Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Classic Corporate Tautology.

I’m always both amused and irritated when I see those notices in stores which say:

Join our loyalty scheme and we’ll give you a £10 voucher FREE!

‘No, you’ll give me a £10 voucher.’

‘That’s what it says.’

‘No it doesn’t, it says you’ll give me a £10 voucher FREE.’

‘Same thing.’

‘No it isn’t. In this context, both the definition of the verb ‘to give’ and the fact that the offer is a promotion clearly implies, without reasonable prospect of it being otherwise, that no payment will be required for the voucher. The word ‘free’ is redundant, and the statement a tautology.’

‘A what?’

‘A tautology – saying the same thing twice unnecessarily. It’s like saying that Mrs Smith has got a tiny little nose.’

‘What’s wrong with that?’

‘The same thing as is wrong with saying you’ll give me a voucher free. Saying “you’ll get a £10 voucher free” or “We’ll give you a £10 voucher” would be OK. Saying “we’ll give you a £10 voucher free” isn’t.’

‘You’re not making sense, mate.’

‘No, I don’t suppose I am.’

‘Anyway, we have to put the word ‘free’ in so people know they’re getting something free.’

‘But, as I’ve just explained, they already know that.’

‘Not unless you say FREE in big letters, they don’t.’

‘Are you suggesting your customers are idiots?’

‘Of course. All customers are idiots. Only corporations have brains.’

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