Return to Sender

I’ve been having major problems with my mobile phone provider recently. I got a new handset, but it didn’t want to work with my phone signal booster box, which, given that there is no mobile coverage where I live, renders the phone pretty useless. So I was reading the small print in the contract to see if I could return the handset and get my money back.

In parallel with that I’ve been trying to decipher paperwork from the planning office of our local council. Despite having several degrees and speaking English like a native (!), I needed a professional who is used to dealing with this type of output to clarify what was really wanted.

And it occurred to me, what if I could return the document I received and tell them it wasn’t fit for purpose. Saying in effect “I want my money back”?


I wonder if anyone has ever done that to this particular organisation before? I suspect not. They carry on producing gobbledegook believing that it clearly communicates exactly what it needs to, while the poor reader struggles on, spending brainpower, time and money to figure out:

1.       what it means to them, and

2.       what they need to do next.


Unfortunately this is not the first time I’ve had to plough through a poorly written, badly formatted and unclear document. And I suspect I’m not the only one.

What if we all started to reject documents that don’t do what they should? How many of the documents that come across our desktops would we send back?

Because they aren’t clear, take too much effort to understand, are wrong or out of date. Basically they just don’t meet our needs.


Thought for the day: If that’s what we think of the documents we get from others, I wonder what they think about the documents we produce…