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Topic: Overly Formal and Rude Responses

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Subject: Overly Formal and Rude Responses
Date Posted: 2/16/2010 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2005
Posts: 28
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It happens to the best of us. No matter how attentive you are, occasionally the wrong book slips through, or an unacceptable stain or missing page goes unnoticed. The book goes out, and sure enough, you are contact by the book recipient.

So here's my question: Why, despite the fact that what has happened is merely a mistake made during a friendly trade, do people suddenly put on their best Angry Old Man in a Deli voice and become downright rude and defensive?

I've shipped and received nearly 3,000 books since I joined PBS, so the law of averages has slipped the odd mistake by me. Why is it that every time such an error occurs, the email I get from them is either peppered with so much formal jargon like "erroneous transaction that must be remedied" you would think I just sold them a Toyota with no breaks, or enough indignant outrage at being victimized and taken advantage of that an outsider would think I swindled them out of their life savings?

Are there really people out there getting rich by sending people the wrong Catherine Coulter novel or a book with a coffee ring hidden on page 23? For a friendly trading transaction with no money changing hands, there seems to be way too much hostility, attitude and professional indignation in these tersely worded responses when a simple "Hey, I got the wrong book" would work just as easily.

So, honestly. What gives?

Date Posted: 2/16/2010 7:22 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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The thing is, when people receive an unpostable book, they know nothing about you.  They have no idea if you have sent out 2 books or 2k.  They don't know if this was a mistake, or if you are in the habit of sending out bad books.  They don't know you.  It's not personal.  They probably just want their credit back as they spent a credit on a book that they can't repost. 

If it was just one person, and if they were truly rude, it's totally uncool.  But it's just one person after 3000 trades.  If it's lots of people, maybe you should take an extra minute or two to make sure the books are okay.  So that the annoyance will stop.

Date Posted: 2/16/2010 7:23 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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I'm sorry this is happening to you.  I haven't had any bad transactions so I don't know if this is normal.  All I know is that people do tend to be a little more free with criticism when the communication is not face to face.  I suspect that a lot of people take out their frustrations with their daily life in situations like this because they know that there is nothing the recipient can do about their attitude. 

I did get one weird hostile PM from someone who read a post of mine on the forum.  I was reminding people who put books outside to air them out to remember to bring them back in at night.  I did that once (forgot to bring the book in) and ended up with a book with very wavy pages from the nightime moisture.  The person who PM'ed me wrote something about "do you really think I am so stupid that I need someone telling me that".  Since the post was not directed at any one person, I found the PM to be a little odd.  I just deleted it and moved on.



Last Edited on: 2/16/10 7:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/16/2010 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2007
Posts: 589
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I think sometimes the rules become the entire focus and the people behind the issue gets forgotten. And some people feel that a credit is money and feel that money is being taking from them ... they are being ripped off financially and some people might take that personally. 

Unless I know for certain that someone deliberately sent me a book that is unpostable (which, unless they sent me a note with the book(s) saying ha-ha, I sent you a bad book now you can't repost it, I can never really know). I figure the swapper made an honest mistake and always try to respond with that tone. But sometimes tone is difficult to access over the internet. I often type in a more formal style (blame it on the legal field) and that doesn't come across as friendly to some people.



Last Edited on: 2/16/10 7:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/16/2010 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I've only had one RWP against me and it was rather formal and not really rude. I found it rude at the time since the mistake was on their part not mine-they ordered the wrong binding and didn't notice. 

But I've had to mark several books as RWP and when I open a package and see an obviously unpostable book, I'm not inclined to flavor my PM with lots of pleases and flowery words.  When a bad book is received the tendency is to go on the defensive because you're expecting them to deny sending you the coffee stained book with the half off cover and loose pages and accuse you I've trying to scam them for a free book. 

ETA: I am not rude when I make my comments about why the book is unpostable-but I am not super gushy nice about it either.



Last Edited on: 2/16/10 7:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/16/2010 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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But sometimes tone is difficult to access over the internet. I often type in a more formal style (blame it on the legal field) and that doesn't come across as friendly to some people.

I think this is often the issue.  People try to keep it nuetral and unemotional and it might come off cold or unfriendly when that was not necessarily the intention at all.  I think maybe benefits of the doubt should be granted all around.

Date Posted: 2/16/2010 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2007
Posts: 2,534
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I think some people just feel so..... insecure?, apprehensive maybe,  (I don't know what word I'm really looking for here, but it's not a negative word),  about "confronting" a sender with a RWAP that they may be a little defensive from the onset. 

Date Posted: 2/16/2010 9:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Are there really people out there getting rich by sending people the wrong Catherine Coulter novel or a book with a coffee ring hidden on page 23?

Lol.  Thanks for the laugh.  I think they just get a little too emotionally invested in it sometimes.  It happens a lot on the forums too:P

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 1:14 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,187
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I had the same reaction Kim did .... in fact, I'll just say, ditto! You gave me a good laugh over dear ol' Catherine Coulter.  

And yes, I think people get so hung up on chastising those that make a mistake (or those that even do it on purpose)  they forget that it's a little book they're having a coronary over. Pretty small in the scheme of things, annoying yes, but small.



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 1:15 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 4:33 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,398
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I have found that I need to wait a day before marking an unpostable book RWAP.  Give myself time to think if I want to ask for a credit or not.  Think about the wording.   Asking for the credit seems to often trigger defensive reactions.   I can see going overly formal after having your head bitten off in a previous exchange. 

But my experience has also run the opposite.  Repeatedly telling someone that I did not expect a credit from them when the book was so well wrapped that the post office truck cracking the spine did not open the wrapper.  A wrapping job that held up through tire marks deserves a credit.

I don't set aside a cooling off time for post office damage.  Nope.  The PO gets the RWAP so PBS can keep a count.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 9:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2009
Posts: 360
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Almost every time that I have had a RWAP I have faced hostility from the sender when telling them there was a problem. and while you [Scot] might have the financial oomph to send out 3000 books, for some of us each and every book we send out is from money scraped from the sofa or raiding the change jar. So when we get a bad book, it means that the book we sent out to get that credit has gone to waste. And some of us don't have any margin of error that way.

Of course, being rude is just not right. But if this has happened several times to you, maybe you need to tighten up your process so people don't get the wrong book?

and I have to say, 3000 is just wicked awesome! :-D

Rick B. (bup) - ,
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 11/2/2007
Posts: 2,625
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If we're going to start taking people to task over the tone of their PM's, we'll never get done complaining.

 

...


...Excuse me. I've just been told we will never get done complaining. Carry on.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,187
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Derrick --Scott has been a member for five years. i don't think he's insinuating that he repeatedly sends out the wrong book, or that it has happened "several" times. After five years many things happen, much more than being a member for less than a year.

I'm also not sure his financial "oomph" for being able to send and receive 3,000 books is at task here  (My total is about 2,200 right now and trust me, I'm not rich)  ... PBS is one of the more expensive ways to get used books, perhaps instead of telling Scott he needs to tighten up his process, you should find a cheaper way to get some of your books -- you can find them for less expensive.  Raiding couches for change to mail books isn't financially sound. That's when I would draw the line and figure I can't afford it right now.

I'm sure I'll take some flack for the statement I just made but it kind of rankled my nerves that you're justifying the type of people Scott is talking about by saying some people raid couches to send books so have a right to get angry ... at least that's what I was getting out of your comment. It's your choice to raid couches, so when you get a bad book it's no worse or no better than the "rich" person who gets a bad book. 

Anyhow, if it's necessary to become angry over a book, regardless of your situation, then it's time to step back and restock. 

ETA: For clarity and spelling! Blahh!



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 12:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 1:43 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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I have no idea of the stats on how often that happens here, so I guess the question of "what gives" would depend on that aspect.

I am new and have so far (knock on wood) no books that I would RWAP or have had one on the few I have sent out.  I did receive one that looked very old and looked as if it was on its last leg.  When I was asked if I wanted to send a response to the sender, I thanked her for the book and for wrapping it.  I  mentioned, just in passing, and not as a criticism that the book looked really old.  She responded that she would send me the credit if I wanted it back.

I didn't, I was just surprised at how old the book was, I hadn't bothered to check its age when I requested it.  I have books that are younger that are in worse shape (no needs to worry, they are ones I will never part with, too many good memories attached with them).  I should have realized when I sent the PBS post that it might have been misunderstood, but I suffer at times horribly from foot in mouth up to knee syndrome, So I typed and hit send without thinking of how it could be misunderstood.

Why rude posts? It could be several reasons, I can't remember the technical term for it, but its the the boss yells at you, you come home yell at wife and kick at the dog situation.  They get the book and are upset at something and take it out on you.  Not fair but human nature to lash out at someone else when you can't at the person you want to.

Another is that they are the untrusting type of person.  Believing that anyone and everyone wants something for nothing and so act in a aggressive manner because they think you are trying to rip them off. 

I am sure that in some cases an individual will send a book that is unpostable to get rid of it and hope you are the type to not RWAP or not "fight back" if they act rude toward you.  Most of the time, I think it is an accident.  You check the book and it is fine, someone else damages it and doesn't tell you, for various reasons. You don't know the book has been damaged and so feel defensive and wonder if the individual is trying to rip you off.  Again, it could be due to a bad day and the timing was just right (or wrong) on either side.

I received five books yesterday, out of the five, one was not wrapped as requested (the wording is such that it can not be misunderstood, " I request that all book(s) be wrapped due to weather. . . ).  At first was thinking they were someone who ignores RC and doesn't care about the requestors conditions.  I decided to hold off on marking the book received.  I am glad that I did, as I read here in the forum that after accepting a book the RC no longer shows.  She may have forgotten my RC and was in a hurry when she wrapped the book and put it in the mail.  I don't know what was happening in her life at that time, so I am trying to give the benefit of the doubt in all requests that are accepted and delayed or received not as requested.

So, it could be several reasons as to the "what gives". 

Hopefully, these posts will help newbies and older ones to think about rechecking books before they wrap them up, put a post it note on books with RC so they can comply with them and not assume the sender was trying to rip you off or the nasty PM could be anger not at you but something else. 

I am learning every day of things that I can do as a sender and requestor.

Janette

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 3:13 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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PBS is one of the more expensive ways to get used books.....

I'm curious as to why you say this.  I find PBS the cheapest way I can get books.  Sure, I can get them cheaper by going to a FOL sale or to Goodwill, but that means I'll take any old book that comes along.  When I "buy" a book, it's because I can't find it in the library and it is by an author I really like or it's part of a series I want to complete. My local used book club charges $3.50-$4.50 for a used book depending on how old it is.  My chances of finding a book I want for less than what I pay here (averaging around $2.50 in postage),  is not very good.  If you know of cheaper places to find used books, I would love to know what they are.

BTW, this is not a personal criticism of you, I'm just puzzled by why you think PBS is an expensive way to get books.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 3:31 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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Anyhow, if it's necessary to become angry over a book, regardless of your situation, then it's time to step back and restock. 

I agree to this up to a point. Yes, I don't believe a used book warrants getting coleric, on the other hand, I think everybody has a right to feel however they feel. Sometimes it's not even about the book, it's about what somebody feels as a lack of courtesy or consideration (in no way I'm implying that this was the case with Scott) just that's the way some people feel when they get an unpostable.

I think whether you can find cheaper used books depend wholy on the person's situation (where they live, how much time they have, etc.) If you have 5 UBSs close by, maybe you can find cheaper alternatives. I don't have any (and I don't have the time to hunt for books) so of course PBS is the cheapest alternative for me.

 

Subject: Worth more than just a credit!
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,565
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  Some of us buy a lot of WL books  new, spending $15-30 each, read them once, then post, so it's not "just a credit" we feel we're losing

when/if we get ripped off by a sender mailing us an unpostable book.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 5:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I think people are entitled to feel whatever they want or need to feel.  Just as long as they understand that the emotions are not going to be of any use in solving the problem - whatever it is.  In either your highest hope or worst nightmare of a sender, being accusatory, angry, hurt or whatever, is not going to pave the road, so to speak, to reaching an accord with them & getting what you want or feel you deserve.  More often than not, what emotional responses to a problem will get you is more problems.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 6:09 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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I abhor conflict, so it takes quite a bit for me to call someone on something they've done wrong, which is essentially what marking a book RWAP is. I mean, I feel bad sending food back in a restaurant when they forget to leave the cheese off of something, even though it is because of a food allergy rather than preference. If someone saying something like "it's just a book, get over it" worked, then I wouldn't need to take this pesky anti-anxiety medication. As much as it may stress me out though, I believe that books should be marked appropriately or else the system doesn't really work, so when I get an RWAP I mark it as such. One thing that has made the process a bit easier on me is to use examples of RWAP messages such as the one in the Help Documents as sort of form letters to formulate my message to the sender. I try very hard to be as nice as possible in the situation, but it can be difficult to come off as firm without also sounding cold and overly formal. It is also difficult not to take it a bit personally when you get a book that was obviously damaged, or are accused by the sender of damaging a book yourself in order to scam them of credits.

All that said, people can be rude as hell on here. Especially when it comes to RWAP situations. I find it best to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn't mean to be rude, but I know at times that can be impossible.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 12:42 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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PBS is one of the more expensive ways to get used books, perhaps instead of telling Scott he needs to tighten up his process, you should find a cheaper way to get some of your books -- you can find them for less expensive.

Honestly, PBS is the cheapest place for me to acquire books.  If you could tip me off to a cheaper method of acquiring them in NYC (with a comparable selection), I'm all ears.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 2:19 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,187
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Honestly, PBS is the cheapest place for me to acquire books.  If you could tip me off to a cheaper method of acquiring them in NYC (with a comparable selection), I'm all ears.

Sure. I live in a town of 100,000 between San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento ... both metro areas. Expensive area I live in. It might compare but either way you have all these things in NYC that I'm about to mention. 

Based on three things. The average cost to mail a book, or the price of PBS credit or the price of a credit bought from the BB at a cheaper rate: 

FOL bookstore: Average price of a book for me is between .25 (pb) and $2 (HB). And we're talking new releases, not beat up books from the 1980s. Our library has an FOL bookstore so it it's open all the hours the library is open.

FOL book sales: I hit several at various times during the month or year. Average price of the books is .50 for a paperback, $1 for a trade, $1 for hardback. If I am in San Francisco the books are a bit more expensive so I might pay $2 for a paperback. Again, new release not old stuff.

Goodwill: Our paperbacks are $1.29

Garage or estate sales: Depends on what the seller wants to sell for. We've bought some for $5 for 10 boxes. Again, most were newer books, 2000 and newer and in good shape. 

Used Bookstores: I have exchange credit so when I buy a paperback it costs me roughly $1.75. Trades $3.50 and hardbacks vary ... these would be the lone exception but I rarely read HB unless it's a book I must have when it first comes out and then I'll pay for it at Book Depository or use a Borders coupon. 

There was a thread about this a couple months ago. And most people seemed to agree that PBS was not a real cheap place to buy a book when you considered the cost of postage and the cost of a credit. 

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 2:26 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,187
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Kate, see my post above. I don't just get "any old book" from FOL sales. I guess I could be lucky but the FOL I used to volunteer at (an actual bookstore off the main library) has very nice, up-to-date books. All the FOL sales I go to from here to San  Francisco are the same. I don't buy crap books and "my" FOL has rules for taking books that are similar to PBS. And about 95 percent are donations not library discards.

Since I belong to my FOL I get half off. Half off for a 2010 paperback for me is .25. Half off on hardback is $1. Yet, the ones I don't belong to, I still only pay about .50 for a paperback. I come home with an average of 10-20 like-new paperbacks. 

This is the same scenario as when I lived in Salt Lake City. Plenty of places to buy cheaper books. I'll see if I can hunt up that thread and bump it. Most of us that posted on that thread could get books cheaper here elsewhere. We're here because of the friends we've made. 

ETA: All the libraries surrounding me also have FOL stocked shelves with books for sale. Again, .comparable to the prices I mentioned above. 



Last Edited on: 2/18/10 2:30 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/18/2010 2:37 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,187
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Some of us buy a lot of WL books  new, spending $15-30 each, read them once, then post, so it's not "just a credit" we feel we're losing when/if we get ripped off by a sender mailing us an unpostable book.

I think a good portion of us probably spend a lot of money on new books from various places (I buy from Book Depository often) as well as used books. I know I do. Bottom line, you post it on here and it IS just a credit. That is something people need to realize when they post their brand new book on here. They are getting a credit for it.  

I have gotten very few unpostable books but it does happen. I'm the norm .... unpostable books are not the norm so in my opinion, it's not a whole lot of use to have a tizzy over the issue. I'll save my coronary for a big issue, like a sick kid or the doctor ripping me off for a couple thousand dollars (true story! lol). Not an unpostable book that chances are I can still read anyhow. For me, I'd rather invest my negative energy elsewhere. 

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 2:50 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Susan - thank you so much for your extensive post.  Unfortunately, where I live all  of the options you list are more expensive than PBS.  With the exception of stoop sales, which only occur in summer and one is at the mercy selection-wise of what people choose to offer for sale.  UBSs are very, very expensive here, and they have mostly stopped having FOL sales.  They put whatever thay have online and sell it at a premium.  You can occasionally find books at goodwill, but the selections are laughable.  I don't own a car, so if large boxes of books were a factor I'd have to zipcar it, which would be ridiculous.  PBS really is a money saving godsend.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 3:11 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,187
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Caviglia: Bummer! I can see where if you don't own a car you're limited in what you can do. What part of NYC do you live in? I have a friend (ex co-worker actually) who moved back to Brooklyn and I know she goes regularly to whatever FOL sale she goes to. Her's are a bit more expensive but still cheaper than PBS. 

Even San Francisco still holds FOL sales ... again, more expensive but they, and an FOL store, exist there. 

ETA: Oh hey, I just clicked on the link and it goes to Brooklyn. You must live there too? I'll find out where she goes . . . I'm pretty sure it was somewhere in Brooklyn cuz she doesn't own a car either. In fact, when she decided to "do something different" and take a job in California she had no idea how to even drive a car! lol She came here, learned, bought a car and lasted a little over a year then decided she hated California lol. She moved back to Brooklyn and again, doesn't need a car. :) 



Last Edited on: 2/18/10 3:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
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