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Topic: Requested books mailed from Amazon not from sender

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Subject: Requested books mailed from Amazon not from sender
Date Posted: 4/23/2014 1:45 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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I have encountered a curious situation regarding books I have requested and received. My two most recent requests were both accepted and marked mailed by their respective senders. When the books arrived, however, they came in Amazon packaging and included Amazon packing slips rather than the usual printouts from standard PBS wrappers or a note from the sender identifying it as a PBS trade. Neither package had any reference to PBS nor to the sender. The books also had stickers with a barcode on the back covers that I believe are from Amazon even though the name "Amazon" does not actually appear on the stickers, and both packages were mailed from an Amazon center located in Indianapolis.

I did not keep the packing slip from the package that arrived last week and unfortunately it has already gone out to the recycling bin, but I think the packing slip was very similar if not the same. The packing slip for the book that arrived today indicates it was shipped from Amazon.com, Indianapolis, IN, and has a Vendor Return RA #. Then it has a line that says "Amazon.com Vendor Return -- OVERSTOCK (RA # ....)".

It appears that in both cases the books are from members who posted them on PBS but then sent them somehow through Amazon, and the Vendor Return notification with an RA # on the packing slip adds to the mystery. Any ideas of what might be going on here?

Date Posted: 4/23/2014 1:59 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2010
Posts: 4,318
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Perhaps they were trying to help PBS out by ordering the books through Amazon?  I'm not 100% sure how it all works, but I believe that PBS gets some sort of profits from members buying from Amazon.

The bad thing about doing it that way is that the member wouldn't be able to see the book to make sure it's in postable condition for PBS, nor would they know if the order was processed correctly.  Sometimes you can buy things from Amazon & the order is wrong.

I'm sure there are other possibilities but that was the first thing that came to my mind anyway.

Date Posted: 4/23/2014 3:42 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,090
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It's quite possible that the members you ordered from are Amazon booksellers. Booksellers can be members here, they just can't systematically use PBS to obtain books to sell.

Date Posted: 4/23/2014 9:55 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 332
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I had this happen a couple of months ago. I PMed the seller to ask why, and he said he'd had quite a lot of books for sale from the Amazon warehouse that were about to time-out and be turned into recycled paper by Amazon, so he listed them on PBS. I had requested three books from him and they arrived in two separate packages from Amazon. One book never arrived and the member said that Amazon had told him the could no longer find the book; I got my credit back for that one.

Date Posted: 4/23/2014 10:21 AM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 706
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Wow, that is so interesting!  Amazon was going to shred them?  Yikes!

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 4/23/2014 11:04 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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That's the FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) service. If you see an item for sale on Amazon that says "sold by x, fulfilled by Amazon", it means that x has sent his products in to the Amazon warehouse and Amazon will be the one shipping them if you buy them. It's usually faster and sometimes cheaper to buy something that is shipped from Amazon. I think you can also get free shipping if you're a Prime member on these types of items, which you can't get if the item is shipped from a 3rd party seller.

The problem for sellers is if they send a bunch of inventory to Amazon and it doesn't sell quickly enough. After a while, Amazon doesn't want to keep storing stuff that isn't moving, so they tell the seller "either you pay for us to pull it and ship it back to you, or we'll destroy it." If the value of the merchandise is low, it's not worth paying Amazon's storage, shipping and handling fees, so sellers let Amazon destroy the old goods.

Date Posted: 4/23/2014 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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My first thought was also that this person was an Amazon seller and the books might not have been moving there so they listed them on PBS.  Most book sellers are also avid readers and they may have decided if they couldn't get any money for the book anymore, they could at least get a PBS credit to get a different book that they can read.  It's a win/win really: you get a book you want for pretty cheap and they get to unload a book they no longer want/need and can use the credit to get something they do want/need. As long as they aren't stripping PBS of books to sell then it's OK. And really, used books retain so little value, I can't see any one being able to make much money trying to get books  from PBS to sell at a profit.

Last Edited on: 4/23/14 12:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2014 11:43 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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I PM'ed the second sender to tell him that the book arrived from Amazon in good condition and also to let him know there was a minor error in the address to me. He replied:

"I'm currently liquidating a large inventory in the Amazon fulfillment center that was about to be destroyed.
I must have made a mistake when copy/pasting your address."

So, this corroborates that Amazon will destroy books from their fulfillment center.

Date Posted: 4/24/2014 7:35 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 3,288
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amazon's fulfillment warehouses handle other things besides books. I buy tea from amazon and the tea comes from various brands but the tea is fulfilled from amazon. If you drink much tea it's a good way to buy some interesting varieties.

Date Posted: 4/25/2014 12:24 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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I just requested two more books from the sender who told me he is liquidating an inventory of books on Amazon that is about to be destroyed. Both are hard-to-find books that will be nice additions to my collection and that I would hate to see destroyed. I understand that Amazon is a business that looks at their bottom line, but I do not support destroying books of cultural value and significance simply because they are not making a profit quickly enough.

Date Posted: 4/27/2014 2:12 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2007
Posts: 208
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  I realize it's likely a business decision, but wow.  Couldn't they be donated to schools, or libraries, or prisons? Something?

Last Edited on: 4/27/14 11:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/27/2014 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2010
Posts: 2,395
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In my experience the Corporate Mindset is all about the bottom line. The time and resources it would take to donate them to a worthy institution equals $$$ out of their pocket. It's cheaper to just destroy them and move on. 

Date Posted: 4/28/2014 1:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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I agree with your comments, Nancy, but this situation is distressing nonetheless. Must everything be about the dollar and profits? I don't think so, but unfortunately this is the Corporate Mindset.

Date Posted: 4/28/2014 1:14 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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And on a tangential but related issue, it is distressing that books without ISBNs are often destroyed or sent to a landfill simply because they do not have an ISBN or barcode.

The mentality seems to be that if a book can't be scanned then it can't be as easily listed for sale, and therefore has no $$$ value. This affects many older books that had the misfortune of being printed before the ISBN system came into being in the late 60's and early 70's. What a terrible loss!

Last Edited on: 4/28/14 1:15 AM ET - Total times edited: 1