A sticky problem with symbols

As a result of having to use two systems of measurement, many in the UK are familiar with neither. Philip Bladon, a regular contributor to MetricViews, draws our attention to yet another example.

Metric owes some of its success to its comprehensive system of symbols to denote units of measurement. This topic was discussed some time ago in a MetricViews article by Martin Vlietstra:

http://www.metricviews.org.uk/2007/07/26/metric-symbols-universal/

We in the UK use symbols for many purposes without a second thought, for example on the keys on our mobile phones. But it seems that the use of abbreviations in measurement is so deeply ingrained, going back in part to the Roman occupation, that the idea of symbols for measurements is something that many in Britain can not grasp.

Philip Bladon writes (and apologies from MetricViews for missing Pancake Day on 24 February):

Lyle’s Golden Syrup
Special Edition Anniversary Tin
PLEASING ON PANCAKES

Tate & Lyle has produced special tins for its Golden Syrup to celebrate its 125th birthday.

You might think that an extra special effort would have been made to ensure that all the things appearing on the tin would be correct.

The T&L website shows the front of the special tins:

http://www.lylesgoldensyrup.com/LylesGoldenSyrup/WhatsNew/default.htm#happylyle

On the back of a tin there’s the inkorrect symbol Kj.

Tate & Lyle have been contacted about this error.  A spokesperson said seven designs were produced and six have been used.

The correct symbol for the unit kilojoule is kJ.

http://www.simetricmatters.com/

And see: A Dictionary Of International Units  Metric-Matters: Names and Symbols

Author: UK Metric Association

For a single, rational system of measurement

40 thoughts on “A sticky problem with symbols”

1. John Frewen-Lord says:

I recently did a bit of an inventory of some of the products that I have currently in my house. I posted this on the USMA blog to show just how metric Britain is (and it is VERY metric – I really had to hunt for ANY items that had an imperial supplementary marking, and found just 4 items so marked, only one of which was a rational imperial measure).

But one thing was noticeable – at least half of the almost 60 prodcuts I listed had an error in their use of SI. Most errors were simply the lack of a space between quantity and unit, but some were more serious (e.g. some wood trim labelled 15mm x 45mm x 2.1M). It seems to me that, while we must applaud the high degree of SI in the things we buy, far too many manufacturers and packagers still lack some basic knowledge of just how metric works.

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2. Shaun says:

Talking about symbols, the letters LB are not used to spell the word pound and it did confuse me before I knew what it ment. Also, I saw an incorrect symbol on the back of a mini-bus. The sticker read ‘this vehicle is limited to 62MPH (100KPH)’. The incorrect symbol was used on something as official as a vehicle marking (the correct symbol for kilometres per hour is km/h as seen on Irish speed limit signs).

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3. It’s not just packaging thats confusing ? we live in a strange country, we have hight restrictions in metres but distances in yards ? use litres for petrol but drive in mph, lorrys are restricted to x-amount km/h yet on the outside the labels say restricted to x-amount mph, and we tell temperatures in celcius in winter but use fahrenheit in summer, unless it’s raining or below 21 degrees celcius ? we weigh babies in lbs & ozs but we use kgs & grammes for body mass index ? still were half way there I just hope we dont have to wait another 44 years ?

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4. Lyles pride themselves on the fact that the golden syrup tin has not changed since they started manufacturing it. It still holds only 454 g of product. Clearly this used to be one pound, but they no longer mark that quantity on the tin. So we have what looks at first glance to be a half kilogram tin, but turns out to be 46 grams short. Isn’t it about time Lyles (and many other manufacturers) came clean and gave us rational metric sizes, instead of these nonsensical imperial hang-overs?

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5. 8 April 2009

Why are some food manufacturers, major supermarkets, and leading stores like B&Q still incapable of always displaying correct symbols?

On the following “FARM FOODS” frozen products:
Cut Leeks 1 kg and Minted Peas 750 g
Instead of the correct symbol “kJ”, there’s the WRONG symbol “kj”.

And in a store today I saw the following WRONG symbols for the kilogram:
“KG”, “KG”, “Kg”, “Kgs”, “kgs”, “kgm”, “kgms”. (The correct symbol is “kg”).

Please don’t attempt to use plurals.
‘3 ms’ means three milliseconds, not three metres.
(If ‘3 ms’ is on a road sign, you could ask the Highway’s Agency what it means).

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6. Mike Dimmick says:

It looks like BT may have recorded the depth of one of their tunnels incorrectly. There’s a big outage in East London as Thames Water have tunnelled through some of BT’s optic fibre. BT are claiming a depth of 32 metres, Telstra say 34 feet, Thames Water say they were digging at 10 metres.

This is engineering – everything’s supposed to be in metres!

Details on the damage: http://noc.enta.net/2009/04/outage-framestream-leased-lines/#comments

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7. Richard Birkby says:

The issue is of importance, but we mustn’t put the cart before the horse. Once a metric changeover is fully completed familiarity will create less tolerance of inaccuracies.

As for non-rational pack sizes there is no need to be over-concerned, since as was mentioned in the previous discussion, if unit pricing is prominent and not craftily hidden, there is nothing to fear and much to gain from complete and exclusive metrication, no matter what the weight or volume of the final package.

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8. Can somebody please expain to me why the highways agency use distance markers saying “m” instead of the correct term which should be “mi”? If anyone coming from a metric country or even the US, they would think we used metres not miles. This has always puzzled me as I drive I have to remind myself they mean miles not metres. Is this a way of saving money when we do change over to km/h & metres?

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9. Martin Vlietstra says:

Lee Kelly asked why the highway agency uses “m” instead of “mi” for miles?

Accoding to EU directive 80/181/EEC and also a now depricated part of ISO 31, the highway agency should be using “mile” (and not “mi” as suggested by Lee).

However it seems that the writers of the TSRGD 2002 which requires the use of “m” rather than “mile” had a cavalier disregard of their legal obligations under the EU directive. Although miles, yards, feet and inches are permitted on UK road signs, the directive states that the legal symbols shall be “mile”, “yd”, “ft” and “in” respectively (in accordance with ISO 31 as it was at the time). However, the government have seen fit to hijack the symbol “m” for “miles”, (it is reserved for metres) and to hijack the single and double apostrophes for feet and inches even though they have been reserved for minutes and seconds of arc respectively.

Furthermore, even though the TSRGD 2002 permits the use of “t” for tonnes, I have yet to see it in use in the UK – all new signs still use “T”, the symbol for the tesla.

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10. Another inkorrect symbol:

“Rocky” a mightier biscuit produced by Fox’s Biscuits, West Yorkshire, UK

See link: http://www.foxs-biscuits.co.uk/
Biscuit range and under “Nutritional Information”

The energy unit symbol shown on the website and on the wrapper is wrong “KJ”
The company have been contacted again: careline@foxs-biscuits.co.uk

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11. Ezra Steinberg says:

A email correspondent whom I read wrote recently:

“On 1/1/2010, Imperial loses its status as a “supplementary indication”.. IMO, that doesn’t mean that it is forbidden from appearing (as long as the metric measure is primary)”

Can someone clarify what is meant by Imperial losing its status as a supplementary indication? Is this in fact accurate (and in what sense)?

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12. J Gabrielczyk says:

People use what they feel comfortable with and I suggest that the vast majority of the population of this country consider that abbreviations for weights and measures are there to serve them, not the other way round, so they will continue to comfortably interchange upper and lower case letters in descriptions.

It is distinctly unpalatable to have something forced down one’s throat “for one’s own good”. While it is most certainly easier to make calculations using a decimal system and the metre and litre are useful, centimetres and centilitres are awkward as they end up being stated in high numbers in to describe orders of length and volume frequently used in day-to-day life.

Of course it takes time to get used to anything new and on the continent people have no problem at all in buying in decagrammes, but to my mind the imperial ounce has a ‘human’ feel to it. It is a very useful unit, as is the pound and the foot. I can visualise an area in acres far better than one in ares, not because I am more used to acres, but because it is the area one man can plough in a day (assuming he and his horse are up to it).

There is no stopping metrication but there is no need to make imperial measures illegal. The concept of such action is actually quite bizarre.

If people can put the name of their product on packaging why shouldn’t they put an imperial measure on it too? If the metric description uses an upper case character instead of a lower case one, what is the problem? People will still understand.

‘ and ” represent feet/minutes of arc and inches/seconds of arc. Potential confusion is dispelled by context, else we would need to ban words like the word “jack” which have more than one meaning.

A far, far greater problem lies in integration of the European Community’s symbol for the decimal notation.

Imperial measures will no longer lose their status as supplementary indication on 1/1/2010 – which personally I find to be a good thing.

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13. Philip says:

Tesco are still getting it wrong.

In 2011 I wrote to Tesco’s new Chief Executive, Philip Clarke making yet another attempt to get the company’s own labels to always show the correct symbol for the kilogram. I attached to my letter examples of labels where the wrong symbol ‘Kg’ was next to ‘kg’. I also pointed out that the response received from Customer Service at the Redditch store wasn’t very helpful, the initial reaction was ” ‘Kg’ is correct “.
I received a formal reply from Frances Hickling (Executive Response Manager) stating ‘I am confident that Tesco own-brand product labels use the correct SI units’.
She failed to say ‘correct SI unit symbols’.

Today when I visited the Redditch store I saw this problem still exists.
Look at the labels printed out and fixed on small blocks of cheese.
One example is: Blue Stilton (bar code: 0 212299 001419)
Unit price symbol ‘£/kg’ and Actual Weight ‘0.218 Kg’.

I spoke to a manager in the store named Marc, he also thought the correct symbol was ‘Kg’. I challenged him to try and get this very long standing problem fixed.

The next time you are in Tesco look carefully at the labels that are printed out; you’ll probably see ‘Kg’ and ‘kg’ in different places on the label.

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14. michduncg says:

I’m just happy that they are using a metric measurement anyway. I am also surprised (but impressed) that Tesco official used the wording SI. It never occurs to me to, and I consider myself a metric advocate! Ref the labels: they will be set up on a system at Cheshunt HQ which individual branches will not be able to alter.

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15. John Steele says:

Do your labelling laws not specify the required form of symbols (for metric) and abbreviations (for supplemental Imperial)? US law usually requires dual, but the forms are specified with “these and no other” language including case, periods, and plurals. Quoting from text of the law on the USMA site:
§ 500.22 Abbreviations.

The following abbreviations and none other may be employed in the required net quantity declaration:
Inch–in.
Feet or foot–ft.
Fluid–fl.
Liquid–liq.
Ounce–oz.
Gallon–gal.
Pint–pt.
Pound–lb.
Quart–qt.
Square–sq.
Weight–wt.
Yard–yd.
Avoirdupois–avdp.
Cubic–cu.

Note: Periods and plural forms shall be optional.

§ 500.23 Expression of net quantity of contents in SI Metric units.

(a) The selected multiple or submultiple prefixes for SI metric units shall result in numerical values between 1 and 1000, except that centimeters or millimeters may be used where a length declaration is less than 100 centimeters. For example, “1.96 kg” instead of “1960 g” and “750 mL” instead of “0.75 L”.

(b) The following symbols for SI metric units and none others may be employed in the required net quantity declaration:

centimeter–cm
cubic centimeter–cm³
cubic decimeter–dm³
meter–m
milligram–mg
liter–L or l
milliliter–mL or ml
square decimeter–dm²
cubic meter–m³
kilogram–kg
micrometer–µm
gram–g
millimeter–mm
square meter–m²
square centimeter–cm³

Note: Symbols, except for liter, are not capitalized. Periods should not be used after the symbol. Symbols are always written in the singular form.
(end of quote)

(The wording is a little clumsy as the original law only covered US Customary, it was amended to require dual in 1992; however, it clearly distinguishes between Customary abbreviations and metric (SI) symbols, and differences in their respective rules.)

This does not completely prevent mistakes, but it provides a quotable law which makes it difficult for a noncompliant manufacturer to claim there is no error.

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16. Mary says:

John’s comment above:
A query, what about enforcement in the USA?
If a label or packaging is wrong, even slightly wrong, whose job is it to enforce the law for this kind of thing?
If ‘ML’ is shown on a small container to indicate the volume of contents in millilitres (NOT megalitres) would any action be taken to ensure the mistake is corrected to show ‘mL’ or ‘ml’?

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17. John Steele says:

@Mary,

I’m not 100% sure. I think NIST leaves enforcement to state weights and measure inspectors. However, consumers are free to write in, quote the law, and complain. The manufacturer has little ground to stand on and will usually change, perhaps not promptly, but eventually. I have availed myself of this option a few times. At least on enforcement being at the state level (for retail), I think this would be similar to your local TSOs. Federal inspection would be at the manufacturer’s or distributor’s location, not retail.

I will say most enforcement is aimed at actual short measure and deceptive practices, not minor technical issues. At most, it would be a warning, and probably not even that for errors that are just stupid, not deceptive. (it’s wrong, but what else could Kgs. mean in context of net contents, Kelvin-gram-seconds are just not a logical unit of commerce.)

If the law is precise, most manufacturers will read it and be careful to comply. NIST did a study in support of permissive-metric-only and found quite a number of counterexamples, but they were mostly imports, and NIST was wrong on some. They counted as (illegal) metric-only net contents some examples where the metric was descriptive, and the net contents was a count (6 mm beads, pens with 0.5 mm tip, etc). I’m sure there was no enforcement in those cases, as their point was that a metric-only label would not cause the world to end.

The most common errors I see in the US are:
*No space between number and unit. When the unit is grams, this may be more common than doing it correctly based on examples in my cupboard.
*Decimal dust: For the metric, only three significant figures are allowed. The rules for the Customary are a bit different. Several manufacturers get confused by the rules conflict and express the metric to 4 significant figures.
*Contrast: In some cases, color contrast is inadequate at the minimum font size (vs label size). This is usually a white character with thin black outline on a light background. Black at the same size would be readable. I’m not sure if they are trying to be too “pretty” or to obfuscate.

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18. Philip says:

More from Tesco:
Tesco isn’t bothered by using wrong and inaccurate SI symbols.
Tesco isn’t interested in correcting these mistakes.
In a letter dated 5 Sept 2012 from the Chief Executive’s Office, Frances Hickling states:
“As advised in my previous correspondence, we understand the importance of accurate quantity unit descriptions especially for on-pack statements which are legally required and form part of our contract with the customer.
However, whilst we appreciate that in some instances a capital letter may be used incorrectly, we do not believe our customers could ever be misled. Therefore, we do not feel it would be necessary to adjust our product labels.”

Marc, the Tesco manager mentioned above, and some other Tesco staff are misled in thinking that the correct symbol for the kilogram is ‘Kg’.

I wonder how many others, for example children, are misled when they see inKorrect symbols like: ‘Kg’, ‘Km’, ‘KJ’, and ‘KW’.

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19. Ezra Steinberg says:

Tesco sounds pretty backwards to me!

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20. Jackthesmilingblack says:

Guy, you surely realise that you’re swimming against the tide in trying to get Luddite UK to fully convert to metric measurements, or even eliminate abbreviation errors. Therefore, rather than keep banging your head against a wall, relocate to a country/region where metrication has been full implemented. Spoilt for choice I venture to suggest. However, it’s doubtful that you will find such a region without a few exceptions (as example, tyre sizes), but at least it will not be the Imperial-metric mishmash you face at present.
Sounds extreme I realise, but two incompatible measurements systems in use concurrently is symptomatic of the muddled, backward thinking that prevails in today’s UK. You may not be quite ready to fly the coop, however I suggest the current measurement mishmash is worthy of a Top 10 Ranking on your, “Emigrate, reasons to” list.
Jack, Japan Alps

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21. BrianAC says:

@Jackthesmilingblack
Yes, I agree with this in the most part. Having travelled the world for over 40 years I know this is not the place I want to be, but it is home to me and my family, and now I get a pension instead of paying tax it kind of feels a bit better. I returned from France when they (or I began noticing) started using ‘pouces’ for TV screen sizes, somehow that really got at me, my favourite hate.
Don’t be put off though, the hope is one day that tide may turn or the wall may just come tumbling down. We have to keep at it even if only to know we have some like minded sensible people out there!
Of course it will have to change at some point, I just hoped it would be sooner rather than later.
Happy New Year, 2013 may be the year.

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22. Peter says:

Congratulations to Birmingham Trading Standards with their case:
‘Retail giant, Tesco Stores Limited, has been fined £300,000 following a prosecution by Birmingham City Council about misleading the public on a ‘half price’ offer regarding punnets of strawberries’; LINK:
http://birminghamnewsroom.com/2013/08/tesco-fined-300k-for-strawberry-offer/

Now consider: [Comment above 2012-09-08]
Tesco still refuses to get all its symbols correct; see:
https://metricviews.org.uk/2009/04/metric-abbreviations-abuse/
Scroll down to: Comments 2012-09-08

A member of the public asked Tesco to correct its ‘Kg’ labelling mistake, this request has been unsuccessful. Perhaps now is a good time to alert Birmingham Trading Standards department about this particular matter. Birmingham’s TS was not afraid to ‘take on the giant’.

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23. Jackthesmilingblack says:

If/when you want to catch out those Liberal Arts Muppets, ask them to convert 10 square kilometres into square miles.

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24. Mary says:

Royal Mail’s inkorrect symbol on printed stamps!

When a parcel is taken to a UK Post Office, there may be a self service facility where, after the item has been weighed, and the postage paid, then a stamp is printed out.
The stamp is then stuck on the parcel.

This stamp (sorry no image is available) has an inkorrect symbol on it (Kg).
I complained at my local Post Office; I’ll also send a complaint to Royal Mail Customer Services.

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25. Mary says:

This is the reply from Royal Mail.
++++++++
From: customerservice@your.royalmail.com
Subject: RE: COMPLAINT/Error on printed stamps
Thanks for contacting Royal Mail.
I’m sorry I’m unable to provide assistance with your enquiry as it relates to Post Office®.
All enquiries and complaints relating to their services are handled by them.
I have provided their contact details below so you can contact them directly:
Email: customercare@postoffice.co.uk
Telephone: 03456 112 970
Caroline Alder
Customer Service Advisor
+++++++++++
So, who is responsible in the UK for producing stamps, is it Royal Mail, or is it The Post Office?

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26. Mary says:

An update from Royal Mail:
” Royal Mail produces the stamps and we supply them to the Post Office Blank. It is the Post Office that is responsible for the wording on the stamps not Royal Mail.
For this issue to be resolved please contact the Post Office.
Regards
Rhys Owen (Customer Service Advisor) ”
++++++++
I’m waiting for a reply from the Post Office.

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27. Mary says:

This the reply that has been received from Shirley Ledson, a Customer Service Advisor – Customer Care at The Post Office.
“Thank you for your email. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The upper case K was implemented as a standard weight format by the company who issued the Post Office Horizon System. I recognise, as you correctly point out, that this should be displayed as a lower case kg. ”
“The Post Office and Royal Mail recognise that this refers to the weight of an item and that despite this grammatical error, this does not have a negative impact on the service we provide. As we do not document the temperature of our items and there has been no issue caused to our customers by this small oversight, this is not a mistake the Post Office feel would be a priority to correct.”
+++++
Is writing the wrong symbol a ‘grammatical error ‘?
And readers can comment about her reference to temperature!
+++++

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28. BrianAC says:

@ Mary, 2017-02-23 at 18:24

The reference to temperature is that K = Kelvin, so quite clearly the ‘mistake’ is known and its implications fully understood. Full marks to whomever on that one.
However, to then defend the error as a ‘small oversight’ is not so good.
A grammatical error? Well, its more like just pure laziness.

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29. Philip says:

With reference to Mary’s comments above about the Post Office’s Horizon System:-
CONTINUED USE OF AN INKORRECT SYMBOL …
Recently I visited my local Post Office and sent a large letter using the Post Office’s International Track + Sign method …
On the receipt it showed ‘Weight 0.137 Kg’.

I’ve emailed a complaint about this error to customercare@postoffice.co.uk.
The staff at the post office are always polite and helpful; the problem is with the system they must use.

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30. Philip says:

The Post Office’s system is still producing this error.

Receipts still show the inkorrect symbol ‘Kg’.
In December 2017 I was informed:
“ I do assure you we are looking at how and when we can change the ‘Kg’ symbol printed on postage labels. The change will require full testing to ensure the change doesn’t impact on the integrity of the printed labels and whilst I can’t give you any definite timescales at this time, this is something we are taking forward under our current review of this aspect of the mails service provided in branch. ”
This response came from Donna Alder, (in the Office of the Group Chief Executive, Post Office Ltd.) [Email: flagcaseadvisor@postoffice.co.uk]
++++++
The problem is on receipts and on printed postage labels.

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31. Philip says:

The Post Office’s inkorrect symbol ‘Kg’.

This is the latest information from Kelly Tolhurst MP, the Minister for Small Business, Consumers & Corporate Responsibility. She is responsible for the Post Office in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
She says
+=+=+=
“ I should explain that while the Government sets the strategic parameters for the Post Office, it allows Post Office Ltd, the commercial freedom to operate as an independent business. As such, the Government does not play a role in the day-to-day operational responsibilities of the company, including ensuring that the symbols are displayed correctly.

However, my officials have asked Post Office Ltd for further information on this matter. ”
“The Post Office have developed the necessary software fix for the ‘kg’ symbol, and that this has been tested successfully in the test environment. This change will be rolled out in due course as part of routine software releases but, prior to this, the changes will need to be thoroughly tested alongside other system changes. The Post Office cannot yet provide a specific date for when this process will be completed but have assured my officials that the Post Office is committed to fixing this problem and the necessary fix. ”
“ In the meantime, any further concerns should be raised directly with the Post Office, since this matter falls under the operational responsibility of the company.”
+=+=+=
** How much longer do they need to sort out this problem – that should never have been allowed to happen – when the Horizon Computer system was introduced many years ago.

** What are these strategic parameters?

** Why does the Government allow the Post Office the commercial freedom to operate as an independent business, without proper oversight?

The next time you visit a UK Post Office and see:
(i) a printed label stamp with the inkorrect symbol ‘Kg’, please complain about it.
(ii) a printed receipt with the inkorrect symbol ‘Kg’, please complain about it.
THANKS.
It is not Royal Mail’s fault – it is clearly a Post Office system failure.

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32. BrianAC says:

@ Philip says: 2018-10-20 at 08:56

Getting a positive response at all is a huge step forward. Well done! Once the seed is planted it does seem to spread albeit rather slowly.
I do wonder though how much testing is required changing a letter from Upper case to lower case, hopefully in checking some auto correcting software does not re-capitalise it. I had to explicitly disable software that kept changing things, the main problem was when a lower case letter precedes an upper case (i.e. kW). Spell checking is useful, if not essential, but auto correct can be a real pain.

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33. Charlie P says:

What is the point in being pedantic about this when the system is impossible to comply with in all cases, especially when (as with the Royal Mail example) the result is not ambiguous? We need some flexibility as some printers and other “printing” technologies (stencils, transfers, Dymos, etc.) cannot output lower case, or the various other non-A-Z Greek characters or superscript as stipulated by the SI. “KG” and “KM” are commonly used as is “KM/H” or even “KPH” and “MCG” and “OHMS”.

Better, I think, to lobby for a more user-friendly system, and perhaps then it will also be better received.

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34. Jake says:

Charlie P.

What may appear to be nothing more than ‘little mistakes of no value’ do add up. You see that in other areas of life too. But it’s the cumulative effect of all those ‘little mistakes’ that bothers me. The replies from various bodies above over the years seem to suggest that letting these ‘little mistakes’ through as no one is likely to be misled may be true on a very local and parochial level, but is that the way a nation should operate? If everyone agrees to misspell a word, to take another example, does the misspelling become the new correct spelling? A word that comes to mind is ‘accommodation’, which for many years, decades even, was almost invariably spelt with only one ‘m’ by people who put up signs in guest houses. Now they seem to have learnt the correct spelling as I don’t see it misspelt any more. Or perhaps a new, better educated generation of guest-house keepers has taken over. What is the way forward other than to point the errors out? I would settle for abolishing imperial from public life and continuing to sort out the errors as we go along, but there is a difference between that and your suggestion that metric should be made more ‘user-friendly’, which I can only interpret as meaning that all errors should be accommodated.

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35. BrianAC says:

The phrase ‘user friendly’ usually means ‘dumbing down so no one can really understand it’, that way the blame game is nicely evaded.
Multi nationals do not usually use a (mechanical) Dymo machine to print lables. Any machine that cannot print upper and lower case letters is hardly a worthy investment for any viable company, nor in deed a household these days. The point on special characters is however a different matter.
The more basic problem is one of a sloppy, couldn’t care less attitude that seems to be the modern ‘norm’. Just how far that is allowed to take over our lives is a red line we each have to fight over.
Get it right, do it once and avoid any hassle for eternity.

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36. Philip says:

Reference to: Philip 2018-10-20
News about those ‘ STRATEGIC PARAMETERS ‘
In a very lengthy reply from U.Fatania in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Ministerial Correspondence Unit …
here is the section that deals with Strategic Parameters
+++
” … To answer your question on what the strategic parameters for the Post Office are, these are stipulated in the Entrustment Letter, a copy of which can be accessed at the below link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data /file/504396/Cabinet_Office_Guidance_on_correspondence_-_March_2016.pdf
Overall, the principal objectives the Government set are: i) To maintain a national network of post office branches beyond its optimal commercial size as detailed in the Entrustment Letter. A specific minimum branch threshold of 11,500 is specified by the Secretary of State in the Funding Agreement; ii) in so doing, meet the minimum access requirements detailed in the Entrustment Letter; and iii) provide this network of branches to make available the Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) detailed in Annex A of the Entrustment Letter. In delivering its objectives, the Shareholder expects Post Office Ltd to operate under sound commercial and financial principles, and in accordance with all applicable law, seeking to deploy its capital, brand and products as a responsible commercial operator and manage risk to deliver positive financial returns, notwithstanding the network requirements. …. ”
+++
That link above ASSETS.PUBLISHING.SERVICE will take you to a document
” HANDLING CORRESPONDENCE FROM MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS, MEPs AND MEMBERS OF DEVOLVED ADMINISTRATIONS – GUIDANCE FOR DEPARTMENTS – CABINET OFFICE ”
It has 12 pages.
It includes the paragraph ” 14. Departments must ensure that:
(i) all replies to letters from MPs are of the highest quality – accurate, clear and helpful.
(ii) every effort is made to reply promptly and in line with departments’ own published standards for answering ministerial correspondence. ”

Next time you go into a Post Office – you might remember reading about strategic parameters and the Entrustment Letter! In that Cabinet Office document I failed to see the Entrustment Letter. Something which someone else might like to follow up.
+++
” Any questions specifically on this guidance should be addressed to:
Parliamentary & Correspondence Team Cabinet Office 70 Whitehall London SW1A 2AS Telephone: 020 7276 0527 ”
+++

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37. Bodrules says:

@BrianAC – With respect to the testing, the change to the symbol will be released a part of a software update package, therefore all the other components of the change have to be tested before the update is released into the wild (see various Windows snafus when this process falls over).

So, the symbol change may be simple, or indeed it may not. As it could have adverse effects on software it will be part of, or those changed pieces of software may interact with other bits of software, that may cause an issue.

But regardless, all the other components of the package have to be tested as well.

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38. Philip says:

Entrustment Letter (The Post Office) see above 2018-11-09.
Now somewhat off topic – however I’ve been assured this is the correct link:-
link:

Provided by: Elizabeth Hennessy at the
BEIS MINISTERIAL CORRESPONDENCE UNIT

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39. Philip says:

Tesco – an update – they are still getting it wrong.
I rarely do any shopping at Tesco; at their main store in Redditch, I recently noticed:
(i) some shelf labels had the inkorrect symbol ‘Kg’
(ii) a brand of cheese ‘Creamfields’ EXCLUSIVELY AT TESCO; this had a label on it –
the inkorrect: ‘4.43 £/Kg’ ; and the correct: ‘1.154kg weight’

[It’s too much to expect them to include a space between the number and the symbol
(1.154 kg)]

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40. Daniel Jackson says:

Philip,

1.154 kg is a strange size. Why not just 1 kg?

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