Tuesday, 1 April 2014

How difficult is it to give a Review?

Hello there Everyone - back once again, but this time with a question: 

 Just why is it so difficult these days for one to get a Review published on Etsy.com?
When I started on Etsy way back in February 2010 (that was registration day:  official selling only began in September 2010, because there was a need to build up the shop stock before I felt able to offer Cuddlies to the world) a review was valid once the goods had been dispatched.  The Buyer was expected to give their opinion on the purchase once the product had arrived:  meanwhile I was reminded on almost a daily basis that a review was expected from me.  I usually didn't complete the transaction until the Buyer had acknowledged receipt - at which time, fortunately, they all provided me with five star ones - and every completed order was matched with the requisite review.
For my part, I always gave my Buyers a good review, and in turn found a great deal of "comfort" in being able to read what other sellers had said when meeting my Buyers for the first time.  As a hesitant Seller,  unfamiliar with on line business behaviour/techniques, it was helpful to see if the other side was "safe", "patient", "clearly knew what they wanted" etc. et al.  Now alas, that help is no longer available -  because sometime last year, Etsy decided that Sellers need no longer provide their opinion on how nice it had been to work with one's Buyers, and they set some time limits for Sellers to provide these reviews to be published.  
In theory they should work well but in fact, as far as I am concerned, they don't.  According to my Shop stats, I have made 50 sales - but I only have 35 reviews, never mind that they are, to date, all Five Star Ones.  What happened to all the other sales' Reviews?  Because I have had some lovely comments from the happy buyers via Convo and/or email - whichever happened to be easier for them - but they weren't converted into the all important Review, which  - I am given to understand - can have an impact on how COLDHAMCUDDLIES is perceived by Google et al.

A fond Farewell from Cy Bear
The problem came to a head recently for the COLDHAMCUDDLIES shop when J.Anne Fullerton (JAF)  - instigator and buyer of Nick and Agatha Buchanan Wolf (shown with Cy Bear prior to their departure). They were subjects of two separate orders  (based on two existing  Foxes in the www.COLDHAMCUDDLIES.etsy.com shop).  JAF found herself unable to provide an official Review, even though she had expressed herself to be satisfied with the Toys on their arrival - quoted in the post published on February 16 in which The Special Story of Nick and Agatha was told.  Please feel free to go to our Archive (right side of this blog) and read the whole story, but for the purpose of this post, I'll repeat JAF's comment:

"Nick and Agatha arrived today. They are, in a word, astounding. I could not be more pleased with the quality of your craftsmanship. I'll be leaving great reviews for you. I will try to get good pics this weekend for you. Now I'm excited to see the rest of the family! I'll be in touch soon. Thank you again."

Time passed, and JAF kept in touch saying that she was trying to find how to give her Review, but still had not been able to.  There is a time limit (I've subsequently found out) for Reviews to be placed on the Etsy system - 60 days after the estimated date of arrival (by Etsy) following notification of the package's dispatch.  So, since it was still within that time I decided (with JAF's full backing) to approach Etsy Support to see what had gone wrong. 

 Now, if you have read the Post already mentioned, you will have discovered that in fact between us JAF and I had well and truly messed up the Etsy buying system.  Because between us we not only had not followed the now established Custom Order route, but also taken far too long to complete the orders (originally placed in October 2013 and not completed until the end of January 2014). The time frame was perfectly acceptable to JAF and myself - but alas the Etsy Purchasing System could not handle it. (Readers and Followers of this blog, with Etsy Shops, please take note!)  Also, Nick and Agatha did not actually have any Etsy reference numbers - other than ones for  Beau Fox (Etsy Listing #128704624) and a Lady Fox dressed in Buchanan tartan (Etsy Listing #65456642), not to mention a different Transaction Number as well!  Talk about working at cross purposes.

Nick Buchanan Wolf - showing off his tartan waistcoat
Thus, the time limit for reviews having run out, the Etsy Support response was :-

"Thanks for reaching out to us here at Etsy.  To clarify, if (JAF) reaches out to our team, her note will be made visible on your account.  However, that note will only be visible by Etsy Admin and unfortunately will not be able to be viewed on your public profile.

Again, when the review option expires on a transaction, sadly it cannot be reinstated.  I hope you understand.

I have been in touch with (JAF) today and recorded their wonderful review on your account.  I hope you find this resolution to be satisfactory.

We're glad to hear you are such a valued member of the Etsy Community! "

(The actual message contained JAF's email contact details:  for the purposes of this post, I have substituted them for the initials - Isobel).

Agatha Buchanan Wolf, with bonnet
JAF's  most recent contribution to this saga is as follows: 

"Dear Sirs,

  I wanted to make certain my positive experience is reflected somehow in her shop as her work is exceptional and I will be a repeat customer. Her craftsmanship, the quality of her product, her willingness to take on new challenges and overall communication were beyond expectation. She allowed me to substitute components and whole-heartedly stepped up to meet my needs. I could not be more pleased with the final results. She is truly an outstanding seamstress and businesswoman. Please relay my sincere gratitude for her efforts so that it can be seen by potential buyers on Etsy. Thank you."

What a Review!!  I couldn't be happier with it - but what to do next? The more folk who can see it, obviously the better it will be for the future of www.COLDHAMCUDDLIES.Etsy.com   Well having obtained the agreement of Etsy Support to use www.ColdhamCuddliescalling.blogspot.uk to publish it verbatim, and encouraged so to do by JAF,  this post is the result. 

In the interim, I have recently joined LinkedIn and a Group called the Etsy Professional Shop Owners.  (As if I don't have enough social media responsibilities already!).  They have a thread - very vocal it is too - which has concentrated on the difficulties involved in getting/giving reviews under the current Etsy arrangements.  Many of the discussion threads repeat my own frustrations - and I have promised to keep them updated as to what happens (or not!) to my specific predicament.  Thus once I've completed the usual promotions associated with this post (on my various Etsy Team Threads, Facebook, Twitter etc.) I shall be posting the link to this post on the LinkedIn site too.

Hopefully it will help to provide comfort/relevant information to potential CUDDLIES buyers as well as to those of us on Etsy who struggle to cope with the current Review system.  You may rest assured that both JAK and I will make sure that any future transactions between us are carried out via the Custom Order route.  Remember
the same time limit for giving a Review remains - the Etsy estimated time of arrival of the goods at the intended destination and 60 days after that - will still apply.

There are many good things associated with one's relationship with Etsy.com.  But there are many frustrations too.  My main bugbear (I'm not alone, incidentally!)  is their habit of changing things (allegedly for a better Seller experience!) just as I get used to doing things and the way those changes can be implemented without any warning (unless, of course, one inhabits the many forums that Etsy organise for just such a purpose!).

Thank goodness, many of the Etsy teams to which I subscribe have Leaders/Members who are alert to these changes, and I get to know that way via their pleasantly time-consuming Chat Threads.  But in the interim:  anyone know how to conjure another 24 hours to each day?

Hope everyone is having a great day!  Isobel 

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic