By now, we’ve all heard of the risks that come with purchasing items on Craigslist. And I’ve aired my grievances about issues that can come with Facebook Marketplace.
But last week, I was almost duped by a vendor on one website I held to the highest accord, what I saw as the golden child of all online marketplaces: Etsy.
It all started with Pinterest, as a majority of my home design stories do. I was browsing for nursery inspiration when I came across a whimsical wall mural: a colorful watercolor image of bunnies in a woodland, mushroom-filled setting. It was unique, charming and had the perfect color scheme.
Home with Tess:It’s time to make this home a nest
The mural, which was sold on Etsy, quickly became the focal point of my entire nursery. I planned the whole room around it — the wall colors, the area rug, the cute little woodland characters I wanted to place throughout. I even found a floor lamp made out of a tree branch to fit the theme.
With everything plotted and planned, I was ready to make my purchase. This was mistake No. 1: Planning a room around one element before having it in hand.
There were red flags from the start. With a serious language barrier (which, of course, is not a red flag on its own), the vendor wasn’t able to answer even the most basic questions. I decided to go ahead with the purchase anyway, and as soon as I made my decision, she wanted to upsell me on a different material.
When the vendor sent over her proof of the mural for me to approve before she sent it to the printer, I was disappointed to see it was different from the one shown in the photos. While it was close, key elements I had wanted were missing.
Heartbreak hit me first, followed by what were essentially the five stages of grief in a matter of an hour. (Were my extreme emotions driven by pregnancy? Perhaps, but still valid nonetheless!) After days of deliberation, I decided to cancel the order, which meant going back to the drawing board for much of the nursery.
My husband, Aaron, said he had a similar experience when trying to buy a watch through Etsy. Apparently, a vendor was selling what Aaron thought was some brand of fancy watch at a fraction of its selling price. The photos looked real, but when Aaron showed them to his “watch guy” (the first time I learned my husband has a “watch guy”), he was able to determine through very minor details that the watch was, in fact, a dupe.
I must give Etsy credit where it is due. The website will help amend disputes if the buyer receives an item that was not shown in the photos. Luckily in my case, the vendor was amicable about issuing a refund, but the sting of it all still remained.
Once I got past the shock and betrayal of it all, I realized even the most well put-together online marketplaces can only do so much. At the end of the day, scammers are everywhere – and it falls on us to do our due diligence.
Here’s my advice for purchasing items online, whether through Facebook Marketplace, Etsy or anything in between: Read the description thoroughly. Read it again. Look at every photo closely. Rely on reviews. Ask a ton of questions, even if it means annoying the seller. Always be skeptical.
And above all, don’t set your heart on something before you get it.
Email your questions to Theresa “Tess” Bennett at [email protected] and keep up with Tess on Instagram @homewithtess.