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Topic: Theft by a Member...

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Subject: Theft by a Member...
Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:16 AM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2009
Posts: 3
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I am VERY angry and don't totally know what to do.

My mom is a huge reader and I turned her on to PBS.  She's really enjoyed it thus far but now is having a very negative experience.  I've been working through her account to try to fix it because I want it taken care of.  I am overprotective of my mom (not a bad thing, IMO!) and I EXPECT people to do the right thing.  Silly me...  I've been working with one of the guides (who has been great) but finally sent a note to the "powers that be" here at PBS.  I am going to paste it below because it contains all of the information.  I will take out the names but otherwise, the note is an exact copy of what I sent to the PBS admin.  If any of you have suggestions or advice, I would greatly appreciate them.  All I want is for this woman (the receiver) to do the right thing.  She's been on PBS for about 3 years and I also went to her personal website where she has ads for other book swapping sites and for places to sell used books.  Please let me know your thoughts and thanks very much for your insight!! :)

Here is the note:


Good Morning!

 Per the guide, "Guide X", I am aware that you do not get "involved" in "member disputes."  I have a situation that is not a "dispute" but theft.

 I sent the above book to member "UNNAMED MEMBER" on October 12, 2010.  The book went to a location within an hour of my home.  After two weeks with no acknowledgment of receipt, I sent the requester a PM asking if she received the book.  All of a sudden, I get a PM back stating that the book smells musty.  I don't believe it did but this is not the issue.

 The receiver asked for her credit back (10/28 @ 1:46pm.)  Since she was unhappy for whatever reason I did what I thought was the right thing and refunded the credit (10/28 @ 3:44p.)  In the PM I sent her, I told her I wanted to have my book back at my cost.  After all, one cannot keep the book AND have the free credit back.  I want my book returned. 

 In good faith, I refunded the credit right away.  "UNNAMED MEMBER" was sent messages on 10/28 and 10/29 requesting her preferred method for me to send her the money or the postage to get my book back.  Per advice from "GUIDE X" (my guide), I also requested that she remove the "black mark" from my account immediately as she received her credit back immediately at her request.

 I do not trust nor do I believe what this member is saying.  These are not the issues.  The issue is that the member has stolen my book, my credit, and damaged my account.  Again, I am aware that you do "not get involved" but I do know that you control memberships, etc.  I believe that theft is against PBS policies.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I've spent here and the books I've traded but I do not expect to have someone steal from me and damage my account with the 'blessing' of those in control of the site.

 Thank you for your help in resolving this matter and kudos to "GUIDE X" for being a caring guide who has given me great advice.

 Best Regards,




I wrote this and my mom hasn't heard anything back yet (they said it may take 72 hours or so and I sent it yesterday).  Just to give you a bit more information- the "UNNAMED MEMBER" did not have any conditions regarding books sent to her.  I know for a fact that the book in question wasn't musty smelling (I read it within the last 3 months and have asthma and detest that smell.)  Lastly, how many of you have received a book with what you think is a problem and wait 2 weeks (until the sender contacts you and says, "Have you received the book I sent?") to post that there's a problem?  The whole think is VERY fishy.  After my mom contacted her (she never let her know that she received the book much less that there may be a problem with it), she sent this note:



The member to whom you shipped your book 'UNNAMED BOOK' has sent you this personal message.

Thanks for sending the book. Unfortunately there is a problem with it. The book absolutely reeks of must to the point where it is impossible to read. I have tried to remove the odor using several different techniques including letting the book sit in the sun and enclosing it in an air-tight container that contains baking soda, enclosing it in an air-tight container with crumpled newspaper, and enclosing it in an air-tight container with an unscented dryer sheet; none of them have worked. I am unable to read the book and I won't be able to swap the book again. I would like a credit refund, which can be accomplished by clicking Give Refund in your transaction archive on the Request Details page for this swap, and I will be happy to mail the book back to you if you will provide postage.


Now, she won't respond to messages, she won't tell my mom how or where to send the postage (my mom no longer has her address) and she won't take the "black mark" off of my mom's account.  My mom did the right thing and now this woman is stealing from her.  I know- it's a book on a trading site.  I think 99.9% of people are good but how do I deal with this rotten apple?

Thanks for listening to my rant, reading about the problem, and offering advice.  I greatly appreciate being part of this site and this community!  I hope everyone has a happy day! :)



Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:28 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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Hopefully the team can help. In the future I would tell your mom not to refund a credit for anything that isn't an official problem. She was wrong to mark the book RWAP for smell as that is not something that makes a book unpostable by itself. 

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:33 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 1,898
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Also as a note, per the help docs, the receiver does NOT have to return the book even if you do offer to pay for it. If they wish to take you up on the offer, they may, but it's not a requirement.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:38 AM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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Did the requester of the book have a Requester Condition regarding book odors?  If not, then it was not necessary to refund the credit.  Musty smells do not make a books unpostable according to the PBS posting guidelines, so unless the requester had a condition that specifically spelled out that she did not want books that smell musty, the book was postable.  If your mom has another experience like this one in the future, she should respond to the PM and say something like "I'm sorry, but there were no requester conditions on your book request, and my book meets the basic PBS posting guidelines, so I respectfully decline to return your credit.  In the future, you should have a requester condition that specifies conditions that are beyond the basic posting requirements."  One "black mark" on an account is not going to jeopardize your mom's account.  PBS has a record of the PMs exchanged regarding the transaction, so if your mom's membership was ever called into question, they would be able to see what happened. 

I'm sorry that the member is not responding, but she probably considers the issue resolved since she got her credit back.  Unfortunately, there are transactions where members end up eating a credit, and this sounds like one of them.  I am not saying that it was deserved, but sometimes you just have to cut your losses, chalk it up to a learning experience, and move on.  Since the credit has already been refunded, you really can't do anything about it now.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2009
Posts: 3
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Good info and advice from you all so far- thank you!  It's true in life that you're going to run into people who don't do the "right thing."  Lesley, I think you may be right- this is the "fee" for a learning experience. smiley    I wasn't aware that the person didn't have to send back the book (again, thanks for the info) but she did offer to do so... 

My mom's guide advised her to refund the credit, so she did.  I think that the guide also thought that the person would keep her word and send back the book as she offered to do in her single contact with my mom. 

We'll see what happens...  Again- you guys are great!  Thanks for the continued advice!  I'm learning from this, too!  enlightened


:) Susie

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:47 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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I think she was right to contact the team though, if the receiver considers the situation resolved the least they could do is mark it as such. Besides, not responding to messages, especially during a problem transaction, is not ok.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,225
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I think its time to step away from the transaction and breathe. One book is not worth the stress.

There are a few issues at play here. As already mentioned, smell is not an official problem unless there was an RC and should not have been marked RWAP and a credit return was not necessary. It was a nice guesture, but not necessary.

Also mentioned is the fact that there is no obligation to return the book even if the credit is returned.  If she agreed and you sent compensation (in addition to the original credit return) then it is a problem, but if nothing has been agreed upon the member is not breaking any rules. The site does not make a person return a problem book.

A major issue I see here that you may not realize is that you are not allowed to be doing stuff in your mother's account and the fact that you are could cause her to lose her account. A memver must manage their own account.. You can be there assisting her do stuff, but you logging into her account and doing stuff violates her Terms of Use.

Ignoring someone is not accepted on the site. The other member is wrong in that regard and that may be where the Team steps in. It may be to just prompt the member to respond and that member Pms to say they will not return the book, but the member should at least respond to you. The requirement to communicate does not require them to continue to work with you until you are satisfied, but they do need to communicate long enough to close the issue (at least by telling you no).

Last Edited on: 11/9/10 11:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 11/9/2010 1:06 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2009
Posts: 3
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I will make sure that I just help my mom and don't log into her account.  I don't want to break the rules but thought it would be easier to help her that way.  I'll tell her I can't do it that way again.  Thanks for the knowledge!

The other member agreed to return the book and therein lies the rub.  The fact that she will not reply to the messages is a HUGE issue.  Hopefully this can get worked out otherwise we'll just chalk it up to a learning experience and neither of us will deal with this user ever again.  As I said before, most people are good, so one out of everyone we've both dealt with is pretty good! :)

Liesl, hopefully like you stated, the team can at least take care of the RWAP on her account and ask her to just be polite and respond.

Melaine, I LOVE your babies!!  I have two tabbies and can't live without them! :)

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 1:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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The other member agreed to return the book and therein lies the rub.

Actually, no. Unless you've already sent her money/credit for the return postage, she can change her mind about returning the book. Not nice, but it's all up to her. And she doesn't have to send the book if she doesn't get the postage/credit first.

Refunding a credit can't be based on whether the person agrees to send the book back or not.

At this point, your mother didn't have to refund the credit, but she did. The receiver isn't obligated to send the book back, and unless she's been paid to do so then she can change her mind about it. She may feel that further PM's with you will not be productive.

I'd not get so frazzled over one RWAP. One isn't going to hurt anyone, and they can see by the PM's back and forth your mother didn't have to refund and the RWAP was wrong in the first place. They'll get it. No big deal.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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There's also a place under the transaction to mark when a member hasn't responded to PMs on a problem request. If you click that, the team will contact that member and tell them they need to respond. I've had to use that button and was immediately contacted by the other member, so whatever they say in their message or email, it does seem to work. 

And while I understand your frustration, I can't see where theft was involved since the credit was returned voluntarily.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2007
Posts: 3,326
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wow. big fuss over nothing, essentially. to call it "theft" is a little drastic, IMO.  If you want to hold people to the rules of the game, you better know the rules well  yourself. first mistake was refunding the credit.  second was thinking one black mark is a big deal.

by the title I thought this was going to be about someone who got an address from a PBS swap and committed actual burglery or something...

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 2:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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yesDenise +1

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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OP was obviously very angry when she posted, so no doubt "theft" is what she was feeling, not thinking.

What can we learn from this?

Take a few deep breaths before clicking "Submit Reply".


Date Posted: 11/9/2010 4:27 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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Well, the OP started her post stating that she was very angry. I wouldn't say that she was making a big fuss over nothing. Obviously she could have handled things differently by not returning the credit but if the requestor said she was going to send the book back, at least she should have replied back saying she changed her mind and decided to keep the book if that was the case. It also would have been nice to get a reply confirming that the requestor marked the swap resolved.

Of course, it may be that the requestor is out of town, busy, sick, etc. and hasn't been able to log in her account and that's why she didn't respond to the PMs.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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In fairness to the OP, it sounds like her tour guide advised her to return the credit. Maybe there was an RC? I read through and can't see if the question of an RC was answered.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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When I first read the subject I had this image of someone being swindled out of a large quantity of books.  When I read the OP and saw it concerned just one transaction gone bad, my initial reaction was, frankly, so what?  Already mores stress has been experienced than one book is worth. And somehow when we hear about these issues, we never get any input from the person on the other end to hear their side of the story.  If we did, then a fair determination could be made.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 5:20 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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While I understand that this is a very frustrating situation, and the receiver may have pushed the envelope in wanting her credit back, "theft" is not the right word here. Nobody snuck up on your mom and mugged her out of a credit. They asked for it, and she willingly returned it because she didn't want any trouble. I know sometimes people have a hard time saying "no" when they feel they're being bullied, but it's done, it's not a rare occurance, and it really isn't a big deal to have a dispute with another member once in a while. Nobody is going to get red-flagged or thrown off the site for an imperfect trade here and there. 

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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It is easy for those of us who have been here for years and had hundreds of transactions to be blase about this type of transaction.  However, the first time you experience a transaction gone bad it can be very upsetting.  I don't think it is fair to berate the OP for overreacting or being upset over no big deal.  Perhaps this is the first time she has felt unfairly cheated out of a credit.  I remember my first one too, and it was not a good feeling.  Let's cut the OP some slack here.  She sought help here and is appreciative of the feedback and is glad to learn, despite having learned a lesson the hard way- I don't think the "so what" comments are necessary.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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How about we all just chill out and give them a break? 

The original post may have been a bit over the top, but she has been very receptive of the advice and explanations given in this thread.

IMHO, they were kind of swindled out of the credit since the RWAP unfounded, and I completely understand their frustration. 

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 3,044
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IMHO, they were kind of swindled out of the credit since the RWAP unfounded, and I completely understand their frustration.


I think the receiver was counting on the fact that some people don't realize sometimes what is or isn't an actual RWAP. The receiver knew all the techniques for removing smells from a book. Maybe they knew it all before joining PBS, but I didn't know any of those until after reading the forums. So it seems to me the receiver is in the know and was hoping for a sender that wouldn't realize smell isn't something that makes a book unpostable.

I'm also curious why a TG would tell them to refund the credit for a smell RWAP. Sometimes I think asking questions in the forums and getting several answers is better than relying on one person for advice and help. When it's just one on one no one can step in and correct wrong information being given.

It's an unfortunate situation, but definitely something to learn from, even if it does cost the sender a book and credit. I can totally understand the frustration while it's all still fresh though.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Why would a TG tell someone to return a credit unless their was an RC for smells? That just is nuts to me. Smoke smell I could understand but a musty smell? That happens with old books.

Sorry you got given bad advice (as it appears to me) and made to give up a credit for no real RWAP reason.

I would not even bother trying to get the book back at this stage, and keep your postage money. The less you have to deal with this member the better.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 8:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2006
Posts: 4,984
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I'm also curious why a TG would tell them to refund the credit for a smell RWAP.

I'm not the TG who dealt with this, so I can't answer that completely, but I can say from the TG side of things it was possible they weren't given full information.  I've had people contact me about problem swaps before and had to go back and forth through PMs several times to get enough of the picture of what happened in order to advise how to continue.  It's possible the OPs request for help was worded that the TG didn't understand the situation fully. 

Could also be a new TG. You never know.

I've been a member for several years and just had to deal with my first RWAP.  It's never an easy experience the first time, even if you've heard the experience of others. 

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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I imagine that because the OP, who was handling the problem transaction with the tour guide, wasn't the actual member who had the request, sent the book, and dealt with the RWAP may have added to any confusion on the tour guide's part.

Edited to correct misinformation on my part.

Last Edited on: 11/9/10 9:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/9/2010 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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Lsressler...perhaps you could point out where the OP has added an update that mentions stealing....I don't seem to be able to locate it.

Date Posted: 11/9/2010 9:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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I thought the OP added the last three paragraphs recently, but there's no edit notation so I must have not read or remembered correctly during my first read through. Sorry to the OP, my mistake.