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Topic: Is it rude to offer advice on mailing books?

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Subject: Is it rude to offer advice on mailing books?
Date Posted: 10/7/2008 10:57 AM ET
Member Since: 2/14/2007
Posts: 308
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I just recently ordered a couple of hardback books from someone.  I had pm'd them before ordering to ask if they were in good condition before I ordered.  She said they were in very good condition, so I ordered them.  She also gave me a couple of paperbacks free with the order.  Very nice of her.  Well, I got the books yesterday and they had been poorly wrapped, just in a thin envelope, no bubble wrap, padding or anything.  There was a hole in the wrapper and one of the hardbacks had gotten damaged, the spine had about an inch-long tear at the bottom and the dust jacket had been torn, too, of course.  And the book had gotten dirty, which was easily cleaned off.

I didn't want a credit back or anything like that, but I did want to make the person aware of the problem so that maybe she could wrap her books better in the future.  I pm'd her when I received the book and told her what had happened and that she might want to wrap them up differently in the future.  And I also thanked her for the deal on the books, and that's it.  She wrote back telling me that I have to expect problems from the post office and she didn't know what the problem was, especially since she gave me free books. 

Was it rude of me to email her and mention that she might wrap her books better in the future?  I thought that I was being helpful for whoever orders from her in the future so that maybe they won't run into the same problem I did, and I thought that I worded the message in a nice way.  I didn't mark the book as received with a problem either.

Angie -
Date Posted: 10/7/2008 11:00 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 3,299
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Definitely not rude. I think some people don't really realize how hard the USPS can be on books if they aren't wrapped well.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2007
Posts: 2,164
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I once got a book where the person used scotch tape to wrap it, and not enough at that, so the wrapper had torn at the corners, damaging the books.  I did let her know about the issue but I don't remember her response.  I think I just said, like, "Hey, just an FYI- you probably want to consider using packing tape and taping the corners really well before mailing because the book got damaged in transit." 

I really hate it when someone acts like you should be grateful to get damaged books when they offer you a deal, that's just not right.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 6,991
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Last Edited on: 1/19/09 1:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/7/2008 11:28 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2008
Posts: 2,213
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It's not rude at all. I am continuously amazed (though not sure why, with the state of life and people) that people react so poorly to a nicely worded suggestion. I got a book that had been taped to (with the PBS wrapper only as protection) and just said in my "notes to sender" to please not tape directly to the books. She didn't write anything nasty (or at all) back, but I hear stories like this all the time! I think it's fine what you did. Not sure if it'll change her ways, but you didn't do anything wrong!

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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I have wondered the same thing. I received 3 PBS packages this summer wrapped in brown paper - all were multiple books with hard covers, and on all of them the paper tore at the corners, not the taped seams. None of the books were damaged, and I decided not to contact the members (3 different people) although I wanted to. Brown paper apparently will tear at the corners and should not be used without reinforcing tape at every corner!! I sorta assumed I would get the reaction you did, which is why I just let it go. Sorry that you did, though, and hopefully if I receive a PM about my packaging I will try to take it as constructive!

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 12:12 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 5,062
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From reading the forums, it seems that a lot of members like the brown paper for packaging.  In my experience, I've had more of the brown paper wrappers tear on books I ordered than all other packaging types combined.  In one Box o Books shipment I received, the brown paper was torn halfway off, enough so that the postal service repackaged it in cardboard.  I've gotten several HBs and trade size PBs wrapped in brown paper where the paper was torn wherever there wasn't tape.  Just my experience.

Last Edited on: 10/7/08 12:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/7/2008 12:32 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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I certainly hope that it is not considered rude because just this morning I sent "suggestions" to two senders...One has PM'd back and she said mine was one of the first books that she had sent and she was glad to get the advice...haven't heard back from the other one.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 12:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2008
Posts: 1,748
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Isn't the brown paper meant to wrap boxes, not to be used as the only wrapping?

No, I don't think it's rude at all! Recently I got a book that wasn't wrapped in plastic and it rains here every day so the mail gets wet. Luckily there wasn't any damage but I just sent them a note and let them know. Ended up being a fairly new member. I know I appreciate feedback on if I can do something a better way. :)

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 12:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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Not rude at all.  No one knows how thier packaging will stand up unless they get feedback.  The packaging I have the least amount of problems with is the PBS wrapper, properly taped.  Envelopes, even bubble wrap and tyvec will rip if they aren't tight to the book, and stick-on labels don't always stick well at all!  I've gotten some that a strong breeze could have blown off!

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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(wrapped individ in plastic wrap, packed books in an empty cereal box, wrapped in postal paper, covered in packing tape).


just an FYI. There is no such thing as postal paper. No post office in the country sells paper to wrap boxes and they do not recommend that boxes be wrapped.

The biggest mistakes people make when packaging anything is shifting contents in the package and not enough tape.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,372
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As long as you worded it nicely, I don't think it was rude.  It certainly could have been rude--but I also figure you didn't send a nastygram but a polite suggestion.

It's hard to take helpful critisism.  I think this is for two reasons--one, so much of critisism isn't polite or helpful and sarcasm runs rampant, and two--in this society we aren't really taught (or modeled) how to properly react to it.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 1:29 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 13,147
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I don't think it was rude at all. She was a tad bit defensive in my opinion.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 2/14/2007
Posts: 308
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Thanks for all the feedback.  I know that I've read through many threads here before and gotten ideas about packaging books better. 

I thought that I was very polite about it.  It happened to me one time a couple of years ago on something I mailed out, and the person I mailed to told me about the problem, and I've made sure not to do it again.  I thought the next person that orders from this person might benefit from my pm'ing her about the problem, but she just blamed it all on the post office and not her packaging.  She said that it was wrapped better than most things she gets from here, but that doesn't necessarily make it good.  Well, I hope that once she thinks about it some more or if she ever gets something wrapped poorly herself, maybe she'll take more care then.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 1:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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definitely not, apparently she had no idea on how to wrap books.  If I have more than 1 hardback going to someone or one that is too large, I will use a box (I have quite a few smaller boxes so there always seems to be one that fits).  This way I know they are more protected than an envelope.

maybe you just caught her on a bad day

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,772
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I always send a "gentle" PM when a book arrives damaged due to poor wrapping. Most of the time I don't get any response at all, but once or twice people have thanked me for the advice.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 2:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2008
Posts: 1,051
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I have offered advice before. I don't think wrapping books in the PBS sheets should be allowed. I've had many books falling out of them & almost damaged.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 5:23 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I always give feedback - and rarely get it - no complaints on my wrapping so far ... but then I'm a crusader for protective wrapping of PBS books!  i say so when I say thank you on the PBS survey.  If it's been well-wrapped - I tell them and thank them for using plastic or whatever protective packaging.  If it came in torn and there looks to be a reason it could have been avoided (like taping up loose envelopes) I say so - nicely, I hope.  I also try to tell people who don't use some form of wet hazard protection that it would be safer to do so and why!  I live on a rural route - mail carrier is in a hurry delivering on a 2 lane state road and hoping not to be run over - since it is a hilly, curving roadwith little visual view of stopped traffic so the boxes are rarely closed up completely letting in rain, etc..  And it does rain here and all along the USPS system.  I practice what I preach.  But I do know that it's so much easier, cheaper, and faster to just put the book(s) in a large flimsy mailer and send it off.  I hope if what I send off gets hurt - the recipient will tell me and why they think it happened.  I want to be someone that other members want to trade with.


Date Posted: 10/7/2008 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 1,003
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Someone did it for me when I was a new member and hadn't protected something well enough for rain, and I appreciated. But after getting my head chopped off recently for trying to nicely suggest not having a book sliding around in a manilla envelope, I gave up.  And wouldn't you know it, after that I got a bunch of books mailed that way, lol.  So far I've been lucky - the envelopes are beat up torn, but no real book damage.

Date Posted: 10/7/2008 10:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2005
Posts: 646
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If I have a HC and no large enveloples, I mail wrapped in paper grocery bags. But I make sure all corners and the tops and bottoms are taped to no holes can be popped into them and haven't heard of any problems with my sending. That's what I would recommend to anyone that doesn't want to spend money and doesn't have any to reuse.

Date Posted: 10/8/2008 4:14 AM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2007
Posts: 1,011
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If my book wrapping needs to be tweaked, I HOPE that someone would let me know so that I don't make the same mistake again. I don't think a nicely worded PM about this is ugly at all. I would be thankful if someone let me know of a problem. 

Date Posted: 10/8/2008 8:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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I have sent packaging feedback, particularly when it involved a new(ish) member.  It should be gentle, and I tend to quote tips from the Help Center or the postal forums, rather than making it sound like a personal directive. 

I would, personally, welcome constructive feedback about my packaging too.



Date Posted: 10/9/2008 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 755
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Last Edited on: 1/17/09 9:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: wrapping
Date Posted: 10/9/2008 11:32 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2008
Posts: 409
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I don't think it was rude at all to make a helpful suggestion. I have used the PBS wrapper on most of my books and I have not gotten any negative feedback. I think the secret is wrapping all the edges with packaging tape. The flat surface seems to do fine. Most of the books I have received have been in some kind of envelope or wrapped with heavy brown paper. They have all arrived in good shape with the exception on one. It was a larger paperback and had some damage to the cover. I think anything each of us can do to help each other should be appreciated.

I am enjoying sending and receiving books. It makes the trip to the mailbox a nice surprise.

Date Posted: 10/10/2008 5:53 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 7,052
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When I first joined the site a recipient of one of my books was nice enough to offer wrapping suggestions- which I appreciated. I had never mailed books before and had no idea the trials they are subjected to enroute. Now I always wrap in plastic, and use either padded mailers or kraft paper. I've mailed 800 books and they make it to their destination intact.