’re in – is “chuck a bath bomb in it.” I’m sorry but fecal matter is fecal matter – it doesn’t get any more hygienic if you coat it in glitter.

And let me tell you something else: the product quality has indeed declined. During the time I have worked for the company I’ve seen the number of recharges, recalls, and refunds increase dramatically. None of what I initially loved about Lush remains, which is why I’m moving on. Lush has done everything necessary to completely repel me from the retail industry. I am seeking a new career.

If the social justice bloggers want to see real, genuine exploitation then all they need to do is take a walk down their local high street. Lush is no different from anybody else, and in some ways is worse.

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Having commented on your previous post I had to comment here too. Firstly, thank you for bringing an outlet to what I believe must be 100s of frightened, downtrodden, and just damned miserable employees. I know there’s not only me – your previous post shows there isn’t only me. A search on google shows even more. I don’t care what the Best Companies survey says – Lush simply isn’t a great place to work for all of us, although – in the interests of balance – I know it is for some

The response from Mr Constantine truly saddens and disgusts me. No one at the top is remotely working hard to put policies in place, if they were why don’t we still have standard policies in place after how many (Wiki tells me 18) years of trading? The contracts (if you’re lucky to have one) are like a ‘contract by numbers’ – I am guessing the most basic that exist. There is no company sick pay scheme (just SSP), which means people drag themselves into work when they really should be resting – the basic wage is so poor as it is, SSP just doesn’t help. I don’t think that’s a sign of an ethical employer. There is no formal appraisal scheme, so it’s hard to move up or progress, and again you can work your behind off and know it won’t be for a pay rise or even for a promotion – it’s like treading a road to nowhere. In fact, he’s already admitted in the the post I alluded to earlier that progression is based on pot luck and is completely random. It must be lining someone’s pockets, though?

The people who are working extremely hard are those on the front line. I know, I am one of them. We are those who sell the (below par) products (not just my opinion, it’s all over the Internet and even on the company’s own facebook page). I feel ashamed when a customer comes back with a chemical smelling moisturiser that has gone off well before its use by – knowing full well it was recalled by head office but we are not allowed to put a notice up telling customers it was recalled (I asked my manager if we could and she said no, but she wanted to as well). How embarrassing was it to see children having their hands dyed pinky orange IN STORE when I gave them an “Enchanter” demo? Those at the top don’t see that do they? They don’t see a store full of low contracted hour part-timers scrambling for overtime like ants fighting over a crumb of cake. They don’t see the Managers & Trainee managers working 60 hour working weeks and forgoing a normal family life. I wonder if they have a good work/life balance? They see none of that. And me feeling sad about it and voicing concern is “fierce” criticism? Well I would love him to see the harsh reality of working in the company when you’re not right at the top. For those at us at the bottom the reality is different. Some of the most wicked individuals in history have had myriad honour, award and recognition bestowed upon them because one set of people were too afraid to speak out, and another set were so charmed, so utterly taken in, by the smoke & mirrors. I am not saying this man is wicked but I am saying just because someone wins an award doesn’t mean it is true, just because he doesn’t like what he hears, it doesn’t mean it is untrue. It is my opinion that the company believe what pleases them and the nay-sayers are dismissed as ‘negative’ or, in this case, ‘fierce critics’. Just because you don’t want to believe it, Mr Constantine, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

My opinion of his response is that it is full of faux self pity which poorly covers the complete disregard and the utter disdain with which he views his customers and his employees. I am not a ‘fierce critic’, Mr Constantine, I am a loyal, dedicated & hardworking employee. I love my co-workers, I love my customers, and I want better, I hope for better. Your comment shows me it’s time to cut my losses and stop hoping because when you take genuine, heartfelt feedback (that has taken me real guts to post, and I am frightened) and label it ‘fierce’, there really is no hope left for any of us.

The third post was about health and safety and risk assessment.

Interesting stuff. I did once ask some of the ‘compounders’ in the Lush factory if they were provided with face masks (after I got a nose bleed in there and was told ‘sorry, that does happen with some formulas’!!!)… to my surprise, they said no; I also asked them if they had any equipment other than (admittedly copious quantities of) latex/rubber gloves to help them handle the often hot infusions and sometimes unpleasant ingredients they have to handle. (Ingredients that are nasty whilst ‘raw’ often go into perfectly nice products; this isn’t a swipe at the products.) Again, the answer was no. One of them asked me to raise a couple of related issues with some of my colleagues who had a more direct influence over how the factories are run. I did, but was essentially told it was not my place to do so. One can only imagine it wasn’t my place because in fact an up-to-date risk assessment had been done (and found that things such as face masks weren’t necessary), or was in hand to address concerns such as those I’ve mentioned and those the factory workers raised? But the factory workers who spoke to me were far too anxious about potential repercussions on them to raise the issues themselves with ‘management’. That didn’t seem right to me.

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The health and safety training that was done 3 years ago told shop managers to do their risk assessments and log them with head office. If this wasn’t done, or was done incorrectly the managers themselves, not the company, would be personally financially liable for anything that went wrong in the shops – and could be expected to pay up to 20,000 (more than most managers annual salary). So it was always in the best interest for shop managers to do their risk assessments!

However, prior to my leaving last year there had been no further health and safety training done, so new managers were expected to be liable with no training at all. So it’s little wonder that some managers don’t have a clue when it comes to pregnant women etc. And highly likely that risk assessments are no longer up to date. Although common sense should dictate, in most cases fear of reprisals from head office would mean that managers can’t use their gut instinct and must abide by the rules.

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Having worked in a lush shop where 3 people gained injuries which left them with chronic pain despite Lush being told NUMEROUS times over several years that there was a problem and it being flagged in all health and safety reports as ‘almost certain to result in a serious accident’, I can categorically say that Lush could not give a flying fuck about their staff.

I have had to give up a career I trained for 10 years for as a result of my injuries and not once did Lush apologise or offer to help in any way.

After a post about maternity rights which didn’t attract much comment, we moved on to look at competition prizes and limited edition goods.

On the forum in late 2011, I won an all-expenses-paid buying trip. According to the prize description, I would be travelling with the Lush buying team in Spring 2012 to visit one of their fresh ingredient suppliers outside the UK. This was a creative competition so I spent time and effort writing a poem for my entry and was absolutely thrilled to hear that I had been chosen as the winner.

After emailing my details to two particular members of staff (I’ll call them #1 and #2) as requested, I heard nothing back at all. A month later, having carefully checked my junk email folder and the forum and finding nothing, I assumed I had been forgotten. I therefore contacted both staff members on the forum. Staff Member #1 replied, apologising and explaining that they had both been busy. I was assured by this person that I hadn’t been forgotten.

I heard absolutely nothing from anyone at Lush after that, which was very upsetting as I had been so looking forward to my trip of a lifetime. The idea of chasing it up a second time felt degrading and I just felt too embarrassed to say anything.

Over a year passed, life got in the way etc. and I eventually plucked up the courage to bump my initial thread on the forum and enquire again about what happened to my prize. I received an apology from Staff Member #1 (still nothing at all from Staff Member #2) and was assured that it would be looked into. A few days later, I was informed that some headway had been made with the buying team. I was also told that Staff Member #2 (who, to this day, has not acknowledged a single message/email of mine) had left the company. According to Staff Member #1, nobody knows why Staff Member #2 never sorted out my prize. So it seems the blame is on Staff Member #2.

A few days ago, I was asked for my details again and given a provisional date via email. I was told that my details would be forwarded to another member of staff, who would be contacting me. I’m still waiting to hear from Staff Member #3, but I’ll try to post an update when I hear something. Sadly, I’m not holding my breath and after reading the posts on this blog, I am a little apprehensive about dealing with people who have potentially labelled me a fat, crazy weirdo.

I do not feel like I have won a prize; I feel like I have been promised something lovely and then ignored and given excuses. It’s a horrible feeling and it’s left a really bad taste in my mouth. I’m prepared to give them this second chance to put things right and deliver the prize that I put time and effort into winning fair and square. If nothing happens this time around, I will be contacting Trading Standards.

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I’d like to tell you about my prize experience as a staff member. In the spring of ’09 I was an SA in a US Lush shop. The North American shops are run out of Canada. At that time Lush Canada were putting a lot of pressure on the US shops to increase their sales figures. Canada setup a 30 day contest between just the top producing US stores, and the store I worked in was one of them. The goal was to see which store could bring in the most dollar volume within 30 days, and which store could increase its sales percentage by the greatest amount overall. The prizes were to be a large quantity of Lush merchandise from the UK and B Never products, divided amongst the staff of the winning stores. During that 30 day period, our store was assigned two individuals who worked in Lush regional management in a different sales region of the country. They were put up at a hotel and their meals were paid. (This was in a worldwide tourist mecca.) They came in and ran roughshod over the entire staff and violated every company policy that we were ever trained to uphold. They said that there tactics were on the instuctions of the Canadian owner of the rights to Lush. Their only goal was to make as much money as possible and upsell every customer, making sure they left with a basketfull of merchandise whether the products met their needs or not. (The level of returns within the subsequent 30 days set new records.) The amount of stock ordered bordered on the ridiculous and was literally piled to the rafters in the store room. Instructions were to move the merchandise in volume by demoing literally every minute of the day and try to sell each and every person entering the store the trio of Dream Cream, Ocean Salt, and Lemony Flutter. We were instructed to grab baskets and follow the customers around the store, placing items in their basket regardless of whether they chose them or not. Lying to customers was rampant and the staff was totally demoralized by the public humiliation, ridicule and abuse these “ladies” doled out. They fired the manager who stood up for her staff and tried to uphold what we understood the Lush values to be. As the end of the 30 days drew near and it was clear that our store would place second rather than first, the regional managers spent fewer and fewer hours in the store, and the rest of the staff had to make up their man hours on the floor. At that point the management assignees spent the rest of their days partying (this is a MAJOR tourist town) until the wee small hours and only came in extremely hungover for an hour or two before dinner. They did stupid stuff like hiring a stiltwalker that they met at a bar to come in and perform on the shop floor. Their disdain for us was palpable and the only consolation the staff had was that these two contracted bed bugs in their hotel. Ultimately our store placed second in the contest and these two witches flew home on their brooms. But the store and the morale were never the same, and a series of assigned temporary managers came and went, all the best SA’s had been fired or left in disillusionment. There was no mechanism set up to claim our prize, and no one around at a level higher than SA to push for it. I was bound and determined that after the agony we had endured that we at least would get our rightfully earned prize. I kept pressing it with each new temporary manager we got.
Ultimately, after 6 months of demanding, we finally got our shipment of goodies from the UK. Unfortunately, a third of what we were due had been subtracted out and sent to the two regional witches. (As upper management they weren’t supposed to share in the booty.) One day I’d had enough and hung up my apron and quit. My eyes were opened by this horrible experience and I have neve looked at Lush the same again. (I was a customer since 1997 and an SA for a year.) If there is no ethical behavior in how staff are treated, it is impossible for me to believe that ethics abound in any other area of the company. I continue to buy the odd product that suits me, but no longer wearing rose colored glasses.

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It happens in shops too. Whilst manager of a UK store I won a premiership trip. The shops used to be arranged in leagues and if your shop did very well and took lots of money, got good mystery shop results and increased sales from the year before you moved up a league. If your shop was in the top (premiership) league for three out of four quarters of the year you got a prize whereby you could go and work for a week in a Lush shop anywhere in the world all expenses paid. What a fabulous opportunity! My shop did so well in its first two years that I won a trip. I wasn’t sure who to approach about my winning them and eventually asked a member of the then retail support. I was told to await further instructions. I waited. And waited.

At each managers meeting you would hear from ecstatic managers who had been to Japan and far flung places on their premiership trips. These managers were ‘in the loop’ managers who had good ‘Lush Mafia’ connections so it was hardly surprising that they got their trips. I continued to wait for my trip.

A year or two later I was approached by a member of the retail support/mystery shopper team and told that I should have asked about my trips earlier but now they had got my place sorted and they would like me to go to a new shop opening the following week in Budapest! Just like that! I had been told that you got to choose where you wanted to go but this person just told me where I was going. It was too little notice and I had to say that I couldn’t just up and leave my shop, kids, family at such short notice and that my passport had recently expired and I hadn’t got the money to renew it at that time. She said they would sort somewhere else for me to go in a couple of months.

I informed her that in the meantime my shop had again got into the premiership and that I had won another trip. After this she said that I would definitely get a good trip and would probably get to choose where I would like to go but that long haul trips were now outlawed because of Lush’s carbon neutral stance and it’s ban on unnecessary flying so I would have to go somewhere in Europe. This was fine as I didn’t want to go too far anyway. She said she would get in touch with me by the end of the week. To be fair tho she didn’t say what week.

Three years later I had still heard nothing so i assumed that I wasn’t getting my trip.

The store structure changed and the premiership idea was changed. It was supposed to be made fairer but there were never any prizes on offer after this. i wonder why?

I have now left the company, having never received my prizes. I guess it was Budapest or bust!

The data protection post caused a lot of comment.

I’m coming back later to make a bigger post but I’ve heard from a head office employee that one of their web designers warned them that the website wasn’t secure but he was ignored and quietly shuffled out at the earliest possible convenience.

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The developer in question was part of the website team. He expressed concerns about the security of the website. However the website is Jack Constantine’s baby, and as many commenters have said, if you criticise one of the Constantine brood, you’re likely to find yourself out of a job.

Obviously this is hearsay and you are free not to believe it. But the same goes for most of the comments on here.

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I had someone’s else’s invoice emailed to me, I saw their address , name and phone number, this was very recently, (within the last two months) I told them but to be honest they didnt seem to overly bothered! Human error apprerently! Great…….restores all faith!

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I had my card details stolen in 2010 during the Lush Website Hack – I was upset, and angry, but forgave Lush – This had happened with Amazon, it happened with Paypal – I saw it as a one-off and directed my anger at the hackers. We were told lessons had been learnt, I got my stolen money back and thought that would be the end of the matter.

A few months later, we had the secret@lush incident, myself and hundreds of others had our email addresses sent to each other – at the time, I rationalised (like some of the others), that “Thank god it was only other forum members” – at that stage, I was still very much blinded with Lush Love and believed that it was a friend making a monumental cock-up – friends makes mistakes, and you can forgive your friends, not a multinational company, and Lush was our friend (I know, stupid, right? But that’s how a lot of people felt about Lush). We received grovelling apologies, explanations and further assurances that lessons had been learnt…

After over a year of avoiding signing up of giving my details to Lush, a new store had opened in 2012, which was local to me, so I signed up to their mailing list. Just a few months later, in late April, I received my first marketing emailer from one the store – unfortunately, I also received the names and email addresses of every other person on the mailing list. I emailed the store to notify them of the error – No response, no apology, no acknowledgement, no attempt to recall the message – thank god there was no assurances of lessons had been learnt, because to compound it all with lies would have made the situation much, much worse.

I simply have had enough – I cannot trust Lush with any of my information, they haven’t learnt their lesson, they are still slapdash with people’s personal information – so I sent the offending emails to the Information Commissioner and submitted a formal complaint.

Lush’s customers, their fans, their online forum had been telling them for years about this problem (and many others, which go on without a viable solution), and Lush are simply refusing to listen. I am glad that this blog is here, because the issues raised have been stuff that Lush know about and customers have been trying to tell them for years, and all that we get is lip service – but no action, and no guarantees that they have been taking notice.

If they won’t listen to their customers – then we have to find other ways to make them listen!

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After the hacking incident all managers received PCI and data security training. This was a 3 hour training session which we all had to travel up to London for and basically involved sitting listening to some dreary girl telling us all to lock our personnel files in the safe (safes not big enough and can be accessed by about 8 people so therefore not secure) and to never ever ever ever touch a customers credit card. That was basically it. We all got given a big form to read and sign to say that we understood it (even tho the girl training us didn’t seem to understand it either) and we then had to convey the information back to our staff and get them to sign to say that they understood too. Therefore Lush have told the managersband it’s down to the staff to take responsibility for Lush’s actions again.

In the shops all the customers credit card slips – even those with numbers on if they were ones that were signed – were to be treated exactly the same as before the hacking incident. They were kept with all the till receipts, placed in an envelope with the date and shop number written on the envelope. The envelope couldn’t be sealed – especially at Christmas when there were too many receipts for the envelope to contain, in fact we were told not to seal them as they might need to be looked at. These envelopes were kept in a box in the staff/office area, accessible to all and sundry and then, as always, were sent back to the accounts department by royal mail in an archive envelope in what is called the ‘end of month pack’. These then get filed and looked at if there is a problem with the shops sales figures etc.

We asked if all shops could be issued with a strong box that only the manager could have a key for so that all this information could be kept safe. We’re still waiting. I don’t suppose it will ever happen as Lush just don’t care enough. I hope they do get caught and fined as it is the only way that they will ever learn that they are not above the law, it DOES apply to them and that no one’s teflon coated, even them.

and

Curious comment about the strong box. I work in another store, we didnt have one and were ordered a full lockable filing cabinet without asking. I have also been working in another store recently who also didnt have one, but we were told to buy one asap. I think you need to follow up on that as I dont believe in this instance it is Lush at fault. At least in regards to the lock box…

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And why am I not surprised . Oh maybe because when I called up on the perfume round and I was talking on. the mobile on way to work and he member of staff said are your last number xxxx and said yes . confirm last 3 numbers and I said yes thats right . Got off the phone and realised all card details were on there computer even the cvv are saved .only had to confirm last numbers on card means only one thing. Card changed not using for lush shopping no more . So all the hassle people had after Xmas this year with there cards charging after December lush knew what they were doing . But even copying the cvv number is wrong on every level.i have contacted my bank as the fraud squad did contact me and send a new card during the original data web hack the previous time .and i have today asked them to look into this further as the company are clearly at fault and not keeping security maxed up.so far not impressed at all .lush have learnt nothing from this .nothing at all .i don’t trust them to not to get hacked again as there systems are clearly wide open for anyone to pop in and nick.so much for the promises of it never going to be a problem in future.and i sure as heck will pay cash if i do shop inshore in future .seriously sloppy security .in store and online.and via mail order.just my feelings posted but I’m evidently not alone .great blog posts as well.

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In late February this year I had a chunk of money come out of my bank account for Lush Mail Order. I hadn’t purchased anything from Lush Mail Order since December 2012 (when I ordered Christmas presents). Confused, I called up Mail Order who confirmed I hadn’t made an order since December and confirmed the payment was for that order, as it had not come out in December. They didn’t know why, I was never ever given a satisfactory response. They were actually rather evasive and rude to me. Now I had received the goods and therefore owed the money, fair enough, and I understand payments can come out a week or so after the transaction. But months?! If Lush did their accounting properly, they would have known this money was owing (I was one of many apparently) but they didn’t think to tell customers this was the case. I paid for it on debit card and my account is always good, there was no reason from my end for it to happen, the fault WAS entirely with Lush to my mind. Being Christmas, I hadn’t noticed that it didn’t come out at the time I just presumed that a normal retailer would take the money when you handed the card details over, but Lush aren’t really a normal company are they? They seem to sidestep normal procedure.

At the time I saw on the forum that it had happened to other people. Lush’s Ethics Director – Hilary Jones responded in her usual patronising manner. She said the following (which can still be found on the International Forum):

“As I said, we do not keep any details on our system – they are typed straight into a handset that belongs, and is linked via phone line, to the credit card company. For us to be able to re-take a payment, we would have to phone the customer and ask them to read the number to us again, so we could type it into the hand set again”

Well, nobody had called or contacted me, and it was months since I originally called to make my order. I was very very worried and the people I spoke to at Lush were really very unhelpful and I felt rather rude. So naturally, I rang my bank to ask them about it. Like I say, I had no problem with the money being taken, I owed it, but how had they processed this transaction several months later? My bank said they were confused – the money had not been ‘pending’ out of my account for months, but it had been freshly taken in the February. That’s right, there had been no PENDING payment, as would usually be the case in a delay between processing transaction and money leaving the account. The bank told me that the payment had ONLY been processed in the past few days. As I say, no one had called me up to tell me this, or re-take details. Now I originally called Mail Order to make my December purchases (I didn’t go through the website) so had they kept my details somewhere? They must have. My bank thought they had and advised me to call the police as they felt there were data protection issues at hand. I still haven’t plucked up the courage to do this as I am scared of Lush, maybe I will do now?

I did receive a call from their customer care department to talk about the issue; they read some standard response off a piece of paper and offered to send me a box of products. Silence products?

Incidentally, with the big Lush website of 2010, I never used the website (only ever rang up MO on a rare occasion) but I was a victim of internet fraud (for the first & only time) in December 2010. Again, I have no idea how anyone got hold of my card details but I feel it was one hell of a coincidence.

I have no faith that my details were ever safe with Lush Mail Order. This was my genuine customer experience.

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I left Lush around a year after the hacking and there was no strong box provided in this time, tho they may have finally got their act together now and provided them. After the training I asked if I could buy a box and was told that it was not necessary and that my shop didn’t really have the budget for it. In my head office position I visited around 15 shops and none of them had a strong box. Most lush staff room/offices wouldn’t be big enough to accommodate one anyway. In some of the shops I visited the paperwork was all over the place, with card receipts spilling out of envelopes in full view of all staff and customers too if they did not close the door between the shop and the staff area which many didn’t.

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My experience of having worked at Lush (for a fairly long time, in a few different positions) is that they look after number 1. If they can ignore a problem they will, if they can’t, they will try to throw money at it to make it go away, and also spin it to their advantage. It’s a mixture of pure laziness, lack of experience, stupidity and arrogance. I also believe that they also see things like not having proper legal employment procedures as something akin to ‘sticking it to the man’ – if they don’t have to do something properly, or they won’t get found out, they find utter childish delight in dodging it. I believe this is, in part, due to the owner’s belief that he runs a glorified corner shop and that as a privately owned firm, they are not accountable. If Lush doesn’t stand to profit from it, or believe it’s one or two ‘troublemakers’, they will not take notice. Want proof? Look at the continued ignored customer pleas over the years, look at the results of the web hack, look at the upheld ASA complaints, look at how the owner (“BIG” aka Mark Constantine) used to speak to his customers on his own forum (and when he didn’t like it, or couldn’t handle it, he ran away with his tail between his legs). It’s all out there for anyone and everyone to see. Google a few choice words and you can see it all in black & white.

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I have been uhmming and ahhing about writing here, i am a very scared member of staff. i want to say as far as a locked box or whatever goes we have NEVER had one and still use envelopes kept in the back room. i have worked in a few stores and i have never been told about the locked box so it cant just be my current store. also if you believe anything changed after the hacking crisis, you would be kidding yourself

Next came a post about Lush, thrush and rashes. It seems that several people have had problems they believe are caused by Lush products.

I feel it’s necessary to leave a comment to this post as I have just had what can only be described as 12 days of hell with my vagina. Last week I decided to use a bubble bar, Gingerbread House, from my Lush stash. I have used this bubble bar on many occasions before so didn’t anticipate any problems. About a hour later. after exiting the bath, my vagina started to tingle, and not in a good way. 3 hours later I found myself smothering my vagina in Canesten Combi Cream to try and relieve the itching that was starting to overwhelm me. After a very restless nights sleep and difficultly peeing the next morning I went to see my GP. I explained my symptoms and he requested that a swab be taken for analysis. Upon spreading my legs the pain was 10x worse. It actually felt like my flaps were on fire. I was so embarrassed and mortified, especially when he said it looked like the skin was burnt and it was weeping through open sores. After a very painful swab was taken he prescribed me antibiotics for infection prevention and said that I should soothe the area by having luke-warm salt baths.
This week I received a call from my GP to tell me that I had in-fact contracted bacterial vaginosis. I have never had this before. Yet more antibiotics have been prescribed and it’s fair to say that I feel like shit. Not only is the pain unbearable, it makes you very drowsy. A to 4 yous a motherng children, I feel at the end of my tether most days and I can feel depression starting to creep in.
Not only has it affected my health greatly, I am now £16 out of pocket due to prescription charges. My sex-life with my husband is non-existant. We can’t even cuddle, as getting into an aroused state makes me cry with pain. We had to come home from a friend’s birthday party early as I couldn’t pee without trickling water onto my bits and I have had to purchase new underwear as I am so concerned that the bacteria will never go away.
Needless to say, the rest of my Lush has hit the bin. There was around £100 of unused items. I will never, ever use another of their products ever again. I am still experiencing some really horrible symptoms and I’m now starting to think I will never be the same again.
The icing on the cake? My bath smelt of fuck all.

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I’ve had no issues with Lush products and I think I’m one of the lucky few. However, my husband who has psoriasis behind his ears, says that Lush shampoo aggravates it. I used to buy him Reincarnate which I thought would be soothing but it made him itch. He now uses only L’Occitane Five Essential Oils shampoo and he has no problems at all with it. I don’t use Lush shampoo anymore as citrus oils and SLS are hair colour death. Blousey seems to be overpriced for what it actually is – a primarily banana based product – and I’ve just had to bin a mostly used pot as it’s gone off.

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We are another bunch who have been hit by Lush Thrush. Namely with Snow Fairy. I used it on my lady bits and within a couple of hours I was itching and burning like you wouldn’t believe. The idea of using a cheese grater to itch it even seemed appealing. I didn’t think much of it at the time until my husband and daughter also both used it. My husband’s privates turned a vicious shade of red and itched to high heaven. His itching became so bad he slathered Sudocrem all over. My daughter sadly suffered the worse. She is only 6 (5 at the time of using this) and she itched her girl bits red raw to the point they bled :( She said it burned and itched…eventually making her cry. The only thing which would alleviate it was Sudocrem.

The only thing which had been used on my daughter was Snow Fairy but I reluctantly tried it again to see if it really was this pink, harmless looking gunk in a bottle causing so much discomfort. Sure enough, it was. This time it took 5 days to clear completely.

The remainder of our Snow Fairy has been used as toilet cleaner. I have to say it brings the toilet up very well. The thing I wonder is what the hell is in the stuff to make the toilet so sparkly clean?

plus all the forum comments in the original post.

The blog entry about problems with evaporating perfume because of substandard bottles didn’t attract many comments, probably because all the complaints had been aired on the forum.

I have experienced nothing but problems over the years with the packaging of the lush fragrances. I returned 5 just after Christmas due to leaking and some being under filled by amounts up to 10ml. 3 being HQ which I had bought from the perfume gallery in London, which I had taken a trip to buy,not just for me, but for friends, sharing a bottle of something special. However I was sent two packages, one containing two party replacements and products (to compensate for my return postage – something which annoys me greatly, the customer having to pay to return their products and then being sent random items to make up for it, so yeah I got a box of stuff I do not use…useful eh. Given I had paid special delivery postage to ensure it was received) the second contained only 2 bottles of HQ, I had returned 3. I was then made to feel like I was lying about this as the member of staff was adamant they had put three in the box. The box which was barely big enough for two…)

It’s long been the norm that they will give free random products to compensate for postage, yet most of the time I’ve ended up with something I do not use. Some times I had not been able to afford the postage, and had to just leave it and not sent things back, as even stating that I could not afford postage did they say they will refund it. Only really pushing over a number of days did they say they would refund. Now they have the free return postage label, but you have to email or phone to get it.

They seem to make it as difficult as possible to return items, and being told to take a special perfume to a store really takes the biscuit. Yes I do have a local, but currently it is exceedingly difficult for me to get there due to health reasons.

It’s all a bit of a joke really, a really unfunny joke.

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When I was sent an incorrect perfume by another company they offered to send me all the ‘dangerous goods’ labels and other instructions so that I could send it back to them for a refund. From this I’m guessing that if Lush really wanted the perfumes back through the post there is a way to do this (apart from the obvious option of using a courier).

There are also concerns about how fresh the products really are.

Aaah the old ‘freshness’ claims. A fabulous USP if only it was true – can four month old product really be called ‘fresh’. Doesn’t that mean that ‘fresh’ IS just a marketing term? (Because, in their oft quoted ‘We Believe” mantra, it does have the bit at the bottom where they say they believe that “‘fresh’ and organic’ have honest meaning beyond marketing”, doesn’t it?). It is my believe that this is another case of their gross hypocrisy.

Looking at why they hook onto ‘fresh’ with such a dear hold, what is the benefit to the customer? Why does freshness matter – is there any proof that ultra ‘fresh’ product with minimum of preservative is more efficacious on the skin & hair? Is there even any proof that fresh masks are ‘nutritious’ for the skin? (I’ll get on to that later). Do Lush even question why it is important? It works fabulously on a small scale and is a great selling point, but on a large scale we – as customers (or ex-customers) can see that it just doesn’t work. Exploding pots of cream, mouldy face masks, product that just doesn’t work…

Let’s also talk about the “Everything else – 4 months on the shelf, use within 14 months since manufacturing date” – how fresh are the ballistics and bubbles coming out of the factory? I have a feeling that the reason that ballistics (for example) no longer do what they used to (i.e. smell and fizz) is due to them being made en masse in the factory and stored until being shipped out. I have no proof for this, it is just my personal theory, but it must be noted that the rapid expansion of the company over the past 5 years goes hand in hand with the deterioration in product like soap, ballistics & bubbles. Apart from when it comes to Retro… which is made in small batches. It is also worth mentioning that the Dorset factory not only serves the UK but also other markets.

Soap is something else that worries me. One morning in my local store, a staff member was unwrapping some soap from its container (they had just had their delivery and were putting some of it out). The soap was the green one in trough moulds (pale green with fruity slices throughout – Miranda I think). It was still wet, and she said “look how fresh this is!”. Now my soap making knowledge is fairly limited but I have dabbled – isn’t soap meant to ‘cure’ for a while, which helps with later shrinkage and fixes the scent a bit more? All this nonsense we’ve had over the years about people being sent out underweight soaps in gifts, and the moisture evaporating from the soap being the cause of the loss in weight… perhaps this wouldn’t happen if they let it cure first? Again, fast turnaround isn’t everything. I would rather have a cured soap that lasts than a wet mushy one that evaporates in a week.

Also, what is the fresh policy to gifts? Next time you’re in store, look on the bottom of the gifts to see when they were made up, and also to see the age of the product contained within. It’s usually not that ‘fresh’ in my experience.

My last issue to do with ‘fresh’ and food ingredients is to do with what I feel are dubious claims. Look at the website for the following issues:

– H’suan Wen Hua Hair Moisturiser. This contains “Fresh free range eggs and soya lecithin for protein to restructure the hair.” Can eggs and lecithin restructure hair? Are they allowed to claim this?

– Ayesha fresh face mask. A couple of problems here!

a) This has “kiwi for vitamin C”. They don’t elaborate as to why this is necessary to have in a face mask. Is there any proof that topical vitamin C application does anything for the skin? Doesn’t vitamin C deplete greatly from fresh fruit once it is open to the air? Why are they telling us this?

b) ” We then chose regenerative essential oils of patchouli, rosemary and rose absolute”. Regenerative in what sense? They can regenerate skin? Stimulate cell renewal? Again, why are they telling us this, what is the proof for their claims? BBSeaweed face mask also claims to have “Rosemary oil to regenerate the skin” – again a lofty claim with no proof or source for the claim.

– Turkish Delight shower smoothie. The copy on this claims it will leave your body “smooth and nourished”. NOURISHED? Really, Lush? Washing with a highly scented shower cream is going to nourish my body? Or am I meant to eat it? Actually, do type “nourished” into the Lush.co.uk search engine, several products claim they can do this including:

a) Sophisticated Eyeshadow (it has a ‘nourishing’ base)
b) Vanilla Dee-Lite (it has butters and kiwi to ‘nourish & treat’ the skin. Does ‘treat’ amount to some kind of medical claim?)
c) Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner has – wait for it – “ingredients to feed and nourish the skin”. What, FEED and nourish the skin? FEED it? How, just… how?
d) Cupcake face mask – it has linseed in it to ‘nourish’ the skin. Linseed is excellent when eaten, and I think the oil is used on cricket bats to keep the wood supple. Not sure about it nourishing the skin from topical application…
e) Oatifix face mask. Apparently this is a ‘nourishing mask’ and key to its success are “Bananas are a very rich oily fruit – so are perfect for a mask that is trying to get goodness into dry skin”. Again, a lofty claim!

I won’t go through them all but all in all there are 56 entries on the Lush.co.uk website when you type ‘nourishing’ into their search bar. Again, if one looks at the definition of ‘nourishing’ it is:

“(of food) Containing substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition: ‘a simple but nourishing meal’”

(source: Google definition under the search ‘define: nourishing’).

So as an ex-customer my issue is not only with the freshness but the marketing of it, why they perceive it as important, and some of the (in my opinion) misleading claims they attach to the use of ‘fresh’ ingredients. I was always under the impression that the vitamins in fruit & vegetables (especially water soluble ones) degenerate upon oxidation and also need to be ingested in order to nourish the human body. I may be wrong, but I am not the one making the claims. One for ASA perhaps? It wouldn’t be the first time Lush has come up against the ASA for misleading claims:

(http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/5/Lush-Retail-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_134880.aspx & http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2010/6/Lush-Retail-Ltd/TF_ADJ_48632.aspx)

Whilst I’m on a roll, something else which really boils my piss is the claims some of the products make for PMT. PMT is not some wishy washy bad mood that some women have once a month. PMT can be debilitating and the effects can range from mild anxiety to severe depressive moods, not to mention unpleasant physical symptoms. It’s not something to be joked about or taken lightly. Therefore, I ask how Lush can claim that some Flying Fox shower gel (which smells like manure mixed with honey, due to their trademark vulgar use of jasmine) can possibly have an effect on such a personal condition as PMT. From their website:

“You can use Flying Fox at any time of the month, but it’s especially good at The Time of the Month, because we’ve added the top essential oils for calming PMT”

Then, interestingly, go further down the page and this claim is also made about the gel:

“There are times when you want to feel sexy in body and mind.
This magic gel is crammed full of specialist honeys from around the world that will make your skin feel great. We then added the sexiest perfume we could, packed with aphrodisiac essential oils to set you on the rampage!”

So not only will it ‘calm’ your PMT, ladies (yes, a pungent shower gel can help with all that bloating, migraines, breast tenderness, fatigue, anxiety, dysphoria etc) it will also magically turn you into some rampant sex beast, much nicer for those around you, no?

The website also makes a lovely little joke about PMT in the copy for their “Vibrance” lipstick. I quote the following:

“How glorious that VIBRANCE is your strength. This will get you a long way in life. Who doesn’t like to be around someone who has VIBRANCE? Only someone who has PMT or a hangover, perhaps? They might see it as a weakness until you share your secret with them.”

Oh yes, because PMT can be equated to self inflicted alcohol poisoning, can’t it?

What utter misogyny. It really makes me so angry, I cannot tell you. Who has the audacity to make such claims? Oh yes, it’s that wacky, family-run friendly hippy soap shop Lush. My arse.

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On the subject of un-cured soap, it is true that cold processed soap does indeed have to cure for 4-6 weeks for the nasty caustic soda (sodium hydroxide – it’s in all Lush soaps) it contains to saponify and become safe and inert. BUT…. Lush don’t actually make their own soap! They buy it in, in huge bulk, from a soap base manufacturer. When it comes in it is in pellet form (noodles) and it is already saponified and cured and is effectively extremely natural soap. When this soap is made is unknown, it could be years old, you’d never know.

What Lush then do with it is melt it down in huge 4′ high saucepans (vessels), add loads of water to make it runny, add their bright colouring powders and fragrance and oils (to make it ‘nourishing’) mix it up with huge hand held industrial size blenders and then pour it into moulds where it sets quite quickly, but now it has loads of liquid in it that it didn’t need so, as it’s turned out and hits the air, it starts to shrink. It will shrink anything up to 20%, depending on which soap it is and how much water or juice or honey or oil or oats have been added to it.

Lush know that it shrinks, but instead of leaving the soap to evaporate first, or giving you a chunk that is bigger so that once it has evaporated it weighs what you wanted it to, they send it out the next day ‘fresh’ and then sell you 80% soap 20% water. The amount that shrinks they call the ‘Angels Share’ but what they really mean is ‘an extra 20% profit on top of what they’re already making’.

How can they sleep at night, and how can they claim that their stuff is ‘handmade’ when they buy it in and mix it up in huge vats? It was maybe handmade once upon a time but now it is mass produced on an industrial scale. Time to re-think their marketing.

As well as concerns about the perfume bottles, customers have complained for a long time about the Lush black pots.

The lush black pots are manufactured locally so that they can cut down on transport and use the ‘closed loop’ recycling system that they so loudly go on about. All very commendable except that the pots are not fit for purpose. Not only are they not tamper evident (and therefore open to contamination by any customer who wants to open a pot, stick their finger in it and put it back on the shelf) but the pots sweat in the summer and get condensation on the inside (which turns to mould in a lot of cases). When I was a manager I constantly had battles with head office over pots of Mask of Magnaminty which would repeatedly arrive with green fluff on it even tho it was only made that month. At one point the stock room looked like a penicillin factory! The product couldn’t be sent back to the factory so it just had to be scooped into the bin and then the pots washed up and sent back to the factory for recycling. As long as the pots are recycled they don’t care about the product. Also sometimes the lids don’t fit the pots and just spin round and there seems to be little or no quality control taking place.

The products expand in the heat causing the pots to leak and ooze in the summer and we were constantly wiping fair trade foot lotion from around the edges and down the sides of the pots, not very hygenic at all. Some days you’d have to open every pot and release the gas that had built up inside them, then sell them with a smile. Don’t forget to smile!

A few products would react with the plastic and take on a ‘surgical spirit’ odour which, when you’re spending 15-40 quid on a moisturiser, you just don’t want.

But with all their ‘ethics’ about using recycled materials what I never understood were the ballistic moulds. These items are used just once and then sent away to be recycled. When I used to do ballistic making parties in store we used the moulds indefinitely and always got great results as ballistics leave no residue when they are unmoulded – apart from a bit of bicarb, which they all contain.

Considering the amount of ballistics that have been made (millions) it’s hard to understand why they don’t reuse the moulds at least 10 times. The waste produced at the factory bears no resemblance to the values Lush spout on about in their ‘green hub’ – sadly out of date since the green team was disbanded, and although their plastic disclosure document http://www.hamiltonadvisorsltd.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/LUSH-disclosure-Plastic_Disclosure_Project_kate-2.pdf states that ‘up to half’ the moulds are used ‘up to 4 times’ this just isn’t done. Up to4 actually means used once!

When massage bars and body butters arrive in the shop they are in their moulds and it is down to the shops to unmould the product and send the moulds back to the factory to be recycled or to get them recycled themselves so these are never reused. Ballistics get unmoulded in the factory and the moulds are recycled never reused. Soap is made in moulds and then recycled.

it’s all very well to say that 46% of products are unpackaged but they fail to disclose how many % of products were encased in plastic during their creation – most of them! Once again Lush are giving a rose tinted view of events, only telling the good bits. Half truths.

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It’s not just the grotty black pots that are faulty. Their bottles are pretty crappy at dispensing non-liquid products. I have binned a bottle of No Drought as I got sick of wasting so much powder every time I used it. I tried sprinkling it onto my hair, shaking it onto my hairbrush, tapping it gently onto my brush and it would still go everywhere, so much so I would tap it onto my brush over my loo to catch the mess. You don’t get that problem with Batiste.

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I remember the way the black pots were *before* they had the screw tops, when you had to “burp” the lids to get a seal, which never really worked, and they were a nightmare to transport anywhere unless you taped the lid down. Which of course is a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you just want to pop your handcream in your bag for use during the day…

One of the things I’ve tried to do with these Bullshit posts is make clear to Lush employees that they are allowed to join a union and that they cannot suffer detriment if they do. This also attracted some comment.

I cannot recommend USDAW enough. Don’t be afraid – current employees please join today. If Lush truly care about ethical business they will ditch their 1970s views of Trade Unions and get on board with what ethical practice actually means. Of course, whilst the current leader is in situ it may not happen soon as I believe he is a complete bigot (as are several of his sycophant circle) but one can only hope.

The union rights post didn’t attract much comment, perhaps because it affects staff far more than customers, but I’ll say it again anyway – everyone is allowed to join a union and their company cannot make things difficult for them because of it. Join today!

I hope readers have found it useful to have so many of the comments together in one place for easier reading. I’ve quoted most of them, other than the ones that weren’t germane to the subject, or the ones that were repetitive or didn’t add anything useful. I have not left out all the positive comments in favour of the negative ones – there just weren’t many positive comments. Seeing all these comments here together in one post makes it seem so clear that there is something very badly wrong within Lush.

If any employees or ex-employees would like to post on this blog as a guest poster rather than via the comments, feel free to email southsidesocialist@hotmail.co.uk and we can discuss it. Anonymity will be guaranteed if you request it.

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5 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit: the comments post

  1. This is a great idea, I am glad these responses are all in one place as I am telling as many people about this blog as I can. A few things I would like to add:

    1) The black pot thing. When people take them back to store (for the ‘take 5 pots get a face mask free’ ongoing promo), the black pots are just washed out in store and then sent back to Manu for the ‘closed loop recycling’ system. They are not washed again. I repeat, they are not washed again. I am not saying those in store don’t wash them thoroughly (and to be fair, they have enough to do for not much pay, so should they spend hours scrubbing pots, really? I hated doing it). Taking this into account (i.e. the pots are washed ONCE), have a think about a) what has been in the pots (basically, food ingredients), and b) that bacteria will have steadily been introduced each time a finger was dipped into the pot. That coupled with low preservative use means that pot has had possibly a lot of live bacteria in there as well as a lot of dead bacteria (each time bacteria is introduced into a product with preservative, the preservative kills the bacteria or inhibits growth, which means you end up putting both lots of dead bacteria on your skin. And we KNOW that the preservative levels don’t work due to mould/exploding issues, so you put on a lot of live bacteria too). So yes, the sweating, ineffective black pot has been a bacteria factory and is now washed once, not sterilised, before being ground back up to chips and melted back to make new pots. How do I know this? I watched a video when I was staff which came from the packaging buyers and the black pot manufacturer explaining why it was important for stores to wash out the pots, as any pot coming in with a tiny bit of residue in it would contaminate the whole batch and make it unusable. So yes those black pots…I think they’re not hygienically clean.

    – Added to that, can they *really* market it as a ‘closed loop system’ when not 100% of customers will return their pots to the store? They must be introducing new plastic somewhere…? If not virgin plastic, then some new plastic must come in from somewhere (i.e. not pots recycled from within Lush), it can’t all be 100% within the Lush closed loop as not everyone will return their pots. It confuses me. So yes, another case of ‘creative marketing’, I believe.

    2) Trade Unions. Again, I saw something which made me guffaw out loud on the Lush forum the other day. A staff member called Alecommy said this:

    “All employees have the right to join a Trade Union. Lush does work with trade unions representing employees to find amicable solutions when issues arise.”

    The first bit is right, of course all employees have the right to join a trade union. We know this anyway. I can add a little context for you as an ex employee; although it is right that anyone can join a union, the company leader has said at 2 meetings that he does not agree with Trade Unions and that Lush will never have an official agreement with them. If I recall correctly, I believe he said that he thinks Unions exist to screw money from an employer and to bend the employer to the will of the employees, or some such shit. It is my experience he doesn’t believe in equality, or in employees rights. Do Lush have something to hide by not opening up the doors to unions? It is my belief that they do. It is my hope that one day they do have an agreement, but I have heard it from the leader himself what he thinks about them – we all did at LushFest. It is VERY much frowned on to be a union member or to ask about unions, but current employees PLEASE JOIN USDAW TODAY. Do not be frightened by Lush bully tactics, do not be put off. They cannot discriminate against you for joining and you need to for your own protection. Seriously, this company still has so few procedures in place, it’s in your interest to join.

    The 2nd bit of what he posted is again, utter bollocks. Lush does not ‘work’ with trade unions to find an amicable solution whatsoever. It is my experience that the employee’s rights and care and health and well-being are not their concern, but Lush’s ultimate control is. What he must mean by that is where an employee has had to use union presence, Lush has had to comply. But otherwise it is utter bollocks. Believe me. My old contract doesn’t even mention anything about trade union recognition in it, but what it did say something to the effect of ‘The Company does not have any collective agreements in force’. It didn’t mention trade unions anywhere. Now my old contract was from 2009, but Lush do still not have any TU agreement, believe me. So what was said was not entirely correct, I think it was misleading.

    By the way, when I was in store the policies we did have were disciplinary ones. Written in Comic Sans typeset, just on a Word document. Would you Adam & Eve it?

    3) Lush continually trumpet their awards, like the “Best Companies” award and the “Which? Best Retailer award”. The Best Companies one… oh hell, so much I could say about this but I can’t. I nearly vomited when I saw a photograph of the Lush Facebook page some months back showing some employees with the bosses and their award. I don’t know how they keep winning it, I really don’t. In all my time there I refused to fill out the damned form as I felt under such pressure to do so. Anyone who has filled out a BC questionnaire will know they are not straightforward and are based on Likert-type scale. When an employee fills it out, it’s not as simple that the company can be deemed ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but ‘better than it was’ or ‘worse than it was’. But where did the benchmark start? I have always believed that this award is more about positive press for the company than the employee – they get all these answers from them but do they ever look at what the employees say and act on it? All the time I was there, we just heard at a managers’ meeting if we had got a place in the top 100 or not, not about actual feedback and what Lush were going to do with it. The years that Lush didn’t make the list were a joy to behold; at one of them Mark Constantine got quite irate and started banging on about being pissed off that McDonalds had made the list but Lush hadn’t. It is my belief that that’s all he saw it as, a competition, not an actual measure of employee happiness (and if that wasn’t his thoughts, that’s all he ever communicated, how he wanted to beat other companies in the list, as it’s his undying belief that Lush are just ‘better’).

    The Which? Best Retailer award – does this take into account the company as a whole or just the customer service in stores? I must say, the people in stores work their bollocks off – if anyone deserves an award it’s the sales teams who work all hours in cold shops for not much money. I don’t think they will be the ones to benefit from that award though.

    Does Which? take into account (under ‘best retailer’) things like how Customer Care respond to their customers? Or how the company treats its staff? Or the quality of the products? Not only the quality in their own right, but in terms of money paid? Like pots of cream moulding 10 months before their ‘use by’ or ballistics not fizzing or doing as they described? Do the products equate value for money? Are the products fit for purpose? Are they safe to use? Do Lush use honest marketing (some of the posts above would indicate otherwise). All questions I think the trusted consumer magazine should have taken into account before giving an award out, willy nilly.

    I think that’s all I wanted to add really, and I don’t like to dwell on my time at Lush as I moved on a while ago, but I am just glad the truth is finally coming out about this tin pot outfit.

    • Horrified the more I read here, not sure how I stumbled onto this blog but am so glad I did. The info on the unsanitary nature of these black pots is truly unsettling. The description of the shady process the black pots undergo to be “recycled” in-house/ by Lush also raises additional concerns for me about the type, or grade of the plastics after being melted down over and over countless times with no mention of BPA or other chemicals leeching into products designed to be slathered on and absorbed by, the largest organ of the body.
      As a side note, of the compelling posts, personal accounts and thought-provoking points that I have read here, I have been most shocked by the founder’s own words (in articles linked throughout this blog) which shouldn’t have surprised me as much after learning this is a man that named himself “BIG” in his own company’s chat forum.. Very telling.

  2. I would imagine that the black pots would undergo some kind of sterilization process once they were melted down and turned into other black pots. Otherwise the pots would be very nasty indeed – especially as a lot of the plastic for them comes from bottle tops that customers return to the shops that get sent off and made into black pots too.

    And I am sure that Which? don’t take anything to do with head office into account. It’s all about the front line and the customer service that is given in the shops to which? mystery shoppers. It is all down to the sales assistants who do such a good job in the face of so much crap. But most of them love Lush so much that they can’t see the wood for the trees. They have been brainwashed by the grand cult leader Mark Constantine. One word from him and they’re hypnotised. If he said they had to work for nothing they probably would – as long as they didn’t lose their 50% discount!

  3. Another ex-employee here. I had a horrible experience with them, specifically the store manager I worked for and a complete lack of any support from anywhere else (perhaps it existed, but no-one thought to tell me) and I still vaguely regret not making records at the time and suing under the DDA…

    While I would prefer that none of us had been through this particular mill, it is extremely heartening to read that I’m far from the only one.

    I read elsewhere on your blog that they’ve come under fire for zero hours contracts – when I worked there (05-06) I was told that they didn’t do those, much to the irritation of my delightful ex-manager. Why am I not surprised that that has changed?

  4. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit, part 33: more data protection concerns | Mitherings from Morningside

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