A failure to tell the difference between the pronunciation of ‘four’ and ‘ten’ in a local dialect has cost a Chinese store owner over 10,000 yuan (more than NZ$2,000).

The misunderstanding occurred when the owner called a printing house to make coupons for lobsters that were going on sale. When he said he wanted to sell four lobsters for 328 yuan, the owner of the printery thought he meant ten. In the Chengdu-Chongqing dialect, in fact, the difference of pronunciation between ‘four’ and ‘ten’ is a matter of slightly differed tones.

Thirty coupons had already been sold when the store owner discovered the mistake. Apparently, many users on social media sympathised with his misfortune, confessing they also had similar problems telling the difference between the two numbers.