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Going it on my own - my way!

When founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Rob Kalin and partners Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik, Etsy was a great place for Americans to sell handmade items. Times have really changed! I was sold! For many years I sold on popular platforms, but chose to focus on Etsy as my items were handmade. I never thought of going it alone and fell into the lazy way of selling on an online platform. Recently, I had issues with Etsy and without any phone numbers or human contact, it was hard to have an intelligent and factual conversation. After 13 years of selling and 15,000 sales with over 5,000 positive reviews - not bad, they informed me that I was associated with another shop in another city without any proof. I woke up one day with no notice, not an inquiry, not a courtesy email, just a frowning face in a sea of red with a "your account is suspended." When I emailed Etsy it was given to Drew, who handed to Lisa who handed it to Beth, and these are the actual exchanges!

Me: "Why was my shop suspended?"

Etsy: "We permanently revoked your account privileges because of ongoing order issues in your other shop, (name of shop omitted as it's not mine).

Me: "That is not my shop, not at my address, not my bank account - can you provide evidence." After all, if that other shop was in fact mine, they would be able to let me know the bank and account, the credit card, etc. since it's my account. Right? Hold on, it's going to get scary.

Etsy:  I can't provide you with the exact information we used to conclude that your account is related.

Me: Scratching my head! Can you imagine being pulled over by the police and asking what you did wrong, only to be told "I can't tell you the exact information..." At least provide a long term seller an opportunity to refute the secret information. The burden of proof is with Etsy, but it seems to be hush-hush.

Me: Please provide me with the information so I can prove (again the burden of proof does not lie with me, but glad to provide proof) that I am not connected with another shop in another city owned by another person.

Etsy: Because we've provided all of the information that we're able to share regarding your account status, this email constitutes our final communication with you on this matter. We will not respond to any further messages from you or anyone acting on your behalf.

Me: Mouth wide open. Just disbelief.

Etsy has also decided to "hold" my money for 180 days to deal with customer refunds that may come up. My return policy is 7 days and even Amazon has a very liberal 30 day policy, but Etsy holds money for 180 days!  My house's escrow account wasn't that long. I asked about the interest rate for holding my money that long.

Etsy's response:

No, I didn't forget to type a response, they did not respond. Do you think a bank can hold your money for 180 days and not pay interest or not respond to questions about your money? There is a word for when someone takes something from you.

Etsy has also prevented me from accessing my listings that I paid for each one and has not given me the emails of my customers and they are my customers. Etsy owns the platform, but my customers bought from my shop.

Etsy's response:

Well, you get the picture by now.

You feel helpless and then the anger sets in and when you realize that they are a MONOPOLY that exhorts it's power and does whatever they want, regardless of the aftermath, to small American mom and pop shops with no recourse. So, I have contacted the NYS AG's office and will file the paperwork they asked I complete; I will contact the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Better Business Bureau and looking into the Government agency (SEC?) for the funds they are holding and whether this violates the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and reaching out to my elected officials. 

And while they hold my money, what do they do with the revenues they make? Here is a Wall Street Journal story: https://www.wsj.com/articles/etsy-faces-pressure-to-abandon-irish-tax-strategy-1441080008 and a link to their filing http://s23.q4cdn.com/775204224/files/doc_downloads/form-10K.pdf. In it Etsy states: 

"Buyers tell us that they come to Etsy because Etsy sellers offer items that they can’t find anywhere else. And, We believe that the nature of commerce is continuing to evolve: more people are choosing to purchase goods online and many consumers are looking for unique items as an alternative to mass produced goods."

Put that to the test and do a search on Epson, Nike, Gucci or any brand or any categories - electronics, sneakers, watches. Handmade? You decide. Also, I would look for the same handmade items on AliExpress www.aliexpress.com, by far the least expensive place to shop.

When founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Rob Kalin and partners Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik, Etsy was a great place for Americans to sell handmade items. Times have really changed!

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