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Misplacing a Comma Can Cost You. How Much? More Than A Million Dollars!

Updated on August 9, 2012
OOPS!
OOPS!


If you happen to work in the legal division of Rogers Communications Inc., you’ve already learned the lesson that punctuation matters.

A misplaced comma in a contract to string cable lines along utility poles accounted for a loss for the Canadian company. The magnitude of the loss: A whopping $ 2.3 Million.


Did you recognize the error the first time you read the statement?

See results


Page seven of the contract had this excerpt:


The agreement shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”


The Devil is in the details, Look minutely and you will get it.



Having difficulties? Think this declaration is okay?


the bloody devil
the bloody devil

If You were CRTC, would you recognize such an error?

See results


Let me clarify now…. The second comma is the Devil.


Based on the rules of punctuation the CRTC regulators observed that the comma in question allows for the termination of the contract at any time, without cause, upon one year’s written notice.


This Poor Chap Does not have a cent and doe not even know what a comma is ... !!
This Poor Chap Does not have a cent and doe not even know what a comma is ... !!


Shocked! The news is true. This is what a single punctuation mistake can do in this commercial and highly professional global economy.


Grammatical Error: Legally Punishable! OMG
Grammatical Error: Legally Punishable! OMG

Know Your Language


As we see having a technical knowledge of official language is a must these days. With thousands of agreements and contracts being signed around the globe each hour, one has to be careful about what he puts to paper.


Polishing grammar is not a tough exercise. It can be achieved in a short span of time. Some of the steps which can be followed are:


1. Devote not much but 30 minutes each day to enhance your grammar and punctuation.


2. Get a good grammar book. You can find some options on the right.


3. Maintain a regular practice of 10 minute concept reading and 10 minute practicing.


4. Analyze and review your errors for the last 5 minutes.


There you are, believe me… You will notice a difference in the next few days.


Although the news is six years old it’s present significance is hard to neglect. We should be strictly aware of what we write these days… one wrong comma, on wrong exclamation and lo… we are in for million dollar treats like these.


After writing this hub, the first thing I did was check the grammar three times…



Stay Alert and Write Safe my friends!

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    • rahul0324 profile image
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      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      thank you so much Mahesh

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Carol... I hope it is useful :)

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Grammar is important... in this hustle bustle.. we tend to forget about the little things in life... in the end.. they can prove that they were worth millions

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Pretty daunting. Thans for bringing this all out.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      This definitely makes me want to check my hubs for grammar errors. I'm notoriously bad with commas. Thanks for sharing this! Wow! Voted up, useful, and shared! Kelley

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Hi Natashah! you are right, they are often ignored. They shouldn't be

      Thank you for the visit

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thank you Jainismus.... I am glad you found it useful

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Absolutely true. Commas are often ignored, but really make all the difference in the world. as these folks now know!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Great information Rahul, thank you for sharing.

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thank you Anupam

    • Anupam Anand profile image

      Anupam A 5 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Interesting post Rahul :)

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thank you Mahesh... glad you liked it

    • profile image

      maheshtcr1 5 years ago

      Great hub Rahul ...............

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Exactly Doc.... In india... it happens all the time at smaller scales which does not get noticed..... I mean on the global front it has become very important to know the basics...

      thank you

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Fascinating story Rahul and so true too. The legal eagles can wrangle ad squeeze out over tiniest punctuation marks and verbal ambiguities. Great alert for all of us!

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      You are right Sir Rajan.. one wrong placement and the meaning can go haywire.

      We should pay attention to honing our technical writing skills in this crudely professional Global Scenario

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Deb!!

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Rogers is a well reputed company... that is why the news is important.. even highly professional people may land up with such kind of silly mistakes...

      I am glad you checked the amount... hehe

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Seriously Kelly, when it comes to spoken communication we are certainly good with it. But matters of professional importance do require the technical grasp of knowledge these days...

      hehe.... How dumb the man must be... I wonder

      Thanks for connecting

    • rahul0324 profile image
      Author

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      haha... Maggs... clever you were there... But in the normal day to day engagements who gives importance to grammar and punctuation while writing....

      Well now I have learnt my lesson from this piece of news ...

      Thank you for connecting

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Hi Rahul,

      A comma can change the meaning of an entire sentence and in the above case, caused a loss of a contract worth millions of $. Sueswan's comment is also interesting as she saved a lot of money by doing a recheck.

      It is imperative that we brush up on our punctuations & grammar too.

      Voted up & useful.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow rahul my son.. this is an amzing hub.. it is so informative.. sharing

      Debbie

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Rahul,

      A costly mistake for a misplaced comma. Rogers is my ISP.

      I donated money for a charity run last year. It was for a friend of a friend who lives in Ireland. I donated $20.00 but it showed as $20,000. Luckily, I noticed before clicking on the confirm button.

      Take care :)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      So true...the first lawyer I worked for taught me that lawsuits have been lost over three letter words! Now I examine documents as part of my real job and I am always shocked at the errors I see. People try to execute the documents themselves sometimes and they make huge errors.

      I was working at a title company in the recording department several years ago and some guy mailed me his car title! LOL It was a camero! I was like "YEAH!" Someone gave me a car today!

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Who would have thought that a comma could cause that much trouble or cost that much money.

      Grammar not being my strong point at the best of times I thought it better not to use any commas in my comment lol......

      I enjoyed the hub :D