- Jungle.com for an e-mail
They were asked a simple question – Do you still sell blank CDs? Instead of simply saying 'No', the company replied:
'We are currently in the process of consolidating our product range to ensure that the products that we stock are indicative of our brand aspirations. As part of our range consolidation we have also decided to revisit our supplier list and employ a more intelligent system for stock acquisition. As a result of the above certain product lines are now unavailable through jungle.com, whilst potentially remaining available from more mainstream suppliers.'
- Lloyds Pharmacy for a letter of apology
Rather than simply admit an assistant had dispensed the wrong strength of tablet, and that this mistake had not been picked up by the pharmacist, they waffled on about staff making a 'cognitive error'. This is just part of a 181-word passage.
'The cognitive process that staff will go through when interpreting prescriptions and selecting drugs is almost intuitive in that the prescription will be read, a decision is then made in the mind of the individual concerned, they will then make a selection based on what they have decided.
'When an error is made either mentally or in the physical selection process it is difficult for the individual concerned to detect their own error because in their own mind they have made the correct selection.'
- Marks and Spencer for a 'food to go' salad label
The label said 'roast chicken salad', but had a special flash on it saying 'Now with roast chicken'. So what was in it before?'
- SMEG for their dishwasher instructions
For a top-of-the-range manufacturer of dishwashers to produce an instruction manual like this is a disgrace. It has presumably been poorly translated into English from its original language, and contains such gems as the following.
- 'At this point you must press contemporary the P1+P2 buttons and then you will see that the first 3 pilot light programs will lid up.'
- 'during this phase the writing 'Time to end' flashes up.'
- 'This allows to make function the dishwasher at the time you want. By pressing one after the oter button DELAY PROGRAM (5), it will be seen on the display the vizualisation of delay hours numbers in which you want to make start the machine from 12 hours onward.'
- 'The display will be turned on with a vizualisation that will depend on the state of the dishwasher.'
- 'By pressing the relative button of desired program (see table) it will lid up the relative pilot light to confirm that the operation did occurred on the DISPLAY (9) will appear a program duration forecasting ('h.mm').
Correspondence manager Pauline Dewhurst sent us the following letter:
'I am sorry to learn that one of our dishwasher instruction books has won a Golden Bull Award. SMEG UK is aware that generic multi-lingual instruction books can be confusing and sometime ago commissioned a UK company to investigate a better way to produce informative instruction books which are easier to understand.
'SMEG UK is aware that any instruction book, however well written, is often the last point of reference when getting used to a new machine. For this reason we have produced a set of 'Quick Start Guides' to assist customers who are moving into new properties with several new products to get used to.
'These guides are based on the assumption that the builder has installed and tested the appliances prior to the customer moving into the house. In this way, the guides can be simplistic, with the sole intention of ensuring the user can set the machine up for first use safely and swiftly, and then undertake the simplest programme, i.e. cooking a simple meal. I enclose a copy of a 'Quick Start Guide' for your information and trust this will assure you that SMEG UK is not just aware of the importance of plain English, but is taking steps to improve the instruction books supplied with our products.
'Although we are unable to attend your awards ceremony we trust that you have an enjoyable day, and confirm that in time our instruction books will be as technically advances as our products.'
- The Social Fund Maternity and Funeral Expenses (General) Regulations
These contain the following impenetrable clauses
'For the purposes of these Regulations, a person shall be treated as a member of a polygamous relationship where, but for the fact that the relationship includes more than two persons, he would be one of a married or unmarried couple.'
'In these Regulations, unless the context otherwise requires, any reference to a numbered regulation is a reference to the regulation bearing that number in these regulations and any reference in a regulation to a numbered paragraph is a reference to the paragraph of that regulation bearing that number.'
- Standard Life for a trust deed
In the 21st century it is inexcusable that a company should still be using legal jargon that belongs to a bygone age. The clause in question is one sentence of 108 words
'THE SETTLER HEREBY ASSIGNS unto the Original Trustees who, by their execution hereof accept the position of trustees, each of the policy or policies, particulars whereof are set out in the Schedule hereto, and the monies assured thereby and all other monies which may become payable in respect of the said policy or policies of assurance BUT ALWAYS EXCLUDING any policy or policies which may constitute a Protected Rights Fund of the Standard Life Appropriate Personal Pension Scheme or the Standard Life Stakeholder Pension Scheme (hereinafter referred to as 'the Policies') to hold the same unto the Original Trustees upon the irrevocable trusts hereinafter declared concerning the same.'
- Warburtons Bakers for an advertisement in 'The Grocer'
'With a launch burst of 550 TVRs — and £34m in 'premiumisation' opportunities — we're confident you'll rise to the challenge.'
- Yousef El-Deiry for an article in JMC airline's 'Intercom' magazine
In one article Mr El-Deiry managed to squeeze in at least 15 clichés and strained metaphors.
'As we enter the last third of the summer season, we are faced with a period of operation, which is historically characterised by pre-maturity, both in terms of psychological wind-down and shedding of temporary staff.'Once bitten, twice shy,' and history shows that our bridges can so easily be burnt and the strength of current position lost, if we allow this malice to gather momentum.The irony Is that, it is in the latter stages of a race or championship that fortunes are made or lost, and where heroes are born or die, and we should be in no doubt that; 'it ain't over until the fat lady sings.'You'll forgive the poetic license of my political incorrectness in using this old adage, but it's a poignant reminder to be cautious, since there is a real danger that our lines of defence will weaken, as our supply chain fades away with a dilution of resources, vigour and will.However, there is a positive spin to this dilemma, from which all of us can draw strength and inspiration.The approach, which I wish to advocate to all our ground team, is to look at the last third of the season as a 'light at the end of the tunnel,' the long sought-after jewel in the crown, remaining resolute to sprint to victory.We must never doubt the difference that we can make in controlling and shaping our own destiny, which for me boils down to one fundamental question, namely leadership? I am a firm believer that the most effective and motivating form of leadership is that by example.Hence why I now look to our management team throughout the UK Airports, as I know our ground team will be, to lead from the front and carry the operation through to the end.The months of September and October are vital to us securing our ground handling and on-time targets, and we must see this through to the end with conviction and pride.Through these final stages of the race, there will never be more of a need to unite the team and draw on each other's strength, in order to control suppliers and facilities alike, and keep the programme running smoothly.This is ground force in its purest form, so rally the troops and show that we are a force to be reckoned with.Mr El Deiry's good-natured reply to the award said:'I was told the cliches in my article were as plain as the nose on my face, but it all looked like Queen's English to me.'Besides, what's a little cliche amongst colleagues? There is truth in every cliche: worse things happen at sea, when it rains it pours an even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.'In conclusion, I take the point that each cliche makes something easier, but all of them together make things complicated, and begrudgingly accept this award. Thank you.'