Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Help us out, EB Readers

Hey there, EB readers. We need a hand with something, and we hope you can help us out.

We're looking for links to shops on Etsy selling resold and mass-produced items. We know they're there, you know they're there, so help us put together a list for a little somethin' special.

Send us the links via email. We just ask two things:

1. Don't post the links in the comments. Just email them to us. Your anonymity is assured and will not be published anywhere. Using an email pseudonym is fine too, we don't need to know who you are for this exercise.

2. Only send us links that you know are resellers, not ones you think are resellers. And by "know", we mean that either they give information in their shop announcement/profile showing they are resellers, or that you have found the exact same items being sold elsewhere on the internet mass-produced style. Either way, give us some supporting info for your claim.

Thanks in advance, and bitch on!

54 Comments:

incognito said...

This is my dream come true EB- prepare to be flooded!!

Sigh said...

::rubs hands together::

Yay! Now I have something to do during my self-imposed forum muting!

good idea said...

Thank you. I love to shop on etsy, but I've become paranoid that I'm going to be duped & purchase from a reseller.

I would be horrified to know that I supported a shop like that.

Angela said...

This sounds like a great idea, but I wish you would take it a step further. There are some shops that CLEARLY sell non-allowed items and call them "handmade". You can tell from the appearance of the items and the price they charge. However, they can not be verified by simply Googling their shop name.

For instance, there is a shop selling "handmade" multicolor knit gloves for $8, hats for $18, and belts. These items look like something you would buy at any store. However, I have Googled the shop name and can't find anything outside of Etsy. I'll email EB the link so you can see the site and judge for yourself.

Flag With Me said...

Sweet! Stronger together.

Good luck though because it is a huge work, that I know.

Feel free to use my blog.

Andy Mathis said...

I am not liking the sound of this.

I understand the annoyance, but you can't shoot first, ask questions later, and be all "witch-hunting" about it. I am sure every shop from China will get way more flags than ones from Idaho.

Etsy is a non-juried site. Which means buyers get to decide what they want to see. and buy.

If you want a juried site, then set up your own.

TheSneakyOne said...

Andy, we're not compiling this for our blog, but on the request of somewhere else who wants to know if its legitimate.

The links will be sent to them, and they will decide if its a legitimate problem to them.

(and no its not Admin)

The Righteous One said...

I want to reiterate that we aren't planning on calling out (Flaggy is here for that), but a general idea of how bad the problem is is the goal.

We want to know we're counting true cases and not embellishing the numbers because of potential, thus the request for supporting information.

I'm sure it's plenty bad without adding in the 'maybe's!

TheSneakyOne said...

Righteous, as usual, you said it much better than I did.

idyll hands said...

For those of you who see shops that they "think" might be mass-produced but can't prove it based on the shop name: Check the pictures of the items. Sometimes the seller is careless and crops from a catalog or website and leaves the site name or store name in the picture. Then, do some research on the website name or whatnot. Try and find the exact item they are selling and make sure what you're looking at isn't a picture of a pattern that they have made.

Angela said...

Andy says

"Etsy is a non-juried site. Which means buyers get to decide what they want to see. and buy."

---------------------

No, buyers don't get to decide what they see. Etsy has set forth specific rules and regulations about what can be listed on this site. These rules and regulations restrict mass produced items (other than supplies and vintage) and reselling of handmade items.

These rules and restrictions are the reason why ARTISTS open up shops on Etsy. If I wanted to appeal to an audience that doesn’t value the handmade/art aspect, I would sell on eBay or elsewhere.

And flagging of mainly Chinese shops is YOUR view of the situation. There are plenty of shops selling these items here in the USA. To me, that is worse because Americans are typically more understating of the language/culture, and therefore, are able to word their listings in a way that fools buyers better.

embellisher said...

TheSneakyOne said...
Andy, we're not compiling this for our blog, but on the request of somewhere else who wants to know if its legitimate.

The links will be sent to them, and they will decide if its a legitimate problem to them.

(and no its not Admin)
******************************
*sniff, sniff*
I smell the wary 27M investors here, lol....

life-during-wartime said...

There is some difficulty in providing the kind of proof you mention.

I had been working on collecting just such a file of resellers on Etsy. And some of them did exist on the net under the same name at one time, selling the same mass produced items openly as marketing reps. But almost all of them have received excellent instructions about scrubbing those evidential links off of Google etc from Ebay, MySpace as well as sites in their own countries when they open on Etsy. One cached version of a factory catalog used by several Etsy resellers had been taken over by hackers...I was pretty fucking scared I had trashed my computer (it seems I did the right thing to get out unscathed) so I for one will not be back! Making a point about reselling factory merch on Etsy is not worth that.

It isn't hard to notice that a handful of women's clothing resellers open almost every day on Etsy. And that a bunch of the 'vintage' sellers are just picking up used clothing at thrifts or yardsales that is at most 2 years old. Again, difficult to prove without wasting a huge amount of time...unless you happen to have that particular item hanging in your closet. And I don't.

Now that at least part of Etsy admin is saying having employees is okay under the TOU, how can any factory rep not sell their merch on Etsy? Am pretty sure even large mfg set-ups can open an Etsy shop now without fear of closure, provided they are not in the USA.

Andy Mathis said...

by buyers getting to choose, all I'm saying is that-

if people didn't buy the stuff, it wouldn't continue to be listed.


There is also a lot of hypocrisy from Etsy sellers about buying/selling.

How many times have you heard sellers say, "Oh, I would never sell on Ebay, but I shop there all the time."? You've heard it a lot.

Collecting the links is fine, just as long as it isn't posted publicly.

Angela said...

Life-During-Wartime said:

"Now that at least part of Etsy admin is saying having employees is okay under the TOU..."

-------------------

IS THIS TRUE??????

nosey and why not said...

The reason you're collecting this is pretty mysterious. Undercover article for the Washington Post? (Are you Deep Bitch?) I'm all for shutting these people down, but would like to know where the info. is going and why.

TheSneakyOne said...

Look, its really easy..

Don't trust us? Don't send the links.

Feel like contributing to something that might do some good? Please do.

If you're that paranoid about where the information is going, then this exercise might not be for you.

We do promise that its not going to anywhere nefarious and we're not going to be calling out these people personally. We will keep identities confidential. We want to have the best representation of links to resellers as possible, and to do that, we need reader help.

nosey and why not said...

Didn't say I didn't trust you....just that I'm nosey.

just bitchy said...

With places like Alibaba and other mass distribution channels there is absolutely no way to keep up with this.

Close one, two more open.

I agree with Andy that if no one buys the stuff they won't keep listing.

Most buyers want what they want when they want it. I would say a large number don't care if it's handmade or not (nor do they understand the implications) as long as the price is right.

There is no way etsy can EFFECTIVELY keep up unless they go to jurying like Ruby Lane does.

I'm not defending them, just pointing out what seems obvious to me.

impetuous said...

We need a new post, the mute salute got to long.

just bitchy said...

p.s. Last time I checked Ruby Lane charges a $75 review fee that is refunded if they reject your application initially. If you open up with legitimate product and then change to mass produced items that don't follow their very specific guidelines you do NOT get that $75 back.

That cuts WAY down on people just opening up, flooding the search with listings and selling things that don't fit their guidelines.

The Ebon Swan said...

Woo, looks like I have homework tonight.

life-during-wartime said...

angela, concerning Etsy shops listing items made by employees there have been several forum topics in the last week or so. Here is one I found quickly

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5759617&page=4

If you search in the forums you can find other discussions of this topic, all with the Admins remaining silent or playing coy.
Possibly a first step for Etsy towards becoming a '1000 villages' type site considering the background of the new CEO. Just a thought I have, with nothing I can post to back that up.

IMO (and this is just my personal opinion) allowing this kinda opens the door to resellers because what is the dividing line between a semi-collective with paid home-based workers (like Devawear) and an all out factory setting (like Longaberger)? Neither of which sells their stuff on Etsy AFAIK, just using as examples 2 companies I know.

The Funny One said...

I just gotta say that being skeptical of the question being posed on EB is a direct consequence of life on Etsy. Distrust, dibelief and suspicion that something must be brewing.

How did it get to be this bad? Among a bunch of creative people?

If you don't trust the question, don't respond. On the other hand, making excuses for Etsy's failure to keep unfair competition off the site, that they promised to keep off the site, is just like reading the 80 pages of Etsy Rules and then throwing them out the window.

Etsy has created a site where, despite the rules, Etsy breaks them, misinterprets them, misapplies them, selectively applies them selectively, and everyone says oh, give them a break, they work too hard.

Either you state in your mission and all business documents that you are a site for All Things Handmade, or you call yourself eBay2 and admit you can't fulfill your promise and CHARGE FOR IT.

And don't push this constant lie on your sellers that flagging works or flagging is an efficient way to regulate the site and remove resellers and mass produced products. It does not work, Etsy has no interest in putting it to work, and it is one big fat Etsy lie.

I certainly have an issue with buyers shopping on the site, buying a mass-produced item, and passing my store up altogether because they spent what money they had at another store that was not handmade. That's unfair competition left in place (and even encouraged) by a site that does not have the integrity or pride in upholding a reputation for regulating their own damn site. It's free for all and sellers know it.

life-during-wartime said...

Have to laugh at the mentions of Ruby Lane's fee for validation procedure. This was actually my idea, posted in their forums when I was a seller there. I suggested it as a way to screen sellers out who had fakes, repros, and fantasy items (new stuff with a style of antiques) in their shops from the day they opened. As I recall, then owner Jim mocked me out for making such an absurd suggestion. I never thought of it applying to artisans or artists as a form of jurying. I figured it took me between 90 seconds and 10 minutes to spot faux antiques in any new shop, the speediest being those shops who mentioned their Ebay ID in their shop profile. Just cut and past the id into Ebay search and there were the identical items in their Ebay store or at auction usually identified as new items/giftware. US$75 is really overcharging for that, what a bunch of thieves!

just bitchy said...

If you think Rob K. is bad, Ruby Lane's Jim was certifiable.

I think it's only Tom now with a handful of employees.

I'm not making excuses funny one. I'm stating a fact. There is no way, save jurying, for etsy to keep up.

wuntunhunny said...

Yeesh, I can't tell you how many shops are reselling stuff from Daiso! Everything is $2 at Daiso (at least in Canada)

It's all marked up, of course and they're not from Asia - most of them are in the USA.

Anyseller said...

You're right. Etsy doesn't care.

I was talking to a new b&b seller recently, and asking about a specific ingredient in her lotions. She couldn't really answer, she said she buys the base, adds fragrance and puts it in a bottle. I said I thought that was reselling- she said it's no different than melt and pour soap. She said she asked and Etsy said it was fine as it has been "altered".

Hmm. That explains a lot. Be careful when purchasing things that go in and on your body, as the sellers themselves don't have a clue about the products. There are some very knowledgable people that actually make their own, so I'm sticking with them from now on.

embellisher said...

This is the thread that sherry started where stella came out and said that etsy cannot legally tell stores whether to have employees or not :

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5744358

Even today marymary told someone in their post that the items have to be made by her when she asked if she and her mother could make items together for sale.

They don't know whether they're coming or going. I wonder if they have staff meetings, etc. Seems like everything is open to whomever's interpretation. Now I hesitate to buy anything, I swear.

Good luck on this one.

Angela said...

Ok, after reading the thread to which Life During Wartime eluded (http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5759617&page=4), I am beginning to think this exercise might be futile. After all, if employees are allowed and artist collectives have apparently not been defined, that opens the door to anyone who puts out a product and calls it “handmade”. And, what product doesn't have at least some part of it that is handmade.

Why won't they define anything??? *bangs head on desk*

I think LDW is right on track with the 1,000 Villages idea.

SelfRighteousHarpy said...

Well, I flagged 4 over the weekend, as seen in Friday's treasuries...and 3 of them are gone already, just today.

many resellers are so blatant, it's easy for them to be removed. Others are more subtle about their language, and change their profiles each time they need to pass muster with Etsy. Still 3/4 is pretty good odds!

Lori Anderson Designs said...

Angela said:And flagging of mainly Chinese shops is YOUR view of the situation. There are plenty of shops selling these items here in the USA.
)))

Agreed.

Some of the worst offenders aren't from China but are smack dab in the US. And laugh their heads off in convos when they're called on it.

life-during-wartime said...

Maybe Etsy admin can borrow a little from Ruby Lane. That would be not allowing new shops to be immediately visible (yeah, they would have to change all their confusing faq docs again). REQUIRE shops to complete all aspects of their profiles to be visible: location, some kind of statement of who they are & why they do their craft or something. Offer language translation assistance to any who request it. If a shop signs up for a sellers account, it must be populated with at least a handful of items for sale and then activated by an admin. While this would not prevent the kind of misrepresentation that could only be stopped by the time/effort intensive jurying process, it would prevent shops from selling 'vintage' flat screen teevees and 'vintage' dual processor laptops (for realz, I flagged such a shop and it was closed).

I think a good start would be to nab the obvious shops that do not fit any aspect of Etsy before they open. That would leave the community/admin flagging communications for the less obvious violators. If Etsy is a big kidz site now with real investors and all, it's time to treat it like a business.

And so what if some of these violator shops are Chinese? They are not stupid (way smart actually), and don't need us to defend them. They know what they are doing (items are tagged both vintage AND handmade?) which is...trying to beat the system.

patmccrotch said...

The re-sellers see us as low hanging fruit, easy pickings. For years little girls have had their moms stop the car at the corner parking lot to buy the fake doonies and nikes. It's important to fit in you know. Etsy doesn't regulate too well, so here they show up. They have sold their fakes and knock offs for so long and been so successful, who can blame them for showing up one more place.

I am going to flag the shops, i'm going to send their listings to you, but what really irks me are the people who actually buy their products.

Cuz you know they are the same people who would dare buy a hungry man a hamburger calling him a con artist, but they will spend 100 dollars on a fake coach bag and actually thank the man who just ripped them off.

Grace said...

OMG, I just went to my shop. Now, instead of saying "Expiration Dates" it says "Renew Items".

They're not even trying to hide it anymore, are they?

*headdesk*

ebbandflo said...

i'm in agreement with the 'beware of what you put in or on your body' comment here. i'm not completely convinced that some sellers know what they are doing after happening across a thread in forum discussing ingredients ..... worrying! i'll stick to my regulars and word-of-mouth referrals from trusted friends in future

kibbles said...

Wouldn't it be easier if we just sent a list of the truly handmade shops? This would be a much shorter list.

The Funny One said...

Boy oh boy, there are some really good comments here. Can you imagine them in an Etsy thread? Lock!

life-during-wartime brings up a fine idea----that there could be ways to weed out resellers without going the jury route, and there might be a better solution. Anything but flagging. If Etsy can't keep up, get a better system like CraigsList and put in an appeals process.

Why is flagging not automated? Pay people to do it manually? (The real reason for 63 employees?) One big reason flagging will never work on Etsy is, they don't follow the rules, they make their decisions based on whether they like the seller, know the seller, or think the products are just way too cool.

And most resellers on the site today know that the manual flagging system is a complete sham.

I always thought that new sellers should be required to sign a contract (digitally) and then be tagged (invisably) as a "new" store for 3 months, then reviewed at a point in that "temp" status before being untagged. That might take less employee review time than flags-investigations.

But the main problem is, Etsy has no core mission, or engagement with business ethics and have no base for establishing and maintaining their business reputation. Total number of stores, sales, and listings have taken precedence over integrity.

Etsy set themselves as a platform to sell handmade, and then thought their work was done. They don't do a damn thing to protect, promote or support that mission.

They just don't want to work that hard. And it's own refusal to live up to its stated mission is going to be its final downfall. Since Etsy has nothing to hang its reputation on, why bother to figure out the solutions?

Keys and Memories said...

I have a blog that lists only vintage and handmade shops. Anyone is free to have their name added.
I try to support the vintage sellers on it because I can trust them.

http://etsypledgeblog.blogspot.com/

embellisher said...

After reading a post from a seller whose friend bought some b&b product, maybe liquid soap, and had a burning reaction, I decided to stick to people I've used, and who sound like they know what the hell they're talikng about,AND specifically the ones who have stated that they carry insurance. And that's the thing. People are going to go back to the big box stores because they'll feel that, at least, if they have an issue, they'll know where to go and have recourse. As opposed to etsy who let people with eleventyseven negatives keep on selling and ripping people off, who take your money and then say "BYE" in their announcements, and then let them reopen up shop.

Every time I see a question in Techniques "what do I do now" I surely take note of that seller, as it doesn't seem like they did their homework or research, and I have no intention of being anyone's guinea pig.


What the hell are 63 people doing?

wowjustwow said...

The ones who speak out the most about the Globalization Act for Costmetics are the ones who need the regulation THE MOST.

I am shocked pretty much on a daily basis by the misinformation there is out there even among both B&B sellers AND consumers.

The bottling and selling of premade bases for cosmetic ingredients to small B&B shops has opened the floodgates for just about anybody to order, bottle, label and sell. NO RESEARCH REQUIRED. That is downright scary.

I've seen people reference microwaving their lotion base to "heat it up" and add scent. Preservatives are extrememly heat sensitive and overheating can ruin efficacy. Most should not be heated above 125 degrees fahrenheit. You don't know how HOT some spots in your lotion are getting when you throw it in the "nuker" ... microwaves are NOTORIOUS for producing extreme hot spots. Hello, that's why YEARS ago they warned against mircrowaving bottles of infant formula. Babies were getting the backs of their throats severely burned EVEN after caregivers shook the contents prior to feeding.

This is a LONG post. I'm sorry for that.

I wish there were a better way to educate consumers on how to spot shoddy B&B practices.

If the Globalization Act is passed, it will force many of the honest B&B Sellers who do not compromise product integrity out of business (except for soap, because it's not a cosmetic). However, I can't help but think it's in the best interest of the consumer!

mememe said...

EB: I need help myself.
I need something to put up on my profile that will be a simultaneous redirect to customers and a subtle flip the bird to etsy. Something that shows I'm part of the 200,000 "making a living" on etsy by closing up shop and starting out on my own, but that might slip under the radar long enough to actually stay up.
Ideas?

shootmeinthefoot said...

Etsy has become such a beginner shops market place, it's down right scary to order for someone who just opened a hop.
Heck, I once ordered from a new soap shop just to get slammed with an additional s/h paypal request because they couldn't get their shipping set up right in the listing and they were plain nasty after I refused.
About the reseller list, I probably would have loved to do that 6 months ago, in the meanwhile I don't see any use in it anymore BECAUSE Etsy does NOT care, opening their gates to any seller on this planet regardless of product and production.

Old Hippie Bitch said...

the funny one said:
I just gotta say that being skeptical of the question being posed on EB is a direct consequence of life on Etsy. Distrust, dibelief and suspicion that something must be brewing.

How did it get to be this bad? Among a bunch of creative people?

****************

So true. I don't want to live like that, or conduct my business like that. Misdirection, Nonchalance, Laziness, Narrowmindedness, Suspicion--Etsy is sucking the life outta me.

yeah you right said...

""Etsy has created a site where, despite the rules, Etsy breaks them, misinterprets them, misapplies them, selectively applies them selectively, and everyone says oh, give them a break, they work too hard.""

also, in regards to the etsypledgeblog- there are sellers there that- and this is factual- are not capable of dating vintage -ithas happened to me and another seller after buying their stuff and according to their feedback happens repeatedly.

they also shouldnt be selling bath and body because their product has illegal and mismarked ingredients and then goes bad

etsy tells us they will do something and doesnt come through even a fraction of the time.
we are all in competition with mass market produced and resellers, mistaggers,gypsies tramps and thieves.

they have zero of the indy cred they crave

forum rubbernecker said...

Maybe Etsy admin can borrow a little from Ruby Lane. That would be not allowing new shops to be immediately visible (yeah, they would have to change all their confusing faq docs again). REQUIRE shops to complete all aspects of their profiles to be visible: location, some kind of statement of who they are & why they do their craft or something. Offer language translation assistance to any who request it. If a shop signs up for a sellers account, it must be populated with at least a handful of items for sale and then activated by an admin. While this would not prevent the kind of misrepresentation that could only be stopped by the time/effort intensive jurying process, it would prevent shops from selling 'vintage' flat screen teevees and 'vintage' dual processor laptops (for realz, I flagged such a shop and it was closed).
__________________

You stole the words right off the tips of my fingers! I flagged a couple of shops this week. Neither one had a profile, a location, or shop policies listed. To me, that was kind of the clincher as to whether I should flag or not. This is a most excellent idea. I realize that it sometimes takes a little time to get your policies and everything listed and goodness knows I slacked on getting my shop policies done after we could add them, but I totally agree that this is a big ol' red flag. To me it is especially important to read how someone made something--not their trade secrets, but just to get a good idea that they at least know HOW such a thing would be made. The B & B thing scares me, I have sensitive skin and allergies, so I have to be pretty careful with B & B. I stick to a few sellers only. I hate to be suspicious, but I have to protect myself.

forum rubbernecker said...

Oh yes, I forgot to add that there is currently a DVD listed on Etsy for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics. NOT handmade, vintage, or supplies, and bootleg to boot. Nice.

life-during-wartime said...

yeah you right said...
also, in regards to the etsypledgeblog- there are sellers there that- and this is factual- are not capable of dating vintage -ithas happened to me and another seller after buying their stuff and according to their feedback happens repeatedly.

---------------------------
This isn't an issue specific to Etsy. It's a problem on any venue for antiques/vintage sellers. Taking a pledge to sell only vintage may be done with all sincerity, but customers still get burned if the seller knows far less than they think they do.

Clothing, I would guess, is getting more difficult all the time because recent trends copy earlier styles so closely. I've had some real laughs at the malls in the last few years seeing new versions of items I still have in storage from own 70s wardrobe. Is it too much to ask that a vintage clothing seller lose one artsy photo and give us instead a pic of the label(s) including the fabric content/care instructions (if present) to help us verify their dating of the piece? Should be a requirement for being a member of any vintage related street team IMO -- all labels in the garment must be shown. Good way to spot the resellers, too!

I think there is a huge difference between jurying (or the antiques equivalent) and just having some standards for what info must be included in item descriptions, variable depending on what you sell. I've posted about this before, but what exactly are the street teams for these days (other than doing unpaid promos for the site)? It's nice that you're a mom, granny, have faith (or don't), and watch teevee...but I'm here for what you sell, duh? Pruning of the team list is way overdue.

The Malevolent One said...

We're getting flooded with emails - you guys are amazing.

Please make sure you're sending us the correct, live links. There've been a couple that are dead ends. We're not sure if this is because the submitter made an error, or if - gasp! - Etsy has actually removed the reseller.

Thanks!

Keys and Memories said...

If there are sellers on the pledge blog that I need to look at please feel free to email me :)

Art Deco Bitch said...

Hey, Bitches! Oh, man, I've missed you guys! I've been up at the cottage for two weeks with NO INTERNET ACCESS! How did I make it?

Gotta catch up on the Bitch poop but I'll email you my reseller first. The one who's got the "largest range of pet i.d tags in the world." They do, too. My dog had hers before Etsy was even thought of.

Okay, gotta go get my fix.

Anonymous said...

HerVoice

SurrenderDorothy and HRMB have been muted for 7 days for daring to take a stand against trolls.

Hello Crafty said...

As a seasoned B&B maker and a member of the Etsy Green & Clean Guild (EGCG), part of the obligation in making/selling B&B products is to educate your consumers about your products and the ingredients so that they are making informed choices about what they put on their bodies.

It makes me crazy to see so many new B&B shops run by people who have clearly bought some stuff on clearance at Michael's and then opened up an Etsy shop the same weekend. These same people will flip out if you so much as suggest that they wait a bit to open a shop so they can test their products or correct misinformation, such as Vitamin E is *not* a preservative, it is an anti-oxidant.

Etsy promotes the idea that anybody can make anything (or heck, NOT make it, someone else can make it including machines) and sell it and "make a living". This opens the doors to inexperienced sellers with untested products that are potentially dangerous. If a customer buys their very first bar of soap from one of these sellers and has a horrible reaction, they are unlikely to ever buy handmade products again, even though there are PLENTY of us on Etsy who know what the heck we're doing.

grumble grumble grumble

Recycled By Hyena said...

SurrenderDorothy and HRMB have been muted for 7 days for daring to take a stand against trolls.


--------

The two accounts belong to the same person.
She started that thread after we spoke about how these trolls were harassing me and following me in each thread. They had one of my thread about Off shore drilling closed and they bullied me away from my own thread.
HRMB sent a complete report to admin and I was trying already to communicate with RobWhite who never answered me when I asked him for help. (even though we were in very good communication terms).
Please do see my blog if you want to know the whole story.