Problem Etsy Vendor

Sunday night, we showed you problems moms across the country are having with an Etsy seller going by the name of Customhouse Baby & Babylovin Bedding.

You can watch our 2-part story by clicking here.

A lot of you wanted even more specific advice than what we had time to provide to the masses via our broadcast. I contacted consumer attorney David Tiede, Director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center at the University of Houston Center for Consumer Law to ask what recourse you might have if you lost money to either one of these vendors.

First, the obvious recommendations that most of you have already tried:

  1. File a complaint with Etsy. (Etsy took the shops offline, but says since you paid through PayPal, you should file your complaint there.
  2. File a complaint with PayPal. (PayPal has a 45-day window that allows you to file complaints and get a refund if you didn’t receive what you ordered. Most of you were past that window before you realized you wouldn’t get your bedding).
  3. File a complaint with your credit or bank card if you used one for payment through PayPal. (Most credit cards give you 2 billing cycles or 60 days to file a complaint about non-receipt of goods).

If you’ve exhausted all of the options, here is Tiede’s advice:

The problem with a bad out-of-state retailer is that it is usually pretty hard to get anything from them without suing them in their home state, because that is usually where you can get at their money. 

 Here, if you have 24 women, who are collectively out more than $10K, they might want to get together and hire an attorney at a reasonable hourly rate to sue in state district court in Vermont, assuming that the defendant has some funds and is not totally out of business.  That could be tough, because they would have to be organized and all pitch in to hire an attorney.

 At the very least, they should also all file complaints with the Vermont AG, and perhaps even the local district attorney.  Given the number of people who have been wronged, that might be a free way to get them some justice, and might get the retailer’s attention quickly, assuming that this person is even “semi-legitimate” or not totally bankrupt.

Majorie Loux was living in Boston when she took most orders for Customhouse Baby. Then, it appears she moved to Newport, Vermont and set up Babylovin Bedding.

Her address in Vermont (that she gave me when I inquired about having her make some bedding with fabric I had purchased) is:

Bernadette Woods
153 Main ST. #4
Newport VT 05855

My next question for Tiede was- “what about small claims court when the victims live in one state and the seller lives in another?”  

Yes, you can file across state lines, but the problem is that you will have to go to Vermont to appear at trial eventually, and the economics of that will not work out for most here.  Smaller risk is each person filing against this person in their local small claims court (on the basis that the transaction took place where delivery was to have taken place), and then filing the judgment in Vermont to get “sister state” recognition.  Here again, some organization would be needed, but an idea is that they each get their own state small claims court judgments, and then negotiate with one local Vermont collections lawyer to file all the judgments in Vermont for execution.     

I hope this helps you. If not, thank you for helping me educate others about the risks of ordering through Etsy and using PayPal.

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One Response

  1. Etsy doesn’t just have problems with its vendors; it has problems itself in how it holds its sellers/vendors accountable to their rules. BUYERS BEWARE. Etsy does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to protect buyers from unethical sellers, even when sellers violate the Etsy rules. Unlike eBay, buyers have NO RECOURSE when sellers lie and cheat. On August 12, 2011, I purchased a set of napkin rings from Etsy shop, Recycling the Blues. The listing stated the items were a specific brand name. Prior to purchasing, I emailed the seller (Jamie Duckworth) to verify that they were brand name, and the seller confirmed that they were. Upon arrival, I verified that the items were not the name brand: They did not match the originals I already owned and they did not carry the characteristic brand name markings. I contacted Recycling the Blues and the seller was not able to provide any verification that proved they were brand name originals. Since the item received was not as described, it was within my rights as an Etsy buyer to request either a price adjustment that reflects fair market value for reproduction or to request to return the items at the seller’s expense for a full refund including all shipping costs. The seller was not willing to compromise on the price, and requested that I return the sets. The seller offered to pay for my return shipping since the items were not as described. Throughout this transaction, this seller violated numerous Etsy policies that warranted investigation, which Etsy refused to investigate or intervene on my behalf:
    1. The seller misrepresented the origin of the items, misleading buyers into paying more than the items are worth and/or being unhappy when the items arrive and are not genuine as claimed. Etsy refused to investigate this as they said they are not in a position to determine when sellers are being honest. Hello! If Esty has all of the email corresondence between the seller/buyer in which the sellers states she can not provide proof of origin, why can’t they hold the seller accountable for a misleading listing?
    2. The seller failed to treat me, a buyer, with respect, and the seller knowingly harassed, insulted or abused me, both in private e-mail exchanges and publicly in feedback she posted that included false claims about me. To get me back, the seller posted negative feedback about me, which was completely false. Etsy refused to intervene and has no recourse or policy (like eBay) to protect buyers from false feedback. All it would take is for Etsy to read the email correspondence to quickly see that the seller was abusive and lying.
    3. I filed a claim with Paypal and was refunded the cost of the item and the shipping cost TO me. But, I have not been reimbursed for return shipping. The seller did not follow through on the commitment she made in writing to refund me for return shipping costs. Etsy requires all sellers to clearly communicate their store policies and to honor them. However, Etsy refused to intervene and require the seller to refund me for the return shipping costs, even though it was clearly stated that a refund would be provided.

    Etsy promotes a strong commitment to creating a community of integrity for both sellers and buyers in its rules, policies and Do’s and Don’ts. I am a longtime eBay buyer and have been shopping on Etsy for several years, and in the course of all my interactions with sellers, I have never been treated with so much disrespect and dishonesty as this seller. Likewise, through this experience, I have also been astounded at the lack of buyer’s protection that Etsy offers its buyers. Etsy does not have an appeal process for buyers or live customer service support, like eBay so buyers have no recourse. When I did get a response by email, Etsy refused to investigate, saying it was not their responsibility. Etsy completely favors its sellers and by refusing to hold its sellers accountable, is condoning unethical and dishonest selling practices. Buyer beware. There are absolutely no ways for a buyer to file a complaint (no problem resolution process and no live customer service number, like with eBay). If you are lucky enough to get a response to an email, Etsy won’t take action.

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