Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Followup: That Letter We Sent to Rob...

In one of our last posts I told you how we sent a letter from reader venting about inaction from Etsy to Rokali, by his request, after our little talk. I'm pleased to send you this followup, reprinted with the readers permission.

To paraphrase her problem: no help or responses from Etsy on a featured seller who wasn't able to keep up, having more than two dozen negative feedback for non-delivery,and no responses to comvos and emails - and now it was more than the 45 day Paypal deadline to get her money refunded and had nothing but, shame, hassle and silence from Etsy:


I am writing to tell you that I just got a refund! Indeed Rob Kalin forwarded my email to Bernadette Sweeney and after we exchanged a couple of emails she got my issue resolved. She was kind and even offered to talk to me over the phone if I wanted. She admitted that I shouldn't have to go through EtsyBitch in order to actually have a real person email me back. I stressed that customer service is extremely important and that they shouldn't think like a small company now that they're a big one. They have a lot to do, that's for sure. I hope Rob Kalin will be taking etsy towards the correct direction.

Also, I got another email from Bernadette after I wrote back to thank her for her involvement. You might be happy to know that the support team will double in size over the next few months! When this happens, they intend to thoroughly investigate member inquiries, get rid of canned responses and do everything within their power to satisfy etsy members. Sounds cool! Hope they get there soon! Overall, Bernadette seemed genuinely concerned and happy that she got the opportunity to help me and make me a content member of the community again.

Thank you sooo much for your help! It's so wonderful to find support from people you don't even know but you share a common passion with: Shopping and etsy :) Oh and keep up the good work! All voices must be heard in order to have progress. Bitching can sometimes be very productive.


So, the buyer finally got her money back. The overburdened seller, unable to keep up with her sudden fame and popularity, is still open and selling - but what about all her other buyers that I bet are still left without their purchases?

The another big question is: Why is this seller with over 30 negs still open when Etsy has closed shops with a SINGLE bad feedback? Sometimes for a fraudulent one! Sometimes no bad feedback at all! Why Etsy, why? When are you going to adopt a clear policy on what gets a shop shut down? What about ones that your feature made too big of a success?

33 Comments:

ummmmno said...

First let me say yay to the buyer who got her money back...too bad it had to be such a struggle.

I enjoy the idea of a featured seller...but I think I know who this seller is without even having bought from them, because I made a comment at the time she was featured that if she is already posting that purchases would take up to 4 weeks to deliver, and they were NOT specialty items...why in the heck was she a featured seller?

Etsy needs to make sure a person can handle being featured...and if it appears they are being overwhelmed, or it will take an alarming 4 weeks to get one little non specialized item...pull them.

And what is a person who has negative feedback doing being featured? Oh I could go on and on...but I'm sure others would like to comment as well...

Crocheted Little Things said...

I remember this featured seller and I was very surprised that she was even featured. I wish this selection would be more carefully made like everything else on the site.

romagypsy said...

They probably should have about to be featured sellers sign some sort of agreement. That they understand the responsibilities of being a f.s., they understand their work load may get overwhelming, give them time to hire help as needed... and there will be consequences for f.sellers who end up doing business like this individual. I bet a lot of f.sellers who honestly can't deal with it would at least think twice before agreeing to it.

I Hate This Anymore said...

so.....in order to get an actual response the only avenue is to contact the CEO? Can I contact him about the page long negative feedback in my shop left by a NON paying buyer?

Will Wait to See said...

Crocheted Little Things said...
"........I wish this selection (featured seller) would be more carefully made like everything else on the site."

I can't help but wonder what you are referencing ie..'more carefully made like everything else on the site.'

Etsy has shown by repeatedly putting resellers, non vintage items, and other faux pas on the front page that "carefully made" choices are not the norm. So I am bewildered as to what you think is so carefully planned? Other than the repeating of the same sellers and items that are featured I can't think of a thing that shows careful preparation on the part of Etsy admins.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I really don't think so. I'm not attempting to be snarky here, just baffled as to why anyone would feel that way about Etsy.

I'm happy for the buyer who had her problem resolved, but the question is still, why did it take a public calling out to get this done?

I certainly hope that the additional personnel will eliminate the need for third party intervention in cases of blatant misbehavior on the part of sellers, and buyers alike, but as always, I will take a wait and see attitude.

Andrea said...

My question is, where did the money come from? Did etsy pressure the seller to refund, or did etsy refund themselves? What are they planning on doing for all of the other people who haven't gotten the same publicity?

millions of peaches said...

This was not the seller's first account...and isn't her last. She's opened another shop selling the same items with a similarly fruity name. She has been actively selling on this account for a month even while claiming to be too burdened to be able to complete orders from mid-december on the older, and now closed, account. In little more than a month, her new id has over 100 sales. Etsy needs to block all accounts from the ip address of sellers who behave like this. Her long string of negatives began well before she was a featured artist; it had nothing to do with her getting overworked.

scribbler said...

I believe the seller in question happened to be featured in a national publication at about the same time as the feature on Etsy and was completely blindsided and overwhelmed. The problem seems to stem from her lack of communication with buyers to keep them informed. Customers would be far more forgiving of delays if they are kept in the loop, not totally ignored once she has their money.

Lost said...

Good heavens. I'm glad that the buyer got her $$ back and I'm appalled to hear that this seller who didn't even bother to contact her customers has now has opened another shop without fulfilling prior orders.

I understand about becoming overwhelmed - I sometimes fall behind in fulfilling my supply orders. Sometimes my inventory count is off, sometimes my kids get sick, sometimes I get sick, sometimes I just plain screw up but I ALWAYS let my customers know what is going on and if they have to wait more than a few extra days, I do my best to make it up to them.

Sellers who don't fulfill orders from customers responsibly need some "encouragement" from Etsy. Slamming the doors on a shop might be a bit harsh for some situations but I can imagine a whole universe of possibilities - like no new listings or re-listing of old items (and certainly no opening a new shop) until all reasonable complaints are dealt with to the customers' satisfaction. In fact, that sort of strategy might give sellers more incentive to fix those problems than just shutting them down does. Obviously a closed shop is something an overwhelmed seller would just want to walk away from.

FantasyClay said...

Glad to here the buyer got her money back but the real question is why did she need to contact the CEO to get this done? Shouldn't this be taken care of immediately? I know when I had the same issue, it took over 3 emails to even get more than a bot response.

comeon said...

The doubling of the support staff was initiated by Maria, not Rob. Read back.

Gee, I'm so impressed that customer support was willing to call the letter writer. But, what about the folks that come to the forum and write to support on a daily basis?

Who helps the person who doesn't have connections.

What this incident really shows is that Rob has no follow through. If he did, the seller's shop would be closed. And the same people would not be on the front page 5 times a day.

The Stinky One said...

So what? I mean it, so damn what? It doesn't change a damn thing and only serves to make me even more convinced that it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

I'm glad this gal got her money back, but what about all the others involved with this seller? what about the other hundreds (thousands?) of people this has happened to with sellers that haven't been featured?

Well, since dealing directly with the CEO seems to get things taken care of, maybe we just ought to bypass the 'customer service' department and contact him directly. It seems to work.

And as for this seller creating a new shop so she can start with a clean slate (no bad feedback), this is nothing new. As a matter of fact, I just ran across an old seller who did the exact same thing. Out of the blue I wondered whatever happened to her, so I searched for her shop on Etsy. Found it, empty but the 90 some odd negative feedback were in full view, and in the announcement there was a link to her blog.

Went to her blog, saw a 'buy' link and clicked on it, and lo and behold, it led to another Etsy shop! Completely different name, neither account is linked to each other but she has the perfect setup. Anyone who knew her by her old name and could look past her neg. feedback can find her again through her link to her blog. Anyone finding her on Etsy won't know of her connection to the old account (thus her poor customer service reflected in the neg feedback). Hot setup and Etsy looks the other way.

No kudos to Etsy from me. Chipping off the tip of the iceberg doesn't really do anything for the ship heading straight for it.

sigh... said...

They should not, under any circumstances, be making people featured sellers if they make made to order items. This is utterly utterly ridiculous. There are thousands and thousands of sellers to choose from who will fulfill their obligations honorably.

Jamy Hillis said...

You know what? You won't "fall behind" if you only list items that you actually have available and ready for sale.

I know that if I got that kind of enormous response, my shop might sell out until it was empty, but at least everyone would get their items within 4 days (per Etsy's TOU) because it's already made and ready to go (except for my custom order charm bracelets and I sure as hell wouldn't keep relisting that if I was up to my eyeballs in orders).

This isn't rocket science you know.

Sheesh.

Crocheted Little Things said...

@Will wait and see
sorry english is not my first language.
I was just trying to say that I wish they'd pay more attention to who they're featuring like a featured seller AND other parts of the site

Hope this is more clear ;)

Will Wait and See said...

Crocheted Little Things...Thanks for clarifying your statement. Now I understand perfectly what you were trying to say.

Sorry if I sounded feisty...didn't mean to be.

Morgan said...

EB performs a great service by using a specific situation to encapsulate the problems on Etsy with customer support (for us) and due diligence when it comes to vetting anything or anyone they feature.

Those who complain about EB: people like this who stick their necks out and devote a large portion of their time to help other people need to be commended. I am not referring to that particular seller, but the larger issues at stake and what this particular situation reveals.

The Cranky One said...

Thanks morgan for getting it.

Ys, the bigger issue is that buyers with NO recourse are being abandoned without merchandise.

And admin favorite featured sellers that are breaking the rules by basically stealing buyer's money are being left open even AFTER multiple feedbacks should have shut them down long ago.

WHY wasn't this shp shut down? Why did it take US to get one problem fixed? What about these other buyers that are STILL leaving negative feedback for orders undelivered?

What do you have to do to get your store shutdown on Etsy if they feature and like you?

Crocheted Little Things said...

@Will wait and see...no problem, I read my first comment and I can see how could have been misunderstood.

And I agree with the other comments, it's a shame that the seller is been allowed to open another shop and I'm sure it's not the only case...but thanks to EB to straight things up for this one buyer, hopefully Rob Kalin will read this and think about it??? I can always hope!

The Funny One said...

According to HeyMichele's responses in the current thread on limiting FS to 8 hours per appearance, it seems that Etsy doesn't "get it" at all.

If Etsy staff are picking the FS, it's THEIR responsibility to vet the seller for tags, negative feedback, and to get off their asses and check to see if the seller can meet the demand for increased orders.

Then Etsy needs to interview the seller and have a list of requirements that seller must meet to be the FS.

How difficult is that? You make up a list, you do the due diligence, and you interview the seller about inventory and order fulfillment.

Every retailer does that. Especially when they feature a product in a special section be it in the front of a store or the front of an online site.

It's lazy and sloppy to NOT pay attention to your own promotions because it negatively affects the entire site.

And it puts sellers at risk when they can't provide the products that are featured in a very prominent front page promotion.

It's generally not the FS's fault, it's the sloppy and unprofessional way that Etsy staff fail to do what they're supposed to do.

I need an admin job said...

"How difficult is that? You make up a list, you do the due diligence, and you interview the seller about inventory and order fulfillment."

It's not difficult.

The problem is, if admin were to do that, they would have less time to tweet and write lame ass blog posts and generally fuck off at work.

RRobin said...

Speaking of felted acorns, here is a free pattern for them from Lion Brand yarns:

http://cache.lionbrand.com/cgi-bin/patternFinder.fcgi?search=Search&store=%2Fstores%2Feyarn&resultPageTemplate=ResultPage.html&resultItemTemplate=ResultItem.txt&noResultPageTemplate=NoResultPage.html&case=no&primaryServer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lionbrand.com&minPrice=0&noBoolean=1&searchText=acorn+accents&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&sT=1

OR

http://tinyurl.com/ygnmj53

Morgan said...

I can tell you from experience that they notify you several days or a week ahead, give you time to get your shop 'in order', and have you fill out their interview form.

The FS in question, and Etsy in particular, should have caught the 'custom' deal, out of due diligence and concern for OUR customers.

Julie said...

These are the same admins that everyone falls all over themselves to thank when they pop into a thread? Uh, yeah.

According to admin emilybidwell we can EXPECT to see the same people on the front page treasury every day because etsy has a secret internal policy that contradicts their public policy of promoting whole or partial lists to the front page. They can't follow their own rules... so how do we expect them to follow their own rules or use basic logic? They get thanked for acting like morons. How could they possibly know better?

Etsy staff seems to need to take a course in retail 101. They don't seem to realize that they work in retail, and that they don't actually deserve to be thanked for jack shit. Let alone going onto the forums and giving non-answers.

I can't believe the emilybidwell said it would be "overwhelming" to the suggestion that every etsy user should be able to make a treasury when they would like. Why? Because then how would their staff find the "tastemakers"?

Holy shit, how utterly shameless.

It's not a surprise that to get anything done that ought to be standard practice in retail you need 4 reach arounds. It's also completely unprofessional.

The Funny One said...

Oh "I need an admin job" is so right! Lame ass applies to a whole lotta sections on Etsy these days. Clearly, they either aren't paying attention, they don't care, they're bored out of their skulls, or they haven't learned a damn thing in 5 years.

The complete lack of any quality control from soup to nuts shows all over the site. It looks like no one's home.

foxaz said...

Is it Etsy ADHD?

Because follow-through and attention is definitely suffering.

Bummed said...

They just don't give a shit because nobody is there to tell them to.

Bad management = bad employee behavior = lower standards

Comfortable Shoes Studio said...

here is a genius idea I'll offer up to sellers for free: How about you NOT list stuff if you don't have it in stock? Seems like an easy solution. Make the stuff first, list it and sell it, then no one is left in the cold and you don't forget that someone ordered something.

Candy Sparks said...

i currently had a run in with a bad esty seller... and gave her a neutral feedback because the package was a month or so late and the items were tiny and not worth the price i paid for them... she threatened me to change my neutral feedback to positive... her threat was that she was going to leave a negative feedback on mine... and then i told her that as a seller you should have emailed me that the package was going to arrive late... and what was the negative really about? i mean she couldn't say i never paid... she also ticked off one of my other friends with not sending the package after a month and when she asked for a refund of her money the seller shipped off her items... now she is sending it back to the seller and going through pay pal and etsy to get her money back... because thats all she wanted in the first place... blah... etsy... blah

Jamy Hillis said...

Candysparks, you should have left her a negative feedback.

I finally found the seller who I think everyone has been talking about and was dismayed to read how many people, who had ordered their products, did not get their items in time for Christmas as promised. Not cool.

Worse still was the number of neutral and positive feedbacks from people who had gotten their items too late to give as gifts and dealt with really crappy or completely absent communication from these people. These should ALL have been negative feedbacks, not positives or neutrals.

Sadly, fear of vindictive responses for honest feedback is a huge issue at Etsy. It would not be that way if Etsy's customer service was more in line with what it should be. Nobody should have to fear reprisals for giving an honest rating of their experience.

I think that until Etsy does something about abusive feedback, to at least control it with some degree of efficiency, they should temporarily disable it.

OldEnough said...

That's why I stick to people I have known for years on Etsy. The new shops don't have a clue. Few of them bother to read the TOUs that they agree to and are not yet professional or experienced enough to know what they are doing.

It's business, no matter if you make money or not or work much or not. When you offer an item to a customer, you are in business and better conduct yourself that way or your reputation will kill you-- as it should.

RRobin said...

Quoting Jamy Hillis:
"Candysparks, you should have left her a negative feedback...."

**

Sadly, I must disagree.

Allow me to explain:

The feedback system is seriously flawed in that the victim who leaves honest negative feedback can be further victimized by a bad buyer or seller who leaves retaliatory feedback. And there is no objective recourse for having it removed.

To ask people to leave negative feedback, however well-deserved, under the current system is to ask them to put their own reputations seriously at risk.

I am not sure how to fix the feedback system on Etsy, but I can recognize a broken or dysfunctional system when I see one.

RRobin said...

And after all this, last night that same featured seller who can't keep up with her orders and has all that negative feedback was back on the FP again!!!

This time it was under her new shop name, but even so...

Does anyone in Etsy admin have even half a brain?