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The ‘unspoken’ decimal point

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

We all know the value of a decimal point. Move it over just one place with your fumbling fingers on the keyboard and you just changed the value tenfold either up or down. $10.00 becomes $100.0 and 12.5 oz. becomes 1.25 oz. These can be embarrassing, costly or dangerous errors, depending on the context.

But what about the “unspoken” decimal point? A true communication breakdown especially when it comes to money.

Consider this anecdote that happened not too long ago in an Atlantic City, N.J., restaurant:

Joe Lentini, in a party of 10, had asked the waitress at Bobby Flay Steak to advise him on a bottle of wine. The waitress recommended a nice bottle of Screaming Eagle. Joe asked how much the bottle was, and the answer came back, “Thirty-seven fifty.”

Joe (as most of us would) assumed “Thirty-seven fifty” was $37.50. Until he got the check.

The high-end vintage 2011 Screaming Eagle had an actual price tag of $3,750—pushing the Lentini party’s total bill well over $4,000.

After complaining to management, the price of the wine was haggled down to $2,200.

Were Joe and friends taken advantage of? Your call. Should you need to clarify prices—as embarrassing as it might be sometimes—before committing? Perhaps.

Just keep this tale of the wine bottle in mind.

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