The Price of a Comma

A woman touring Europe cabled her husband the following message: “Have found wonderful bracelet. Price seventy-five thousand dollars. May I buy it?”

Her husband immediately responded with the message: “No, price too high.” However, the telegraph operator missed one small detail in his transmission – the signal for a comma after the word “No.”

The wife in Europe received the reply: “No price too high.” Elated by the good news, she bought the bracelet. When she returned to the united states and showed the new bracelet to her shocked husband, he filed a lawsuit against the telegraph company…and won!

From that point on, telegraph rules required operators to spell out punctuation rather than use symbols. No price was too high to avoid the same mistake.

Character First! Series 4