Friday, May 3, 2013

Why I Closed My Etsy Shops



From December 2007 through April 2013, I maintained two shops on Etsy.com. It seemed like such a warm and fuzzy place and the ideal market to sell my Navajo spindles, pewter buttons, jewelry, copper bowls, and other handcrafted items. Over the last five plus years I had made over 650 sales, attracted about 1,000 admirers, and had a 100% positive feedback record. I always paid my monthly fees in a timely manner and had  been using their credit card and shipping label services, so they were receiving a nice chunk of change from me each month. I was basically using the Etsy site as a shopping cart for my own website, I didn't participate in any of the social media type activities they provide and promote, so I was blissfully unaware that the once cute and cozy community for artists had become a  big corporate, cut throat, internet marketing juggernaut. I remained blissfully unaware of the trend until I had a problem that required some intelligent human interaction, sound reasoning, rational thought, and a little good judgement. Like many of the big new internet companies, Etsy has no customer service phone number. After contacting them, via email, I was truly surprised by the treatment I received. When I contacted Etsy all I received were numerous form letter-like stock response communications from their "Trust and Safety" team. As I tried to make my case, I was confronted with nothing but stupidity, incompetence, and apathy. My frustration over the initial problem was quickly eclipsed by the frustration of dealing with the seller support and customer service (or lack there of) of this greedy impersonal corporate entity. I owned and operated a brick and mortar retail business for over 20 years, so I am no stranger to both sides of customer service issues. I'd like to believe that this is just a case of a company getting too big to be what it was intended to be, but I think this goes deeper than just being a giant corporation on autopilot. I decided to poke around the internet to see if mine was an isolated case or this was just business as usual for Etsy. Etsy does a good job of promoting and protecting their homespun image, but I didn't have to dig too deeply to find a plethora of complaints, by both buyers and sellers, ranging from blatant violations of privacy, to security issues, censorship, data mining, cronyism, deception, and just plain old bad customer service. It seems that the good folks at Etsy are quick to shut down or ban anyone who questions their policies, but are quite willing to look the other way when they benefit from users who clearly violate the "Terms of Use" they routinely use to intimidate dissenters. I know that the thousands of dollars in revenue I was generating is only a drop in the bucket to a behemoth like Etsy, but I still expected more from a company that markets itself as a kinder and gentler alternative to internet giants like Ebay and Amazon. At least those sites are not pretending to be something that they are not. I won't go into the specific issues I had with Etsy, but suffice it to say that after learning of Etsy's corrupt and odious business practices I could not, with a clear conscience, continue to do business with this corporate entity masquerading as a, mom and pop friendly artist's co-op. As I stated in one of my initial email contacts with Etsy "Help"(a misnomer if ever there was one); the Etsy marketing platform was a convenient way for me to sell my one of a kind handcrafted items, but they are not the only game in town, especially since I was pretty much bringing my own traffic to Etsy. It took me about ten minutes to find half a dozen alternatives, with real customer service, and more attractive fee structures.  I have since closed my Etsy shops and moved all my online commerce to my website: www.roosterick.com using Storenvy's shopping cart service.

Here are some other alternatives to Etsy:
www.artfire.com
www.thecraftstar.com
www.indiemade.com
Retailr
www.zibbet.com

Though I haven't used any of these sites or services myself, I may have chosen one if I didn't already have a website and domain name. Storenvy suits my needs well and was very easy to incorporate into my existing web page design.

If you don't have your own website Craftstar, Zibbet, and Artfire offer online shops and markets similar to what Etsy offers. Craftsar's shop layout looks really nice, very clean and neat. They also have a video feature that lets you post a spot on Craftstar TV. UPDATE: Craftstar has recently (as of June 2013) eliminated listing fees and sales commissions and gone to a flat monthly rate like Zibbet and Artfire. Zibbet also has a "Basic" free option. Indiemade and Retailr, for a flat monthly fee, will set you up with your own multipage website.


9/16/16
Interesting Link for and about the Trolls lurking under the bridge.

From Psychology Today September 8, 2014
In this month’s issue of Personality and Individual Differences, a study was published that confirms what we all suspected: Internet trolls are horrible people.

P.S This blog uses a reverse type template designed by Awesome Inc.

19 comments:

  1. Thanks Steve. I think I am going to miss Etsy about as much as I miss Myspace. . . not much at all. Maybe a famous pop star will buy it and turn it into a place for glorified garage sales and bake sales, oh wait maybe he already did.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the info, Rick.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Rick,

    Great post about Etsy. Incidentally, I had the same feeling too about it, which is why I closed my Etsy shop. Etsy couldn't care less about its sellers and still took a good cut out of every sales!

    Two guys in my neighborhood (Vancouver, Canada) have launched a marketplace biziby.com just a few days ago. I've been jaded by marketplaces before, but I just might give these guys a shot (them being local, and also having a whole small business focus). All they seem to charge is a monthly fees--no commission or any irritating per-listing fees...so it just might be what I am looking for. They are also giving their direct numbers to vendors. Never have I seen that before.

    Here's hoping biziby is a better platform than etsy.

    Cheers,
    Rebecca


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best alternative to Etsy is Shopify. The setup is simple and fast, you have all the support you need and you can really get exactly what you want for a very decent price.
      There are 100,000 businesses using Shopify from all around the world, and there are many good reasons for it. With their designers, developpers, and hundreds of apps, anyone can build the shop they need, perfectly.

      They offer a 14-day free trial here: www.shopify.com/?ref=registration

      Delete
  4. I've been increasingly horrified by what I'm digging out about Etsy and their treatment of their sellers. I am mystified why so many people are so silent. There is something very sinister going on. In the forums there are obviously shills ... a pretty blonde Etsy supporter has flooded YouTube with her chirpy "tutorials" which are nothing but ads for Etsy. In the meantime, perhaps you missed the worst scam of all ... the resellers who are flooding Etsy with cheap junk from China. The ban on mentioning this in Etsy forums is being banned from them permanently.

    Two things on a positive note. I just located a very beautiful free site which allow you to set up an independent shop of your own, complete with PayPal shopping cart. And it is incredibly easy to create a beautiful shop with their wonderful templates. The site is TicTail.com. Check it out. I'm impressed. The only drawback is that you are a stand-alone shop ... but Oooh la la .. it's a beautiful shop to link to your own blog or website. And it's FREE.

    The second is what seems to be a relatively new blog ... EtsyTricksy.wordpress.com It's acid and humor wonderfully tossed around by three characters who represent three Etsy shops. A delightful, funny ... and very critical view of Etsy's underpinnings.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The correct URL for the Tricksy site is: http://etsytricksy.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the correction. I wandered around WordPress in vain looking for the link. Didn't realize it was a Domain name.

    Love the site. Funny and deceptively light-hearted.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm sorry for what happened, but I'm glad to see you've moved on and have found better alternatives. Managing your own online store is just like having your own business, so it's important to maintain your online reputation. Unfortunately, bigger websites like Etsy can afford to ignore more than just a handful of negative customer complaints since they're already well-known. But for smaller businesses, every feedback counts, especially when using an online platform.

    Reach for Freedom Pty Ltd

    ReplyDelete
  8. Here is a link to a new forum aimed at exploring possible legal action against the Etsy corporation.

    http://s3.excoboard.com/stopthescam

    ReplyDelete
  9. Here's an interesting site that details the many issues folks have with the efficacy and honesty of the Etsy corporation.
    http://rusetsy.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. For a company that supposedly encourages small businesses to thrive, it's sad that Etsy doesn’t have a solid customer service complaint line, yet tends to act like the big guns like Amazon and Ebay. But I think the last straw would be the compromised security, especially since your personal and card information may get compromised with prolonged usage on the site. I will definitely check out these alternative sites and look for reviews on them to see what sellers and buyers have to say about them. Thanks for the heads up!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I can hear you, Rick. What happened to you is very disappointing. How can you continue your business with Etsy if your trust in it has been breached? I think it’s cowardly to point fingers in a different direction while they were the ones at fault. It’s a good idea that you moved. Your experience with Etsy might affect the image of your business.

    Clint @Franchise Match

    ReplyDelete
  12. I tried indigoly.com and it is great. It is special for African handmade products and everything is for free for now. Really great! Got a couple of sales in first ten days as well.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you want an alternative to Etsy we've recently launched a marketplace called "I Am Attitude", aimed strictly at the alternative fashion scene (think pinup, punk, goth, metal, rock, etc!)—hand-picked, high quality boutiques and designers only, including lots of handmade and currently commission free. Check it out at www.iamattitude.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I just wanted to add a comment to mention thanks for your post. This post is really interesting and quite helpful for us. Keep sharing.
    Herbal Potpourri

    ReplyDelete
  15. I had the same bad experience with Etsy as well. Someone take advance of my items just because we both are inspired by Japanese Amigurumi's stuff, and our items looks similar, the unfair seller wanted claim some of my items for 'intellectual property' when this is totally an abuse toward me. That's was her 'fair' way to eliminate the "competition".... she put the copyright to some bear -hat and she don't want anyone else made items like that.
    I contacted Etsy and they don't even reply me to my numerous requests of help.
    All they could do was to tell me 'contact an attorney'... and that's all.
    I can't wait to leave Etsy as well... they are improfessional and not pay attention to their sellers at all.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Etsy has hurt a lot of sellers if you google “Etsy suspended my shop” you will find many sellers they have done this too.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are absolutely correct. Etsy has no principles and has the most worthless customer service. My shop on etsy was shut down without any reason and they did not bother to reply to my repeated mails for help or even refund me my listing fees. I now sell with itshandicraft.com and I am very happy here. Steady sales and space for creativity. The first two months of listings are absolutely free. Try it out.

    ReplyDelete