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zero / o

(6 Posts)
3bunnies Mon 15-Dec-14 19:13:35

Why do people use zero and o interchangeably but never 1 and I for example even though they also look similar? When I speak to people in call centres I might say a number is zero one zero two three, and they repeat back oh one oh two three.

MrsHathaway Mon 15-Dec-14 19:20:17

It's convention for telephone numbers and serial numbers (eg Peugeot "One Oh Six") but not otherwise, I think. I don't believe most people use "oh" instead of "zero" for actual numbers, but only where the digit is just a symbol.

Someone I know writes software for public use <deliberately vague> and has to write in a "If you can't find this postcode, swap O with 0 and try again" instruction for people who don't understand the format of UK postcodes.

MrsHathaway Mon 15-Dec-14 19:22:44

Sorry, that is the computer tries again, so resolves AB9 OFJ to AB9 0FJ.

As for why, it started when it was more common to say "nought" than "zero" and I daresay it carries better over the phone or similar.

Crikeyblimey Mon 15-Dec-14 19:26:44

I always say zero rather than oh when reciting numbers. I never say 'double 3' or whatever either - I say three, three.

Bothers the heck out of me when someone recites a number that is say 222194 and started by saying '3 2s...' Because I've written 32 before I realise what they are saying sad

I use a lot of numbers at work to identify customers. Grrrr.

FlumpsRule Mon 15-Dec-14 19:53:53

'0800' numbers
Mr Bond 007
They sound a little odd if you say 'zero'. Some things need a little poetic licence.

3bunnies Tue 16-Dec-14 06:19:49

Thanks, I am just curious about why we do it. As said some things sound better, although of course that could be because we are used to them that way, if you say 'double zero seven a few times it starts to sound better.

I was thinking of order numbers, bank card details etc. In many ways now that life is more dependent on computers it makes sense to say zero as it can't be confused. In a customer reference number for example there could be a mixture of letters and digits, or in post codes etc

The people on the phone always seem surprised if I say zero and have to change it back to oh when they read it back. If I am feeling in a mischievous mood and the person hasn't been very helpful I might say a number in full so four five six becomes four hundred and fifty six, that totally confuses them. As an amount of money it would be fine to say four hundred and fifty six but for a CVS code which can only be three digits it is a social crime! CVS code name has been changed to protect the innocent. It is interesting how these conventions develop.

I will have to become your customer Crikeyblimey, we'll change the world one zero at a time!

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