Etsy stores drop shipping non-handmade goods. Worth reporting?
November 3, 2021 8:24 AM   Subscribe

So I recently brought a wall mounted plant holder from Etsy that was listed as handmade. It came drop shipped from Amazon, and surprise, wasn’t handmade. And I paid about 50% more for the item then if I’d brought from Amazon. Is it worth reporting or is the practice so widespread now it should just be expected, and I should just move along?

I normally try and buy things from small businesses and that are handmade on sites like Etsy where it makes sense, and not just use Amazon all the time. If Etsy just becomes a fancy front end for Amazon then that would suck IMHO. To be clear I’m not worked up too much by this (though just enough to bother writing this ask-me I guess). Should I even report it to Etsy - or is this just a small business using arbitrage to make a few bucks and everyone does it at this stage so just move along? Does Etsy actual take action to keep its platform for “handmade” items actually, you know, handmade or has that long gone…..

By the way I am distinctly not asking for a refund or any other compensation - I overpaid by maybe $30 - which is annoying - but it is not something I’m going to waste time over. If I’d been concerned about price I would have shopped around…..I just thought small
business and handmade and just impulse bought it - so that’s on me.
posted by inflatablekiwi to Shopping (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
There was an article about this same topic making the rounds online yesterday. I didn't read it but that probably means it's well known by Etsy.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:27 AM on November 3, 2021 [2 favorites]


I would report it to Etsy. It’s a well known issue but also if they are just drop shipping that’s obnoxious but if they are pretending to be handmade that’s a different issue
posted by raccoon409 at 8:29 AM on November 3, 2021 [19 favorites]


I have reported things on Etsy that are literally identical to cheap shit I bought on Wish and Etsy doesn't appear to care. The fact that you actually *bought* it might make a difference in your report, though, since you can want to return it as not as described.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:34 AM on November 3, 2021 [20 favorites]


Best answer: I'd report it to Etsy, and ask for a refund. I'm a small-time Etsy seller myself (vintage, not handmade) and I think it's important for Etsy to 1) know that this kind of thing actually matters to their customers (or, I guess, their customers' customers, if you think of the vendors as Etsy's customers) and 2) for Etsy to not profit off this kind of nonsense (if you get a refund, Etsy doesn't get a cut of the transaction). But if you feel like that's not worth it to you, I get it.
posted by mskyle at 8:39 AM on November 3, 2021 [44 favorites]


Best answer: Absolutely. Deceptive practice / fraud.
posted by kschang at 8:42 AM on November 3, 2021 [21 favorites]


I used to work for a European Etsy equivalent, and this kind of thing is incredibly common. Back in 2009, our platform, which was eventually purchased by Etsy, was overrun by mass-produced items posing as handmade. We understood the problem all too well, but we simply did not have the manpower to investigate every report as we were flooded with them. As soon as one fake shop was shut down, another sprang up to replace it.

"Investigating" was also a complex issue: we would ask sellers for proof their items were handmade, for example by sending us pictures of their workspace, asking if they had any people working with them etc. Often times it would end up as a muddy debate on what actually counts as "handmade" and what veers into "mass produced". If five people work together to create a small sewing production line, is that "handmade" or not? There was a lot of grey area, and many ways for mass-producers to conceal the scale of their operation.
posted by guessthis at 9:00 AM on November 3, 2021 [4 favorites]


I had the exact same problem and reported it. Etsy didn't even bother to reply.
posted by phil at 9:00 AM on November 3, 2021 [2 favorites]


I would request a refund for the item not as described and report it. But then again I used to sell on Etsy until issues like this and others basically destroyed the platform for regular sellers. (And unsurprisingly Etsy looked the other way on this stuff when they went public.) So I feel a certain frustration for this both as a customer and a former seller.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:05 AM on November 3, 2021 [6 favorites]


I understand getting in something from China or wherever, customizing a little, and claim it's handmade. That's fudging, but it's at least partially handmade.

But dropshipping something from Amazon and claiming it's "hand-made"? Unless the AMAZON description also says it's hand-made I call bull****.
posted by kschang at 9:17 AM on November 3, 2021 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Thanks all. I reported it to Etsy with the details (my transaction ID, URL to the Etsy store, URL to the Amazon product etc). Also I did a Tineye.com search for the product using the Etsy images on the sellers store, and found it on Overstock.com and a bunch of other random stores. So yeah.....guess that's what I have to do now to validate its handmade......I'll report back out of interest if Etsy respond....

And to confirm it is not customized in anyway (its a fairly plain white plant holder). I could probably have guessed it wasn't handmade if I thought about it more....though I'm actually happy enough with the product in terms of its use. But just don't call it handmade if it's a mass produced product that you are simply reselling at a large markup!
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:18 AM on November 3, 2021 [6 favorites]


I report this when I have the energy; it's widespread and makes Etsy basically unusable for the stuff I want. The common sentiment around the Etsy forums is that the powers that be won't do anything about it because the dropshippers are profitable for them.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:53 AM on November 4, 2021


Etsy hasn’t cared about this stuff since around 2007/2008. A lot of early adopters left in protest, but it didn’t seem to affect Etsy at all.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:24 AM on November 4, 2021 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Does anyone know if you report a store (using the "Report this shop to Etsy" link at the bottom left of the Store Frontpage) you get a notification that the report was received? I guess I was expecting at least an automated email back from Esty to say the report was under review etc - but nothing I can see....

Was almost thinking of sending in a snarky five star review like "Great shop! Only twice the price of Amazon and because its drop shipped from Amazon it arrived super fast!"...but I don't want to get banned....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2021


Just because it was shipped from Amazon doesn't mean it wasn't handmade. Amazon has fulfillment services for small businesses who don't want to deal with the hassle of storing inventory, shipping, etc. They also have an Amazon Handmade division now for people to sell crafts through Amazon.

It sounds like you have multiple reasons to believe that it was mass produced, but I just wanted to point out that Amazon fulfilling the order isn't enough to go on.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2021 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: True - but then on the other hand I just found the same item in stock at Bed Bath & Beyond which isn’t a great sign of handmade ;-)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:14 AM on November 7, 2021


Response by poster: Just as a follow up - after reporting to Etsy I never heard anything back (it’s been several weeks), and the seller is still listing the product. So I mean I guess they really don’t figure it’s an issue.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:06 PM on November 27, 2021


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