Off topic: The importance of getting things absolutely right
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Jan 28, 2015

A single spelling error has caused an 124-year-old Welsh family business to collapse – and cost the UK government £9 million in legal bills.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/one-spelling-error-costs-companies-house-up-to-9-million-after-being-sued-for-ruining-business-10007372.html


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:21
English
+ ...
"Proofread carefully to see if you any words out." (William Safire) Jan 28, 2015

See, that's why it's worth paying a professional to proofread your text. (Just couldn't help saying that.) Unbelieveable.

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:21
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
The worst kind of sloppiness Jan 28, 2015

Suzan Hamer wrote:
See, that's why it's worth paying a professional to proofread your text. (Just couldn't help saying that.) Unbelieveable.

Proof-reading shouldn't have been necessary. Each company has a code to give unambiguous identification of the organisation even in the case of identical or near-identical names. A spelling mistake should not have been enough to cause this. As you say, unbelieveable.

Dan


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 20:21
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
It really helps to be a perfectionist sometimes. Jan 28, 2015

A single minor error can:

- Cost companies millions of dollars.
- Take a jetliner down.
- Kill so many people.
- Lead to two or more companies/nations fighting.
- Explode a spacecraft in the air.
- Sink a huge ship.
- Cause two vehicles to collide.
- Start a world war.
- Be the end of a nation.
- Lead to a genocide.
- Make someone fatally ill.
- Lead to a fatal mining accident.
- Bring an elevator down.
- Result in a fatal epidemic.
- Cause a car to roll over.
- ...


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:21
Chinese to English
Fragile systems Jan 29, 2015

While I agree that it's important to get things right, the real lesson here is about building greater resilience into your systems. Once the error was realised, why couldn't they fix it immediately? I bet a computer system was involved somewhere along the line...

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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 22:51
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
So natives also err Jan 29, 2015

The person who inserted the costly "s" at the end of "Son" was certainly a native English speaker, and this is a classic example that proves that anyone, including proof-readers, translators and writers working into their native languages (English in this case) is equally susceptible to err, and to err is not a non-native translator's forte alone.

This example must surely have shaken the faith of those agencies who rely on using only translators working into their native languages as an insurance against an imperfect translation.

Now with natives also having been proven to exhibit the same failing of non-natives, i.e., the human tendency of erring, they must now be truly at their wit's end as to what easy solution they could now bank upon to give their clients a false sense of security.

[Edited at 2015-01-29 14:53 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:21
French to English
It was fixed Jan 29, 2015

Phil Hand wrote:

Once the error was realised, why couldn't they fix it immediately? I bet a computer system was involved somewhere along the line...


Aye, well, we all know 'puters are rubbish
According to the local paper, the notice was rectified 3 days later.
At some point in those 3 days, their biggest customer took the decision not to work with them any more, and didn't reverse that decision after the rectification was issued. I don't know enough about how steel products are commissioned and contracted to comment with any authority at all, but it does sound a bit odd that Taylor could not persuade them to come back as a customer.


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:21
English
+ ...
Well, Dan, I beg to differ. As an editor and proofreader, Jan 29, 2015

Dan Lucas wrote:

Suzan Hamer wrote:
See, that's why it's worth paying a professional to proofread your text. (Just couldn't help saying that.) Unbelieveable.

Proof-reading shouldn't have been necessary. Each company has a code to give unambiguous identification of the organisation even in the case of identical or near-identical names. A spelling mistake should not have been enough to cause this. As you say, unbelieveable.

Dan


if I did not already know that there were two companies with similar names, I would do a search, and finding that there were at least two companies with similar names, I would query, and ask the client which one was correct.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:21
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
And as a professional researcher I agree with you Jan 29, 2015

Suzan Hamer wrote:
if I did not already know that there were two companies with similar names, I would do a search, and finding that there were at least two companies with similar names, I would query, and ask the client which one was correct.

Indeed, I would hope that even the most junior member of my past teams would query an anomaly like that.

In my previous message I wrote said "Proof-reading shouldn't have been necessary" and at the time I wrote it I was thinking of "proof-reading" in the sense of red pens and squiggly symbols being applied to a document prepared by somebody else.

A less clumsy way of expressing myself would have to say that anomalies like this should be discovered and investigated by the first person to encounter the data i.e. well before it is reviewed by somebody else.

The other point is that the records (including filings) associated with each entity are identified by a code - presumably the company number or a similar unique key - that is not dependent of the spelling of the company name.

It should be a robust system if people are cross-checking new data in the queue to be added to the database against what's already in the database. Clearly someone wasn't.

Dan


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