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Topic: Discouraged...

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Subject: Discouraged...
Date Posted: 9/18/2012 10:22 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2012
Posts: 38
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I just received my first "problem" notification, and I'm feeling pretty discouraged. The book was a large hardcover cookbook published seventeen years ago. I'd never used it - barely even opened it - so its only signs of use were the rub/scuff marks on the dust jacket from shelf-wear. It was heavy, but I was happy to mail it out and was excited to think that someone would be surprised and pleased to receive a seventeen year old cookbook that was in such great condition. It was a swap I felt good about because I thought that the receiver would be so pleased to get the book... And then I received an email requesting the credit back because the the binding was "separated."  I know I didn't send it in that condition, but I've also read that sometimes this happens when old books, especially heavy old books, get tossed around in mailing.  I'm, of course, planning to refund the credit, but this is making me wonder about the practicality of this website.  I've mailed out 48 books, a number of which are probably still en route, and I've had one book go lost and this one that must have been damaged in transit.  I understand that this happens, but I'm wondering what a typical "loss rate" is?  Is it common to have one out of every couple dozen books go missing or get damaged?  Is that just the cost of doing business (so to speak), or is this just a run of bad luck?  With alot of my books, when I mail them out it feels like sending someone a present - it just feels good, like spreading book-joy.  And incidents like this one are sort of taking the joy out of it. 

So, sorry for the long-winded post, but what are your typical loss rates on books?  Do you find the losses upsetting or am I taking this too personally (i.e., I'm not sending my babies out into the world, I'm trading books so get over it)?   (Note that I don't remember if I bubble wrapped this particular book, sometimes I've wrapped only in layers of manilla folder coverd by a mummy-layer of packing tape...  I've learned that lesson and will bubble wrap always now.) 

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 10:36 AM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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None of the books I've sent out have gone "lost", but several of the ones I've requested have gotten "lost".

I haven't had a RWAP yet, as my books follow condition rules.  I've also gotten lucky that none have been damaged en route, though.

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 11:05 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2012
Posts: 38
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Thanks for responding.  Maybe I'll just chalk this up to bad luck and move on.  I've always prided myself on my wrapping with heavy layers of cardboard and padding and tape - I assumed that the little bricks I've been sending out could withstand being dropped from a plane, but I did ask the person who rwap'd the cookbook whether I'd omitted the bubble wrap.  Maybe I did, and maybe that would have made the difference. 

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Marti- welcome..

I there is no substance on earth that can stop the USPS trashing books enroute.  BUT sometimes it can just be the change of temperature that kills an older books blinding glue, which is very common if it travels across the US.  Nothing one can do about that either. Also if the book had barely been opened, the glue could be rather brittle from non use while the binding was freshly done.

As for lost books, where was it sent? If it was to Alaska or Haiwaii then they can take longer so just wait it out and it might turn up.  It's one reason why I use PBS printed postage, gives me a tracking number and a quick credit.

I've had maybe one or two books for lost, when sent to me but none I sent have gotten lost.  Just part of the experience here. I've RWAP once.

I don't see either as common occurances, and remember what you see on the forum is just a tiny part of things 1 book out of 1,000s might get lost, get RWAP.  Most only post when something goes wrong.

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 12:31 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2012
Posts: 38
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Thanks for the response.  I'm feeling better about this already.  I sent two books out today and padded the dickens out of them just in case.  I don't recall where the lost book was going, but I don't think it was far and it was one of the first books I mailed so I expect if it was going to show up it probably would have by now.  I eventually switched to PBS DC, and I think I'll now switch to PBS postage to help avoid any issues.  I figure things will go lost now and then, and there's just nothing to be done about it.  That one didn't bother me so much, it was the rwap for what had felt like mailing out a real treasure that had me discouraged.  An rwap sort of feels like a rap on the knuckles by the teacher.  I'm sure the binding was quite brittle as you say, though, since the book had barely ever been opened.  I suspect the lesson here for me is to not take this all so personally :)

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 1,262
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Welcome Marti!

Don't get discouraged - I've received 1006 titles according to PBS's count and I've only had 6 packages go missing on their way to me since I joined in April 2009.

On the other side of the coin - I've sent out close to 1500 books and have only had 5 packages go missing on the way to their new home.

You have had a bit of bad luck early, but stick it out - this site is the best way to feed your book addiction! :)

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2012
Posts: 38
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Thanks, you're right about feeding my book addiction (and enabling my daughter's budding book addiction!).   I just found a 7/2 deal on kids' books - that definitely turned my mood around.  Thanks again everyone.   I'm chalking this all up to beginner's (bad) luck, and moving on.  :)

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I've mailed over 1,000 books without a loss, although one tried lol.  I have noticed that some members forget or delay logging in received books, which finally prompted me to become a PBS DC user.

The final straw was mailing a book to the next town over (maybe 5 miles) and waiting over two weeks and still not having it noted as received.  I pm'd and finally received a reply that yes the book had been received but she had been busy.  Another week went by, and another reminder pm, before the receiver finally marked my book received and transferred my credit.  I've been using DC ever since. 

I try to mail promptly and refuse to have my credits held hostage by busy, inattentive, or vacationing members.  I purchase counter postage, and therefore receive an immediate acceptance scan...so I figure it helps PBS too.  This way there's tracking information, and if a member is consistantly marking late (or has a local postal problem) they will have some documentation. 

Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 9/18/2012 4:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2007
Posts: 6,630
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Wanted to point out that you do NOT have to return a credit if a book is damaged by USPS. 

Return the credit if you feel you may not have wrapped it well enough,or if you didn't check the binding before you sent it out but otherwise, credit doesn't need to be refunded.

PBS tries to divide the risks of book swapping equally between Requestor and Sender - Senders are at risk to lose out if a book goes lost in the mail and Requestors are at risk to lose out if a book arrives damaged by USPS.

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 4:18 PM ET
Member Since: 9/19/2006
Posts: 3,454
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Hi. My stats:

592 books received

458 books mailed

5 lost in mail to me

3 lost in mail from me

2 problem Box of Books transactions (I never received my requested boxes)

1 RWAP that was resolved and credit returned


I think it all evens out in the end. I love PBS. I wouldn't know what to do without it now, lol!


Date Posted: 9/18/2012 4:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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The only RWP against me was when someone didn't pay attention to the binding they ordered and that they were only charged 1 credit for my hardcover when they thought they were ordering a 2 credit audiobook. 

I always send thicker hardcovers and trades and most multi-book orders in a box. 

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 5:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2010
Posts: 262
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It is easier to get RWAPs against you when you're new, because you still have things to learn. Books are also probably more likely to go lost from new members, who may not know what sort of wrapping to use, for example. I know that when I was new, I deserved at least one RWAP that I didn't get. I sent out a book that should have been large print and wasn't. There were probably others that I didn't realize.

By now I've sent out about 200 books. One was lost in the mail (I think it disappeared from my box before the carrier could pick it up), and one was RWAPped over a misunderstanding (despite emails I sent beforehand to confirm that the person actually wanted the book unusual that they had requested).

I've requested about 200 books as well; two were lost in the mail, one was never sent (as confirmed by PM), and 13+ were RWAPs. I request lots of textbook-type books, and too few people apply the textbook clause properly, which mostly accounts for my high rate of incoming RWAPs. (I spent the first year or so at PBS being generous about that, so really I've received probably 25-30 books that should have been RWAPped. I really am not that picky, I swear it! I've only ever asked for one credit to be returned, I believe.)

I agree with others who recommend sending larger hardcover books in a box. Large hardcovers are generally quite delicate.

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2012
Posts: 66
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Dont feel bad, Ive been a member about a month now and just had a book get lost, im upset, not about the money "wasted" but for the person who was suppose to receive it. I know she's disappointed. Im sure this wont be the last time that will occur. Ive been lucky about my packages so far <knock on wood>. Im sure it happens all the time. 

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,350
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Also, when you're within a couple of days of the book going lost, feel free to send a friendly PM saying that you hope the book arrives, assuring the requestor that you mailed it, and asking for a response.  That way, if the book is marked lost, and the requestor doesn't respond within a week, you can contact the PBS Team and, on the basis of the non-response, ask them to mark it received for you.

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 9:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2012
Posts: 38
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Thank you everyone for your kind responses - I'm feeling much better now thinking that these things won't be common occurrences. I exchanged PMs with the person who rwap'd my book, and she told me I had bubble wrapped it. I feel good about that because I won't be worrying about how I could have prevented the damage. And while I know the book didn't leave my hands damaged, I did refund the credit. I didn't want the recipient to be disappointed... I thought I'd rather just refund and move on. Thanks again everyone for your thoughts and insights! I really appreciate it.
Date Posted: 9/19/2012 11:19 AM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
Posts: 2,102
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Remember you are dealing with people. The only mark against me was the book did not have a dust jacket which is not required. I send her the rules about it  which she said she didnt know but she never would go back and remark it.

Date Posted: 9/19/2012 3:55 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,125
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Here is what I think:

1. I've mailed out 1200 books, of which 2 have been lost in the mail, and 1 arrived damaged by PO.

2. If you have books that seem to have been lost in the mail, a polite PM to the requestor asking them if they did, in fact, receive the book, will sometimes help them to "remember" that they did in fact get it. I've had about 6 or 7 requests go all the way to the "lost date", but those all got marked received after I sent a nice PM.  Sometimes people just forget, for whatever reason, and just recently, someone I sent the PM to, actually ended up finding the book package behind her mail table (I guess it fell off or something). So, if you seem to have a lot of books not being marked received, polite PMs sent very close to the "going lost" date do work. 

If I hadn't sent any PMs out, my record would probably reflect 9-ish books lost in the mail instead of just 2.

I generally do not use PBS DC ... as the cost of insuring every pacakge that I've sent out would be along the lines of  1200 books X 0.27 = $325 dollars ... well more than the cost of the two books that were lost in the mail.

3. The other reason why you might have a high percentage of books lost or damaged could be your packaging. From what you have said, it seems like you are doing OK there, though. But, just so you know, the most important thing about the wrapper is that it must be tight to the book. Loose wrappers, no matter how much tape they have on them, are more likely to fail, because as the packages get tossed around, the book can tear it's way thru from the inside.

I just use printer paper myself, for mass market paperbacks, and never had any problems with that. For hardcovers, I usually reuse a bubble envelope or somethign along those lines, but what I do is, I cut it open, and then wrap the book like a present. Tightly. I don't just stick the book in the envelope. Never had a problem.

4. Old books can break in the mail. If you feel that you checked it over carefully before you sent it, and that it was packaged adequately, I would have advised you not to refund the credit. Unfortunately, sometimes damage does happen in the mail, and when it does, the sender generally gets to keep the credit, as the requestor does have the use of the book, albeit damaged.

In any case, welcome to PBS! I think you will find that generally speaking, problems are few, and nice transactions are frequent.

Last Edited on: 9/19/12 4:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/20/2012 9:52 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2012
Posts: 38
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Thank you again everyone for your responses.  I really appreciate it!

mistie -
Date Posted: 9/22/2012 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2007
Posts: 2,024
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Marti, Glad you're feeling better about the site. You sound like a caring person.

Just FYI, these are my stats:

Member since 2007

Sent :  281, none lost, no RWAP

Received: 157,  3 lost,  5 RWAP (and in each of these cases the sender returned the credit)

Date Posted: 9/23/2012 3:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2009
Posts: 88
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I had a pretty extreme lost in the mail episode.

I ordered a book from a woman who, if memory serves, was in Ohio. She sent the book to me in Las Vegas, NV. A couple weeks went by, no book. Eventually it was marked lost by the system, my request rolled to another member, and I recieved the book form the second sender sometime in August. Didn't think another thing about it.

In November. I left Sunny Las Vegas, and moved to Not So Sunny New Mexico. I sent a change of address to the USPS. The USPS, I believe, only forwards mail for so long-maybe 4 or 6 weeks?- before they assume you've notified all your friends, family and bill collectors of your new address. But, fast forwart to March and, lo and behold, what did I discover in the mailbox? The book, post-marked in July and sent to my old address, had found me, 8 months later in another state. The package was dirty, but otherwise intact.

I marked the book recieved so the origingal sender could get her credit. And, since I'd already read the copy the 2nd sender sent, immediately relisted it.

What did we learn? Patience, at least in regards to the USPS, may very well be a virtue.

Date Posted: 9/25/2012 10:18 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2012
Posts: 38
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Wow... that is an extreme lost in the mail story.   That's pretty wild - that book had quite a trip!

Date Posted: 9/25/2012 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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"The USPS, I believe, only forwards mail for so long-maybe 4 or 6 weeks"

Actually I believe a USPS forwarding order is good for a year.