Tick if You do Not Wish to Receive Further Information Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Tick if You do Not Wish to Receive Further Information

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The tick box at the bottom of order forms, competition entries etc. has become something of an art form in the UK. Originally introduced as a legal requirement to stop ruthlessly entrepreneurial companies from selling your address to every Tom, Dick or Harry who'd give them tuppence1 for it, the box is a must for almost every consumer. Said ruthless companies, realising this, have therefore taken it upon themselves to do one of two things:

  • Make the writing so small that even if you could be bothered to read it you'd then forget to tick it due to the need for aspirin. This is a particularly good method for duping older or visually-impaired people, and it is a recognised fact that whole new computer programs have been designed for the express purpose of designing print so small that it is invisible to the human eye.

  • Change the text itself so that the forthcoming unwanted junk mail sounds like something which might actually be useful. An example might be,

    Occasionally we may give your name to carefully selected companies who may forward you information about products of interest. Tick this box if you do not want to take advantage of this generous offer.

    Such linguistic tinkering deserves extended semantic analysis in the future, but it is a plain fact that it sounds more attractive than the rather more honest, 'Forget to tick this and you'll be bombarded with useless rubbish every time you set foot inside your porch'.

Whatever the advantages of the tick box for the consumer, of course, it remains a fact that most postmen would be out of a job if it wasn't for the fact that the majority of people forget to even look at it.

1A tuppence is two pence.

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