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Topic: Conditions Too Vague??

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Subject: Conditions Too Vague??
Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:05 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2006
Posts: 3,343
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My WL just auto-requested a book I've been wishing for that is fairly rarely posted, with others wishing for it, and my auto-request got refused for "conditions too vague" (that is all the sender said in the PBS auto-generated message).  There was no PM to clarify or ask about the condition of the book. 

SO, I'm wondering if my conditions are, indeed, too vague, in the interest of avoiding this situation in the future.   Normally, in the past, I've gotten PMs with questions if there are any.  Several of the books I've accepted (and paid a credit for) were otherwise unpostable per PBS guidelines -- they were heavily highlighted or torn.  However, I did want the books (several items on my WL are difficult, if not impossible, to find on the UBS market), and I willingly accepted them even after the sender stated the condition.

Please, I know many feel that ANY conditions are reason to refuse a request.  I'm not asking for a discussion or debate about that particular subject.


These are my conditions as the sender saw them:

I prefer books that do not smell heavily of smoke. If you are a non-smoker and the book does not smell to you, then it's probably fine for me too.

If your book is heavily marked or torn on the edges or cover,  please PM me and let me know. This does not  mean I will not accept the book, I'd just like to know what I am accepting.


Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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doesn't seem vague to me...you don't want a book that smells heavily of smoke and if there is writing/highlighting (which is really against PBS rules anyway) to PM you before declining.

You could put your user name in there as well that way they can PM you.  as it stands they have to accept before they know who you are to send the PM

Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:16 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,093
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I think that it's generally a bad idea to say "PM me" in your conditions, since people have no way of doing that until they've accepted the request.  It's probably that part of your conditions that made them turn you down.

I do think that the part about torn edges or cover is vague, or something.  The site has rules against books that have markings in the text, and large tears (more than 1/4 inch) to the cover, so in theory you shouldn't get books like that.  If you do, you should mark them "received with a problem" and PM the sender about it.  So, unless there's something that I'm just not getting (always a strong possibility), I would remove that part of your conditions completely and leave in the part about books smelling of smoke.

Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2006
Posts: 3,343
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Ah, good point about including my PM info.  Hadn't thought about them needing to accept first...

Many of the books I am wishing for are very expensive ($100+) new, and it's often the case that they've been used as textbooks or reference books by groups of people, so are not in the best condition.  YES, I know that heavy highlighting is against PBS guidelines, and small tears are acceptable -- my point was that I won't necessarily have an issue with either of those (but I'd like to know); however, it was poorly worded.

Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:39 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,093
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See I knew there was something missing!  I didn't even think about them being text books.

Bast -
Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2006
Posts: 547
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The 'probably fine' might have given them pause. After all, if they can't smell it, and you can, what then?

Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2007
Posts: 729
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Writing and highlighting ARE acceptable for textbooks, but the condition of the books HAS to be confirmed and accepted before the books are shipped.

Date Posted: 10/16/2007 9:51 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Well I turned down a WL request recently that had similar conditions.  I did not have that little PM button to give the requestor a description. I had to accept the conditions or decline. It was an old paperback in decent, postable condition but the requirements were "pm w/description and I'll let you know". Well there are over 80 people in line for this book. I declined and the next person accepted.  It was not going to let me PM the person until I accepted. Then I would have had to wait for them to respond.  Then if they accepted, I have to worry that their opinion of "worn" and mine are different.  Mind, it's a 13yr old book on probably is 4th owner.  If they don't like it then I'm out a credit.  When there's a long WL line and it's postable by PBS guidelines.  It just seemed less risky to decline and let the next person have the book.

Date Posted: 10/16/2007 11:30 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2005
Posts: 4,469
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Well, smoke smell could be subjective--personally I can't smell much of anything after 5 years living in the desert(I think it's a defense against the smog).  Otherwise they seem clear, but don't you have to accept the request for a wishlist book before you can see the pm button? 

Angie -
Date Posted: 10/17/2007 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2007
Posts: 3,299
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You said yourself that these books are very hard to find and that there are other wishers. Based on that, I would probably decline you on these conditions (not that I post textbooks often, because it makes much more sense to re-sell them or keep them) just because it sounds like you are being picky. "Probably fine" needs to go and I would get rid of this too: "or torn on the edges or cover,  please PM me and let me know."  Um, no, I'm not going to waste my time examining an expensive textbook and describing the exact condition of a postable book and take the risk that you still might find it unacceptable when you receive it. That's just me though.



Last Edited on: 10/17/07 12:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/17/2007 9:36 AM ET
Member Since: 2/16/2006
Posts: 1,956
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Honestly, if I were shipping off a $100+ book & came across that condition, I would probably decline as well.

Here are the words I find vague: 

heavily - your idea of heavily may be different than mine.  Would 3 marks be heavily or 5, or 10??? 

marks - what type of marks? Highlighting, writing, underlining, food (even though I find it gross, the site does allow cookbooks with food marks on them), scuff marks, etc.

probably fine - That's something I really wouldn't want to mess with at all.  You don't say you won't have a problem with it, so the sender is taking a chance.

If there were more members on the WL, I'd probably move on and let it go to the next person.

Date Posted: 10/17/2007 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2007
Posts: 465
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The words "heavily" and "probably" were likely the reasons the request was cancelled.  What smells heavily to you may not smell heavily to another.  The "probably" may have sounded like you were leaving yourself room to quibble later down the road.

Just my two cents.

Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 10/17/2007 11:15 AM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2007
Posts: 6,630
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Wow, some of the opinions expressed here are harsh! 

I think your conditions are not at all vague, imho they make sense to anyone who is not trying to be a nit-picky person.  Maybe the people here who find fault with your condition descriptions have been burnt before and have lost credits, something that, happily, has not happened to me yet.

Of course, I'm also one of the people that are unhappy with people who refuse requests with conditions simply because there are conditions.  I realize the right of PBS members to do that, but I'm not happy with that type of mentality.  Of course, I have what I consider reasonable conditions in my profile, and I'm certain that some folks here would definitely find fault with them.

I -would- however, include your nickname so people can PM you about the request if they want.  I'd probably not accept if I couldn't PM you first, as well.  I saw this suggestion in another forum discussion, and thought it was such a good idea that I immediately modified my conditions profile (but I was already smarter than I thought and had my name in there already! *grin*

Date Posted: 10/17/2007 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 1/31/2006
Posts: 1,405
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I'd turn them down as well, for the reasons already listed.  Also, I turn down any requestor condition that asks me to PM. I don't know if you've seen this section of the Help Center (a search for 'requestor conditions' will bring it up) but it states:

  • Please be very clear
  • Your conditions should be easily interpretable and should NOT require (or ask for!) further clarification in Personal Messages
  • So, you really shouldn't request in your conditions that people PM.

    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 12:13 PM ET
    Member Since: 8/23/2007
    Posts: 26,510
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    I have accepted books w/conditions on them.  This is a non-smoking house and so I can accept non-smoking book requests. Unless they do one of those "if it's ever been near a smoker" type things.  If I got the book used then I can't say if it's ever been around a smoker.   To me it's the vague "smell it and see" and "not too worn". Well  what's not too worn to you may be perfectly fine to me.  If it's within PBS guidelines than it's postable but some people expect mint-condition books.  I did PM one lady one time who specified no cat hair. I have a dog.  I accepted and PM'd her to double check on the dog although I technically didn't have to do that. 

    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 5:14 PM ET
    Member Since: 10/19/2006
    Posts: 3,343
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    Edited due to changeover to public forums.

    Last Edited on: 10/30/08 6:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 6:06 PM ET
    Member Since: 8/23/2007
    Posts: 26,510
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    Not sure about the highlighting thing.  I don't order textbooks and highlighting isn't postable in non-textbooks. 

    For the smoking thing: how about saying" not currently from a smoking home? " The smell thing is questionable as some people have very strong senses of smell and others don't.  I usually except non-smoking requests because this is a non-smoking house.  But if someone were to ask me to "sniff:" the book if it's used and doesn't want it if it's ever been exposed-I might decline that.  I don't know where it was before I bought it at the USBS.  I don't have a strong sense of smell. I decline the vague descriptive ones, especially if it's an old WL book. You'd be surprised how many older romance novels have WL lines for them. 

    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 6:37 PM ET
    Member Since: 6/15/2006
    Posts: 1,691
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    I think you are too much on the fence for many senders.  

    If you want a book that is in perfect condition (not you) you are in the wrong place:  these are not new books.  If you want a book that doesn't measure up to PBS condtions (sounds like you), you are also in the wrong place:  these used books have to meet certain criteria before they can be posted.  I'm a librarian and I understand the PBS conditions to be exactly what I would expect to find in my library's circulating collection but, for example, not our Reference Collection.  I wouldn't have my hopes up high for someone to have a book on their bookshelf that doesn't meet the PBS conditions, so I think mentioning you'd accept books of lower quality would just confuse the sender.  It sounds to me like you want to use the conditions to lower your standard of receiveable books.  According to PBS Help, once a sender has declined your request you are not able to recieve that particular copy again. 

    I have had a few books listed here that I think are the kind you are talking about, but I wouldn't count on finding a free copy (other than for postage) of these types of books.  As you said, they are the Must Haves for someone in a certain profession or study.  I have mine posted here as a last resort:  they actually cost me more to mail them for a credit I get in return, but I want the books to be used, not on a shelf at the thrift store. 

    I looked at your Wish List and I would encourage you to try all the places you've probably tried before to find these books: used book stores, your public (and university) library sales of used books, your university's bookstore for used books, by posting & reading flyers at your university, and word of mouth.  Or even try hanging around your university's bookstore during their buy back days to catch people before they try to get some of their money back with a better offer of your own.

    I've also got a few really good sources of my own that I'll send you if you want to PM me.

    Just keep looking high & low and eventually you'll be able to get the titles you need, even if you have to keep borrowing from your library until you can buy one volume at a time. 

    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 6:57 PM ET
    Member Since: 8/17/2007
    Posts: 113
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    Lynn, I have a similar problem with the smoking condition.  I'd like the book as long as I can open the package without triggering a migraine (I can air it out or use baking soda or something to get it to a condition so I can read it... I just need to not loose 3 days of my life because I opened the package!).

    I had a condition similar to Mary's suggestion ("not currently in a smoking home") for a while and a turned down a LOT with "I bought it used and don't know where it's been".  Yeah, I got that, thanks.  I changed my conditions to be much closer to what your current conditions are, but haven't requested nearly as many books recently (have a large TBR pile!) so I don't know if I've been lucky not to be refused except by actual smokers or if my conditions are actually better.

    My current conditions state:

    Please do not send books that are currently in a smoking home or smell like smoke.  If you got the book used, but you don't smoke and it does not smell like smoke to you, please send the book.  Thanks!

    Good luck!


    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 7:13 PM ET
    Member Since: 2/16/2006
    Posts: 1,956
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    Denise, if you receive a book that smells like smoke, do you mark it as not meeting your conditions?

    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 7:27 PM ET
    Member Since: 8/17/2007
    Posts: 113
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    Fortunately I haven't had that happen yet! :-)

    Seriously, though... it would depend on the degree of smokiness.  As I stated in my comment above, I'm willing to accept a slight odor and then "fix" it before reading.  So someone who's sense of smell is less sensitive than mine isn't a concern to me.

    If I open the package and I'm out with a migraine for three days, then when I wake up, YES, I'm making it as not meeting my conditions.  But it has to be TOTALLY OVERPOWERING to cause that sort of reaction (like chain smoking in a small room where the books where stored); I'm not terribly sensitive...just when something triggers a migraine I tend to go down HARD. 

    Sometimes I consider changing my conditions to ask current smokers to sprinkle baking soda in the pages of the book before sending it, which should take the edge off enough that I can handle it.  I don't know how well THAT would go over, though...


    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 8:07 PM ET
    Member Since: 1/29/2006
    Posts: 54,837
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    Hi Lynn,

    I just got to here, but saw your follow up and I think you ask for good info.  Just to give you an idea where I would be coming from...I do not routinely turn down Conditions (we have pets, so I always turn down those, of course).  However, I would have turned you down over being asked to PM you.  I always turn those down, too.  I didn't think the smoking part was really vague, so that part wouldn't have bothered me, personally.

    I'm still unclear as to how to write a condition that allows for highlighting and higher-than-normal wear, but asks for details without asking them to PM me.

    Well, for one thing, THEY are supposed to pm YOU if there is any highlighting.  I'm sure this doesn't always happen, but it's supposed to.  If it doesn't, mark it received w/ a problem and ask for your credit back!   I honestly don't know how you could determine the highlighting in an RC unless you were will willing to say "nore more than 10%, 20%" etc..whatever you think would be reasonable.  I realize this wouldn't be an ideal solution, either.

    L. G. (L)
    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 10:09 PM ET
    Member Since: 9/5/2005
    Posts: 12,412
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    Not vague to me at all.  Sorry your were turned down.

    FWIW, I have the following conditions and haven't been turned down, except by smokers:

    Sorry to have to list conditions - I have received quite a few books that were in poor condition.

    Please - no water damage or mold.

    Also, due to allergies, only books from smoke-free homes.

    Second-hand books are ok as long as they don't smell like smoke to you, and you are a non-smoker. I buy many second-hand books from sales and used books stores and haven't had a problem.

    Thanks for your understanding! :)

    Date Posted: 10/17/2007 10:27 PM ET
    Member Since: 8/23/2007
    Posts: 26,510
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    L you don't get turned down because you are specific.  You state  no mold, no water damage-those shouldn't be posted anyway. And that used books are ok as long as current house in none-smoking.  Some people aren'ts so clear.  I think the original posters issue is the PM me first thing.  She needs to say specifically what she doesn't want and leave it at that.  It's the check w/me first thing that puts people off.  Especially since you have to accept before you can get the PM option.

    Date Posted: 10/18/2007 8:34 AM ET
    Member Since: 10/19/2006
    Posts: 3,343
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    OK, I understand what you all are saying about "no PMs."  I will attempt to modify that part of my conditions, although I'm really not sure how to do that yet. 

    However, to be clear, I never asked for every request to include a PM -- only those that would be otherwise borderline or unpostable per PBS guidelines (heavily marked or torn). Remember, these are not technically textbooks, they are used in conjujnction with classes.  So the highlighting/marking of textbook proviso does not apply.  A small tear is acceptable per PBS guidelines.  Everyone else was excluded from the request to PM, although that was not clearly enough delineated for some PBSers.

    I haven't been turned down for these conditions except for this time; any previous cancellations have been for books in a smoking home.