Sometimes I’m mystified as to where our priorities lie.

Tesco has found itself caught up in a linguistic furore. Following what some are calling a “barrage” of complaints, Tesco is to replace signs at check-outs which currently state “10 items or less”.

New notices are to be put up in their place stating: “Up to 10 items”.

The decision follows a debate over whether the original notices should use “fewer” instead of “less” and the new wording was suggested by The Plain English Campaign.

The company, which in the last decade or so has become the retailing equivalent of a ruthless, marauding army laying waste to large swathes of the country and is now heading abroad to find some rich pickings, is planning to phase in the changed signs across all its stores.

So what?

Surely there are far more pressing issues that need to be raised and which “public power” (whatever that actually means these days) should get behind to force Tesco to change?

The language of Tesco that does need to be challenged includes some far more worrying problems, such as:

  • providing fair prices for suppliers;
  • the fact that one firm now controls more than 30% of the grocery market in the UK;
  • the impact Tesco’s land purchasing power and new store construction programme is having on our High Streets;
  • and the ethical treatment of workers.

Standards must always be maintained and the grammar police may well be pleased with their triumph. But in the grand scheme of things Tesco have emerged completely unscathed by this meaningless little skirmish.

With everyone telling us we’re heading for the worst recession in 60 years, the likes of Tesco are sitting pretty.

Squeezing suppliers and competition has helped the firm to bring prices down, meaning more and more will no doubt be heading through Tesco’s doors in the near future.

And I wonder how many will give a second thought to whether the firm’s signs are grammatically correct?

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One response »

  1. le craic says:

    In Ireland, they always excuse the price differential we pay for the same basket of products (compare with UK) as being down to higher cost of doing business here. Yet, they squeeze local suppliers out of business.

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