I have edited this post a couple of times to add more information as it has become available, and to remove the forum username of the woman who was so badly treated by Mark Constantine.
I know some people wondered why I left the Lush forum so suddenly and why I stopped buying their products. I’d been becoming more and more disillusioned with Lush over the years, for all the reasons detailed in this blog, but then one day I was told something that horrified me about the way Mark Constantine treats people. It wasn’t my story to tell so I have never posted it here, and the person he shafted never talked about it publicly either. But today she has.
The thread where she talks about it is here. ForumiteA has kindly allowed me to copy her post here, as there are concerns that Lush will delete the thread and possibly the entire forum. Big is the name Mark Constantine uses on the Lush International Forum. Her post says
BIG you know why I am cross.
When I was getting divorced it all went a bit pearshaped. My husband – who has a vast income as a consultant doctor, had a top notch solicitor. I had one who told me I’d get legal aid (turned out I wouldn’t), then she made a catalogue of errors which were so bad that she didn’t charge me for any of the work she had done (imagine a solicitor not wanting to be paid, it will give you some idea of the degree of incompetence).
So that left me with no solicitor, no money to pay for one, my husband armed and ready. I had to move out of the ‘former matrimonial home’ (as it became rebranded) because staying was unbearable (forgive me for sparing the gory details on a public forum).
In those days, I used to be friends with BIG and speak to him on facebook – so he knew I was up shit creek and offered to help. It was a bit of a cryptic offer – the equivalent of one of those ‘post a smilie and run’ posts he is so fond of. Eventually he managed to set me up with a solicitor who charged £280 an hour – more than I earn in a week. And in order to enable me to retain my dignity, he found me work with Lush to be able to pay the solicitors. (That’s the short version, in the long version, as I tried to establish such delicate details as how many hours I’d be working, he emailed back complaining about the questions and saying he was starting to think I’d prefer to go back to my husband.)
Anyway, eventually, I was allocated to a someone sensible who became my manager. I did various projects for Lush and they made the most of my forum contacts to get me to organise mail order mystery shops and things like that. Some of you helped me and I am not sure if you ever got rewarded for it? Made a complete prick of me leaving my friends in the lurch, emailing and emailing to try to get you ‘paid’ in soap. I wrote a couple of reports for them from a customer eye view.
BIG was pleased with what I did and so was my manager. It was BIG who encouraged me to start my writing course in the first place, and he made sure (along with my manager) that I had a chance to do some work on the Lush Times, which you probably all saw. My manager was working on trying to get me more writing work with Lush and spoke to me more than once about building me up to a full time job, working from home.
I had a phone call one day confirming that they did want me to work for them full time, writing, and as you can imagine I was made up. The divorce was costing me an arm and a leg at this point – at £280 an hour it soon adds up! – and I had committed to going to court, understanding that I had the means to pay for it. But when I tried to pin down some details of this job, things got a bit vague and shifty. Eventually I was told there was no full time job – not just in a ‘Sorry it hasn’t come together’ type way, but in a ‘What are you talking about? You’re making this up’ way. Then, shortly afterwards, I had a call saying there was no part time work either.
Of course I spoke to BIG about it. He told me he had ‘no influence at that level’ and he couldn’t do anything about it. Very sorry it didn’t work out well, you can earn a living writing, blah blah blah.
So, having been encouraged to go to an expensive solicitor (that I NEVER would have instructed without BIG’s promise of work to pay for it) the work stopped before the divorce did, leaving me with thousands of pounds of debt. Thousands and thousands. And because of the extra work, my tax credits went down, too. So for a year I had less money coming in (it’s gone back up again now, thank fuck). I’ve still got a big fat loan payment going out and I will have for years to come. I owe money to my family, too.
So yes, I am cross. Cross that I am struggling financially and will be for years, for what is a drop in the ocean to my multi-millionaire benefactor. And cross because the opportunities which I thought were going to be there for me came to nothing (a couple of weeks ago there were three different writing jobs advertised on the Lush website, so the work IS there). Cross that BIG just ignores me on facebook too. Mostly I am cross with myself for trusting him in the first place.
So BIG, if you really want to resolve this, go ahead. I’m sure none of it is a shock to you and you know where to find me. I would love to be able to tell my forum friends just as publicly that you did the decent thing.
Mark’s actions are the reason so many people are done with Lush. ForumiteA is a fantastic woman, she’s strong, smart, funny and intelligent, and people are horrified by how Mark behaved towards her. We might not be able to help her, but we can make damn sure our money doesn’t help Mark. He doesn’t deserve our money – or yours. The rest of the concerns about how Lush behave as detailed in this blog – well, those are just the turds on top of the shit cake.
I’m going to edit this post now to add some additional information, as Mark is asking the Lush staff forum if he should close the international forum, and many of the staff are saying yes (note that he can’t take responsibility for the decision himself – he has to ensure “the staff are telling him what to do”), and there’s a chance the thread will disappear. The thread that I have linked to above is a thread started by Mark asking why so many people are unhappy and what can be done to fix things. I find ForumiteA’s post incredibly moving. Divorce is hard enough but add in kids and a husband able to afford a much better solicitor and it’s so much harder. Then throw in someone you thought was a friend offering you some very valuable help and then, just as you’ve committed to a huge financial outlay on the basis of the help you’ve been promised, not only does he withdraw the offer of help, he denies he ever made it and implies you’re making it all up.
Some of us have known this for months but it only became public knowledge when she bravely posted it on the Lush international forum yesterday, as one example of why people are pissed off with Mark and with Lush.
Mark’s response was
ForumiteA has the largest post count on the forum and has commented on many things lighting up the chat with her intellect and sparkling writing. I had heard of her situation regarding her marriage and because of the friendship that had formed on the forum I wanted to help. However there was a slight problem. ForumiteA and I had flirted and joked about an imaginary relationship. We pretended to get together behind the stables with me dressed as santa. We met here and there at forum events. I trusted that everyone saw this for what it was, a gentle and entertaining bit of fun. Anyway in order to avoid any problems I discussed ForumiteA’s situation with Mo.
I wanted to bail ForumiteA out, to help her and her children. Mo thought it unwise. I found out from ForumiteA that her parents were helping her a little. Mo agreed that I could give advice on a good lawyer but that I was not to get involved in such a delicate matter. I could however provide her with a chance to earn the money needed to pay for the lawyer under another manager. That’s what I did. Nadya Candy (some of you will remember her when she managed Cardiff) is now at a board level in Lush. I explained to her what I was trying to achieve and she employed ForumiteA. I encouraged ForumiteA in the most obvious of her skills; writing. She talked of taking a course I thought that sounded sensible. I trusted that she received enough work to cover the costs but did not get involved any further.
It’s vile beyond belief. He “wanted to help,” he offered to help, not by giving her money, but by giving her work to earn money, then withdrew that help without checking that the costs were covered and with not a word to her about it. Because he thought – and his wife thought – people might think it looked dodgy. Helping someone isn’t dodgy. Offering to help someone who had never dreamed of asking for help and then callously leaving them far worse off than they were to begin with is dodgy. It’s heartless, it’s immoral, it’s unethical, it’s cruel. Going by these actions, Mark Constantine is heartless, immoral, unethical and cruel . He disgusts me, and it disgusts me that people are still trying to defend him. And think on this, those of you still trying to make excuses for him – if that’s how he behaves in public, on a forum the whole world can see, how on earth does he treat his staff in private? All the posts and comments here from staff talking about how badly they’ve been treated by Lush – are you more inclined to believe them now?
I ask anyone who has read this post and been moved by ForumiteA’s plight to share it as widely as they can – tweet it, facebook it, email it to your friends. Let people see how ethical the founder of Lush really is, and promise yourself you’ll never shop there again. He does not deserve your hard-earned money.
PS Hello LadyWhisp.