31 January 2014

All My Friends Have Joined

For the past few years we have had a Sam's Club membership. All my friends have joined Costco lately, and I visited Costco last week to look into becoming a member. As I waited at the Costco help and service desk, I picked up one of their brochures to get a head start on the application process.

When I unfolded the brochure, I read the following statement: "Complement your Coctco Executive membership today." That's right, Coctco--not Costco. I flipped back to the front of the brochure to check on the spelling, though I'd seen the giant letters on the building when I pulled into the parking lot: "COSTCO." And just this week I heard the President of the United States speaking about raising the minimum wage, saying, "Costco is an example of a business that is acting on its own to pay its workers a fair wage, supporting increases to the minimum wage because it helps build a strong workforce and profitability over the long run...." I had heard the president say COSTCO, not Coctco.

I immediately brought the typo to the service agent's attention. But really this is so much more than a typo--not like leaving out an article or spelling a preposition wrong. The agent shrugged at first, because a typo is no big deal--he's making a fair wage, after all. Shrugged it off, that is,

until I showed him the typo. He gasped, "Costco is misspelled? No way." I circled "Coctco" and handed him the brochure to see for himself. The service agent at the next register wanted to see it. Another gasp. I explained, too apologetically, "I'm an editor and writer. I proof-read." I did not say that I am also an English teacher, but when I circled the error everyone at the counter probably had flashbacks to grade school.

The people stocking shelves, working the registers, cleaning the floors, and answering questions at the service desk all make a "fair wage." None of them noticed their company's name misspelled in 1,000s of brochure handed out daily. No doubt, the person who wrote the marketing copy, the manager who approved the copy, and the proof-reader all make more than a "fair wage." None of them caught the error, either.

Mistakes happens. Typos happen. English teachers and editors get more worked up about typos than other "fair wage" earners. I do; especially my own (if you see one in this post, don't tell me about it). You may have noticed in the photo that the word "complement" is spelled correctly. Extra points to Costco copy-editors for that one.

Wouldn't it be nice if Coctco offered to give me a one year membership for free or a new 65" television in return for finding the error on their marketing brochures? No one offered. I doubt if the "fair wage" earners told anyone, quite honestly. Their "better morale and lower turnover rates" that President Obama applauded in his speech may not stretch that far. They are not paid to read the brochures, after all. Their jobs will be safe no matter how you spell Costco.

I returned to the store today to use my new membership American Express card (six days after I joined, the day I found the error). All the brochures looked the same as they did then. I wonder how long they'll wait to reprint the brochures and toss out the ones with the typo. Maybe Sam's Club is just easier to spell, but I never noticed a typo in any of their marketing copy.

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