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Bye, Bye Etsy! Why I'm Going to be Closing my Coins and Banknotes shop on Etsy.

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

I've been dealing in Coins and Paper Money for over 30 years now. It started face to face, then mail order with lists and eventually online.


I've been selling on Etsy since I went self employed in 2014. I offered a few Coins and Banknotes alongside Handmade and Vintage Jewellery in my main shop to start. Business was good at the start and Etsy was a bit of a lifeline. The comission rates were relatively low and you weren't charged comission on your postage charges, so it was a good place to sell.


Over time Etsy increased their fees, started charging fees on the postal rates, applied pressure to use Etsy Advertising, introduced the Off Site Ads scheme (which you could opt out of), put pressure on to guarantee free postage and so on and so for. If you became successful on Etsy, selling over $10,000 in any rolling 12 month period, you could no longer opt out of the Offsite Ads scheme.


So what is Off Site Ads (OA)? Well, Etsy advertise the products of anyone in the OA scheme all over the internet, social media, Google Shopping and others. If someone clicks on the ad to go to your shop and buys something from you within 30 days, you get charged an additional fee, which they advertise as 12% (+VAT). When you add up all the fees this amounts to almost 25%. But it's okay (he says in a sarcastic tone) because the OA fees are capped at $100 USD (£79), thank goodness, but, read on to my last de-activated listing.


25% on true collectable items is an unsustainable amount, there isn't that much to make, let alone pay out in fees. I had to open another Etsy shop dedicated to Coins and Banknotes which wasn't enrolled in the OA scheme just to keep things rolling.


To start, things were okay, there were reviews from a scammer on several products claiming they hadn't received their items, but otherwise it was okay. I started listing more interesting and better items and tried to grow it a little more.


One day Etsy stepped in and deactivated a listing that was an Iranian coin (technically Persian as it was pre 1930's) as it was against their policies and they provided me with a link to the Policies and prohibited items pages. Fair enough, my error, Iranian goods aren't permitted (even if they had been in this country for over 80 years). It's interesting what you get if you search Iran, Iranian, Persia, Persian on Etsy though (as well as Russia etc. that are also on the banned list).


Iranian, sorry, Persian, coin.


I then had two listings for almost pristine Rhodesian coins deactivated. Very puzzled as I now search Etsy's policies and prohibited lists before listing anything to make sure it's not on the naughty lists. The reason was that I was spreading racial hatred (!!???) and any references to Rhodesia, Rhodesian etc. was banned. After Googling I found that there were some white supremacists using Rhodesia as a template for their warped manifestos, but had no idea it was a "thing". I did ask them to specify this in their naughty list pages as nothing was there. Interestingly enough, as of today, it's still not there.


Two, very nice, Rhodesian Coins.


Next I had a buyer (not technically a buyer as they haven't bought anything) accuse me of selling fakes as my Rocking Horse Crown was cheaper than the "re-strike" being sold by someone else. When I tried to explain that a poor condition Rocking Horse Crown wasn't worth much and that these "re-strikes" are just Far East copies that seem to cost too much, he didn't want to know. I don't sell fakes or replicas, other than the odd Operation Bernhard white banknote (look it up, great story).


Getting close to the final straw was an uncirculated Victorian, Straits Settlements 10 cent coin, a beautiful piece, being deactivated for being homophobic! Really? Straits vs Straight? Again, nothing in the naughty list about Straits Settlements currency. I'm not sure if it's just an AI that needs recalibrating here or there is a general lack of IQ applied to these things, but there is nothing about any of my listings that are homophobic, racist or anything else.


Today, 28th June 2023, the final straw. Another listing has just been deactivated and my account is on a watch list with threat of closure for not sticking to their guidelines again.

The email address in the picture is the one I use for coin and banknote enquiries.


The latest amendments to the policies are these;


• Current and exchangeable postage or currency, including handmade items containing postage or currency in a usable condition. No, not something I offer on Etsy as things need to be Handmade or Vintage (20+ years old).

• Collectible postage or collectible paper and coin currency listed for sale for over $1,000 USD in a single listing. Bingo!

• Illegitimate imitations of paper and coin currency. No, I don't sell fakes.

• “Unsearched” or mystery bag style listings containing postage or currency where the items included are unknown to the buyer ahead of purchase. No, I think these are a rip off and just make unhappy customers.

• Items meant for producing or acquiring currency (e.g., cryptocurrency mining rigs, lottery tickets). Yeah, foreign language to me. I tried to understand the Crypto thing, but it's all Emperors New Clothes to me.


So what is my crime this time? The US dollar has dipped in value against the British Pound. Yep, that's it. The latest policy states that I can't list any Coins or Banknotes over $1,000 US, so when I listed this coin it was fine, but now the latest currency movements mean it's $1,018 US. I can list anything else between $0.20 and $50,000 (£0.16 to £41,003.77 today), but not Coins or Paper Money.


Going back to the OA $100 fee cap. That's great if you can sell things over $1,000, you won't pay any more, but if I can't offer coins or banknotes over $1,000, this doesn't really help does it? Crafty.


The offending article.


Now for a final, final, straw. I had an order for a gold coin, sent it to Denmark. The coin was delivered to a different address. The buyer contacted Etsy, I sent proof of delivery and asked for time to look into this (it was a Saturday afternoon). Within an hour Etsy had refunded them from my account. £400 gone with no time to investigate.


What's worse is the buyers account is no longer on Etsy, the email address is now inactive and the place it was delivered to was a mail holding and forwarding site. When you add all this together, it's fraud, obtaining goods by deception and Etsy helped this person get away with it. The response I got from Etsy was to do with their new consumer protection policy and that any order over $250 not delivered must be refunded by the seller (even if it was delivered and without giving the seller an opportunity to investigate. Disgraceful behaviour.


As a result of this, I will be winding down DamianMilesCoins on Etsy. I'm not entirely sure what I will do, but at the moment it looks most likely that I will transfer all pieces over to Coins-Auctioned.com I might keep some of the premium pieces on this site, I haven't decided yet.


Why Coins-Auctioned.com? A few reasons.

1. Their site architecture makes it easier to find what you're looking for and if a category doesn't exist, you can put in a request for it to be added and if it's suitable, they will.

2. The comission structure is transparent: One time listing fee ($0.65) + 10% comission on the sale, + what your preferred payment provider charges.

3. Listing periods are more sensible. Coins can be a slow burner. Although the listing is for up to 56 days, it relists for free, so it could be 5 years or more, with only 1 listing fee.

4. It's a site for just coins and Paper Money, no distractions of hand knitted scarves. No 1,000+ listings of coin keyrings when you search for sixpence.

5. The restrictions on what can be sold are more sensible.

6. No Fakes, replicas or "re-strikes" (other than genuine re-strikes) are allowed.

7. The site is run by, and overseen by humans that understand marketplaces, auctions coins and banknotes.

8. Sellers are able to operate as they would like to and not be under the cosh. This might seem like a bad thing to many, but to me it gives me more freedom to offer my usual, high level, customer service, not needing to jump through hoops of a large corporation.


Click here to visit my new shop on Coins-Auctioned.com


Thank you for reading.


Best wishes,

Damian







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