My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1259: A Word of Caution

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 03-03-2014 12:36 PM 1469 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1258: Choosing a Direction Part 1259 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1260: Time to Plan »

I had a good and busy weekend. Even though we had some (more) snow delivered to our area, I made good use of my time indoors and made headway on my new designs and spent a couple of hours each night doing some needlework.

That (to me!) was a great weekend.

There was one incident that rather bothered me though, and I am not sure why, but I need to vent about it here. Those of you who read on a regular basis know that I don’t usually use my blog here to gripe about things. I like to keep it as positive and inspiring as I can. Even though every moment of the day isn’t always sunshine and lollipops, I like to focus on the good things that happen and minimize the not so good things. But I feel that it is necessary for me to mention this because I often have people write me to seek my advice about selling their wares on sites like Ebay and Etsy and I don’t feel that I am being honest if I don’t share this with you all. I feel that you should be aware of the things you need to be cautious of as well as the upside of these forums.

Keith and I have been selling a few of our patterns on Ebay and Etsy for over a year now. We don’t do it really to increase sales, but more so for us to get out patterns ‘out there’ a bit more and perhaps pick up some new customers. It is a lot of extra work for us to even have a few listings on these sites, and we realize that sales from these listings are very limited and in no way can support us. Nonetheless, we thought we would give it a try to see if it would bring more people to our site and make them aware of the patterns we have.

I will be honest in saying that the sales have been low. If we were to have to try to survive on what we earned from those sales, our future as designers would be rather bleak. Perhaps it isn’t the proper forum to sell patterns, but whatever the reason our patterns just don’t do very well. When they do sell, there is a very complex system of ‘paperwork’ that takes time to go through and figure things like fees (to both Ebay and Paypal) and other things like that. It seems that the book keeping involved just isn’t worth the few extra dollars that we are earning.

We have come to realize another problem as well – especially on Ebay. Since we only offer “digital” patterns (PDF patterns) we have very little control as to how to protect ourselves from fraud. On more than one occasion, we send the digital pattern (sometimes multiple times) only to have a customer say they changed their minds and demand a refund. In that case, we really have little choice but to refund their money, after they have the purchase in hand. It is very frustrating.

An incident such as this happened yesterday, and it was pretty much the ‘last straw’ with us selling on Ebay. A customer bought a PDF pattern over a month ago, and yesterday afternoon I received an email from her saying she never received it. Naturally I was upset about it and checked my email and indeed – on the date that she ordered there was an outgoing email to her address which had the pattern attached.

Since in her note she requested I re-send the pattern, I forwarded the previous email to her and again attached a copy. I apologized to her for not receiving it and told her that in the future if she ordered with me and didn’t receive the pattern in 24 hours, to please let me know then instead of waiting a month. I truly felt bad that she felt that I didn’t meet up to my end of the bargain and wanted to make it right. I ALMOST included a free additional pattern as a show of sincerity, but for some reason I decided not to. After all, the dated email was there and I do have to consider my own living that I make from my work. Surely she would understand.

About an hour after I resent her the pattern, I received another email from her. In this one she said she now received the pattern, but decided she didn’t want it and wanted a refund.

I was (putting it mildly) not happy.

I did refund her money promptly through Paypal, but it was at that point that Keith and I both decided to remove all of our remaining items from Ebay and not sell there anymore. This was just one of several incidents such as this and we both feel that for the little additional business we gain from the site, it isn’t worth our time in aggravation and electronic paperwork.

It was very upsetting and frustrating to me to have this happen. The customer did have 100% positive feedback, and I will be honest in saying that while I wanted to report her, I was afraid to do so because of any retaliation on her part with the feedback she would give me. To me it wasn’t worth the $5.00 and I just wanted to wash my hands and be done with it. I have better and more positive places to spend my time.

I am sharing this story because many of you ask me if I feel that Ebay is a good option for selling your wares. I must say that I am very leery of it because of things like this. Both Keith and I find that when we need help or intervention, the site is so large and impersonal that it is very difficult to get anything resolved at all. I believe that there are many people who scam others in this way and while we only lost a digital pattern, there are others who work hard and lose physical products and have no way to protect themselves against customers such as this.

While I do believe that you should give the benefit of the doubt to people, I am not understanding why this customer would request another copy of the pattern just an hour before she decided that she didn’t like it. To me, it is as if you went to a restaurant and ordered a meal, ate it and then told the owner you didn’t want it after all and didn’t want to have to pay for it. I found myself feeling very fortunate that we don’t sell physical items, as we would surely have taken a bigger loss if that were the case. This really left a bitter taste in my mouth concerning selling on Ebay.

As far as Etsy goes, we have a few things there and so far have had no problems. To me, Etsy seems to be a more personal type of venue and while I am sure that people have their own horror stories regarding it, so far it has been OK for us. Again, we don’t have much there except a few things that will hopefully bring additional traffic to our own site.

I suppose that the bottom line that I learned from all of this is to ‘beware’. I don’t think I would sell anything on Ebay again unless I was completely ready to write it off as a total loss if necessary without too much pain. I truly believe in protecting buyers in these forums, but there also needs to be protection for sellers as well, which unfortunately is sorely lacking. Once your rating as a seller is compromised, it is very difficult to earn the trust of strangers back again.

With that said, it was otherwise a good weekend. I made great progress on my next design and I have a photo of it here to show you:

I used the DecoArt Chalky Finish paint to color in this simple and fun basket design that I created. I do have another version of what to do with these shapes though, and I will be working on that today and hopefully have it to show you tomorrow, along with some other things that I am thinking of.

I hope you didn’t mind me venting a bit. I just wanted to spread a word of caution from my own point of view as a seller. Those of you who do business with me know that my first concern is my customer service and making sure everyone is happy. I suppose that is why this bothered me so much.

For now, we pulled all of our patterns from Ebay. I don’t think that we will be putting them back there anytime soon. We are doing well in our other venues and we really don’t have the additional time to spend on something that is so volatile for us. Unfortunately, there are a few dishonest people that ruin it for all. While I buy things from Ebay from time to time, I will just leave it at that and no longer look to sell there.

I hope you all have a good week ahead. I have a lot planned and besides doing the second half of our wholesale order, I have a couple of new things to complete as well as beginning to work in earnest on the lesson plan for the classes in New York. Our time to leave is quickly approaching.

Have a wonderful Monday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

11 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2302 days

#1 posted 03-03-2014 02:23 PM

Thanks for your rant! Although I don’t sell anything on eBay and buy very little, I appreciate your advice to others; in this case “Seller Beware”. With pdf products not only is the one item of use to the buyer, he/she may proliferate to many and they to others. Now your once personal design is public domain. Such a shame, after all your thought and effort to construct it. My week ahead looks to be nice and eventful.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View clieb91's profile


3521 posts in 4105 days

#2 posted 03-03-2014 03:15 PM

Sheila, I don’t read your blog often enough. Sorry to hear about the issue, I did not mind the message at all as it is a good one in concerns to Ebay. We don’t sell anything through Ebay but do maintain a site on Etsy. My sister has been selling vintage items on Ebay for quite sometime and has told us very similar stories about customer issues and feedback she has gotten.

Hope your week goes well. More snow here as well, but hoping to put the time to good use today.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 3054 days

#3 posted 03-03-2014 04:07 PM

Thanks for you thoughts and rant. We are always here to listen.

I have tried for months to set up an ETSY “store” and it seems that I am hung on the last step. I guess it is just dumb me. I do find products on ETSY, like mine, are offered for a price lower that I wish. My pricing formula is simple. I take the cost of the actual amount of wood I use, times a factor I find in a lot of places as a target price. I will sometime adjust from there.

At this time I am test selling through FaceBook using a PayPal link. Only in about my third day so no results yet.

In my mode of selling I would like o have two or three sales per month and build up inventoy for the fall craft shows. Works best for me.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3090 days

#4 posted 03-03-2014 05:44 PM

Well thank you all for being supportive as usual! I do think it is important to share this with people, as some are trying to start out selling their items in different venues and need to realize that there are some risks involved. I wouldn’t be very helpful if I only wrote about good things and the part of the business that is positive. People need to realize that there are risks involved and that sometimes we all come out on the losing end of things. By sharing information we are all able to help each other through the complicated tasks of running and maintaining small businesses. Many have helped me and I do hope that what I share here is helpful to others.

Good news is that I am no longer going to allow myself to be involved in something that has not worked for me. Time for me to move on.

Jerrell – it is a matter of trial and error I believe. Don’t forget that I have been doing this for over fifteen years and I still learn new things every day. Every person is different. You have different types of products than I do and also different expectations and needs. You are doing everything right by trying lots of avenues and soon you will be able to spot patterns and your business will evolve into what you need it to be for you. Your work is exceptional so I have no doubt you will find your way.

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Celticscroller's profile


1270 posts in 2243 days

#5 posted 03-03-2014 06:02 PM

Good morning Sheila. One of the things that I respect and admire in you is your candid way of sharing the good and the bad. I believe that the information that you share helps anyone who is in the business or wanting to start a business in the creative field. We all need to be reminded every so often of the pitfalls of doing business on the Internet.
Your basket looks great. I love the colours an the combination of the bear, kitty and bunny. A very cheery spring project!
Enjoy the day. Rain but mild here on the west coast.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3090 days

#6 posted 03-03-2014 06:27 PM

Good morning, Anna! Winter is still here in Nova Scotia and is showing little sign of relenting. But just a few minutes ago the sun began peeking out so perhaps there is some hope after all.

I am glad you don’t mind me sharing these things. I do receive many questions regarding where to sell and I feel that sharing here is probably the best way to get word out as to what works (FOR US) and what does not. Ultimately, everyone needs to decide for their own business, but I find that gathering information from many sources is very helpful.

I hope you have a great day today. Your time in the shop seems to be getting closer and closer! Take care and have a great Monday! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3416 days

#7 posted 03-03-2014 06:52 PM

I don’t read your blog nearly enough. Every time I do, it’s always a great read!

Now about your ebay experiences… I’ve had similar bad customers trying to get a refund for their purchase. One guy even did a copy and paste of the listing picture to show ‘shipping damage.’ If you do decide to start selling again, check out the legalize boilerplate on many listings and maybe think about something similar. It should make them think twice about taking advantage of a nice person.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3188 days

#8 posted 03-03-2014 06:53 PM

I sort of think that customer wanted a free patten, by demanding a refund and still keeping the file, she has bilked you! I have always disliked customers who do that to put it mildly! Just don’t deal with them again, or if you do, insist that the money will not be refunded in her case! Just my opinion!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3090 days

#9 posted 03-04-2014 11:23 AM

Thank you both Karen and Erwin. If we do decide to list again, be sure we will be adding a “no refund” condition. I did block the person as well. As I said though – I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Thanks as always for your support!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View robscastle's profile (online now)


5375 posts in 2374 days

#10 posted 03-11-2014 07:18 AM


Your ebay story is not an isolated incident.
I have bidded on items and been outbid by 50c then offered a second chance to purchase,
Well if that’s not suspect I do not know what is.
I have since found that the same person has two accounts simply to bid on their items and jack the price up
There are some members who seem to have an inflated opinion of the “junk’ they post expecting it to sell.

I have put a few pieces of wood work on ebay to try and sell, definitely not the correct venue I must say.

-- Regards Rob

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3090 days

#11 posted 03-11-2014 12:07 PM

Yes – in just finishing my book work for the past year, I see that so little of our stuff has sold on Ebay and the amount of paperwork needed to keep things straight just isn’t worth it. Not to me anyway. I still buy occasionally from reputable buyers there, but I really don’t want to sell there anymore. It is just too much trouble for the amount of return. It is a shame that some people ruin things for everyone. :(


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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