Is Etsy Safe to Buy and Sell?
Today, you can sell or buy anything through the internet – starting from worn socks (no joke!) and ending with large industrial real estate objects.
As a rule, all this is sold on trading platforms created for everything in the world. However, there are also marketplaces with a narrow focus, one of which is Etsy.
In this article, we will tell you what Etsy is and whether is Etsy safe to use or not.
Previously, we’ve written about VPN security. You can read more here.
What is Etsy?
Etsy is an American marketplace for the sale of handmade products.
The site originated in 2005, but it became famous only two years later thanks to the efforts of the creators Rob Kalin, as well as his colleagues Chris Maguire and Chaim Skoppik, who invested a lot of time and effort in their project.
It was in 2007 on Etsy.com that the millionth lot was sold. And since 2008, this platform has started to receive millions of investments from large international companies, gradually evolving from a place created by creative people for their own kind into an ordinary international online store, which it is today.
At the moment, about 820,000 “shops” are registered on Etsy, offering millions of goods in such categories as:
- Handicrafts, as well as everything related to them: tools, materials, patterns, and so on.
- Artistic products, such as professional and amateur photographs, paintings, etc.
- Jewelry (both precious and the simplest kinds).
- Cosmetics (soap, creams, shampoos, etc.).
- Clothing and food.
- Household items, as well as a wide variety of home decorations.
The popularity of Etsy
The main buyers on Etsy are Americans, Europeans, and Canadians. The audience is active and solvent. To roughly estimate the scale of the trading platform, just look at the statistics for 2019:
- 60 million products are sold on Etsy.
- 2.1 million sellers work here, while 90% of the stores are a business run by one person.
- 1.3 billion actions are performed on the site per day (clicks, favorites, purchases, etc.).
- The number of active buyers on Etsy increases by an average of 18% every year. In 2019, the audience of the platform was about 40 million active users.
- Over 100 million people visit Etsy every month.
Obviously, Etsy is a powerful trading platform. Handmade products, vintage items, creative materials, and digital goods (paintings, workshops, etc.) are successfully sold here.
The success of the platform is explained by the peculiarity of the goods that are sold on it. Each lot on Etsy is a unique thing that has its own history and the work of the craftsman is visible. Not a stamped product, but a product made by hand. Many buyers are attracted by the originality and uniqueness of the goods. That’s why people are increasingly choosing Etsy.
To sell the products, the craftsman needs to come up with something original and unusual. Such a product may not be found immediately. Someone may catch the interest of buyers on the first attempt, but most will have to try and try again. There are no ideal formulas for success here. However, before registering as a seller on Etsy, you should carefully study the trends and understand what is in the greatest demand.
Is Etsy safe?
Despite all the advantages of this site, it also has obvious disadvantages, namely frequent fraud. Yes, that’s right – unfortunately, Etsy is full of scammers who simply disappear after the buyer pays for the goods. If the buyer wants to recover the money for the non-received goods, they can write to tech support and provide proof of payment and the seller’s disappearance. In such a case, Etsy will refund the money. But it will take a lot of time and probably wipe out all the good experiences of previous purchases on the site.
For some reason, Etsy does nothing to rid the site of scammers and protect users. After all, in addition to money, fraudsters also receive the personal data of the buyer. And this information is confidential.
In addition, Etsy is full of unscrupulous buyers, whose rights are well protected because without them Etsy would have no profit. On the one hand, protection is good; but on the other hand, unscrupulous buyers can abuse this protection for their own benefit.
For example, someone may buy a product, receive it, and after some time (up to several months), request a refund through a bank or PayPal. This is the so-called “chargeback” – a refund to the buyer’s credit card after they report an incorrect or unwanted transaction.
You can read more about PayPal security here.
In such cases, the bank informs TSN about the refund of the payment, while (not necessarily) requesting additional information, for example, transaction details, and confirmation of shipment/delivery of the goods. In such cases, Etsy is obliged to respond to the request as soon as possible.
For what reason can the buyer request a refund?
1. 1. Fraud – the buyer did not make the payment or did not allow the payment to be made (the credit card number was used without permission).
2. 2. The product was not received – the buyer paid for the product, but did not receive it.
3. 3. The product does not match the description – the package has been delivered, but the product is not as described on Etsy (or not as the buyer thought.)
4. 4. Return of goods – the goods are paid for and received, but the buyer is not satisfied with the purchase for various reasons (including damaged parcels.)
5. 5. Not satisfied with the purchase – it turns out that for this simple reason, the buyer can request a refund.
It should also be taken into account that sometimes the buyer and the one who pays for the goods are two different people. All requests for refunds are investigated in detail by Etsy. If they need any additional information, they will contact you and give you 5 days to respond. If there are enough facts, they will make a decision without contacting the seller. If a refund is still necessary, Etsy will ask you to do it yourself, while reserving the right to do it on your behalf.
The main signs of fraud
The scammer’s goal is to get the product for free. Achieving this goal may involve an initial payment by the buyer, but eventually an attempt will be made to force the seller to return the money by any means (to mislead, blackmail with a bad review, use payment system protection mechanisms provided to buyers, etc.) Here is an incomplete list of signs that indicate potential fraudsters:
- 1. You are offered something in place of paying for your product. For example, a review of your product on the buyer’s blog or his page on a social network. You will be sent a link to a blog that will have a considerable number of readers, and everything will look quite real. For new stores, it is very tempting, because this can be a good start to attract an audience.
- 2. You are asked to send the product to another address. Any address that differs from the buyer’s address on Etsy (and PayPal profile in the case of payment through this payment system) is a sign of fraud. Quite often, scammers come up with stories of why they cannot receive an order at the specified address or ask you to send it to a postal intermediary.
- 3. Contact via email. Use only the Etsy message system to communicate with your customers.
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- 4. The buyer requests a non-standard payment method. Any mention of Western Union, MoneyGram, or other non-standard payment methods should alert you. If possible, connect Direct Checkout. If you use PayPal, make sure that the buyer’s address matches in the order and the PayPal receipt.
- 5. The buyer asks many questions about the condition of the goods. Although this is not necessarily a feature of scammers, you need to be careful with such buyers. Often, before the purchase (and sometimes after), the buyer sends you a lot of strange questions, requests for minor changes, etc. There is a high probability that such a person will be a problem buyer who will eventually ask for either a full or partial refund because you have not “satisfied” them enough. They can also threaten you with bad reviews, asking for up to a full refund without returning the goods.
Be careful and never go along with blackmailers. If such a situation happens, immediately contact the Etsy administrators with a complaint about the buyer.
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