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Topic: All this time and no bad transactions then two in one day.

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Subject: All this time and no bad transactions then two in one day.
Date Posted: 3/24/2010 1:55 PM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2009
Posts: 195
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My request conditions specify no smoking homes, no mildew/musty smells. I got one yesterday that I could smell through the packaging. I contacted the member and nicely explained and also acknowledged that I was aware some people cant smell such things.( You know, Like a smoker cant tell how bad they smell to a non smoker. ) Anyway, she responded that she checked it and it was fine that if I send it back shell refund my credit. Umm, I though, I did not have to pay to send it back. Ill just have to give it away any how as I cant keep it in my home and I cant post it knowing it stinks. So why pay 2.77 to get back my credit of the same value? Ugg! Im rather angry over the whole thing.


The second book, a childs book had a small tear on one of the pages AND had food smeared on the page with a spot of unremoved food left.  No response there yet.


How do you handle these very touchy situations?  I hate to come across disrespectful or ungratefully. They did send the books. Its just that they are IMO not credit worthy. I could have gone on to request from members whom had good copies.

Date Posted: 3/24/2010 2:01 PM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2008
Posts: 988
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If she wants you to send it back, she needs to give you 2 credits before you send it.  One for postage and the other for not following your RC.

Date Posted: 3/24/2010 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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As far as the request to return the first book, you're not obligated to send the book back, but if you agree to do so the Sender must offer compensation to cover the postage, whether it be in the form of a credit (on top of the refund for the problem swap) or money. 

In general, dealing with RWAPs is definitely difficult for many members for the fact that such communications can (and sometimes do) become quite confrontational.  However, as with life in general, I believe if you approach the situation with honesty, sincerity, and courtesy, you will have at least done the best you can from your end; how the other person reactions isn't your responsibility.  The Help Center and this forum are chock full of examples of how one might go about wording messages regarding problem swaps, and most rely on a pretty basic formula of Greeting, conversational version of "regret to inform you", citation of relevant rules or guidelines, polite request for a response on the matter, request for refund, cordial closing.  I have a tendency toward a more formal, verbose response than I would honestly recommend, so I'll leave it to the dozens of extremely helpful members who post in this forum to offer more detailed suggestions.  Just remember, if your stance is supported by PBS and their rules, then you've got nothing to worry about beyond a rude reaction that you're less likely to encounter than you might think.  It's not as if you're doing anything wrong by following the procedures PBS outlines in regards to problem swaps, and so long as you are polite in your messages to the Sender, you shouldn't have to worry about coming across as disrespectful in the least :)

Date Posted: 3/24/2010 6:08 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,926
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I've got a smoking home, but even if I didn't, I'd be leery these days about smoking RCs. Could you smell the book through the packaging or did the packing smell? The reason I ask is several of the mailpeople I've had smoke...and can smoke in their truck. I'd be afraid to to send even an unsmoky book for fear of losing a credit due to the package being smoky on the receiving end - in theory, a book could spend a day in a truck on this end and another day on the other end with a "smoky" mailperson.

That said, as James said, a polite stating of the problem shouldn't cause an issue, and usually results in an amicable resolution. The majority of people here are reasonable and want pleasant transactions on both ends. 

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 9:23 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,136
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I agree, I think you should give the person the benefit of the doubt and write your PM assuming they may not have known they sent an unpostable book  (although with the smoking RC that would be harder to understand).  If after that you get a rude reply, it's not something that should worry you--you have every right to ask for your credit back.  Plus you're helping by letting other members know that if they send an unpostable book it will be addressed and not ignored.

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 3,044
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Could you smell the book through the packaging or did the packing smell? .... I'd be afraid to to send even an unsmoky book for fear of losing a credit due to the package being smoky on the receiving end - in theory, a book could spend a day in a truck on this end and another day on the other end with a "smoky" mailperson.

I wouldn't give the credit back in your scenario. If my book meets their conditions when it leaves me, then it can't be blamed on me. Granted the requestor would probably think I was lying, but I know that I followed their RCs. If they can't open it and see if it's just the packaging or the book that smells from sitting in a smoky mail truck, then it's their loss.

I've received several smoky smelling packages and the book inside was fine. I had one book that had a hint of a smoky smell even after I removed the packaging, but it was gone after a couple hours when I came back to it to do something to air it out.

Last Edited on: 3/25/10 11:12 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2009
Posts: 195
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OK, let me be clear. We are not talking smoke. We are talking musty/mildew. That does not happen in transit. I could smell the package from the time I picked it up. There were a few other packages and I had to "sniff" each one to see which one was fowl.  Once I opened it I saw the book was wrapped in plastic and once the plastic was off it REALLY smelled.

Also to be clear, I was NOT rude. There is just no since in being nasty. Im quite aware that some people just cant smell certain things. I am a sensitive nose but Im fare.

As for the cigarette issue. If you smoke, your things smell like cigarettes. Period. You live with them and the cigarettes permeate everything your around. If the book is in your house or car and you smoke there or read after smoking then you cant avoid it. My RC does not say if it "smells of cigarets", it says "IF YOU SMOKE".  This way I am safe. I would rather loose the chance of the book than to have an asthma attache when I open the package.

And further more. If your stuff does not smell and you pack it right, being in transit will not permeate the book. First off I have only had a couple books not be packed properly but they were fine. The PO attendant smokes. Ive had a week go buy before I could pick up a package, it was fine. No problem at all. Its in a package. It would have to set long and hard in a smoke room to get through that package and get into every page to make that book smell. Its just not going to happen.

When a book is read in a smoking home the pages are open absorbing the smells.  or if on a shelf next to other musty/mildewy books.

Several years ago I had a book shelf against a wall in the living room.(we lived in an apartment at the time)  On the bottom shelf I had several National Geographic magazines. For some reason this wall was a sponge and water was absorbed, mold grew all over these magazines. When the weather got warm I starter smelling this retched mildew. Once I found it, I cried. I not only had to through away all the NG but two shelves up from that had also absorbed the stench. I had to through them all away. Years of collection gone. Worthless.

I just did not want anyone thinking I was unfair or snarky about this issue. Ive received near 100 books and this is the first time I have had this issue.

Last Edited on: 3/25/10 1:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2005
Posts: 87
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If it smells of mold or mildew then it could technically be unpostable anyway since this indicates that it has had some sort of water damage at some point or was right next to books that already had the mildew or mold.  It can infect whole libraries, so I would not put it with any other books.  In the case of the sender who wants the book back I would send it only if they refunded 2 credits.  1 for the book and 1 to mail it back.  I would give them a reasonable amount of time to respond and tell them if they don't respond in such and such time you are marking the transaction as unresolved.  Sorry that this has happened to you and hopefully you get your credits back.

Subject: Smoke smell
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 3:31 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 19
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I've had a similar experience but from the opposite side.  I recently sent on a book that was on several member's wish list to a requestor who had stated they did not want to receive any books that smelled like smoke.  I also do not like the smell of cigarette/cigar smoke in books.  Before sending the book on I gave it the "sniff" test and did not smell any smoke.  Once the requestor received the book they stated that it smelled like smoke and she was concerned because her conditions specifically stated "no smoke smell".  When it left my house I could not detect any smoke smell so either it was around a smoker in transit or I could have had a slight cold that day and although I did not notice any difference in being able to smell a slight scent of smoke that I would have normally been able to detect. 

I understand your specific scenario might be slightly different but, that being the case, where do you draw the line?  This is a used book exchange forum and I do have to say that if the damage is not visible you are depending on someone being able to detect a slight scent of smoke whenever they mail a book which may be an unrealistic expectation.  If the person mailing the book is starting to come down with a cold and they live in a non-smoking home they may not even realize that their sense of smell is impacted at that time.  I turn around new releases in a single day and I can definitly see this situation happening.  If the Post Office is willing to guarantee that your mail will not be exposed to cigarette smoke (or another piece of mail that smells like smoke) at any point in transit then you may have something of an argument but I don't think they would be willing to do that as your package may be sitting for a period of time next to another package that did come from the home of a heavy smoker and since it is media mail it may sit there for a few days.

The only way you are going to have a guarantee that you get a book that has no scent (musty, smoke, etc.) would be if you were able to actually check the book yourself before purchase. 

Last Edited on: 3/25/10 4:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 7:07 PM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2009
Posts: 195
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Michelle, Im not at this point arguing the smoke issue. I think its pretty fair to say that any smoking home refuses to send to me. And I am very grateful for that. I have not received any books that smell of cigarettes. And I likely wont.  I have had a couple ask if they should send because they themselves dont smoke but a family member does but "not in my office"  I graciously declined. It was hard too cuz they were books I know are not likely to come up again. A unique interest.  But I have been around smokers. They may only smoke in one room or out on the porch but their cloths, cars, hair, skin, always smells. They may try to mask it with perfume, or by washing the clothes but it does not make it go away. That leaches on to everything the are around.

I cant be the only one that notices this. Its not a put down its just a simple fact.  And as I said Ive not had issues with that even though the PO smokes. The items are closed up and not in long term contact.


Anyway, the mildew is a totally different issue.  Have you ever walked into an old house and the musty smell is so strong you wish  to open windows and cover your nose? When you walk out you smell it cling to you. We came across a few when house hunting.

Well, thats how this book smells. And its setting on my covered patio in plastic.

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 4/24/2008
Posts: 310
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On another book trading site I'm on the people are able to list the condition of the books.  One book I really wanted said that they lived in a  home where people smoked.  I took a chance and ordered it anyway.  When I got the book I could not even find the slightest hint of smoke. 

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 11/16/2009
Posts: 195
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Kay, thats great. Im glad it worked out for you.  I wish I could. My GG smaked on accasoin. She would sneak off to the bathroon and open the window. Blowing her smoke out and fanning it at the same time. LOL She was scareed the let granpa find out. You never could smell it on her.

There, I guess is always an acception.

Subject: Book condition option would be helpful
Date Posted: 3/26/2010 4:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 19
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I grew up with a father who smoked (and who would smoke in the car while driving) so once I had my own place and car I did not allow any smoking inside of the house.  No one has smoked in my house in the almost 8 years that I have lived here which I why I was very surprised when I had the other member complain about a smell of cigarette smoke on the book I had sent.  Although I do not like the smell of cigarette smoke I do not have a requestor condition for how the book smells as I think that can be difficult to prove in some cases.  I did recently receive a book in a BoB trade which actually had mildew stains.  Once I notified the other member she apologized and sent an additional book that I selected from her bookshelf.

It would be very helpful to be able to mark the condition of the book as the system could filter requests based on the selections.  The only other time I've had a significant issue with the condition of a book was when a member sent me a book that was starting to fall apart.  She had sent me an IM saying there was a tear in the cover but did not mention that the cover was coming away from the binding and that the binding was starting to separate.  The member who sent it actually made me mail it back in order to get my refund and I have no idea what she was going to do with the book......I hope she did not try to send it to someone else in trade as it really should have been thrown out due to the condition.