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Plain English campaign news articles

Not plain English in nature

Every so often the public remind us why the campaign exists in a way that leaves no question about the need for plain English.

Photo of sign located on the border between Chadderton and Royton along the A663, Broadway - courtesy of Damian Slevin

Photo of sign located on the border between Chadderton and Royton along the A663, Broadway - courtesy of Damian Slevin

Read more: Not plain English in nature

At least tell us plainly if you are ripping us off!

Bank customers are losing confidence in our banking system. Every day there are stories about the less than honest practices some of our banks adopt.
For any industry receiving 11,000 complaints a day there is a clear message that does not need a plain English explanation.

A common complaint is that attractive interest rates offered when a new account is opened disappear within months to be replaced by a very low rate. The change will have been announced to customers within the inside pages of certain newspapers, as the law requires, but most customers will not be aware of it. If they don't know, they will not have the chance to change their account and will be stuck with low interest on their investment. It does raise a suspicion that maybe the banks don't want us to notice the announcements.

And if we do notice an announcement in a newspaper, will we understand it?

Read more: At least tell us plainly if you are ripping us off!

Our coffee cup overflows with jargon

A number of people have complained to us that they cannot get a 'small' measure of coffee and are often only given the choice between a 'regular' or 'large'. Costa Coffee label their sizes as 'primo', 'medio' and 'assimo' - translating to small, medium and large. Coffee Republic and Caffe Nero use 'small' and 'regular', and so it goes on.

It's about image, competition and perhaps a little bit about what the food industry calls 'product sabotage' - when a company deliberately drives customers towards certain products at the cost of not promoting other, possibly better, options.

Read more: Our coffee cup overflows with jargon

Everybody matters in public affairs

Chrissie Maher, founder of Plain English Campaign, was thrilled to hear that she has been shortlisted for the Women in Public Life Awards 2010.  Chrissie has been nominated for the Public Affairs Achiever of the Year category as a result of her years of campaigning for clear public information.

The Dods and Scottish Widows Women in Public Life Awards celebrate women leaders in society and aim to recognise and promote the work of women in politics, business, the civil service and community leadership.  The ceremony will be held at The Northumberland in London WC2 on Thursday 23 September.

Chrissie considers any honour she receives to be recognition of the support and encouragement shown by supporters of her campaigning.

This nomination has prompted Chrissie to revive the campaign's 'Every Body Matters' awards as one of the categories in the annual Plain English Campaign Awards to be held in December 2010.

Read more: Everybody matters in public affairs

Financial jargon

Plain English Campaign are supporting the campaign from Consumer Focus Wales to get rid of financial gobbledygook.

Chrissie Maher says, “It’s disgraceful that banks and insurance companies have such a hold over us through their use of language. Often it means the customer is left with little clarity, and all the responsibility.  Terms and conditions, credit-card agreements, overdraft letters - they might as well be in a foreign language. English is my first language and I struggle with this financial gobbledygook.  Goodness knows how anyone with English as a second language can cope.”

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