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Topic: Ruined book- Whose fault?

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Subject: Ruined book- Whose fault?
Date Posted: 12/16/2009 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2009
Posts: 29
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I just got a book that is about 30% ruined due to water damage (it was snowing, and the book- a large hardcover- was just put into a manilla envelope) I think that some protection should have been provided for the book(or at least tape the manilla envelope around the book) but the sender says it dosent snow where they are from and when it rains their PO worker protects their packages- so it is the PO's fault that by putting it in a manilla envelope they went above and beyond what PBS requires for book shipping and they don't tape over the envelope thoughly because they don't like getting packages with lots of tape on them.


I beg to differ, but wouldn't mind some others opinions. :)

Thanks!

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 10:09 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,187
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My personal opinion is I hate manilla envelopes and unless they are tape tightly around the book they are less adaquate than the plain PBS wrapper.

The site guidelines will agree with her though since she wrapped the book in a manner that would have made it to you just fine if it hadn't run into bad weather.  Though not the best choice of wrapping, it is adaquate to meet site guidelines unless it was so loose that the book tore open the packaging and was exposed. Members are not required to weatherproof a package unless it is an RC, which is what I recommend you do. I add an RC asking for some weatherproofing on my books during the winter and haven't ever had problems with people obliging.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 10:20 AM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2009
Posts: 29
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But doesn'ty PBS say your should: tape it down tightly around the book(s)? There was no tape on this. And the book had torn through, but there is no way to know as it was soaked- if the water or the tear happened first.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,187
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That may fall into the book being damaged due to poor wrapping, but that just gives you the right to ask for the credit back. If they don't agree with you, they just won't give it back and PBS won't mitigate swaps that the members just can't agree on. I do agree with you that it was bad wrapping and would be firm that the damage would not have happened if the wrapping had been secured properly  so the book would not move and rip though as the sites' wrapping information suggests, and mark it as unresolved if they don't return the credit. 

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2009
Posts: 29
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Hm.. good point. I just figured that since PBS also says:

General Guidelines for wrapping:
* Use plenty of tape (2" shipping tape, not Scotch)
o especially at the corners and seams.
* Consider using an inner layer of plastic
o You can use Saran Wrap, or clean plastic grocery bags, or any kind of clean plastic material

And pretty much every book I have ever gotten from here has been in plastic (all except this one I think) I figured it was sort of required- esp. if you were just basically wrapping it in paper, which a manila envelope is, and if that envelope is minamally taped. I don't know- I'll see what they say.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2005
Posts: 5,238
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I'm sorry, but a manilla envelope is not enough protection for a hardback book.   I agree that the sender isn't required to wrap a book in plastic before wrapping it in paper, but the wrapping instructions (OK - wrapping "suggestions") say several times to tape the envelope tightly around the book to prevent it from getting caught in the postal machinery (and therefore getting ripped).

Your package got ripped.    The fact that it also got wet isn't the sender's fault, but the fact that it got ripped is totally due to lack of proper packaging.

Whether you continue to pursue the return of your credit is up to you.  It sounds like the book would have gotten wet with or without the rip in the packaging - and that's what made the book unpostable.    But they definitely shipped it with inadequate packaging.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 1:08 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,783
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I think that the book was packaged adequately, according to the site instructions. There are no requirement to waterproof the packages, or send hardbacks in anything other than a paper wrapper. Unfortunate, but true. And although the site does recommend wrapping the paper tightly around the book, that's not a requirement, either.

It could be that the book got wet first and then the paper tore. You really won't be able to tell one way or the other.

It sounds to me like the damage would have happened no matter how it was wrapped.

Sounds like the PO's fault to me. Why are they leaving packages in the snow? Do they leave them in the rain, too? Maybe you need a protected area to receive your packages.

Although I myself wrap more thouroughly than it seems was the case here, I would not refund a credit for this.



Last Edited on: 12/16/09 1:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/16/2009 1:25 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Note it that is says guidlines not rules for packaging the books.  They do not have to use plastic BUT if you know you live in an area with bad weather then set up a requestors condition for people to wrap in plastic.

A manilla envelope IS enough to meet the site guidelines so the fault is not the senders.  Really any package no matter what you do to it will get damaged enroute by the PO.

I send books daily for work in very tough made for repeat use canvas mailer bags. Still the PO has ruined several of these bags after 1 use. One has burn marks on it, another has cuts in the canvas.
I think you need to have a talk with your postal carrier and ask why they are leaving packages in the snow.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,925
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Snow and rain are facts of life. PBS at most requires a paper wrapper, and inevitably unless people go above and beyond the requirements (which many do), some books will be damaged by the elements.  My mailperson goes above her requirements as well, and if it's raining, puts items too bulky for my mailbox inside my covered screen porch - but she isn't required to do so, and many people's residences have no such place. Is the area you receive your packages unprotected? Is your mailbox one of those small ones that is too small for a book unless it's left open? If so, perhaps you should add a "plastic" RC to your requirements to prevent future damage. Living in an area of frequent rain, I use plastic, but as Sara said - the shipper met the requirements, and I would not refund a credit.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 97
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So you can just barely/poorly wrap a book and if it gets damaged in route it's not the senders fault?  The PO can be blammed?  I find that very frustrating.  I think if you wrap it in a way that most likely will get damaged by PO you should not get your credit!

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,599
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I have sent packaging 'suggestions' to people before (usually they're new and just haven't figured it out yet) but I don't ask for credits back because the PBS 'how to wrap a book' thing doesn't have much in the way of hard and fast RULES, just suggestions and guidelines. For example, it mentions taping the manila envelope close to the book, but does NOT say anything under the "bubble mailer" section about doing that--yet I've had a few bubble mailers get ripped when the corners snagged in the USPS equipment. The only way I'd ask for a credit back is if they wrapped it in the one-page PBS wrapper with scotch tape holding it on with gaps in the wrapper and the book showing through.

Keep in mind if you do set up a RC for plastic wrap to word it carefully. I personally am very literal when it comes to following RCs, so I would decline an RC that specified "wrapping in plastic wrap." I use the plasticky Uline mailers, but they are not 'plastic wrap.'

Also, make sure your own mail carrier is doing what they can to prevent water damage in their delivering practices--I would say if your mailman threw the book on the porch into a snow pile, or tried to stuff a big hardcover into a small mailbox with part of it exposed to the elements, the fault would be more theirs than the sender's. They should be leaving package notices for things that don't fit in the mailbox so you can pick it up at the PO, especially if your mailbox isn't in a covered, secured area.

Cheryl

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 2:04 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,424
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If their account has a history of RWAP due to post office damage, that does indicate to PBS that it is a wrapping problem.  Marking makes it go on the record.  It will hopefully make them at least think about the weather where they are sending books.  

I personally hate loose envelopes.  They always seem to rip in the mail machines.  Ruins books even in nice weather. 

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 3:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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The packaging guidlines are written specifically for use with the PBS wrapper and can't be applied to alternative packaging, so IMO, what they say about taping there is irrelevant.  They're talking about wrapping a paperback book in a 2 page wrapper, with an alternate tutorial on how to use that on a larger edition (like a trade pb) - which, incidentally, if you used that method on a hardcover, wouldn't offer better protection from the elements than a manila envelope.

Under Wrapping Larger/Hardcover/Multiple Books they offer manila envelopes as an alternative suggestion, but ways to reinforce alternative packaging are all  listed as suggestions, not rules, or even guidelines, and should be taken as just that and nothing more.  Personally, I think manila envelopes should be listed further down as "Poor Choices" for alternative packaging, but anyone who reads them and takes them literally is certainly correct to say that their packaging met the site requirements, and damages incurred during shipping are the fault of the USPS.  I think we need to bear in mind that the PBS wrapper is an integral part of what makes the site work as well as it does, as it makes PBS an online book swap that provides members (who own a printer) with something to wrap & mail their books in.  Anything outside of standard instructions for using that wrapper to mail a single paperback book is an area where members need to use common sense.  Even the use of plastic wrap is above and beyond basic use of what they can provide - the PBS wrapper - so they can suggest but not require it.  As to this particular situation, no, I don't think this is a clear cut case of inadequate packaging, like using scotch tape instead of packing tape or wrapping in press & seal wrap would be.  I do think that manila envelopes are inadequate for shipping books in general, but as the site guidelines do suggest them as an alternative packaging material, and only offer more suggestions as to how to make them sturdier, then no, this is not something members should be marking as RWAP - "damaged by sender", per the site guidelines.  Damages incurred in transit are always supposed to be marked as damaged by USPS, and then the help docs add the provision, after you've done that, that you can ask for a credit refund if you feel the wrapping contributed to it.  Remember that this provision is listed under "Damaged by USPS transactions", and not under "Damaged by Sender transactions", which clearly states:

A book is considered Sender-Damaged if it does not meet PBS criteria for good condition, or if tape was applied directly to the book and the book was rendered unrepostable by opening the package because of the tape.

 

 

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 4:06 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I wish TPTB would upgrade the plastic underwrap from a suggestion to a requirement 

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 4:33 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2009
Posts: 29
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I should probably address where the poor PO worker that is being blamed is leaving my books- I live in an older house that has small (not even a small paperback could fit) mailboxes- so if it is a small package it is put in the rungs of the mailbox (the ones that hold magazines and the like) but if it is big it is left below the mailbox on the covered porch, up against the house. However the elements still get in, especially if it is windy. So no they are not throwing anything or leaving it in puddles, but if something is only separated from rain by a piece of paper it is going to get wet.


Also, as i said I cannot be sure if the tear (or tears) happend before it got wet or after (this is unfortunate).

I would have thought since this person is taking these guidelines as rules that she would take all of them, not just some, and it is sad that books can be ruined with no recourse.

Also, I already marked it recieved with a problem- damaged by USPS. However I think her careless wrapping is to blame- but PBS thinks throwing a 400pg Hardcover book into a manila envelope and mailing it is logical w/o concern for it's condition when it reaches it's destination. Weird.

I would like to point out that PBS says:  "if you have a larger or heavy book, or a multiple-book shipment to send, the 2-page PBS Wrapper alone will not provide sturdy enough packaging on its own to protect your book(s) en route. You will need to use alternate packaging" they chose to use a manila envelop. This is also from PBS:

Manila envelope
* tape it down tightly around the book(s) to prevent "flaps" that can get caught in postal machinery

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 4:44 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Christa- as mentioned before you can set up your own requestor conditions that if not met you can get your credit back.

Many of us do not live in snow areas, get much rain or other harsh weather. So it is easy to forget others do have these issues.  We got rain last week for the first time in a very long time. And had months of dry weather so a book in that condition would more then likely have made it to my place just fine.

PBS also suggests using a manilla envelope for larger books so they did follow more the of  guidelines and as a side note MANY manilla envelopes get sent without being taped around the book and arrive just fine too. I see it every day and I am sure the PO does not treat library mail and different then media mail.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,129
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Christa, it sounds like you need to buy a bigger mailbox.  I also feel that the book was wrapped inadequately, but if the PBS instructions don't require plastic then people are free to not use it.  Personally, I don't know why anyone wouldn't use a layer of plastic wrap.  Maybe if you're a new member who doesn't read the forums and has never received a soaked package, but once you read these forums and see how common this problem is, I just don't understand refusing to cover the book in a piece of plastic.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2009
Posts: 29
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xengab: You see it every day and have no issues with it? I am amazed. Both my parents are librarians and would freak if anything sent inter-library was sent that way- or if a request from an outside branch was just tossed into a manila envelope and sent on it's way. It shows a total disregard for the book and the people going to be reading it.

 

My point is I wouldn't say oh well it is summer here and it hasn't rained for a month or more so I won't wrap this book in some plastic when I send it out. Even if it never rains/snows in their part of the world, the package can still encounter water. And I doubt that they live w/o TV, radio and internet -- they have to have seen at least one report for heavy snowing or for a tornado... should know that these things exist. I think PBS should make better packaging manditory.

It did not nessicerilly have to get wet on my porch either- sometimes the PO workers bags are too full and they have to put packages on the outside/top where they are getting wet.

I don't own the house so I have no control over the mailboxes unfortunetly. :(

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,690
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Personally, I think part of the problem is that you do not provide somewhere safe for the postal person to leave your books. It wouldn't have mattered if the envelope was taped tightly to the book, you don't have anywhere out of the elements for the PO worker to leave your book...so, you have to accept some of the blame.

Why do some people not use plastic...if it were an RC I probably wouldn't accept it unless I had some plastic left over from some book I received.  There is too much plastic in our environment and I'm not going to add more too it....and I'm not going to use my money to purchase some.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 5:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,599
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Christa wrote: I should probably address where the poor PO worker that is being blamed is leaving my books- I live in an older house that has small (not even a small paperback could fit) mailboxes- so if it is a small package it is put in the rungs of the mailbox (the ones that hold magazines and the like) but if it is big it is left below the mailbox on the covered porch, up against the house. However the elements still get in, especially if it is windy. So no they are not throwing anything or leaving it in puddles, but if something is only separated from rain by a piece of paper it is going to get wet.

Well, this is from the USPS website regarding rules about mail/package delivery, mailbox, etc:

An ordinary parcel too large to fit into a customer's mailbox is not left unless the customer has filed a written order with the postmaster relieving the USPS and carriers of all responsibility in case of loss or depredation of any such parcel left outside the box.

If you have door delivery authorized, you’ll need to provide either an approved house-mounted box that provides adequate protection and security for the mail or a door slot.

So basically, it's your responsibility to provide a secure dry place for the mail to go. The mailman is not supposed to leave packages that don't fit inside the mailbox UNLESS you have told him it's okay. And if you've told him it's okay to leave them on the porch where snow and rain can get at them, rather than providing a covered box or telling him to leave a package notice so you can pick it up at the PO, the responsibility for a wet package is basically yours.

Cheryl

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Christa- We dont send them like that but we do recieve many books in manilla envelops. The interlibrary loan gal is off today so I nosed through the USPS box and saw at least 5 out of the 30 packages in manilla envelops, they do look alittle battered but nothing torn nor harmed. Some of the bubble mailer though do look like they were stomped on by a herd of bison. Those get over used and loose any worth they could give as protection.
Some libraries just do not care that much about the books to take the time to wrap them right. I nearly flipped when a 100yo book was sent in just a bubble mailer. It was sent back in a box after being wrapped in paper so it did not move around. I looked it up on a collectors website and its a $300 value book.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 294
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Sara P. writes, "It sounds to me like the damage would have happened no matter how it was wrapped."

I respectfully disagree. Not long ago I received a book on a day when it was absolutely *pouring* rain outside. The book (an oversized paperback) was in a manila envelope with *almost* enough tape wrapped around it to form a watertight package, but not quite: water had gotten into the package through a narrow seam between two pieces of tape. I got a towel out before unwrapping it--the outer layer was so wet, it looked as if it had been *lying* in water! All the manila-envelope paper had disintegrated to the point of being useless, so the book's outer wrapper was only composed of tape. When I opened it up, the book was wrapped in a couple layers of tissue  paper, which was wet enough to use for spitballs,. (-:and underneath that was the final layer, plastic.The book-in-plastic combo alone was so wet, it was dripping profusely on my towel.

But you know what? Inside the plastic, that book was bone dry. I am not exaggerating: it wasn't even *damp.*, nor did it feel as if it needed to be dried out or aired. I was amazed. Plastic--in this case, it was a large ziploc bag-- made all the difference.

                               ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cheryl writes, "Why do some people not use plastic...if it were an RC I probably wouldn't accept it unless I had some plastic left over from some book I received.  There is too much plastic in our environment and I'm not going to add more too it....and I'm not going to use my money to purchase some.""

There *is* too much plastic already. I agree. But I never use any kind of plastic except what I alreeady have saved from packages of al kinds that I get (mail-order packages, shopping around town, etc.), plus the daily newspaper. The newspaper is an always-dependable source of plastic. And those "air pillow" inserts they're starting to use instead of excelsior: those are the perfect size for mass market paperbacks.

I, too, am opposed to buying plastic unless it's sbolutely necessary.. I used to recycle all the plastic I get w/ packages: we have plastic recycling bins in our grocery story. But now I keep most of it, for use in wrapping books. (But we use cloth bags for grocery shopping. so I don't have any plastic grocery bags.)

Do you not accumulate plastic wrapper material in your day-to-day life, Cheryl? I can see where maybe some people don't, if they don't take a newspaper or get any free papers or magazines that are in plastic wrappers.. What about asking friends or neighbors if you can have theirs? Just a thought...

Fiona



Last Edited on: 12/16/09 7:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/16/2009 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,690
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Actually Fiona...I am the one that you are quoting ("Why do some people not use plastic...if it were an RC I probably wouldn't accept it unless I had some plastic left over from some book I received.  There is too much plastic in our environment and I'm not going to add more too it....and I'm not going to use my money to purchase some."")

So, to answer your questions/respond... Nope I do not mail-order so thus no "air pillows" to use, I don't purchase a newspaper (save the environment and read it online) so, nope no plastic there.  I don't subscribe to magazines so, nope no plastic there, I definitely try and limit the usage of any plastic bags and the ones that we do get already have designated usage as trashcan liners (nope I don't purchase trashbags).

If I should find a spare sack to cut up and use as a plastic wrap it would require me using twice as much tape to secure the plastic in place and wrap the book and is not cost beneficial.  I responsibly provide a place for my postal carrier to put my books and I believe that is the responsibility of every member.  The sole responsiblity of protecting the book is not that of the sender, yes the sender should properly wrap the book (and I do not believe that that means mummyfying in plastic) but, the requestor has even more responsibility to have a safe haven for that book to land.

Date Posted: 12/16/2009 11:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,783
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But you know what? Inside the plastic, that book was bone dry.  [...]  Plastic--in this case, it was a large ziploc bag-- made all the difference.

Yes, ziplocs are waterproof. But PBS doesn't have a requirement to use plastic, much less waterproof the book in an expensive (relatively speaking) ziploc baggie.

I use saran wrap to wrap my books before I package them in paper .... I am under no illusion that that makes my package "waterproof" though. Maybe "water resistant". I feel like that's good enough.

If it is in a mailbag and gets some rain sprinkled on it, will probably be just fine. If it gets dropped in a puddle and left for an hour, the water will no doubt get thru and ruin the book.

Date Posted: 12/17/2009 1:39 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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If enough members write the PBS team asking that better wrapping rules are needed then maybe they will do so.  I know that in the past PBS might not have wanted to be too stringent about it fearing it would scare off new members. But I don't think that will happen...and PBS seems to be getting plenty of new members all the time.  Most of the time, people will do the bare minimum in any situation....but once they get a few books abused through the USPS's system, they usually start paying attention.  I never advocate that anyone buy plastic.  I do advocate that any plastic they have come into their possession be re-used.  There are plenty of products we all buy that have plastic packaging that will work.  I would be amazed if someone never had anything at all come packaged in plastic they couldn't re-use.  That's just unbelieveable.

Ruth

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