Pierce ThorneOn...Pierce Thorne on Life • Business Speak 101

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Business Speak 101

George Orwell was only half-right when he coined the term Newspeak. He applied it to government, or Big Brother, assuming that some malevolent, faceless government was intent on shaping your thoughts. In reality, it's been Little Brother that's taken the technique to heart.

Another example of Business Insulting Your Intelligence. A sign posted in one of those big-box warehouses reads

Question: Why is my register receipt reviewed when I leave the warehouse?
Answer: To assure you receive everything you pay for, and are not overcharged or undercharged for any item. Also, punching the receipt disallows its reuse.

Now, there is a grain of truth there. The last sentence is absolutely correct: they don't want folks to walk in with a "used" receipt and cart away seconds. But they don't want to come right out and say that. Instead they bury the fact in some feel-good nonsense. The reality is, the flunkies standing at the door do not know the price of every item, and aren't bloody likely to spot an overcharge, especially on a typical receipt, being as it is longer than Santa's Naughty-or-Nice list. If you are lucky, they will spot an item you forgot to pick up in that little cage where the expensive goodies are kept. But if they don't, and odds of that are good, you leave the store and guess what: that's right: the receipt's checked. Oh well. (Ask me how I know!)

The simple matter is, they examine your receipt purely for inventory control. Fine. But why do they need to insult your intelligence with empty assurances?

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RE: Business Speak 101
 — Pierce

Here's another case... and this one really irks me. The merchant (J.C. Penneys, in this case) has an advertisment for men's slacks: 50% off in big print. To the left of it you see, in smaller type, "Buy 1 Get 1" ...

So in effect, JCP is lying, or at least being very deceptive. It's not 50% off, it's 25% off. The very much larger 50% off is meant to draw your attention, leading the reasonable mind to think "half off!" yet understated "Buy 1 Get 1" is needed to understand the full terms of the deal. Really, that part is just as important as the "50% off"...

Personally, I think this is sleazy. I think it shows that the merchant does not respect the customer enough to just say "25% off", or to be forthcoming with "Buy 1 Get 1 50% off" all in one font. I mean, what's to keep them from saying "Buy 3 pants legs, get the 4th Free?"

And don't even get me started on "Introductory Rates"...

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