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Etsy anecdote from someone generally outside of their main market:

I have ordered something off of Etsy 3 times. 2 of those times, there was a minor "customer service" level issue. Once, I accidentally put in the wrong zip code and, after the package was returned to the seller, I was refused any refund (it was "my fault" -- too bad). Another time, I was shipped the wrong item and the back-and-forth between the seller to replace the item ended up taking more time than I was willing to spend on said $15 item and I gave up.

In the first case, I did reach out to Etsy, and was told to resolve the issue with the seller. After much back-and-forth, with the seller insisting it was my fault for typoing the zip code and there was nothing they could do short of re-ordering (and re-paying) entirely, I ended up convincing them to let me directly Paypal them shipping costs for the second attempt at shipping, which went fine.

This process took entirely too much time (especially when one thinks of experiences with Amazon -- where they resend stuff in orders-gone-awry right away, without any question, or significant delay).

My main impression of Etsy is: there are some cool items in its unique/niche marketplace and I would like to buy stuff off of Etsy more often in general, but the site is largely irrelevant to me as a "place to shop" because of the lack of an empowered Etsy customer service level between the buyer and seller -- protecting and advocating for both parties. Of course, not all sellers are at fault here, and I'm sure many Etsy sellers (probably the majority?) facilitate minor order issues brilliantly. This is just my personal experience.

I would feel a lot better about Etsy if I knew I had someone with the power (at Etsy) to help when something unexpectedly went wrong with an order, regardless of where the fault lies. I kind of felt like it was a cop-out by Etsy to place all customer service expectations on the buyer and seller directly.

Anyway, I like the concept of Etsy a lot (I helped my 67 year old mother open an account to sell her embroidery!), but I can't spend 10+ emails worth of time over 2 weeks trying to fix minor order issues, which, in my personal anecdotal experience, has been the case exactly 66.6% of the time.

If Etsy promoted a strong customer-positive service vibe -- as the empowered middle-person between the seller/maker and buyer -- I'd feel a lot better about trying again to buy stuff via it.

And this isn't an entirely buyer-sided argument. I would hope that Etsy sees customer service as a boon to both seller and buyer, and would make life easy on the seller as well as the buyer when these small "consumer snafus" show up. For example, not wasting the sellers time, or charging them fees, or being stingy about refunding fees, when minor things like this happen. It seems self-evident that a protected seller -- one who doesn't have to worry about Etsy putting them through the ringer over a minor order mistake -- would make a happier seller. Which seems like it would naturally trickle down to happier buyers as well.




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