Useful word, ‘ennesimo’ (‘ennesima’ if the noun is feminine) – literally it means nth, so to the power of a number, that is to say ‘very many’ of something. But you could translate it as ‘umpteenth’, as in, “I’ve told you umpteen times that…!”
Anyway, yesterday afternoon I was teaching kids, online, as we’re still not allowed to do it in actual classrooms.
The first group, actually only two students showed up out of four, were older teenagers, very good at English. The two sisters had been dragged in off their beach by their mother to profit from what was the last of the academic years’ thirty lessons with yours truly. The younger girl had sunburn, and a headache, though the sister wasn’t keen either, so nor was I.
After a break there was the elementary class, five kids (and their parents or baby sitters) who haven’t missed a single one-hour class the entire year, which is pretty good going! The youngest is five, and not reading yet (Italian kids learn to read at six, usually), while the rest of the group are aged six to eight. They’ve been with me for an hour a week since they were three or four years old.
So when I was done with encouraging the teenagers to communicate in words and sentences rather than sighs and shrugs, and finding ever more creative and fun ways to get the smaller children reading, writing and saying things in English, it’s back to my more usual work of answering emails…
First off, we have a person who bought an ebook and was suprised to find that it wasn’t made of paper. What could I suggest, she asked. Um… print it, maybe? The fault was the class teacher’s, apparently, who gave the students the ebook title and a link to the PRODUCT INFORMATION PAGE, and told them to buy it, which this person did, presumably without having taken the trouble to read what I wrote about the magically unsubstantial properties of our ebooks (can be delivered in seconds anywhere in the world, are printable, etc.)
Next was someone with precisely the opposite problem, a true ebook enthusiast it seems, who added a note to the order form asking if I could kindly send the .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and the .epub (other ebook readers) versions as well as the default .pdf ebook. Which I am usually happy to do, when alternative versions exist, but in this case the ebook in question was .pdf only (because of the special formatting that wouldn’t work on Kindles and so on). I wrote immediately to explain that, but ended up in an argument about how misleading the wording on the website was and how I should apologise and amend it – the customer, after all, is always right!
Ah no, sadly, the customer is often wrong, and in surprisingly varied and creative ways! Which brings me to the third email that arrived while I was attempting to teach children to communicate, this one from a very kind lady who presumably is not a club member but regularly received marketing emails (also me) from our shop, EasyReaders.org (the logo is supposed to be an ebook reader, which is a CLUE to what we sell…)
She loves our ebooks, she writes, but is confused – why haven’t I emailed her about them lately? I assume she means why no half-price ‘eBook of the Week’ offers and so on, which for a while I was doing on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Isn’t that nice? Someone appreciates us!
And the answer? Why have there been no ‘eBook of the Week’ offers for a month or so?
Because I got fed up with dealing with moany customers and, being sleep-deprived due to having a ‘neonato’ in the house, was no longer able to resist telling them to ‘andare a quel paese’. It was another day like yesterday that finally drove me over the edge, to the point where I thought, what the heck? I have to put up with this for a few hundred dollars of revenues, while essentially working for free? Think I’d rather do nothing.
So I did.
No promotions, no nagging at you to buy stuff, the objective being a nice easy life for a while.
And yet no! There are still people crawling in off the internet, like the first amphibians venturing on to land three hundred and sixty-three million years ago, thrusting their credit card details at us in the hope that we’ll provide them with something that we don’t sell or do sell but don’t have in this instance…
While the free swimming ebook lovers below the ocean’s surface, circle in vain, waiting for me to drop my hook and bait into the water. Where’s my tasty ‘eBook of the Week’ they wonder?
Here’s a quick reminder, then, and a couple of examples.
1.) If you actualy want to buy something to help you learn Italian, or another language, and please be aware that I am not, in any way, suggesting that you do so, virtually everything we have available is listed on our Catalog page. You’ll find the price, the ebook format or formats, a link to a free sample chapter, which you should absolutely evaluate carefully before even considering parting with cash, and a link to the product information page, from which you could, if you really, really had to, buy the ebook.
2.) The first ebook on said Catalog page is a workbook. Here, I’ll copy and paste it, so you can see:
Title + link to product info page (to find out more), price in £££ not dollars, link to free sample chapter (a good solid chunk, for free, meaning that you won’t need to bug me later, right?) and the ESSENTIAL FORMAT INFORMATION, the last part, (.pdf). Which means that this one is only .pdf. You could try to use it on a Kindle, but please don’t, as it wouldn’t be pretty. Though if you can’t be dissuaded, do it with the free sample chapter first. Then you’ll know, won’t you?
3.) And here’s the first title from the next section, ‘Italian Easy Readers’:
See the format information at the end? There are three options, which is the case for most, but not all, of our easy readers (pictures mess things up, so some of the more ‘arty’ ones are .pdf only.)
4.) And what about the ‘paper books’, you ask. Where are they?
They aren’t. As our shop FAQ puts it, and I will post it in full:
We don’t sell books made from dead trees.
All of our easy readers and parallel texts for foreign language learners are .PDF format ebooks, some of which also have the option to receive .MOBI (Kindle-compatible) and/or .EPUB (other ebook readers) at no extra charge.
You can see whether .MOBI (Kindle-compatible) and/or .EPUB (other ebook readers) versions are available for the title or titles you want to buy by checking the format information, which you’ll see right under the cover image, in our online shop. Or click on the cover image to visit the product page. Or email and ask.
.PDF e-books are readable on just about any computer, tablet, smartphone or ebook reader. However, it’s always a good idea to download the free sample chapter for any ebook that interests you. That way you can verify that the format is compatible with the device you want to use it on BEFORE you purchase the full version.
.MOBI format ebooks can be read on a Kindle or Kindle app. We do not offer free sample chapters for these, but the content should be the same as in the .PDF format.
.EPUB format ebooks are good for most other ebook readers and can also be viewed with common browsers such as Microsoft Edge and Firefox. We do not offer free sample chapters for .EPUB but the content should be the same as in the .PDF format.
If you’d also like to receive the .MOBI (Kindle-compatible) and/or .EPUB (other ebook readers) version(s), at no extra charge, then let us know by adding a note to your order form, or emailing at the time of your order.
A coda about customer service.
The customer is NOT always right. Probably if they were, they wouldn’t be writing to me.
However, as one of yesterday’s irate but misguided buyers pointed out, if something is misleading on our site, I should apologise and fix it.
Which is very true. If, out of the thousands of ebook queries I deal with each year, the same issue comes up again and again, then of course, it will be remedied.
However, life is short and I’m damned if I’ll be manually ammending the text on hundreds of pages because one person finds them confusing.
I do my best, and that is what I promise. To myself, and to you.
My best consists of:
1.) Replying to everyone who writes to me, usually within a few minutes or hours.
2.) Helping if I can. Explaining why not if I can’t, or won’t.
My wife thinks I should never be rude to people, and perhaps she’s right. But then, she doesn’t have to answer snotty questions, for free, at all hours of the day and night, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year.
The solution that so many companies have settled on is not to publish an email address.
Got a problem? Read the ‘knowledge bank’, call this premium rate (the customer pays) phone number. Or fill in this form, if you can find it, but we won’t promise to answer any time soon.
Let’s end this on a cheerful note. I have a bank account at First Direct, and their customer service has always been friendly and helpful (they’ve never told me to go to that country, not even close…)
And this website is hosted by a company in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Their customer support isn’t perfect, but it sure as hell is quick. When I fill in the form to report a problem, someeone with a name like Igor, or Slavi, or Petar is on the job quicker than you can say ‘error message’!
Got an example of great customer service you want to share? Head over to our website, locate this article, and leave a comment. Perhaps you’ll make some down-hearted customer service assistant’s day!