Posted by: Lisa | January 17, 2008

An Interesting Dilemma

So here’s an interesting dilemma. I went on Etsy to do a search for something. I knew what I had in mind and went through pages and pages of items. I finally come across a listing that presented an item of what I had in mind. I get excited. I look some more to make sure I didn’t find anything similar, did the comparisons with some contenders. Then I commit myself and bought two. I am happy.

Until it arrives at my door, that is. As soon as I open it, I see the “Made in China” sticker. I look again to see if there might be some mistake, that perhaps the seller recycled the plastic baggy my item came in. No dice. Both items in clear identical plastic. Both with the sticker.

Now, at this point, I think, did I make a mistake? Perhaps I unintentionally bought supplies, I reasoned with myself. So I jumped back onto the computer to revisit the shop. And there, freshly re-listed, was the item I had purchased, with no supplies tag. Just to be sure, I check my purchase receipt. Nope. I was disappointed.

While I felt slighted by the fact that it wasn’t handmade, I actually do like the items itself. It was well made for what I purchased it for. I did like the item. But the thing that stuck out was the fact that I did an extensive search through the listings to make sure that I purchased a handmade product. It was a sort of expectation, a criteria I was looking at, when comparing between that and about two other shops.

I thought about the feedback I was going to give. Do I give that shop a negative for not adding the correct tags? Do I give a neutral to balance out the fact that I liked the product, but didn’t like the (hopefully) unintentional deception? I checked out the shop’s other feedback. And that’s when I realize, this shop is new, with a total of 1 feedback. So that makes it a bit more complicated. If I give her anything other than a positive feedback, her positive rating would drop down to 50% automatically. As a fairly seasoned seller with over 200 sales, I’ve only gotten a few neutrals, even though some of the neutrals can be attributed to the post office or the buyer’s own ignorance. Still, it stung. How would someone with a brand new shop (barely a month old) deal with that impact? Should I chalk it up to my own ignorance for just assuming it would be handmade? Should I even care about this?

Right now, I don’t know, and am sort of just waiting to decide if I want to leave any feedback at all. What would you do in this situation?


I did do as some suggested and took pics and sent it along with the receipt where it was clearly labeled handmade. I’ve also contacted the seller and asked her for the return policy. The gist of the convos:

Me: Hi, I just received my order, but I am not happy with it. What is your return policy? It’s still in the original package. Thanks.

(Ten minutes later) Seller: Hi, I have sold hundreds of these and you are the first to say you are unhappy with this. Please let me know why you are unhappy with this item and we will take it from there.

(My immediate reply): I thought it was handmade. The plastic bag it comes in says Made in China. What is your return policy?

I am currently still waiting for her response…

Another interesting thing to note is that, while looking at the photo, I realized that there was something in the photo that bothered me. It was this little camera icon on the bottom right corner. That’s when I realized, it was that little photo that happens to be in every eBay photo.

Of course, I did some digging, and BAM! Her listing is right there. Along with her return policy:

If for some reason you are not satisfied with a product, please email us and
we will do our best to resolve any issues immediately.  A store credit will be
given or replacement of item. The buyer making a return shall pay for all return
shipping costs. Due to hygienic reasons, all bath and body products such as soaps,
body scrubs, and bath salts need to be returned unopened.  We are not responsible
for lost or damaged items if you do not purchase shipping insurance.  Thank you.
This of course, is not on her Etsy profile. But I'm still awaiting a response, so we'll see. By the way, she has 68 of them for sale on eBay.

This of course, is not on her Etsy profile. But I’m still awaiting a response, so we’ll see. By the way, she has 68 of them for sale on eBay.

Update #2

Her response:

Hi Lisa: Thanks for your patience as I got back with you. It was a busy shipping day. These are handmade in China and we do have in our other store 2 others that are handcrafted right here in the U.S. by an older retired gentleman for our company if you want to take a look at those? We can give you a full credit towards anything else in any of our online stores or we can credit you back the merchandise amount to your Paypal account if you would like to return them? I see you must have flagged this **** in our store also and I need to check out Etsy’s policy on this. I had no idea Etsy only allowed for a person to sell an item that was personally handmade by them. We handcraft everything but our **** and our ***** which is made in Africa. We are new on Etsy and looks like we need to read up on what we are allowed to list? Ok, let us know what you would like to do. Thanks, H

By “other store” does she mean eBay (because she has a store there under the same name)? And by “2 others that are handcrafted right here in the U.S. by an older retired gentleman for our company” does she means the 2 other styles she sells in her eBay store, (which looks exactly like the ones that I got)?

Sorry to say, I smell BS.

My reply: I’m returning the items for a full refund please. Thanks. The credit I’ll expect to see once you receive the returned items should amount to $*** which accounts for shipping as well. Because you have advertised this item as a handmade item from your shop I purchased it under false pretenses, only to realize it was in fact mass produced. I don’t intend to pay for being mislead, so therefore I am requesting a full refund.

I guess at this point, I’ll sit back and see what she does. I do expect her to give me a full refund. We’ll see.



  1. I think a gentle convo letting her/him know she can’t sell stuff like that and letting her/him know you liked it but it’s a matter of policy/principle. Neutral Feedback would be fair.Keep in mind this person is new and may not have read all of etsy policy.

  2. I hate when that happens! Really. :/

    First I would write to admins. Then I would leave a negative feedback, or at least a neutral with an explanation of expecting something they made and not happy about receiving a mass-produced item instead.

    Sorry this happened to you. If you don’t use the FB to explain the situation, other Etsians will be taken for a ride. Not nice. I would like to know because I would be furious if it happened to me.

    It is every seller’s responsibility to read the rules before setting up shop or at the very least listing items to sell. They’ve got it coming.

  3. Oh, and by the way…. I really like your blog! It’s gorgeous!

  4. you need to leave bad feedback, reselling is not allowed on etsy, then I would contact the seller and let them know you want a refund and I would report it to etsy, but leave feedback first.

    you can be a fair warning to other buyers who might think the things are handmade

  5. You could convo the seller first if you think the sticker might have potentially fallen off of another item. I know that I use gift bags (for packaging) that are made in China. I try to remove those stickers, but I’m always afraid that somehow I’ll forget a sticker and it will end up stuck to one of my handmade (by me) pieces that is wrapped up inside the gift bag.

    If it was indeed made in China, then it is a clear violation of Etsy policy and should be reported to admin.
    You should give a negative and state that you like the item, but it has a “made in china” sticker on it.

  6. Well, being a newbie myself, I would appreciate a convo from you. Secondly I would notify the admin.

    Etsy prides itself on selling handmade items. I wouldn’t want one person to taint Etsy’s reputation or negatively impact a buyer.

    Regardless of the seller’s reason (deception, ignorance, accident) this should not happen ever again.

  7. I think that you should be leaving negative feedback. If the item description did not explicitly tell you that it was not handmade, and there were no tags telling you so, then it seems to me that the seller was trying to pass this item off as a handmade item and will continue to do so.

  8. Lisa,
    I think that you should be concerned as we all should be. Maybe it’s a one in a million, maybe just someone not understanding what Etsy is. Maybe a convo is in order to see what stand is taken by the seller, if you don’t want hurt their rating right off the bat. I’m not one for finger pointing, infact I wrote on my blog about just that topic. However, Etsy is what Etsy is and that needs to be supported. Good luck!

  9. By the way, great Blog! Visit me sometime at: or

  10. If you read the rules of Etsy before setting up shop, like any seller should, it’s prett clear what Etsy is.

    Not only would I contact admin and explain the situation, I’d definitely leave a negative.

    Maybe the seller was just ignorant of the handmade rule, but maybe not. I personally would be more interested in preventing another buyer from being in the same situation than protecting the seller.

  11. I think I would leave a neutral with an explanation that because the item was not tagged as a supply or vintage, you thought it was handmade and were disappointed upon it’s arrival to find that it was manufactured in China.

    That statement does not accuse the seller of anything other than making you feel mislead and is quite polite. I’m sorry this happened. I understand the feeling. I don’t buy much, but when I do buy on Etsy, it is because I want something specifically handmade. We should be able to find it here above all other places right? 🙂

  12. contact admin, definitely.

    I probably wouldn’t leave feedback, as the seller might end up removed or who knows what (or maybe just let admin straighten things out).

  13. I don’t think you should have to take into account how your feedback will affect their overall rating when leaving feedback. If you were expecting handmade because the listing led you to believe the item was handmade you should leave feedback accordingly.

  14. I would definately let Admin know that’s for sure. As far as the feedback is concerned, I would probably convo the seller and let them know that I didn’t appreciate the item being misrepresented like that and I’d probably leave a neutral depending on their response. If they got all uppity about it then they’d get a big fat NEG!

  15. I would leave negative feedback. The items clearly aren’t allowed to be sold on Etsy, and they were not handmade, as they were represented to be in the listing. (Creating a listing on Etsy in any category other than vintage or commercial supplies is stating that your item is handmade.)

    Retaliatory feedback is not allowed on Etsy, so if you receive it, just contact Etsy about it.

    Leaving negative feedback is the best way to do something about these “made in China” items are that are finding their way onto Etsy.

  16. You are not responsible for the seller’s lack of knowledge about etsy policies or emotional response to your feedback. Your responsibility is to factually present your experience, including your unmet expectation, so others can avoid your dilemma. If you chose to accept this purchase, you are condoning the sales of these items on etsy. Therein lies another dilemma.

  17. NEGATIVE feedback. The WHOLE entire point of Etsy is handmade (ignoring the vintage/supplies issue).

    Anybody who signs up to Etsy and doesn’t realize that the site is based on handmade – they shouldn’t be opening a store because they aren’t capable of reading TOS or they are purposely ignoring the rules.

    If it turns out this person did this unintentionally there can be (I think) a ‘make up’ resolution to remove the negative but I think the impact needs to be made to get the buyer’s attention. Some people are seriously slimy and do things against the rules on purpose. They could care less about a gentle convo.

    I would be SUPER ticked if I bought something I expected to be handmade only to find it was made in China – something I try to avoid all the time.

    I am really bummed that you were put in this position. Let us know how it turns out!

  18. I’m really sorry this happened to you! I would contact Admin and the seller directly. It could be that the seller does not care about the rules, so the feedback left should be contingent on their reply.

    With no response from them, I would leave a neutral feedback and explain that you thought you were getting a handmade item and instead you received a mass-produced item. I would be careful about your wording, as made in China does not always mean mass-produced. There are artisans in every country.!

  19. I don’t think it can be any clearer that Etsy is for handcrafted items. This is a classic bait and switch scheme. In my niche (lampwork beads), Chinese companies notoriously knock off U.S. bead artists, then sell on Ebay under the guise of being a studio selling handcrafted beads. They go so far as to rip off website photos and text from bead artists, as well.

    Whether the person is in China or in the US (or wherever you are), it is plain that they are intending to take advantage of the benefits of listing on Etsy, and I really think that Admin needs to be involved. I’d even go so far as to sending photos of the item and the packaging to Admin.

  20. Like everyone else has said:
    I would convo the seller and express nyour dissappoint in the fact that etsy is a HANDMADE store, and that being said it is somewhat implied that all items up for sale on etsy are handmade (or supplies/vintage) and you were misled….
    That you are satisfied and happy with the items, but decide to leave neutral/negative feedback due to the misconception.

    sorry to hear about your ordeal:(

  21. Yes please contact admin with all your evidence as well, it is the only way that blatant resellers can be removed from Etsy, admin need proof.

    I am so sorry that this happened to you.

    here is another blog entry from a seller about this problem:

  22. wow- thanks for the update! man, i would now definitely return and ask for a fullrefund…
    ebay is a no-no…

  23. Urgh, how can people be so stupid? How can she NOT know that Etsy is for real handcrafted items?

  24. …though… even a lot of items mass produced in China are technically “hand-made.” They’re just made by the hands of a lot of underpaid factory workers while a large cut goes to the corporation that owns their employer.
    Etsy allows listing by a “Collective” (although not in the above sense) but… I would just be careful that you fully understand the seller’s situation before flagging her shop….

  25. Sorry it happened to you. Hope you received a refund & an apology note!


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