Short Measures and Broadband in Pakistan

The oldest known source for the expression “baker’s dozen” dates to the 13th century in one of the earliest English statutes, instituted during the reign of Henry III (1216–1272), called the Assize of Bread and Ale. Bakers who were found to have shortchanged customers could be subject to severe punishment. To guard against the punishment of losing a hand to an axe, a baker would give 13 for the price of 12, to be certain of not being known as a cheat. Specifically, the practice of baking 13 items for an intended dozen was insurance against “short measure”, on the basis that one of the 13 could be lost, eaten, burnt, or ruined in some way, leaving the baker with the original legal dozen.

A few centuries on from the initiation of the baker’s dozen, and we have trading standards funded and operated by the government and off course regulators too. Their TOR extends far wider than preventing the short changing of customers, and also includes misrepresentation in advertising and supply.

But when we look at today’s ridiculous practice of sellers including those magic words ‘up to‘ in the fine print, they appear to be able to get away with just about anything.

Take broadband service. If two of us purchase a broadband service of ‘up to’ 8Mbps at Rs 6999 per month, and I get 3.1Mbps and you get 2.2Mbps, should we be content, and should regulatory officers let it slip through?

I rather think not!

Think of what this would mean when applied to other products:

Would you accept an unopened pack of Cornflakes sold by weight at 350g that only contains 290g? A new jar of apple jam marked up at 450g but has only 220g? A box of a dozen eggs with three missing? A liter of petrol that is only 330ml? Or a pair of trousers with legs which are supposed to be 85cm, yet turned out to be only 46cm? Actually those trousers are a pair of shorts!

It appears that, as long as ‘up to’ is in the small print, a dozen eggs is really ‘up to a dozen eggs’. That seems reasonable, why didn’t I get it first time around?

In short: The words ‘up to’ ought not to be a license for short changing in the supply or trading of anything or should it be Mr. Regulator?

Head in Hands anyone on the same block?

Leave a Reply