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Topic: Q about who 'eats' the points in a RWAP?

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Subject: Q about who 'eats' the points in a RWAP?
Date Posted: 4/23/2012 2:43 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 572
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I recently sent out a book and was RWAPed by the receiver for condition. I have no reason to disbelieve him/her, but I also know that when I sent out the book it was in good shape. The receiver said that there was no damage to the packaging, so they didn't mark it as damaged by USPS. If I choose not to return the point, are they out a point, or does the system absorb the deficit? I know that when it's shipping damage neither the sender or the receiver is charged, but I wasn't sure about other cases. I feel badly if they are out a point through no fault of their own, but it wasn't my mistake either, so I am trying to figure out the best thing to do.

(On the plus side, a polite conversation was had by all about the RWAP, with no nastiness - frustration maybe, but not nastiness. We always seem to read on the forums about problem RWAP situations where people let their emotions get the better of them, but this was not one of them.)

Date Posted: 4/23/2012 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,283
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When books are ordered, PBS debits the credit from the requestor and holds the credit in "escrow". When the book is marked received, the credit is automatically given to the sender. When a book is marked RWAP, the sender has the option of returning it or not.

There are no cases of a received book (RWAP or not) where the PBS system "eats" the credit. The sender always receives the credit, the requestor must always ask for it back if they want it back, and the sender chooses whether or not to refund.

In the case of damaged in the mail, the sender gets the credit, and the requestor gets the damaged book. The requestor can ask fo rthe credit back from the sender, if they feel that bad packaging on the part of the sender caused the post office to damage the book.

The only time a credit is returned to the requestor by PBS is when a book goes lost in the mail and the requestor never received it. So, the credit comes out of "escrow" and goes back to the requestor. The sender gets nothing, in this case. (The only exception is when the sender has either 1. used PBS DC AND the book was scanned, OR 2. used PBS postage. In both of these cases, there is a fee paid to PBS that insures the credit for the sender, too. In the case where the book goes lost, the requestor gets their credit back, and the fee that the sender paid to PBS means that they also keep an extra credit for mailing).

So, if you choose to refund the credit, then you will be out the credit. If you choose not to refund the credit, then the requestor is out the credit.

The general guideline in a case like this, is, if you think that you might have missed the damage when you mailed the book, then you should refund the credit. If you believe that you checked the book over very carefully and you do not believe it has the damage that the requestor is indicating when you mailed it, then politely decline to refund the credit.

Sometimes damage like spine damage can occur in the mail, even without obvious damage to the packaging.

Last Edited on: 4/23/12 3:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 4/23/2012 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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When a receiver marks a book RWAP, damaged by sender, then it's up to the sender to return the credit. If you know for a fact that the book was not damaged when you sent it, then you're not under any obligation to return the credit. The receiver will keep the book, and they can post it in the bazaar as an unpostable book if they wish.

The site only reimburses those who send books out and they get lost, if they have purchased PBS DC. That extra money goes to keep money in the pot for books that go lost. The sender gets their credit, guarenteed, and the receiver gets their credit back when the system marks it lost.

Sometimes the book can be damaged without any damage to the wrapping. Too much heat, too puch pressure, and brittle glue in the spine can break or come undone, leaving lose pages and/or a cleaved spine.

Unfortunately, when there's a third party involved, such as the P.O., the receiver takes the hit when a book is damaged. But when a book goes lost, the sender takes the hit unless they pay extra.

I wouldn't feel too bad about it, if it's clearly not your fault. There will be times when you'll end up with a book damaged the same way, or in other ways will be the last owner. Every book comes to the end of its life at some point.


Date Posted: 4/23/2012 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 572
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Thanks, both of you. I guess I was conflating the "insurance" for lost books with the RWAP-damaged by PO situation. I strongly suspect that the spine got messed up during transit even though the packaging didn't have problems. I guess it's a no-win situation, which is frustrating. Either I refund the point and feel like I possibly got gypped, or the receiver is out a point and didn't get a postable book out of it.

Date Posted: 4/24/2012 2:34 AM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,365
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The Post Office is a pretty amazing organization, but the occasional package does get mangled.  I'm really sorry this happened to your book, Laura. 

The site rules spread the pain a bit: If the Post Office returns the damaged book to the sender, the sender takes the hit.  If it's delivered to the requestor, the requestor takes the hit.  The idea of having the site cover the credit in cases like this seems logical at first, but each time the site generates a credit, they have to have money or a book to back it, per IRS and accounting rules.  I think a high priority is to keep costs down and membership free.

Date Posted: 4/24/2012 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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Either I refund the point and feel like I possibly got gypped, or the receiver is out a point and didn't get a postable book out of it.

The way I see it, at least the receiver can read the book so it's not as if they're getting nothing. Yes, the book cannot be posted again but it happens sometimes that people receive a postable book that is on its last read and cannot be posted again.

Date Posted: 4/24/2012 10:15 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,136
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Something I have to remind myself of occasionally is the low cost of media mail shipping.  My first thought when the post office damages a package is that the post office should pay for their mistake.  However, they DO offer insurance, but all of us are looking for the cheapest possible way to mail, and that's media mail, uninsured.  In order to take advantage of this great rate, we have to occasionally accept that a book will be damaged in transit.  I'd rather take the rare loss for a damaged package than pay for insurance on every book I mail.  When I think about it that way it makes me feel better! smiley


Date Posted: 4/29/2012 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2009
Posts: 21
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The same thing just happened to me, the sender, in that there was no damage when I read it,  but then the receiver reported spine damage. I am not refunding the credit (I pay the extra $ to PBS, so had it already), but would it be rude for me to point the receiver to the unpostable wish lists thread? I know this book has a wish list usually, and she could probably get a credit for it there, esp. since it's in otherwise excellent condition (or was, when I sent it).