What Happens When An Etsy Customer Files A Case?

If a customer files a case against your Etsy shop, it doesn’t feel good, but it’s not always a bad thing.

If the case relates to a mistake that you made, you should fix it as the seller. That’s just the right thing to do.

Sometimes, though, you didn’t do anything wrong and the customer isn’t really justified in filing a claim against your shop. So what happens if a customer does file a case against your Etsy shop?

When a customer files a case against your Etsy shop, Etsy will contact you to tell you that there’s an open case against your shop, and what the customer is complaining about. You’ll be able to respond to the case by sending in information from your side of the dispute, and then Etsy will take over and will make a decision about whether the customer will receive a refund or not.

Until recently, Etsy would refund customers from the seller’s account, but that’s not always the case now because of the Purchase Protection Program. Let’s take a look at how the entire process works.

What Happens When An Etsy Customer Files A Case?

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When can customers file cases on Etsy?

Customers can file cases if they don’t receive the thing that they bought, if it arrives damaged, or if it’s not as described. These are handled in different ways, but Etsy has started closing cases really quickly recently, to the point that it’s obvious that they’re using bots to do it.

Some types of cases take longer than others to resolve, but it’s important to respond to a case as quickly as possible just to make sure you get to have a say in it.

Etsy started putting a message in the seller contact form at the end of 2022, which tells customers that they need to contact the seller before opening a case, and they need to give the seller 48 hours to respond.

I’ve heard anecdotes about customers opening cases faster than that, though, so there’s no guarantee that they’ll have to wait.

Some sellers have said that customers sent a convo, opened a case almost immediately after that, and Etsy closed the case and refunded their money before the seller had time to respond to it!

If that happens to you, you can contact Etsy support and complain about it, because that’s not how they’ve said the system is supposed to work.

Some sellers have had the refunds given back to them if Etsy took the money from the seller account, but others haven’t been so lucky. It’s definitely worth trying, though!

Items not-as-described cases.

On Etsy, the type of case that will take the longest to close is usually the not-as-described case. That’s because the buyer will be sending photos to Etsy to show what they received, and you should have the chance to respond.

I had a recent not-as-described case opened against my shop and it only took a few hours to close in my favor because the customer had sent me a photo in a convo showing the item that I sent her.

In this specific case Etsy was able to look at the photos in the convos between the customer and myself to see what had been discussed, and they could see that I had sent what was ordered.

Since Etsy support is able to access the convo system to see anything that we write, it’s not that hard to decide how to handle a case if the customer did contact you before they opened the case.

They can check any details and gauge whether the seller was trying to be helpful, and that does seem to weigh in how they decide whether to close the case in the customer’s favor or not.

This kind of case isn’t covered under the Purchase Protection Program, so if the customer opens one of these cases and Etsy decides in the customer’s favor, the refund will come out of the seller’s pocket.

crushed package
This package was definitely damaged in transit.

Damaged item cases.

If a customer receives an item that’s damaged in transit, you can either refund it or have the customer open a case through Etsy’s Purchase Protection Program. Etsy gives you one refund that’s paid by them per year for damaged packages, but after that, you’re responsible for refunding the cost of the item.

If you have postal insurance on the package you can file a claim with the post office and potentially get refunded through them.

I’ve had pretty good luck with postal insurance when I had to file a claim, but not every package is insured.

If you send things that are on the expensive side you should look into the cost of buying insurance from the post office since it’s an extra layer of protection in case you end up having to refund a customer.

Item not received cases.

If an Etsy customer says that they didn’t receive their package, that could be covered under the Purchase Protection Program. The customer should check with the post office first if there’s a tracking number that can help trace what happened to the package, but after that Etsy might refund the customer’s cost out of Etsy’s funds, not the seller’s account.

If the package wasn’t sent with tracking, or if it was sent later than it was supposed to be, Purchase Protection doesn’t apply, and if Etsy closes the case in the buyer’s favor the seller will have to pay for the refund.

One thing that seems to be working differently from how the Purchase Protection says it’s structured is that Etsy has been refunding packages that fall outside the guidelines. I don’t know if that was something they were doing only during the holiday shopping season, though, so we should assume that the limits of the program are what they say they are.

For an in-depth article about how the Purchase Protection Program works, click here.

Where can you see if you have cases open in your shop?

If you go to your Etsy shop dashboard and look in the Commuity & Help tab, you’ll be able to click on the “cases” link. That will take you to the spot where they list all of the cases that are open or have been opened agaisnt your shop, and how they were resolved.

Where to see cases that are opened in your shop.

You can see all of the cases that have been opened in the past, or that are open now, in this section. Click on the different sections to see everything and keep track of any open cases.

If you do have a case that’s open right now, there will be a little dot next to the Community & Help link, so it sits there as an unpleasant reminder for you to see.

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

What notifications will you receive?

If someone opens a case against your shop, Etsy will email you, and the little dot will show up on the shop dashboard community link. The emails will keep you up-to-date on the progress of the case, and there will be a way for you to respond with any information that you want to add.

I recently had a customer contact me to say that her order hadn’t arrived. She was also an Etsy seller so she was very nice about it, and I told her that she should follow up with the post office but since it had been a long time since the package had shipped, it was probably lost or stolen.

She checked with the post office but that didn’t help, so she filed a claim with Etsy.

They sent me this email (I’ve taken out the personal information for privacy):

The first email I received about an opened case.

I received that one on a Thursday at 8pm. I sent in my response and said that I had spoken to the customer and that she had checked with the post office, but that they couldn’t help her, and that this should be covered through Purchase Protection.

One of the rules about this type of case is that you’re supposed to check with the post office first to see if they can fix the problem. In this case, they couldn’t.

On Friday at 3am, which was 7 hours after the case was opened, Etsy’s trust team emailed to say that the case qualified for Purchase Protection and that Etsy would be refunding the cost of the item out of their funds.

Two minutes after that email, there was another one that detailed the order number and resolution of the case and gave me a link to go to the shop dashboard to see the details.

The final email.

In this situation, Etsy covered the cost of the refund, but they don’t guarantee that they’ll do that every time.

Will cases hurt my Etsy shop?

Cases that are opened against your shop can hurt you if they’re for things like copyright or trademark infringement, or if you have too many open cases for shipping problems, potentially even if they’re Purchase Protection-type reasons.

Some sellers had a lot of Purchase Protection-covered cases opened against their shops that were covered during the holiday shopping season, but they still received emails from Etsy putting them on notice for having too many cases.

Etsy said that anything covered under Purchase Protection wouldn’t count against your shop, but that might not be the case.

The best thing to do is to try to limit or avoid having cases opened to begin with, but an infrequent Purchase Protection case shouldn’t hurt your shop.

Copyright and Trademark infringement cases that are opened against you by another business will hurt your shop if you don’t file a counterclaim, and Etsy might put a payment reserve on your shop if you do have one of those opened up.

To read about how to avoid copyright infringement cases, click here.

The best course of action when a customer has a problem is to try to fix any mistakes that you made, but if you know that a case does fall under Purchase Protection it’s worth it to ask the customer to file a case about that.

It shouldn’t hurt your Etsy shop (unless you have a ton of cases opened at the same time, apparently,) and if Etsy refunds the customer you won’t lose the money for the sale.

Be aware, though, that the damaged items cases will only give you one refund out of Etsy’s money per year, so if you tend to get a lot of those you might want to improve your packaging to avoid paying for those refunds!

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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