• Report:  #766

Complaint Review: Multilingual Books - Seattle Washington

Reported By:
Mon, October 04, 1999
Sun, November 07, 1999

Multilingual Books
Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
Book Stores

Hi, below is the text I filed with the ripoff report.

I must say I really appreciate that you have such a

website and I think you guys are saints. I hope you

can help me get my money back for shipping costs, etc.

Thank you in advance for reading my report and for

your help. Sincerely, Mark Bailey, [email protected]

052-654-6605 (fax, phone, Nagoya, Japan)


UpDate 10-4-99


Subj: I retract my request for help

Date: 9/28/99 8:54:20 PM US Mountain Standard Time

From: [email protected] (M B)

To: [email protected]

Hi, I just heard from Multilingual Books and they will

refund my shipping money. I just published on your

website last week and already have gotten results, so

thank you very much and I no longer need help to

recover my shipping charges. Your organization is

really great, thanks a lot. Mark Bailey, Japan.


I am a university instructor, linguist, radio host,

and an avid Pimsleur language tapes fan. The Pimsleur

tapes from Simon & Schuster audio are the best,

fastest, most effective language-learning tapes I have

ever found in my 15 years of collecting and

researching language learning material for foreign

languages, such as Spanish, French, Italian, German,

Russian, etc.

On August 27, 1999, I ordered from

Multilingual Books and Tapes, 1205 E. Pike, Seattle,

WA. 98122, (http://www.multilinguabooks.co. I ordered

a set of new Pimsleur Speak and Read French 2 (16

cassettes) 1996, by Simon & Schuster Audio, for 229$

plus 25.05$ for shipping. What I received was The

Sybervision Foreign Language Series SPEAK, READ &

THINK ESSENTIAL FRENCH 2, 1991, Heinle & Heinle

Publishers, opened, used and an entirely different

language course. I already own French 1 and French 3

Pimsleur Simon & Schuster sets and I needed the French

2 set, which would review the same lessons presented

in French 1 and would build up to the lessons

presented in French 3. That is why I ordered

legitimate Pimsleur. I needed them by early September,

which is why I ordered them express mail and not the

cheaper surface mail.

I assumed the order was an error and promptly

returned it to Multilingual Books and notified them

that I believed there had been an error. Since

Multilingual advertises only the Simon & Schuster

Pimsleur sets and not the Sybervision sets, I expected

them to apologize and send me the correct set.

The email response I received enraged me further, it

was defiant in tone, claiming that the staff had

compared the two sets of tapes in which I had

specifically enumerated the glaring differences

between what I received and what I ordered, and the

email claimed that the two sets were identical.

Conclusion, I was just a dumb clown consumer who

wouldnft know the difference if they sent me a cheap,

used imitation set of tapes which were now 8 years


Below is the email I received, polite in tone, yet

containing no apology or admission of error or


--- wrote:

> Dear Mr Mark C Bailey:


> We have listened to both issued tapes, the

> sybervision and the one

> pictured on our website and they are identical.


> Please accept a refund for your original order.


> Thank You,


> Bcc

Note: I have concealed the staff

member name in the email but upon request I will

provide it. I have sent my claim to the Better

Business Bureau and they will be sent the unedited


I called Multilingual Books and talked with the above

staff member who was polite but not apologetic. It was

agreed that they would refund my money, but they have

only refunded me for the product, not for the shipping

(25.05$) which I paid in vain when they knew it was

not what I had ordered. Nor have they paid me for the

express shipping I incurred (29.35$) by sending it

from my home in Japan back to them to meet their

20-day refund policy.


What I want from Multilingual Books:

I want my shipping costs refunded immediately, I want an

apology from the staff members that knowingly wasted

my timeand made me miss the deadline for which I

needed the tapes in the first place, I want an apology

and assurance from the Store Manager and CEO that

Multilingual will no longer deceive customers by

advertising one set of tapes and intentionally sending

a completely different set of tapes. If Multilingual

is incapable of sending the tapes that they advertise,

I demand that they cease to advertise them. That is a

practice which if done knowingly is referred to as

Bait and Switch and is in the U.S. considered to be

fraudulent advertising.

And finally, I want

Multilingual Books to post a public apology on their

website to customers who may have been mislead by

their misrepresentation of the Pimsleur tapes which

they advertise, when in practice they intend to send

a different unadvertised set of tapes to customers who

request Pimsleur Simon & Schuster.

I repeat, ifMultilingual Books is unable to send the products

that they advertise, they must not advertise them. They

should advertise Sybervision tapes on their website if

that is what they intend to ship to customers who

request Pimsleur Simon & Schuster.


The following is the email that I sent

Multilingual Books as of Sept. 25, 1999.

To: Bccc.

I believe you when you say that you didnft

actually listen and compare the two sets of tapes, so

the following letter is addressed to the staff member

who said he or she compared the two sets of tapes,

that is the person who apparently wasted my time, made

me miss the deadline for which I needed the tapes, and

that is the person who has infuriated me by adding

insult to deceptive advertising.

To: Relevant shipping staff and The Store Manager.

I must start by saying that my first and last

experience ever with Multilingual Books has left me

infuriated, insulted, and very very very angry. Did

you in fact listen to the tapes that you sent me

together with the tapes that I ordered? You stated in

theemail that they are identical. Well you must be

aware that I can easily download Lesson 1 from

Pimsleur French Level 2 from other sources, which I

have done. What you advertise on your website is Simon

and Schuster Audio publications 1996, I have a copy of

it right here and have listened to the authentic tape

that I ordered.

Identical means ealike in every wayf as

defined by Websterfs Encyclopedic Unabridged

Dictionary. There are many major differences between

the two tape sets which you called identical. In fact,

the set you sent me and the set I ordered are

different in practically every way. The only

similarities between the two are that they deal with

French, are a cassette course, and one is based

loosely on the Pimsleur method, while the other is the

legitimate Pimsleur.

1. Pimsleur bears the title PIMSLEUR LANGUAGE PROGRAM,

Sybervision bears the title THE SYBERVISION FOREIGN


2. Pimsleur is published by Simon & Schuster.

Sybervision is published by Heinle & Heinle.

3. Pimsleur was published in 1996. Sybervision

is published in 1991.

4. Pimsleur tapes are shipped (by Simon & Schuster,

Amazon, and Barnes & Noble) new and unopened in

shrinkwrap. Sybervision was sent open and apparently

used, not to mention 8 years old.

5. Pimsleur tapes are featured on the Multilingual

Books website and on the Sybervision website!!!

The Sybervision set I received is not featured on

either of these websites.

6. The Pimsleur French 2 case is black with a yellow

and orange Pimsleur card on the front, Sybervision is

gray, white, and blue, with no Pimsleur trademark card

anywhere on the case.

7. Pimsleur French 2 is narrated by Jordan Weinstein,

who has narrated the entire French Pimsleur series.

Sybervision is narrated by a younger less dynamic

voice, which is not that of Jordan Weinstein. It is

not clear who the announcer is because UNLIKE

Pimsleur, Sybervision does not list the announcerfs


8. Pimsleur lists the names of the announcers in

the back of the book, Sybervision does not.

9. Pimsleur unit 1 of French 2 features the characters

Mr. Jamison and Mrs. Berget, they are talking about

Nice, France. Sybervision features an unnamed

airport traveller who is looking for a taxi. There are

no characters named Jamison or Berget anywhere on this


10. Sybervision II Unit 1 does not review the material

featured in Pimsleur French 1. This means that they

are not covering the same material and are therefore

not compatible for someone listening to the tapes of

Level 1, who then wishes to continue to Level 2, and

then Level 3. The reviewed terms and expressions

taught are not compatible between the two systems.

11. The lesson in Pimsleur Unit 1 teaches the phrases

eI would likef and ewould you like?f, Sybervision

Unit 1 teaches the phrases eover theref, elooking

for a taxif, and edo you know?f

12. Pimsleur Unit 1 is talking about Nice, France,

Sybervision Unit 1 is talking about Paris, France.

13. The scripts are completely different between the

two sets.

14. The announcers are completely different people.

15. The material is completely different and therefore

not compatible with sets I and III.

16. The publishers are completely different.

17. The publishing sights and years are completely


18. Sybervision was printed in 1991, so how could it

be identical to that of Pimsleur 1996? Surely we are

not expected to believe that they went forward in

time at Sybervision so that it would be compatible

with Pimsleur. Pimsleur is the set I ordered,

Sybervision was recorded 5 years before the set that I

ordered was even recorded, so tell me HOW CAN THEY BE


I am quite certain that when you say they are

identical, you are not comparing the order I received

with the Pimsleur tape you advertise. Apparently you

are comparing the Pimsleur tape you advertise with the

Pimsleur tape that Sybervision advertises on their

website. They are the same, of course, I told you in

my fax and emails that they are the same, but THAT IS



Please compare the tapes you sent me with the tapes I

ordered, you obviously have not compared them. I told

you I am a long-term customer of Pimsleur tapes and

practically an expert on identifying their

authenticity, so why would I complain if they were

identical? Therefore, they must not be identical. You

have already wasted my valuable time and have caused

me to miss the deadline for which I needed the tapes.

This is going to be a story I tell over and over and

over and over to my university students, internet

course students, linguistic colleagues, and radio

audience on my FM Jazz show.

As I stated before in my emails and fax, Sybervision

does not even advertise the tapes that you sent me, I

have no idea where you found what you sent me, because

they are not featured on any website that I can find.

Sybervisionfs own website advertises exactly what

your website advertises, which is what I ordered,

which is not what you sent me. What I really donft

understand is if you had the original Pimsleur to

compare to what you sent me, why didnft you just send

me what I ordered? This is not a difficult order I


Multilingual has rightfully returned my

money for the product but PLEASE HELP ME GET MY MONEY

BACK. Since Multilingual intentionally advertised

something they had no intention of actually selling to

me (The legitimate Pimsleur Tapes, by Simon &

Schuster), they have wasted my time and should be

obliged to refund my $25.05 shipping charge from

Seattle and the return shipping charge of 3200 yen

($29.35) I incurred by having to ship their attempted

imitation item back to them.

In addition, I am still waiting for an

explanation of how the staff considered it appropriate

to send me something that they do not advertise on the

website in lieu of something that I ordered as

featured on the website. If you have it to compare

then you have it to send in fulfillment of an order,

is that so difficult? Oh, and since you made the

mistake, how about a sincere apology from the staff

member who messed up my order and wasted my time and

made me miss the deadline for which I wanted the tapes

in the first place.

Sincerely, a

fervent, enthusiastic EX-customer.

Mark Bailey.

[email protected]

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