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Pronunciation of Via

An Omaha, Nebraska, woman reports that a customer emailed her after a sales presentation to correct her pronunciation of the word via, meaning “through” or “by means of.” In this case, the customer wasn’t right: via can...

Fat Buttery Words

Teaching our children, and some advice for writers. Suppose your child is eager to tackle a difficult subject–ancient Greek, for example–but you know his reach exceeds his grasp? The challenge is to support the child’s curiosity...

Case Quarters

Store clerks: If someone asks for a case quarter in change, it means they don’t want two dimes and a nickel or five nickels. They want a single 25-cent piece. Same for a case dollar, case dime, or case nickel. The customer is asking for a...

Tap on the Shoulder

Sue in Eureka, California, was working at the grocery store during Senior Day when she reminded an elderly customer that the woman might be eligible for a discount. The shopper responded, “Thanks for the tap on the shoulder.” Did that...

Patron vs. Customer

Suzie, who used to work at the Dallas Public Library, is wondering why librarians are being asked to refer to their patrons as customers. Does the word customer make consulting a library and borrowing books feel too much like a transaction? Eric...

Writing Customer Apologies

What is the best way to write an apology to a customer, especially if you’re handling complaints for a corporation. Some tips: be sincere, and make sure your wording makes clear that you understand the consumer’s complaint and that your...