Etsy Customer Emails Debate

Posted by Henry Wolfe on

Etsy Customer Emails Debate

Etsy does not offer vendors a way to bulk download customer email data. Not only do they not provide this option, but they also appear to want to sidestep the topic. Unlike other policies, they do not directly address this topic. You have to dig through Etsy policies to discover what you can and cannot do as a vendor. In doing this, I found Etsy has policy contradictions that could make someone question their motives for not providing vendors a way to access customer emails in bulk.

After all, doesn’t this data belong to the vendor? The person or company that made the sale.

This question has been a lingering debate for some time. Please note that email data is not hidden, and vendors see email data when an order is placed. Vendors also have access to customer email data on the Completed Orders pages. Etsy just doesn’t provide a way to bulk download customer email data. As previously stated, Etsy does not directly address bulk email downloads. They do dance around the topic in several locations. This is what I found on the topic;

·      Etsy does not want vendors violating spam regulations. Privacy Policy, 6. Information Usage,  at the bottom of the Buying and Selling paragraph

·      Etsy does not want customers harassed by vendors. Harrassed is my word, not Etsy’s. Seller Policy, b. Privacy and Protecting Personal Information   and   c. Community Standards

·      Etsy does not want to lose sales due to vendors and customers establishing direct communication. Etsy Fee Avoidance   and   c. Community Standards

 

Not wanting vendors to violate spam regulations while using the Etsy sales platform seem reasonable. After all, Etsy allows vendors to request customers sign up for newsletters. Doing this gains customers’ consent and keeps everyone on the right side of the law. Is this Etsy’s primary motivation?

Let's examine an excerpt from the Etsy Seller Policy

For example, you may receive a buyer’s email address or other information as a result of entering into a transaction with that buyer. This information may only be used for Etsy-related communications or for Etsy-facilitated transactions. You may not use this information for unsolicited commercial messages or unauthorized transactions. Without the buyer’s consent, and subject to other applicable Etsy policies and laws, you may not add any Etsy member to your email or physical mailing list, use that buyer’s identity for marketing, or obtain or retain any payment information.

 

Please Note              Etsy-facilitated transactions

unauthorized transactions

to your email or physical mailing list

 

It seems Etsy is incorporating its policies among privacy laws to avoid giving vendors customer email data. While not violating privacy regulations sounds altruistic, it may not be Etsy’s primary motivation. Here is why;

1.   Etsy provides a way for vendors to download “most” of the customers’ information in the “Download Information About My Orders” section. This includes customers’ physical addresses, and surprisingly, it does not include email data.

Isn’t this a contradiction? Etsy will not provide customers’ email information because it violates personal information handling policies. It will provide customers’ physical addresses, which also violates personal information handling policies.

 

2.   Etsy explicitly declares that all vendors are independent contractors, and Etsy is not responsible for how vendors use customer data.

         Indemnification               and           Separate and Independent Data Controllers

If vendors are independent contractors only using Etsy as a venue, why are they concerned about how vendors use the data?

 

3.   Etsy allows a third-party organization, Marketsy, to provide bulk email download service to Etsy vendors. While Etsy does not officially endorse Marketsy, they don’t seem to have a problem coexisting with them.

Etsy has a reputation for fiercely protecting its brand. Brand identity comes before customers and vendors. If that is the case, why would they allow another company with “Etsy” in its name openly promote an add-on service using Etsy API to operate for over five years?

 

Assessment – Etsy is not obligated to provide vendors with a means to bulk download customer email data. This information is available, it’s just inconvenient to compile. Etsy has little to gain by providing a bulk download service and a lot to lose. Etsy could potentially lose sales as customers and vendors create direct sales relationships. There is also some truth in being potentially liable in violations of privacy laws. It is not in Etsy’s best interest to offer this service.

 

Does this mean vendors should not have customer email data? Absolutely not. Etsy claims only to be a venue to facilitate sales. This implies that customer data belongs to the vendor who made the sale. There are several legitimate ways a vendor could use this data. Want to download your customer email data in bulk? Click Here!

 

Is it spam if a vendor contacts an Etsy customer via email? Not necessarily. This is a violation of Etsy’s policy but not necessarily a violation of the law. It depends on why you contact them. Read more here! Scroll down to the Q&A Section

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