Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Help Center - A requestor says there is a problem with a book I sent!

Search Terms:

If a book you sent was marked received with a problem, you will receive an email from PBS notifying you of this, and including a message from the receiver of the book. The information below will help you sort out what the different problem categories are, and also help you resolve the problem swap.

Basically, if you get an email saying that a book you sent was marked received with a problem, you should:

  • Read the information in the email to understand what the problem was (and consult the information below if necessary to decide if this was indeed a problem swap).
  • Reply to the requestor promptly, offering resolution if there was a problem OR politely disputing the problem.
    • You can reply from the link in the email, or directly from your Personal Message center, or using the PM button on the transaction in your Transaction Archive - a copy of the "problem" message will have been sent to you as a Personal Message.
    • You can refund credit from the swap in your Transaction Archive (click Request Details on the swap in your Transaction Archive to see the Refund button - detailed instructions are in How do I refund credit(s) to another member?)
      • It is important to use the Give Refund button if you do refund, because only that button will also refund the Free Swap or Swap Fee that was used for the request
    • If you dispute the nature of the problem: you should be sure to write your PM response to the requestor by using the link in the email you received, or by clicking the PM button on the swap in your Transaction Archive.  This will record your response on the transaction and if your account is ever reviewed for problem swapping, this information will be there to explain what happened in this swap.
    • If you are not sure about whether you dispute the described problem, you can ask the requestor to take digital photos of the book - she or he can upload them to a free photo-hosting site and send you a link OR send you the digital images as email attachments if you give him or her your email address.
    • Not replying to the other member within a reasonable time frame may result in forfeit of credit. (The PaperBackSwap Team may intervene in those circumstances.)
  • Remember that the requestor is not required to send a problem book back at his or her expense.   The sender of a problem book does risk losing credit, book and postage; this is the incentive not to send problem books. 
    • If you want a problem book back you can provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the requestor by snail mail (or you can give the requestor an extra Book Credit to compensate for postage, if both of you agree on that).
    • Refund and postage compensation must be completed first - before the requestor returns the book (= it is not OK to wait to refund credit until getting a problem book back in the mail, or to expect the requestor to send the book back before getting postage compensation as described above).

You do need to reply to the requestor if you get a report of a problem swap, and resolve the problem if there was one.  Because the requestor can provide follow-up on how the problem was handled, resolving the problem will greatly reduce the effect of a problem swap on your account record. Unresolved problems (or not Responding to PMs about a problem swap) will more seriously affect your account record, if a pattern of this accumulates on your account.  Remember that one problem swap will not harm your account, even if it is marked as unresolved by the requestor who gives follow-up on how you handled the problem.

If you don't respond to the requestor about the problem within a week, we may step in - although we cannot assess the truth of a situation, if one member is refusing to communicate with the other, that member may be judged as "in the wrong" for this reason. Non-response will be taken as admission of fault on the part of the sender, and will forfeit the credit. Courtesy is important!  We know a problem swap can be frustrating, but it is important for both members to remain courteous during the process of discussing/resolving the problem.

More information about problem swaps follows:

What is a problem swap?

There are nine types of problem options that a requestor can choose from when marking a book received:

Damaged by Sender

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.

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.

Wrong Book - Different Title

  • This means that the book is totally wrong (wrong title/author) - usually caused by putting the wrong book into the wrapper, or mixing up two book shipments.  See I sent a book to the wrong person! for more information about this problem.
  • To resolve this: If you don't have the book you listed, you should refund credit.  If you sent the book to someone else by mistake, you can contact that other member and send him or her postage to mail the book to the correct person.  Read I sent a book to the wrong person! for more instructions about this.

Wrong Book - Wrong Binding/Version

  • This means that title/author DO match the listing you used, but the book does not match the listing's ISBN and/or binding type and/or it was listed as Large Print and the book is not Large Print. Note that cover image does NOT have to match the listing.  Inappropriate items - ARCs, pamphlets or leaflets without ISBNs, unbound pages, etc - also fall into this category.
  • To resolve this: Go to your Transaction Archive and look at the listing you used for the book. If the listing says "paperback" and your book is hardcover, or the listing says Large Print and the book you sent is not Large Print, then you Posted the book incorrectly and you should refund credit. 

Late Postmark

  • This means that the postmark on the package was later than the date the book was marked mailed.   If the requestor made an error recording the postmark, this won't affect your account record, so please don't worry about it!  It's only if you have a pattern of late mailing that your membership will be impacted.

Book Missing from Shipment (this option applies only to multiple-book shipments)

  • This means that the book was not included in the package with the other books (either you forgot to include it or the package tore open and one or more books fell out).
  • To resolve this: the requestor won't mark the missing book received until/unless it arrives. 
  • You (the sender) can also contact us to let us know that a book was lost from the shipment, and we can cancel the transaction early, so the requestor can get the book from someone else.

Empty Wrapper

Insufficient Postage

  • This means that USPS required the sender to pay postage to claim the book.  See I received a book postage-due! for more information about this problem. 
  • To resolve this: You can snail-mail the postage to the requestor, or use PayPal if you both use that.  Remember, if the postage-due was caused by the requestor having changed his/her address, he or she is responsible for the forwarding postage.

If you are not able to resolve a problem swap:

  • There is some level of subjectivity to these situations, particularly with regard to book condition.
  • If you and the requestor cannot come to a happy resolution, you both need to put this behind you and move on. There are too many good swaps to be accomplished at PBS to focus on one bump in the road.

Related Links:

What can be posted for swapping here?
Book Condition Criteria for 'Swappability' at PaperBackSwap
How to Wrap a Book
How to Use Requestor Conditions
How do I refund credit(s) to another member?
How do I give credits to other members?
Follow-up on Problem swaps

Want fewer ads?