ImagesI posted recently about some books I purchased from Kobo which had errors that hampered my reading. I have purchased over 100 books from Kobo, and to be fair, these books were among a tiny, tiny handful of those hundred. But still, when one is paying real money, one does want a product with at least minimal quality, and I became frustrated when I felt that standard customer service query wasn’t getting my anywhere.

I am pleased to report that my issues have now been resolved, and in the ensuing dialogue with those at Kobo who worked with me, I have some suggestions—and reassurances—for anyone who may be having issues with a book they purchased.

1) Try to download the book again first. I was baffled by the first reply I got from Kobo CS, about re-synccing the ‘I’m Reading’ list. It was later explained to me that occasionally, a corrupted download file can produce a book which, while sound enough to be loaded by the software, is error-filled. A re-download can fix the problem; if it doesn’t, a mention that you tried this procedure will prevent you from having to banter about this with a CS rep.

2) If the book truly does have errors, don’t be afraid to report it. I was assured, several times and by numerous people, that Kobo truly does care and they want you to have a proper book to read. I had been worried because I heard stories about Amazon shutting down people’s accounts if they complained too many times. I was assured by none other than Kobo VP Michael Tamblyn that Kobo does NOT have this policy. If you buy a book and it has errors, it has errors—that’s not your fault, and you won’t be punished for it.

3) Be prepared to prove your complaint. In one case (a book with no quotation marks) it was fairly obvious on their end. But in the case of the other books, I received follow-up emails asking me to please provide a screenshot. These are busy people; having all the information readily available sped things up considerably. And it proved that my complaint was not a specious one. Hint: if you read on an iPad using the Kobo app, you can hold down the power button and home button simultaneously for a second to take a screenshot which is saved to your photo app. I was able to email these directly from the iPad to the Kobo rep who was helping me.

4) Understand what options are available to you for resolution. If this really is an issue with the book file itself, you will likely be offered the choice of exchanging the book for a store credit (in which case, customer service will remove it from your library) or keeping the book in your library and waiting for a corrected version to someday appear for re-download. Absent a rare circumstance, you will not get both. Kobo does not make corrections to a book themselves; it is referred back to the publisher. If you choose to wait for a corrected copy, you may be waiting for a very, very long time.

5) Understand to whom you may appeal for further assistance. I know Kobo people monitor Teleread, Mobile Read and various on-line venues; whenever I myself write about them in any of these venues, I invariably get a reply from someone with a Kobo affiliation. And what is the first question they ask me? ‘Please send me your ticket number so I can further assist you.’ It’s important that, even if you take other steps, you at least open up that ticket first because refunds and store credits apparently can only be handled through that system. So, go through the steps; escalate only if you need to.

I appreciate the courteous and well-intentioned assistance I got from the team at Kobo. I think their customer service protocols could use some tweaking; Michael Tamblyn assured me he was happy to help me at any time, and that is laudable, but it shouldn’t take personal intervention from a VP to get problems such as this addressed. Certainly Joe or Jane Customer wouldn’t know how to reach a person on that level. But with that said, I appreciated the assurance that the Kobo team values the quality of their products and will do their best to help you—as many times as needed—should that quality not be up to par.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. I would add (6) Add a comment on the problematic book indicating the issue (poor OCR, formatting errors, or in a couple of particularly glaring errors the file contains the wrong book entirely) and the date of purchase, to save prospective future buyers who don’t happen to have Kobo’s VP in their email address book a month of hassle, but it seems Kobo has a policy of deleting such on sight (I know, having left such comments, with a CC by email to customer service pointing out the problems; months later the errors are still there), so I’ll change my (6) to Next time deal with a professionally-run bookstore.

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