Sunday, 1 March 2015

Banned: Flowers

THE words “Christ” and “Jesus Christ” have been placed on a list of banned abusive and offensive terms by Marks & Spencer.

Customers who try to include them in greetings with online purchases of flowers are prevented from completing their orders.

The policy emerged this weekend when a pastor’s wife was blocked from ordering a £35 bouquet of spring flowers as a gift. She was confronted with an on-screen warning: “Sorry there’s something in your message we can’t write.”

The blocked message ran: “Thank you for your care and practical help for Margaret in her last days . . . With love from her church family, Christ Church Teddington.”

Gerardine Stockford, 53, rang M&S’s call centre on Friday and was told a word must have been blocked. It turned out to be “Christ”. She said: “He had to write my message for me because I couldn’t do it over the internet.”

Margaret, 93, had been a member of the congregation for 87 years. Her funeral is this week. The flowers were delivered yesterday.

The Sunday Times found that other religious terms, such as Allah, Mohammad and Buddha as well as hajj and jihad were permitted, but inputting swear words triggered the same message as Christ. The term “gay” was also blocked. After a reporter approached the retailer, the messaging facility appeared to have been disabled...

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