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The Savvy Online Consumer

Pros and Cons of Etsy.com – Review Round-Up of a Craft Marketplace

By Alice Harper on April 13th, 2011 • 1 comment

Have you ever found yourself wanting badly some gnome sweater clips, uterus earrings, an apple cozy, or shoes for your snake (even though it doesn’t even have any need for them)? Probably not, right? Well, think again. You may actually need those things once you know they exist. Where do such novelty crafts exist, you ask? Well, there is a place. Four little letters make up one fascinating world: E-t-s-y spells Etsy.

The days of artists and artisans selling their goods on street corners and weekend markets are numbered. Weekend flea markets have now been taken to the virtual markets, and the one place to go online for all things cute is Etsy.com.  Not since Ebay has a virtual market taken the world by storm like this. But unlike Ebay, which has a robust system for moderating buyer-seller interactions, Etsy seems to have work to do in the customer service department.

To date, SiteJabber reviewers have contributed 31 reviews for Etsy. So that you don’t have to weed through the numerous reviews, we’ve done the gardening for you: a round-up of what SiteJabber reviewers think of Etsy.com. With an average rating of 2.94 out of 4 stars, it’s not all love. Those four little letters have become a four-letter word for some buyers and sellers.

The Good

If unique trinkets are the name of the game, Etsy’s the winner. Consumers love the abundantly cute and varied selection of goods, and with the right research into sellers (either by looking carefully at ratings or through word of mouth), many leave feeling satisfied with their experience.

Revierwer Jen J. shares:“ABSOLUTELY love love love this website. The obvious reason for me loving it must be my art teacher side…I usually shop through the jewelry but it’s great to support an artist whose selling their own stuff. It can be original or just super cute and you gotta have it! Some of the stuff can be pricey (because it is homemade) but that’s when you just admire it from the computer and walk away.”

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then you must have some particularly quirky needs and according to user Audrey S, you can also get it custom made. She writes: “Fabulous source…There is a laundry list of categories (incl. art, housewares, toys, etc.), and you can set up your own shop to sell your creations, or browse hundreds of thousands of shops showcasing theirs. Bonus points for the alchemy section, where you can request something be custom made.”

And while items may not be cheap on Etsy, the fact that consumers are dealing with individuals, rather than businesses, may serve as an advantage. Tiffany P. offers some advice on finding items for cheaper: “…people will still overprice their items. Yet you can send them a message- most of them will let you haggle a little bit!”

The Bad

On the other hand, SiteJabber users do their fair share of complaining about their experiences on Etsy. Whether it’s a rude or unresponsive seller; what seems like arbitrary rules to them; or delays in delivery or customer service responses, it’s enough to get our reviewers riled up.

Laura K. shares about an unfortunate first experience: “I recently used ETSY for the first time. I received very poor customer service from a seller and canceled the order. She was angry after I posted a negative comment that stated, “poor customer service, canceled order.” She responded with an extremely hostile public comment that included divulging my personal name – supposedly against ETSY feedback policy. I just looked again on the site today and noted that my negative feedback comment was deleted! Now I know why all the sellers receive 100% positive customer ratings. I would never use this site again.”

Scarlett B. explains also: “…I have made 4 or 5 purchases on this site. I had problems with delivery on two of those. One I was able to work out by filing a claim with Paypal. I filed a ‘non-delivery’ report with Etsy on the other. A pretty useless waste of time. All that’s happened is an automatically generated email to the seller. Etsy’s customer support is non-existent. I’ve never received any help from them. They responded to an email once. It took almost two weeks to get and didn’t say much of anything. It most definitely had a “brush off” tone to it. I doubt this will ever be resolved. Where is the support in customer support? Why are sellers allowed to make a sale & never send it? No recourse, no repercussions. Sad. I will not be using Etsy again and I would not recommend them to anyone.”

Some reviewers, however, have been able to resolve their cases and are quick to defend Etsy’s customer service practices. SiteJabber reviewer Jemm M. reminds users: “Please note that every seller is individual and unique so I could’ve just as easily had a crappy experience. If I did have bad customer service or shipping issues, I’d blame the seller not Etsy.”

The Ugly

According to SiteJabber users, Etsy’s policies on buyer-seller interactions are fuzzy, at best. Complaints range from Etsy’s insufficiency in vetting its sellers which have resulted in fraudulent practices or the sale of fake handmade goods, supposed mining of personal data through Facebook and poor treatment of sellers.

User Jerry V. hypothesizes that Etsy appears to be “run by wannabe hipsters and stoners” due to a laundry list of practices: “arbitrary rules enforcement. No response is standard operating procedure from the Etsy support staff. They seem to have no business or marketing acumen whatsoever….They can shut down a seller’s store without warning or viable reason. No appeal process or inquiry. Thus, they can and do confiscate all the sellers product images and descriptions, costing the seller thousands of hours of labor and money. Don’t forget that the seller has already paid for a contracted listing of a specified duration. Etsy allows unstable buyers to run amok who make multiple purchases with no intention of paying. Seller concerns are routinely ignored.”

Genevieve C. chimes in with: “…If you have a problem with a seller, you are on your own. Here they have made all this money from you (the fees that seller’s pay on every transaction), but they don’t do anything to help you if you have a problem with a seller. There is no protection at all. In the end I feel totally burned by Etsy. According to them, it is their policy ‘to have the buyer and the seller work it out themselves’. Boy, do they take the easy way out or what…”

To write your own review for Etsy or to read more reviews, visit our Etsy review page here. Share this via Facebook and let your friends know about Etsy.

SiteJabber is a consumer protection service which helps people avoid fraudulent websites and find good sites. You can use SiteJabber to review, complain about and report fraud on websites, as well as research unfamiliar sites. SiteJabber is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation and was named a Top 100 Website of 2010 by PC magazine.

Note: SiteJabber corrected misspellings within reviews for this article.

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Comments

One Response to “Pros and Cons of Etsy.com – Review Round-Up of a Craft Marketplace”
  1. Elvira says:

    That was quite a post and I really enjoyed it and appreciated it. i have been looking at Etsy but haven’t signed up yet.

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