Etsy demands proof to reopen our shops then rejects it – Our handmade is not “handmade” enough for them

After having made Etsy our home for 4 years and following all the rules, they shut down for good both our shops. Here we are sharing our story with you, providing all pertinent details and letting you judge for yourself.

The making of the cuff you see in the pictures was required as proof by Etsy, these cuffs were made at the beginning of last year, listed and relisted (the same one, as not a single piece sold there) on Etsy since May last year, and as most of our jewelry, these were limited edition (10 pieces total made in the only batch we produced). Note that each cuff is unique, the elements are free form and placed randomly, therefore no cuff is the exact same.

Etsy has been closing down stores unjustly, arbitrarily and indiscriminately for a while now, we didn’t know until it happened to us. In a lot of cases this happens due to reports sent by nameless and faceless members, who without any evidence and knowing nothing about you, report your store and make you a target.

The first time we had our shops suddenly “suspended” (that’s how Etsy calls a temporarily or definite shut down) was October last year, we were closed for a total of 7 days while asked to provide all sort of documents, images and other confidential information showing that our jewelry was handmade by us, we supplied all they asked for with extensive detail, including step-by-step process documented with photographs of us producing one of our gold plated brass rings, the one they chose.

After their review both our shops got reinstated (second shop was a supplies only store and got closed down by association) with the following message: “Thank you so much for taking the time to send us these pictures and information. We’re happy that you’re a member of our community and glad to learn that your items are handmade!”

The experience left us scarred, though, as your shops represent your livelihood and you consider them your home, waking up one day and finding yourself locked out is a huge shock, you feel lost, confused and so worried about the implications this will have with your costumers and your reputation.

But we hadn’t even recovered from this traumatic experience when just four months later, this past February, Oh surprise! out of the blue we found our shops suspended again and this time they wanted us to show them the process we used to manufacture one of our cuffs (obviously it had to be the most intricate piece we had in the shop), documenting all the process with pictures, just the same way we had done it before, but this time no other written statements or any other documents were required, only pictures.

We did request that they let us produce this cuff partially as it is a very time consuming piece and since it is a repetition of soldered pieces, making half of it would have showed amply the process we use and prove we made this piece ourselves, well, they refused and demanded we made the whole thing, so we did…but after having sent them all the images  (see slide show in this blog), even more detailed than what we are showing here. This time our shops didn’t get reopened, instead we got the following message: “We’ve looked over the materials you submitted, but unfortunately, this does not confirm that your account complies with our policies”

So we wondered, what was the point of asking us to submit this proof if it doesn’t prove anything according to them, we requested a more specific reason as to why they thought this wasn’t good enough, and got this:

”Thank you for your email. Our team has reviewed this matter, and we have determined that we will not be able to reopen your shop at this time.

Upon close review of the documentation that was presented about how your items are made, we have determined that the items in your shop do not qualify to be sold on Etsy.

We wish you the best in your future endeavors..”

This vague answer was all we got, not even the decency of a concrete explanation or what policy were we violating. But wait a second, what??? did you hear that, the way we make our items do not qualify us??  Nothing in their polices determine how craftsmen/sellers should make their wares, when it comes to the tools or methods used or how many pieces of an item should be produced at one time, nor can they dictate that (or can they?). Our items are designed and produced by us, with our own hands in our small NY studio, and do not infringe on any of their policies and/or rules, so we’ll never know what they meant by “how your items are made..”

We think the fact that we sent a communication to Etsy’s CEO and to the Integrity Team after this second closing, pointing out the fact they that are doing nothing about big resellers but instead harassing and hurting little people, didn’t help our cause, Etsy is notorious for retaliating against people that criticize them.

So that’s the status, both our Etsy stores closed and erased from the face of the earth, when they do this they take all your feedbacks, files and commercial history with the click of a button. Our Accessorability jewelry shop was 2 years old and managed only about 150 sales, we had about 170 items listed when it got closed down (don’t think for a second that the shutting down of our stores is improving the sales of the person(s) who reported us).  While our Gemarama shop was a supplies only store, it was up and running for 4 years, had close to 4000 transactions, 0 negatives and 3 neutrals. We first started Gemarama on eBay in 2007, selling only excellent quality, hand-picked gemstone beads and few findings, we moved from eBay to Etsy in Feb.2009, bringing with us many of our customers.

The way we see it is that we, along with many other shops fell victims to Etsy’s double standards and lack of professionalism, not to mention the lack of respect and consideration for the human beings that use their site.

So you guys decide for yourselves. Just imagine this happening to you!

112 responses

  1. Same thing happened to me. I was infuriated and insulted. I gave up everything that I was doing to give 100% of my time to fashion designing. I did not start my business with a lot of money so when they asked to see pictures of how I made a particular dress, I was annoyed because I had to spend money on fabric and make more hours in a day to sew it together. I sent pictures of every step, my work area, how I take pictures and everything and still, my documents were not “adequate”. Etsy practices unfair business policies with unprofessional, staff members that are too “educated” to carry common judgement. You can’t ALWAYS look at something and determine whether it’s handmade or not. Just because a dress is not taken on an obvious FLOOR surface but rather, against a white wall with perfect lighting, it shouldn’t go under the assumption that it’s a copied or drop shipped item.

    1. They only keep those people that are generating good revenue for them. Others with less listing or low sales are removed under the pretext of unethical practice.

  2. They only keep people who are generating enough revenue for them. So if you have too less listing and or not making enough sales per listing… Which costs em more to have you on their listing service,they purge you under the pretext of unethical business practice.

  3. Hello fellow Artisans!

    Started a blog call to help other learn about online sales techiniques etc. Or just for those who wish to tell their story and reach out to others whom have been shunned by Hopefully a a helpful community of artisans and online seller will grow and help one another!

  4. Etsy also suspended my shop about 1 year ago.. i sell hats and i customize the brims.. had a solid customer base and perfect feedback from all my repeat customers.. i always shipped the same or next day and never had an issue… it was the worst possible timing because i had just moved out on my own and needed all the income i could get… to re-open the shop they asked for a bunch of things to be done.. i did everything they asked.. put the story of how i got into the business.. provided step by step instructions with pictures of how i customize the hats but the integrity team said it was not enough… i dont think it matters how much proof i gave, once they close you down your done for good… i tried reopening under different names and emails but they caught me because of the same social and bank account i guess… the only alternative is probably to use a different person and bank account but its never a good idea to get another person involved with your business/money … opened another store 3 days ago, thought i was going to get away with it but when i made my first sale they got me suspended my new shop and still charged me the $11.00 for my listings


  5. Etsy will catch you if you use the same iSP or IP address as before. You also need completely different product pictures as they can track those as well and if you were setting the same stock as before snitches may have turned you in. All these sites have their snitches and tell tales but they raise it to a fine art on Etsy and operate in groups. Weak spineless people who make themselves big at another’s expense.

    Its not enough to use a different name, address, bank credit card etc. You need to use a different internet provider from the one you use everyday. Get a dongle which will give you a new IP address every time you log on. And use Firefox with a setting that deletes all cookies at the end of each session. Or use a VPNS.

    1. Your competitor(s) will routinely search for you and try to drive you out of the market. Etsy doesn’t have to lift a finger, if any of their favorite sellers don’t like you, then you will be OUT, no matter what.

  6. Have you ever thought of why they are asking for assembly pictures, material suppliers and exact process on how to make your art? I wonder if they use all your info and give it to thier friends or other “favourite” shops to copy or nearly copy your art to sell. It feels like there is more going on then them just trying to get you to prove that it’s handmade.

  7. For vintage sellers they demand that you “prove” that the item is 20 years old or more by reference to a “reference book”. Now what are the chances that your exact item is going to be illustrated ina reference book unless its something of museum quality (an overworked term if ever there was one). Instead they should ba making the pathetic snitches prove that the item is a new one straight from Alibaba or similar.

  8. Talia gr ƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒƒ | Reply

    I knit items to sell on Etsy. Should I make really long boring videos of myself knitting just in case??

    1. This comment just made my day.

  9. Good article, thanks.

  10. Has anyone actually gone to a lawyer and had their shops re-opened? I know it’s expensive to see a lawyer but I heard someone’s lawyer wrote a letter to etsy’s CEO and they were able to sell again. Please message me if anyone has I’m thinking about talking to a lawyer about this. Thanks

  11. Unfortunately, there are thousands of stories like this, a few are linked below. Your story sounds like many other stories where Etsy seemed intent on closing a shop, regardless of the seller’s response to an Etsy accusation. In my reading, and my experience, Etsy’s excuse for closing a shop often masks the real reason: lots of accounts are suspended because the seller posted something Etsy didn’t like in one of Etsy’s public forums where sellers discuss things. Etsy monitors the forums and when someone says things that are critical of the company, Etsy muzzles their account so they can’t comment in forums anymore, and/or they deny them any and all seller support, and/or they scrutinize their shops for any minor infraction they can use as an excuse to shut them down. I have read talk of a class action suit by sellers for this practice, if there is a suit, as someone else said: Etsy should be obliged to refund listing fees for all the affected accounts, since the fee is supposed to include seller support and seller support of all types is withheld from anyone who disagrees with them in their public forums.

    Here are a few links:

  12. justice for the little guys | Reply

    Is there a forum where we can gather everyone for a potential class action lawsuit?

  13. For those of you that sell digital downloads, I would suggest selling on creative market, envato market, luvly, thehungryjpeg, and so on.

  14. That is absolutely absurd! I was thinking of joining Etsy but this has changed my mind completely. You should try Bonanza if you haven’t already.

    1. I’m in the same boat. I was thinking of selling fun things that I have made for friends for years to make a bit of cash on a hobby. but now I don’t wanna even bother….

  15. Etsy was suspansed my account too . Our products sold very vell but Esty was not fair me to solve I tried to reopen many times but I coundt not manage etsy always closed my shops. What can I do abaout thıs issue? Does Etsy check my IP or Computer information? Im not using static IP it always change when I shup down my computer.

  16. I think I have all of you beat with my current suspension…
    My account is currently suspended because they claim I am somehow affiliated with someone else’s shop whose shop is shut down. Because she was behind on her monthly bill ($25) and had some less than stellar reviews, her shop was shut down… and they decided to shut mine down too. The girl I speak of is sadly a friend of mine, who house sits for us when we are away. I assume that since she logged into her account through my computer while we were away, that means we are now “affiliated.” Here I am minding my own business, have sold almost 400 orders have all 5 star reviews (except one 4 star, although her comments were all very nice), pay my bill promptly, pay my taxes, etc and now my shop is shut down. I am currently arguing with them in an attempt to prove that we are two different people, who happen to live in the same town. I am so freaking annoyed I could scream.

  17. I opened up a shop on Etsy and worked hard on setting things up. Products, Key words, Customer service, and all. And as soon as the orders started trickling in my shop was shut down.

    My guess is that my competition to the people who were selling similar products started feeling the heat and forced it to shut down.

    I strongly feel Etsy does not follow its own principle of being Honest and Open about its own work ethics, decision making, inner workings that it expects from its vendors. It is well known that there is no customer service phone number available and that they choose to either answer or not to answer the emails. They have all their cards close to their chest.

    The game other vendors play is simple. First get some pictures proving that you have some kind of set up to make things that you are selling. Just show them how you make one piece and then go ahead trade thousands of similar items manufactured overseas and charge exorbitant prices. Etsy has to have knowledge about this. But by letting them thrive Etsy is infact encouraging dishonesty and misrepresentation.

    Etsy conveniently ignores or rather encourages vendors even those, who anyone can guess, are not making things but reselling stuff. The criteria to who Etsy will support and who not is a well kept secret.

    Logically an artist cannot mass produce the hand made items given the time and labor put in its creation. Therefore there is a limit to number of items that artist can produce and sell in a period of time. There are hundreds and thousands of account on Etsy that go against this very basic principle, clearly showing that they are reselling, flouting all Etsy’s policies.

    There has to be some kind of social revolution to stop this Etsy nonsense and bring about more openness. Etsy is a monster that is feeding off of the community’s resource at the same time abusing the very community it is suppose to nurture, violating its own very rules and policies.

    Has anyone thought about starting a petition on to bring about the changes that will bring more clarity and sense to the working of Etsy? Or is it even an option that is relevant to bring about change in the working of Etsy.

  18. Hi Guys! I have very same story on etsy, my shops got suspended about a month and a half ago, they where asking for proof pictures of materials, tools and work in process, and I did , I sent out everything they wanted, but they don’t respond anything. Really thinking about legal action, but it might be worth to make a team of us and act as a big group, and I guess this group will be just huge by the end. Please contact me if you interested

  19. This is what I am going through now. All of my items gone in the blink of an eye. This also provided a major source of income for me. I submitted all the pictures they asked for and in the end they said my item was misleading. Of course they asked for pictures of a apiece fix lace dress. I told them the lace in the picture I have zero left and had to use the same pattern was almost exactly the same lace- same
    Color different flower. They responded back the item looks misleading and it doesn’t prove that my process was handmade. Despite showing bill items, the entire process I’m not sure how else to showing making something. I included the piece of paper each time they asked for pictures with the current date and my name as well.

  20. Some posters have speculated that Etsy punishes those who are vocal and who criticise them in the forums. I believe there may be an element of truth in this. Etsy mods are the most uneducated and anal I have ever encountered on a forum. They will delete postings in a heartbeat because one of the cupcakes has complained. Etsy is supposed to be global site but there is no allowance for differences in humour or culture. People have been reprimanded for adding a smiley ir for saying the most innocuous things.

    Have you ever heard of a forum where people are reprimanded for saying something “unconstructive” – and who is to be the judge of what is or is not “constructive” but the semi educated college kids who staff Etsy.

    What many people dont realise is that if you are muted (ie not allowed to post in the forums) then you cannot post in “bugs” if you have a problem! Also you cannot comment on the Etsy blog, which has nothing to do with the forums.

    There is supposed to be an “appeals” process but no one has ever heard of anyone who successfully appealed to have their forum privilages restored. Unless those who have are keeping very quiet about it for fear of being muted again.

  21. Same happened to me. It just a month i opened the shop and they sent me an email that my products do not qualify for sell on etsy and closed my shop without any warnings.

    it feels like etsy is having dictatorship in their company and follow what they feel right.

    Definitely should take this matter with collection of people to media.

  22. I’ve been closed down as well, saying I should go and sell somewhere else as my items do not qualify for their website. Never had problems before as this was the major source of income for me. Yet there are resellers on there which I have reported time and time again. But they etsy have not done anything about them.

    1. They closed my CUSTOM MADE HANDMADE store, due to a crook reseller reporting my OWN design, my OWN creation, my OWN work is hers, and etsy accepted the crooks fake fraud report, my proofs they did not accept, what do you say about it? They are very unintelligent, immature and rude, someone reports your shop, No investigation, nothing, they shut you down.

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