Open Letter to Easy and Magic Tribal Hair
First things first, this is an excerpt from your response to my Better Business Bureau Complaint.
"YOU ARE NOT BUYING DIRECTLY FROM ETSY, BUT FROM ONE OF THE MANY TALENTED SELLERS ON ETSY;
ETSY DOES NOT PRE-SCREEN SELLERS AND THEREFORE DOES NOT GUARANTEE OR ENDORSE ANY ITEMS SOLD ON ETSY OR ANY CONTENT POSTED BY SELLERS (SUCH AS PHOTOGRAPHS OR LANGUAGE USED IN LISTINGS OR SHOP POLICIES); “CAMILLE, ETSY INC.
This calls task Etsy and the shop using its service, Magic Tribal Hair. Both engage in various business practices that ultimately result in a buyer or buyers being taken advantage by one or both named entities. Though I’d like to say it pains me to do so, the handling by Etsy of this Issue with Magic Tribal Hair has resulted in that ship sailing. I’ve been a shopper on Etsy for several years and have never had to file a dispute with any seller. This changed after my dealings with Melanie Penners and Magic Tribal Hair. My dispute against Magic Tribal Hair was registered with Etsy Trust and Safety on July 4, 2016 and escalated on July 11, 2016. Etsy never provided any indication whatsoever that they were investigating. I contacted the CEO to no avail. I called the only available number for Etsy and received a message to the effect that they do not take this type of call. I was then referred back to my dispute where I could request a phone call using their “tool”. I clicked on the tool and nothing happened, I eventually hovered long enough to receive the message that the service was “currently” unavailable. This is a common complaint of sellers and buyers when trying to navigate Etsy's ineffectual dispute system.
With no apparent recourse for my complaint I chose to open a case with the Better Business Bureau. This case was forwarded to Etsy who took 48 hours to respond. As per Camille, Etsy abdicates all responsibility in the matter suggesting it's merely an outlet for many talented sellers. However, it's an outlet that controls what is said about the sellers, and frequently pulls from their forums any identifying information about the practices or issues with shop owners who are acting badly. Threads are frequently closed when the complaint is about Etsy or one of its sellers. The content is there, but you’re unable to post a reply or make further inquiries. All too often the entire content of a forum complaint is missing. You are left with a handful of answers and forced to extrapolate the question. I'll take unethical business practices on the part of Etsy sellers for $1000 Alex! Etsy is more than happy to pull down a review that they feel doesn't meet their guidelines and doesn’t seem particularly perturbed by abusive shop owner responses to a poor review. Sellers can apparently have bad reviews taken down making the review process useless. The only thing that’s clear is Etsy will do whatever it can to avoid any involvement in the dispute process. All through this I asked repeatedly for someone at Etsy to read the conversations between Magic Tribal Hair and myself. They show quite clearly what led to my wish to return all purchased items. There were photographs, and documentation on my part, plus the excuses and fabrications on the part of the seller. They offer a more real time view of both sides of the issue.
In my complaint I stated the difficulty of trying to talk to an actual person. Camille was quite clear in stating the Etsy phone policy. This was what was written in the statement I received from Etsy:
IN THE COMPLAINT, THE CUSTOMER ALSO STATED THAT SHE EXPERIENCED TROUBLE CONTACTING ETSY’S CUSTOMER SUPPORT BY PHONE. THE CUSTOMER MAY NOTE THAT ETSY IS ONLY ABLE TO OFFER SUPPORT VIA TELEPHONE THROUGH THE REQUEST A PHONE CALL TOOL. INFORMATION ABOUT THIS TOOL CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING HELP PAGE: HTTPS://WWW.ETSY.COM/HELP/ARTICLE/4872
I can't stress this enough .I had already bookmarked and read this help article. The link only sends back to where you’ve already been, to re- read what you already know. What is doesn’t tell you is their “tool” will more than likely not be functioning. This sends you to Google where you search out a number for Etsy. That number redirects you back to the “tool” that most likely isn’t working. I indicated in my BBB complaint that I called the Etsy number, (718) 855-7955. From there I was redirected to my case and a request button to click on that wasn't working. I could not make a request for a phone call. These are the exact words I used in my BBB complaint:
THE PHONE NUMBER GIVEN DIRECTS YOU BACK TO YOUR COMPLAINT WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO REQUEST A PHONE CALL FROM ETSY, BUT THIS SERVICE IS UNAVAILABLE.
Keeping with the tone of the Etsy response, Camille, what don’t you understand about unavailable.
Clearly my complaint was not read thoroughly! Clearly Etsy had the opportunity to rectify the situation by offering to get in touch with me but chose not to. They appear to have chosen from a selection of stock answers for the one they thought best fit the situation.
The entire tone of Etsy's response to my complaint bordered on rude. They responded like they were chastising a naughty child This entire experience can lead one to believe that Easy Trust and Safety is nothing more than a forum where unethical shop owners can run out the clock on claims because Etsy refuses to engage in an viable resolution process and fails to recognize how the acts of these sellers reflect directly on them them. All Etsy seemed concerned with is not being the one returning my payment. I never asked for that. Both Etsy and Magic Tribal Hair were named in the complaint. In order to proceed I had to supply a dollar amount and a form of resolution. What I wanted, all I wanted, from the very beginning was for someone to read the convos. If payment is to be returned I want it to come from Magic Tribal Hair, but apparently all Etsy has to offer is a resolution system that is designed to resolve nothing. Therefore, I was left with no choice but take this dispute into a public forum. The bulk of my complaint is with Magic Tribal Hair, but Etsy was/is included for its refusal to get involved when a vendor using their service and name takes advantage of a buyer or buyers.
The following includes a description of events from the time the order was placed until the present. I have screen grabbed all conversations and am more than happy to supply them. My missive to the CEO is also available. The Better Business Bureau complaint is publically available through their website..
The chain of events is as follows:
On May 22nd and 24th of 2016 I purchased several hair pieces from Magic Tribal Hair through Etsy.
(This address was obtained from an unsolicited private email with enticements to shop directly from Magic Tribal Hair. (Ms. Penners has already made it public.) My email was placed on her mailing list without permission. I was never given the choice to opt in, only opt out after the fact.)
She had many items for sale including hair falls, braids, and yarn dreads. Her Etsy store pages made no mention that textural differences in the Kankelon hair she uses were associated with color a difference, or that you should order taking dye lots into account. Alternatively, that multiple items and/or different textured items shouldn't/can't be worn together on aesthetic grounds or more accurately because she says so.
My order was as follows:
1 set of custom 50cm/20" chignon braids
1 custom Gretel hair band
1 set medieval hair falls
All items were ordered in #30 Light Copper.
Through Etsy’ convos I discussed with the shop owner not only the connector I would like, how I was planning to use it, but the reason I felt the connector I chose would be more than adequate. At no time during these convos, did the seller suggest I use a different connector, that the project I was planning was an impossible flight of fancy, that the hair falls and braided items shouldn't/can't be worn together, that different textures along the same color line are different colors, or the presence of dye lots. All of this would have changed my order.
In subsequent convos there was mention made of her order arriving without the #30 light copper. This happens and I indicated I left a good deal of lead time between my order and when I would need the items. There was also something about shipping, but again at the time I wasn't in a particular hurry. Still, no mention was made of color differences and dye lots and I was never asked if I would like to adjust my order accordingly before the project was started.
The braids and head band arrived first. They seemed somewhat dark, but it can be hard to determine actual color on a computer monitor. There was also a great deal of visible glue however, the project I intended would cover my natural hair so the color was perfectly acceptable and any glue would be well hidden.
The falls arrived several days later. Upon opening the box, and without need of comparison, it was clear the falls were much lighter in color. Again there was also a considerable amount of visible glue. This is where the fun started. I sent pictures showing the color difference and received an email back stating:
"THANK YOU FOR YOUR MESSAGE AND I'M SORRY TO HEAR YOU ARE NOT 100% HAPPY WITH THE BRAIDED HAIR PIECES." This was followed by:
I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, THERE IS A SLIGHT COLOR DIFFERENCE ALTHOUGH ALL ITEMS ARE MADE OF EXACTLY THE SAME HAIR AND HAIR COLOR. I MADE THEM ALL OF COLOR 30 BUT THE DIFFERENT TEXTURES AND THE TREATMENT OF THE HAIR CAUSES THE SLIGHT DIFFERENCE IN COLORS. THAT IS WHY THE WAVY HAIR IS NOT AS BRIGHT AS THE CRIMPED HAIR IN THE OTHER PIECES. THIS DIFFERENCE CAUSED BY TEXTURE IS INEVITABLE AND WE CANNOT POIT OUT THIS DIFFERENCE IN THE COLOR CHARTS, BECAUSE IT IS NOT REALLY PREDICTABLE. ONE FACTOR IS THAT COLORS SLIGHTLY CHANGE IN VERY FINE NUANCES FROM THE MANUFACTURER NOW AND THEN. IT IS THE SAME AS WITH WOOL, WHERE YOU SHOULD NOT KNIT ONE PIECE WITH WOOL FROM DIFFERENT CHARGES (THEY HAVE NUMBERS TO DISTINGUISH). AND THE OTHER FACTOR IS INOUR HAND-MADE PRODUCTION: SINCE THE TEXTURES ARE HAND-MADE SOMETIMES THE COLOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT TEXTURES ARE MORE, SOMETIMES THEY ARE LESS, THIS IS NOTHING PREDICTABLE.
I HOPE YOU WILL LIKE YOUR HAIR PIECES ANYWAY ESPECIALLY SINCE NOT ALL OF THEM ARE WORN AT THE SAME TIME.
I indicated that was my intention, and I reprinted the convo explaining how I was going to use them. The seller got progressively more abusive. She became accusatory insisting I was "misusing" her hair pieces. She went on ad nausea about how I couldn't do my craft project, and that I should have purchased the other more expensive connector. She obviously refused to ignore the suggestion of notifying potential buyers of this prior to sale may simplify the ordering process. Ever helpful, with help that isn’t, she suggested I take $100 worth of hair, unbraid it and experiment by washing it to get it the right color, then re-braiding it, a process that can't even be done on the head band due to is construction and would serve to remove some of the shine, but wouldn’t address the color issue. I’ve de-shined enough Kankelon with this process to know. Frankly it’s not my job! When you spend over $200 on items all ordered in the same color, you should have a reasonable expectation they will match. Finally exasperated by this individual I said I wanted to return both orders. Then the seller got really nasty. At this point I did post a well deserved negative review that didn't meet Etsy guidelines. It was summarily taken down including the oh so deserved one star for customer service. I was accused of attempting to unleash a "shit storm" of bad publicity. Deserved bad publicity as the seller seemed far more concerned with the prospect of keeping the money, than she was with customer service. All I intended was to supply the contents of our convo, her words, and my words to let the reader be the judge.
To sum up: Ms. Penners in her own words implies she can't supply a consistent product because textural differences and her "process" result in color differences. She states colors come in dye lots like yarn so I suppose unless you indicate you want a single dye lot you take what you get. You can't possibly use her products together because mixing textures is considered a misuse of her product tantamount to the illegal use of oxycotin, and let's not forget, she doesn't feel the need to mention any of this prior to sale, nor will she bring it up in subsequent convos. In fact she'll make no mention of it before starting the project. Absolutely none of it will become an issue until after she’s called on, in this case, the noticeable color difference.
Well this isn't my first rodeo. I’ve worked quite a bit with Kankelon hair. I proceeded to buy bags of regular and textured hair off Amazon, from multiple suppliers, all using the same color code number. Imagine my excitement at finding out there was a color that's a near perfect match to my own hair, #27. Though #30 was readily available I ordered #27 because it made proving my point less expensive. Bags and bags arrived from 3 different vendors; no color difference between textures, no dye lots listed anywhere. Simply, no matter where I bought it, I consistently got the same color. With all this hair in hand I now proceeded to make the two falls and three braids and attach them to the rigid head band like I had originally intended.
Initially I ordered from Magic Tribal Hair because I was hoping to avoid the braiding process. Nerve damage in my dominant hand has dramatically reduced function and causes chronic pain. I say this not for sympathy only to explain why I would pay top dollar for something with raw materials that are inexpensive to and under normal circumstances very easy to produce. It was worth it to me to cut out this step, but I wound up having to do it anyway. Though told you can't possibly use 5 hair pieces the finished product contains 7, 9 if you consider one of the pieces is made from 3 individual units. The craft project that couldn’t be done was easily completed. All this Despite Ms. Penners’ long suffering comments about how she couldn’t help believing that I wanted to return them because my “craft” project didn’t work. May I be snarky again”? Get over yourself! You’re not Da Vinci! You braid fake hair! All you need is opposable thumbs.
Having opened the dispute with Etsy, and with evidence at the ready I posted pictures of the sales indicating the multiple purchases of both standard straight and braiding hair from multiple vendors, as well as pictures of the craft project that couldn't possibly be done containing multiple hair textures, using multiple production methods, and everything magically the same color. I also stated that use was at the discretion of the buyer. The sellers’ not so humble opinion is irrelevant. She doesn’t get to decide how, when, or where an item is used. Of course all this went through Etsy Trust and Safety which means it was apparently ignored. What I did get was a complaint on the part of the seller who couldn’t understand how posting proof that anyone on the face of the planet could purchase matching Kankelon hair from just about any vendor thus refuting several of her statements had anything to do with the case. I chalk this up to a curious quirk of the German legal system.
Well in the presence of the fact that I proved in multiple instances the seller's statements about texture, dye lots, and process are only true for her. That the project I intended could be easily completed. That textures and hair pieces can be mixed and mounted on a rigid head band; I have to conclude statements made by the seller were a weak attempt at not making good on her mistakes. In fact through all of this the seller has never posted anything more evidentiary than because I say so. Really if everything she says is the god’s honest truth it should have been clearly stated on her site to avoid ordering problems, if not on the site, in subsequent convos during the process of discussing connectors. With so much opportunity to get it right, there really is no excuse for getting it wrong. There is a possibility that being upfront will cost you a sale, but don’t worry you can use your return policy to keep the money and stick the buyer with whatever you feel like sending them. When you’re called on it, blame the supplies, blame the supplier, blame textures, blame dye lots, blame the “process”, blame the buyer, but take no responsibility. Where have I heard that before?
Finally after Etsy tells you they actually do nothing, Camille is very clear when it comes to what Etsy does and doesn't do, Etsy will tell you they have no power to force a seller to return money. It’s my humble opinion, but I would venture to say this isn't true. Their power lies in the ability to suspend an individual’s shop after and only after a proper investigation. If the shop is found to be acting in a fashion that doesn't reflect well on Etsy the choice is evident, make it right or have your shop suspended for a given period of time. Legalese aside, and despite their claims otherwise, shops are linked to the Etsy name. You hear phrases like, I got it on Etsy, or I bought it from so and so, they're on Etsy. Quite often the shop name is forgotten, but you send people to Etsy with the item description. When it all goes horribly wrong it becomes, don't shop on Etsy, not don't buy from so and so, but don’t buy from so and so on Etsy. Being burned doesn’t only affect the offending shop’s sales it affects all the shops. After all fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Shopping where you have little or no recourse when something goes wrong isn’t conducive to sales.
So in light of their abdication of all responsibility and as long as it can't be guaranteed that there are protections for buyers or sellers, it's clear no one in good conscience can recommend Etsy as a place to shop. Sellers, they don't even remove disputed shops from a person’s feed. Precious space is wasted advertising the wares of people the buyer will never do business with again. As of this morning ads for Magic Tribal Hair are still taking up space in my feed. They also offer no way of bookmarking a site without clicking favorite shop. This is a distinction that can only be made after you've dealt with a vendor. It's deceptive, and when you realize the shop you're dealing with never warranted that little heart, unfavorite you may, but once again their wares repeatedly show up in your feed. In short, SHOP AT YOUR OWN RISK because Etsy is no help when a vendor using their service takes advantage of a buyer. Etsy is just Etsy, by their own admission they don't stand for any of the qualities by which a business is generally judged. They are a banner across your monitor and clearing house of unvetted shop owners for which they claim no responsibility, the vast majority of which are wonderful. Unfortunately you have no reasonable expectation that those who act in a dishonest, unethical fashion will be dealt with when their practices are brought to light. Etsy Trust and Safety at best will do nothing and at worst will back the shop owner even when that shop owner is in the wrong. Sadly you’re just flying blind.
As of 7-25-2016 Etsy closed my case saying part of the order was used:
HELLO, THIS IS DREW FROM ETSY'S TRUST & SAFETY TEAM. THANKS FOR UPDATING THE CASE LOG.
BECAUSE PART OF THE ORDER WAS USED, WE ARE NOT ABLE TO MEDIATE THIS DISPUTE USING THE CASE SYSTEM. FOR THIS REASON, I AM GOING TO CLOSE THIS CASE. YOU ARE WELCOME TO CONTINUE TO WORK TOGETHER TO RESOLVE THIS TRANSACTION OUTSIDE OF THE CASE SYSTEM.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ETSY'S CASE SYSTEM CAN BE FOUND HERE: HTTPS://WWW.ETSY.COM/HELP/ARTICLE/4521
(Once again you’re given a link to where you’ve already been. It offers no new information. You went there before filing your dispute to get info on the process. You are now at the so sorry portion of the program and all the information on that page is of no use to you.)
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE WITH THIS PROCESS, AND I'M VERY SORRY THERE ISN'T MORE WE CAN DO TO HELP.
(Isn’t it funny how thank you sometimes feel like the alternative for “F” you.)
Well, the items in question were removed only once from their packaging to photograph them. The intent of photographing them was to show the obvious color difference. The items were never used because of the color difference. In trying to determine whether Melanie Penners’ statements regarding textures and dye lots were true I discovered there was also a #27 color that matched my hair more closely. A color I found only because I was forced to find an alternative to complete my project. It still proves statements that dye lots and texture effecting color are nothing more than excuses, with no basis in fact. The vendors also offer #30 in the same brands. When all is said and done these “issues” seem to exist only for Magic Tribal Hair and the light copper #30 purchased by Melanie Penners.
So in closing Etsy does not vet it's sellers, has a totally ineffectual dispute system designed to resolve nothing, It makes/repeats accusations with no foundation in fact, e.g. BECAUSE PART OF THE ORDER WAS USED and doesn't require it's sellers to prove the validity of their statements even in the face of actual evidence to the contrary. There is not one iota of proof that any of the items purchased from Magic Tribal Hair were used, the above statement is a bold faced lie. I have repeatedly begged for anyone at Etsy to read the convos, I have been willing to stand by my statements and be seen warts and all; it is the truth when I say the products have never been used. I should think closing a case based on a lie is below even Etsy’s standards. Obviously I was wrong.