20 November 2010


In recent weeks, I have noticed an advertisement emblazoned on the backs of many Sheffield buses. It's for "Plusnet" a South Yorkshire based broadband provider who have been enlarging their niche in this lucrative market. Their headline slogan is "We Won't Be Beat on Price" which is of course grammatically incorrect. As a (former?) English teacher and lifelong pedant, this slogan grew to irritate me so much that I fired off a complaint to the company. Here it is:-

I wish to make a strong complaint about the slogan recently adopted by Plusnet and emblazoned, for example, on the backs of many Sheffield buses, namely - "We won't be beat on price". This is grammatically incorrect. The slogan should read: "We won't be beaten on price". This blatant error gives a very bad message to school children who are still learning to develop their literacy skills and it also begs this question - if Plusnet cannot produce grammatically acceptable slogans how can potential customers possibly believe that Plusnet will get their phone and broadband services right? N.B. I would be most grateful if you could pass this legitimate complaint up along the chain of command and not simply ignore it. Thank you.

A gentleman from the company at least took the time and trouble to respond to my complaint. Here's their response:-
Dear Mr Yorkshire Pudding,
Whilst we take your feedback on board, we're trying to get our Yorkshire heritage across, hence the colloquial use of the English language.
Our campaign aims to show some of the positive values associated with Yorkshire that we feel are also true of Plusnet. I am sorry to hear you feel offended by this.
I hope my explanation helps clarify matters.
Thomas South
PlusNet Customer Support

Naturally, I couldn't let Plusnet have the last word so a follow-up complaint was fired off from my bunker this morning:-
Dear Mr South,
Thank you for taking the time and the trouble to respond to my complaint about your "Won't be beat on price" advertisement.
As a proud Yorkshireman myself, I am afraid I cannot see how grammatical inaccuracy in any way reflects my Yorkshire heritage. In my view, your slogan represents a dumbing down of the English language and as I suggested before simply reinforces a typical mistake that teachers have to address every day in our schools. It is an error born out of many children's inability to easily distinguish between the spoken word and the written word.
I guess we will have to beg to differ on this. If your ad had said something that was very obviously colloquial such as "Ee by gum...Plusnet! They're reght ont price", I would have had no complaint whatsoever and I think most Yorkshire folk would have seen the point of the oral connectivity.
Yours sincerely,
Yorkshire Pudding (Sir)

So that's Yorkshire Pudding 2 Plusnet 1 and you dear readers can now finally see what an annoying fellow I really am. What do you think? Are there healthier ways in which I should be spending my time? "I Won't Be Beaten on Ranting!"


  1. I don't want to be a pedant, (call social services!) but shouldn't you say borne out instead of born out?

  2. I'm totally with you on this one , Pud.

  3. MICHAEL - "Borne out" or "borne out of" suggests that proof or justification is involved.
    "Born out" or "born out of" suggests the idea of a birth - hence children's inability to distinguish between rules for speech and writing has given birth to this particular error.
    HELSIE & JENNY What a relief! I thought I was going mad!

  4. Elizabeth.7:44 am

    As one who has more than once been on the receiving end of your pedantic insistence in matters linguistical, I can quite imagine the feeling of desolate inadequacy that deluged the office of Plusnet upon receipt of your missive. However, even an illiterate retard such as I am can fully appreciate the correctness of your opposition, upon this occasion. Well done, citizen Pudding. It puts me in mind of that other well known commercial enterprise that started out life as 'Stationary Box'. x

  5. I love your picky bitchiness. And, as a typographer, would like to point out that punctuation goes inside the quotes at the end of a sentence. Like "this."

  6. Forgive Jan Blawat, Lord Pudding, for she knows not what she does.

    In the U.S., commas and periods go inside the double quote marks; semi-colons go outside the double quote marks. In the U.K., however, commas and periods go outside the double quote marks.

    Logically, it makes more sense (to me) for the punctuation to go outside the double quote marks. I don't know why the convention in the U.S. is to do it the other way.

  7. Elizabeth.9:09 am

    Jan, I was taught that they went inside, but then when I saw how YP did it, I convinced myself that I must have heard wrong and changed my way of doing it!!

  8. In fine typography the rules are a tad different than they are for a typed manuscript, I think. I get manuscripts all the time with punctuation in the wrong place or used inconsistently. I just run it through my marvelous little search and replace file and purify it. It also takes out double spaces after periods and turns double dashes into long dashes. The worst manuscripts come from people who have PhDs. They assume that their education allows them to make their own rules. They obviously did not have an English prof like YP.

  9. JAN As my learned friend Professor Brague of Canton University, Georgia correctly points out, "rules" for punctuation vary between the USA and the UK. You also correctly indicated that typographical accuracy is sometimes at odds with those rules. "WE WON'T BE BEAT ON PUNCTUATION!"

  10. Your readers won't be beat on punctuation, will they?

  11. PlusNet is owned by BT that well-known Yorkshire Telecom giant...

    Lee Strafford, Sheffield Wednesday's former chairman/Walter Mitty sold the company years ago- he was then forcibly removed from the board- can't think why...

    Plusnet is about as Yorkshire as jellied eels- 'so tell 'em to sod of wi thi bleedin' patronisin' advert.'

  12. Beat them to a bloody pulp! I am also a stickler for proper grammar. I do commit an occasional error, but not intentionally, as Plusnet apparently did - or not?


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.