Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hand over your lunch money

Since it's the weekend, Etsy admin are a skeleton crew of forum moderators and, well, that's usually about it! So when overdue notices for bills went out 24 hours early, on Saturday night, it had "FAIL" written all over it.

Paypal was released in beta and then to everyone (how ridiculous is that. We all know you just add the Paypal button and voila people can pay you, why Etsy couldn't do this is still a mystery) just this month. At the same time, and what many don't know is that they also removed the $1 minimum payment block. So if you owe 94, 60, 30, or even 7 cents you can pay it now.

And this is where the debacle starts....because Etsy even changed the wording on overdue notices and riled a lot of feathers.

"If we do not receive your payment in full, your Etsy account will be suspended."

Really? How about "nanna nanna boo boo we're gonna break your tricycle and take your helmet if you don't give me your lunch money!" or "come on fool, don't make me bust your kneecaps, hand over the dough". Those make just as much sense because the billing policies say you have to be 60 days overdue before suspension of listing and renewing occurs, then 90 days past due for actual account suspension!

And the best part of all of this - Etsy said they were going to email every seller to announce the changes before the next billing cycle, but introduced the changes this billing cycle...they want their money and they're going to weasel it out of us if they have to.

The professional thing to do would be to announce the changes with a mass email, because this affects money and money is the basis of lawsuits for companies, one billing cycle prior to implementation. Are they going to send 60 cents to collections because someone hasn't paid a static balance in 5 months under the previous system? You know, actually, this might be pretty funny to watch if they do.

Another professional thing would be to not use frowning yarn (which are worse than those damn frowny faces on the bill page) to tell us our accounts will be suspended if we don't pony up a few dimes. Yes, that picture above is the actual image from the screen that comes up at login when your bill is "overdue". Full screencap here.

Ok, a lot went wrong this time. According to the billing clarification in a Storque article bills are past due on March 15 23:59 GMT. It was, according to one Etsians calculations, only Midnight GMT on March 15, though that exact wording is no longer in the FAQ. RobWhite, who appears to be the only admin around on Saturday nights, had this to say

As it stands now, your bill is considered overdue at the start of the 15th, in GMT/UTC time (for those of you in the US, now that we're on daylight savings time, you'll likely be somewhere between 4-7 hours behind UTC time). This is the first month in which we've used all of the notices that we have in order to tell those with overdue bills that their bills are overdue.

So is this another new policy change? How did we miss this? Oh, yeah, fucking email! We've been combing the Storque for the information to the point of nuasea (can you believe that the billing information is hidden amongst Rosie Live, Branding Hooray, and Guest Picks articles!).

And then there are the default settings screwing things up and sellers possibly being overcharged because of the Paypal, full balance settings. Yes, people need to be careful when hitting the payment button, double-check everything twice, especially with Etsy who have been known to double charge and not be nice with refunds or handling overdraft fees. If you back up to change one setting, the other is likely reset to default!

So, all in all, how bad was this one? Hmmm let's list the stupidity:
  • 24 hour too early late notices (midnight March 15 GMT instead of 23:59 March 15 GMT, unless this has been changed, which is another issue)
  • threat of suspension for 1-day late when they note in the billing policies that it's 2 months (technically 6 weeks cuz of the 15th thing)
  • that stupid unapproving ball of yarn upon login
  • no email notification of new policy regarding elimination of $1 minimum
  • default settings that revert when backing up to change the auto Paypal setting that is screwing some people up
On a scale of 1 to 10 this is a 17...nice going Etsy. If you don't mind, can we give you a pointer or two. Umm, first, have you not been listening? Communication, clarity - these are all things we've gone over before with you. You're losing money on people paying less than a half dollar by Paypal, and less than $1 on credit cards.
Not that we care anymore about your ledgers, but you've become so greedy that you're willing to lose money just to appear badass when it comes to collecting it. And that's what you're doing - you've become one of those badass, mofo companies who are an entity that has to fight against all those it serves in order to survive - threats of suspension, harsh wording, changed policies without notice - Etsy was supposed to be different. But you're not. You're the boyfriend who consoles someone after a harsh breakup by being sweet and wanting to talk and then a little down the line once she's comfortable and loyal starts demanding a sandwich and beer when you damn well please. What's she gonna do, leave you? YES and WE ARE, and by golly we're gonna warn others about your sleazy ways.
Stop fucking it up. Your customers are in rough times - just knock it the fuck off! Yes, collect what's due you, but plan it out, communicate it, and for the love of all that is handmade stick by your own policies.
Oh, and the phone number for people to call when, say their bills threaten to shut them down on Saturday night, should probably be installed soon. Many companies move due dates to avoid weekends for this very reason. Just a little FYI, Etsy *wink*


AnotherTypeofBiotch said...

And how about this comment, in the midst of the disgusted yarn and account suspension notice:

"Etsy relies on the fees paid by our sellers to maintain the website and continue growing the marketplace."

AAhhhh.......NO SHIT!!!!

And yes, the words WILL BE SUSPENDED, should read MAY be suspended. They don't even follow their own guidelines!! Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy and Unaccountable for their actions.

lessa said...

This is where not having anyone with any real experience rears its ugly head again.

You must let people know and not through a storque article and not through an email that only goes to those who opted in. Every seller account on Etsy should have received this email.

They changed the time for the deadline for being due, they added a method of payment and apparently made it the default(sorry Etsy I'm going to continue to use my cc), and they changed the minimum charge amount.

Not good Etsy.

Are they trying to get sued?

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting on my collection letter from those fuckwads after they deleted my handmade shop for ripping up a few of their esteemed, highly revered problem causing trolls. Guess I can add the $0.57 from my deleted supply shop to that debt too.


justbitchy said...

How many f-ing times do they have to completely botch something like this before they actually take steps to handle things properly.

Every f-ing time something changes they completely f- it up.

Morons. Every. Last. One. Of. Them.

Sorry Matt, you too this time.

You've been around long enough and seen enough of these situations to know that no one has a clue over there.

overdue milk money said...

why, imagine my surprise at being threatened with suspension over my measly 20 cent overdue bill! hrm.

PrettyThingsAreNotEnough said...

Or, being threatened with suspension for my NOT overdue account. It wasn't even anytime the 15th GMT when I got my overdue notice and ball of frowny yarn.

On one account and not the other, of course. So I wonder what's different except that the one account is a year older and ends in an even #?

Anonymous said...

Hey me too! I handed over my two dimes yesterday. No skin off my nose except it left a bad taste in my mouth.

formerengineer said...

...tempted to pay my bill via PayPal... $0.30 increments.

but I won't, because I don't think PayPal deserves the money either :P

disappointed said...

I don't mind paying my bill, but a little fucking clarity on when it is actually due would be nice. Is it due on the 1st or the 15th? I like to hold onto my money for as long as I can. I don't pay bills until they are due. So, after years of thinking they are due on the 15th, imagine my surprise when I logged on to see that ugly yarn graphic frowning at me and that nasty message "shouted" at me while I ate my cornflakes. Can't we even have some professionalism when it comes to matters of accounting? Gawd. The lack of knowledge, customer service, and common sense in that office just astounds me. Disappointed doesn't even begin to cover this one. Disgusted is more like it.

Lanee' said...

Being a crocheter, i thought they were trying to hit me where it hurts personally. i thought, man! they know i crochet and they've sent me sad balls of yarn! - i was also thinking jewelers got sad beads, sewers got angry machines, and toy makers got blue balls.

The Righteous One said...

Just a reminder for "anonymous" posters, please include a name, any name, so we don't have to delete or reject your comments.

We're trying to keep up with our set policies on this, but also want to make sure everyone gets to comment.

beyond disgusted said...

nothing like being bitched out by a shitty unprofessional drawing for a bill that wasn't even due yet, much less late.

nice job yet again Etsy....Not!!!

qb said...

"Ok, a lot went wrong this time. According to the billing FAQ bills are past due on March 15 23:59 GMT. "

could someone point to me where this is listed, and not the storque. I have yet to find this in my bill emails, billing guide, or in the help files. I'm curious how the expect anyone to be aware of this if even the billing page doesn't mention it.

Andrea Q said...

If people pay bills less than $1 via PayPal, won't most of it get chewed up in PayPal fees?

The Righteous One said...

I have finally tracked down where the 23:59 GMT 15th of the month figure came from - it's now linked in the article, but here it is too

Sorry, it's the Dorque and not actually in their official FAQ or anywhere a normal person would look (does this surprise anyone anymore?)

Gracie said...

Yep, pulled up my email last night to a notice that said my account was overdue and will be suspended if I don't pay in full (all .61 cents of it).

It would be a bit more professional if they like someone mentioned above "We MAY" instead of "We WILL" . . save the threats for the folks that are truly overdue . . not just one day late.

RRobin said...

This is my new favorite site. Thanks for the reportage, the righteous indignation, and the sense of irony and humor.

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

Someone and I yesterday ran a test to see what the fees were on paypal for 20 cents, and $1.

For a payment of 20 cents the FEE was 20 cents. So they will get NOTHING. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

For $1 it had a 40 cent fee.

And that's just paypal, some credit cards have higher fee on processing, they are gonna lose money.

So pay up everyone!imingn

RRobin said...

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...
For a payment of 20 cents the FEE was 20 cents. So they will get NOTHING. Zip. Nada. Zilch.
I love it! I wish I owed them 20c cents.

teawithfrodo said...

so basically without this blog I would get no news from etsy.
I thought paypal paying was sstill in beta.

The lack of communication is pathetic.

I guess the yarn is supposed to be sad because it won't be made into some over sized cowl.

now, where was I said...

I should have known to check HERE for a reason why my frowny mail came begging for a buck.I was scared silly. WHAT IT REALLY did was become the last straw for this Etsy seller.

Simone said...

Another huge disappointment in this is simply not being told through appropriate channels that we could pay via Paypal. This is a fundamentally important piece of information, relevant to all sellers, yet many sellers had absolutely no idea.

Maybe it was in the Storque, maybe it was in the forums, maybe it was in those supposed important update emails you have to actually subscribe to in order to get morsels of relevant information mixed in with fluff ... but none of that is good enough.

If Etsy is fine with emailing everyone who has an overdue bill, why can't they email everyone about changes to billing policy, including being able to pay by Paypal? Many people wouldn't even have had late bills had they known of this!

eclipse said...

Oh damn. I had not seen that grumpy yarn. That's quite the boner. I wonder if after 60 days it grows teeth and starts chasing you with the knitting needles?
Here yarn monster, here's my wallet!! Take it! Just don't kill me!

eclipse said...

if you want to follow the crazy saga of Etsy billing

A brief history of billing fiascos:
Autobilling stopped in January 2007.
Bill-paying was manual between January and July of 2007, but it was also optional and there was no penalty for not paying. Every month from January-July 2007, we were told auto-billing would return the next month so we didn't *need* to pay our bills manually, but we *could* do so if we wanted.

In July 2007, they did a one-time auto-billing cycle which was a disaster, it charged all past due bills for the previous 6 months, in separate payments for each month, on anyone who had not been paying manually. Some sellers got double-charged which triggered overdraft fees, other sellers got fraud alerts on their accounts because of the 6 simultaneous charges from the same company.

August 2007 was a period of billing chaos, no bills were even generated as Etsy was switching to a new system and a new credit card processor. Etsy reimbursed sellers who had incurred overdraft charges because of the double-dipping.

September 2007 they introduced the new Billing system, which was basically what we have now. Bill payment has been manual since September 2007.

Sept 10, 2007 Bills became Due on the 15th NOT the 27th (the previous due date)

In October 2007 they introduced guidelines for overdue bill penalties, this changed multiple times between October and November 2007.
Between October-December of 2007, the policy changed at least 4 times over what was considered late, and what the penalties were for being late by different amounts.

November 15 2007, they said a bill becomes overdue on the first minute of the 15th (GMT)

December 18 2007, they extended the grace period to the last minute of the 15th, so bills were not overdue until the first minute of the 16th. (GMT)

Dec 2008: Etsy announces they are using a collection agency to handle overdue bills

Brass Monkey Designs said...

LOL I'm just glad I can use paypal to pay my bill now. Of course they are toughening up on the bill collecting...because they aren't making as much on renewers these days and every penny counts more than ever.

Now that I don't renew, my bills have dropped from $25-30 per month to like FIVE dollars. Ouch...that's gotta hurt. How bout a nice hand made reuseable, trendy bandaid for that wittle booboo?

oldandtired said...

Etsy, hire a grownup.

RRobin said...

I wonder who on Etsy staff came up with that grumpy yarn image, how much they got paid for it (as a percentage of salary or whatever), and what more USEFUL service that person (or, shudder, group of people) could have been performing during that time instead.

More proof that Etsy is running an oversized kindergarten there in Brooklyn (as if we needed more proof).

Some big corporate entity, please buy the wretched thing and put us all out of our misery!

Not Amused said...

When will they ever learn?!

I haven't paid my bill yet. When I logged in tonight, the message has changed and it no longer threatens suspension. I wonder how many Etsy staffers had to give up their weekends to fix this mess and do damage control?

The Funny One said...

Thx again EB for a great post, and great comments. I do think there is NYS law on a 30-60 days notice when you change ANY payment terms. And it must be in writing.

If Etsy dedicated these kinds of hours to (1) following the retail calendar (2) implementing NEW, expanded promotions for M-Day RIGHT NOW, they might bring in enough additional money to cover their PP fees on seller payments.

Or maybe they just hired a junior accountant right out of high school.

Or someone looked at their books at realized Etsy has a huge outstanding collections balance.

Or maybe someone thought "Gee, we haven't banged sellers over the head for at least 2 months, let's go get 'em!"

Or maybe Etsy just doesn't think their sellers are worth any extra effort.

ANY retail company that does not make it AS EASY as possible for people to pay them is ****ed from the get go.

Now we know why Etsy can't clean up all the inactive and non-functioning stores ------ they have no way to find them (and are just too busy merchandising Etsy Brand Products).

The money will run out, or the backlash against Etsy will just get to critical mass, because Etsy thinks the business is their personal hobby --- and the sellers (again) are just an afterthought, if at all.

4 realz said...

grumpy yarn monster, lol, too funny.

Snap Dragon said...

I don't understand Why everyone is SO upset... Just pay your bill.
If it were any other type of bill you would get suspended or shut off or sent to collections so why should it be any different with Etsy.

I paid my .40 and all I thought was " Oh, duh oops"

ebbandflo said...

snapdragon - yes, it is just a bill, and yes bills should be paid on time, and yes bills are requireed for a service rendered but i suggest you read thru all the billing snafu's which eclipse and UEN thoughtfully collated for your reading pleasure to get the particular flavour of this latest seller slap in the face.

it has a loooooooooooong history

now, where was I said...

Snap Dragon, we are only upset about the tacky unprofessional way they do things. No one minds paying a bill !! We have all paid our silly penny bills. WE ALWAYS PAY OUR BILLS, Or we wouldn’t have a store. The point is, they need to fix a lot of things at Etsy, especially the way they change policies AND then the way they inform us of that change. NOT VIA THE STUPID STORQUE. We are, after all, THEIR customers. DO YOU treat YOUR customers this way? Of course not. Neither do we. It speaks volumes that we come to ETSY BITCH to find out what is really going on at Etsy, instead wasting our time reading some some fairy tale at the Storque.

Whoops said...

From the TOU:

"Etsy reserves the right to modify or terminate the Etsy service for any reason, without notice, at any time. Etsy reserves the right to alter these Terms of Use or other Site policies at any time. If the alterations constitute a material change to the Terms of Use, Etsy will notify you via email to the email address in your account. What constitutes a "material change" will be determined at Etsy's sole discretion, in good faith, and using common sense and reasonable judgment. "
Naturally, this change wouldn't be considered "material". Of course, the common sense and reasonable judgement is what's cracking me up.

upsetwithadmin said...

Being threathened with suspension by a goofy frowning ball of yarn if I didn't pay the oh so ever extremely high overdue bill of $0.16 in one shop and $0.18 in my other shop had me laughing at yet another of Etsy's lame attempts to appear (gag) 'professional.

Tried paying both with PayPal but kept getting an error message every time I wanted to pay. Wonder if I put in $0.20 cents on each shop's account if I would then get a credit of $0.04 in one and $0.02 cents in the other?

Rana said...

Clarification in the Storque:

What I don't understand is why, after this sort of of "Whoops! Who would have expected that springing something like this with inadequate notification might be a problem!" reaction, which happens over and over and over, no one has gotten a clue yet.

Psst, Etsy. You can explain things before you make changes. Really. In fact, it's the smart thing to do.

Enough with the "Let's surprise sellers with a dramatic change over the weekend when we're not here to respond!" approach - it's not working, and it's really getting old.

not really bothered said...

I admit I'm generally on board with EB but don't get what the fuss is about. Of course Etsy is going to f*ck up the introduction of any new feature. But this was so minor. As was said above, just pay your bill. Why is that such a big deal, to ask people to pay on time? (Or at least pay within a month of the late mark?) The wording was kinda douchey but I didn't expect much different.

I'm just happy that we can finally pay our bills with Paypal, something that should've been implemented years ago.

eclipse said...

"What constitutes a "material change" will be determined at Etsy's sole discretion, in good faith, and using common sense and reasonable judgment. "
I guess the task now is to hire some employees who actually posses common sense and reasonable judgment!

Carol B said...

huh. Maybe this little fiasco will open Maria's eyes to just how badly the staff needs adult supervision. Now Maria should know to cross every t and dot every i herself and not assume someone else is doing reasonable due diligence.

If a government agency did something like Etsy just did, it would be all over the news.

Rana said...

And Maria has posted an apology in the Storque:

Again, this would have been so much easier to just avoid in the first place!

At the very least Etsy should just stop making any changes on Friday - do them in the first half of the week, when there are people to mop up the spills that result.

RRobin said...

SnapDragon and NotReallyBothered, you are missing the point so fully, it almost seems purposefully.

The point is this:

Etsy bills of less that $1 did not have to be paid and in fact, the way Etsy was set up, COULD NOT BE PAID, until very, very recently.

Now, without really informing anyone, Etsy suddenly decided that those <$1 bills must be paid immediately or the shop faces closure.

The change was made without informing people -- although if you regularly read every word of the Storque, you MGHT have noticed it buried amid the other stuff there.

Rule-abiding shop owners who are innocently proceeding as usual are suddenly getting snarly messages containing insipid graphics and threatening them with closure.

Get it?

No one is complaining about paying their bills -- and you are tilting at windmills.

I smell a ringer -- or two.

eclipse said...

RRobin, that's right, I have not seen a single person saying they didn't want to pay their bill on time. In fact I know several people who have WANTED to pay their less-than-a-dollar bill for months but couldn't, and they were driven crazy by having that little amount outstanding that they could not clear up before the end of the year. (2008)
Business people like to keep balanced books, but no one is kvetching about having to pay 20 or 50 cents!

Simone said...

"If it were any other type of bill you would get suspended or shut off or sent to collections so why should it be any different with Etsy."

If it were any other bill I would expect:

* A due date to be written on the actual bill - there's a good reason why every single bill I receive (except Etsy's) has a due date clearly written on it.

* To feel completely clear about when a bill falls overdue.

* Not to be threatened with account suspension unless it is actually warranted.

* Notification of changes to billing policy sent directly to me in advance as surely is required by law and definitely is required in terms of good business practice.

* Apologies about making a stuff up due to not providing such notification to be made directly to me instead of buried in a blog or a forum somewhere.

* The ability to view in full all billing-related policies in a single, easy to find place and be able to understand them.

It's not about not wanting to pay my bill, it's about dealing with a company which plays an important role in my business and which I expect to behave as professionally as every other business I deal with, yet simply doesn't.

WindysDesigns said...

Whoop de doo, Maria formally apologized. Maybe she doesn't realize that all Etsy ever does is apologize after the fact

We expect Etsy to screw up on the roll-out of a new feature and we're never disappointed. And Etsy always says 'we're so sorry we messed up, we'll do better next time'. And yet, next time they screw up again.

Time and time again Etsy fails miserably when it comes to communication. they don't appear to learn from past mistakes.

not really bothered said...

RRobin, not a ringer at all. I've never had an Etsy bill less than $1 so had no idea about the "hanging around" amount.

As for the yarn-meanie saying "pay right now or we'll close your account," I didn't believe that was actually going to happen. This is Etsy; any sudden change is suspect.

Maybe I've become so overloaded with Etsy's incompetence that this just seems minor in comparison. More a symptom of a larger set of problems than a singular problem.

Did You Pay Me? Did You Pay Me? said...

Etsy has owed ME five bucks for almost a year now! Since my fave thing to buy on E is hand-spun yarn, maybe if I knit them a frowny-face cowl, they'll fork over the cash.

Always enjoy EB!

scribble-hater said...

Whoever Etsy's accounting manager is, if they even have an accounting degree it's obvious they've never run a real accounting and billing system before.

C'mon Etsy, there are tens of thousands of highly qualified financial experts currently unemployed in NYC. Hire one.

And I'd like to strangle whoever draws all those awful site pics with a ball of that meany yarn.

Howard T. Snidbiscuits said...

I kind of like the frowning yarn.

The stupid happy faces, though - those are HORRIBLE

Grace said...

When my account was brickwalled, I got a letter from Etsy legal stating "right to refuse service for any reason" blah blah blah, no real reason.

THEN they had the nerve to bill me! HA HA HA HA HA! Yeah, right. I'll get right on that.

Now, I'm thinking maybe I should settle up, in 20 and 30 cent increments.

90 days before shop closure, eh? I wonder what would happen if word got out that you could get a FREE Etsy shop with unlimited listing for 3 months. If you're not completely happy, just don't pay!

The Righteous One said...

Just wanted to say that we wouldn't advise anyone to take the "free shop, don't pay" tactic as Etsy would have legal recourse against you

However, the 20 cent increments is an interesting, umm, experiment

h. snidbiscuits said...

Plenty of cheesy resellers love the 'don't pay til next month' system, I think. they can set up shop, sell some stuff, get closed down, and never pay. what could be more convenient?