Is Etsy Ripping Off its Sellers? I, for One, Want My Money Back

Etsy pinback

Editor’s note: The opinions in this post do not reflect those of Crafting a Green World as a whole or other writers on the CAGW team.

It can be hard to be an indie crafter these days. Perhaps Oilily will steal your designs and resell them as cheap knock-offs, perhaps somebody will smear your name all over the Internet because you disagree about the usage of the word craftivism, perhaps someone else will comment on one of your blog posts and call you retarded because you object to wool felt.

And then, just when you’re feeling better about all of that, Etsy will steal some of your hard-earned money.

What’s up with that, Etsy?

Now, I understand that technology is complicated. And I understand that Internet Explorer, although it’s the standard browser that most people, especially the internet un-savvy (Hi, mom!), use, basically blows. And I understand that when Internet Explorer updates, or Bill Gates sneezes, or the stars misalign, web sites tend to go all to hell for a while until some other programmer writes a fix.

So I wasn’t monumentally surprised to wake up on the morning of July 2 to find that the ad spot I’d paid for on Etsy, a Showcase link in the Supplies section, wasn’t clickable in Internet Explorer. Frustrated and irritated, sure, although not at Etsy (yet), but not all that surprised, either. I dutifully checked in with the Forum of other confused and frustrated sellers whose paid-for Showcase spots weren’t working, and sent in an email to Etsy customer service asking for a refund or a transfer to a Showcase spot on a different day, when the Showcase was working as intended.

And thus the day passed on. My ad spot received a click or two, from the Internet savvy shoppers who were using Firefox, or Safari, or whatever awesome browser some Internet savvy people choose, but the vast majority of shoppers, those who use Internet Explorer, were lost to me. Mid-day our Forum got an update from an Etsy admin that engineers would be working on a fix, but otherwise the day passed on.

After 6 pm, when all the shoppers who surf the Internet during breaks and lunch hour had gone home, I recieved the following email:

Hello Julie,

Thanks for your email. This bug is fixed and all of the items listed in the Showcase can
now be viewed. Etsy shoppers who visit the site use various browsers so the amount of
people not able to scroll was very limited.

Thanks for being a member of the Etsy community.

All the best,
Etsy Support

I immediately wrote Joe back to tell him why I still needed either a refund or a transfer of my ad spot, but Joe hasn’t gotten back to me yet.

My own little struggle with Etsy has brought to light, at least for me, a larger issue: to what extent do we, as sellers, trust such a large site like Etsy with our time and our money, and to what extend SHOULD we trust them?

When I bought my Showcase ad spot, I didn’t expect Etsy to provide me with a detailed contract about what, exactly, their responsibilities would be concerning my spot, because I trusted them. I trusted that they would show my ad exactly when they said they would, I trusted that the ad would be completely functional, and I trusted that Etsy’s status and reputation and success would bring enough shoppers to me to make my investment profitable for me.

Now, since that didn’t happen, I’m left with the vastly more troubling feeling that perhaps, as a seller, I can’t trust Etsy. I’ve been reading a lot about ArtFire lately, and one of the things that I’ve noticed very prominently in their own promotions are testimonials from sellers claiming that ArtFire has great customer service, geared specifically toward the sellers–emails are answered promptly, tweeted questions are answered promptly–is this a specific response to Etsy’s relationship to sellers that I haven’t noticed before because I have such a small shop and haven’t yet done a lot that would need interaction with Etsy’s customer service team?

Input, anybody?

***UPDATE: Etsy just sent me an email to tell me that I will get a refund for my Showcase spot after all, which makes me feel much better about both my tiny little situation and the overall status of indie crafters in the marketplace–green crafters are indie crafters, after all, and it’s important to know where we have a place and how we’re supported. Oh, AND my post earned itself a notification at the top that nobody else at CAGW should be assumed to stand behind the crazy that comes out of my mouth. The upholstery remnant applique onto an old vinyl record album that I’ve been working on all day, however? Crazy AND awesome.

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.


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