Fight jargon, win pounds 5,000

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The Independent Online
Want to strike a blow for consumer power and at the same time win two Upper Class return tickets to New York on Virgin Atlantic - a prize worth more than pounds 5,000? Then enter our jargon-busting competition.

Things financial are difficult enough to fathom even without any gobbledegook. So why are financial products riddled with it? What, for example, is a with-profits endowment, a fluctuating emolument, a capital unit or a double-death single-life benefit?

There is little doubt financial firms have benefited from this obfuscation. Jargon has helped hide unwelcome charges, and it has left consumers so befuddled as to be easy prey for financial salesmen and advisers - with all too often disappointing results.

Fortunately, some companies are trying to make things easier. But there's still a long way to go. Hence our competition, the Great Gobbledegook Chase. You enter by sending in the worst example of financial jargon you have come across - be it in insurance policy bumf, investment statements, or even those dreadful acronyms so loved by pension people. And tell us what you think the jargon might mean.

The winner will be the person who, in the judges' opinion, most humorously translates their piece of jargon. The hope is that firms which fare badly in the jargon league will be shamed into dumping it. The winner of the flight tickets, and two runners-up, will also receive a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary to aid in future deciphering.

The prizes are provided by Virgin Direct, Virgin's financial arm and a relative angel in the jargon stakes. The judges will be Richard Branson and myself. The closing date for entries is 18 November.

Send your entries to: The Great Gobbledegook Chase, Steve Lodge, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

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