Goodbye, Etsy: Why I Will Never Purchase Through Etsy Again (And Neither Should You)

EDIT: Since I posted this, I’ve received at least 50 emails and comments about the same situation for others. It seems that in some cases, Etsy even threatens their customers with legal action if they complain about a missing purchase. I have still not bought a single thing from my former favourite website. 

I attempted to buy myself a pair of boots for my birthday this year. I had a pair of leather boots from Peru that I loved in the past, and wore until the soles came off in Korea. I have been searching for a pair like this ever since (almost five years now).

What better way than to order custom-made boots on Etsy? I loved Etsy. I bought a huge amount of the things for our wedding there, including the materials to make my veil and our wedding goblets. I loved the community aspect, and the fact that Etsy actively promotes their both global and local maker community. I even wanted to open my own shop at some point to join in more. I trusted them.

I was apparently wrong.

My boots turned up in time for my birthday. They are made of leather, and of good quality. But they are also approximately seven sizes too small. They look like a comedy prop. This, after I had measured my feet and indicated that I wear a US 10 (Eur 41).

I contacted the seller, and they said that there were ‘some problems’ with their Etsy site. I found out upon checking that they had been removed from Etsy for what I can only assume were fraud reasons. Etsy never notified me of this, even though the website was removed during my transaction.

Oh yeah, and I paid $137 for those ‘custom boots.’ 

At no point did Etsy notify me (or anyone else who might be caught up in this) that they had removed the seller from the site. I attempted to file a claim about the case on Etsy. It was immediately ‘resolved’ by saying that the seller was no longer active/allowed, and that I would not be able to take any further action with Etsy. I had to go to Paypal directly and hope for the best.

This is the message I sent on 18th October after they ‘closed’ my case immediately. Subject line: ‘This is outrageous.’

I require that Etsy immediately issue a refund to my Paypal account for a purchase I made recently.

You apparently allowed a person who swindles people out of money to not only sell items on your website, but *did not notify or contact me when you closed their shop*. I had a purchase for a significant amount in process, and my birthday has been ruined as a result of Etsy‘s negligence.

I attempted to open a case directly, but received this ‘closure’ instead:

‘This is Etsy‘s Trust and Safety Team.

cmonroe1611, we are sorry to inform you that dreamgirl220220 no longer qualifies to sell on Etsy and will not be returning to the marketplace. While this case is unresolved, it is now closed.

Because this order was paid for using PayPal, your next step will be to open a separate claim for a refund with PayPal. As you may already know, PayPal’s policies state that buyers have a specified amount of time to file a claim for a refund. This eligibility window may differ depending on your location, so at this time we would recommend that you get in touch with PayPal directly for more information. Their contact information is as follows:

– PayPal Help Center: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/helpweb?cmd=_help
– PayPal Contact page: https://www.paypal.com/contactus
– PayPal # 1-888-221-1161 (US), 1-402-935-2050 (if calling from outside the US)

If the PayPal deadline passes, you might consider reaching out to your bank or credit card issuer. We apologize for the inconvenience.’

This, I’m afraid, is completely untenable. You have a responsibility as a site that hosts sellers to notify buyers of problems, especially when more than $100 is at stake. I don’t make very much money at all, and I chose to use your site to buy myself a nice pair of shoes (the only ones I will buy all year) for my own birthday.

Instead, I am stuck with shoes that are more than three sizes too small and you will do nothing about it. When you cancelled the store for the seller in question, why did you not immediately contact anyone with an outstanding order? You actively allowed this person to take my money and ruin my birthday.

I will never purchase anything from Etsy again, and will actively discourage others from doing so, if this is not immediately resolved. I simply cannot believe how bad your customer service is.

I am contacting Paypal directly, and expect your immediate and complete cooperation on this matter.

After several days, I received a response from Etsy’s ‘Trust and Safety’ team.

Hi there,

Thanks for getting in touch with us. Before I address your concerns, I hope you’ll forgive our slow response time. We’re currently experiencing a high email volume, and are answering each email in the order that it comes to us.

I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t received your order from SmithHandmadeShoes. I’ve looked into this, and I see that this shop no longer qualifies to sell on Etsy and will not be returning to the marketplace. While this means we can’t ensure you will receive your order, I wanted to provide you with some suggestions for your next steps.

Although the seller can no longer be contacted on Etsy, you’re welcome to continue discussing your order with them via email. Here’s where you can reach them: dreamgirl220220@163.com

Taking a closer look at your order, I noticed that your payment was sent directly to the seller’s PayPal account. Some sellers opt to receive funds into their own PayPal account. This means that PayPal, not Etsy, is the only party that has access to those funds. As you may already know, PayPal’s policies state that buyers have a specified amount of time to file a claim for a refund. This eligibility window may differ depending on your location, so at this time we would recommend that you get in touch with PayPal directly for more information.

I’m including the contact information for PayPal below:

Additionally, PayPal may require the PayPal transaction ID, which is different from your Etsy transaction or order number. For your convenience, I wanted to provide this number for you: 0DX075027C305141B

If your date to file a claim with PayPal passes, we’d urge you to contact your credit card issuer or bank for further assistance in pursuing a refund.

You may also want to consider taking these steps to protect yourself and others:

  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
  • Contact a law enforcement agency in your location or the seller’s location

I’m sorry that you weren’t contacted when SmithHandmadeShoes was removed from the site. For privacy reasons, Etsy doesn’t currently notify buyers when a seller has been removed from the marketplace. More information on our Privacy Policy can be found here:https://www.etsy.com/legal/policy

I definitely understand your concerns, and we’ll consider this as we move forward with the site and the way that we handle these issues. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts — please be assured that we hear you and we will take your thoughts into consideration as we continue to work to improve the site.

While I don’t want to discount the difficulty you’ve experienced with this seller in any way, please know that these situations are rare. Most transactions on Etsy are completed without incident, and the average Etsy seller is a devoted and passionate individual who is willing to do their best to assist you with any order you place in their shop.

That being said, I hope you’ll consider this an isolated incident and give the Etsy Seller Community another chance again in the future. Should you have further concerns about this, please let me know.

Best,
Etsy Trust & Safety

So yeah. Apparently it was worse than I even thought.

Etsy’s official policy is that they never tell a buyer when the seller is removed. 

This means that for any purchase made on the site, there is no protection for the buyer. Etsy could remove a seller without letting anyone know, and close any cases that come up as a result. At one point last year, we were considering buying an Engagement Ring on Etsy!

I mean, Jesus Christ! Can you imagine if someone bought something that important, hoping to get outside the mainstream wedding industrial complex and support a small scale artisan, and Etsy just deleted the seller and made no attempt to contact the buyer?! You could be several hundred dollars in the hole and without the ring, and Etsy’s ‘Trust & Safety’ would just put up its hands and say, ‘I’m sorry that you weren’t contacted when EngagementRingsRUs was removed from the site. For privacy reasons, Etsy doesn’t currently notify buyers when a seller has been removed from the marketplace. More information on our Privacy Policy can be found here:https://www.etsy.com/legal/policy. Case closed.’ 

I could never make a significant purchase on Etsy again, after what’s happened. But worse still, they apparently are lying about what has happened in my case. They claim that I was issued a refund through Paypal. This is definitely NOT the case. The seller refunded some of the shipping fee because I am in China. I’m still out more than $100.

Screenshot from my former Etsy account
Screenshot from my former Etsy account
Let's zoom in on the problem...
Let’s zoom in on the problem…
Ah, there it is!
Ah, there it is!

That has not happened. The proof is in the Paypal.

From Paypal's Resolution Centre - clearly showing no refund issued.
From Paypal’s Resolution Centre – clearly showing no refund issued.

A consolidated list of the issues, then:

  1. Etsy allowed a fraudster to take more than $100 from me 
  2. Etsy’s policy is not to contact buyers if a fraudulent shop is removed, even mid-transaction
  3. Etsy closed my case without resolution 
  4. Etsy claims (falsely) that I have received a full refund via Paypal

As a result, Etsy’s team received this email from me today:

Dear Trust &Safety,

Thank you for getting back to me. I have filed a claim with Paypal but do not expect to receive a refund.
 
If Etsy‘s official policy is that buyers are never notified when a seller is removed from the site, I’m afraid I have no choice but to remove my account effective immediately. It appears that Etsy puts seller privacy ahead of buyers’ security, money, and peace of mind.
 
I will never purchase from Etsy again as a result of this transaction, and will actively discourage others from doing so.
 
I am so disappointed in this situation, and cannot believe that the official policy is designed to screw over buyers in situations like mine. I had hoped to open my own Etsy shop in the future and am so sad that I cannot use the services of this site anymore. I feel that I have been betrayed by Etsy and I am losing a significant online community, which I loved being a part of until now.
 
But I cannot now trust Etsy to treat me well as a customer, and I could never make a significant purchase on the site again without fear that my money and effort could be wasted.
 
I will be blogging about this situation and from now on will discourage everyone I know from using Etsy.
 
Best,
Coleen

And I have deleted my Etsy account as of 12:00 CST today. Their banner popped up afterward, seeming to mock me and this situation directly.

Definitely unsatisfied customer here. My seller was certainly passionate about ripping me off! And secure transactions? Please.

I will never purchase anything from Etsy again, and neither should you. 

EDIT: I received this email back from Etsy’s ‘Trust & Safety’ team. I publish it here to show just how much Etsy wanted to shift the blame for this situation onto me for this transaction.

Hi Coleen,

Thanks for writing back to me.

Again, I’m sorry there wasn’t more we could do for you regarding a refund. I’m here to help, and while I may not be able to lessen your frustration or ensure your satisfaction regarding your order, I want to do everything I can to provide you with the information that I hope will be most helpful to you.

Some sellers opt to receive funds into their own PayPal account. When you send payment directly to a seller’s PayPal account or send or a check or money order, you submit payment off-Etsy to the seller directly.

For this reason, Etsy does not have access to the funds you submitted, and we’re unable to issue a refund.

I am sorry to see you closed your account. Again, I would like to state that these situations are rare. While it is our hope that sellers will practice good customer service, but we regretfully cannot guarantee that this will be the case.

We hope you’ll return to the Etsy community. In the future, I recommend that you try contacting the seller directly before committing to a purchase.

You can do your part to help ensure a smooth transaction by following the best practices for buyers, which are outlined here:https://www.etsy.com/trust

Getting to know your seller can help you to make an informed decision. This article from our Help page explains how to send a message using Etsy Conversations: https://www.etsy.com/help/article/71

You may also wish to check the seller’s Shop Policies regarding shipping to see if they offer tracking information or insurance for their orders. To find their shop policies, go to the main page of the seller’s shop and click on the blue Policies link in the left-hand menu.

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to thoroughly read the listing description for each item you’re interested in. I also suggest you take a look at the shop’s Reviews. To see reviews that have been left for a shop by other buyers, visit the seller’s shop and click on “Reviews” in the menu on the left. A shop’s star rating is the average from the last 12 months. The review count is the total number of reviews received. You can also see all of a shop’s written reviews on this page.

Because you paid with a different method than using a credit card on Etsy, such as through PayPal, you may wish to familiarize yourself with PayPal’s process for reporting a problematic transaction as well as Etsy’s process.

I’m sorry there wasn’t more I could do for you. If you have any further questions about this matter please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m always here to help.

So in short, make sure that you contact everyone that has ever viewed a shop, and contact them privately outside the normal Etsy process of messaging and listing it for sale, which is totally not what we do as a company. They clearly have no care at all for people who buy on their site. Instead, let me patronise you about how you should have been more careful when using our ‘secure’ site.

My response says it all:

I’m glad that you’re happy to shift the blame onto me for this situation. If Etsy had any modicum of respect for buyers on its site, this situation would never have happened. Rest assured that everyone I know will know about how badly Etsy treated me, and that you have lost a customer for life.

17 Comments

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  1. This is so much unacceptable. This sort of problems with etsy are on a rise. I myself went through a very bad experience with etsy. I ordered two items and the first one was delivered in time. But the item was very different from the one posted in the website. And the second item never got delivered! I tried to contact etsy help and the seller but neither of them replied nor did they refund. Very disappointing. I have now bought quite a few items with itshandicraft.com and I am happy with the items I got. Reasonable prices too. Try it.

  2. Im going through this now bought of seller didn’t receive items & shop dissappeared. after a month a package turned up with 1 wrong item one missing in the case centre the attaching images didn’t work but is fine in conversations seller replied in case once but has since stopped, etsy are trying tosay if tthey decide in my favour i will get my money off them im not convinced. I did however at the same time i opened a case with etsy open one with PayPal that has 2days to go so im hoping seller didn’t respond to that and i just get my money bk

  3. I am having a bad time with Etsy too. The product I ordered was nothing like the picture, was damaged and poor quality. I spoke to the seller and she was extremely rude, told me the conversation was over and said she looked forward to Etsy getting involved. To me this speaks volumes about this site. The sellers know there will be no recourse so they can rip people off. After complaining to Etsy, they closed my case. This is a disgusting site. I cannot believe this is allowed, where are my rights? So angry!

  4. Hamish Donaldson 3 December 2016 — 5:04 AM

    I could not agree more. Etry refuse to take any responsibility when you encounter a problem.

    I no longer buy from them either.

  5. I wish I had seen this before I purchased from Esty! I’m going through the exact same thing! This will be my last time purchasing on Esty! That’s why I’ve been a faithful long standing customer of Ebay!

  6. Paypal sorted the issue due to their excellent customer service policies, no problem. The issue was that Etsy were such dicks about the situation.

  7. I’ve had a very similar situation with undelivered items. The only reason I got a refund was because the seller made a ‘mistake’ and I paid directly through paypal and so received my refund directly from paypal, not etsy. Etsy customer services wipes their hands of you, removes your ability to write a review, and tells you to sort the issue out with the seller, but in the same breath says, we are monitoring the seller.

  8. If you make a purchase on Etsy and pay with PayPal, Etsy never sees your money, not a dime of it, so they literally cannot refund your money. They can’t give you money that they didn’t get. There’s no guarantee that the store was closed due to fraud. You were sent a product, after all, and people commiting fraud wouldn’t typically send you anything. Store on Etsy are usually closed for violating copywrite, so if they so much as mentioned another designer’s work, that’s why they closed. Etsy sucks for sellers and buyers. They give us sellers the same kind of runaround responses to issues that you received. I’ll give them this, at least they’re consistent. But don’t vilify all good Etsy sellers because you had a bad experience with Etsy. That seller should have worked with you privately, but if your store is closed with no warning, honestly I can’t say I blame them for being bitter. The vast majority Etsy store closings have nothing to do with fraud.

    • For me, it wasn’t about the money necessarily. It was about the fact that Etsy’s team were not interested in helping at all. They were downright rude in some interactions, and in my opinion very unprofessional. That’s to crux of problem for me.

  9. I purchased mali form etsy. Item was not what was described on website. Material was off and item was shorter, we ended up not using it at all. Attempt to contact anyone or help on website is nightmare. We gave up. After spending hours on website to just give feed back. never again from etsy. never.

  10. Theressa Baker 19 June 2017 — 11:32 AM

    I too , am so frustrated with Etsy! I’ve been ripped off for 198.00 from an Etsy seller for 12 yards of fabric that she never sent out! Seller promised me a refund and then crickets……NO REFUND and cut off all further correspondence!!! I have all the documented conversations via Etsy messenger. In result, I have opened a claim via PayPal . I messaged and also phoned Etsy to let them know about the seller and Etsy’s response was to let me know that if I share or send ANY copies of my Etsy Convos to PayPal to help me in my case, I could be sued by Etsy for privacy violations .!!!!! WOW!!! Disgusting!!! All I can hope is that Paypal sees what’s really going on here and I get my refund! NEVER USING ETSY AGAIN for ANYTHING!!!

    • They are actually a terrible platform all around. It makes me very sad, because I am a crafty person who would love to share my creations with the world, and Etsy has basically made it so that the only other option is Amazon (nah, I’m good, thanks).

      How did this turn out in the end? Did they sue you?

  11. This is unreal. I ordered something months ago, with the agreement that it would be delivered this week. The seller wrote me today to say “Oops, sorry, I can’t actually send you the item.” There was a vague promise to refund my money “soon.” And now it turns out she has deleted her Etsy account! I have opened a dispute, but I have no idea whether they will help me, since she is no longer an Etsy seller. I didn’t pay through PayPal. Fingers crossed, but your blog post is definitely making me re-think my Etsy usage.

  12. Wow, I did not think I could find any where to make a negative review on Etsy. They make getting in touch with them impossible!! I purchased an expensive “Grackle & Squirrel” proof feeder from them. The design was so bad that no birds at all were able to figure it out. It was made from two stainless steel mixing bowels, some chicken wire, a few nuts and bolts and a upside down plastic jar, junk. I returned it and now they will not answer my emails. What a nightmare. Dorothy

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