Caveat Emptorium

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Ramblings

In “Gone with the Wind,” Scarlett is opening a retail store in Atlanta, and Rhett sarcastically jokes that the store name should be “Caveat Emptorium.”  Scarlett, not having the benefit of a classical education, takes him at his word and even goes so far as to have the sign painted before Ashley tells her what it actually means.

I am a seller on Etsy.com.  This is a venue for people to sell handcrafted items.  So far, as a seller, I have very limited luck.  I have sold

  • a bunch of silver metal clay supplies
  • a mixed bunch of metal clay supplies
  • one skein of yarn.

As a buyer, my luck has been even worse!  This year I went to Etsy for a lot of my Halloween accoutrements (yes, I like that word) because I wanted unusual stuff.  So far I have purchased four things from various Etsy sellers, and all but one of them have that “handmade” look.  As Terry Pratchett says, “made by people who think that thumbprints baked into the clay gives it that authentic handmade  look.”

  • A pair of fingerless corset gloves which you can vaguely see in my costume photo.  These looked beautiful in the seller’s pictures, but in real life, the seams were crooked; the glove was almost too tight to get my hands in, and (perhaps this is just a problem for me, and not all customers) the seam that made the flat piece of fabric into a glove was sewn right down the palm, which made it uncomfortable.  Good enough for a costume, though, so I didn’t care that much.
  • A beautifully-made Victorian reticule, which I didn’t even use with the costume!  This was a high-quality item; I will find a way to use it somehow.  Maybe in next year’s costume.
  • A mini top hat (you can see in my costume photo).  Again, the seller’s picture made it look high-quality and very sassy.  In person, the veiling was covered with blobs of dried glue; the striped fabric glued onto the crown was glued down crooked, and – you know how you can get folds in things you’re gluing, and it makes a lump in the thing?  That.  I contacted the seller and she was willing to take it back, but after paying return shipping it would have left me with a really minimal refund, so again, I kept it.  Good enough for the costume.
  • Today I received my most recent purchase, an unusually-styled cotton dress that I’d hoped to wear on Christmas day.  The fabric is quite see-through; I’ll have to wear a slip.  (Ding.)  The construction of the dress is sort of sloppy – loose hanging threads, a big seam across the center back neckline where she sewed her label in, and slightly crooked seams under the arms.  This was a pricey purchase, and the seller’s policies page says “no refunds.”  (It also says “Your item may not be perfect, but it’s made with love in my heart!”  Probably a good warning sign, there.)  I’m really irked, not least because I now have nothing suitable to wear on Christmas!

I am now a FIRM BELIEVER in “caveat emptor,” and as soon as I offload all my stock that’s currently listed on Etsy (yarns and roving), I am going to close my account so I’m no longer tempted to shop there. 

To avoid finger-pointing I’m not posting links to the sellers I’m dissatisfied with.  If you are interested in knowing, so you don’t make the same mistake, you may email me and I’ll let you know who they were.

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