Sunday, August 31, 2008

A storm in a supermarket basket

Tesco is considering changing signs in over 2,000 stores following a complaint by the Plain English Campaign. "10 items or less" is regarded as misleading, by the normally sensible Liverpool-based campaigners. They say, quite rightly in grammatical terms, that the sign should read "10 items or fewer", since "less" does not apply when dealing with separate objects, when "fewer" is the correct term.

So far, so pedantic. Tesco has responded by saying that customers may not understand "fewer", so are suggestimg "Up to 10 items". The cost of the change is not clear, but presumably customers will pay for it somehow.

Frankly, I think the whole row is pointless. We all know what Tesco meant in the first place. However, maybe someone should have a word with Sainsburys. I was in there yesterday, and several checkouts had a hanging sign reading "Baskets only". I had a basket, but mine had shopping in it as well, so I wasn't sure what to do.

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