How To Handle Bad Reviews On Etsy

Bad reviews happen to everyone at some point. If you’re in business, you’re not going to make everyone happy all the time.

How you handle the response to the review is the important thing.

As a general rule, you need to remember that a public response to a bad review is there for all potential customers, not for the customer who left the review. Your response should be designed to show future customers how you handle difficult situations when they arise. In most cases, a resolution to the situation should be attempted before a public response is posted.

On Etsy, reviews also count toward the Star Seller program, which makes them more emotional. However, that shouldn’t play a part in how you handle them.

How To Handle Bad Reviews On Etsy

Table of Contents

What is considered to be a bad review on Etsy?

The Etsy review system is a 5-star rating system, and anything that’s 1 or 2 stars is a bad review. Three stars is fairly neutral, and 4 and 5 stars is good. With the Star Seller program, however, 4 stars and below has come to mean a bad review due to anything less than 5 stars dropping your review star average. This is unrealistic, because not all customers leave 5 stars even if they’re completely satisfied with the product.

As a seller on Etsy, it’s important to know when to ignore the Star Seller program and to concentrate on the customer.

I’ve heard of a lot of sellers who have started to send messages to customers asking them to raise a review from 4 stars to 5, and that isn’t good.

How to handle a 4-star review on Etsy.

Four-star reviews on Etsy are good reviews. There’s no need to contact the customer if you receive a 4-star review. Some customers never leave a 5-star review for whatever reason they feel is valid, and whether we like it or not, that’s how some people work.

If you do decide to contact a customer to ask about the 4-star review, don’t be surprised if they decide to change it to a lower rating!

Because 4 stars is a good review, the added questioning of it can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, and they might add the questioning to the total buying experience and drop the rating.

If you had a lot of interaction with the customer during the order, and you feel comfortable asking them what you could have done to earn a 5-star rating, you can contact them to ask in those terms. But don’t feel that you need to, because it can be seen as being a pest.

Studies on reviews have actually shown that the items that convert to sales better are the ones that don’t have a 5-star rating, but are slightly lower.

This is because there are so many people faking reviews online now, people tend to not trust a shop if all their ratings are good. A few 4-star ratings show that you’re a real shop and aren’t manipulating your reviews.

How to handle 3-star reviews on Etsy.

Three-star reviews should be handled on a case-by-case basis, with any concerns the customer states being evaluated to see if there’s something that the seller can help them with. If it seems that you would be able to help the customer with something, they should be contacted. Otherwise, don’t bother the customer further.

If you’re trying to decide whether to contact a customer about a three-star review, look to see if there’s something in their comment that you can directly help them with.

If they mention problems that they’re having with the product, that would be something to contact them about.

If their comment isn’t something that you can help them with, you don’t need to contact them.

Some customers leave a review when they consider the transaction to be over, and contacting them will be seen as you being a pest.

For an article about what blocking someone on Etsy means, click here.

How to handle 1 and 2-star reviews.

If you receive a 1 or 2-star review, you should consider contacting the customer if you think it would be helpful. However, it’s not required, and depending on the reason for the review, and any previous communication you’ve had with the customer, you may choose not to contact them. If the customer has been belligerent or harassing before leaving the review, it may be better not to communicate with them further.

If you do have a customer who has been difficult and you feel like you’re being threatened in any way, you can contact Etsy to alert them to the problem.

It’s against Etsy’s terms of service to extort refunds from sellers by threatening bad reviews, so if that happens let Etsy know immediately.

If the review was about something that was your fault, you should correct it right away.

If the review wasn’t something that you did, you’ll have to decide how to handle it, or whether to handle it at all.

Sometimes it’s not worth trying to correct a bad review if it’s about something that’s out of your control, such as slow shipping.

This leads us to the next question, which is about removing bad reviews.

Click to watch the video

Will Etsy remove bad reviews?

In general, Etsy is not able to remove bad reviews because of legal restrictions around consumer protection laws. Unless a review is only about something that has nothing to do with the transaction, the review is required to be left on the platform. If it speaks about the customer’s opinion, it’s not possible to remove it. However, it is possible for the seller to post a public response.

If there’s a reason to ask Etsy to remove a bad review, you can do that directly on the review itself.

Click to report a review on Etsy

Under the review on desktop, you’ll see a “report this review” that’s clickable. This will bring up a short menu of reasons why the review should be removed.

Reasons that Etsy will remove a review.

Etsy will evaluate the request and will decide whether to remove the review or not. If they do remove it you’ll receive an email saying that it was taken down.

Most of the time, Etsy won’t remove a bad review because they legally can’t. If they don’t remove it, the seller can respond to it to lock it in.

Should you respond to a bad review on Etsy?

When you respond to a review on Etsy it locks the review in, and it can’t be changed from that point on by the buyer. The seller can delete their response, and can post a new one on the Etsy Seller App (but bit on desktop). The customer won’t be able to change the response regardless of whether the seller deletes their response.

The customer has 100 days from the delivery date to post a review and to edit it if they want to.

If a customer posts a low review they can go back and change it if they feel that the seller helped to resolve the situation, but many customers don’t ever change reviews. Some will, but it’s not guaranteed.

If you respond to the review it locks the customer’s comments in, though, and they can’t change it anymore.

The seller can edit their response if they use the Etsy seller app, but the customer won’t be able to change the star rating or their own comments after you respond to the review.

If you get a low review, I would suggest contacting the customer to see if you can help, or to offer a return if they choose to send the item back.

If they don’t want to return it, or they don’t answer your message at all, you can post that in a response to their review.

The important thing is to show future customers that you’re paying attention and that you try to resolve problems in your shop.

Sometimes it’s best to respond to mediocre reviews in order to lock them in if the customer is being difficult and you think that they might actually go back and lower the review later!

The important thing to remember when responding to a review is to keep it professional, not personal.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a professional response, don’t post anything until you’re able to write a response that isn’t emotional!

Getting a bad review isn’t the end of the world, but it doesn’t feel good, either. Take some time to calm down, especially if you’ve had difficulty dealing with the customer before the review was posted. If need be, have someone help you write a non-emotional response, then move on.

And remember that Star Seller saying that 4 stars isn’t a good review doesn’t mean that 4 stars isn’t a good review. Don’t harass customers to increase a 4-star review, it’s not professional!

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.

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