The Large Print Giveth, But The Small Print Taketh Away.

I like words. Some would say that I just like the sound of my own voice, but I actually think I’ve got a horrible, nasal-sounding voice and most foreigners upon hearing me speak think that I come from Liverpool. But Canadians seem to love my voice though, so it’s not all bad. What I like about words is the wonderful way that, when woven together well, they can inspire, delight, inform and ignite inert passions.

Apart from occasionally having to refuse to apologise to people with a low IQ for using ’big words’, I enjoy my knowledge of words and understanding of language. However, as much as I like words and dislike the sound of my own voice, what I hate even more than when American’s bastardise (ize?) the English language then force it onto our spell checkers, is the deliberate redefining of meaning that professional liars and cheats use to completely bamboozle people.

Sometimes linguistic bamboozling happens semi-accidentally, like in football when ‘cheating’ is replaced by the term ‘simulation’, or ‘playing for it’ when pundits don’t want to offend any of their fellow professionals, so skirt around the issue that a six foot tall professional athlete dived like a little bitch even though he was hardly touched. Then there are those harmless ones which are open to interpretation, such as a ‘live’ TV recording, which isn’t exactly live as it happens because there is a delay, but it was live when it was recorded – much like the CGI scenes in Transformers or The Avengers… WHICH MEANS IT ISN’T LIVE IS IT!

I used to work with some of the least fortunate members of society, which means that a lot of them were what you could call a ‘bit thick’. Professionally we would say they have ‘ADHD’, ‘dyslexia’ or even just ‘learning difficulties’; we may even say that they have ‘issues’. But in private we used expressions like ‘that little fucking idiot’. This was really unfair in a lot of cases, because I’ve worked alongside some people who were ‘professional colleagues’ who had terms like ‘manager’, ‘executive’ and ‘officer’ attached to their working titles, and these people were well educated and particularly fortunate to be holding the position that they were in because they are what you would call ‘fucking stupid’; but that isn’t my point here. My point is the continual con of semantic trickery to which those with limited intelligence and/or weak vocabularies are subjected to on a daily basis – elderly people who’s minds aren’t that quick anymore; young people who didn’t pay attention in school; young people who did pay attention in school but went to a shit school; people who volunteer to go on The Jeremy Kyle Show’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Snog, Marry Avoid’; most professional footballers and people who do art degrees. But in honesty, we all suffer from this legally binding linguistic skulduggery.

Language mutates and evolves all the time, and this is normal, but it’s the deliberate sophistry and obfuscation that is used by politicians, ‘spin-doctors’, and particularly within corporate terms and conditions to which we legally bind ourselves by way of contractual agreement, which I utterly despise. Insurance companies are amongst the worst culprits of this semantic trickery. They’ll try anything to get out of paying up; this after all of their advertising painting a picture of them as the patron saints of payouts. I’ve had my fair share of wrangling with insurance companies and they are robbing bastards. They call it ‘the small print’, but it wouldn’t be small if they weren’t hiding it. The legal people call it ‘Legalese’; well how the fuck can it be legal and binding if it’s in Legalese and not the plain English you signed up for (twats). They blame the annual rise in premiums on bogus claims, but in reality the basis of their whole industry is a con.

“Hi there, can I interest you in my lies?”

You insure yourself against accidents, yet when you have an accident your insurance premium goes up. Ok, that’s the annual gamble you sign up for, and for the most part the insurance company takes your stake. The principal is that those thousands of unclaimed stakes that accumulate go into a big investment pot that is used to pay for those accidents when they do happen. But if I pay to have my no claims bonus protected, I am by the laws of the English language paying a fee in order to have my no claims bonus protected, right? Well apparently not. Apparently the words ‘no claims bonus protected’ don’t actually mean that once they’ve passed through the semantic meat grinder of the insurance industry.

Apparently ‘no claims bonus’ is actually a single ‘term’. It is like an apple, or a pair of jeans or a pet dog – ‘no claims bonus’ is an entity separate from the individual components or even the sum parts of what the words actually mean. The ‘terms’ – ‘no claims bonus’ and ‘no claims bonus protection’ – are additional ‘products’ you buy with your policy apparently. A ‘no claims bonus’ reduces the cost of your policy, however if you do make a claim then the value that this product takes off your policy renewal price is reduced. What your ‘no claims bonus protection’ does is reduce the amount that the ‘no claims bonus’ reduction is reduced by in the event of the claim… sorry if you are choking on your tongue or have suddenly got a headache. Suffice to say that this is utterly misleading bullshit.

When a lady from an insurance company spun this linguistic yarn I said; “You’re a lying little fucking c**t.”

The lady replied; “Sir I’m not going to tolerate that language and if you continue to be abusive I am going to terminate this call.” Taking her literally I asked.
“Are you the Arnie version from the 80’s or that 1990’s liquid metal version from T2?”
She replied, “Sir, I will end this call if you continue to use offensive language”
I asked; “What do you mean? I simply said that I was very grateful for your help and I hope you have a pleasant evening…” She interrupted before I finished.
“No you didn’t, you… you… you know what you said.”
“What did I say?” I asked
“I’m not going to repeat it.” She replied.
I said “Well I think that we must have a problem with interpretation here because when I say ‘you’re a lying little fucking c**t’ I actually mean ‘thanks for your help and I hope you have a pleasant evening” [a long pause] “Hello. Hello…”
The line was dead – or should I say ‘terminated’.

If a no claims bonus is a product, then call it something like ‘A Reducer’, or a ‘Claim Killer’ or ‘Alan’ – don’t call it a ‘no claims bonus’ because people will naturally think that you have received a bonus by way of a discount for not claiming on your insurance. Furthermore, if you have paid to have your no claims bonus protected but in reality have only paid for a product called ‘no claims protection’, then call that product something different, like ‘Super Bonus Protectorizer’ or ‘Cararmourerer’.

I had a motor insurance policy with Tesco and was unfortunate enough to crash into the back of a very expensive Aston Martin. Unlucky, but that’s the gamble the insurers take, right? Wrong; the bastards sent out an investigator then fabricated a story implicating me in some kind of scam with the driver of the Aston Martin. They didn’t even tell me that they were abandoning my claim, I only found this out when the court papers started coming directly to me with my name as the defendant.  Fortunately I’m a fairly intelligent individual and I had flexibility in my working hours, so I managed to evade a claim in excess of £28k and Tesco Insurance ultimately withdrew their withdrawal of my cover and had to pay out to the Aston Martin driver. I received a cheque of £150 for my trouble and decided from that point to tread very carefully with those tricky bastards in the finance industry. It’s a pity the government didn’t!

The moral of this blog is twofold: 1) Insurers and people in the finance industry are not to be trusted 2) Learn to understand your own language so you can recognise when it’s being used to fuck you.

Have a nice day.

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