When a Christchurch couple received an incomprehensible email from EQC about a simple repair job that hadn’t been sorted after 3 years, they fought back. They entered the email into the WriteMark Plain English Awards as a contender for a “Brainstrain” prize.

The EQC was a finalist for the award. Judges said the commission used purposefully vague language, which was awful in the context. To its credit EQC said it had stopped using the email and was striving to improve communication with the public.

That was last year. Entries are now being sought for the 2015 Plain English Awards. Organisers are looking for paper documents or webpages that left you scratching your head. You can dob in offending documents or webpages by submitting them for a Brainstrain Award. Or you can praise an organisation or individual that has delivered a clear piece of information, by nominating them for the Best Communication Award. Your stand might help everyone access better information.

Last year’s Best Communications Winner, website Legal Beagle, said it wanted its clients to find the law interesting. The firm avoided legal jargon.

Entries are invited from the private and public sectors. Awards Trust chairman Gregory Fortuin said organisations that received the Brainstrain Award often went on to significantly improve their communications. “That means your nomination could help thousands of New Zealanders.”

Consumer NZ agrees with the aims of the awards and is happy to be a sponsor. Entries are open at www.plainenglishawards.org.nz