Is this etsy seller scamming me? How? What do I do?
December 23, 2019 8:43 AM   Subscribe

I ordered to hoodies on etsy on December 2. They were supposed to ship in 1-3 days and arrive by the 17th. Much drama as seller as trouble printing. Shipping label created December 9. As of today STILL not with USPS despite supposedly shipping several days ago. Tracking shows it on a slow-motion tour of New Jersey. I'm wondering if this is all delay so the time to file a complaint runs out and I never get to file a complaint or poor review. Is that possible/likely? What should I do? Full timeline inside.

Here's the timeline:

December 2:
I order. Should ship in 1-3 days and arrive by the 17th.
December 8: Still not shipped. I send a message to the seller asking why it hasn't shipped.
December 9: I get a message from with subject line that the item has shipped, though it's only the creation of a shipping label.
December 9: I get a message from the seller saying it will ship the next day.
December 14: I send a message to the seller pointing out that the shipping label has been created but it still hasn't shipped. No reply.
December 18: I send another message pointing out that the item still has not shipped, that it now virtually impossible that it will arrive in time unless shipping is upgraded. I ask for an explanation for the delay and what they intend to do to address it.
December 18: He apologizes and attaches a picture of the hoodie. The printing looks terrible. It's streaked with black like maybe the printer rollers are dirty and smearing or something. He apologizes and says he doesn't know why it keeps coming out that way. He says they've done it 3 times and it always looks like that. He says they're doing a fourth time that day.
December 18: I reply and say ok, can you please upgrade the shipping as someone will be be left with no gift if it doesn't arrive by the 24th and shipping to Canada is unpredictable.
December 18: He assures me he will upgrade the shipping.
December 19: I message again and say I'm nervous that I've heard nothing and has it shipped.
December 19: He says it shipped the day before and looks much better and printed fine.
December 19: I ask about shipping/tracking info.
December 20: He writes with the tracking info that is the SAME tracking number i received on December 9th. Tracking the package shows it is still just a shipping label and has not actually shipped.
December 20: I write back and say I am disappointed because he offered to upgrade shipping. And since he STILL hasn't taken the package to the post office, could he please upgrade the shipping and send. No reply since.

So tracking the package there's nothing beyond the shipping label until December 20th in the evening.

Then it shows this:

December 20, 2019, 8:27 pm
Arrived Shipping Partner Facility, USPS Awaiting Item
Shipping Partner: RR DONNELLEY

Every since then, it's been a series of messages like this. Going from town to town in New Jersey with this shipping partner and never even being handed over to USPS. Here is the most recent.

December 22, 2019, 5:45 am
Arrived Shipping Partner Facility, USPS Awaiting Item
Shipping Partner: RR DONNELLEY
Your item arrived at a shipping partner facility at 5:45 am on December 22, 2019 in EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ 07073. This does not indicate receipt by the USPS or the actual mailing date.

Obviously it's not arriving by the 24th, but now I"m wondering if it's arriving at all and if this isn't just stall tactics. Obviously the creation of the shipping label on December 9 WAS just a stall tactic. Presumably they panicked when they couldn't get the transfers to print properly. But now I'm worried that they're just killing time until my window to complain runs out.

Should I file a complaint now that the items have not arrived? Should I contact etsy? Do something else?
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Yeah ask for a refund and make a complaint. Thats not acceptable.
posted by fshgrl at 8:53 AM on December 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

Probably not a scam, just incompetence. Nevertheless, you're well within your rights to ask for a refund.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:00 AM on December 23, 2019 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: If I request a refund what happens if/when they actually come? Do you think they will come eventually? I do want them, even if I have to wait. Will requesting a refund somehow reroute the package (do you think it exists?) back to the seller?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:13 AM on December 23, 2019

i'm guessing he printed the shipping label when he did the first shirt, then saw it was shit and just held on to the shipping label until there was a good product to send. i have done similar.

i don't think this is a scam, just a poor communicator who should get a lower rating for that.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:32 AM on December 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

Refund and complaint. Whether it's a scam or just "oops it's not working, dammit it's still not working," they haven't been honest with you, and your holiday has been affected by that. Other customers should know: don't trust this person to provide what they offer.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:39 AM on December 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nthing requesting a refund. The shirts have already been shipped, so I highly doubt they'll be routed back to the seller. You might receive them. If you do, it's up to you what to do about that, but regardless, I would ask for refund and assume you won't be receiving the items you bought.
posted by purple_bird at 10:47 AM on December 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had nearly the same thing happen on Etsy with a seller (ordering fancy body scrub) last week. Shipping label was printed (and only showed that way on the USPS website) but I doubt the product was ever actually shipped. Lax communication on the seller's part was frustrating and ended up cancelling the order since it wasn't going to get here for Xmas, which was my whole reason for ordering.

I chalk it up to incompetence vs. a true scam.

I left a one-star review stating the facts and won't order from them again.
posted by Twicketface at 12:11 PM on December 23, 2019

I assume the rules on chargebacks are the same in Canada as the U.S., but when I demanded my refund, I would make it clear that on Day 28 I’m running a chargeback if I haven’t gotten a refund already. And that doesn’t mean “you answer me by Day 28,” it means my credit card company confirms the charge was reversed. If they want it back, they need to send a prepaid shipping label.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:33 PM on December 23, 2019

Response by poster: Ok, I "opened a case" with etsy. They had a drop-down where I had to choose either a refund or that I still want the item. I chose that I still want it, and figure having opened the case will make it possible to get a refund if it turns out the item isn't coming.

I just tracked it this morning, and it is now in it's SIXTH town in New Jersey and still not in the custody of USPS. I kind of wonder how many post offices my package has driven by and how this supposed shipping partner makes money just driving packages around for days instead of taking them straight to the nearest post office.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:34 AM on December 24, 2019

how this supposed shipping partner makes money just driving packages around for days

Obviously not.
But you can make money having a web business that does nothing but send emails claiming a package is moving between shipping centers.

What's the name of the shipping partner company? Do they have a website? If you google their name + the word "scam," what results do you get?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:24 PM on December 24, 2019

Having shipped items from usa to canada, my best guess is that the first label they printed was for a domestic only service so they stalled a while trying to change that with when they should have just printed a new label for service to canada and requested a refund for the original unused label. Since the tracking is randomly circlng new jersey i think either its messed up just because system things got fucky when the service type associated with the tracking was changed from domestic to canada or they didnt change the service so its in some purgatory waiting for extra postage or instruction or something. Id request a refund. I think theres a chance of receipt, it will either spit out of purgatory to you, back to the seller for insufficient postage, or go to the postal heavens of damages/ things that labels fell off of/ whatever.

If i remember correctly, my packages out of phila would all go somewhere in north jersey then fall off the radar until showing up in canada, i assumed because they ended up in some air freight carrier out of ewr airport. This was shipping with the usps service to canada.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:39 PM on January 3, 2020

Response by poster: So etsy gave me a refund when the seller didn't respond to the "case." Then the hoodies arrived. They look terrible. Like he just couldn't fix it and sent the dirty-printer black-stripe-smeared ones.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:14 AM on January 4, 2020

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