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Topic: It's Really That Hard?

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Subject: It's Really That Hard?
Date Posted: 2/1/2009 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
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I'm just venting. It will probably get long too.

Yesterday i received a book i had been waiting over 6 months to get from my Wish List. It's the second book shipment in a row i have received that my post office had to place a sticker sealing it back up stating it was received by them unsealed.

I'm in the Midwest so right now we have about 8 inches of snow everywhere, so the weather has been atrocious.

I took pictures of the packaging. Because i'm anal l ike that and dread the 'Well i packaged it nicely it's not MY fault' scenario with the sender.

It was wrapped in one sheet of pink printer paper, but sealed with scotch tape. No wonder it came open. Inside, the book was placed inside a too-small Ziploc baggie that is sized for a sandwich, but the book is slightly smaller than trade sized, so the bottom of the book hung out the end of it and there's no way it could possibly be sealed.

I pull the book out and the bottom has been kind of battered. It looked okay (as in marginally postable) til i flipped through and saw the bottom of the book has water damage all along it. It's not REALLY bad, and to me it looks like it's water damage previous to its trip to my house. Also, there are little blue spots randomly along the bottom, so yay, mold too! I hit the jackpot!

I took pictures of the book and the condition. Just so i had them in case of the 'It does not have any such things!' conversation.

So i sent off a message to the sender and PBS, and marked it RWAP. I asked for my credit back, not knowing IF it would actually happen but i mentioned i'd really been waiting a while on this book, and worst come to worst, the hardcover is still on my WL.

I was really nice about it (i thought - it is kind of hard to be 100% perky-nice all the time in dealing with these annoying issues). I mentioned that i didn't think the mold would come into being during the short trip through the mail, so i was relatively sure that it was like that before she sent it so i marked it as damaged by sender, and suggested the next time she use a plastic bag it should probably be able to close around the book, or else using a bag doesn't really help, and also scotch tape isn't postal regulation quality.

She came back and said she was 'offended' by my statement that she sent it moldy because when she sent it it was a brand new book (of course it was) and she was new to the site, and had sent out 10 books now and only received three, and that she knew that was not MY fault but she just didn't think this site was for her because she was tired of sending out brand new books to people and getting nothing in return. OH and she told me one of the workers at the post office even helped her wrap her book.

It took me awhile to get into the swing of things when i first started here, and it was slow to begin with because i don't read a lot of the most popular fiction and didn't even KNOW about things like paranormal romance as a genre, and all the fantasy i could get here and so on and so forth. I have only sent out 45 books but i have used the book bazaar often and have been happy with what i have gotten, mainly because i like to read books that have been out awhile as i never really have had the money to go buy new books all the time and there's a wide variety of older material still out there for me to read that is usually available. I put a few things on my WL and wait patiently for them to come to me and i have boxes of books to read now that i don't quite read fast enough it seems.

So i took pity on this person and it's about the last time i will do so because i am tired of the sob story.

I told her i would forgo asking for my credit back, i don't want it, and she should give this site another chance and try to understand that if she is here to get brand new books straight off the book store shelf she should alter her expectations and find some things to read that are more readily available. I told her that over the course of time she probably WILL put books she paid 'good money' for at the store and that in return she could either put the newest read she would love on her WL or find something else, as she would find over time that this place really is a wonderful place and worth the time. I told her she's far luckier than i was; i had maybe sent out 10 books by the time i was here 6 months, and that it didn't bother me because it takes time when you don't start out with a huge shelf at home. I also informed her she can go to the boko bazaar and find great deals and stretch her credits, or play a game where everyone involved gets a book from their wish lists.

I also suggested that instead of using scotch tape and ziploc bags, she might invest in a roll of plastic postal wrap, and some packing tape, which will help ensure that the only credit she loses on a book will be one that doesn't arrive, and that i don't know why the postal worker helped her wrap using scotch tape, because it's just not what they use, and i went no further on that subject.

Also, Goodwill, i told her, is a good place to find cheap wish listed books to be snatched up without spending 12 dollars on a book she doesn't think is worth sending out to someone like me, for fear it's a waste.

I personally never count postage in as a huge cost of this site. Sure, i need the 3 bucks or more of less that it takes to send a book out but for every book i send out and use my credit on a new book, someone is out there using their money, so to me, it cancels out. I know not everyone feels this way about it but my husband is a huge anal freak about money and he is the one who told me that the postal money shouldn't count in my figuring. I have sent out books i bought brand new on clearance for 6.99, but i have also sent out brand new books i bought at Goodwill for 50 cents.

I'm just tired of people using 'Oh i'm new here and this site stinks because i didn't read the rules and can't take the consequences' excuse. The first book i ever sent out from here came open in the mail, and the man who received it was kind enough to be understanding that it was my first book and show me the Help Docs so i could learn how not to make those mistakes again. And i never have. I wrap nicely, and do my best never to send out a questionable book.

I try to be really nice to people who seem to be having issues but that will probably be the last credit i give up because i felt bad because someone doesn't understand this isn't an instant freebie site.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 9:12 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2006
Posts: 472
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I think people have just become incapable of admitting they made a mistake.  We all mess up sometime.  Apologize, fix it you can, and move on.  I'm not sure why people don't seem to get that.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2006
Posts: 35,125
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Kate, I think you're exactly right.  Good observation.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 9:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 2
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The Dollar Tree has great clear shipping tape for $1 a roll.  I ship a lot of books and other packages and have used this tape for a long time without problem.  I also ship my books in bubble mailers, but I buy the mailers in large quantities, so they aren't that expensive.  I can't imagine shipping books using nothing but scotch tape.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,671
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I think Kate has it exactly!  We all were new to the site once, that's not an excuse for not fully reading the rules and adhering to them.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 9:57 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2006
Posts: 35,125
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I think part of this problem is having the PBS Wrapper tutorial in the Help Center.   It does mention not to use only scotch tape for mailing, but honestly, unless you use packing tape on all the edges and corners, printing paper just doesn't hold up well through the mail system.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 10:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2009
Posts: 408
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Maybe there needs to be a top ten things you need to know that new members have to agree to before they can list books.  Then you can't claim ignorance.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 11:01 PM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
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That's an interesting idea Manda! LOL

I do think people just don't want to admit they did what they did. There is too much going on between New York and California (and beyond) mail-wise and therefore no one wants to admit what they can blame on someone else like a mail carrier, even if the mail carriers can be blamed sometimes. I think also that being on the internet seems to absolve some people of their personal responsibility because there's no way for us to know for sure what happened on the other end.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 5,751
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Actually Amanda, that is a great idea! A 10 point contract that spells out the most important thing a new member should know.


Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:29 AM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2008
Posts: 1,417
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Actually, what would be really great, is if part of your joining process is a page that you have to click the radial buttons to "yes, I understand" for the top 10 (or however many) many points newbies should know. It could be preset to "no, I don't understand" and the new member has to physically click on the "yes, I understand" button.


Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:47 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 387
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I am all for having new members understand the rules.  Everyone should be following the same set of guidelines and I don't think I didn't know is generally a poor excuse.

As a new member resources like this forum are great to understand that ins and the outs of how the site works, but a lot these posts seemed pretty determined to condescend to and disparage new members.  All the posts from new members commenting on how many books of theirs were requested or wishlisted when they first posted them should be an indication of how much the site benefits from the newbies posting all these highly requested books. Also how overwhelming joing a site and having 10 requests the next day can be.

Maybe a newbie tutorial for the first few postings would be more effective but the itemized check list seems obnoxious.  Not to mention if someone is determined to ignore the rules they are going to do it regardless of how many "I agree" buttons they don't read and have to click.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 2:53 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I would have to disagree with the "I agree" arrangement.  How many times have you actually read the "fine print" of a site (like getting a Yahoo email account, etc.) before you clicked the "I agree" button?  Just because they click it doesn't mean they read it.  If they haven't read it, they still don't know.  So I would suggest that a mini "test" like the sites that ask you to type the scrambled letters before you can join.  But in this case it could be a multiple chioce question like "What conditions disqualifies a book from being postable on PBS?" and have 4 conditions with a "none of the above" and an "all of the above" option available.  They would have to answer this before posting their books on the site.  Only one question would work okay.  And it could vary in subject to include the "preparing a book for mailing" question.  Only one question that is randomly shown but requires a correct answer that they would have to read the rules/guidelines to know. 


Date Posted: 2/2/2009 4:09 AM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2008
Posts: 1,417
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Well, as a new member, I can say that I am not impressed with how new members are talked about in the forums. When you sign up, there is a little info about how-to play by PBS rules, but a lot needs to be researched in the help docs. Most of the complaints I've read from seasoned swappers has been because the newbie would have know if he/she read the help docs.

How do I know I've done something wrong if I don't know it's wrong to do? So, putting things in a bulleted list of the top ten things newbies don't know, or common mistakes, etc, would help me. By adding a way for the newbie to actively aknowledge before proceeding will point out to the newbie that this info is actually important.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 5:24 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
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Melissa - this thread always stays at the top and is especially to help the new members - Tips for new members

While I do see complaints about new members I also see members that have been here awhile happy to answer any questions anyone has.  

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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I've never seen blue mold, could it have been an ink pen?  just curious.

hopefully she takes your words to heart and gives the site another chance.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 10:36 AM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 6,386
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Hey Melissa, I'm kind of with you - as a relative newbie myself I feel badly being lumped into a group of people who don't read the rules or don't know how this site works.  I know that I personally browsed all of the help documents really carefully before I started posting and swapping because I wanted to know how the site works and make sure I didn't do something wrong.  That didn't prevent me from making a mistake with the very first 2 books I shipped (you guessed it, mixing up the pre-printed labels and mailing the wrong books to the wrong people) and I felt really badly about it.  Fortunately, everyone was very nice and understanding, I think because I admitted right away that I made a mistake, offered a credit to make up for the additional postage, etc.  Which brings me to my point - I don't think it's necessarily being new that means people have this attitude about mistakes.  I think no matter how long you have used this site, you are going to come across people who don't want to play by the rules.  I know I received a book that had water damage which I know is a no-no, and the person who was a long-time user of the site seemed a bit put off by my suggestion that the posting was against the rules (fortunately, gave my credit back no problem).

I think this is a great site if you come into it with the right attitude and expectations.  I expect that I will receive used books.  I'm grateful for the help I get from other members and in the forums like this one.  (Thanks for all of the help and suggestions I have received so far!)  I know not everyone I deal with is going to be equally pleasant, unfortunately, but I go into every book swap hoping for the best.  The fact is, some people will admit they made a mistake and some people won't - I don't think it depends on how long you have been on this site.  I'm sorry for the people who keep getting excuses from new members about not knowing the rules, but please realize that not all of us are like that.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2008
Posts: 250
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I am a relatively new member.  I think starting here is hard.  Even if you sit and read every thing in help section, it is too much information to remember.  And you don't know which rules, problems, etc to look up if you don't know it is a rule, guideline, etc.  I have learned much more lurking in the forums learning from others mistakes.  But it took me a long time to discover the forums.  It is all a learning process.  Give us time.  That doesn't mean you should get screwed but be gentle!!  We really try to do our best.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2006
Posts: 4,972
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I think people have just become incapable of admitting they made a mistake.


I too think that is a BIG problem here! The last book I had to mark RWAP, the person INSISTED they bought the book new and no one smoked so it could not possibly smell like smoke. Well, the book reeked of smoke and the INSIDE of the envelope reeked too, so I have to believe they were lying to me and just could not admit they were in the wrong.


I have A LOT of respect for someone who simply admits they were in the wrong and makes it right. How hard is it to be an adult and do that?

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:26 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2006
Posts: 4,110
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I think I am more in the "some just can't admit they made a mistake" camp, or "the rules apply, except in this case.." .  It may sometimes seem like newbies get bashed a lot, but there are just as many complaints about members who's been around awhile who justify sending bad books out with; "well I got it here like that",  "It's used book you know", or my all time favorite "What do you expect for a free book", LOL

Thing is, we've all been new, we've all made mistakes.  I've made the press-n-seal error, and the mix up the requestors send them the wrong book mistake, and yes it sucks to have to either re-emburse or dish out extra credits to fix them.  I was lucky with the press & seal incident, the requestor was very nice, didn't want the credit back as they got the goo off the book easily, and I appreciated the heads up and never repeated my error.

I think everyone is all for not being to hard on new members, we certainly want to encourage them, not gang up on them.  However there comes a time when the "I'm new" excuse wears just as thin as the ones I mentioned above do from other members. 


Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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No one is criticizing new people just for being new. If this doesn't apply to you, why take it personally? I haven't seen anyone say that all new people are like this, if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it. :-)

Last Edited on: 2/2/09 12:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/2/2009 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/20/2007
Posts: 1,046
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I am definately not *bashing* new members. What i don't like or understand is the incapability of admitting they made an error. I have never once on a complaint gotten an 'Oh i am sorry, i'll try and remember that next time!' Or a 'Oh crap, i didn't even think about that! Thanks for the info!'

It's not ink pen, either. It might be more green than blue. It's all along where there is water damage. It's barely there but it IS there in at least a dozen spots.

I understand people make mistakes, but i am tired of everyone claiming that the only books they post are absolutely brand new and only read by them, and they were perfect when put into the mail so it's not their fault. *I* don't only post brand new books. I post older copies usually but i have posted brand new books. If someone is only buying brand new books then that's really great and that's awesome for the members here. And yes, newbies do bring more books here, and that's great too.

This site is not hard to use. It's a little confusing when you first start out but if a person explores the site and asks questions they learn a lot faster than someone who just tosses their books in a bag and mails it out, thinking 'Well, how else does one ship a book?' We have about 30 good ways to ship a book here and i have never seen anyone bite off anyone's head for asking an honest question about how to properly mail one.

And i don't think i was harsh on her either. I wasn't all bitchy about it. At the end of my PM i wrote:

I am not angry, or upset, and i hope my mesage conveys this, but i also have no wish to run my fingers across mold or breathe it in as i flip pages. Thank you!

After a person has been here awhile, they run into a few people who are absolutely non-apologetic about the books they send, regardless of condition. Out of the few times i have received a book where i should have had a credit returned i probably only ask for them 3/5 times. Because i DO know what it's like to be new here and be confused. Other people ask for their credit back each and every time regardless of excuse.

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I generally look to see how long a sender has been a member.  It's not hard if their shelf is public.  If they are new - I take that into account.  But then I've run into a couple of new members who made more than one mistake on my order (sent wrong book and had water damage).  They weren't easy to deal with and were insistent on getting their book back without an extra credit for postage.  I really dislike getting into protracted PM's where they want books back and don't want to help me with it or recognize that there was an error made.  They were also intent on re-listing even though the book was water damaged. Granted it was a small amount of water damage, but I've gotten enough of them that I now can see it with very little in the way of time spent in examining the book. Very frustrating for me.  When I joined I found the site a little daunting so I joined and refrained from listing 10 books until I'd explored the entire site.  I joined in Dec.and sent out my first books in March.  I'm not saying eberybody should do what I did, but it doesn't hurt to do a little reconnassance before diving in.  Anyway, I stand by my suggestion of the mini-quiz before posting!


Date Posted: 2/2/2009 4:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 6,386
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I do like the idea of a top 10 list for new members - even if it wasn't an "I agree" type of list, it would be handy to have a quick guide to the rules (perhaps even with a link to the more detailed help document).

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 6,447
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As a tour guide I get a lot of live help questions about  books that were received that should not have been posted.  I usually advise them to contact the sender, to copy and paste the PBS posting guidelines in their PM and to request their credit back. I also tell them that they are not responsible for sending the book back at their expense. If the sender wants the book back then they need to send $$ or buddy a credit for postage. I also advise them to take a picture of the damage if they can and to keep all of their PMs in the event that there is no amicable agreement.

And it isn't always new members. You can tell pretty much if something was damaged by the PO as opposed to being sent damaged. When in doubt blame the PO and MOVE ON! Sometimes it's just not worth the battle.

I have to say that any time I have marked a book RWAP I've never had a problem with the member reimbursing my credit and I've always reimbursed if it's my mistake. But I have to mention that I don't really care if I can repost it. I want to read it more than anything and if I happen to be the last person to get a read out of a book, that's fine.

We will probably all run across that swapper that no way, no how did they send a book that wasn't postable. all the above excuses apply. I'm not saying that you shouldn't mark books  RWAP. You definitely should. PBS keeps track of bad swappers and if there are complaints that aren't resolved then they will suspend/cancel their memberships.

I've been a member almost 2 years. I have received hundreds of books and 99% of them meet the guidelines. It's not that difficult. And I honestly cannot think of a swap where I had to mark it RWAP. I know I've done it but I can't remember now.

Don't fret if you have unpostable books.

You can put them in your siggy or on your profile and offer them as a freebie with an order or you can play in the unpostable swaps in the games forum.


Date Posted: 2/2/2009 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/26/2008
Posts: 11
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I just had an experience where I got a close-to-new book that was poorly wrapped.  The wrapping had been torn in transit and had also been taped to the book itself.  As the book was still in great shape, I did not mark it RWAP and wrote to the sender with a thank-you and a heads-up about the torn wrapper and the tape on the book (which is a not only a no-no in the rules, but contrary to common sense). 

I have written such feedback dozens of times on the SwapaCD site and have always gotten thanks. 

This person chose to take my feedback badly and accuse me of complaining about the book I received and not contributing to the "spirit of PBS".  As they had also chosen not to have a public identity, I have no way of knowing how long they have been with PBS, but I can tell they have not traded many books.

Many angry words sprung to mind and I was all ready to respond with vigor to this attack upon my character.  Then I remembered how kind everyone was when  I was making my mistakes.  PBSers are willing to go above and beyond to make this place a great place to be.  If he is unwilling to learn from his mistakes, I don't have to order from him ever again.  Too bad.  There was another book on his bookshelf I kinda would have liked to have.

I will continue to emulate the kind people on this site and give constructive feedback when it is warranted.

Thank you all for your good examples.