Monday , 21 June 2021
In the last two years, my Energy Shop on Etsy has evolved from a hobby into a second income for my family. However, last week and without warning, my shop was suspended by Etsy’s administration.

Etsy Shop Suspended! What You Need to Know

Sardonyx Yoga Bracelet with Evil Eye Protective Charm

Etsy Shop Suspended! What You Need to Know

In the last two years, my Energy Shop on Etsy has evolved from a hobby into a second income for my family. It’s been a great success, and because it’s an important part of my livelihood I have always been careful to honor Etsy’s terms of use. However, last week and without warning, my shop was suspended by Etsy’s administration.

This is how it happened: About one week before my shop was deactivated, Etsy’s integrity department sent me a questionnaire which included 3 parts and about 15 questions. The person who wrote it thanked me for my time and for being part of the community. The email went on to explain that they had reason to believe I wasn’t complying with their rules. It was made clear that I needed to defend myself, but they did not state what they were accusing me of.

At the Energy Shop, my jewelry is handmade by me in my home, and I have one person working for the shop who does all of my shipping and handling from their home. I thought I was complying with all of the rules on Etsy, so I was very confident in filling out and returning the integrity report. They required receipts for my supplies, pictures of my workspace, and photos of myself and the person who works with me. I had the entire questionnaire filled out and returned practically upon receipt. The day after I returned the investigative report, I received a reply that thanked me for my response. Case closed, or so I thought.

One week later and without notice, Etsy deactivated the Energy Shop. The email stated:

“Unfortunately, your shop does not appear to qualify for the Etsy marketplace. We are a venue for independent artists to sell their own handmade goods as well as Vintage items and Craft Supplies.

As your items do not appear to meet the criteria to sell on Etsy, your shop has been deactivated.”

And that was that. I’m not going to lie, I actually wept. I had invested two years of dedicated work and tens of thousands of dollars. All of that vanished in an instant, and my site was replaced with this message on Etsy.com:

“Uh oh! A stitch has gone awry. This page is temporarily down. Please check back later.”

I replied to the suspension email as calmly as I could, begging for them to tell me what had happened. I still had no idea what I had done wrong! I frantically started searching for a phone number that I could call; I wanted to square things away as fast as possible. I found a corporate listing for Etsy’s Brooklyn office through an internet search, but it went straight to voicemail stating that they don’t respond to phone calls.

Stunned, I was forced to sit down, wait for their reply, and let sink in what had happened. To be honest, I felt betrayed! Not only had I built this successful shop on Etsy, I had brought hundreds of customers to the community. I’ve paid thousands of dollars in fees. I have ruthlessly promoted the site and the promise of success to its sellers on my blog. And with a single click of the mouse, they erased me.

Over the next 24 hours, Etsy admin replied to me, sending one excruciatingly vague piece of information at a time. They were accusing me of “drop shipping” because my shop announcement stated, “Handmade in New Zealand, shipping out of Pittsburgh.” In my integrity report, I verified that I was outside of the country at a military address, and I did make everything by hand in New Zealand and ship stock packages to Pittsburgh.

Etsy’s Do’s and Don’ts are 29 pages long and made up of 10,918 words. About halfway through those 29 pages, I found this bullet point: “Drop shipping is not permitted. All items must be shipped under the direct supervision of the seller.”

From Wikipedia: “Drop shipping is a supply chain management technique in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock, but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. As in retail businesses, the majority of retailers make their profit on the difference between the wholesale and retail price but some retailers earn an agreed percentage of the sales in commission, paid by the wholesaler to the retailer.”

Technically, I feel the accusation they have made against the Energy Shop could be argued–there is no outside manufacturer or wholesaler involved. However, I don’t care to ever discuss my operation with Etsy admin again, so I have decided to comply with their request and ship the stock I sell on Etsy myself. After about 24 hours down, the Energy Shop was reactivated on Etsy.com.

The point of this story is not to bash Etsy as a selling platform. This was a wake-up call for me, and I wanted to turn it into a friendly warning for you. I thought I owned my small business, but by having my only presence on Etsy, it turns out that I didn’t. Etsy owns the shops they host, and they reserve the right to manage them however they choose.

Think about it, if your shop was suddenly closed on you right now–without warning or explanation, what would you lose? How many hours invested in your listings? How many positive reviews? How much of your hard-earned credibility?

If you’re serious about your small business, you might want to see Etsy as your starter house, not your permanent home. Here are some things to consider:

Buy a Domain Name. In January, I received some advice to purchase the domain for my name and my business’ name. I took it to heart, and for $9.90, I purchased energyshopjewelry.com. When my Etsy shop was closed, I was Thankful (with a capital T) that I had a domain name handy. You can browse and buy domain names at the website, United Domains.

Keep a copy of your testimonials. If you only sell on Etsy and your site is removed, how much credibility would you lose? For the time my site was down, I had nothing to prove that I have repeatedly exceeded the expectations of thousands of customers. In fact, I looked really suspicious to the community! Where had I gone? What act of integrity had I violated?! You have worked hard to build your credibility, so keep a hard copy of your testimonials on file.

Keep a folder of item pictures. I restock (renew) previous listings often, and each time I do, I appreciate that I don’t have to take pictures and build descriptions. Those tasks take up a solid chunk of my valuable time! I’ve spent hundreds of hours on my listings and photography, when suddenly, they vanished. I shudder to think what would have happened to all of my work had Etsy admin reviewed my case differently.

Have an emergency exit strategy. Have a back-up plan, just in case. Because I want my business to expand, I had the feeling I might outgrow Etsy. I’m always willing to have a look at e-commerce sites to see what they have to offer, and I love to check out other sellers’ independently-owned websites.

The day I was suspended, I chose to set up a shop with the e-commerce host, Retailr. I signed up for a free trial and started building listings immediately.

I’m new at Retailr, but I think I’m in love. Everything I’ve been wishing for on Etsy (size and color drop-downs, more coupon options, the ability to accept credit cards, etc.) seems to be available. I was able to easily transfer my pre-purchased domain name to the new site. Not only that, I like that they keep shop owners up-to-date with new developments on their Features & Roadmap page.

For the record, I’ve always been happy to pay the Etsy fees for hosting my shop, just as I’ve always been happy to pay the Paypal fees for collecting my money. However, the more you sell on Etsy, the more you pay. Like I said, I’ve been sending them hundreds of dollars every month, but as I’m reviewing my new business plan, my hosting fees are about to be drastically reduced.

On Retailr, I pay a flat-rate hosting fee. It’s $19 per month to list 100 items (in unlimited stock). Which means, I don’t pay individual listing fees, I don’t give anybody a cut of my sales, and nothing expires.

Finally, when my shop was suspended and I had nowhere to turn, I felt scared and powerless. I want to leave you with some resources in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation. If you need help, here are some more places to turn:

You can start by filing a case with the Better Business Bureau. They serve the community (free of charge) and can help protect you against unwarranted and unexplained actions.

If things get out of hand, or if you fear losing a serious amount of work and investment, you might consider contacting a small business attorney for representation. You can Google this and find a reputable businessperson in your area, or you can contact larger groups of lawyers who handle online commerce at affordable prices, such as:

Simplicity Law

Lawyers.com

Practice.com
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not leaving Etsy … yet. However, I am taking charge of my small business. In the future, I will be sure that no one can come along and hang the “Closed” sign on my website without my permission.

Until next time and all the best, Lisa

 

Suspended Etsy shop

 

Hey Timothy here:

I have been selling on Etsy since 2007. (my shop!) The day I started my shop I had my own domain (my site)but never sold items on it.  It is mainly just a gallery to show off my work then point people to my Etsy shop.   I have been on the search for the perfect platform to start selling my metal work on my own domain, but I have never found the right platform with the right mix of options to supplement my Etsy shop.  About a month ago I received an email from the founders of Indiemade.com letting me know about their site and what they had to offer. I checked out all the options, features ,and pricing, and to my surprise they offered everything I had been looking for.

Here are just a few features that really stood out to me.   Things I have been looking for!

  • Founders that came from a handmade / design background (understands the handmade community)
  • Extremely affordable pricing (1/5 of my Etsy monthly bill)
  • Very good clean design (multiple designs and design flexibility)
  • Easy Checkout system with no login required
  • Etsy product import (huge time saver)
  • Integrated blog
  • Social media connections and promoting
  • Reports ( sales, coupons, products, customer)
  • Analytics

You can check out my metal shop there.   Timothy Adam Designs.

Check out even more details HERE on Handmadeology.

Do you have a similar story you would like to share with the Handmadeology readers? Fill out the form below and we will be in touch.

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484 comments

  1. My heartfelt thanks for posting this article, Tim! When my shop was suspended, I didn’t know where to turn. Hopefully this post helps someone else facing that “scared and powerless” moment. All the best, Lisa

    • Thank you for this letter. I am moving to Savannah, GA in a couple of months and plan on using Esty’s to sell my Jewelry & Sewing but I may look into my own web site. That way no one can shut me down. Again thank you, Norma

    • My shop was suspended today. :(

      Thanks for sharing your tips on how to move forward. Although I’m still bummed and shocked, it’s a relief to know that I’m not alone.

    • How long was your site down for. My etsy shop has been closed since Friday afternoon and am unable to get a response from Etsy, whether it will be reopened or not. Yes I feel powerless.

      • Hi Nancy,
        I’m in the same boat. They closed my shop on Tuesday and won’t even respond to my emails. It’s so upsetting.

      • Hi there

        If you have any unfair treatment from Etsy, like deactivated your shop without a reason, please join our FB Page for sharing your story!

        Thanks!

        Fafa

    • Lisa,
      Thank you for posting this article. I have 2 shops on Etsy and luckly I own both domain names. My digital prints shop was closed on Tuesday because of a copyright infringement, someone convo-ed me and asked me to create something for them, I did and then listed it not even thinking that I could get into trouble. They had been listed for months now, Etsy contacted me and told me that they were removing these items due to a copyright infringement (I used the Lego name in my title). Then a couple of hours later they closed my shop. I have sent them numerous emails pleading for my shop to reopen, that I would never put my business or theirs in jeopardy. As of today I still have not heard back from them. It’s really sad, because they own the monopoly on the web. I also have a shop in Artfire, but I’ve never had the same amount of business as I have with Etsy . This was a huge wake up call for me.
      Jenny, The Posh Kids

      • Lisa,
        Did they ever reopen your shop? I used the name minecraft in a title of my printable shop….which was 100% all of my non character, non commercial designs and 100% my only income. I have been closed for a month and have been begging them to reopen and they told me no twice and now just ignore me. I am still in shock and nothing I have tried is even bringing in a fraction of what my ETSY shop did.

    • Thanks for the article, I’ve been researching online businesses and the best options available. I had considered using Etsy, but after reading so many reviews and now your experiences I believe setting up my own site is the way to go.

    • Lisa!!! OMG– thatmis crazy. I had been away for awhile and when I returned I saw you were gone. I had no idea. This is great advice. I have m own domain name and I am wrk in on the content now. I’ll have to pass your info along on etsy. Best if luck, but I am sure you will be more than fine, you are a GREAT artist with wonderful ENERGY!!!

    • Hey Lisa,

      I just read ur article about Etsy shop suspended. Esty just suspended my shop for the exact same reason as urs. I see now ur shop is back, what did u do?

      Any advice would be really appreciated! I put my heart into my shop and they took it away in a click of a mouse!

      Thanks
      Nabil
      Cooleather

    • That would be me today. It sickens me how everything was just pulled out from underneath me for wording. Its just not fair. I’ve made them so much money and they don’t think so much as to giving you a stern talking to at least. Where do I go from here? Tons of 100% reviews and now my customers are wondering where I am. SMH

    • It is time that etsy is held responsible for defamation of character with their whole guilt by association approach to shops on etsy. A shop should not be held responsible because other adult family members abuse their account or break TOS rules. Besides the fact it is totally illegal for etsy to keep listing fees from someone who has been shut down due to guilt by association. https://www.change.org/p/etsy-stop-shutting-down-shops-due-to-guilt-by-association?recruiter=6617130&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&sharecordion_display=pm_email_cards

  2. Wow….just…wow. I couldn’t imagine what I’d do in your situation. This really gives me a lot to think about. I’m sorry you had to go through this, but thankful you’ve shared it in an informative way!

    • That’s very thoughtful. Thank you, Katie!

    • Wow!
      Unbelievable! I’ve been on etsy now since 2011 and the lack of contacts and customer service has always bothered me. It’s had me a little feeling a little uneasy from the start. And that is outrageous considering they are now allowing shops to hire manufactures to produce their “handmade” products. I worked in management and product development for a few different companies and there is no doubt in my mind or in any dictionary you so choose to use that will support etsy’s own definition that a product can be produced by a company that files taxes as a manufacture and still call it “handmade”. There is a major difference between a designer or developer and crafters and artists. I now worry that the consumers who have been loyal etsy shoppers because of the quality of handmade products will become unhappy and start feeling mislead by their use of the word “handmade” now being associated with “manufacturing”. To me it’s possibly boarder line false advertising. Which why I was floored that etsy would shut you down over drop shipments. But I didn’t check the date of this post lol!
      Anyway thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure now that it is time to start a plan of moving on away from etsy.

  3. Thank you, Lisa… Very good advice! Hey, I’m from Pittsburgh, too! :)

  4. Wow… wake up call…. thanks….

  5. These two sentences are absolutely crucial for anyone who is limiting their online presence to just Etsy:

    “I thought I owned my small business, but by having my only presence on Etsy, it turns out that I didn’t. Etsy owns the shops they host, and they reserve the right to manage them however they choose.”

    Excellent article, Lisa!

    • Thank you, gale! It was quite a wake-up call for me :)

    • Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I can’t figure out any other way to say this:

      Why does it come as a surprise, or a “wake up” call that you don’t “own” anything when you sell on Etsy, or any OTHER online venue?

      Now, first, Lisa’s case was a gray area in a way, and a little less than clear. It was more a matter of wording – but the wording was what got her shop “red flagged” temporarily.

      But Lisa was in the right, AND, more importantly, she had done what too many commenters here have failed to do: She really did read ALL the terms and conditions, and understood them.

      She did her homework, and she did her very best to comply with all the rules. She “gets it” that the details of a legal and binding contract matter.

      In the end, as a result: she won. Etsy agreed she was not in breach of the contract. She got her store back, and she understands now the wrong wording can sound like a violation of the rules.

      A scary lesson, but Lisa dealt with it like a professional businessperson – no whining, just review of the rules, taking action – in short, honoring the contract in every way.

      But let’s also keep in mind here: Etsy ALSO honored the contract: they did exactly what the Terms and rules say they can do, and will do, if they believe a member is in breach of contract.

      There is a valid complaint to be made here about the Etsy process – but it’s not unique to Etsy. The problem is, almost ALL online venues or services of this kind run on a sort of automatic pilot.

      In fact, all those raving about Retailr or Shopify and how wonderful they are – um, have you actually READ their Terms and Conditions? Because if you think Etsy’s bad….well, at least Etsy CONTACTED the sellers.

      The Retailr T&Cs, for example, notes Customer Service will be by email only, and that the Seller’s/Shop’s account can be terminated at any time for any reason, the shop and all files deleted, and that Retailr is under no obligation even to inform the Seller why.

      And, no, you have no legal recourse if they do, unless they actually violate their own terms. Of course, since the terms ARE that they can kick you out and not tell you why, that’s not anything you can sue over – because it’s what you agreed to.

      The point here is: if you don’t like the terms Don’t Agree To Them – meaning, don’t sell on the venue, or use the service.

      If you don’t know what the term “contract of adhesion” means, then you might not be ready to run your own business either – because running even a small business means you have to understand EXACTLY what you’re agreeing to when you sign a contract, particularly one where you don’t get to negotiate any of the terms, i.e., you’re “stuck” with whatever the supplier dictates.

      But you’d think Etsy sellers would at least understand: you have no right to complain about your shop being suspended for BLATANT violations of the Terms and Conditions….

      And here, I’m referring to Kiersten’s complaint about Mod Mom Furniture being suspended, and her claim there was a lack of “due diligence” shown by Etsy before closing her shop.

      No. No there wasn’t.

      First, Kiersten doesn’t know what “due diligence” means. Due diligence doesn’t even apply here. It’s legal nonsense even to use the term.

      Second, Kiersten was CLEARLY in breach of the legal and binding contract into which she entered with Etsy, and had violated several of the Terms and Conditions to which she agreed, and which, by selling on Etsy in the first place, she claimed she understood.

      When she began selling, she was in compliance, yes – an individual shop (not a collective or group) selling handmade furniture (not outsourced or made primarily by someone not in her shop).

      But any professional business person has an o