Sparky Communication

Transactional Writing – Making the Meaning Clear

I’m sure it is clear to any readers of this blog that I am opposed to English SPaG SATs as they are not usefully connected to the teaching and learning of writing.

However, I am no slouch when it comes to criticising poor writing, and as English teachers we obviously have a responsibility to help all of our students become effective communicators in all linguistic modes.

So here is a task for year 9 English and beyond, probably a GCSE transactional writing challenge.

When I rang the customer service number today of the company that emailed me the piece that follows, I pointed out their communication was poorly written and indeed intimidating as it was telling me my electricity meters needed to be physically removed from my house as I was switching supplier. You’ll imagine the conversation that followed when the person I was speaking to claimed they had personally written it, especially as they claimed its meaning was clear.

The task is to present the ‘communication’ as it is, with the instruction for students to discuss and then re-write so it is clear and meaningful. Areas of particular note for clarification are:

• the supply that is monitored by the meters is being ‘taken back’, rather than the meters themselves
• the expression ‘take back’ needs amending and improving
• the missing word in the paragraph beginning ‘Please be advised…’ needs to be extrapolated from the intended sense and inserted, with appropriate follow-on
• the paragraph beginning ‘Once you meter…’ needs an entire correction so that it is accurate and meaningful

Task 1 resource:

Dear                             ,

We hope you are well.

We have been advised by your new supplier that they wish for us to take back the meters at your property that you switched to them, the meter they will be sending back has the MPAN 22xxx19111xxx with the meter serial number 67xxxx8.

Please be advised that there are two meters at your property and some companies are unable to support just one of these meters on their and therefore they need to supply both the meters at your property.

Once you meter that you switch is back with us you are more than welcome to stay with, you are also more than welcome to switch again with both meters.

If you have any further questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards

Customer Service Team

As an extension activity, and to provide a more comic look at transactional/formal writing, the following email, again received today from the supplier I am meant to be switching to [or thought I had as indicated so on the 8th April], can be explored as an example of entirely euphemistic, but perhaps equally meaningless writing. The task would be to write a similar customer service email that reassures a client without offering a single concrete piece of detail.

Task 2 resource

Hello                    ,

Just to keep you updated on your switch, everything is still under review but moving in the right direction and will all fall into place within the next couple of weeks!

Kind Regards

The Energy Team

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