Consumer Complaints and Reviews
The price of my limited membership was $20.00. Plus PBS deducts another fee as a “transaction fee”, which is neither disclosed nor consented to. When I went to pay the $20.00, there was another fee debited from account which I had to email PBS about thinking it was a fraudulent error on the payment processors side. But no, I have an email from PBS saying they take the money as an administrative cost because PBS didn’t realize how expensive their payment processor was going to be and how they are “losing money” when people pay them. Seriously. This was the explanation. I imagine if you take an additional $1.00 from a thousand or so members, you have quite a tidy little monetary fund. Is this recorded as income? PBS does not seem to include as part of the income from membership fees.
Then I bought my books and listed them on their website and when members requested them, I paid $3-4 or more to mail them to the members. PBS says you can buy postage and labels through them and you pay them for the postage but then they charge you another 55 cents to actually print the postage once you already paid for it. The next thing I know, I spent over $100 between the cost of the books and the postage and fees. Each time someone gets a book from me, I am supposed to get a free swap so I accumulated them because the books I wanted weren't available and I was posting in their forums. Apparently I posted something PBS didn't like and they took all my free swaps and closed my account so now I've paid for a membership and spent all the money sending people books but I can't access my account to get the free books other people are supposed to send me.
I did an internet search of complaints about PBS, and it seems this is a very frequent offense that PBS commits against its members. PBS must make a fortune taking earned credits from members and restricting their accounts, after they have already incurred the time and expense of mailing their books to earn the credits PBS prevents them from using based on some perceived slight which seems to be if you suggest a competing website to people or try to talk about other ways to swap books. They also then edit your posts and write arrogant comments under your name using your account but don't say that the posts were edited by PBS because they don't want the members to know.
Meanwhile the members think you wrote those comments and then PBS restricts your account and won't let you post or email with the members you were engaged in conversation with. They also like to claim people have multiple accounts because they give a new account a free credit but they consider different family members the same person if they are using the same address and again they will just close the account if they see the same address - even if it is a multifamily apartment or you moved. They take away your earned credits after you have bought books to ship and paid for the shipping and paid them for the membership and they do this without even asking you about the other account.
Apparently they go out of their way to find reasons even if they make them up to close accounts but only after people have paid them and bought postage from them and mailed books to all the members that wanted them but then you don't get the benefit of the contract because you are unable to use your credits to get free books because they take them and won’t let you email other members or post in the forums which is what the paid membership entitles you to do.
I've been using paperbackswap.com for about 10 years, or almost as long as it has existed, and have mailed and received close to 1500 books. And I can't think of any bad experience I've ever had with them, though a few, mildly annoying ones (book not in good enough condition, order being canceled because the person couldn't find the book, etc.).
I read several books a week, and a lot of classics, and PaperBack Swap has many classics. I've received hundreds of books I've wanted for an average cost of $2.56 on shipping, love the wish list emails notifying me when my wish list books come in, and don't mind paying the $20 yearly fee that was recently instituted because it allows one to have a much bigger wish list, and participate in all the forums. I also love the ability to buy and sell credits, the ability to offer 2 for 1 when you have excess books you want to move out, and the ability to send credits back and forth between one's account at swapacd.com and swapadvd.com. What I don't like is the new rule that credits sold have to sell for $3 minimum with no extra offerings, because I used to sell credits for less and offer free books along with them. Now it's more difficult to sell credits because everyone is offering the exact same deal.
How this site survived for so many years providing such a valuable service without ever charging anything is beyond me. Their support has been fabulous, and it certainly seems to me that they have a right to start getting paid a little for the time put into creating and maintaining the site. Too many people are getting spoiled on the internet, used to getting something for nothing.
As a writer myself, I'm suffering because of all the books being sold used or traded now, and because my royalties have dropped to below subsistence level. People are expecting so much for free, or at almost no cost, and would rather prevent writers/creators to be paid a living wage for their time than pay a small amount. Granted, paperbackswap.com is not helping that situation anyway, but its staff does have a right to be paid for the absolute wonderful service provided. And they have nearly 4 millions books available; I don't think any other book trade site has that much to offer.
We used PBS for years and thought it a great service and a great concept to recycle books. It should be pretty obvious what happened once Amazon, the number one bookseller in the world bought the company. Their institution of fees and membership charges was not done to help them make a profit with a business they bought. Their abusive attitude towards their customers (myself included) was not just poor business by an inept company, but a strategic drive to eliminate the free exchange of books from the market. Their actions were in my opinion, not to try to make money from PBS but to drive it out of business, eliminate an alternative to high priced retail book sales, and so that they could capture retail sales of new books. A classic case.
I'm waiting for another pioneer with the software skills required to start a new PBS. What a tragedy to see this little exchange extinguished by one of the world's largest retailers who didn't want the competition.
I have been a member of Paperback Swap for four years. I have exchanged over 100 books -- getting the latest action thriller, obscure history books, or a needed reference book. The service is very easy and I get books conveniently at a remarkably cheap price. Here's how you earn a credit that gives you the right to request another member's book -- you list your own books that you are willing to send to other members. When someone asks for one of your listed books, you mail it off to them. Once they receive it, a credit is added to your account. With that credit, you can ask for any book listed on the site. Never have I had any issue.
There is an annual member fee of $20, and to start, they give you two credits (good fro 2 books mailed directly to your home). The website makes the interactions incredibly easy and the number of books available is stunning. I can read my favorite author's novels one after another. With a few simple clicks, they arrive in my mailbox one after another. Yes, I do love Paperback Swap.
I found the reviews posted on this site to be quite different than my own personal experiences with PBS. I Have been a member since 2007 and have sent 301 books and received 274. I always use their postage plan because it's easier and less time consuming than going to the post office. I don't think the company is "gouging members", as some have stated they have costs to exist just like any other business. I have only had perhaps one negative experience in my entire 9 yrs as a member - there are always crazy people out there - but that's pretty good odds! The overall experience with other members and the site has been amazing and wonderful. I think people tend to write reviews when they have complaints and that is why I write this positive one!
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I've swapped about 30 books on here and, like others, I look the old organization better. The new rules and fees are making the site feel like a rip off at times. A person I mailed a book to first class on 12/20 for delivery Christmas Eve says the book never arrived. I stood in line at the post office like an idiot during Christmas rush so they could have their book. I had a receipt with tracking number. Paperbackswap says that they don't take USPS documentation as proof of mailing. WTF? I mean, seriously, W-T-F??? They don't take our government's postal receipts and tracking numbers as proof of mailing?
I have emails from them stating this in writing. However, they said, if I'd bought their postage through Paperbackswap, I'd have gotten credit for the book being mailed. That's just pure racketeering. Very shady. You know, many paperbacks are now .01 cents on Amazon.com with $4 shipping. Why bother with these racketeers who will only credit you if you buy their postage but won't credit you if you have a receipt from the U.S. postal service?
Paperbackswap.com used to be a really great website. Then I found myself sending out more books than receiving. Once they changed over to a subscription website, less books seem to be available. The selection seems to have drastically decreased. I have sent out way more books which cost me in transactions fees, postage, and PaperBackSwap fees than I am saving. NOT WORTH IT ANY MORE. Bad leadership, bad business practices. You are driving away your loyal users.
After reading these negative things, I felt compelled to write this review. I've been a member of PBS for 5 years now and have had many GREAT experiences trading books. I've mailed out 295 books and received 249 books to date - with only 1 complaint from a receiver during this time and I myself only complained 1 time about a book I received. Where else are you going to get a book for $4 without having to leave your home at all? The 50 cent transaction fee is a bargain in my opinion and I'm more than willing to pay it in addition to the media mail postage fees. I signed up for free, received 2 credits and have been happily trading ever since.
As far as people talking about books in poor condition: as a member, you can specifically state what condition the books you want must be in prior to receiving them, ie: no yellowing, smelly books or no books that have been in a smoking home, etc...so as to ensure the books you receive will meet your specs. All of those people, at any time prior to cancelling their memberships, could have paid the 50 cents per book transaction fee and used up all their credits - there are hundreds of thousands of books on this site! Regarding "bad" transactions - perhaps their crappy attitudes affected the way they were dealt with. I've never experienced ANY negativity from the site runners...and other members all want the same thing - BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS. I love this site and highly recommend it to others and will continue to do so!
I have been working with PaperBackSwap for over 7 years. I get books donated to me by the crate load because no one wants to throw away books or donate them to libraries where they just sit around. I try to find the books great homes and enjoy when I am successful. I have sent over 1600 books and received over 1000. I gave away several hundred points to schools and to help out. When someone asks me about a book, I look here first because anything beats Amazon! I gladly pay the few pennies a day (20/year) to be able to receive as many books as I want. Most of the people who complain are just trading a few books and only care about what they receive. In fact, since people have left the site and locked their accounts on permanent vacation, I have seen the books requested from me double. I will continue to use Paperbackswap.com as long as they stay up.
While I wasn't thrilled with their "new" membership dues, this is still one of the best places to swap books. At around $8 for paperbacks and $20 for hardbacks bought new, one credit (valued at around $4) it still a great deal for a nearly new book. I saw that several people said they had received books in very bad shape. If you receive a book that is unreadable, you only had to state that fact, and PBS generally gave you your credit back. You can also take that one step further by putting conditions on your expected books. I state that I expect them to be in good enough shape to trade again. Then if they are not up to your expectations, PBS definitely gives you your credit back.
I have always bought the delivery confirmation as this was a protection against people not marking books received. Plus you really need to keep an updated wishlist to get books you want and to be prepared to wait awhile for certain books. You can't expect to just bop in and get a book that was just released as the smart reader has had this on their wishlist for months before it came out. I am constantly tweaking my wishlist and adding the next book in a series months before it is released and often am number 1 or 2 when it is released. You simply have to be aware of these new books and be proactive about wishlisting them. The best feature though is discovering a new series that already has several books released and being able to go to PBS and pickup most of the series for a song. I keep lots (hundreds) of books on my to-be-read pile so have no problem waiting months for a particular book or series.
This is not the place for instant gratification but if you are willing to put in the time you will get a few books every week from your wishlist and unload all those books you have read. I enjoy passing on a book that I enjoyed and often discuss with the person receiving it how great it was. My daughter is a high school teacher who keeps books in her classroom for her students and she often has me ordering multiple copies of books from PBS, so this site has been a great benefit for her. And one other point I'd like to make, most of the people I've dealt with from PBS are informed, polite and very helpful. The only rudeness that I've run into has been from other members who have tried to ship books that were water damaged or in bad shape and were called on it.
This used to be one of my daily haunts on the internet. Those days are long gone and it's been especially bad since they instituted the transaction fee. Today I delete my account with them. Very sad. I got some good books through trades with other members. Thanks for the memories.
I gave five books away on Paperbackswap and paid for their shipping. I was promised I could receive 5 books for free in return. Well, after one year, those book swap credits EXPIRED, in other words, were stolen by the site. I paid out of pocket to give away my books and receive nothing in return.
I have put the shipping side of my account on a long-term vacation hold because it now costs me more for membership than the benefits I receive. It sounds like many other members have done the same thing, therefore the pool of books available is less than it would otherwise be. I have done about 15 - 20 searches in the past month looking for books and none of them are available from members. The search pushes me to purchase the book from Amazon. At this point, I wonder if I will be able to derive much future benefit from the membership and the 150 books I shipped out in good faith. I would be ok paying for future swaps but I feel that the 150 shipments I sent in good faith should be honored under the original terms.
My family loved using this site to swap books for years. We mailed over 220 books to other members. We ordered even more books from other members/the PBS/Amazon partnership and via Member Appreciation books and discounted books. And then, this morning, five of my credits for books disappeared. No email first, no phone call first. When I questioned the action, the reasons varied between me mailing books a few days late, to receivers not marking books received (why would that be my problem?) And when I defended myself, the PBS "Librarian" became fully accusatory and just downright rude.
I don't recommend this company. Loved it, but it isn't run by nice people who care about their members. Maybe when they weren't a profit-making company, but not anymore. Give your books to real libraries, to the Salvation Army, to your neighbors... give give give and feel good about it. Don't let PBS take and ridicule you for using their service. We all aren't as perfect as they are apparently.
I am a charter member who has posted and incurred the cost of mailing books to other members. I have mailed large and/or hard bound books at at significant expense. It can be a long wait to have requests fulfilled. The shortest wait has been 3 months. Most of my requests are not fulfilled after two years. It feels unfair to me for Paperbackswap to change policy so that members who invested the postage costs and waiting times now must pay a fee to accept a book.
First to the other person that said they didn't give a reason for the change, there was a long explanation of how they want to develop an app and do more things with the website. We have had very positive experiences with the website and other swappers. We enjoy trying authors we haven't before and with it getting harder to find books in our area we really appreciate paperback swap. I also enjoy getting and making suggestions to other members I swap with and have on my friend list. It costs about $3 to send a book and you get a credit to get another from someone. Try it and enjoy reading!
Like some others here, I was a member for several years and traded regularly before PBS made the unannounced switch to charging for swaps. I was astounded. No announcement, no grandfathering in of old members, no lead time to get rid of books before the new rules took over. This site was already making money due to its affiliation with Amazon. If they needed more money they should have stated the reasons why. If I had had a reasonable explanation, I would have DONATED money to them. Also like some others here, I am keeping my membership only because I have so many credits piled up.
I have no place in my Arizona home to store more books than I already have, so I need to recycle books after I read them. I have specific reading interests that make it impossible for me to find the books I most want at the public library. I was amazed at being able to find a small community of traders at PBS who share my interests. But this curve-ball the club threw to long-time members was unfair, or perhaps more accurately, unscrupulous. Before these changes, I would have given this site five stars. But not now. In fact, I'm especially annoyed that they still refer to their club as a "FREE" way to trade books. No way is it free. Thanks for giving me a place to vent. They made it impossible for me to do that on their site.
$8.00+ the little fees PBS charge is still a bargain!
This "swap club" site switched from a free service to an annual membership with about 3 weeks' notice. I was a "member" for more than 5 years and paid postage to ship books to other members. This earned me "credits" on the PaperBackSwap site. Took me several years to build up credits. I now have 27. Now I just feel like a fool. It cost an average of $4.00 to ship each book. Not a problem if I will get a book from another member. But they switched to a membership fee so now I have to pay a 49 cent transaction fee to do any swap. Worse though is that with the fee, membership dropped drastically. There's now no realistic chance that I'll get even half the money I paid in postage back from others who might ship me a book.
If Paperback Swap needed to start charging fees, they should at least have allowed existing members to use up accumulated credits without having to pay fees. The way they did it was totally unfair and also not nice. I'll try to use up the credits I have but then I'm going to quit.
After shipping 21 books and spending more than $60 in postage, I expected "free" books in return - as were the terms of the agreement. Paperbackswap has now initiated a .49 per swap fee. If Paperbackswap wants to change their terms, that change should not affect people who agreed to earlier terms.
My original free membership has been changed to Ala Carte unless I sign up and pay for annual membership. As an "Ala Carte", I am not entitled to any online help, I cannot send a personal message to friends in my friend list. There are fees for doing everything because I am not a paid "annual membership". I gave my book credits to my friends, deleted my library and closed my account.
I became a member a few weeks ago, after listing 10 books they were requested and I sent them out, the shipping was over 20 dollars and the books were like new. They finally got them and I got credits. I requested my first book. After requesting my first book they wanted a "membership fee", and I had to have swapapaperback money. Which they charge 50 cent per Paypal fee. I thought you could not charge to use Paypal. Even after the membership fee it only gets you a few credits then you have to pay 50 cent per book order. So just to get a "free" book I would have to give them another 20 dollars. Don't believe me. Sign up and find out. Also I have seen and heard a lot of people tell me about the bad condition the books are in. Thanks for wasting my money. I will not recommend this site to anybody from church, library ,school or work. They are false advertising as well it says free and no fee.
I quit paperback swap because they have decided to charge membership fees... about $20 bucks a year or .50 a transaction. I thought that was a rip and canceled my membership, and know my friends will too.
I had an account with paperback swap and I had about 100 books. All my books were picked up really fast, and I got the credits for it, but there rarely was anything I wanted. When I did get a book I wanted, it'd be torn, moldy, or otherwise damaged. I love my books and take really good care of them, so I basically exchanged almost 100 like-new books for books that I had to take to get recycled.
I have been a member of Paperbackswap for several years. All in all, I think it's a great service if you can find other members with your same reading interests. I am only interested in reading books written in Spanish. I have sent out over 150 of such books, but only to members who want them for charities, libraries, an orphanage, schools, missionary projects, etc. In other words, to people who want books written in Spanish to give to others, but who do not read them themselves and, therefore, don't post any to their bookshelf so people like me can order them. I think that I have ordered about a half dozen books, some that I really wasn't interested in (a dictionary, thesaurus, etc.) in my time as a member. So the club works if your reading interests are popular books. If your interests are more esoteric, be prepared to spend a lot of money mailing out your library books and getting little in return.
Consumer WARNING: Paperbackswap.com and affiliated sites Swapadvd and Swapacd STOLE FROM ME! *NOTICE: Paperback swap stole $30.80 from me. I had 8 credits in my account, valued at $3.95 each. PBS closed my account due to my fee complaint and kept my 8 x $3.95 credits. I had $2.55 cash in my Swapadvd account and they closed my account. They blocked my access to my account and stole my money. I have not gotten it back to date. In addition, my 2 credits s $3.95 has not been returned to date.
Don't open an account or give away your books through them. I was a member on PBS for years. THIS IS NOT A FREE PROGRAM. IT IS A "FEE" PROGRAM. Fees increased: Mailing labels they provide from the site cost $.55 ON TOP of your USPS postage fee. If you don't use their labels, you don't get credit for your book/DVD/CD (that you just spent $3-$5 mailing) UNLESS the receiver (weeks later) remembers to log in and record it. In order to "buy member money", you had to put money in your account: another $.50 transaction fee. Your costs to trade a book: $.55 label fee + the cost of postage (averages almost $4.00); $.50 transaction fee to "buy member money"; and don't forget the COST OF YOUR BOOK! + You may or may not get credit.
Additional warning: members often trade dirty, damaged books. Condition requests are often ignored.
Their sister/affiliate companies (same owner) SWAPACD and SWAPADVD makes you pay $.49 for each movie/CD you request. Cost of "credits" are more than the cost of DVDs/CDs on eBay, Amazon, or at your local Walmart. When the new $.49 fee PER DVD was rolled out (without much warning), I commented on their member forum, and listed my eBay page address. Instead of resolving the issue, or giving me a "warning" not to post my website address, they closed all my accounts.
PAPERBACKSWAP (I had 451 books listed and had 8 books shipped, they owed me 8 credits) STOLEN: $30.80. SWAPADVD (I had $2.55 in cash and 2 credits, worth $3.95 each, and I had dozens of requests to receive) STOLEN: $10.45 and SWAPACD (I had a few CDs posted). This company, based out of Georgia, is dishonest and is not transparent with their program costs. Avoid. If you have an active account, I encourage you to cash out (if they'll let you!) and use up your credits before they close their site!!
I have been a member of Paperbookswap.com for years. Never had an issue until a few days ago. My daughter (under my supervision) posted some children's books. One of the books was posted with a different ISB number by mistake. We didn't notice it because it showed the same cover. When the book was requested and mailed, the person who received it complained saying that she received the wrong binding of the book. This is when it turned ugly. The person was courteous about it and we both assumed it was a system error, so we contacted the administrator at PBS.
I get an email from PBS admin, stating that the mistake was mine and that I purposefully posted the book twice with different ISB numbers. And so they refunded a credit to the person who received my book. I explained that it may have been a mistake when my daughter was entering the number but I was willing to take responsibility. However I asked that they would return my credit since the person who requested the book, agreed to keep the book even though she stated it wasn't the right binding. That's when it turned ugly.
I started to get emails from the admin saying that I have no business allowing my daughter to post books on my account and that I was not entitled to my credit. So I deleted all of my posted books, requested 3 books (my remainder credits) and wrote to PBS expressing my displeasure with their customer service. The next thing I noticed is that my account was blocked with the following plastered on my PBS homepage: "It's not permitted for underage persons to use accounts here; if you will be able to manage this account yourself in future, please let us know. - PaperBackSwap Librarian"
Now my account is blocked and my last 3 credits on the book requests were blocked. I have emailed them and demanded my credits back but all I get is emails of them demanding that I bow down to them! What a joke this book swap site is! They are not only condescending to their members, but they also refuse to work with the members when there is mistake. I will never use this book swap again, and I will never recommend it to anyone. After reading the complaints on this page, I felt compelled to share my unfortunate experience with these morons! I am happy that I switched to BookMooch and BooksfreeSwap.
I tried to open an account, but the website froze on me halfway through the process and when I tried a second time to open an account using a different email address, they accused me of trying to have multiple accounts and shut me down. I had used a second email address because when I tried to use the first one again it said that there was already an account under that name, even though it had frozen halfway through the signing up process. They refused to listen to me, sent belligerent, nasty, rude emails telling me I was committing fraud. When I tried to explain what had happened, they basically called me a liar and warned me against ever attempting to sign up with them again. I took my business and books to Bookmooch, who are much more professional and run a much better website.
This program is anything but free. I have sent out book after book at my expense for postage and packaging. I receive notices that I will be receiving a book on my wish list. And then a couple days later, I get a notice informing me that they are sorry the book is no longer available with messages saying (actual message received) "changed by mind", "decided to keep a little longer", "sorry donated book to women's shelter." This is a JOKE & a RIP OFF. Don't waste your time or hard earned money. What do I have for all my trouble? A bunch of useless credits to use for books yet I can't get a single book sent to me. I have encountered nothing but flakes. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS SITE. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY.
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