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Topic: usps damaged book

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Subject: usps damaged book
Date Posted: 12/15/2011 7:22 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 32
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I'm a little unclear on this one. The receiver says it is "pretty severly damaged" but still readable. The help docs say if the book was wrapped adequately according to the instructions it does not warrant a refund. I always wrap with a saran wrap layer then the printer paper sheets with lots of tape. The receiver suggests wrapping in something stiffer than just the printer paper. I'm on the fence about what to do. I can afford to refund the credit, but don't feel I should have to pay for usps's error. Is there a procedure he can claim and be paid damages by the post office?

Date Posted: 12/15/2011 9:04 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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If you wrapped adequately (in the wrapper provided by the Club) and taped well you are in the clear. The receiver may not feel that the wrapper is enough but that is their personal opinion. Damage happens -- a small percentage but it does happen even when a book is well wrapped. There is no procedure I am aware of that they can get their damages paid.

From the Help Center:

Damaged by USPS

  • This means a book that was damaged by USPS during its journey.  Normally this is just bad luck, and does not warrant a credit refund.  However, if the Wrapping was inadequate (you didn't seal the envelope, or you left any part of the book exposed, or you used Scotch tape), the requestor may feel it contributed to the damage and may ask for a credit refund.
  • To resolve this: review How to Wrap a Book and decide if your book wrapping was adequate.  If not, you should refund credit.  If you feel it was adequate, you should reply to the requestor politely saying that, and that you don't feel a refund is warranted.
Date Posted: 12/15/2011 10:05 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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It's up to you whether you want to refund her credit. Personally, I wouldn't because if you wrapped hte book as you mentioned, you didn't do anything wrong and you cannot be responsible for the USPS. I don't know of any packaging that it's completely immune - I've got a box once that seemed to have been attacked by a pack of ravenous wolves it has so many gashes - because the USPS machines and sometimes even the handling is not very gentle.

If this person doesn't want to receive books wrapped in printed paper, then she should set a requestor condition.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 12/15/2011 10:34 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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It was a mass-market sized paperback, right? And you used packing tape, not scotch tape? If so, then you wrapped adequately.

If it was a trade paperback or a hardcover, or you didn't use the proper tape, then the recipient is right and you should refund the credit.

Date Posted: 12/15/2011 10:43 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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I beg to differ with the opinion that if it was a trade-sized book, then they were wrong. I send trade-size paperbacks all the time in the wrapper (I have sent 3500+) and have never had any complaints or damage caused by USPS. Two layers of paper (11x17") with plastic underneath and all the seams taped with shipping tape and those books survive just fine and I have less problems than ones I receive in bubble bags which do get caught in machinery. But that is just my opinion. I do agree with the suggestion that if the receiver has a problem receiving books in the wrapper then they need an RC stating so.

Date Posted: 12/15/2011 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,234
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I aso send trades out wrapped in paper and they do just fine, as long as the package is not bendy. I tend to reuse bubble envelopes, as I have a stack that people have sent me, but I woudl not go out to purchase them if I didn't have ones to recycle. A stiff paper wrapper, well taped, is OK for just about any book.

It is unfortunate that the receiver received a damaged book, but when the post office messes up, the risk is already evenly assigned between the sender and the receiver:

1. If the PO completely loses the book, then the receiver gets the credit back and the sender loses the book + the credit.

2. If the PO damages the book but manages to deliver it, then the sender gets the credit, and the receiver ends up with a damaged book (but hopefully they can still read it, so they are still getting *something* for their credit, even though its not a postable book).

So, to the OP, nope, you don't have to refund the credit. Mail damaged books are just an unfortunate situation that happens sometimes.

Date Posted: 12/15/2011 1:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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William, one option would be to politely ask for digital photos of the damage, if they have the means to provide them.  Members often post to a photo sharing site like Photobucket and then send appropriate links in a PM.  This might help you better understand what happened, so you can feel more confident about your decision.  Or it might not.  As others have stated, if you used the PBS wrapper, both pages covered the book and you used plenty of shipping tape, you should be in the clear.

Date Posted: 12/16/2011 12:56 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,234
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 Is there a procedure he can claim and be paid damages by the post office?


I've mailed out probably about 800 books in the printer paper wrapper. I use plastic wrap, one sheet of printer paper (shhh, don't tell anyone I'm not using two sheets), and then I cover about 80% of the package with packaging tape. Only 1 of these books has ever arrived damaged to the requestor.

So, printer paper is a perfectly valid wrapping option that requires no defense.

Last Edited on: 12/16/11 1:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/16/2011 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2010
Posts: 758
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I recently sent a large hardback book in a box, and received a note from the recipient that there was a puncture to the box that went through the packing tape, through the box, through the shrink wrap around the book, and into the book. So even with packaging above and beyond the basic PBS paper wrapper, USPS damages can (and do) still happen.


Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 12/16/2011 5:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2007
Posts: 6,630
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I've sent hardcover books to other countries using just the paper wrapper and packing tape, inner plastic layer, and gotten compliments on the packaging / wrapping job.  So, even with just paper, if it was securely wrapped around the book, no loose edges, and tape-reinforced, then the wrapping was adequate and damage caused by USPS was just an unhappy coincidence so no credit refund warranted, IMHO.

Date Posted: 12/16/2011 5:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/1/2006
Posts: 846
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I also think you can politely state that you wrapped in accordance with PBS rules and therefore are not obligated to refund.

Just my opinion, but I think that the white printer paper is stronger than the paper used in some padded/bubble envelopes, which can be kind of soft. Another advantage of the printer paper wrapping is that the book doesn't move around inside the wrapper. I got what was supposed to have been a brand new book (for a gift, not thru PBS)  that had been shipped in a bubble envelope, but because the envelope was so much bigger than the book, the book arrived with the dust jacket all battered. I think the book was sliding around in the envelope. Whatever I use, I try to wrap the book tight so that it can't move around.

Date Posted: 12/16/2011 6:21 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Sometimes no matter what you use the USPS eats your package.  I've used commerically made Mailer bags, made from nylon, meant to be 1,000 times stronge then tape or whatever their claim is.  Pretty sturdy bags that I've used when moving and thrown around. But yet the USPS has returned a few bags to me that look like moths have chewed through them with a note saying it was damaged by them. 

Date Posted: 12/16/2011 6:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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If it was a trade paperback or a hardcover, or you didn't use the proper tape, then the recipient is right and you should refund the credit.

The PBS wrapping instructions actually shows a trade paperback being wrapped in the printed PBS wrapper so it is not of PBS's opinion that the wrapper cannot be used for them.

William if you wrapped the book in plastic, then the 2 sheet wrapper, and used plenty of packaging tape to secure all the sides and corners and it still got there "pretty severely damaged" then clearly the USPS handled it pretty roughly and its probable that it would have gotten damaged no matter what you did.  The Help Center explains that if the book makes it to the receiver, then the USPS damage is the receiver's to bear, if it never makes it there then the sender bears the loss. 

Date Posted: 12/16/2011 7:43 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2006
Posts: 399
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Just as a note, plastic is not required, though a lot of people do use it.  William, sounds like you did just fine and should stop worrying.  Every book has an end to its lifespan, be it through the number of readings, a dunk in the bathtub, a grinding in the USPS gears or an overly enthusiastic puppy.  No one will be able to "keep" every credit forever - someone has to be the "last person" for whatever reason and the system by it's nature spreads that across swappers.  If the book had never arrived, you would be last.  If it arrived but got damaged in transit (and in this case not enough to be unreadable, just enough to be unpostable), the recipient is last.  Someone has to send it on to the library in the sky and suck up the credit here and there. cool

Date Posted: 12/17/2011 5:08 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 32
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I've wrapped in plastic and lived by it ever since I got a package that was soaking wet  when it arrived but the plastic kept the book itself bone dry. I thanked the sender for that. I'll take the advice of using a stiff piece of cardboard from now on when sending out trade paperbacks. Live and learn...