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Etsy sellers accused of ripping off buyers with ‘fake’ handmade goods

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

Some sellers on Etsy are allegedly charging up to seven times more for items falsely labelled as ‘handmade’ which are cheaper elsewhere, a consumer champion claims.

Etsy is an online marketplace which advertises itself as somewhere for “unique and creative goods” but items are often cheaper at shops including, Amazon, Asda and B&M, according to an investigation by Which?

It said this means shoppers are being misled into paying more for items which they assume are handmade, with some shoppers forking out 600% more on the same goods.

Which? discovered more than 20 items advertised as being handmade which were also on sale via other platforms and retailers. All but two of those were more expensive to buy on Etsy, with nine items costing more than twice as much if they were bought on Etsy.

One item, a freestanding bookshelf which was labelled as handmade was £59.99 on Etsy, six times the price of the same item listed for £10 on Alibaba. It was also £28.88 on Amazon and £28.90 on Ebay.

Another, which was on sale by a ‘star seller’ on Etsy, was a handmade rustic bedside nightstand table for £128.31 on Etsy or £43.99 on Amazon. To become a star seller, someone must respond to messages quickly, make at least five sales worth $300, have a star rating of 4.8 or higher on average, and send orders on time.

The same seller listed a coffee table for £146.10 which was £59.99 at Wowcher, £89.99 at Wayfair and £131.99 at Ebay.

Which? also found a ‘handmade’ busy board for £27.98 which was also on sale for £4 from Alibaba, seven times cheaper.

Etsy states that everything listed on the site must be handmade, vintage, or a craft supply. Yet many of those found by Which? did not fit this criteria and were much more expensive than competitors were selling the items for.

To be listed as handmade, Etsy said the seller must be involved in the process of making or designing the item. But only two sellers mentioned that another company, neither of which could be identified, had helped in the production process of the items sampled by Which?.

It said technically these listings classify as misleading advertising because the sellers pay Etsy to post these listings and make the accompanying false claims to market the products.

‘Brazenly ripping off customers’

Following on from its investigation, Which? said Etsy needs to “step up its efforts to scrutinise claims made by sellers,” and said since its research, some of the sellers have been removed.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Our research shows some Etsy sellers are brazenly ripping off customers by making misleading claims about their products. Etsy needs to up its game in tackling these dishonest practices, which serve as an example of why a crackdown on dodgy claims and advertising online is long overdue.

“The Government must put a statutory regulator in place to ensure platforms have sufficient processes to prevent misleading advertising. This should include the ability to issue fines against platforms that flout the rules.”

An Etsy spokesperson said: “Our policies prohibit counterfeit and resold merchandise on Etsy, and we use a combination of automatic controls, manual review, and user flags to continuously monitor the marketplace and identify policy violations. Etsy users are also encouraged to report potentially violating listings via our site-wide flagging tool.

“Since 2018, we’ve quadrupled our investments in the trust and safety of our marketplace and, in 2022 alone, we put $50m towards these efforts. Specifically, we are intensifying enforcement of our Handmade Policy, and we have expanded our team of content moderators and strengthened our automated detection systems to steadily increase our removal of resold content.”