E & OE - The Escape Hatch On The Roof Of The Retail Bus

on June 09, 2016

You've probably seen the letters " E & OE " at the bottom of a lot of the Camera Electronic advertisements and wondered what they mean. I asked one time and was assured that they stand for " Errors And Omissions Excepted ".

It is a sort of a quasi-legal phrase that seeks to stop arguments when the situation goes pear-shaped. We are all human...well, humanoid in my case...and troubles do creep in. Mistaken prices, goods that have run out, weird descriptions caused by typos...you can imagine the sorts of things.

Mean people might seize upon these errors and omissions to bedevil the staff - or try to compel them to supply things at incorrect prices. You can imagine the sort of trouble that a Cadillac agency would experience if a clumsy key stroke in advertising copy shifted the decimal point of a new car price a space to the left and everyone wanted to get the car for a 10th of the price. Of course the same sort of trouble would apply if the decimal shifted one space to the right...except no-one would be breaking the showroom door down to get in.

Unversed as I am in retail law, I cannot say where real decision rests in this sort of thing. Good sense would suggest that where a genuine error has been made...and one that could be seen to be a typo or transposition or mistake imposed by a publisher...everyone would stand back and agree to cool down. Bad sense would suggest other things. The E & OE puts a small barrier out to stop this.

From the cash-register-drawer side it must also be said that there can frequently be errors and omissions on the other side of the counter too. People sometimes have a different idea in their mind than that which they express. Indeed, sometimes our common language of photography leads us all to confusion. A case in point once developed; I realised that it was very wise to ask for clarification whenever someone asked for a soft box, lightbox, light cube, or soft cube.

They are all similar words, but can be used to define four entirely separate products; a studio flash light modifier, an illuminated table upon which to examine transparencies, an LED light source, and a cloth diffusing device for tabletop photography. There were some pretty fraught conversations on the phone when the customer meant one thing, said another, and I heard a third thing. In some cases it was a retail version of an Abbot and Costello routine and we never did find out who was on second.

In any event if there is controversy, be patient. The staff will endeavour to do so as well. Most things can be resolved gently. Harsh words spoken over a phone or typed on a computer screen are hardly ever necessary. You can always resort to ##,@, and %!