Posted: Thu 27th Apr 2023

Etsy sellers charging up to seven times more for falsely labelled ‘handmade’ products, according to Which?

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Apr 27th, 2023

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A snapshot investigation by consumer champion Which? has revealed that some Etsy sellers are overcharging customers by up to seven times more for items falsely labelled as ‘handmade’.

These products are available at significantly lower prices on other websites, such as Amazon, Asda, and B&M.

In March, Which? analysed the first page of items in a selection of categories on Etsy, including furniture, toys, and clothes.

Researchers filtered results to show ‘handmade’ items only and used Google image search to compare prices with other platforms.

They discovered that more than 20 of the 192 items examined were also available on other websites, and all but two had higher prices on Etsy. Nine items cost over twice as much on Etsy as on other platforms.

One example is a freestanding ‘handmade’ bookshelf priced at £59.99 on Etsy, while the same item was available for £10 on Alibaba, £28.88 on Amazon, and £28.90 on eBay.

To qualify as ‘handmade’ on Etsy, sellers must have been involved in the making or design of the item and disclose any other parties involved in the production process.

However, only two sellers in Which?’s sample mentioned any involvement from other companies, and researchers could not find evidence that these companies existed.

These listings technically constitute misleading advertising, as sellers pay Etsy to post them and make false claims to market their products.

Price on Etsy Cheapest price elsewhere % difference
Pink Busy Board for Girls £27.98 £4 600%
6 Shelf Tree Free Standing Bookshelf £59.99 £10 499.90%
Rustic Bedside Nightstand Table £128.31 £43.99 191.68%
Industrial Coffee Table Centre Table W/ 3-Tier Storage Shelves £146.10 £59.99 143.54%
Shabby Chic Style Chest of Drawers £175 £72.99 139.76%
Compact Bedside Nightstand Table With 1 Drawer £47.55 £19.99 137.87%
Rustic Sleek Design Chest of Drawers £155 £69.99 121.46%
Two-Drawer Herringbone Bedside Table £143.99 £65.99 118.20%
Scandinavian Style Bookcase Storage Cabinet £155 £72.99 112.36%

Currently, online platforms hosting misleading listings like these face little punitive action from regulators.

Which?’s findings suggest that Etsy must enhance its efforts to scrutinise sellers’ claims. Since being notified of the investigation, Etsy has removed some of the sellers from its platform.

The UK government is currently exploring ways to improve the regulation of misleading advertising as part of its Online Advertising Programme.

Which? recommends establishing a statutory regulator with powers to ensure platforms have sufficient processes in place to prevent misleading advertising, including the ability to fine platforms that break the rules.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, stated, “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.”

An Etsy spokesperson responded, “Etsy is proud to be home to millions of unique, handcrafted, and customised goods, and protecting the integrity of our marketplace is critical to our business.”

“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.”

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