Something good happened to me this week – I had a motoring fine quashed. Yay me.
It didn’t just happen though, I had to appeal to the council that issued the fine, and then the adjudicator. This involved looking at the evidence – you get a photo with the letter and a link to a video – doing research and putting together an appeal, which was uploaded to the council website. Then you wait.
Here’s the background. I was caught on CCTV driving into a what’s known as a bus gate. I’d never heard of these before, but they’re basically a section of road that’s only open to buses, mini-busses and taxis at certain times. I was in a car, so that’s it, offence committed.
There were a few reasons why I appealed, the main one being that the signage isn’t very clear as there’s a cycle lane alongside the affected bit of road, and the red and white ‘no motor vehicles’ sign is next to this. It’s a bit confusing and I hadn’t seen when I drove up the road. It was also a Sunday and there was hardly any other traffic around.
That appeal was knocked back as the council disagreed with me. In their opinion, the sign was correctly sited, and it was up to me to take notice of it. Fair enough. Or so they thought.
So, back to square one. I re-read all the paperwork they’d sent me and started the process again (if you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering what this has got to do with the title. Bear with me – it’s coming).
I then re-read the original letter notifying me of the fine. It said: ‘my vehicle was involved in the following bus lane contravention’ followed by the stretch of road where I’d been photographed. However, the second letter from the council referred to the bit of road as a ‘bus gate’ not a ‘bus lane’ (there was no mention of a bus gate on the first letter – I only knew it was called that after some research).
Feeling confused, I went to the council website to clear up whether it was bus gate or bus lane I’d driven on to, and if it made any difference. It was indeed a bus gate according to their website, so I thought I’d have a look what they say about bus lanes on the site.
Here it is, lifted directly: ‘Bus lanes are marked with a white line and the words “Bus Lane” marked on the road. A section of broken white lines in the bus lane means it is permitted for vehicles to cross the bus lane to turn left or into an adjacent loading bay.’
I looked at the photo they’d supplied again. And the video. There was no ‘Bus Lane’ marked on the road and no white lines. That was it – I could appeal based on the fact I’d not committed the offence.
The council decided not to contest my appeal.
So, here’s where the title of this blog comes in. The words on the letter were very specific about the offence that had been committed, yet the council hadn’t made sure the words on their website were watertight. It cost them money in this case, although I’m sure they won’t be too bothered as I’ve read reports of this particular bus gate raising about £9m a year.
The wrong words can cost you money by not attracting people to try what you’re selling. They might not even be able to understand what that is. If people don’t know what you do, or your words are boring, they’ll go elsewhere. To the place where the right words are.