back to article Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!

Devon County Council has pointed the finger of blame at a "new IT printing system" for a letter littered with spelling mistakes that informed a father he was being fined for taking his son out of school in term time. penalty notice from Daniel Moore - used with permission. Do not reuse without his permission The letter Daniel …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Woohoo - precedent !

    Now everyone at Devon CC can send letters to their boss congratulating them on being an class act, missing spell class to with another C word and blame the printer.

    1. Shippwreck1

      Re: Woohoo - precedent !

      Like your wit, misspelling a “funny” response to an article about spelling mistakes... great “deliberate” error

  2. Aaiieeee
    FAIL

    At the very least the writer of the letter could have said "oops, sorry about that I was really busy and doing 2 things at once." Not only does this acknowlege the issue but sublty suggests that its actually a permissable mistake.

    The fact they screwed up and then tried to blame someone else is just pathetic personal ethics.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Aaiieeee The fact they screwed up and then tried to blame someone else is just pathetic personal ethics.

      I think you mean “...is modern politics.”

      1. }{amis}{ Silver badge
        Headmaster

        I think you mean “...is modern politics.”

        Modern?? you will find this kind of crap is the pages of Punch from the 1840s there is nothing new about it.

        Wiki Punch (magazine)

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      I'd be surprised if Mrs Dawn Stabb (who sounds like someone to avoid in the wee small hours) had actually typed the letter herself - presumably they have some boilerplate text somehwere.

      In fact it looks a bit to me as if the boilerplate text was moved from their old system to the new one by OCR from a printed copy. Could explain a lot...

      1. Mike Lewis

        OCR errors could explain the missing characters in notie, amountof and cred but not the swapped or incorrectly typed characters in hte, guitly, dteailed and issus.

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          the swapped or incorrectly typed characters

          Good point. I've often seen "e" and "s" confused (as in "issus"), but the transpositions are odd.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          OCR, seriously?!?

          To transfer forms from one system to another?!?

          The NHS has no hope then...

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: OCR, seriously?!?

            Excuse me Doctor, is this a word you have written , or an EEG trace..?

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          OCR systems usually have a spell checker, so problems tend to be errors that are correct spellings of a different word.

          Also, for a letter of that length, it would be quicker to type it than OCR it anyway.

        4. Celeste Reinard

          You will be amazed at what OCR can do, having seen what I have seen the past ten years, besides misreading. Not only dropping text, but adding text that is not there on the page or the entire book as well. ... That being one of the reasons why I think, excuse me, know we are doomed when Artificial Idiocy will take over the planet.

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        "Mrs Dawn Stabb (who sounds like someone to avoid in the wee small hours)"

        Bravo! Bravo!

        .

        .

        .

        Now you owe me both a new keyboard and a fresh cup of coffee

        1. Bibbit

          But if it misses there is no harm done.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Perhaps someone in DCC could let El Reg know discreetly how many copies of this template letter have been sent out ha ha!

    3. big_D Silver badge

      It should also be a form letter, so they just need to enter the pupil's and parent's details into it and the rest remains the same, so somebody ballsed up the template, by the look of it - either that or the education department should do take basic Office courses!

    4. Craig 2

      "The fact they screwed up and then tried to blame someone else is just pathetic personal ethics."

      Indeed, this kind of "casual lying" is pervasive in society today. It should not be accepted, especially from official bodies such as representatives of the people since it hints at a greater general dishonesty.

      1. Jtom Bronze badge

        That was my thinking. Reprimand her for incompetence, then fire her for lying.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Spelling!

      Four spelling errors in second sentence -- pot and kettle? Or some kind of post-modern joke?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Spelling!

        Muphry's Law:

        "If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written."

        (and yes, it's supposed to be spelt like that)

        1. Anomalous Cowturd
          Headmaster

          Spelt?

          Spelled!

          Spelt is a type of grain.

          ;o?

          1. Spoonsinger

            Re: Spelt?

            spelt - past and past participle of spell

            1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Spelt?

              spelt - past and past participle of spell

              Depends on which side of pond you live. If you use "spelt" as such, then "gotten" probably grates on your nerves.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Spelt?

                >then "gotten" probably grates on your nerves

                Gotten is still quite widely used in UK regions - our soft lad's just gotten himself six month for mitherin't fire bobbies..

            2. onefang Silver badge

              Re: Spelt?

              "spelt - past and past participle of spell"

              I just looked in my pantry, spelt - pasta.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Spelt?

                Would that be the pasta particulate?

              2. David 132 Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: Spelt?

                onefang I just looked in my pantry, spelt - pasta.

                No, spelt - P-A-N-T-R-Y, I think you'll find.

                You're welcome.

    6. macjules Silver badge

      Demonstrates clear lack of initiative or creativity - Marked as E minus

      A good PR spokesidiot would have stated that, "Unfortunately the head of education has been using an Apple MacBook Pro with known keyboard issues, which resulted in bad typing".

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I thought the idea of a signature was to indicate that you "own" the content of the letter. Can she be voted out?

  3. The humble print monkey

    Update on the router fix

    I dust off my Router Text-Change software (a simple piece of code that simply watches packets go by and occasionally introduces a spelling mistake or adds a zero to the end of a figure

    1. Joe W

      Re: Update on the router fix

      ... citation needed ;p

      (Ok, we all know the BOFH episodes)

  4. OssianScotland

    Garbage In, Garbage Out...

    ..but obviously not any more!

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    The BOFH was there!

    All Hail the Mighty BOFH!

  6. muddysteve

    3rd party

    They may well be using a 3rd party letter printing service which is supposed to check the letter, print it, put it in an envelope and post it. Doesn't excuse the badly written letter in the first place, mind.

    1. Halfmad

      Re: 3rd party

      Increasingly common these services, many GP letters use it too.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: 3rd party

        From the looks of it, these 3rd parties are not local operations, but have been outsourced to a country where English is not the primary language (and quality control is not a priority)

        ..also: lowest bidder...you get what you pay for (best case)

        I had the joy of attempting to pay a medical bill online today. One pop-up window after another, and the last one had nothing at all in it! Until I switched browsers to Windows Explorer. But that was only the beginning of my troubles. The fill-in-the-payment-details dialog proceeded smoothly enough, until I was confronted by a space marked "Date". What it meant, it turns out, was credit card expiration month...but not the usual drop-down, you typed in a number, then had to click on a popup (of the same number)...sort of a truncated drop-down. The year entry was even more bizarre. Pretty much all of the Windows standard conventions for data entry and editing were violated. I'm guessing offshore code, and cheap code at that (or the owner's grandson)

        1. Ian Emery Silver badge

          Re: 3rd party

          In the last 5-6 years I have twice dealt with government websites (one local, one national), where the ONLY way to get them to work correctly was with obsolete versions of Internet Explorer.

          The local government one wouldnt work with anything beyond IE6, the National one was slightly more advanced and could cope with IE 7,8, or 9.

          However the latter was the biggest PITA, because it didnt fail until the VERY LAST entry in the form I was submitting, and then failed silently with no error message beyond a technical fault had occurred.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: 3rd party

            " the ONLY way to get them to work correctly was with obsolete versions of Internet Explorer."

            "But, but but, MS is the standard, not this new fangled w3c standards checker thing!"

            I used to have a lot of fun with twats like that by invoking the blind web browser with a braille interface who now had an open and shit case for discrimination. It seldom worked in getting the twats off their high horses, but it sure as hell rattled the shit out of local government administrators who had visions of "breach

            of legal duty of care" being slapped on their arses,

    2. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: 3rd party

      A story about four people named Everyone, Someone, Anyone and No-one.

      There was an important job to be done and Everyone was sure that Someone would do it.

      Anyone could have done it, but No-one did it.

      Someone got angry about that because he thought that it was Everyone’s job.

      Everyone thought that Anyone could do it, but No-one realised that Everyone wouldn’t do it.

      It ended up that Everyone was angry with Someone because No-one did what Anyone could have done!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks, Labour

    So much for "Education, education, education".

    1. Cereberus
      Coat

      Re: Thanks, Labour

      So much for "Education, education, education".

      Should that not be:

      "Educaion, eductino, eduaction"

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Thanks, Labour

      Wikipedia has incomplete records for recent Devon County Council elections, but they appear to have been Liberal Democrat after 1997 and before 2009, since when they've been Conservative. And UK.gov put the screws on state school term-time holidays in 2013 (and I'm disinclined to disapprove). So, "thanks, Labour" not so much. Good news is that there won't be any state schools left soon, and, leaving your daughter in the pub after a good lunch - presumably still fine, and by "fine" I don't mean money taken off you. Unlike Devon Conty Cuncil.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Thanks, Labour

        I don't think you can blame the council for the quality of the letter, though you can certainly blame them for the piss-poor excuse. If you look closely you'll see the contact is 'within Babcock LDP', a firm of educational consultants.

        On second thoughts, you can blame the council: they outsourced the enforcement of their statutory obligations to a private company who employed someone unable to use a spell checker and took a slice of taxpayers' money as private profit. It also seems to be a private company which is owned by a chain of other Babcock limited liability partnerships, possibly culminating (the chain is too tangled for me) in a Babcock Corporate Secretaries Limited which holds interests in over 200 companies in the services, aircraft and arms sectors. Sounds like a nice little earner.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Thanks, Labour

          It also seems to be a private company which is owned by a chain of other Babcock limited liability partnerships, possibly culminating (the chain is too tangled for me) in a Babcock Corporate Secretaries Limited

          Part of Babcock International plc, formerly world renowned engineering firm Babcock & Wilcox. How the mighty are fallen. From being proper, skilled engineering types, to scabby, illiterate "support services" twats ripping off the parents of schoolkids by virtue of poorly conceived and written laws, through partnerships with the morons of local government.

        2. Tomato Krill

          Re: Thanks, Labour

          Minor point of order but I believe that is their corporate company Secretary for their various limited companies, a statutory officer and separate to shareholding

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Thanks, Labour

          Babcock International Group plc is the top of the chain. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange. The CEO gets a salary of £2m for their efforts.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thanks, Labour

        Wikipedia has incomplete records for recent Devon County Council elections, but they appear to have been Liberal Democrat after 1997 and before 2009, since when they've been Conservative. And UK.gov put the screws on state school term-time holidays in 2013 (and I'm disinclined to disapprove). So, "thanks, Labour" not so much.

        That's sophistry and we both know it. The political make-up of a county council has no bearing whatsoever on the hegemonetic politics of the ATL. Nice try, though.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      >>It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.<<

      It'll be Auto 'Correct' thats the doings of Beelzebub

    2. }{amis}{ Silver badge
      Joke

      It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

      As a Devonshire boy I resemble that comment and lob a turnip in your general direction ;->

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

        Eer, ged orf moi land!!!!

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

          When oi lived in Norf Deb'n in the late '70s we 'ad the largest number of witches covens in Britain. You tek the piss outta Devon, oi'll get Granny Greep ter turn you inta a turnip.

          Oi blames the spellin' on Taunton natrul droi!

          1. jonathan keith

            Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

            Why blame the Devil when you've got the Cornish living right next to you? Bound to be their fault somehow.

            1. Jonathan Richards 1
              Go

              Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

              > Why blame the Devil when you've got the Cornish living right next to you?

              'Ere, we'll be 'avin none of that sort of talk, thank you! No works of the Devil in Cornwall:

              We are told [...] that The devil never came into Cornwall.

              Because, when he crossed the Tamar, and made Torpoint for a brief space his resting-place, he could not but observe that everything, vegetable or animal, was put by the Cornish people into a pie.

              He saw and heard of fishy pie, star-gazy pie, conger pie, and indeed pies of all the fishes in the sea. Of parsley pie, and herby pie, of lamy pie, and piggy pie, and pies without number. Therefore, fearing they might take a fancy to a "devily pie," he took himself back again into Devonshire.

              Popular romances of the west of England etc., Robert Hunt, 1908.

            2. Korev Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: It's Devon, they probably think spell check is the work of the devil.

              Nah, we were all wreckin.... —>

  9. Giovani Tapini

    I thought printing systems

    were designed to produce faithful representations of computer generated graphic based tat. I find it hard to believe a printer added the typos and even more hard to believe that print proceses were to blame.

    admit it, the council is just S**t at drafting, proofreading, and change, managing their letter templates.

    Leave the print process out of it. May as well blame your brand of petrol for getting lost while driving.

    1. deive

      Re: I thought printing systems

      Yeah, it is because they'll be paid a large "competitive" remuneration to "compete" with private firms, so obviously way too clever and above such things as worrying about spelling.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: I thought printing systems

      Computers do what you say, not what you mean.

    3. Dazed and Confused Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I thought printing systems

      Ah, but the old printing system involved the highly paid and educated school head writing a letter which was then sent to a lowly paid school secretary who then typed it all out while correcting all the mistakes on the way. Secretaries also typically not only corrected the spelling and grammar but also put letters into a suitable business like form, replaced obscenities with recipients correct name, title, job description etc.

      Other types of secretaries were also available, not just school ones.

      It's only the new computerised printing system that sends out what was actually given to it, rather than what should have been given to it.

      (disclaimer, this was not typed by secretary and is probably also full of errors)

      1. Joe W

        Re: I thought printing systems

        Good secretaries are worth their weight in gold. Really. The secretary of our departmental office saved me (when I was a lowly student) from missing deadlines etc. Chocolates were bought, on other occasions I baked cookies. However if you had crossed her in the past you would not get these phone calls and much less help with the paperwork. I do miss her!

  10. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

    having HP LaserJet 5si or something printers. When doing long print jobs, they would start to loose letters. Your document would start out normally, then certain letters would "drop out" resulting in blank spaces between the leftover letters.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

      Or in really bad cases they'd lose the PCL formatting and start printing lots of pages with garbage on them.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

        It's because letters were rationed back then.

      2. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

        "...Or in really bad cases they'd lose the PCL formatting and start printing lots of pages with garbage on them..."

        Or better yet, when people sent PS to a PCL printer and stood confused when the actual PS "language" was printed!

        This kind of thing really does annoy and frustrate me.

        And whilst we're at it, when my youngest lad goes back to school in September, he doesn't go on the "first" day back, as it's an inset day...what the actual...? You've just had x weeks off (because this seems to be a theme after every break, nowadays) and you now want an extra day to do the stuff you could have already done?

        And...how come we can't bill the schools when teachers go on strike? After all, they didn't ask our permission and it often means parents have to suddenly change plans like take off a day of their own.

        Sorry... /rant

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

          he doesn't go on the "first" day back, as it's an inset day...what the actual...? You've just had x weeks off

          (in the UK...)

          Blame Kenneth Baker. Yes, it was that far back. He wanted to "professionalise" the teaching profession and among other innovations he decided that teachers should work a fixed number of hours. Up until then teachers had been (to a greater or lesser extent) willing to work enough hours to get the job done. This often involved going into school during "holiday" time, or after hours in order to prepare the classroom or attend a training course. It nearly always involved taking children's work home to mark. Believe it or not teachers are not actually paid during holidays(*) and are not eligible for overtime.

          So Kenneth Baker set a fixed number of hours for a full-time teacher. A lot of things changed as a result, not least of which was the introduction of "Baker Days", officially known as IN SErvice Training, or INSET. During a Baker Day, teachers are given time to attend training sessions, CPD, that sort of thing. You know, the sort of thing that you or I would be given time to attend during a normal working day. Most teachers can't do that because they have to - you know - look after a classroom full of rowdy kids. Very occasionally an individual teacher might be given time to go on a course and the class covered either internally or by a supply teacher, but this is expensive so most schools prefer to undertake training either on INSET days, when they can train large groups of teachers together, or in "twilight" sessions, squeezed into the time between sending the children home and the official end of a teacher's day, when they are normally tidying up, marking and preparing for the next day. Of course, many teachers (particularly at primary) also end up taking work home, so the whole idea of fixed hours is a bit moot.

          Most teachers are now also eligible for PPA time (this was a Blair government innovation I believe). This is generally 10% of the working week (i.e. one morning or afternoon session) of "non contact" time which is intended to allow an individual teacher to undertake paperwork and other administrative tasks. Good schools employ an additional teacher who covers such time, maybe (particularly in primary schools) by teaching a non-core subject such as music at which the class teacher may not be confident. Not-so-good schools (my opinion) use a "teaching assistant". In theory this time is not the responsibility of the class teacher, but particularly where TAs are used (perhaps less so for Higher Level TAs), the class teacher still ends up planning and reviewing the session.

          Teachers do get bad press sometimes, but a lot of it has to do with misconceptions such as that surrounding INSET days. Many seem not to realise - for example - that teachers are not allowed to take their massive allocation of holiday whenever they please, not even a single day. Got a child of your own who is off school sick? Best of luck with that. Even taking an afternoon off to attend a funeral can sometimes be problematic.

          Disclaimer (as if you couldn't guess) - I come from a family of teachers and my teacher wife also comes from a family of teachers. I did try it myself for a short time, until I realised I was hopeless at it and couldn't cope with spending four hours a night (requirements for newly-qualified teachers were quite onerous) on marking and preparation.

          M.

          (*)Well, those in permanent positions do get a monthly salary which doesn't change during the holidays, but it's actually based on the number of hours worked. Teachers who are not on permanent contracts appear to receive a higher salary. In fact they are paid the same as permanent teachers, but the pay is concentrated into the actual working time and isn't spread out equally across the year.

    2. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

      Lemme guess - Serial comms, and cheap cables without the DTR pin connected?

      We had a similar setup, with about 3 multiplexers between host & line printer, and every hop had to be cabled and configured right, else the monthly* inventory print would foul up when the printer buffer filled up - after about 60 pages.

      * Just long enough to forget that a component had been "upgraded" but not load-tested.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

      certain letters would "drop out"

      That's the trouble with loose letters. Should have fixed them securely.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

        Lemme guess - Serial comms, and cheap cables without the DTR pin connected?

        I think it was actually some weird optimisation in HP laser printers that was supposed to save memory*. It wasn't very well implemented, so the output occasionally have bits missing.

        *Printers of the time, especially PostScript ones, would often fail to print complex pages because of insufficient memory.

        1. GIRZiM

          Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

          > I think it was actually some weird optimisation in HP laser printers

          And I instantly thought of eerie, Lovecraftian incantations - which would explain most printing since pretty much the dawn of printing and all HP printers ever.

    4. Kubla Cant Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

      When doing long print jobs, they would start to loose letters.

      Did they also start to add letters, thereby mis-spelling "lose" as "loose"?

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

        @Kubla Cant

        No, they just let random ones out, in this case it was an "o"...

      2. GIRZiM
        Headmaster

        Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

        > Did they also start to add letters, thereby mis-spelling "lose" as "loose"?

        Yes, they loosed them; after which the letters were free to turn up or not, as and where they saw fit - in an ironic, yet entirely appropriate twist, some of them, once loose, probably turned up to spell 'lose' with an extra 'o'.

    5. PM from Hell
      Coat

      Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

      I think I remember that issue, didn't HP provide a clip on tray to collect the dropped letters

      1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

        I think I remember that issue, didn't HP provide a clip on tray to collect the dropped letters

        Provided? No chance, they might have sold one, you might have needed to order option -wdlc. It probably wouldn't have been available as a standalone product.

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

          "...you might have needed to order option.."

          Anyone else repair HP printers in the 90's?

          They (HP) seemed to have a mandate to single handedly destroy our forests. If you ordered a replacement spring that was, say, 8mm long by around 2mm diameter, it'd come in a small plastic bag. In a jiffy bag. In a box. In a larger box. In a MUCH larger box that could usually have accommodated the entire printer!

          Along, of course, with a raft of printed compliance, warranty and other such documents. In 90 million languages, just in case the repair centre they shipped it to in the UK, from the UK might have used some ancient dialect of some long forgotten (and likely dead) language.

    6. BongoJoe

      Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

      When doing long print jobs, they would start to loose letters.

      So if you printed out your message then your extra 'o' could be dropped out...

    7. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

      The 4000 series printers would sometimes do that too. Seemed to be an early symptom of a failing or badly seated RAM module, oftentimes reseating the module and/or network print card would fix things.

      1. Diogenes

        Re: Actually back in the 1990s I was at a company...

        I used to have fun with Advanced Function Printing that came with IBM 3800-3 and moving/replacing letters & numbers around in reports, especially those destined for auditors mwahahaha mwahahahahah

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    FAIL

    O really?

    Do they seriously think anyone with more than two communicating neurons will believe this?

    P.S. I just corrected a typo in 'preview' before posting.

    1. GIRZiM
      Coat

      Re: O really?

      > P.S. I just corrected a typo in 'preview' before posting.

      Shame you didn't do the same to O' Reilley.

      [I'll get my coat]

  12. Not also known as SC
    Joke

    I thimk my ketbored has the same sooftware.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Ah, a MacBook Pro then...

  13. John Robson Silver badge

    Surely...

    You write a cheque out...

    To the wrong payee, with different amounts in words and numbers, and signed by someone obscure.

    Bonus points if you still have an old chequebook for an account long closed (even more if the bank has closed down).

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Surely...

      Well, I do keep an old plastic Personal Banker card from when I had an account with a branch of Barclays. I kept mainly because I refer to it as my "Bastardcard" as the Personal Banker's name was Rosemary Bastard (with no apostophes). While Barclays is still with us, the branch in question has long gone.

    2. JimC Silver badge

      Re: Surely...To the wrong payee,

      If you think the banks check all that stuff much any more you can send me a cheque for 50 quid signed Michael Mouse and we'll see what happens...

    3. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Re: Surely...

      "Bonus points if you still have an old chequebook for an account long closed (even more if the bank has closed down)."

      I threw out an ancient cheque book just a couple of weeks ago.

      The last cheque written from it was something like 1997.

  14. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker
    Headmaster

    More than just spelling.

    The punctuation in that letter is also horrible.

    Comma misuse is usually the number one culprit; this example is prime proof.

    There are also some word choices I find suspect, but those might be due to Blighty-versus-Yankee preferences.

    Unrelated to the grammar: You Brits are allowed to post cash? Americans are told never to mail actual cash for anything! (And most don't, aside from kid's birthday cards from relatives, with checks/cheques covering larger gifts.)

    1. Mine's a Large One

      Re: More than just spelling.

      No. It says "... or cash in person at the address below".

      As in attend in person and hand over the cash.

      Agreed re. your other comments though!!

    2. eionmac

      Re: More than just spelling.

      The Royal Mail has a very fine system for posting cash to another person. Called a Postal Order , recipient turns it into cash at any post office. Effectively a 'named bearer check/cheque'.

      Also they allow cash but only insure up to a finite limit. OK for children's/kid's birthday twenty pound notes.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: More than just spelling.

        The Royal Mail has a very fine system for posting cash to another person. Called a Postal Order

        With eye-watering fees to match! A nice little money spinner for the now-privatised Post Office when they make 12.5% clear profit on most POs (i.e. anything between £10 and £100), and even more on some (if you wanted to send a 50p order, it costs you £1!).

      2. Deckard_C

        Re: More than just spelling.

        Haven't used a Postal Order since mail ordering things from Maplin like edge connectors and cable for the C64 userport so I could POKE* and PEEK the CIA into bit bashing a serial connection to my mate's C64 next door so we could text chat.

        Of course it first involved a phone call well probably a couple rings and then hangup, to expensive to actually talk. Then turn the C64s on, load the program from tape and then the speed was probably like teletype which was of couse made it cool. Probably didn't actually use it much as it was quicker to talk through the fence when we wasn't allowed out.

        The C64 did get you to know the hardware, if you wanted it to make sound you had to POKE the SID chip registers to set the waveform, frequency, attack, sustain and decay durations.

        *POKE was the BASIC command to write a byte to a memory location which could be the control registers of the CIA which was IO chip, SID which was the sound chip, VIC the video chip

      3. Martin-73 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: More than just spelling.

        TWENTY POUNDS? they get a fiver... and that only because the pound note is not de rigeur anymore (south of the tees/exe line)

  15. Crisp Silver badge
    Boffin

    Obviously a printer installation error.

    It was installed in the office of someone that couldn't use a spellchecker.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Obviously a printer installation error.

      Hey for a 6year old in a N Korean outsourced sweatshop it isn't bad

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "“We’ve been trialling a new IT printing system and a number of mistakes were unfortunately not picked up before this letter was dispatched.”"

    Translation 1: We didn't bother proof-reading the boilerplate.

    Translation 2: Our proof reader was illiterate.

    Translation 3. We told our proof reader they were just being negative and passed the boilerplate as correct.

  17. Matt 18

    OK, i'll bite

    I've definitely printed blocks of test on an outdated printer driver, or an incorrectly configured white-label driver, and seen many of the issues in the letter, namely missing spaces, or certain vowels dropped.

    Whilst I admit, most printer driver issues will result in ALL of a certain letter dropped etc, I'm willing to give some BOD, especially given how obvious some of the errors are; and i'll refer to my anaecdotal evidence as described above.

  18. Mr Dogshit
    Headmaster

    They need a lesson in grammar too.

    There is no such verb as "to trial". Something "is either on trial" or it "is being tried".

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: They need a lesson in grammar too.

      The OED disagrees with you.

      If anyone were to be considered the official Grammar Nazi, then I believe they'd at least be in the running...

      https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/trial

      verb

      1 with object Test (something, especially a new product) to assess its suitability or performance.

      ‘teachers all over the UK are trialling the materials’

      2 no object (of a horse, dog, or other animal) compete in trials.

      ‘the pup trialled on Saturday’

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: They need a lesson in grammar too.

        The OED need reminding that all this verbing weirds nouns.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: They need a lesson in grammar too.

          Nouning verbs is worse - we have the learnings to take from that

          1. GIRZiM
            Headmaster

            Re: They need a lesson in grammar too.

            > we have the learnings to take from that

            'got'... "we's got the learnings to take from that": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23SVHUPrUJ4

  19. Vince

    Clearly in this case the issue has nothing to do with printers, but just to remind El Reg of its own news articles, there have been issues with printers changing content...

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/06/xerox_copier_flaw_means_dodgy_numbers_and_dangerous_designs/

  20. adam payne Silver badge

    A Devon County Council spokesman told the Beeb: “We’ve been trialling a new IT printing system and a number of mistakes were unfortunately not picked up before this letter was dispatched.”

    Now that just made my day. I have never seen an excuse quite as pathetic as that.

    1. TonkaToys

      I received an email the other day blaming IT for the fact that the building's air conditioning wasn't working. Apparently FM couldn't control the air con because the internet was not responding... perhaps they couldn't look up how to use the thermostat on YouTube.

      1. Killfalcon Bronze badge

        IT did once balls up the aircon at an office I worked at. We had a load of servers in the basement, and shunted them off to be IBM's problem in a warehouse someplace else. The server room's chillers were vented into the building's heating, and the loss of all that free heating knocked a few degrees off the office thermometers!

  21. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

    BOFH Excuse Generator failure?

    Maybe it is just poor excuse output from the BOFH Excuse Generator.

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. JimC Silver badge

    You may be missing careful wording folks...

    “We’ve been trialling a new IT printing system" - Presumably true

    "a number of mistakes were unfortunately not picked up before this letter was dispatched.” - obviously true

    However they don't actually say the IT system was responsible for the mistakes, although quite probably the mistakes were made as a result of changing to the new printing system, they just weren't made *by* the printing system...

    1. JimC Silver badge

      Re: You may be missing careful wording folks...

      Or, now I think of it, it was sloppy wording, and they never intended to directly blame the IT system, just explain that they had all new letter templates which hadn't been properly checked.

  24. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Now we know what is acceptable ...

    Maybe the guy should send them a cheque for 60p and when they complain that the fine is £60 he can say, "I'm trialling a new cheque printing software, so sorry, can't be helped."

  25. Colin 22

    Re: aaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnndddddddddddddd that's why....

    If you want to see the English language really take a beating - spelling mistakes and punctuation errors - read an OFSTEAD report, usually when complaining about the teaching of English.

    1. Data Mangler

      Re: aaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnndddddddddddddd that's why....

      If you want to see Muphry's Law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muphry%27s_law) in action, observe a commentard unable to spell Ofsted while complaining about spelling mistakes.

      1. Spartacus Mills

        Re: aaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnndddddddddddddd that's why....

        he also spelled 'and' wrong.

  26. Hairy Scary
    Boffin

    I was called in to look at a printer in one of the offices that was sometimes making intermittent spelling mistakes in documents. The mistakes were either missing spaces, spaces within words or misspelled words.

    I was handed a printout which had a couple of mistakes in it, I had a look at the original document on screen and it was perfect. Hit print and out came the document with spelling mistakes in different places this time!

    Now this was at least 25 years ago, the printer was connected via a printer sharing box to a couple of PCs. The printer was tested in my workshop and proved faultless, the sharing box was replaced as were the connecting leads --- no difference, still random mistakes in some printouts.

    I had noticed that the parallel lead connecting the printer to the sharing box was very long (I had had problems finding a replacement long enough to swap it out), the reason was that the printer had been moved and had needed an extra long lead to reach the box, it was longer than the recommended maximum length for parallel leads, moved the printer down closer to the sharer and used a much shorter lead --- the problem was cured. Turns out the problems had started after the printer had been moved.

    I don't think you would ever get that with modern networked printers so I doubt if that would be the reason for the misteaks in the coonsils let her thoh.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "longer than the recommended maximum length for parallel leads, moved the printer down closer to the sharer and used a much shorter lead --- the problem was cured. Turns out the problems had started after the printer had been moved."

      That's why one of the printer diagnostics tests we used to run was the standard alphanumerical "stair-step" pattern. In the days of parallel port printers, all sort of faults could cause weird printing errors depending on one or more data bit lines being bad or intermittent. Too long leads as you point out, bad solder joints, port switchers, even a failed gate in a buffer chip in the printer. Generally it would be a specific data line which failed and you get, for example AACCEE instead of ABCDE if bit 0 was stuck. Other obvious patterns for other stuck bits which were immediately recognisable after a bit of experience. One time a 50p buffer chip and 20 minutes work saved the company about £600 and probably a week of lost time on a printer repair because we knew what we were doing even if the accounts dept. with the broken printer didn't and were just about to book in a service engineer.

  27. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    The Acme Decision Inverter software needs a reboot

    El Reg, "Quite how the poor old printer was at fault isn’t clear to us. Printers print what they are told to print..."

    Ah, no. Not that simple.

    Some organizations have noted that their leaders make consistently bad decisions. So they quietly install the Acme Decision Inverter software module into their systems, including printers.

    The Decision Inverter does exactly what it says on the tin. It parses text, and inverts the sense of all leadership decisions, directions, and orders. An organization can go from 95% bad decisions to 95% good decisions instantly.

    After a power glitch, the Acme Decision Inverter may get hung up in an oscillating Baudot ASCII EBIDIC mode, that can cause typos.

    Just reboot and it'll be fine.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The Acme Decision Inverter software needs a reboot

      "an oscillating Baudot ASCII EBIDIC mode"

      Nice one. Added to my personal bullshit delivery system dictionary.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds so modern

    I wonder if they are using an excel macro/vba monstrosity birthed through Excel 97 to screen scrape their systems and then spit out a letter? Because theres some gobermint departments doing that for any letter thats created by a human.

  29. The Insuranator

    Classic GIGO

  30. Mage Silver badge

    Tesco flogs customers to AdvantCard

    Tesco pulling their Credit Card service from Ireland.

    One of the AdvantCard letters supposed to be after a Tesco letter, it was a week or more earlier.

    Next AdvantCard letter blames postal service for mixup. How likely are we to trust their customer service.

    Tesco had one of lowest interest rates. AdvantCard has one of highest in Ireland. Regulator approved the move of customers.

    I may have spelled the new card company wrong.

    Everyday lying from BBC, Water Board, Eircom, Three, County Council. Almost every Global company. It's an epidemic. It used to be just politicians and con men,

  31. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Don't you remember last week's On Call? You have to talk softly to the printer and give it a hug.

  32. Sam 15

    Wrong kind of excuse

    Since this is Education, what's wrong with the traditional excuse?

    "Please Sir! A big boy done it and ran away!"

  33. EastFinchleyite

    Responsibilty

    Having been a worker drone that clawed my way up to middle management I know a bit about this subject:

    Responsibility.

    If you send out a letter with your signature at the bottom then you are responsible for all the content of that letter.

    Offloading the menial tasks of typing, printing, copying, emailing or whatever to someone or something else does not relieve you of any of that responsibility. It is in your name; you are responsible. After all, it is what you are paid to do.

    Let's face it, this person f***ed up. Rather than say "Ooops, mea culpa, I was busy." He/she tried to pass off the blame elsewhere. That the issue was about education makes it even worse. An educator displaying literacy problems compounds the problem. It woz not me guv, it woz the printer wot dun it.

    It is a matter of competence.

  34. GIRZiM
    Headmaster

    Is it viral?

    “We’ve been trialling a new IT printing system and a number of mistakes were unfortunately not picked up before this letter was dispatched.”

    Because that's the worst spelling of 'despatch' I've ever seen.

    Is a Beeb employee responsible for that atrocity or was it simply the ongoing issue at DCC?

    If the latter, the Beeb's staff still need to be taught to identify verbatim errors with '[sic]'. Otherwise they just look illiterate themselves and make a mockery of their employer's reputation - which, given that the Beeb is funded by the licence paying public, means all of us (the entire nation).

    1. ChrisElvidge

      Re: Is it viral? dispatch or despatch

      Dictionary.com : dispatch or despatch

      noun: the sending off of a messenger, letter, etc., to a destination.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: dispatch or despatch

      I'm curious now. I've lived in the UK for half a century and I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever seen any suggestion that "despatch" isn't the work of an illiterate. However, some googling would suggest that a number of web-sites are prepared to say that "despatch" is how my fellow countrymen have been spelling it all of these years. I suspect that most of these sites are US-based and prepared to accept that the UK spelling is different without bothering to research the matter, but I can't be certain of that.

      So how many people reading this would write "despatch", where did they learn their English spelling, and when did they learn it?

      1. GIRZiM
        Headmaster

        Re: dispatch or despatch

        http://grammarist.com/spelling/dispatch-despatch

        Most notably:"[despatch] was common in the 19th century and earlier, but dispatch has gained undisputed dominance in modern English."

        In other words, 'dispatch' is a Johnny come lately Americanism and anyone with a proper education (i.e. from before the 1990s) has, instead, been spelling it correctly all these years rather than in the mongrel creole of the colonials ;-P

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: dispatch or despatch

        I'd write "send". With despatch, or with dispatch if I feel like it.

        Since the 1960s and mostly in Scotland.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: dispatch or despatch

        "

        So how many people reading this would write "despatch", where did they learn their English spelling, and when did they learn it?

        "

        "Despatch" was the way I was taught in the 1960's

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public servants

    Some of our best people work in public service and competence is what they're known for best.

    /sarcasm off.

    1. GIRZiM
      Headmaster

      Re: Public servants

      "competence is what they're best known for", if you please ;-)

      Okay, now I'm just being pedantic for the sake of it.

      In fact, I'm not even sure there's any grammatical support for my complaint - so, I might not even be being pedantic either (just anal ;-)

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. Celeste Reinard

    Making wild and passionate love...

    'Those bad at teaching become the managers...'

    I received such a letter recently, it just made my day, with 3 spacing errors, 2 on spelling, added bad grammar, and questionable phrasing - since I am always looking for a candidate for the yearly award I like to dole out, since I had the translation of 'Not in our genes' in my hands, with about 800 spelling errors oveer 300 pages, wrecked phrasing, etc., etc., the total in need of more than 2000 corrections. Done by a certified translator, Marleen Mortelmans - whose name, when misspelled, ends up being 'Martelmens', meaning 'a woman that tortures'. When I asked miss(es) Mortelmans, still active as a translator, for help with some phrases I really couldn't get the meaning off since she might have the original text, she wrote me back that I surely could figure it out myself, having the (english) text with me. ... Right. What was I thinking. To the electronic document I added 2 pages that goes with the 'Omelet' (the name of the award) about the found errors, in 7 categories and 2 subcategories, about how she had 'made wild passionate love' with the translation. At this moment I am at work with 'Wittgenteins Vienna' by Stephen Toulmin (4 times Sören Kierkegaard, once a correct Søren, but we are used to that, poor Søren), and at 10% of the text I found already 90 spacing errors, and 7 typing misers. But since it is 'Boom Publishing', well known for phisolophical texts, no surprises there: they always 'make wid passionate love' when they are 'on the job'.

    1. GIRZiM

      Re: Making wild and passionate love...

      A woman who makes wild passionate love when translating?

      I can only imagine what she's like when she's focussed on the 'job' rather than distracted by translation!

      That sounds like my kind of woman!

      Where has she been all my life?

    2. Diogenes

      Re: Making wild and passionate love...

      Had a spill chucker that always corrected ours PHB's first name , Meredith to Megadeath - not totally inappropriate I might add.

      1. Mark Manderson

        Re: Making wild and passionate love...

        lol you remind me of a skype for business message hastily typed on my work iphone to our T2 helpdeskers needing my intervention (im a T4 clown), guy called Mike, Mikey to his mates, bloody iphone n fat fingers changed Mikey to Monkey.............didnt spot it until after send....DOH

        Now while im a jock and like a laugh (im abusive to workmates i like and respect), wasnt sure how my stateside brethren would, but he was cool with it....(jesus H thank F, "Hey Monkey, Do this!")

        thankfully we are good mates and he saw the ironic funny side to the whole stupid Tiered engineer thing.

  38. Dacarlo

    Not to mention...

    Printing error? Bollocks probably. Pathetic certainly. Perhaps not quite as pathetic as the 'tax' that is now acceptable to pay because a week earlier holiday is vastly cheaper than a week later. It's a bit like the congestion charge. If those levying these 'fines' were truly looking out for kids or congestion, the fines and charges would be astronomical so as to make paying them unthinkable. Hence nothing less than a money generating exercise.

    1. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: Not to mention...

      >Printing error? <

      Not printing error: Printer error. Printers are the people who make printing errors.

  39. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    5 days or 5 weeks?

    The letter says the kid was out of school for 5 weeks, not 5 days...

  40. charlieboywoof
    Alert

    Besides........

    .......the 5 year olds spelling, it does prove the state is your enemy

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having worked...

    ...for a local council in IT this will have gone to the PR department that notoriously know fuck all about IT. They've then clearly made shit up and everyone in IT will be fuming but will have been told to say nothing.

    Then when going to support other departments they'll be whispers in the corridors. Hopefully the IT people will be chatty with others and when asked "was that really the new printer system?" Will say "off the record, no, and we're annoyed they've essentially blamed us"

  42. Richard Pennington 1

    If the Head of Education puts out a letter like that ...

    ... then perhaps the teachers in every school in Devon should set it as an exercise for the kids to correct.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it an equal opportunities employer and dyslectic people should have a chance?

  44. js.lanshark

    And then there is the Spelling Police

    I worked for a military officer who rejected my letter to the commander because a word was misspelled. I asked for clarification because I had checked every word with the dictionary (this was before spell check software).

    He told me the dictionary did not have that spelling. I asked to look at his dictionary. His was a Merriam-Webster Collegiate, mine was a Merriam-Webster Comprehensive. His dictionary didn't have my alternative spelling, so I obviously made a spelling mistake as his dictionary was the One True Source.

    This was one case where size didn't matter as his was definitely smaller than mine.

  45. lesession

    Dawn Stubble's support tickets on the Devon County Council helpdesk are going to be permanently set to lowest priority for a good while ...

  46. Mark Manderson
    Paris Hilton

    ahh that old chestnut.

    It never gets old.......if all else fails, blame tech.

    Someone forgot to tell her, red squiggles in MS Word does not mean you are clever....... /faceplant

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019