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Topic: USPS mangles wrapper, user claims 'ruined' books

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Subject: USPS mangles wrapper, user claims 'ruined' books
Date Posted: 6/17/2012 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/7/2008
Posts: 72
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I mailed out a stack of five books to another member.  I put a big rubber band around all the books.  The person then marked all of them RWAP because USPS mangled the strong plastic mailer-bag wrapping.  She also claims one is missing from the stack.  She sent me pictures of the torn package with one corner of one book showing with some light marks on one corner. 

She's claiming that ALL the books are 'ruined' and wants a refund of all her credits. 

I've asked her to send pictures of the damage.  I have a strong feeling that she's going to try to claim that every book is now ruined because it might have some light damage on one corner,  I would hardly consider the picture of the one book I saw as enough to make the book 'ruined'.

She had an RC that specified how I should wrap the book - in a box or with cardboard, which I'm now wondering why on earth I accepted it during such a busy week.  I had forgotten to include the cardboard in the package, but that's hardly why USPS mangled the wrapping as her USPS guy told her he suspected that the conveyor belt had caught it. (Yes, I did have every loose bit firmly taped down).

I know we're going to strongly disagree on what a ruined book is.  How woud anyone else handle this?  I am reluctant to just refund all the credits if only one book was actually just lightly damaged.

One thing's for sure, I will now turn down every single request with an RC that dictates how I'm supposed to package anything, how something smells (other than no cigarette smoke), how much damage is 'allowable' or any other too-prissy-for-pbs requests.

Date Posted: 6/17/2012 6:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,200
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Some people have a history of the USPS near them handling their packages very roughly and an RC on packaging more securely may be the one way they can try to get books safely too them. Its too bad you didn't have it packaged according to her RCs because if you had, then you wouldn't be responsible for returning the credits due to USPS damage. Stupid USPS, sucks that now all those books are damaged.

I would ask for pictures and confirm that the books are unpostable. If they arrived as postable I don't think they really have a right to ask for credits back.

 I am reluctant to just refund all the credits if only one book was actually just lightly damaged.

As long they are damaged enough to be unpostable (even lightly enought to still be "readable"), since you didn't follow her RC on packaging you really should be returning credits. Even though it sucks for you, it'd suck for the receiver too who may now have a pile of books that they can't recoup credits on and they even had an RC in place to help with the potential problem, but the RC wasn't followed and now they have damaged books. There really is no way to know at this point if their packaging request wouldn't have helped, had the machine bit into the package and hit cardboard it may not have went any further, had they been in a box they may not have sustained any damage. They may have been mangled just the same. Unfortunately, there's no way to know and you didn't follow the RC so it gives them the right to ask for their credits back.



Last Edited on: 6/17/12 6:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/17/2012 6:30 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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I agree with Melanie. If there had been no RC, or you had packaged the books according to her wishes, it would have been a simple case of post office damage and you could have chosen to not return the credits. Since there was a wrapper RC that you forgot about, if the books sustained damage during transit then you really should return the credits.

I also agree that they should send you photos clearly showing any damage to all five of the books before you agree to return all the credits.

Date Posted: 6/17/2012 7:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Since there was a wrapper RC that you forgot about, if the books sustained damage during transit then you really should return the credits.

I agree as well.

You don't have to agree about what a 'ruined' book means. If any of the books arrived not meeting PBS guidelines, and are now unpostable, you owe her the credit back for that book. She shouldn't have to pay a for the book that's missing, either, since it might have arrived if you'd followed her instructions.

You didn't follow her RC, which could have gotten you dinged with a RWAP anyway. You can get hit with an RWAP and not have them ask for their credit back. You took the chance by not following the instructions, and I'm afraid it sounds like you lost that gamble.

 

 

Date Posted: 6/17/2012 7:57 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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If she has a book that is missing though, the receiver will get her credit back when it goes lost (if it wasn't a deal and she paid a credit for each book). The sender shouldn't have to refund a credit for a lost book since the receiver would get 2 credits (one from PBS when the book goes lost, and the other from the sender).

Subject: Thanks for the replies
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 1:17 AM ET
Member Since: 9/7/2008
Posts: 72
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Thanks for the good advice.

The user is going to send me pictures, but not for a week or so as she says someone has borrowed her camera......

I have no problem refunding the credits if the books are badly damaged and/or unpostable, however, from what I've seen so far, possibly only one of the five might have been lightly damaged.  

Here's the pictures I did get in the first PM:

 http://image.inkfrog.com/pix/dianasdolls/damagedpackage1.jpg

http://image.inkfrog.com/pix/dianasdolls/damagedpackage1a.jpg

http://image.inkfrog.com/pix/dianasdolls/damagedpackage1b.jpg

My concern is being asked to refund credits for books that are perfectly fine and postable, but that are expected to be 'free' simply because there was no cardboard in the package. 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 2:01 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,200
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I suspect not all the book sustained damage either, or the pictures would have been of the books not the wrapper.

I do have to say that I am not one bit surprised that the package was torn up. Nothing over a stack of hardcover books but a layer of that material--the machines will grab ahold and tear through it trying to move that amount of weight almost everytime IMO. That material will often tear on a lighter package, on a heavy one, the odds of damage increases.

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 3:03 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,807
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Hardbacks need to be wrapped very well to make it through the Postal machinery. I worked at the processing center for almost 20 years and most of the time parcels get damaged are because of poor packing/packaging. A little extra care such as more tape, cardboard, tight wrapping and using padded envelopes or boxes for big books or for more than one book can make a big difference. Knock on wood I have sent out over 2800 books and not one has been damaged. Thank you, Lord! I do mummify and use boxes for large orders and often add cardboard. I would have to see more pictures to determine if all the books were damaged. They could have gotten wet or bent. Ask to see photos of each book and its damage. I think she is upset because her RC was not followed and there is some damage.
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 3:24 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,911
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Some advice on packaging ... when you are sending multiple books, one of the best ways to package them up is to wrap the books together in some type of plastic (I use saran wrap if the pile is small, like 1-3 books, or a plastic grocery bag for up to 7 or 8), and after they are wrapped in plastic, tape around all 3 sides of the plastic to make a tightly wrapped "book brick". The books shoudl not be able to move in the brick, at all.

Once you have a brick, you can wrap that in pretty much anything and it will be OK. I just use heavier paper, usually, like a cut open manila envelope, or a cut open bubble wrapper, or whatever else I have on hand.

The main issue with leaving books loose (it looks like they may not have been taped together in your package) is that they ALWAYS slide around inside the package, and that has the inevitable result of breaking the package open from the inside. Just one corner of a book making a small rip in the packaging can spell disaster, because the rip will just get larger as the package is handled further.

Your package may also have held up better if you had put tape completely around the packaging in all three directions. (I don't mummify, but tape should seal up all the seams, and then go completely around the width, length, and height of the package). If you put tape in all three directions of the package, then even if it rips, books will not fall out, and it is unlikly that the wrapper will fall completely off.

 

I agree with the other posters though, it seems unlikely from the pictures that she has, that all of the books in the package were damaged. So, I would wait for more pictures, and I would even verify that the pictures she posts are of the books that you mailed. (I make sure to show the cover if I am taking a picture of the outside of a book, or make sure the page headers are showing when I take a picture of the inside).

I am not even sure that the picture of that one corner of the book shows damage that makes the book unpostable. As long as it is scuffed (but not water damaged) it is still postable.

Also, do not refund the credit on the missing book. She should not mark that one received in any way, since she did not get it. When it goes lost, her credit will be refunded by the system.

Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 11:42 AM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2007
Posts: 6,630
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I think Sender was dinged appropriately for not following the RC, and there was actually damage when there might not have been if the RC had been followed.

To me, whether or not the books were damaged, Requestor has the right to RWAP and ask for credit refunds since the RC was in place for a reason and Sender inadvertently disregarded.  Doesn't matter what damage is shown in the photos or has occurred. Sender still erred in not following an RC they agreed to follow.

That some/all of the books were damaged and one actually went missing is just icing on the cake that credits should be refunded.

Sorry, but IMO, RCs should be respected when included, and if a Sender accepts the RC, should be following the stipulations of that RC.



Last Edited on: 6/18/12 11:52 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 12:00 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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Since there was a wrapper RC that you forgot about, if the books sustained damage during transit then you really should return the credits.

I agree with this.  Unfortunately, since you did not follow the RC, the receiver is in the right to ask for a return of her credits.  Regardless of any actual damage to the books, you did not follow the RC.

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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This one is kind of a toughie, and posted comments represent both facts and emotional reactions.  The RWAP I can understand, and the RC is a game changer in this situation. 

But emotionally, if only one of the books is actually damaged (and possibly still postable) IMO asking for the return of all the credits seems a bit...greedy.  Technically allowable, yes...but kinda tacky.  The sender already has the RWAP/slap on the wrist for non-compliance with the RC, it's just adding insult to insist on all the credits when she has received postable books.



Last Edited on: 6/18/12 12:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 620
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"But emotionally, if only one of the books is actually damaged (and possibly still postable) IMO asking for the return of all the credits seems a bit...greedy.  Technically allowable, yes...but kinda tacky.  The sender already has the RWAP/slap on the wrist for non-compliance with the RC, it's just adding insult to insist on all the credits when she has received postable books ."  yes

 

Just because one has the right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do.  I hope the recipient of the package will provide photos of all the damaged books or reconsider his/her request for a return of all the credits. 

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,911
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I disagree that it is ever appropriate to RWAP an undamaged book. Whether a RC was followed or not.

The normal reason that people have a RC is to prevent damaged books (that are otherwise postable to PBS) from reaching them. Like books that smell heavily of smoke. That's a damaged book, however pBS has, in their wisdom, decided that those are OK to post. And, that people who don't want books damaged in that way can request not to receive them.

So, receiving a smoky book when you have a non-smoking RC, is actually a DAMAGED book.

However, although I agree that RCs should not be accepted if you are not willing to follow them ... I think that in this case, where the books are 100% usuable and repostable (given the current lack of evidence to the contrary) to the requestor, marking RWAP is not proper.

The requestor will already get their credit back for the missing book. If the other books are damaged, then the sender should refund those credits as well. But refunding credits for completely undamaged books .... no.

If I was in the position of being asked to refund credits for completely undamaged books based on a wrapping RC, I would take to to PBS directly, and get a ruling from them.

Because I think expecting a refund on undamaged books is abusing the system.



Last Edited on: 6/18/12 1:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 2:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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I think that in this case, where the books are 100% usuable and repostable (given the current lack of evidence to the contrary) to the requestor, marking RWAP is not proper.

I agree that if an RC is not respected, the requestor should RWAP because that way the sender will learn not to do it again. However, if the books are in postable condition, I don't think they should ask for their credit back. Like Sara said, to me it's abusing the system to request a credit for a perfectly postable book.

So I agree with those of you who say that you should wait to verify the condition of the books before you return the credits.

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 4,412
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"I agree that if an RC is not respected, the requestor should RWAP because that way the sender will learn not to do it again. However, if the books are in postable condition, I don't think they should ask for their credit back. Like Sara said, to me it's abusing the system to request a credit for a perfectly postable book." [emphasis mine]

yesyes  

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 2:31 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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I copied this from the Help Center:

Requestor Conditions not Met (this option will be available only if there were RCs attached to the request when it was submitted)

  • This means that the book did not meet the conditions the requestor specified on the request. 
  • To resolve this: view the Requestor Conditions from the "Request Details" link on the transaction in your Transaction Archive.  If your book did NOT meet the conditions, you should refund credit.  If you feel that your book DID meet the conditions, you should reply to the requestor politely saying that, and that you don't feel a refund is warranted.

The way I intepret this is that if you have RCs pertaining to the book, then yes you would mark RWAP if the RC is not followed met. But this wasn't a book RC (and I'm working on the assumption that not all books in the shipment are damaged), this was a packaging RC. And if the packaging RC is not followed still assuming the books are not damaged, I don't think marking RWAP is the right thing to do.  I would think the person could put in their comments that the RC isn't followed--this would still follow the transaction.

Of course in this case, the jury is still out on if the books are postable or not because I can't actually tell from the photos yet. If the books themselves are damaged, then yes, I think returning credits is the right thing to do in this case because packaging instructions weren't followed. But if the books are postable, then no, the credits shouldn't be returned, nor should the books be marked RWAP.

This truly is a case where I believe clarification from TPTB should be sought (and I'd  actually love to see them clarify this in the help documents, if indeed you are supposed to mark packaging RCs as RWAP even if books are not damaged).

 

 

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 3:00 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2006
Posts: 47
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I wanted to comment on your last paragraph about not sending books with an RC anymore. While it's completely within your rights to do so, Ithose that have those requests often do it for a reason. For a long while, I had a mail lady that left the mailbox of every single mailbox on our street open after delivering the mail. Almost very day. She must have eventually gotten in trouble for it, because most of the time she closes them now. But before that, if we got rain, which we do nearly daily in the summer, our mailbox was situated perfectly to allow a large amount of rain in. Our mail would be soaked. For that reason, I ask that the sender waterproof the book - Saran wrap or a Walmart bag is fine! I'm not picky, but if people accept the book request, I hope they do what I asked them to do. I guess it's on my mind because recently, I received a book that was put into a Manila envelope. No effort was made to waterproof it, or to secure any excess around the book. WhenI received it, the book was damaged and there was a large rip in the package. The spine of the bottom of the book had been pushed up like a cuticle! I would have chalked it up to postal damage, except for two things: if it had been wrapped with the extra layer I had requested, it may have been protected, and you know that rip I told you about? It was obviously in the envelope before mailing - at some point someone had taped it with packaging tape, but it was so long ago, that the packing tape had yellowed and was crinkly. So was it really USPS's fault? Or the fault of the sender for poor packaging that caused the damage to the book? Anyway, I think I've gone a bit irrelevant to your original topic. I do agree with the other posters that you need to make sure none of them are postable before you give back any credits!
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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The way I intepret this is that if you have RCs pertaining to the book, then yes you would mark RWAP if the RC is not followed met. But this wasn't a book RC (and I'm working on the assumption that not all books in the shipment are damaged), this was a packaging RC. And if the packaging RC is not followed still assuming the books are not damaged, I don't think marking RWAP is the right thing to do.

I disagree.

All RC's are to be followed, and it being an RC for packaging doesn't make it any different than an RC for book condition.

Which is why the sender gets the option of reading the RC and then deciding if they can/want to oblige. If not, the correct response is to deny the request. Not ignore it for what ever reason.

If an RC isn't followed, it should be RWAP. The receiver doesn't need to request credits back, but the sender should be put on notice with the complaint that they should have paid closer attention to the RC.

In the long run, the site volunteers looking into problem swaps will be able to look and see if it was just a difference on opinion on something subjective, or that the sender failed to follow the RC at all. I'm sure that the latter will be a bigger black mark than the former. But if they're not RWAP over it, then the site won't know that there may be a problem going on.

 

Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 6/18/2012 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2007
Posts: 6,630
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All RC's are to be followed, and it being an RC for packaging doesn't make it any different than an RC for book condition.

Which is why the sender gets the option of reading the RC and then deciding if they can/want to oblige. If not, the correct response is to deny the request. Not ignore it for what ever reason.

If an RC isn't followed, it should be RWAP. The receiver doesn't need to request credits back, but the sender should be put on notice with the complaint that they should have paid closer attention to the RC.

This corresponds to how I feel.

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 4:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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Exactly, Cindy.

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,336
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In the long run, the site volunteers looking into problem swaps...

Clarification: Site volunteers can't look into people's accounts or look at problem swaps.  Only member of the Admin Team can do that.

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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All RC's are to be followed, and it being an RC for packaging doesn't make it any different than an RC for book condition.

Which is why the sender gets the option of reading the RC and then deciding if they can/want to oblige. If not, the correct response is to deny the request. Not ignore it for what ever reason.

If an RC isn't followed, it should be RWAP. The receiver doesn't need to request credits back, but the sender should be put on notice with the complaint that they should have paid closer attention to the RC.

This corresponds to how I feel.

 

And it's possible the person forgets a RC (especially regarding packaging) which it sounds like the OP did, not a blatant disregard of the RC. If someone marks RWAP and they receive postable books, according to the above, they can still request their credits back.

Perhaps there needs to be another way of marking RWAP (I haven't done it for awhile) so that it's clear that the books themselves are not damaged but the RC regarding packaging wasn't followed.

Also--clarification? If someone marks wishlisted books RWAP, don't they automatically get back in line at the place they were when they ordered?

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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Also--clarification? If someone marks wishlisted books RWAP, don't they automatically get back in line at the place they were when they ordered?

Yes, they do get back to their former position in line.

I believe that the default setting for marking RWAP - RC not met is to ask for the credit back. In a multi-book shipment, is there a way to only RWAP one of the books?

Date Posted: 6/18/2012 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,200
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The way I intepret this is that if you have RCs pertaining to the book, then yes you would mark RWAP if the RC is not followed met. But this wasn't a book RC (and I'm working on the assumption that not all books in the shipment are damaged), this was a packaging RC. And if the packaging RC is not followed still assuming the books are not damaged, I don't think marking RWAP is the right thing to do.  I would think the person could put in their comments that the RC isn't followed--this would still follow the transaction.

While I disagree with the idea that credits should be returned for not following an RC where the books were not damaged on a wrapping RC, I also disagree with this interpretation. An RC on wrapping is also on book condition - the "book's condition" specifically is to be shipped in a certain packaging. As I said in my previous post, this is the only way a member with bad postal centers near them can do something to protect their books -ask for better protection in the RC. If the member doesn't follow that and the books are damaged, then an RC is 100% warranted.

I, however, do not agree with the sentiment that credits can be asked for when an RC was not followed when the receiver has the exact books in the exact condition they would have if the RC had been followed. If the receiver is not out anything, then they shouldn't be requesting credits back. The RWAP tracks members who aren't following the rules, the credit return is to balance the transaction and make things right with the requester. If they are already "whole" then the sender shouldn't lose the credits. Credits should definitely be returned if the books are damaged in anyway. (Even if they are still considered postable, but are damaged I might consider a credit return the proper thing to do since the member may have had plans for the book that would now require them to re-order because of the damage).

I thought the Team had clarified this before when we had the member with a plastic wrap RC who was RWAP and asking for credits back on every package without plastic even though they never got wet or damaged. I couldn't find it though so this is all my opinion.

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