Can I Refuse An Order On Etsy?

Sometimes there’s a reason why an Etsy seller would want to refuse or cancel an order. Whether it’s because of a production problem or just for personal reasons, sellers often wonder if they can cancel an Etsy order without getting in trouble with Etsy.

As a general rule, Etsy sellers are allowed to cancel a sale and refuse an order for any reason, and without giving the customer an explanation. Etsy gives sellers a list of reasons why the order is being canceled, and the seller can choose the reason before canceling the order. Sellers are also allowed to refuse to accept an order from a customer before the order is placed.

Some sellers have a hard time refusing sales, but it’s important to be able to set limits for yourself and your customers, and to turn down orders if you have a reason to.

Image saying can I refuse an order on Etsy? Artisan shopping directory

Table of Contents

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.

Why would you want to refuse an order on Etsy?

There are multiple reasons why a seller might want or need to refuse an order on Etsy. These include not being able to create a custom order that someone is requesting, not being able to fulfill an order for personal reasons, not wanting to work with a specific customer, and many more. Etsy sellers can refuse or cancel an order for any reason.

1. Lack of time to make custom orders.

Etsy promotes the idea that Etsy sellers create personalized items, so some buyers think that every seller is able to personalize anything. This isn’t really true, but people don’t know that.

Sometimes I do make something new, but only if it’s something that I think I can sell more than once. It becomes a time thing, and if I don’t have time, I just refuse the request.

2. Not enough time to ship the order for a specific date.

I tend to get a lot of people who order things at the last minute, but they don’t always upgrade to a shipping service that’s fast enough to get it to them by the date they need it.

I generally cancel those orders because if there’s no way to get it to someone using the service they chose, I’m not going to ship it.

You can send them a note explaining that the mail won’t get it to them in time, and give them the option to reorder with upgraded shipping if that’s an option.

If someone writes to me to ask if I can get things to them by a certain date, I have no problem telling people that I can’t. I don’t take chances AT ALL because I don’t control the post office, so I can’t promise anything about that.

If there’s any chance that the order wouldn’t get there in time, tell the customer that you can’t help them!

3. The customer has been difficult to work with.

Everyone will come into contact at some point with a customer who just drains the life out of you, and that’s before they buy anything.

angry cat
If they’re difficult to begin with it won’t get better after they buy!

Some customers are very picky, some are nervous, and some are control freaks. If you run into someone like that, they might send you a ton of messages asking questions, asking for samples, demanding sketches, whatever the case may be.

You’re not obligated to work with someone who you don’t feel good about working with. Trust your gut and just cut ties, because if someone is bossy before they pay you, it won’t get better after they do.

Another thing to mention is that you should NEVER do any work until you’ve been paid, but that’s a topic for another article.

For an article about how blocking someone on Etsy works, click here.

4. The customer is harassing you or seems scammy.

This should go without saying, but if a customer is harassing you or seems abusive, you should definitely refuse the order and also report them to Etsy.

Don’t even give them the benefit of the doubt, there’s no reason for harassing behavior.

And if you get a bad feeling about the messages you’ve been receiving, or something just seems off about the order for some reason, you can cancel it if you think it will help you to avoid a scam.

Etsy sellers can be scammed by customers too, it isn’t just buyers getting scammed these days. Anyone can be a target of online scammers, so trust yourself if you don’t feel right about something.

Click to see the video.

5. If you’re unable to fill the order due to personal emergencies.

I’m not saying that it’s a good idea to randomly cancel orders, but if something happens and you need to, you shouldn’t hesitate to do it.

I recently heard of someone I know who sells on Etsy who had a major health event that’s made her completely unable to work in her shop.

Her husband is in a position where he has to either try to fill the orders that she has or cancel them, and honestly, he should probably cancel them.

Your health and family takes priority, so if you ever need to cancel or refuse orders because you have something else going on, you should do it without hesitation, then put your shop into vacation mode until you’re able to get back to work.

Who can cancel an Etsy order?

The seller is the only person who can cancel an order on Etsy. The customer can ask for an order to be canceled, but the seller has to do that on their end. If the shop policies state that there are no cancelations accepted, the seller may or may not agree to cancel.

If you’re an Etsy seller, you need to have a procedure in place to cancel orders. Decide whether you’ll accept cancelations or not, but be aware that you need to follow the legal policies of the country that you’re in.

For myself, if someone has placed an order but I haven’t shipped it yet, I’ll cancel it. It’s no big deal, and if it hasn’t shipped yet as long as I can just relist it.


If the item in question is something custom or something one of a kind, that’s a different situation. You’ll have to decide whether you can resell the item, or whether you can’t accept the cancelation because it’s not something that you can sell to someone else.

These are all things that you need to think about before they happen so that when (not if) you run into the situation, you’ll be able to handle it.

Something else to keep in mind is that not everyone is reasonable, and if you refuse to cancel an order, the customer could turn into a vicious beast.

People have been trained by large online retailers to think that they can buy and return things, or change their minds at any time.

We know that’s not reasonable, but you’ll eventually run into this kind of situation.

If you do a lot of custom work, there are ways to handle this in advance that will clarify your limits to customers so that the expectations are clear for everyone, but that’s the topic for yet another article.

Just make sure to have everything that could happen in your shop policies so that expectations are clear.

What if the order hasn’t been placed yet?

Refusing an order is a lot easier to do before the items have been purchased. At that point the person making the inquiry is only asking, they’re not a customer yet. Etsy sellers should be aware of red flags that can make a transaction seem risky, and also be willing to say no to orders if they’re not able to fill them easily.

If a customer seems to be someone who will be difficult to work with or satisfy, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell them that you don’t feel that you can work with them.

There’s no reason to tell them that they’re driving you crazy, but you need to be firm and not leave a door open.

For example, telling someone that “I’m too busy right now” to do custom work can make them think that if they just wait a month or so, you’ll have time.

It’s better to tell them that you don’t want to take the order because you’re afraid that you won’t be able to meet their expectations. No more explanation is needed.

If they protest, which is likely, just respond that “I’m sorry, it’s just not possible for me to do that.” My friend uses that phrase with great success, and as long as you don’t try to make up excuses, it’s not something that people can argue with for very long if you keep saying it.

I recently stopped selling a specific soap mold because it took too long to make, cost too much to ship, and I hated making them.

Of course, it was one that people still wanted, so I still get requests for it. My response is always “I’m sorry, I don’t make those anymore.”

Every now and then people will ask why, and I tell them that it’s cost-prohibitive to make and send. If they still want to know how much it costs (some people really want the thing) I just tell them that I don’t make them anymore.

Don’t get into a conversation where you’re offering excuses, because persistent people will have objections to anything that you can come up with. Just say no and leave it at that.

Do you have to pay a fee when you cancel an Etsy order?

When you cancel an order from Etsy all of your listing fees and transaction fees will be refunded through your payment account, so there are no fees from Etsy for canceling an order. If the payment was made through Paypal, there could be a fee that’s charged from Paypal, but it’s not Etsy that’s charging it.

Don’t be afraid to cancel an order and lose Etsy fees, because most of the time, everything will be refunded.

If a Paypal cancelation has a fee, it’s annoying, but if you’re canceling the order there has to be a good reason, and the minimal fee will probably be worth it.

Can the customer leave a review if you cancel the Etsy order?

If an Etsy order has been placed, and the seller cancels it, the buyer can leave a review for up to 48 hours after the cancelation, depending on how long it takes Etsy to process the cancellation out of the customer’s account. After that, the customer won’t be able to post a review. This applies regardless of whether the item was shipped or not.

This might seem unfair since the customer didn’t receive a product if the order was canceled before it was shipped, but the review is meant to review the entire experience of purchasing from an Etsy shop.

If the customer posts a review that lies about the transaction and the reason for canceling the order, sellers can respond to the review, or report it to Etsy if the review violates the Etsy terms of service.

For example, if a seller cancels an order because the customer is harassing them, and the customer leaves a harassing review as well, that could violate Etsy’s policies on reviews. If you report the review it could be taken down, and if it isn’t you can respond to it.

Etsy has started being faster with the processing part of it, so most of the time it won’t be 48 hours, but it’s possible.

How to cancel an order on Etsy on desktop.

To cancel an order on Etsy, go to the orders page on the shop dashboard on desktop and navigate to the order that you want to cancel.

cancel order
Cancel order

Click on the three dots to the right of the order and choose “cancel.” Follow the prompts to automatically refund the full amount of the order and cancel it at the same time.

If you’re only refunding part of the order, choose “refund” instead of “cancel” and enter the information about the refund amount. That won’t cancel the order, but it will refund the amount that you tell it to.

When you’re choosing a reason from the menu to cancel, choose the one that’s closest to the reason. Sometimes there isn’t a 100% match, so just choose whichever reason fits best.

Etsy doesn’t penalize you for canceling orders, as far as they say. My guess would be that if you’re canceling a lot of orders for no specific reason, they might pay attention to that.

How to cancel an Etsy order on the app.

To cancel an order on the Etsy Seller App, go to the order and select the order that you want to cancel. Tap the three dots at the top of the order page, and select “Cancel Order.” The order will be canceled and refunded at the same time.

Cancel an order on the Etsy Seller App
Cancel an order on the Etsy Seller App

The old Etsy app will only let you refund the order, not cancel it. To fully complete the cancelation you need to go to Etsy on a desktop computer and cancel it from the orders page.

If you cancel an order and it’s still showing up in your orders, it probably wasn’t completely canceled, so go through the process again to make sure it’s gone from your records.

Don’t be afraid to turn down orders on Etsy. Some sellers feel like they have to take every order that comes their way, but that’s definitely not the case, and if you have a reason to refuse an order, then you should do that.

Kara Buntin

Kara Buntin has run a profitable home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 51,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO. She founded the Artisan Shopping Directory website to promote the artisans who are members of her EShop Success marketing program.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts