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An Apology from Etsy’s CEO, Maria Thomas

Mar 16, 2009

by CustomerCare

Dear Etsy Sellers,

This is the kind of note CEOs generally don’t enjoy writing. Because, this is the kind of note that says, “We messed up, and we’re sorry.”

Over the weekend, Etsy messed up. We prematurely sent out notices to sellers whose bills we had identified as “overdue.” This overdue notification was a change in our billing process. We did a poor job of fully explaining this change and consistently messaging it across the site and in other communications with our seller community. In addition, the change was poorly timed relative to the March billing cycle and poorly coordinated with our recent introduction of enabling sellers to pay their Etsy fees via PayPal. Introducing PayPal as a payment option for seller fees also allowed us to accept payments of any size, so we simultaneously eliminated the $1.00 minimum payment threshold, whether paid by credit card or PayPal. We now ask those owing less than $1.00 USD to pay their balances in a timely manner, just like other Etsy sellers.

Regrettably, we did not lay all these messages out in an easily digestible form, and we didn’t deliver them to you in a timely and clear way.

I am ultimately responsible for this poor execution, and I apologize. I know that Etsy sellers need clear, consistent, timely communication from Etsy in order to plan your businesses. That’s our goal, and we will all work harder to be more diligent and timely with future announcements affecting all sellers.

I asked Etsy staff to roll back the changes (that is, to go back to the billing policies and process in effect prior to March 14, 2009) until such time as we are able to more thoroughly and consistently email all of you about what we’re doing and why. Let me repeat, we have moved back to the policies and process that were in effect prior to this weekend’s communications about overdue bills. Please note that sellers will still be able to pay your Etsy bills via PayPal, and you will be able to pay your bill even if the balance is below $1.00 USD.

Though I don’t particularly like to have to say Etsy messed up, I do want to set our goals and our missteps in the proper context.   

As you’ve heard from us before Etsy is investing a lot of time into establishing a more efficient, scalable and market-based billing and collections system. (Please note: I am referring to the mechanisms by which Etsy sellers are billed and can pay Etsy; I am not referring to systems that enable buyers to pay sellers.)

Changing our collections’ policies is one piece of a larger group of projects intended to improve our overall billing and payment processing infrastructure, including enabling Etsy sellers to pay Etsy fees via PayPal.  We also aim to make more efficient and effective our process for collecting overdue accounts.

These goals remain priorities and our recent poor communication should not overshadow this important message: Etsy is making investments in its billing and payment processing infrastructure that will allow Etsy to grow significantly and to provide better services to you.

I have asked Etsy staff to communicate important changes around billing and collections via emails directly to sellers such that any changes to our billing or collection policies can be fully communicated prior to our implementation of such changes. We are working to get the first one of these all-seller messages out in the next week or two. You should expect several emails in the next few months announcing a few positive changes and improvements in our payments processing and billing systems.

In the meantime, should you have lingering billing questions, please send them to