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Topic: PBS rant & is PBS still a non-profit or not?

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Subject: PBS rant & is PBS still a non-profit or not?
Date Posted: 1/26/2016 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 9/18/2008
Posts: 388
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Okay, stupid question (maybe more of a vent). Back when I first joined PBS there were no fees unless you used their postage.  Then they started with transaction fees to "defray costs", a transaction fee for each postage purchase, then later a transaction fee for any purchase other than postage.  Then last year they started the membership fees/ala cart program to "defray costs".  So, if the membership fees were supposed to fund the site why are we still paying postage (not the actual postage the fee they tack on top of that) and transaction fees?  Should the membership dues have replaced all the other fees?  I don't mind paying a membership but am starting to feel nickle and dimed to death with paying a transaction fee on top of postage and a transaction fee to add money to my account on top of membership fees. The cost of having a PBS account has gone up with a huge loss of members (so a lot fewer books are being posted) and a loss of services (ala cart members lost a bunch and it seems like regular members lost access to ala cart members).  I've noticed a huge drop off of books being posted, a lot fewer WL books are being posted and I've now gone months without getting any WL books instead of a few weeks at most.  Did PBS change from a non-profit to a profit when I wasn't looking?  And either way, where do they post thier revenue reports as it seems we are paying a bunch while losing services and the use of the site has gotten more difficult (more glitches, more crashes).  Anybody know?

Date Posted: 1/26/2016 6:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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I don't think it was ever truly a non-profit site/company.  the goal of most companies is to at least cover their costs.  I can't imagine what it costs for the servers and the programming for all the site can do.

I know anytime you use a credit card to pay for postage there is a fee they are charged by the credit card companies - so I'm sure that it to help offset that cost to them.  heck I went to a barber shop and they charged $0.50 if you used a credit/debit card

Date Posted: 1/26/2016 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,946
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As far as I know, PBS was never a nonprofit. Anyway, nonprofit doesn't mean free, it just means that it's not a for-profit company. Even if they were non-profit, they would still need to generate money to cover operating costs, salaries for their employees and benefits, etc. My husband used to be the president of a small nonprofit sports team, and believe me, it was never free for people to join. It cost lots of money.

Banks charge a fee to companies to accept credit cards, usually on a per transaction basis, and PBS is passing that fee onto the people who use credit cards to add money to their account. If you don't like the transaction fee, then send a check to PBS instead ... they don't charge a transaction fee for that because the bank doesn't charge THEM a fee. Of course, it will take a lot longer ...

The only reason you don't usually see a transaction fee charged to you EVERY time you use a card anywhere and everywhere is that many merchants just absorb those bank fees into their cost structure and make the products more expensive to compensate for it. So, you really are paying that fee all the time everywhere, you just don't know about it because it's not listed out separately on your receipt.



Last Edited on: 1/26/16 9:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/27/2016 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,272
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I was never under the impression that PBS was a non-profit. I signed up for Gold Key membership when it first became available several years ago, so I have been paying for a while and for me it is totally worthwhile to be a part of a book-loving community. PBS is not the most cost-effective place to get books, but for me the fellowship is priceless.

A lot of people blame the change to a tiered system of membership for the fact that there are fewer books available. I first noticed fewer books being posted at least 5 years ago and the number of available books has been slowly decreasing since. I attribute it to the rise of ebooks, the rise in mailing costs and plain old attrition. Add to that the impact of the introduction of the tiered membership system, and a lot of people are now not posting books, or have empty bookshelves, but they are taking books out of the system.

Personally, I am still getting enough WL books...I currently have a stack of 8 that have arrived in the past week that I am working my way thru and posting back into the system as I complete them. I strongly feel that as I take books from the system, I need to put books back into the system.

Date Posted: 1/27/2016 3:09 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2009
Posts: 22,139
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PBS is most certainly NOT a non-profit.  It is a for-profit company and always was and is entitled to a profit.  I have issues with them, but I hardly expect them to run this site for free.  How you perceive the value of the service they provide is a personal decision.  

I also understand the 'nickel and dimed to death' problem and I think that they do themselves more harm than good with the crappy little fees.  It's a niggling resentment that can be a serious turnoff, like charging me $.50 to renew when they already are getting $20.  Accepting only PBS money for Books for School.  I did not donate this year for the first time since the program started BECAUSE of those damn fees.  

If dropping those fees means charging Standard members $25 to STOP, that's what they should do.  MAKE IT FEE FREE.  They want those fees from ALC and Limited (after a certain number of exchanges) then go for it.  Adding to the cost of shipping books by tacking on fees does not encourage people to use their postage, especially since the USPS now does Media Mail tracking FREE.  Causing Standard members a persistent annoyance does not encourage their continuing membership.



Last Edited on: 1/27/16 3:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/27/2016 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,298
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Doesn't matter to me if it's a for profit or not. For what I get out of it, I'm more than happy to pay the $20.00 a year. I've discovered so many new authors (to me) and have received many, many books that I couldn't have afforded to purchase, and hopefully I've made many people happy by sending them books. Pat

Date Posted: 1/27/2016 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 9/18/2008
Posts: 388
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I don't have a problem paying the membership fee every year.  My point is that we pay the membership fee, then $0.50 on every book we buy postage for, then $0.50 every time we add money or pay for anything on PBS. I was under the impression (and I'm not the only one) that the membership fee was to replace the other fees not on top of them.  With the books I mail and adding $ to my account I'm paying a LOT more than the membership fee now.  PBS used to "free" to use and had more members than it does now and it seemed a lot more books posted.  With every fee increase services have gone away, members have left in droves, a lot fewer books are being posted and a lot more problems with site (crashes/glitches). 

Date Posted: 1/27/2016 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2009
Posts: 22,139
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Actually, it was 'free' because so many people donated money, credits, bought postage and Gold Key memberships that the volume of books traded paid their costs and made a profit and the also charged transaction fees for any purchase made through their Kiosk - like buying credits or PBS money, etc.  It was really 'free' and even ALC members pay $.50/trade so they pay too, just based on the number of books they get.

The fees have always driven me crazy, even when it was 'free' and I was buying Gold Key or PBS dollars for Books for School.  But once the annual membership fee hit. I started really resenting things like to pay my membership fee I had to pay a $.50 transaction fee.  It's just so petty and annoying.  But it tipped the scales and where I would have happily bought PBS dollars for Books for Schools, I refused to do so this year because of those blasted fees.

I totally understand what you're saying.  Being nibbled to death by ducks is beyond annoying and I think it's causing a lot of silent pushback.  I made no comment on Books for school, something I normally promote in games.  I won't carry a large credit balance.  I give books away rather than post them thru PBS.  I'm not sure they fully understood how perceptions would change once they went paid.  They certainly made more off me BEFORE that happened than they do now and I doubt I'm unique.

Date Posted: 2/18/2016 3:21 AM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 8,119
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Being nibbled to death by ducks is beyond annoying and I think it's causing a lot of silent pushback.  I made no comment on Books for school, something I normally promote in games.  I won't carry a large credit balance.  I give books away rather than post them thru PBS.  I'm not sure they fully understood how perceptions would change once they went paid.  They certainly made more off me BEFORE that happened than they do now and I doubt I'm unique.

Exactly how I feel RF.

Date Posted: 2/18/2016 9:29 AM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 4,979
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Adding to the cost of shipping books by tacking on fees does not encourage people to use their postage, especially since the USPS now does Media Mail tracking FREE.  Causing Standard (my edit) members a persistent annoyance does not encourage their continuing membership.

I don't have a problem paying the membership fee every year.  My point is that we pay the membership fee, then $0.50 on every book we buy postage for, then $0.50 every time we add money or pay for anything on PBS...With every fee increase services have gone away, members have left in droves, a lot fewer books are being posted and a lot more problems with site (crashes/glitches). 

They certainly made more off me BEFORE that happened than they do now and I doubt I'm unique.

Totally agree with all of the above. I will also add that due to all the Gateway errors lately I had enough trouble printing labels that I actually chose to mail from the APC rather than buy PBS postage. More money PBS lost because they can't get the Site to function properly.

 

Date Posted: 2/19/2016 9:25 AM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,750
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I've never used PBS postage or had money in my account so I avoid a lot of the headaches. I understand the 50 cent transaction fee on top of the membership renewal dues cause the credit card companies charge them for us to use our credit/debit cards.  I do know a few members who mail a physical check to PBS, but then you pay 49 cents for a stamp......wow, just to save a penny!

Date Posted: 2/19/2016 10:43 AM ET
Member Since: 9/18/2008
Posts: 388
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When I joined PBS in 2008 there were no transaction fees at all.  It was completely free to use.  There was a fee for using PBS postage  or their tracking (30 or 33 cents per if memory serves) but that was it.  So no fees if you didn't use PBS postage. I always did PBS postage or tracking so didn't mind paying that nominal fee so I would get instant credit. At some point they upped the postage fee to 55 cents per to fund the site.  I wasn't happy about it but understood, so no problem.  Then they started the 50 cent transaction fee to add money to your PBS account to fund additional features and "improvements" to the site.  As far as I could tell, there were no actual improvements since.  Then they added the Gold Key program, which again was supposed to fund improvments and additional features to the site but was optional so that was okay.  I did do the Gold Key program as I wanted the expanded WL even though $12 seemed kind of expensive to just get an expanded WL, that seemed to be the only perk to it.  Then they changed everything to the membership system (Ala Carte, Silver & Gold) which is even more expensive!  My whole family have PBS accounts.  My Mom, son and I have Gold memberships.  We've all noticed a significant drop in requests and getting books we want since the new membership requirements. It used to be that at least one of us would get at least one WL book a week or so.  Since the memberships, we've all gone MONTHS without getting any WL books and months without getting any requests for books. My siser who has an Ala Cart membership since she joined just before the memberships started, has only had 3 or so requests in over a year and gotten less than 5 WL books in over a year.  We all maintain a largish BS (Sister about 30, Mom about 50+, Son about 100+ and me about 250 to 300+) so not getting any requests is for so long is astounding.....We all keep our WL's full as we're always adding books, so Mom, Son & I have 1500 WL books between us and my Sister has 200 books on her WL.  Yet it's been months since any of us have gotten a WL book...And the site keeps crashing.  A lot of times, I get error messages or can't access the site at all.  I'm not seeing any improvements that could justify the membership fees when transactions have died down significantly.  

Date Posted: 2/19/2016 10:54 AM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,175
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It seems to me that every time there is an "improvement" to the site it gets harder to use. Maybe PBS should quit trying to "improve" things and fix existing problems. With all the money they're making from fees and memberships, they can surely afford to hire someone competent to maintain the site.

Date Posted: 2/19/2016 12:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2007
Posts: 5,776
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I know this probably won't make sense to everyone. But...

I'm glad the .55 cent postage fees are separate and people pay them separately. I don't use them because I can't afford them. I go to the Post Office - And yes that costs me time and gas money. I don't want to (can't) pay the site for something I don't use. I've mailed over 2000 books here. I can't imagin paying $1,000.00 above what I'm already paying for postage. I say if people want the service then great - let them pay for it. Please don't put it in my yearly fees.

The .55 cent Postage Printing works well with the A la Carte members - As long as they mail as many books as they get, they don't have to pay for their membership. The Free Swaps take care of their membership expenses as well as getting the ability to mail from home. Yay for them.

I understand the .50 cent Credit Card/Paypal processing fee. Credit Card/Paypal processing is NOT free to a business!!

 I pay that once a year. I used it - I paid for it. Although I'm seriously considering mailing in my check next year.

 

 



Last Edited on: 2/19/16 1:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/19/2016 1:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 9,881
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"I know this probably won't make sense to everyone. But...

I'm glad the .55 cent postage fees are separate and people pay them separately. I don't use them because I can't afford them. I go to the Post Office - And yes that costs me time and gas money. I don't want to (can't) pay the site for something I don't use. I've mailed over 2000 books here. I can't imagin paying $1,000.00 above what I'm already paying for postage. I say if people want the service then great - let them pay for it. Please don't put it in my yearly fees.

The .55 cent Postage Printing works well with the A la Carte members - As long as they mail as many books as they get, they don't have to pay for their membership. The Free Swaps take care of their membership expenses as well as getting the ability to mail from home. Yay for them.

I understand the .50 cent Credit Card/Paypal processing fee. Credit Card/Paypal processing is NOT free to a business!!

 I pay that once a year. I used it - I paid for it. Although I'm seriously considering mailing in my check next year."   yes

Date Posted: 2/19/2016 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,946
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Then they started the 50 cent transaction fee to add money to your PBS account to fund additional features and "improvements" to the site.

So, PBS was always charged that fee by the payment processor. They just decided they needed to start passing it on to the person making the transaction, instead of eating the cost themselves which is what they were doing. It's unlikely that any of that money stays in the PBS pocket at all.

With all the money they're making from fees and memberships, they can surely afford to hire someone competent to maintain the site.

It's not a matter of competance. Maintaining a web site is TONS and TONS of work even if you don't change anything on your site at all. Becasue all the people trying to use your site change their stuff all the time. Browsers change constantly, people upgrade their computers, Windows comes out with a new version, people buy tablets and phones with other operating systems, those browsers and operating systems update and change constantly ... each and every single one of these things can require work on your web site just to keep up with stuff that is changing around you through no choice of your own. Not to mention the upgrades that need to happen on their servers constantly (which are required to maintain security especially on a site which is collecting credit card numbers and personal info).

It's a full time job just to keep a site working with changes that users, hardware manufacturers, and software manufacturers are making constantly. And that's before you even try to change a single thing about how the website itself works.

I'm glad the .55 cent postage fees are separate and people pay them separately.

Yup, me too. I don't buy postage from PBS because I think the added fees are too expensive. I've learned to buy stamps for $2.72 at the APC machine and I stick those on my book when I need to mail. Or I coordinate a single trip to the PO with all my mail for the week. including non-PBS packages and whatnot that I need to mail.



Last Edited on: 2/19/16 3:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1