Etsy is an enormous marketplace website, made up of more than 4.3 million sellers.
Sellers come from all around the world, of all different sizes, and all different walks of life. And with millions of accounts to monitor, there’s bound to be a few bad apples and scammers among them.
But is Etsy a safe place to buy from, and what can you do to keep yourself safe?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know.
Is Etsy Safe To Purchase From?
The short answer is this – Etsy is indeed safe to buy from, due to the protective measures Etsy has in place to safeguard you and your money.
Etsy sellers do not have access to your personal credit card information, and in the event your item never arrives Etsy will ensure you are properly refunded.
Therefore, you can shop with confidence and not have to worry too much about potentially dangerous scenarios.
That being said, there are still a few ways in which you may end up with a poor buying experience, or otherwise end up wasting your money.
Causes For Concern – Where Shopping On Etsy Can Go Wrong
As mentioned earlier, Etsy will refund your money in the event of an outright scam – such as the item you ordered never arriving, or the seller sending you something other than what you ordered.
We’ll go over how to open a claim later.
There are a few other concerns, however – most notably, products arriving that don’t match up with your expectations.
This could be because the item is of terrible quality, or the pictures are deliberately misleading.
(Funny story – when eBay was in its prime, I ordered what I thought what was a really neat looking clock. Turned out, it was just a picture of a clock. eBay wouldn’t help me because I guess this fact was mentioned in the description of the item.)
While Etsy makes things right in the events of scams, they really prefer not to get involved in disputes between buyers and sellers. Both buyers and sellers are encouraged to work it out amongst each other.
The problem is, mischievous sellers aren’t likely to have the greatest customer service. While some may fold if you threaten to leave a bad review, others won’t care.
Unfortunately as long as they have fulfilled their end of the transaction, Etsy is unlikely to take any further action.
According to Etsy’s documentation regarding cases, there are three notable instances where you may not be refunded, even if it is not your fault:
- If the item doesn’t meet your expectations (such as extremely poor quality.)
- The item is broken during shipping.
- The item arrives later than promised. This can be a real issue for certain shoppers, as gift items for example may be useless if they arrive significantly late.
Therefore, since Etsy may not cover you in these situations, it is up to the seller.
Pay Attention To Return Policies!
Unlike marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy allows sellers to set their own policies regarding returns, refunds and exchanges.
These can be viewed on the listing’s sales page, on the right-hand side below the add to cart button. On mobile, this information can be found under the ‘Shipping & policies’ tab. Here is what the section looks like on desktop:
Here we can see that returns and exchanges are accepted for this shop, but exceptions may apply. You can view more detailed policies by clicking the ‘View shop policies’ button. This will bring up another screen that looks like this:
If the store accepts returns for your item, this is a good sign! Scammers that know their products aren’t satisfactory usually won’t offer generous return policies, so they can force shoppers to be stuck with the item.
Note that even stores that don’t offer returns may accept one if you’d otherwise leave a bad review for the product. It is worth reaching out to inquire about this, but please avoid making threats simply due to buyer’s remorse. One star reviews can really hurt Etsy sellers, and should only be left if the product truly warrants it.
How To Tell If An Etsy Seller Is Trustworthy
Of course, the best thing you can do is to shop from legitimate stores in the first place.
Here are a few ways to tell if an Etsy seller is trustworthy, and whether you can feel comfortable ordering from them.
1. Pay Attention To Reviews
When it comes to reviews, you are looking for a few things:
- You want to see reviews for the specific item you’re ordering, and positive reviews for the shop as a whole.
- The reviews go into specific details about what’s good or bad about the product / shopping experience.
- The reviews are recent and have come in consistently over time, rather than all at once (this may point to fake reviews being purchased.)
- The reviewers have real names and pictures.
Although fake reviews aren’t that big of a problem on Etsy (especially compared to websites like Amazon), they still exist to some degree.
By seeing legitimate, recent positive reviews, you can trust your experience is likely to be positive as well.
2. Look For Trust Signals
Etsy has a number of ways they help invoke trust in their sellers.
One of the most recent is the addition of the ‘Star Seller’ badge, which requires sellers to have recent positive reviews, and a history of responding to messages quickly. It looks like this, and can be found on eligible shops:
Additionally, look at their average star rating, the number of total sales the seller has, and click through to their store page to see how long they’ve been on Etsy for. Obviously, the longer the better!
Their store page can also give useful info, such as links to their social pages and any promotions they’re running.
3. Inspect The Items They’re Selling
One problem that’s become more prominent on Etsy is dropshipping.
This is when people list items for sale, but don’t actually have them. When you order, they order it from someone else for a cheaper price, and instruct that third-party to mail it to you instead.
One of the tell-tale signs of dropshipping is if the shop sells a wide variety of different items, that don’t really make sense together. For example, someone selling clothing probably wouldn’t also sell polished wood carvings, as making these requires completely different sets of materials, and different skill sets.
How To Open A Case With Etsy
In most cases, it is usually best to contact the seller first with any issues. They may be able to sort out the issue for you without escalating it to Etsy.
However, if you need to file a case with Etsy to try and get your money back, doing so is quite easy:
- First, create an account if you don’t have one already. Even if you purchased your item as a guest, you will need an account to open a case.
- Go to your ‘Purchases And Reviews’ section on Etsy’s website or app. This can also be accessed by clicking here.
- Click the ‘Help with order’ button. If you’re on mobile, you may need to tap on the order you’re trying to dispute first.
- Click ‘Still need help?’, then ‘Yes, I want to open a case.’
- Follow the directions on the screen.
Decisions can be made instantly, or may take several weeks depending on the complexity of the case.
For more information about opening a case with Etsy, see their documentation and policies by clicking here.
Note that if you have already filed a chargeback with your credit card company, you will be ineligible to open a case.
Safety On Etsy – Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s look over a few other questions regarding shopping on Etsy, avoiding scams, and how to stay safe as a buyer.
Do Etsy Sellers See Your Credit Card Number?
No. Etsy sellers cannot see your credit card number, your credit card name, or any other information related to payment processing. All payment processing is handled by Etsy directly, and Etsy sellers have no way to find out information about your credit card, nor can they place any additional charges to it.
(Just don’t be like the customer I had once, that shipped all of their credit card information to me on a piece of paper with their return, haha!)
Is Etsy Reliable?
Is Etsy reliable? Absolutely! Having placed dozens of orders on Etsy as a buyer, I’ve never had any issues (bar a few shipping delays, which weren’t the sellers fault.) The overwhelming majority of Etsy sellers are legitimate and have your best interests in mind.
Can Etsy Sellers See Your Purchase History?
No, Etsy sellers have no way of seeing what you’ve purchased. While they can see other items that you’ve purchased from their shop only, they cannot see what you’ve purchased from other sellers on Etsy. All of this information is kept completely private.
In theory, it may be possible to find other reviews you’ve left on Etsy by Googling your name and filtering it to only show results from Etsy.com, however.
Can Etsy Sellers See Your Favorites?
Etsy sellers may be able to see your favorite listings and your favorite shops, if you have this enabled on your profile.
This information can be hidden by going to your Etsy profile, then clicking on the edit icon.
Next, scroll down to the bottom until you see the ‘Include on Your Profile’ section. Uncheck ‘Favorite items’ and ‘Favorite shops’ to hide these from your profile.
After saving the changes, Etsy sellers will no longer be able to see your favorites.
Can Sellers See What You’re Searching For On Etsy?
No, Etsy sellers have no way of viewing your search or browsing history. However, Etsy sellers can see your favorites if you’ve enabled these to be shown on your profile (however, this can be disabled using the instructions above.)
Can You Use PayPal on Etsy?
Yes, PayPal is accepted as a payment method for Etsy as long as you are in a country that supports PayPal.
However, if you use PayPal’s buyer protection to try and initiate a refund, you may be ineligible to open a case with Etsy directly.
Can Etsy Sellers Delete Bad Reviews?
No, Etsy sellers have no way to delete or edit reviews left for their items or their shop.
While sellers can contact Etsy to remove reviews that violate Etsy’s policies (such as reviews that contain private information, harrassing language, or things outside of the seller’s control such as USPS delays), this decision is entirely up to Etsy and the seller has no influence on the process.
In my own personal experience, Etsy rarely removes reviews even if they DO violate the review policy.
Is Etsy Payments Safe?
Yes, Etsy Payments is completely safe – as safe as any other major payment processor on the internet.
Etsy sellers do not have access to your credit card information, and all data is encrypted in transit.
What Other Payment Methods Does Etsy Accept?
At the time of writing, Etsy currently accepts the following payment methods:
- American Express
- Carte Bleue
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Etsy gift cards
- Most major debit cards
- Most major credit cards
- Other country-specific payment methods.
What Else Can I Do To Keep Myself Safe When Shopping On Etsy?
Though Etsy itself is completely safe, there are a few other things you’ll want to do in order to maximize your safety:
- Only shop through Etsy’s official website, or through the official Etsy app.
- Ensure your computer is free of viruses and malware.
- When possible, avoid shopping from public computers, and only enter credit card information in on your own private devices.
Is Etsy safe to buy from? Absolutely!
Although there are millions of sellers on the Etsy marketplace and a few may not have the greatest intentions, the overwhelming majority of Etsy sellers are good in nature. Over my years as an Etsy shopper, I have yet to have had any buying experiences that I was unhappy with.
Etsy is a wonderful place to shop for unique handmade gifts, and I’ve found some truly marvelous items that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else.
Buy with confidence, and know that you’ll likely to be just fine while shopping on Etsy.
– James McAllister