Two common-sense reasons for using plain English in your business

Eleanor Meecham | July 22, 2015

Here at Write, we spend plenty of time explaining why plain English is a good idea. But sometimes we don’t have to. Sometimes our customers come to us full of enthusiasm, already determined to make their documents work better for their business.

Recently, the owner of a personal loan company asked us to rewrite a credit contract. Sunshine Dean, of Simply Finance Hawkes Bay Limited, had no doubt that a plainer contract would be good for her customers.

I think my customers need to know exactly what they’re signing up for. I want them to know as much about the contract as possible so they can easily see whether it’s for them or not. I’m not in it to ‘pull the wool over anyone’s eyes’ — far from it. I hope that my customers will feel more comfortable in taking a loan out with me knowing that they’ve been able to understand the whole contract and each and every obligation that comes with it.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. If your business relies on customers, you need to treat them as you’d like to be treated yourself — fairly and transparently. Plain English makes sure you do that.

Here are a couple of ‘before’ and ‘after’ snippets from Simply Finance’s contract. We’ve chosen two examples to demonstrate two common-sense reasons for using plain English in business.

1. Plain English helps your customers understand the really important bits

If you fail to meet your commitments under the contract, then to the extent of the security interest, the creditor may be entitled to repossess and sell this property. The extent to which your obligations are secured to the property is the unpaid balance of your account.

If you don’t keep to the contract, we may have the right to take (repossess) and sell the property to recover the money you owe us. If we sell it for more than you owe us, we will keep the amount you owe us and refund the rest to you.

Image: Credit contract and pen.

Plain English helps your customers understand exactly what they’re signing up for.

2. Plain English helps you avoid saying simple things in a complex way

The Customer consents to any legal requirement for Simply Finance HB Ltd to give information in writing to the Customer, including any disclosure required by the Act, being satisfied by Simply Finance HB Ltd giving that information to the Customer in electronic form and by electronic means.

You agree that we can use electronic means (such as text and email) to send you any information we need to give you in writing. This includes any disclosure required by the Act.

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