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Topic: Was I Wrong?

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Subject: Was I Wrong?
Date Posted: 9/11/2013 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 6/3/2006
Posts: 19
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I had an odd situation recently. I rec'd a book that smelled like mildew/mold to me. I marked it RWAP. I stated that it I didn't think it met the minimum standards for posting because of the smell. I asked for a my credit back The Sender refund the credit. However, she PMed the following:

I will refund your credit. But you might should put 'no smell' in your special requests for future senders, as it is not listed in the minimum standards...
Overall Condition:
•No damage at all from water or other liquid
•Not soiled
•No stains (exception for cookbooks--see below)
•No mold
•no highlighting, underlining or writing on text pages

Technically, she was correct. The PBS conditions don't state anything specifically about smell. To me, they smelled mildewy/moldy. She said in her first response it may have smelled musty. I could detect the smell in a normal reading position.

The only two RCs I have are books must meet PBS standards and a preference to receive books that are currently in a nonsmoking home.  Was I wrong in inferring the no mold also meant smell?  Should I change my RCs? What do you think?




Date Posted: 9/11/2013 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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The reason Smell isn't in the guidelines is because it is very subjective.  If you don't want a smell, put it in your RC.  Myself and I'm sure a few others in the club turn down smell RCs because it is subjective.

As for your RWAP, if you didn't see the mold, only smelled something like it; then it shouldn't have been RWAP. I wouldn't have returned your credit.


Last Edited on: 9/11/13 12:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/11/2013 12:08 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,178
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The general consensus is that there are no rules in PBS about book smell because smell is very subjective. People have very different senses of smell, and what stinks of mold to you, someone else may not even notice.

Smell is not listed in the rules, so therefore, you really can't RWAP based on smell alone. (Well, you can, but since it's not in the rules, the other member is not really obligated to refund the credit).

Yes, you should change your RCs. Although you will probably get a lot more turn downs.  If this is the first problem book you have had that smells like mold ... well, you need to weigh whether the small possibility of getting another one is worth the hassle of putting a very subjective condition in your RCs. Many people will turn down smell RCs, because they can't be sure if your sense of smell is better than theirs and therefore, you are going to RWAP them based on something they can't even notice..

Personally, I thik pretty much every book that I get from a humid part of the country smells like mold. I have an excellent sense of smell, and therefore, most books smell to me, and many, many books smell vaguely like mold to me. Happily, vague mold smell in a book does not bother me. On the other hand, my husband will make sandwiches with moldy bread and will never even notice because he just doesn't smell it, meanwhile I am spitting out the one he made me because I can't believe that he couldn't smell the mold.

Date Posted: 9/11/2013 12:34 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2010
Posts: 5,700
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Yes, you were in the wrong, and if I were you, I'd gift the credit back, especially if you're planning on reading/using/relisting the book.

Date Posted: 9/11/2013 2:26 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 10,201
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I just had to add a "no mildew" smell request to my RC due to a newly diagnosed allergy.......but mold to me means visible growth of mold, not the smell.  I know I will probably miss out on more books now.

Subject: Was I wrong?
Date Posted: 9/11/2013 11:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/3/2006
Posts: 19
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Thanks to all that responded to my question. It was not a book that I would have posted. I recycled it for those who wondered if I was going to keep/read/use it. I will adjust my RCs even if it means losing books.

Date Posted: 9/12/2013 9:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,410
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I'd probably have to turn down those requests as I'm not sure I know what mold or mildew smell like other than the crawl space under my house.  Pat

Date Posted: 9/15/2013 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,225
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Many people believe that if you can smell mold, there is mold and will RWAP so I understand where you were coming from with marking it, we have many long term members and I believe a few TGs that would have marked it as a Problem believing the book WAS moldy. Others believe that as long you can can't SEE anything on the book it doesn't matter what a book smells and it can be sent. Adding the "smell" RC will cause some turn downs from people who refuse all RCs or don't have a sense of smell, but it will avoid this kind of problem - you have to chose your battle some times.

Subject: Was I Wrong?
Date Posted: 9/17/2013 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 6/3/2006
Posts: 19
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The librarian in me thinks that books should be stored on bookshelves somewhere protected from the environment. The book that prompted me to ask this question had been stored on a shelf in a shed. The sender said she'd be out  a book, credit and postage on the swap. I'm out a book and credit because the book was unreadable by me. I tossed it in the recycle bin.

I don't consider myself super picky. I have completed over 1200 transactions since I joined PBSwap. I've had 5-6 mishaps.  I've had super strict RCs...and the minimum standards for posting RC. I stopped using the box a book part of PBSwap because every time I used it the books were mildewy. I couldn't see mold but the books even felt dirty.

I realize that PBSwap is a used book service. Some members take advantage of it and post books that are questionable at best. Fortunately, they are few in number.

Last Edited on: 9/17/13 11:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/21/2013 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2009
Posts: 1,411
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Um, I'm not sure this is an appropriate example of someone 'taking advantage of the service'. This is not a case of someone sending you a book with a ripped cover and highlighting all up and down the pages and then getting mean that you RWAPed. Someone sent a book that smells to you. You didn't have an RC against it and there is no rule against smell for the website. Therefore, the book was postable. And their PM was quite nice about the return of the credit. 

Books may be stored anywhere the owner wishes. I have books on shelves, in boxes in my bedroom, and in boxes in my attic. I swap them from all three places. If someone wants to store their books under their dog's bed, they're allowed as long as the books are postable. So there's no need to sound so judgemental over where the person stored their book.

And yes, smell is very subjective and picky because each person has a different sense of smell. Thank you for at least making an RC so people can send you books less offensive to your senses. 

Date Posted: 9/23/2013 9:57 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2009
Posts: 151
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I've had an RC of "no books smelling of smoke or mold due to allergies" for years now, and I've only had very few books turned down because of it, and a mority of those from smoke, not mold.