Currently all my retail Tinysaur stuff is sold through Etsy.com. But lately I’ve been checking out some new venues, as Etsy’s toolset falls a little short for the volume of sales I do, and I feel like they’ve neglected the grassroots marketing aspect of the site. So I set out in search of someone who is doing the whole handmade market thing … better.
I regret to report that my first interaction with one of the alternative online markets has been somewhat unpleasant. I’ll refrain from naming them because I don’t want to make a bad situation worse, or call them out publicly, but I’ve got to vent.
I recieved an inter-site message from another member. It was a request for samples, to be sent to an unnamed list of people in New York. There was no explanation of who the person was, what organization they were with, etc. And they were asking for $400 worth of merchandise… free. In short, it sounded like a total scam. And I hardly have the time or resources to send that much merch off into a black hole. I declined, but offered wholesale pricing on the items. In the end they decided to purchase a smaller number at retail.
Edit: Turns out they needed me to ship before payment. It boggles my mind a bit that any vendor would be down with that. We ended up cancelling the order.
In a subsequent message I was informed that I was breaking a rule by offering kits on the site, as only finished goods are allowed. I’m sure this is an effort to get around the supplies situation that has overrun Etsy in some ways, but my kits aren’t a craft supply, they’re a finished good you assemble yourself.
Regardless, I’d like to comply with all of a site’s rules, so I pulled up the Terms of Service and read through the various associated documents. Nothing. I search all of the email messages I received during sign up. Nothing.
After a few back and forth messages with the user (who may be a site admin, given her pronoun usage, but I can’t find any mention of that anywhere on her profile, etc) it turns out that the “strictly enforced” rule can be found in a forum post. And is not, as far as I can tell, referenced anywhere in the Terms of Service or Merchant Rules.
It was a frustrating first interaction with the site; to be solicited for free stuff and then scolded (granted rather lightly) for not following rules you can’t find.
So now I’m sort of on the fence. On the one hand I really like some of the community based tools the site offers, and it’s not a hideously obvious Etsy clone like some sites, but the whole interaction left a bad taste in my mouth.