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Topic: Received with a problem

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Subject: Received with a problem
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 8:28 AM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2011
Posts: 6
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I am fairly new to PBS. I have listed 7 books (5 of which have already been sent to other members). I also "bought" a book from another member (using a credit). In those 6 transactions, I have already had 2 troubled transactions. The first was the book I received. It has pencil underlining all through it. I am waiting for the member to reply to my complaint (listed it as received but damaged by the sender). So far, has not not replied. Tomorrow will be a week and I can indicated that he has not replied. PBS will then step in on my behalf.

Now I have a member claiming that a book I sent was damaged by the USPS. Here is my question...is it OK to ask for a photo of the damaged book be e-mailed to me? I would like proof that the book is damaged before I refund the credit. I will happily do so if it was damaged, but I imagine that some people will just claim damage to get the free book without it costing them a credit.

I'm now averaging a 33% rate of problemed transactions...no happy so far.

P.S. I should add that the book was a normal-sized paperback and was actually wrapped in brown mailing paper and packing tape...so it was packed better than is recommended. Do YOU refund for damage by the USPS?

Last Edited on: 1/20/12 8:33 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 8:59 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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From the Help Center doc "There is a problem with a book i received!":

Once you have marked the book(s) received, give the sender 5 days to respond.

If you don't hear from the sender within 5 days:

  • For problem books that were marked received and are now in your Transaction Archive: go to your Transaction Archive  and click the "Was Problem Resolved?" button.  Then choose "The sender didn't answer PM asking to discuss this."  This will send an email to the sender, making it clear that she or he needs to respond or forfeit credit for this swap.

If you don't hear from the sender within 2 days after you have done the above to send that "follow-up" email to the sender, contact us.  Failure to respond (in an active account) is considered admission of fault in a problem swap.

I've emphasized the portion describing the next step you should take. As far as the book that was marked as having been damaged by the USPS, it sounds as if your packaging was more than adequate. As such, there's no need for you to refund the credit. Per the same Help Center doc as above:

Damaged by USPS

  • You will have the option to describe the book condition problem in a text box - the text you type in will be included in an email, and sent as a Personal Message, to the sender.
  • You will have the option to request a credit refund - this is UNchecked by default for this problem type.  If you check this option (if you believe the Wrapping contributed to the book's damage by USPS), the email the sender gets will include the request for a credit refund. If you leave this unchecked,  the email sent to the sender will NOT mention or request a credit refund.

On the other side of that coin, from the Help Center doc "A requestor says there is a problem with a book I sent!"

Damaged by USPS

  • This means a book that was damaged by USPS during its journey.  Normally this is just bad luck, and does not warrant a credit refund.  However, if the Wrapping was inadequate (you didn't seal the envelope, or you left any part of the book exposed, or you used Scotch tape), the requestor may feel it contributed to the damage and may ask for a credit refund.
  • To resolve this: review How to Wrap a Book and decide if your book wrapping was adequate.  If not, you should refund credit.  If you feel it was adequate, you should reply to the requestor politely saying that, and that you don't feel a refund is warranted.

Hope this helps. I also hope these experiences don't discourage you from continuing confidently. Over the course of my time here, problem swaps have accounted for only 6%, and the vast majority of those were resolved satisfactorily. 

Last Edited on: 1/20/12 9:04 AM ET - Total times edited: 5
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 9:40 AM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2011
Posts: 6
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Thanks for the input, James. I appreciate it. I did just that...went in and marked the transaction that the sender has not replied to my PM. If I hear nothing by Sunday at this time, I will contact PBS.


As far as the other book, I think I will PM the person and refer them to the article on damage by the USPS. I have not decided if I will refund the credit as I have no control over what happens once the book leaves my possession.



Last Edited on: 1/20/12 9:46 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 11:50 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,293
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Yes, normally you would not refund credits due to postal damage. Unless your wrapping contributed to the damage.

I would like to point out something that you might not have thought about, though.

Brown paper bags are very rough in texture, easily disintegrated by water, and packing tape does not stick to it well. So, actually, brown paper bags are one of the worst wrapping choices. The recommended wrapping of printer paper (for mass market sized paperbacks) actually holds up extremely well to mailing. I've mailed out more than 1000 books, most in the printer paper wrapper, and out of that more than 1000, only 1 has ever been marked received with postal damage.

On the other hand, I have received more than one brown paper bag package, and that type of paper usually arrives ripped and torn, or with the tape peeled off. Also, the only ripped open and empty wrappers that I have ever received were brown paper (and one or 2 bubble envelopes).

Having said that, I still do not think you should necessarily refund a credit for postal damage. But, I would reconsider your choice of brown paper, definitely.

 Welcome to PBS! I hope you stick around ... problem books and problem transactions are fairly rare in my experience.  I think you will come to find that the site actually works pretty well, if you stick around a little longer.

Last Edited on: 1/20/12 11:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,365
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Brown mailing paper (or paper from a heavy-weight grocery bag) and packaging tape considered good wrapping materials here.  If you covered your packages edges, corners and seams in tape, then the USPS damage was likely bad luck.

Did the requestor ask for a credit refund?  As Jimi said, the default is not asking for the credit refund.

Date Posted: 1/20/2012 1:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,293
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Brown mailing paper (or paper from a heavy-weight grocery bag) and packaging tape considered good wrapping materials here.

I agree, they are considered good. I always thought they were OK too, until I realized that the packages that I receive in brown paper bag paper are almost always ripped or torn (the books are usually undamaged, luckily).

IMO, printer paper is actually much better because it is smooth, and doesn't disintegrate at the first drop of water, and also, tape firmly adheres to it.

I've also received around 1000 books in the mail ... I think about half the members use printer paper for paperbacks, and  I've never received a damaged white printer paper wrapper. Never. But of the brown paper bag wrappers I have received ... more than half have a rip or tear in the packaging.

So, that's been my experience.

I'm not saying that the original poster was at fault for wrapping that way. I'm just saying that in my experience, brown paper is not actually a good wrapping material.

Last Edited on: 1/20/12 1:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
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David, I suspect your percentages will get better.  Murphy's law has a way or having the bad ones up front.  My first book received has a coffee stain on it.... but I wasn't "up to snuff"  yet and didn't mark it as a problem.  Over the many books I have received the percentage of issues both with sending and receiving has been very small.  I wish you better luck on your next transactions.

Date Posted: 1/20/2012 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Don't get discouraged.  The very first book I received from PBS was a wrong book.  I was worried that I had made a huge mistake in mailing so many books out to start.  But the sender corrected the problem.  I've only received about a dozen (out of a several hundred) that I had to mark RWP. I got my credit back on all a few of that dozen.  So it's really a low percentage. 

Date Posted: 1/20/2012 8:46 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,985
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Unless you used inadequate mailing material, I believe you do not have to return the credit for damage caused by the Post Office.  You cannot control what happens to it in transit once it leaves your hand.  That is a risk one takes here at PBS.  But only you can determine if you used poor mailing material.  If it was a brown paper bag, how much tape did you use?  I cover or mummify my packages as this lessens the likelihood of damage.  Corners and edges are especially subjected to rough treatment.  If the packaging allows the book to move/slide around inside, that is not a good thing particularly a hardback as it can cause damage once on the machinery or in transit.  Be sure to always include your address and the "to" address inside the parcel in the event of loss.  Also tape the address label well so it does not tear.  Use a good packing tape; scotch tape is not acceptable.

Date Posted: 1/20/2012 10:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,136
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I often use brown bag paper to mail, I use a lot of tape and haven't had a problem with it not sticking.  The most damaged packages I receive are plain unreinforced manila envelopes where the book is sliding around inside.  And, actually, almost any wrapping that doesn't use enough packing tape.  (I don't want to turn this into another "too much tape" thread, but I really think that adequate packing tape makes the difference no matter what kind of paper you use.)



Date Posted: 1/22/2012 7:26 AM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2011
Posts: 6
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Sara P...this was not a grocery store bag..it was actual shipping paper and was taped properly, but your point is taken.

In speaking with the gentleman, he was very nice. He replied back that he thought he had unchecked the box requesting a refund. I don't think he did because there was a "Give Refund" button. But, I ended up doing it just to be nice and he appreciated it. Had he not been decnt about it, I would not have given him a refund.

Now, I STILL have a problem with the other guy. This is the guy whose book has underlining throughout. He replied:

"'I'm sorry to hear you find the book unsatisfactory. I'm sorry to inform you I will not be refunding your credit, as I inspected the book before sending and did not find any problems with it. There were no special conditions in your request and paperback swap allows a certain amount of underlining."

I politely reminded him that underlining was not permitted...unless it was a text book, which this was not. I also stated that, as underlining is against the guidelines, I do not have to specifically request that a book not have it. I gave him three days to refund the credit before I take further action with PBS.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 8:18 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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David - All transactions where you send books have the 'give refund' button once you click on 'request details' (if I want, I could refund credits for transactions successfully completed in 2010.) But I agree that he must have checked the refund option himself because this is UNchecked by default for this type of problem.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 12:19 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2010
Posts: 262
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David, just for clarity on the textbook rule - since virtually any book CAN be a textbook, the rules are that any book can have underlining and writing on text pages - but ONLY if the recipient okays it, which you didn't.

The textbook rule is the most misunderstood rule in my experience - just as your guy misunderstood it ("PBS allows a certain amount of underlining"), many people swapping actual textbooks also do. I send and request lots of textbooks, and it's all too common for me to receive a text with underlining without warning. I generally don't mind underlining much, but I really do want to help people follow the rules, so I have given a fair number of RWAPs over this.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
Posts: 2,958
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I'm sorry you ran into a bad trader right out of the gates. I've been here about a year and only had to give my first RWAP about a week ago. The person was very nice and refunded my credit even though I didn't ask for it. I've never had a complaint against me, hope that will continue for as long as I am here. I'm sure you'll have lots of problem free trades in the future.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 3:48 PM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2011
Posts: 6
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Well, he replied again that he was sorry I am not happy but would not be refunding my credit. So, I just went ahead and marked it that the sender had not resolved the issue and let the black mark go against him. I assume that is similar to a negative feedback on a site like eBay. Oh well.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 4:45 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2010
Posts: 39
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you might email the TPTB because it seems like he admitted to underlining in the text which is clearly against the rules and TPTB will step in when there is an admission of guilt...and that 1st message from him sounds like an admission of guilt.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 5:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,365
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Please go down to the bottom right corner of any page.  Under "company" click on "contact us."  Use the Feedback option to talk to the PBS Admin Team.   Copy and paste your PM exchange for them.

Since he states that he believes a certain about of underling is acceptable, I believe they'll step in on this one.

Date Posted: 1/22/2012 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I agree, you may wish to refer your incoming RWAP to PBS Admin.  Based on the sender appearing to admit he knew the book had underlining on text pages, which is NOT allowed (except per the textbook waiver which was not involked by him or approved by you). 

If it's a matter of two members not being able to agree on book condition, TPTB will not step in.

So sorry your early transactions have been difficult  broken heart

Date Posted: 1/23/2012 7:37 AM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2011
Posts: 6
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OK, I have done so. We'll see what comes of it. He was really was a knucklehead about the whole thing. His casual attitude seems to indicate that he is probably used to screwing other people. 

Date Posted: 1/23/2012 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2011
Posts: 6
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I received a reply from PBS. They refunded my credit from his account since he acknowledged knowingly sending me a book that contained underlining. Now I am happy. He also will receive an e-mail from them explaining the rules and why they refunded my credit.

Date Posted: 1/23/2012 1:30 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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He replied back that he thought he had unchecked the box requesting a refund. I don't think he did because there was a "Give Refund" button.

Just an FYI - The Give Refund button is on ALL your sent transactions, even the ones that were not marked as a problem. It is always given as an option so if a credit return is done it can be tracked with the transaction.

I politely reminded him that underlining was not permitted...unless it was a text book, which this was not.

Another FYI - though your sender was completely wrong on the underlining, so is your interpretation of the textbook/workbook exception. Any and all books can be posted under the textbook exception. The key is that the sender has to send a PM and get acceptance of the underlining/highlighting/writing before sending. Just want you to know that so you get mad at someone should you receive that PM on a book you don't consider a textbook. The sender determines if a book was used as textbook/workbook, the receiver just decides if they will accept the book in the condition described. The Help Center explains that any book can be posted as a textbook, you can find the article by searching the Help Docs for *textbook*.

Glad the Team took care of the problem and is explaining to that member what they need to do before sending books with underlining.


Last Edited on: 1/23/12 1:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/23/2012 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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I'm glad you got your credit back David. Hopefully the sender has learned something too.

Bruce -
Date Posted: 1/23/2012 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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I'm surprised at how many people use the RWAP. In almost 200 transactions, I have only been disappointed once with the condition of a book but I didn't think it was bad enough to give a RWAP. I have only been tagged by a RWAP once and refunded the credit though I felt our disagreement about the condition of the book was subjective (what is "like new" and what is not "like new"). I have never had a problem sending or receiving a book wrapped in brown shipping paper. The only time I received a book with the wrapper in poor condition, the sender had used a newspaper type wrapper.  Nearly every book I have received has been well wrapped and in great condition.