A closed shop, British Railways steam train station. Click photo to view detail.
It's over. By the time you read this, I've already gone. I've closed my Etsy shop. And you have lost your way.
One late August night - without any warning - you ripped out the heart of your feedback system. In one fell swoop, you alienated thousands of sellers and buyers alike with arbitrary and ill-considered changes. You wiped out all the years and years of thoughtful exchanges between buyer and seller; the digital trail of transactions made and relationships formed.
Not only did you remove all feedback from transactions (prior to a year ago), you eliminated sellers' rights to leave feedback for buyers. And you've created a "review" system so illogical, it actively discourages buyers from leaving feedback.
You've replaced feedback choices of "positive, neutral or negative" with five "industry standard" stars (that in their bright yellow hue, echo a dark period in history). You've asked buyers to rate the number of stars that best reflect their shopping experience. You've also prompted them to write "at least five words" about each purchase. In a really odd move, you've made buyers' names public, providing contact information for potential spammers or advertisers!
Privacy issues aside, buyers can't "review" the item the day the parcel arrives - that would be too easy! Instead, you've forced buyers to mark their calendars for up to three weeks later - a date apparently based on a random shipping estimate - to return to Etsy and leave feedback. Meanwhile, you plan to email/spam buyers with helpful "reminders" to leave a "review." Are you deliberately trying to annoy your customers, Etsy??!!
And by eliminating the buyers' feedback history, sellers have no way of knowing whether to expect a routine transaction or trouble from a customer trying to game the system.
Thousands of bewildered buyers and shell-shocked sellers have expressed valid concerns about these changes in Etsy forums - more than 12,500 in one thread alone. After all, a company making such dramatic changes without bothering to provide customers with advance notice surely is unprecedented in modern corporate behaviour. Sellers and buyers alike have been left scrambling to figure out the new system, in lieu of direction.
Etsy dismissively has muted its sellers; closing numerous threads and censoring comments. Occasionally, an "admin" has responded with patronising platitudes or vague allusions to "improvements" in a month or two. But for the most part, sellers have been silenced and left in the dark. Alas, you seem to have forgotten that without sellers, you'd be out of business.
Of course Etsy admins had a handful of one-hour phone calls with a privileged few (who then declined to reveal what was said, although they'd vigorously complained in the forums). But I never knew until Etsy blew up with furious sellers that you don't even maintain a customer service phone number! It's no wonder your customer service is so abysmal.
Etsy once prided itself on creating a unique marketplace for independent artists and artisans and vintage sellers. But with success, it seems you've abandoned your roots. And many, many sellers are choosing to take their business elsewhere.
Your reverence for handmade and vintage appears to have dimmed. Apparently, your head's been turned by hot-off-the-assembly-line shiny new items from China. After all, there's more money to be made in mass production of cheap goods of dubious distinction. How else can one explain why Etsy - widely applauded as the place for all things handmade - now openly promotes factory-produced knock-offs from China on the front page? A quick scroll through Etsy pages reveals thousands of such resellers.
A small Cambridge-based company has been producing beautiful leather book satchels for generations. On Etsy, a company in Singapore or China is touting virtually identical, brand-new copies in every colour, proclaiming them "vintage." The only thing "vintage" about those satchels is their copyrighted design. And Etsy - in its headlong race to mediocrity, as increasingly it emulates the behemoth eBay - lets these rogue companies violate community standards.
It would appear Etsy is in danger of becoming yet another corporation that has forgotten its founding ethos in favour of profit. You've undermined all that's unique and special about your original business model by adopting so-called "industry standard" practices that elevate profit over the individual. It's no surprise two founders left the company.
Even if you reversed course vis-a-vis your recent "improvements," it would be too little, too late. The trust has been eroded. Sadly, I don't see how such a customer/public relations disaster can end well for you, Etsy.
Parisparfait (closed shop with 100 percent positive feedback)