This site uses session cookies. These cookies do not record any personal information.

News

Plain English campaign news articles

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.”

Have takeovers overtaken the customer?

Corporate buy-outs, buy-ins, mergers and alliances are all a normal part of the daily life of big business.  But what effect do these have on our bank accounts and insurance policy terms?

Financial gobbledygook often clouds the relationship we have with banks and, in turn, our hard-earned money.  Since Plain English Campaign started its fight against jargon, some organisations have brought plain English communication to their customers. As businesses must make sure their profits continue to soar, they must also continue to keep clear lines of communication open with their customers, even amidst potentially complex takeovers and mergers.

Read more: Have takeovers overtaken the customer?

Plain English, for a clearer view of your world

Congratulations are due for the launch of the first plain-English guide to eye prescriptions from the UK's largest supplier of  glasses, Glasses Direct.  
Glasses Direct proudly display the world-renowned Crystal Mark,  Plain English Campaign's symbol of clarity, on both the online and hard-copy versions of the full guide and quick information leaflet. The versions were produced as a joint project with the team at Glasses Direct, their marketing agency Incredibull, and the editors at Plain English Campaign.  This effort aims to give the public a better understanding of the details contained in their eye prescription so they can then use that information responsibly.

Read more: Plain English, for a clearer view of your world

Chrissie's honorary fellowship acceptance speech

Well, Sex in the City I am not!
Nor am I the greatest scriptwriter, namely Phil, my hero.
But I am a scouser, and proud of it.

I love Liverpool and its people, and to be honoured by Liverpool's greatest university is beyond my wildest dreams.

I just wanted to be a beacon, a light of hope to those who, like me grew up believing they had nothing to give.

Have you any idea how exciting it is for someone, like me, with so little education to be standing here?

I had no early education and only learnt to read and write when I was 14.
My family lived in a slum and there was no welfare state then for a mother with six kids.

But, with God's help and a scouser's determination, I came to meet Harry Deveril, a Liverpudlian with a big heart who paid for me to go to night school.

Later, the guiding hands of the John Moores Foundation provided the expertise, advice, practical help, and unending encouragement that led me to found Plain English Campaign over 30 years ago.  Plain English Campaign has become a respected, worldwide beacon for people struggling with the gobbledygook in public information that affects their daily lives.

Together with supporters of Plain English Campaign, we have built a global industry that started right here, like so many other great things, in Liverpool.

And, this awareness continues into the future with the recent plain English constitution produced by your university student's union.

So it's with pride and gratitude that I accept this honorary fellowship - a symbol of true friendship from this University.

I hope I can make you proud.

I survived poverty to make something out of nowt.

Imagine what dreams you can build with a degree.

Everyday I live my dream, and laugh as much as I can.

The world is yours - go get it - let your light shine bright.

Chrissie Maher's 40 years of studying rewarded

It wasn't the first honour to be placed on Chrissie's shoulders in recognition of her lifelong fight for clearer public communications, but the Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) held the most poignant memories for this grandmother in her seventies.

With an illiterate childhood in an inner-city slum of post-war Liverpool, education itself was a distant dream for Chrissie.  To find herself standing beneath the great naves of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, with thousands of LJMU graduates also receiving acknowledgement for their years of hard work, was beyond Chrissie's wildest dreams.

Read more: Chrissie Maher's 40 years of studying rewarded

Copyright © 2021 Plain English Campaign. All Rights Reserved.