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Topic: Book received but RC not met...what to do

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Subject: Book received but RC not met...what to do
Date Posted: 9/30/2008 11:12 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
Posts: 427
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I have an RC regarding smoke. I got a book the other day that smells very strongly of smoke (don't think it's cigarette smoke...kinda like wood smoke). It's so bad it choked me when I took it out of the envelope. I marked it RWP due to RC not met. Here's the message I sent to her verbatim: "This book did not meet my requestor conditions. It smells strongly of smoke. I normally don't ask for credits back but in this case I respectfully ask that my credit be returned as I can not use this book. "

She then sent me a reply saying verbatim: "I am allergic to smoke , yet I didnt notice.......I will gladly return credit when book is sent back."

So I told her (based on my research of the help documents here on PBS which say I am not required to send the book back at my expense), again verbatim: "I decline to send the book back. According to the PBS rules I am not required to do so. Again I respectfully ask that you please refund my credit.    Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter."

I have not heard back from her. So I sent her a message today saying: "I've not heard back from you and I'd like my credit please. Thank you. "

Now my question is this....what can I do if she never responds or gives back my credit. I mean I can post the book to someone who doesn't care if it smells of smoke (and I can try to get the smell out) but that still doesn't give me back the credit I wasted on a book that chokes me up.

Any advice?

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 1/9/2007
Posts: 119
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If the sender doesn't respond to your PM in one week, use the "contact us" link and let the site owners know.  Then in the transaction archive, I would mark it "problem not resolved".

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 11:18 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2008
Posts: 2,530
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Unfortunately I don't think anything can be done to get your credit back, but if it was marked RWAP, she'll have a problem swap (red check mark) and if she gets too many of those PBS will step in. Just be sure to go back to your transaction achieve if you don't hear back and mark it as problem not resolved.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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All you can really do is mark the transaction unresolved. It will be a black mark against her account, but unfortunately the rules also state that it is within the senders rights to refuse to return the credit. I would give it a week or so and then send her one last message saying that it has been a week since you've heard from her and that since you have not received the credit you asked for you will be marking the transaction unresolved. In my expierence, books that smell like you describe have been in a fire and have been smoke damaged. I would not bother contacting the site owners, as I said, the rules state that they have the right to refuse to return the credit. I doubt the site owners would step in and compel them to do so in this instance.

Last Edited on: 9/30/08 11:26 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/30/2008 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
Posts: 427
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Ok that's what I thought but I wanted to make sure. This is only the 2nd time I've ever asked for a credit back (the other time was a book that was very badly water damaged...looked like it had been dropped in a bathtub!) and the other person was fine with giving me the credit back.

Thanks for the advice. You all are great!

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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my question would be what exactly do your RC's state?  If they simply state "not currently in a smoking environment" well, then since you have said this is not cig. smoke you really shouldn't have marked it RWAP-RC not met...just my thoughts.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
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Why would "Not currently is a smoking environment" only mean cigarette smoke and NOT wood smoke?  

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2005
Posts: 503
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The sender doesn't have to give you your credit back, but if you post the book( since it is in postable condition) and someone takes it then you aren't out the credit and maybe it will air out enough for you to read it.


Try putting it in a plastic bag with some baking soda or if your area is still sunny enough sit it outside to air for a while.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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That's really a tough situation. The sender said she's allergic to smoke herself, and yet she didn't notice the smoky smell, and obviously doesn't smoke herself and wouldn't be around smoke, so I'm sure she feels she is justified in NOT returning your credit, yet you DO smell smoke. That does seem a little weird! Are you certain that it was the same book/correct sender, etc? I guess I would be inclined to double-check that first.

But then, yes, you would just mark it as not resolved in your transaction archive--I don't think contacting PBS themselves would do any good as they set up the whole RWAP/resolved-not resolved system to deal with these problems and would rarely intervene personally by returning credits.


Date Posted: 9/30/2008 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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"Why would "Not currently is a smoking environment" only mean cigarette smoke and NOT wood smoke? "

I am not sure if this is true of everyone but, typically it is assumed that "Not currently in a smoking environment" means only cigarette smoke.  I've heard this discussed on the forums here before and that is what everyone that participated felt it to mean. 

"The sender said she's allergic to smoke herself, and yet she didn't notice the smoky smell" 

It could very well be that the sender IS allergic to cigarette smoke but, not to wood smoke so, while the book does have a wood smoke smell (as stated by the OP) the sender is not affected by that.

I would like to make the suggestion to the OP that if she is bothered by all types of smoke smell it would be wise to include that in your RC because as we go into the winter months (especially with the economy as is) many homes may be heated with wood burning heaters/fireplaces and you would run a greater risk of having books with a smoke smell.


Date Posted: 9/30/2008 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2006
Posts: 4,110
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I am not sure if this is true of everyone but, typically it is assumed that "Not currently in a smoking environment" means only cigarette smoke

"Not currently in a smoking environment"  IMO means smoking period.  I have declined RC's with this in them because my husband smokes cigars.  Truthfully, not every day and my books are stored in a room where he doesn't go.  However he is in the room most of the time when I read, and they are exposed to the smoke somewhat.  I personally can't smell it, they smell like books, but then I am not allergic either.  Why risk the credit if you have a pipe, cigar smoker or a fireplace where books could pick up the smell?  Unless it says no books from current cigarette smokers only, I would consider any kind of smoking a smoking enviroment.


Date Posted: 9/30/2008 1:55 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
Posts: 427
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My RC is this:

Sorry to have to list conditions - I have received quite a few books that I could not read due to condition.

Due to allergies, only books from smoke-free homes.

Second-hand books are ok as long as they don't smell like smoke to you. If you don't smoke, and it doesn't smell to you - SEND IT! :) I have gotten many second-hand books and haven't had a problem.

Thanks for your understanding!


The book doesn't smell like fireplace smoke. This is like someone sat the book next to an open fire. It looks fine but smells like a fire. We have customers that come in smelling like this and they have been out camping and sitting around a camp fire. I realize this implies cigarette smoke and normally I wouldn't argue that. However, I don't see how anyone, especially with a smoke allergy, could miss this. This smell even chokes  up my co-workers when customers come in smelling like this. Neither of them has an allergy to smoke.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 2:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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JMHO but, to me your RC only implies tobacco smoke...as someone that is severely allergic to tobacco smoke but, is not bothered by fireplace/wood/campfire smoke I probably wouldn't have noticed it either and wouldn't have hesitated to mail out the book.

Hey, just had another thought/question....does the packaging smell like this "fire smoke smell"? Could it be that it was something it was exposed too and absorbed during shipping?

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
Posts: 427
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No the package smelled fine. I didn't smell it at all until I took it out. As soon as I unwrapped it I smelled it.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 3:03 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 1,442
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I agree with Christy.  Whenever I have seen a "Not from a smoking environment" condition, I have always assumed it meant cigar/cigarette/pipe smoking.  (I don't have a wood stove or fireplace, either, so the ones I've accepted were truly from a no-kind-of-smoke environment.)

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,509
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I actually agree, that I'd read your conditions as meaning cigarette smoke.


Date Posted: 9/30/2008 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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"If you don't smoke, and it doesn't smell to you - SEND IT! :) "

It sounds like she did exactly as you asked in your RC.  

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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Ditto what Linda said.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
Posts: 427
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Ok. Thanks

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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when someone asks for a non smoking environment, I assume any sort of tobacco product and don't think about my wood burning fireplace.

I know I have that RC and that is what I am referring to, is tobacco smoke.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 5:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,220
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If you want your RC to include fireplace/bon-fire smell then I think you need to reword it to clearly say that.  I don't think very many people would assume you mean both, most would assume you don't mean regular old fire smell in an RC worded that way.

You should also take out this part "If you don't smoke, and it doesn't smell to you - SEND IT! :) " since it is obvious that this is not the case, even if it does not smell to the sender you may have a problem with it. As long as that sentence is there, I don't think you have the right to ask for a credit back because of the smell of the book, you've completely taken the teeth out of your RC and made it ineffective.  You don't get it both ways, loosen the RC so you don't get turned down as much, and then call foul when they follow your RC and you still are not happy. (I hope that doesn't sound really harsh, I am not meaning to be that way.)

I have a big problem with cigarette smoke. I can smell if smoke on someone's coat if they had one cigarette two days before while wearing their it. I would NOT necessarily pick up a fireplace/bon-fire smell on a book, especially if the book was still in the environment that gave it that smell in the first place.

I am sorry you got a book you cannot read. When you repost the book, you'll at least get a credit there to use on reordering a clean copy of the book.

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 5:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
Posts: 427
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I've actually very rarely ever been turned down because of my RC since I've reworded it the way it is above. When I just had it listed as not from a smoking home I got turned down alot. I've also never thought of the need to include campfire smoke as I have never gotten a book that smelled of it before. My allergy is really to tobacco smoke. As I said it never occurred to me that it would smell like a house fire or campfire. I guess I just have to let this one go and if I get books that smell I'll just toss them as I wouldn't subject someone else to a smell that was that strong...no matter what the smell was from.

 ETA: I appreciate the input.

Last Edited on: 9/30/08 5:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/30/2008 8:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/7/2007
Posts: 5,334
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I dont do RC's for exactly this reason. Its too subjective. What may smell, or not smell to me, may be really smelly to another etc...

Date Posted: 9/30/2008 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 9/30/2006
Posts: 7,011
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Michelle, the sender has one week to respond back to you.  If they don't respond by that time, your next step is to send feedback in to the PBS Team.  They can look into the problem for you.  Can't guarantee that you'll get your credit back, but it has happened. At the least you will be reporting the problem to the team.  If a member has a history of sending books against requestor conditions then they will be able to address the matter with the other member. 


Edited to say that you can read more about this by entering "There is a problem with a book I've received" in the search engine.

Last Edited on: 9/30/08 8:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/30/2008 10:35 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
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Contacting the site owners is NOT the thing to do:  From the help section:

We cannot mediate individual problem swaps at PBS.  We can't adjudicate from a distance; moreover, the club is large enough that even intervening in the small percentage of disputed transactions would not be possible time-wise.  This is why marking a problem swap received "with a problem" is so important: if a sender's account shows a pattern of problems, we will intervene and the sender may be expelled from the club.