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When Errors Cost Money

My husband recently received a notice from one of our credit card companies. It began like this:

You recently received a notification that your credit line was increased on your Our Company credit card. Because of a system error, your notice stated that your credit line was increased to $3,000.00 when it should have stated that your credit line was increased by $3000.00. . . .

. . . we are committed to Higher Standards and apologize for any confusion that the notification may have caused.

We had not even noticed the original error, so of course it was not significant to us. But I wonder how many notices the company had to send out because of the “system error.” I also wonder why they capitalize the phrase “Higher Standards.”

This credit error is not as bad as one a client told me about in her company. In that case, instead of informing a customer of a credit line of $3,000, the letter announced a credit of $3,000. Now that’s an error!

Have an error-free day.


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.