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Topic: Still new here, but received a stinky book :(

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Subject: Still new here, but received a stinky book :(
Date Posted: 6/11/2009 9:19 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 2
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Today I received a book that was not properly wrapped (which resulted in it being a little wet on one end). Worse than that it looks like it's been sitting in an ashtray and it smells SO bad of cigarettes that I don't even want to touch it. It's sitting on a table 5 feet away from me and I can smell it as I'm typing.

I logged in and marked the book rec'd, sent the sender a message as well as PBS. I asked for my credit back from the sender too. Is there anything else I should do?

And now I understand why someone who requested a book from me a while back asked for me not to send it if it smelled or if it was in a smoking household. It's pretty disgusting.

It's so disappointing cause I was really excited to get started reading!

Thanks for any pointers.

sarah

 

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2008
Posts: 7,040
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I ended up putting an RC on for this same reason. I didn't mind books coming from smoking homes but they started coming in smelling like an ashtray that hadn't been emptied in years. What I did is put the book in a box with a box of baking soda to help get rid of the smell. Sometimes I used dryer sheets as well for the really bad ones. This seemed to work pretty well for me.  

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 10:03 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
Posts: 2,408
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The difficulty with an RC that excludes "books with strong odors" is the fact that smell is very subjective.  I know what smells bad or strongly to me but others will have a different opinion and for the most part, people who smoke have a diminished sense of smell.

I'm sorry you got a smelly book.  I don't have any great suggestions for getting odors out of books but I hope you're able to get the book to a point where you can actually read it.

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 10:04 AM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2007
Posts: 595
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I received a book that looked and smelled like it had been sitting in water in a flooded basement with mold and mildew for about a year.  I ended up not asking for my credit because the person was sooo nice and seemed unaware of the guidelines.  Lately I have been asking for credits on RWAP books.  But just be assured that MOST books from PBS are just fine and most of the people are great to deal with.  Don't be discouraged!

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 6/11/2009 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,132
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Books that smell strongly of cigarette smoke are allowed to be swapped here. You cannot ask for your credit back unless you have requestor conditions that specifically say you don't want books that smell of smoke. (Well, you can ask, but the sender doesn't have to give it to you.) If you want to add requestor conditions to your account for the future, there is lots of info in hte Help Center about how to do that.

I hate books that reek like that, but I don't have requestor conditions. About 1 out of every hundred books I get smells so strongly I won't read the book. About 10% have some minor whiff of smoke that I can mostly ignore while reading.

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2006
Posts: 1,826
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Sarah I'm sorry you had a bad swap, I can't add anything more to the discussion except that your avatar made me smile big time.  =)

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 12:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Unfortunately books with cigarette odors are allowed to be swapped. Like others have said, receiving one is not too common.

Out of 53 swaps so far I've only received one book that smelled like cigarettes.  It was unsalvageable and  I threw it away :(

You can add a Requestor's Conditions (RC) to your account to help decrease the likelihood of receiving a smoker's books. My standard recommendation is the following:

Hello Fellow PBS Member:

Is the book you're about to swap coming from a smoking environment?

If yes, please cancel this request.

Thank you

Your name

 

It's short, clear, reader can answer yes or no and knows exactly what to do. No book sniffing required. No subjective nose test and no excuses.

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,793
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I'm going to answer the not wrapped properly part of your question.

Although PBS suggests a plastic layer under the wrapper for the book, it is not required. So, if the member wraps only in paper and the book gets wet, that is also a situation where you are not supposed to ask for a credit back. Because, technically, the sender didn't do anyting wrong.

If you want your books to arrive wrapped in a plastic underlayer, you would need to put that in an RC, as well.

Now, a different situation is where the wrapper came open and the book got wet. That could be because of extra-rough handling from the UPS (again, not the senders fault) OR it could be because they didn't secure the package well enough in some way (for example, used scotch tape instead of packing tape, didn't use enough tape, etc). If the book arrived damaged by mailing, you are allowed to mark it "Received with a Problem - Damaged by UPS" and then, ONLY if you feel that the package was inadequately wrapped, can you request a credit back from the sender.

If the UPS just damages it, and the package was wrapped in a way that would usually arrive just fine, you are kind of out of luck. That is just the risk that comes with mailing anything through the mail.

So, not sure in what manner your particular package was damaged, just wanted to let you know some subtlties of the rules.



Last Edited on: 6/11/09 1:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/11/2009 1:39 PM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2009
Posts: 2
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Thanks everyone for your comments! I understand more now about what's acceptable and what is not. Really, I should have stopped and read more about the gudelines before I messaged the sender and now I regret doing that. I will send her another message with an apology.

I was upset, but that's really no excuse. I know now to make my guidelines clear in the future!

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions!! You guys are great! :)

sarah

ps- that's my crazy boy Merlin in the avatar!

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 1:45 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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If your book arrives with inadequate wrapping, be sure to note this in the comments section of the log in page.  PBS may wish to know if the member has a history of send books that arrive damaged due to inadequate wrapping.  I frequently use the comments section and note if a book is well wrapped, poorly wrapped, and either way note the condition of the book upon arrival.



Last Edited on: 6/11/09 1:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/11/2009 2:45 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I think the heavy smoke smelling books are really a rarity.  I've received over 300 books (400 if you count game books, deals and box of books trades) and I haven't had a single one that came smelling of smoke. 

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 4:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,793
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I've had 2 or 3 that seemed to come from heavy smokers. (out of almost 200). Maybe 5 or 6 more that smelled lightly of smoke.

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,424
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Do put the book with some baking soda.  It will help dry the book as well as absorb the smoke smell.  I put smelly books in a black cardboard box in a sunny window with baking soda.  Heat and an absorbent (baking soda, charcoal, zeolite) will help. 

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 1/26/2006
Posts: 318
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What's really strange is that the four or five books I've received that are actually pretty stinky from cigarette smoke all came from the same person.   We must like the same books, but I hate stinky books :(   I haven't put any requestor conditions on yet....but I may have to.  I like yours Laura, and I hope you don't mind if I borrow it in the future.

Date Posted: 6/11/2009 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,424
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There is a thread about writing RCs that I found helpful.  Edited mine after reading.  Hopefully this link will work.

http://www.paperbackswap.com/forum/topic.php?t=166150

ETA:  Warning that the end of the thread got off topic.



Last Edited on: 6/11/09 6:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/12/2009 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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Out of 300 books sent to me, I've gotten about 6 that smelled really smokey, and 2 that were still smoking when they arrived!  J/K  But I could swear that the ashes from the ashtray was mailed with the book.  One of them has never gotten much better.  I feel very sorry for that member's lungs.

Ruth

Subject: what to do with a smelly book
Date Posted: 6/12/2009 1:31 AM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2008
Posts: 33
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I've had the exact same problem, and the person who mentioned that smell is subjective and a person whose house smells like cigarettes won't realize all of their books smell like cigarettes is absolutely right. I got a cookbook that smelled like smoke -- just awful -- and threatened to stink up my other books. I must have dumped a whole box of baking soda on that thing and put it in a paper bag in my closet. But it made a huge mess, I'm not even sure the smell went away, and so I just threw the whole bag out, book and all, which kind of broke my heart, but really was the best thing to do. I ended up putting very strict requestor conditions. It might make you sound "picky" and it's true enough that for at least 1 in 10 of the books I request I get an e-mail message saying the person can't send me the book because it doesn't meet the conditions required. I consider it a good thing. I think there is a certain standard of used book in terms of quality that "most" people would consider acceptable, but others just don't get it. And even despite the fact that I have strict requestor conditions, sometimes a bad one gets through... which makes me shudder to think about the (literal) stinkers that would have arrived without it. My requestor conditions say that the book most come from a smoke-free home -- I also put something in there (I think) about how I like the condition of the book to be pretty good. I think it ends up making everything smoother and happier when we all know each other's expectations. So, DEFINITELY do the requestor conditions, and I think you'll find that you started out with a lemon of a book, but the majority of the ones you'll get as times goes on will be GREAT! Good luck! Kate
Subject: what to do with a smelly book, cont'd.
Date Posted: 6/12/2009 1:38 AM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2008
Posts: 33
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One other thing -- you can also put in your requestor conditions that you really need the book to be well-wrapped in plastic, so it could survive if it was accidentally dropped in a mud puddle. You don't even need to say why you need that; and it wouldn't even be something (I wouldn't think) that would cause someone to say that they couldn't send you their particular copy of a book.
Date Posted: 6/12/2009 1:53 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,793
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I must have dumped a whole box of baking soda on that thing and put it in a paper bag in my closet. But it made a huge mess,

Kate J,
If anyone else out there is getting stinky books, what you actually want to do is put the book locked away with something to absorb the odor (baking soda, or I use clay unscented kitty litter (which works great)) ... but the book doesn't need to touch whatever you are using ... that does make a mess.

I use a tupperware container with a tight lid, put the kitty litter in the bottom, put a baking rack to hold the books up off the litter, then seal it up. Usually only takes a day or two for the smells to go away.

Date Posted: 6/12/2009 2:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2008
Posts: 33
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Thank you for the good advice, Sara P! It never occured to me that the books wouldn't touch the kitty litter or baking soda. I'll keep this in mind, since prob. I'll come across other books which need treatment... (though hopefully not on pbs)! Kate
Date Posted: 6/12/2009 4:34 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,424
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I use those baking soda boxes with vents, made for the fridge.  Much neater than loose. 

Date Posted: 6/12/2009 4:35 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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You can use Odor-Eaters as well.  They have activaated charcoal in them and won't make a mess of your book.

Ruth

Date Posted: 6/12/2009 5:04 AM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
Posts: 3,308
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For the smoke, I've actually had some success with shutting them in a paper bag with crumbled up newspaper.  I've only gotten one that reeked of smoke and a few others that were probably in a smoker's house.