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back to article A fifth of Europeans can't work out how much a TV costs

A full 20 per cent of European consumers are too befuddled to work out which is the cheaper flat screen TV when given a choice of two*, European Commission research has found. The figures, released today, show that fewer than two-thirds of consumers could read an ingredients label, while 18 per cent of shoppers are flummoxed …

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Doesn't surprise me

There are quite a few people at my work who would struggle with that TV question, the standard of basic maths is generally appalling.

My son was at the supermarket recently and the cashier (20ish year old man) had real difficulty in counting about 80p in change. It's everywhere.

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Sir

Does this mean that if the average IQ is, by default, 100, then my IQ keeps steadily rising year on year?

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Change

I regularly try to work out the amount of change and exact coinage a cashier should give before they manage to - the amount of times I know I need £3.11 change before they've punched the "£5" button on their cash register is embarassing.

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Happy

Embarassing? - only for them

I do it regularly, just to show them up. What is even funnier is when I have already added the entire bill up and present them the exact change before they have finished 'beeping' the goods through. It sometimes works to my advantage as when they state the amount, I can tell them they must have keyed in a wrong value 'cos it is incorrect. I did it to a bank teller once when paying in several cheques. Now that was embarassing.

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Happy

Re: Doesn't surprise me

Giving them the remainder of change so you can get rid of shrapnel is another good one, e.g. passing over a £5 note and 37p in change for an item that costs £3.87.

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Stop

indeed

Unfortunately that is an issue. I often get rid of low value change to get higher coinage in return. I must say that B&Q usually have older staff - never had an issue there, the same in our local chippy but I often get blank looks in supermarkets.

Shame really as it's a life skill.

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FAIL

Irrelevant

Disturbing though it is that so many people can't work out 10% of £500, it's also entirely irrelevant to the question this research claims to be investigating. How many shops do you know that mark an item "10% off" but don't highlight the price after the discount?

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G28
WTF?

Why

Why would that be embarrassing? Generally stock is "beeped" through, or scanned, not only calculate the total but as part of stock control as well. I can honestly say that if I worked in a shop and had to serve you I'd be fairly unmoved by your amazing maths skills.

It might also be worthwhile remembering that the next time you tell your excellent teller story that nobody cares, everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Oh and that it's not excellent.

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FAIL

Re: Embarassing? - only for them

I looked on with amazement when a bank teller reached for a calculator, to add up 4 cheques, all of value £15.00

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Anonymous Coward

Why doesn't it surprise you?

I think you'll find that "what's everywhere" are shit surveys.

Population of the EU: 501,260,000

Population surveyed: 56,471

Percentage of total population surveyed: 0.01126581%

Another non-comprehensive survey which has been generalised beyond its scope.

Why anyone pays any attention to <strikethrough>these detailed and comprehensive studies</strikethrough> this bollocks escapes me.

In another comprehensive survey I asked 5 people passing my house what they thought of The Register. Apparently, judging from the results obtained, no-one at all has heard of it.

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Flame

Shrapnel

Oh, come on, checkout persons do not have A* level Maths.

(Waiting for the flames......)

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They might

a level maffs aint what it used to be!

you get a pass if when asked to add 6 and 8 you take off only 1 shoe in order to compute the answer.

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Unhappy

Re: shrapnel

With the young jobless count these days and people getting what they can they may well have! :(

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Anonymous Coward

o dear

Seriously, how are businesses supposed to account for the ever deepening stupidity of the average person, and it seems the lower you go the dumber people become.

le sigh~~~~

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Go

That's easy

Offer a 10% discount.

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Or more accurately

20% of Europeans don’t know what “20% of Europeans” means.

We’re doomed, DOOMED.

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Pint

And in other shock news:

Half the plebs is even more stupid that the average punter.

Full details at 11-ish, or whenever we've worked them out.

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Coat

Re: And in other shock news

Only if "average" means the median and the mode doesn't equal the median.

Mine's the one with holes for an above average* number of arms

* meaning the arithmetic mean

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Happy

2.000043

Can you be so sure that there aren't a few people with extra arms?

Just to confuse the count, I'm going to stubbornly insist that I have four. Two of my arms have shoes on, admittedly, but that means nothing.

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Cheapest TV

Is the one bought off the bloke in the pub who happens to work in the warehouse.

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Stop

Surely the title should be "A fifth of europeans can't do maths"?

I fail to see why they confused the issue with mention of TVs, its a simple maths problem and has nothing to do with consumerism.

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title

Surely the title should be "A fifth of europeans can't do arithmetic"

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Also

Four fifths of Brits can't spell rithmetic

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aye

maybe out of reading and riting that was their worst of the 3 R's

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The real 3 Rs

Ready, wRiting and Reckoning :D

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Anonymous Coward

Four fifths

And the other two fifths can't add up!

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Joke

Re: four fifths

And 1000000% don't understand binary!

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Coat

TV Price Test

I blame the schools. Back in the day (cue sound of violins...), circa 1960 or so, we used to do mental arithmetic every day. Naturally there were no calculators apart from the venerable Abacus and the odd tabulating machine.

These days, I've seen shop assistants reach for their calculator to add a few simple numbers (both less than 20)

Don't get me started on approximation... now that is a lost art indeed.

Mine's the one with a 58.5ohm resistor in the pocket...

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Don't blame the schools

If someone can't work out what 10% of 500 is then they're likely beyond help.

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Re: Steve Davies 3

"I blame the schools...we used to do mental arithmetic every day."

As they do now Steve. And I know plenty of people educated in the 60s who wouldn't be able to answer that question. Many people from that era can't read or write either - my wife volunteers at the local school in the evenings teaching adults basic reading, writing and arithmetic and they are NEVER short of students in their 50s and 60s. The "Education Today" thing is just a myth put about by a lazy media.

A decent proportion of today's GCSE maths is done as a series of mental arithmetic questions. The students have a pen and an answer sheet. Nothing else. The teacher stands at the front and reads out a series of questions. You have X seconds to write down the answer (and only the answer - if you scribble notes or workings out you lose marks) before the teacher reads the next question.

But it is far easier for the media to make out that kids aren't taught certain skills or are lazy than to find out the truth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't blame the schools

>If someone can't work out what 10% of 500 is then they're likely beyond help.

Or a politician calculating the interest repayments on his non-existing house

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Headmaster

Sorry to disagree

I would normally lament the education system of this country, but it is not universal. My nephew was being taught mental arithmetic at primary school. I don’t just mean how to add up two numbers in his head, but mental tricks like how to multiply by 5 or 9 or work out VAT at 17.5%. Only thing I remember from my Primary School days was screwing with my teacher’s head by continuing the recital of the times table beyond x12. Tee Hee.

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1960's mental arithmetic

And that was in pounds, shillings and pence, when calculating a discount meant more than just moving a decimal point.

How many of "today's yoof" would even know where to begin calculating 10% discount off £3 7s 5¼d in their head?

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VAT at 17.5% ?

Keep up - we're at 20% VAT nowadays.

I'm convinced that they made a big mistake here - most people found it non-trivial to work out how much tax they were paying when it was 17.5%. Now it's 20%, it's simple for most to work out that their new £499 TV includes £100 tax.

In France the VAT rate is 19.6% and loads of other countries have the rate set at 18%, 19% or 21%. I'm sure that obfuscation is the name of the game here.

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Anonymous Coward

Let me be one of many...

...to point out that

>Now it's 20%, it's simple for most to work out that their new £499 TV includes £100 tax.

is wrong your 499 GBP tele includes 84.17 GBP tax

Apparently not so simple.

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FAIL

Maths, you say?

Actually the VAT on a TV costing £499 is just under £85...

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I'll have to ask my sister (a maths teacher) if she has ever heard if this?

What I do know is that the lower level papers test at a level that an average 8 year old in the 60's would find insulting.

Things like measure a line, read a simple scale and count the shaded squares on a 4x4 grid.

These are Exams that serve no purpose at all, as they do not test for how smart the kid is, but just how stupid they are.

When they are that thick potential employers don't care about exam results; just can they push a broom in a straight line and turn up to work regular.

Hopefully the new rules for school league tables that exclude all the ICT exams (~4 of them) and other exams that are used to pretend kids have been given an education will disappear.

The next stage should be some simple honesty and stop lying to people that going to university and getting a degree in there current hobby will do anything other than make them poor.

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Headmaster

10% of £3 7s 51/4d

Well you could convert to d and back again

so 3x240+7*12+5.25 = 720+84+5.25 = 809.25d

So 10% of that is 81d, leaving about 728.25d = £3 0s 8.25d (give or take a farthing)

Or another way

10% of £3 = 6s = 72d

10% of 7s = 8.4d

10% of 5.25s = 0.5d

For a total of 72+8.4+0.5 = 80.9d = 6s 8.9d

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Anonymous Coward

Are you sure?

If the TV costs £499 inc VAT, I make the VAT content £83.16666666666666667 (£415.83333333333333 Ex VAT)

But then IANAA so I could be wrong....

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Paris Hilton

Re: Steve Davies 3

I sat my then Scottish 'O' Grades in the early 80's. At that time there was a separate exam in Arithmetic (as distinct from other branches of Secondard School Mathmatics - Trig, Geometry, Calculus); no calculators just a small book of log tables, pencil, eraser, blank working paper and your brain.

I recall that one person in their mocks did so badly in the multiple choice/guess that they'd have got a higher score if they'd just answered "A" (OR "B" or "C" OR "D") for every question.

PARIS: The proof that lack of intellect is an inspiration to some

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I smell a maffs teacher

desperately trying to justify the cliff that standards have dropped off in the last 30 years.

average school leaver today is funtionally illiterate

average graduate today is functionally inumerate

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Innumeracy is horrible

A few years ago at a (nameless shop) I was buying ink jet cartridges. There was a 10% offer if I bought 2. So I decided to stock up and bought 4 - so the shop assistant offered me a 20% discount!

I wonder how many people read agreements on web sites ? A year ago I got a new VAT number, this involved ticking a box to say that I had read the adjacent link. Only trouble was that the link was broken -- it took me 3/4 hour on the phone to report the fault abd be told where the agreement was. I doubt that it stopped people signing up.

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Re: contracts

Read the 404 error, print off a copy for your records, confirm that you have read it.

The real small print isn't to your advantage, so it is better not to be bound by it.

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Gladdens my heart!

"Respondents were next presented with a scenario where two shops were selling identical flat-screen TVs. They were told that in shop A, the price is €500 but a discount of 10% is offered. In shop B, the price is €400. Consumers were asked which TV would be cheaper."

And here I thought that it was only American schools and educational establishments that churned out illiterate, innumerate idiots.

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Paris Hilton

Consumers were asked which TV would be cheaper.

Neither. Buy it for €19.99 during Black Friday's shopping madness

(Remote and activation P.I.N. including exclusive 5 years deluxe content access is €499.99 extra)

Paris 'cos she knows a good deal when she sees one.

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Anonymous Coward

Yet...

... the vast majority of them has A levels. And in maths too.

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I'm waiting...

... for the inevitable responses to this post from people who don't have english A levels.

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I can has A levels?

I'm guessing you pride yourself on your own intellectual skills? Yet simple grammar escapes you.

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Headmaster

Grammar

"majority" is a singular noun.

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Headmaster

@ The lone lurker

Your point is valid, but your execution is not. Your first sentence: "I'm guessing you pride yourself on your own intellectual skills?" is not a question and should not have a question mark. Not to mention "I'm guessing". Your second begins with "Yet", which is just plain nasty.

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