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Topic: PBS ethics

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Subject: PBS ethics
Date Posted: 9/18/2008 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 2,303
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A little background: I love a good bargain. I used to bargain with the best for the absolute lowest price on whatever IT was. (There lies one reason I am a fan of paperbackswap.) I am also Mormon and strive to emulate the example and teachings of Christ. Then I heard a story:

A church official with a high position took a grandson to buy a puppy. Apparently the quoted price was on the high side (hundreds of dollars), yet he paid it without question. Once they were back in the car and on their way home his son (the boy's father) questioned him, "That's quite a lot to pay for a pup?!" The man replied, "It is unseemly for a man in my position to haggle over the price of a pup."

Later, I read something else that planted the idea that driving a hard bargain, potentially at the seller's expense, was possibly a less than Christian thing to do--an attitude of getting gain over another. When we held a recent garage sale I experienced on a small scale the feelings of someone trying to take advantage of me. Through these, and other experiences, I have decided that I would rather err on the side of right, fairness, and compassion than to get the absolute best price and walk away "the winner". I would rather get the worse end of the deal and have the other person feeling like they were treated fairly and charitably, than to have them resenting my hard dealing. I would rather give to someone I thought was in need who was not, than to deny my help to someone in need because I judged them as just out to gain advantage.

Therefore I have decided to set the following PBS policy: If my requestor feels badly enough about a book I have sent for whatever reason to PM me about the condition, I will happily return their credit. Whether I did accidentally send a bad book, whether it was damaged or lost in the mail, whatever it is... if the requestor is not happy, I will return their credit. My good name and the goodwill between us is worth more to me than a $3 credit. I thought I did not necessarily expect the same of my senders.

I may have made a mistake. Today I received a hardback book. It is not hideous, but obviously much-used and damaged. It seems to have been published in 1975, in England. It has been a library book, a used-book store book, and a book-crossing book. It has a water-damaged dust jacket with a plastic library covering... but the one that bothers me is that it is squashed, the spine is not square and the back cover is separated, held on by the webbing stuff.

Question 1: What would you have done--being me, as I have explained my position?

I marked the book RWAP and asked the sender to return my credit so I could request another copy. That seemed fair to me. She replied basically "fine when I sent it, must be the PO". I replied "Of couse, nonetheless as it seems you are unwilling to return my credit, I will not be marking the problem resolved." She right away replied, "whatever ... I'll take the blunt blame for the post office  credit returned ... happy? " I told her "Thank you. Marked resolved."

but... obviously I am not happy--and neither is she. I have pretty much decided to give the stupid credit back. (I just don't know whether I am going to TELL her I have done that.)

Questions 2-?: What are your thoughts? How would YOU handle it at this point? Would you return again the credit? Would you PM further? Would you apologize for having caused her to feel bad? or (more to the point) What do you think I would like to do?

T. -
Date Posted: 9/18/2008 10:57 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
Posts: 9,989
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If it is bothering you enough to post about it here, I would say get it off of your conscience and return the credit.  

On the other hand, if you are seeking validation that you did the right thing by marking it RWAP and requesting your credit back,  I can do that, as well.  You handled it correctly and, if the book wasn't postable on PBS, you deserve the credit without feeling guilty about keeping it.

Ultimately you must decide what will make you feel satisfied.

Date Posted: 9/18/2008 11:45 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2006
Posts: 2,303
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Lol! Thanks for listening, T.   I feel validated. 

I have made my choice (which led me to make a few others tonight) and I am at peace. (I think partly that just trying to think it through while I was composing my post was very theraputic. I hadn't realized until now how LONG of a post it turned out to be. )

T. -
Date Posted: 9/19/2008 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
Posts: 9,989
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I'm glad you are at peace with it now.  And glad to see you posting on the forums--hope to see more of your well thought out posts in the future!

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 4:08 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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I agree with Tammy that you did the right thing.  I personally do my best not to get too emotional about situations like that.  If I get a book that clearly is not postable, I always mark it RWAP, because that is what we are supposed to do.  I also ask for my credit back, because that seems fair.  If they give it, I mark the problem resolved.  If not, I don't worry about it.

Personally, I wouldn't give the credit back if I didn't think that the excuse seemed valid.  I don't see how a book could get water damaged, for example, if the envelope showed no signs of water damage. 

But I also think that if you are getting upset about it, it's better to return the credit so you can sleep at night.  :)

Date Posted: 9/20/2008 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2008
Posts: 158
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If I had received a book in the condition that the OP described I would have done the same thing.Spine damage and cover seperation are too much to accept in my opinion.I'd ask for the credit back and use it on another copy or another book.I would not give the credit back to the sender.The sender has certain standard requirements they are supposed to follow.