Tag Archives: Etsy discrimination

Why can’t Etsy get it Straight?

The following are excerpts from a Wired’s article – http://www.wired.com/design/2012/09/etsy-goes-pro/2/ – we have underlined some pieces we consider important and commented on them as well, here it goes:

“First, Etsy couldn’t keep losing ambitious sellers and forgoing future revenue. Dickerson saw a solution in improving the basic UI-making it easier for sellers to sell. In his three-year tenure, he’d already more than quadrupled the size of the tech team with that in mind.”

“Other shifts may sound like semantics but could have a profound impact on the community. For example, Etsy has decided to allow sellers to self-identify as “designers” -meaning they can outsource some of their production work.
Rules that once limited working with outside vendors or employees are being systematically reconsidered. “We’ve missed out on a whole piece of creativity,” says Lauren Engelhardt, who oversees policy matters for the company, “which is people who design something but maybe don’t have the means to produce it themselves-things that need specialized equipment or a lot of people with specialized skills.””

“The changes are a work in progress-“We’re still figuring out how to express it in policy language,” Dickerson says-but the immediate upshot is an effort to resolve borderline cases in ways that keep successful sellers on the site. The front line of enforcement is the community itself, users who flag a given shop for insufficiently handmade behavior. But if the shop’s practices are deemed to be “in the spirit of Etsy,” as Dickerson puts it, the sellers can work with the “Marketplace Integrity and Trust & Safety” department (which recently doubled in size) that helps shopkeepers preserve the spirit of Etsy as they grow. For instance, a seller who shapes wooden kitchen implements can have custom patterns laser-cut by a vendor, but should divulge the process on their shop’s About page.”

“Couldn’t the laser cutter be an anonymous factory in China, though? No, Dickerson says, because that would violate “community standards.” That seems vague to the point of evasive. The bottom line is that Etsy is devoting more time to what amounts to judgment calls and resolving them in seller-friendly ways. It’s an incremental process but a sweeping one-even hard-and-fast Etsy no-no’s like drop-shipping could be revisited.”

At Etsy headquarters, Dickerson offers a different take on the company’s goals. Some purists may not like it, he explains, but the site can’t just be a parallel universe where crafters quibble over what is truly handmade. Sellers have to think bigger if they are going to “change the way retail works from the inside,” he says.

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AND BELOW IS WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS LITANY OF VAGUENESS AND INCOHERENCE:

Is clear that Etsy’s main focus is in keeping: “ambitious sellers” AND  “keep successful sellers on the site”

  • Although everyone understands that the purpose of a business is to make money, in Etsy’s case promoting and safekeeping ambitious and successful sellers regardless of where and how their items are produced (say factories overseas mass-producing finished items), is wrong and not what their mission statement, core values and how they present the site is about. Even worse is their discrimination when shutting down certain shops with no legitimate reason but leaving those “successful” ones opened.

This article also features a few sellers, one of them makes “handmade” bamboo clockfaces, these are laser cut by a company in New Zealand, but when Dickerson is asked “Couldn’t the laser cutter be an anonymous factory in China, though? Dickerson says No, because that would violate “community standards.”

  • What is he saying then, that a seller can use a factory from New Zealand but not one in China? This is all very confusing and can only be interpreted as he talking out of both sides of his mouth.
  • They seem very confused themselves in this race of theirs not to loose certain sellers but at the same time throw others out (the expendable ones), to pretend they care and are protecting the integrity of the site.

 Here is one more incongruity:

 “The front line of enforcement is the community itself, users who flag a given shop for insufficiently handmade behavior. But if the shop’s practices are deemed to be “in the spirit of Etsy,” as Dickerson puts it,………

 And then in other part of the article he says: “Some purists may not like it, he explains, but the site can’t just be a parallel universe where crafters quibble over what is truly handmade”.

  • First, how is that any seller/member is given the power to judge and report what is “insufficiently handmade behavior”
  • Second, if no one can define what “handmade” really means and they don’t want people to quibble over it, why ask them to flag shops for not being “sufficiently handmade”
  • Third, why is that Dickerson doesn’t define once and for all what exactly is “the spirit of Etsy”

And about this statement: “The changes are a work in progress—”We’re still figuring out how to express it in policy language,” Dickerson say

  • The question is:  if they don’t even have their policies down pat, what the heck are they doing shutting down stores, under what set of policies? Oh that’s right, the same way they have been doing for years, X polices apply to certain sellers and Y policies apply to the rest.

And lastly: Sellers have to think bigger if they are going to “change the way retail works from the inside,” Dickerson say

  • Do they really think people are that retarded? They are not changing a thing just going back to the good old factory-made/mass-produced items. Which is totally the opposite of what Etsy started as and how they present the site, this is not a sin, but if this is what it has become, then they have to define the site accordingly and stop the abuse and double standards.

You judge for yourself!

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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!