When you buy a ticket online from American Airlines (AA), the AA computer responds with this:
Note: This is not your receipt. You will be receiving your itinerary confirmation along with your receipt soon. You may print your Itinerary & Receipt directly from AA.com once the status is updated from “Ticket Pending” to “Ticketed”.Except for “AA.com,” these are all familiar English words. But as AA has combined them, the words conceal more information than they reveal. They have become weasel words. Here are the words again, interspersed with the unspoken reactions of an intelligent customer:
Note: This is not your receipt.
Not my receipt? Then what is it, and why are you showing it to me? Where’s my receipt?You will be receiving
On this page? In an email? In the U.S. Mail?your itinerary confirmation along with your receipt soon.
“Soon.” Does that mean seconds, minutes, hours or days?You may print your Itinerary & Receipt directly from AA.com
Print them from the email you will send me, from this page which is open right now, or – as “directly from AA.com” suggests – by abandoning this page and going to the AA home page? You’re confusing me.once the status is updated from “Ticket Pending” to “Ticketed”.
And how will I know when or whether that action has been completed? Will I see some notice on this page, in the email you may or may not send me, or on some page I have to go to after I go back to the home page? How long will it take? I just spent more than a week’s pay for an airplane ticket and you won’t even tell me how or where or when I will receive a receipt? Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?The Takeaway: If you are responsible for the words that your company uses in its online commerce, always keep in mind that you may be insulting thousands of customers every hour. That’s worse than erecting an insulting billboard beside a busy highway. Before you put your words online, have them edited by a careful reader.