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Topic: Why are most of my requests getting cancelled?

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Subject: Why are most of my requests getting cancelled?
Date Posted: 3/24/2014 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2009
Posts: 17
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I've been happily using this site for nearly 5 years, and I still get some good swaps, but in the past several months most of my requests have been cancelled. In the past 3 months, I've successfully received 5 books, but during the same period 8 of my requests were cancelled by the other member. Two of these were books that had been posted some time ago, so I guess it's understandable that they were no longer available, but the other 6 were books I had on my wish list that were posted and then cancelled by the member who had the book. I cannot figure out why this is happening so much. I do have requestor conditions but they're stated very reasonably. All I ask is that I not receive books that smell _strongly_ of smoke or mildew. That seems like a reasonable condition, and I believe I'm using the requestor conditions the way they were set up to be used, and yet I wonder if many members are leery of swapping with anyone who has any kind of requestor conditions. One member who cancelled a posted book actually said to me that he does not swap with anyone who has requestor conditions unless they are for health reasons, so even though the book did not smell strongly of smoke or mold, he cancelled the request anyway. I am not hard to deal with at all, and even when I received a book with writing in the margins I didn't complain or mark it received with a problem. I'm not sure my bad experience lately has anything to do with requestor conditions, but I cannot figure out what else it could be. 

Last Edited on: 3/24/14 12:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 3/24/2014 12:33 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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Maybe you could try turning off the requester conditions for a while and see what happens? I have no conditions, and I've probably received about 1 book per year that has a smoky smell and no mildewed books. So your requester conditions are there to prevent something that hardly ever happens anyway.

Date Posted: 3/24/2014 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 626
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I rejected 2 requests (for the same book) this morning because they both had smoke odor RCs.  The book had been received in a swap and only in my home for only a few days..  I don't know if the previous owners smoked and have a poor sense of smell myself. 

 Part of the problem may be your use of the word "strongly."   What smells like just a hint to me, may reek to you.   I'd be nervous making that kind of judgment call, too.

Last Edited on: 3/24/14 1:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2014 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 202
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I don't have any RCs at all and I've never received a book that I didn't consider just fine. I never got one I thought had a smoking smell. That's out of 250 books.

Date Posted: 3/24/2014 1:47 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2009
Posts: 17
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Thanks for the replies. I've turned off my RCs, even though that is something I shouldn't have to do. Fingers crossed.

Date Posted: 3/24/2014 3:20 PM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2005
Posts: 3,388
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I know for myself, I have to decline all scent related RCs as I have a very poor sense of smell and would rather be safe than disappoint someone. But, we are in Winter and cold season so you may have also been hitting some members that might not have been able to comfortably fulfill your RC.

Date Posted: 3/24/2014 3:23 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,988
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I have the same RC and rarely ever get turned down on my WL books for it.

Date Posted: 3/24/2014 4:47 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2010
Posts: 2,395
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I'm sure the reason for all the declines is the smell RC.

I once mailed a book that did not have any odor I could detect, and the receiver chastized me for sending them a book that "Reaked of Smoke!" Clearly my scent of smell was not as acute as theirs. There was more to the exchange, I'm giving you the readers digest version. It turned out to be an unpleasant experience. One I don't care to repeat. Now, unless it specifies "Currently in a non-smoking home" I decline all smell and smoke RCs. I bet I'm not the only one with a similar story.

However having said that out of the hundred's of books I have received none have smelled of anything objectional. One memorable book smelled strongly of bounce (dryer sheet) but it faded pretty quickly and I traded it later with no problem.

Last Edited on: 3/26/14 11:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2014 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2009
Posts: 17
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Some of the cancellations had to do with my RC surely, but other requests just timed out after the book was not mailed, which is also disappointing.

Last Edited on: 3/24/14 4:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2014 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I also decline smell RCs.  I have a terrible sense of smell.  Plus it's so subjective.  Now an RC that says not currently in a smoking home, I accept because no one in my house smokes.

I have asthma  and allergies and no RC. I have to say that in 6 years of swapping and several hundred books received, I've never received any that reeked of any smells (again not a good sniffer).  And only 1 book that gave me an allergic reaction and I think that was just because the book was over 40 years old. (now I just don't request anything that old anymore).

As for the ones that didn't just decline RCs but timed out, sometimes you just hit a patch of non-responders. People post WL  books and then life gets in the way.  They post a WL book and it cycles through multiple members and in the meantime they have gotten too busy to mail it out.  (I had one that cycled through multiple people and in the  meantime my stepmother died and I cancelled because mailing that book out was no longer something I could deal with at the time).  New members join and post a bunch of books and don't know to check if they are WL first and then panic with all the requests. You just never know.

Date Posted: 3/26/2014 9:38 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 3,278
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was I one of the people who rejected your request.

Date Posted: 3/26/2014 10:16 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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I have received over 3700 books through swaps and just got my first book that smelled of smoke, so I am somewhat surprised by the number of members requesting smokefree books. I always turn down RCs that are subjective, asking me to judge whether it smells of smoke, or mildew or air freshener because my sense of smell is not as keen as others. I will accept RCs that ask that the book is not currently in a smoking home. I agree with others that it is most likely the wording of your RC that is the problem.

I too am frustrated with book requests that time out and I have seen an increase of those because I think there are a lot of members who are no longer active and thus not responding to requests -- rather than close their account, they just have abandoned it. And yes, I've had books just posted to my WL time out, and in some cases those books do show up because the sender just never marked them mailed.

Date Posted: 3/26/2014 5:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2009
Posts: 17
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Charles: No, you weren't.

The reason I put "strongly" was to try to avoid borderline cases and doubts -- in other words, if the book _clearly_ has an odor problem, then I'd rather not receive it. If it does not _clearly_ seem to have an odor problem, then it's fine to send it. So a keen sense of smell would not be required at all. But I can understand the problem of introducing any kind of subjective judgment call into RCs, so I have turned them off. 

Mildew and smoke problems are fairly widespread, though. I can tell by how often they're discussed here in the forums. (Searching for the word "mildew" brings up 661 results! "Mold" gets a lot more, but that's something explicitly covered in the site's swappability guidelines, and I guess mainly refers to visible mold damage.

What I don't understand about the requests that time out is that many of these have been wish-listed books for which I'm next in line when the book was posted. In other words, someone posted a book and said they could ship it within a couple of days, I confirmed the request promptly, and then it timed out within the same week because the other member didn't mail it or even cancel the request. I know that emergencies come up, but I'm surprised by how often this seems to happen.

Subject: timing out
Date Posted: 3/27/2014 3:33 AM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2010
Posts: 28
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I am having the same problem with requests timing out over and over again. It's very annoying to have to wait for weeks for a book that has multiple copies posted because the people from whom it is requested don't respond. I understand if people cancel due to RC's. What I don't understand is how so many people appear to be ignoring requests.

Date Posted: 3/27/2014 10:36 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,087
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Mildew and smoke problems are fairly widespread, though. I can tell by how often they're discussed here in the forums.

I have never found that to be the case.

I've received something like 1300 books, and there is maybe 10-15 that were smoky, 1 really gross book with visible mold growing on it (I don't know what the sender was thinking on that one), and maybe 3 or 4 more that smelled particularly musty/mildewy to me (and I have a very good sense of smell). Also, one that stunk like cat pee, and one that stunk like dryer sheets (ugh!).

The thing to remember is that:

1. people post in the forum when they have a problem. (Nobody comes here to post about all of the perfectly good transactions that take place every day).

2. Currently, the number of transactions weekly at PBS runs about 26,000. If you notice how many problem posts there are in that same week ... maybe 5 people post with issues in any given week?

Anyway, if searching for "mildew" brings up 600 results ... you can weigh that against the more than 16 milion transactions completed.

Last Edited on: 3/27/14 10:38 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/27/2014 3:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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If you look those discussions are spread out over 6 years and if you grouped all the ones from the same thread together it would be a lot less. 

Just saying. I also have never received a mildewy or moldy book. 

Unfortunately people don't always take the time to close down their PBS accounts. They die, they get sick and just don't think about it, they join with nothing but heavily posted books and then just forget about it etc...., 

Sara is right in that people don't post about the good transactions or they very rarely do.  They come here to vent, gripe & ask advice about the bad transactions. So if you just go by the message boards you would think that there's a really high percentage of bad transactions when there really isn't.  People don't come on to say "I requested a book and the sender accepted and mailed right away and it arrived in perfect condition well before the lost date". 

I pretty much only request WL books at this point but when I requested non-WL books here's what I observed: the more heavily posted a book was the more likely it was to time out on at least one person before it was accepted.  The more heavily wished for books I posted were more likely to time out on at least 1 person before accepted.  In my experience I've had many more issues with books I posted timing out on the wishers than books I requested timing out on the sender.  Out of hundreds of books I've had to mark maybe 12 as RWP and got my credit back on all of those with no fuss.  Only 2 books have gone lost en-route to me and only 1 that I've sent. 

Date Posted: 3/27/2014 8:01 PM ET
Member Since: 12/11/2008
Posts: 42
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I would also rework your requester condition.  I've never had a RC, but is there a way you can tell if it is just a turn-down of your RC vs. it being accepted then not sent or cancelled?  Frankly, I think my sense of smell is fine but I'd turn yours down, and have often turned down RCs like it. I have a nonsmoking home, but I get most books used and I live in a very humid environment.  I don't know what you would consider smelling strongly of smoke or mildew.  It is completely subjective.  Consider something like "Please, no books that are presently in a home with any smokers or an unairconditioned home."

I've been a member for more than 5 years, and I've only once received a book that smelled of smoke.  I've never received a mildewy book (and I would think you would find visual evidence of such to justify RWAPing it). Though none of us have any statistics, I don't really think it is all that widespread.

Date Posted: 3/28/2014 6:43 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 626
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I've been a member since 2009, have received 287 books, and JUST got my first mildewy smelling book.  Which surprised me, because it was a relatively new book, but it smelled like it had been in somebody's basement for 10 years (and that's with my cruddy sense of smell).

Date Posted: 4/7/2014 12:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2005
Posts: 1,618
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Last Edited on: 2/10/15 9:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/7/2014 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 1/3/2007
Posts: 108
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I've been a member since 2007 and have received probably 600 books (more than listed on my profile due to deals, box o books, etc.) I have a very sensitive nose, and here's what I've gotten in that time:

Of these, I've received probably 15 that I remember with an extremely bad odor - sometimes smoke, but also some from homes that just smelled awful, and one that must have been soaked in perfume. All of these were unrecoverable.

I've probably received another 15-30 with some odor  that aired out eventually, or didn't bother me much.

Book condition seems to run this way, from bad to good:  box-o-books, book bazaar deals, "regular" (FIFO) requests, wish list. My worst books were always box-o-books, which I quit doing several years ago. Maybe that's why I've seen a much higher % of smelly books than other posters above.

What to do in the end? Similar to other posters, I think RCs cause more problems than they solve. I usually end up eating the smelly books by discarding them or putting them on a freebie list.

Date Posted: 4/8/2014 11:31 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2013
Posts: 65
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Among the population of "poor smellers" I believe there are very few that could not differentiate a strong smell if something had a "truly" strong odor. However, strong words like "Strongly" scare some people into thinking, "whoa, that sounds serious. I'm not sure what that person is thinking so I better back off."  So, I do think most of it comes down to wording.

As far as RC causing more problems than they solve, suggested by previous poster, I don't think that's necessarily so. I have extensive and wordy RC but still receive around 90+% of the books I request. And all the books I receive are in typically good to excellent for used books.  But I've worded it "very" carefully (and that is what I feel has made all the difference).

Last Edited on: 4/10/14 11:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/9/2014 9:03 AM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2007
Posts: 167
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Anything subjective ("strongly") I turn down.  If it is clear and objective (dust jacket, not in a current smoking home) and polite, I used to try to accomodate it.

But I was just recently burned on a book and am seriously thinking of just rejecting all RCs, period.  This particular transaction had a number of RCs (which the book met all of them) but then the receiver filed a RWAP against me claiming a problem (unrelated to the RCs).  So I am at the point that I assume transactions with an RC have a higher-than-normal chance of turning into a RWAP / PITA situation.

You might consider turning off your RCs and see if that helps.

Date Posted: 4/10/2014 12:19 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,087
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It's always the sender's choice as to whether or not to refund a credit. If you don't think that the book had the issue that the receiver describes (or if they are describing something that is actually postable but they just don't like), then just say "sorry,  I feel the book was postable under your RCs and according to the site rules" and leave it at that.

All the RWAPs I've ever gotten have been from people without RCs ... but I've never decided to stop sending books to people without RCs based on that.

Every person with a RC cares about different things, every book you mail out is in different condition, so at that level, each transaction is completely different from the one you had before and the one that will come tomorrow.

Date Posted: 4/11/2014 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2009
Posts: 151
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I have a smell RC, and I certainly wouldn't turn it off. I've had people turn me down because of it, but they've all been because they live in a smoking home or because it's a book they just picked up and they don't know where it's been. And I've had a few people say they don't do RC's period. Perfectly fine with me. The RC is there to protect you in case there's a problem. I'd rather have people turn me down than receive a book I immediately have to throw in the garbage. Just a waste of my time and credits.

Date Posted: 4/12/2014 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,456
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I have a no-tobacco odor RC as I have a severe allergy to tobacco smoke. I've been sent too many with that smell and finally had to add the RC. Even then, I received books with the tobacco odor covered over with perfume of some sort. So now I place those on the porch until the perfume smell dissipates to see if it is covering up a tobacco odor. Then I acknowledge receiving the book.

I receive so many requests with the "no-tobacco smell" that I don't feel I am being pushy asking such for myself.

Meanwhile,  I just turned down a RC that had "no wear" in it. I'm betting that person doesn't receive too many books.

Last Edited on: 4/12/14 12:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 2