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    Assault the Battery

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                          It took ten minutes, but I got the damn thing out. Unfortunately.   You know you’re getting old when you say, ‘In my day’. Last week was my first time. It was triggered by a trifling incident. But one with big implications for business.   e-DAG Melbourne’s whizz-bang toll roads read an electronic transponder in your car. Your ‘e-TAG’ saves you slowing down to chuck the right change at a bucket. My e-TAG had been failing to transpond, despite me holding it every which way at 100 km/h on the airport freeway. I emailed CityLink, who helpfully advised that the battery could be flat. ‘No worries!’ I thought, pulling out my screwdriver.   Age of Reason I prised the case open without scratching it too much, only to behold a battery glued at four points with liquid nails. Perplexed but undaunted, I set to work – my ardour soon eclipsing my trepidation. Having badly deformed both holding clips and terminals, I finally extricated the battery. And wondered how less driven souls managed such a procedure. Then I saw it was a lithium battery – not a standard one. I wrote back to CityLink, asking if I could replace it with a standard Energizer A-size battery. They transponded: Dear Paul, e-TAG® devices are not designed to be opened or have the battery removed. A replacement e-TAG device has been issued to you by mail. A Reply Paid Envelope will be included for the return of the current device and its components. In the event you are unable to return an e-TAG device, we confirm the e-TAG Non-Return Fee of $55.00 will be payable, as per the Customer Service Agreement Clause 11. I replied: Many thanks for your helpful response. This is all news to me. ‘Flat battery’ sure meant something different in my day. I’ll send my unit back to you without delay.   Old Timer There it was: I’d said it. ‘In my day.’ Feeling every one of my 46 years, I gingerly reassembled my e-TAG, which now emitted a disturbing rattle. I’m about to post it back. I sure hope I don’t have to pay $55. And so to the business moral. The apparently innocuous term ‘flat battery’ triggered an entirely different response in my brain to that which CityLink intended. I think this may be a generational thing, with today’s consumers well used to disposable goods. As a slower-than-most Gen Xer, however, this didn’t occur to me. How often have I confused my clients (young and old) with ampersands, en dashes, hanging indents, the passive voice and the present infinitive tense? Might you be confusing customers by not spelling out things familiar to you? When you say ‘flat battery’, do they smash it up, send it back, or both? The difference is powerful.   Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire

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