How To Get A Refund On Etsy (For Customers)

If you’re an Etsy shopper, you might end up not being happy with the thing that you bought for some reason, and you could want a refund or to return the item.

Since Etsy isn’t one big shop, there isn’t one central customer service number to call to arrange for a refund, so what should you do if you want to return something?

To ask for a refund on Etsy, you’ll need to contact the business that you bought it from. Remember that Etsy doesn’t sell anything itself, everything that you buy is going to come from an independent shop owner. They’re the ones who will set the refund policy for their own shops.

Let’s look at some fairly common situations to see how a refund might be handled.

How To Get  A Refund On Etsy (For Customers)

Table of Contents

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Do Etsy Sellers Have To Give Refunds?

Every Etsy shop has its own return and refund policies, but Etsy tries to streamline this by giving sellers a template that they can use if they’d like to. If the shop owner doesn’t want to use the template, they can write their own policy, so you should check that before purchasing anything.

Some things, like digital products, have an automatic no-refund policy, because they’re digital. Once they’re downloaded the customer has the product, so it’s not fair to expect a seller to refund those.

Other products like personal care, underwear, face masks, and lingerie may or may not be refundable depending on the seller’s policies. If items have been worn or used it’s unlikely that the seller will be able to use them for anything if they’re returned, so those items might not be refundable.

Personalized items can’t be refunded because they’re unsellable to anyone other than you. When you order something with personalization make sure that you order the right thing and send the seller the right details!

Damaged goods probably can’t be refunded…Most sellers will expect items to be returned to them before the refund is issued, and if the item is damaged they probably won’t refund it.

Not everything is refundable, to sum it up, so contact the seller about it, but if you damaged or wore something, you might not be able to get a refund for it.

For an article that goes into more detail about returning Etsy items, click here.

How to get a refund if the product is defective.

If the product that you bought has an obvious flaw, contact the seller directly by using the Etsy messaging system (read about that here.) Keep all of your messages on Etsy so that they can track the conversation in case you need to file a case at some point. Etsy can see the messages that you send to sellers, so keep it friendly!

If there is a genuine flaw with the item the seller should accept the return and issue a refund when it gets back to them.

They may or may not pay for the return shipping, but in cases where something is defective they should pay to have it returned to them.

Sellers can send you a return shipping label that you can print out and tape to the box that the original item came in. That will avoid you having to pay for the return label, since it wasn’t your fault that the item was flawed.

Keep in mind that “defective” means that there was a genuine flaw with the item. If the thing that’s wrong is something like you not liking the color that you bought, that’s not a flaw.

Refunds that are requested for the reason of “item not as described” cover actual problems with the product itself, but things like buyer’s remorse aren’t included in this category!

contact the seller
Contact the seller on Etsy.

How to get a refund if you don’t like the product.

If you just don’t like the thing that you bought, you’ll have to contact the seller and hope that they’ll accept a return. Since Etsy sellers are independent small businesses, buyer’s remorse isn’t usually a reason that we accept for refunds.

I mentioned the shop policies, and it’s up to the customer to make sure they understand the conditions that each seller sets for refunds BEFORE buying from the shop.

I sell cake decorating supplies that are considered to be edible, so I don’t usually accept returns. I don’t know if the packages have been opened or not, so I have to address everything on a case-by-case basis.

Some artists who sell jewelry or fashion accessories don’t accept returns because they’ve had experiences with people wearing the items and then trying to return them for a refund after they’re done wearing them.

This isn’t reasonable, but we’ve all been conditioned to think that we can return anything at any time because of mass-market retailers. Small businesses can’t operate that way, though.

If you really don’t like the thing you bought, and you haven’t used it, contact the seller to see if they’ll accept a return. You’ll probably have to pay for the return shipping, and it’s also possible that the seller won’t refund the original cost of shipping for this kind of return.

Don’t expect to be able to keep the thing and get a refund too, that’s not reasonable either. Be nice about it and it will be more likely that the seller will be willing to work with you.

Can you get a refund if you broke the item?

If you straight-out broke the thing that you bought, it’s not likely that you’re going to get a refund for it.

That would be like me buying a vase at the store, bringing it home, dropping it, and then trying to take the broken pieces back to the store for a refund.

They wouldn’t let me return that, that’s my own clumsy fault and I would have to just go get another one.

I know Etsy sellers who have had customers run over their own packages with their cars by accident, then tell the seller that they should get a refund because they ran it over and ruined it. (I’m not kidding, that really happened.)

That’s highly unreasonable, and I don’t know any sellers who will refund for reasons like that.

It’s always possible to write to the seller and ask if you can get another one of whatever it is you bought, and ask if they have any discounts available.

They might have a returning customer discount they can offer you, but it’s not likely that they’ll agree to refund the original thing that you destroyed.

crushed package damaged

How to get a refund for something that was damaged in transit.

If something that you received was damaged in the mail, you can let the seller know through the Etsy messaging system and see what you should do. Etsy’s Purchase Protection might cover damage to a package that results from shipping, or the seller might have purchased insurance on the package.

Depending on what the damage is and why it happened, the post office might pay to cover it, but the seller has to handle the insurance part of it.

Contact the seller and let them know what happened, and save the packaging to show them

The post office always requires photos of the damaged package, so don’t throw anything away.

To see the full Artisan Shopping Directory sections, including signups for discounts, click here.

Can you get a refund for something that isn’t what you ordered?

If you get something that’s substantially different from what you ordered, based on the listing photos and description, you can contact the seller about that. This would be things like you ordering something that says that it’s handmade, but when you get it there’s a label in it that shows it was made in a factory.

Keep in mind that slight variations in color are considered normal since computers display colors differently, and nobody can match colors exactly.

But if you open your package and say “what the heck is this,” then when you go check the listing description it’s definitely not what was described, contact the seller right away.

If they’re not helpful, or refuse to answer you, you might have run into a scammer, which is becoming more common online.

There are a lot of people setting up shops on Etsy, then disappearing with customers’ money and not shipping things the right way.

I wrote an article about that here: Does Etsy Sell Fake Stuff? Pro Tips For Spotting Scammers.

If this happens to you, you can file a claim through Etsy’s Purchase Protection, which you can access after you’ve messaged the seller.

If Etsy sees that the seller has been ignoring you, they’ll most likely refund for you.

If the item IS what was ordered, though, Etsy probably won’t refund it. Make sure to read the description before you order something!

Can I buy things to try on, then send back the ones I don’t like?

If you buy things with the intention of sending things back, you might be out of luck. Etsy sellers don’t work like Amazon, and some don’t accept returns at all. Make sure that you read the shop policies before buying, and don’t assume that you can return things.

This also goes for things like buying home decor items, then deciding that it doesn’t match the other things in your house.

Make sure that you like the things that you’re buying, because most sellers won’t let you return things because you bought a bunch of things and want to return most of them.

This falls under the “just didn’t like it” buyer’s remorse situation I described above, and it’s not a good reason for a refund on Etsy.

This is also similar to people who buy a bunch of things for a party or a wedding, then ask to return the things they didn’t use after the event is over.

In general, you’re not going to get refunds for those extras, so buy carefully.

Can I get a refund for vintage items?

In general, most vintage sellers sell things as-is, and don’t accept returns for a refund. The exception to this would be if the item falls under the not-as-described category, but most vintage sellers are very careful about describing things accurately.

If you’re buying a vintage item make sure to pay attention to the description where any flaws and damage to the item will probably be described.

Check the listing photos, and if you have questions about the condition of an item, contact the seller before buying it.


Kara Buntin has run a home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 49,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO.

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