Urban Fathers' Liberation Front

Confused dads working out the city

The tragedy of spelling mistakes

on April 27, 2012

I’m not, I think, an unreasonable person.  Obviously, there are times when I will appear to be unreasonable in certain circumstances.  However, overall and on balance, I don’t think I’m unreasonable.

Like many others, I have signed up to endless websites, blogs, magazines, online shops, institutions, comments boards, ticket agencies, venues and no end of other stuff, which means I get mind-numbing quantities of unsolicited mail everyday in my inbox.  These companies might argue that, because I signed up to those sites, the endless stream of garbage in my inbox is not unsolicited, but I still consider them to be largely unwanted and therefore unsolicited.

Occasionally, one of these companies will tweak my interest, and the National Childbirth Trust did that last week.  They were looking for contributors to a debate about whether parents were worse off as a result of taking maternity leave.  However, the hyperlink to the relevant report was spelled incorrectly and, as a result, did not work.  There were three further spelling errors in the email, which was a only a few sentences long.  I made an immediate response to the effect that the spelling mistakes made the charity look ‘a bit silly’.

A few minutes later, I received a response from the sender, claiming she was just a volunteer working for the charity, passing on a press release that she had simply copied, pasted and forwarded.  I made a second response, saying that charity work was noble, but the mistakes still undermined its work, and that she had not checked the email was, in my view, lazy.

Following this, the volunteer forwarded the email conversation to the regional office of the NCT, citing degrading and damaging insults and demanding a personal apology.  A week later, I’ve not said anything more and I’m waiting to see what the NCT will do.

I admire the NCT and the work that they do.  My wife and I have been members as we became parents.  We attended their classes prior to the birth of our first child, and have been along to their sales and events.  However, based on this experience, it would appear that their press communications are handled by volunteers; that their volunteers do not check their emails with the press office, or take on board simple spelling themselves; that they do not regard spelling and accuracy as a key concern in seeking support and goodwill, and they have volunteers with flaky self esteem who claim personal damage to the regional hierarchy as a result of mild criticism.

Let’s see where this ends up.

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