How to deal with a bad review on Etsy

As with any business, it is never a straight road – there will be good days and bad days. If you own an Etsy shop, you will know these days can result in a bad review.

Receiving a bad review on Etsy can put you back mentally and allow you to lose clarity on our goals. But dealing with a bad review is easier than you think.

In this post, we will look at ways you as a shop owner can deal with a bad review on Etsy, how to resolve these problems, and learn from them.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more) Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

What is a bad review on Etsy?

Reviews on Etsy are based on a star rating – 5 stars being excellent (this is what we want), and 1 star is the worst. 

Anything with three or fewer stars is deemed to be less than perfect. Of course, they could leave a 5-star review with a less than ideal comment. Fortunately, for the most part, we look at stars. These show at the top of your shop under your shop’s name and are the average review rating in your shop’s previous 12 months.

How to remove a negative review from Etsy

You can contact Etsy’s support and ask them to remove the review. Of course, you must provide a reason for requesting that the review be removed – not just, because they don’t like me, or it’s not true.

A shop owner can request to have a review removed from Etsy if it contains any of the following – this is not a limiting list, and each case is looked at individually. 

  • Mentions of violence or acts of violence
  • Contains personal or private information 
  • Is racist
  • Threatening 
  • It is a review that you can prove is shilling.
  • Another shop owner has purchased from you and intends to leave a bad review to hurt your shop. (difficult to prove, of course)

This list is not limited – and you can also have a review removed if the complaint is incorrectly directed at you or your shop.

For example – something is lost in the post, damaged by someone other than yourself, was eaten by the neighbor’s dog, etc.

For example – you send the product, but the shipping time was way off since it was lost in the post or damaged.

In this case – Etsy would consider removing the review as the error was not in your hands and could not be controlled by you.

How to report a bad review to Etsy

Suppose the review in your Etsy shop is still within 100 days of the estimated delivery time. In that case, you can report a review using the link below the review in your shop. You can even report a review with 5-stars if you wish too.

You will need to explain why you would like to report this review and, of course, request to have it removed.

Now the big question.

Should you respond to a bad review on Etsy

Firstly – if you see a bad review in your shop – don’t respond right away. Go away, have a cup of tea, and think about your next actions.

It’s often our nature to just write a defensive rebuttal about how you try really hard to make everything perfect. What the reviewer is suggesting is just not true.

Don’t do this.

If the review doesn’t go against Etsy’s policies – it’s up to you to manage as a shop owner. (Big girls’ pants time).

Firstly –

Look at ways you can resolve the issue with the least amount of hassle. Is there a way you can please the customer without feeling you have lost too much?

  1. Now respond to the review IN A PRIVATE MESSAGE.
  2. Do not use the public platform to air your displeasure.
  3. Contact the buyer via the email system in Etsy in the first instance.
  4. Keep your responses light and cheerful – remember every sentence you write is part of your brand, and this is no exception.

An example of a reply – (even if the review said your item is a load of poo and they wouldn’t recommend anything from your shop)

Dear customer, 

Today, I noticed you left a 3-star review in my shop for the item (insert item). I would like to understand your difficulties, and I wonder if you could take a few minutes to give me some further details. 

I understand you were disappointed with the product. As this is the first time I have received a negative review – please help me resolve the issue for you by explaining what I can do to rectify the problem.

Your feedback is important to me, and everyone at (insert shop name)

Kind regards

So – at least this will open up the conversation as to how you will deal with it.

If they say – they would like a refund, and your item is digital, I would say give it to them. By lunchtime the same day, you can move on with your shop and have a cup of tea. Problem solved.

But – refunding the item might not solve the buyer’s problem. You will need to use your expertise to rectify the issue directly with the buyer.

Once you have deemed to have solved the issue with the customer –

Can I ask the buyer to change their review on Etsy?

If you have solved the issue to the best of your abilities and everyone seems happy – it’s now time to ask them to change their review.

They are under no obligation to do so. Indeed much of the advice out there is never to ask anyone to change their reviews, however, if you have resolved the issue, I see no reason why not.

But this is the best-case scenario for you.

Here is an example

Dear customer, Further to our previous conversations regarding the (insert name ) purchase, I hope you will agree that we have resolved the issue for you in a (timely) and (professional) manner. We work hard to ensure all our customers are sincerely happy with their purchase from us and hope you will return again soon. If you agree, we would be very grateful if you returned to our shop one final time and amend your review to reflect these efforts. Of course, you are under no obligation to do so, and totally understand if you do not wish to. You can find the link to do so under purchases and reviews. (Insert link). Once again, thank you for your custom, and hope to see you again soon. Kind regards

Now, suppose the customer goes back to amend their review. In that case, it is beneficial as it means you have not had to get involved publicly. Hopefully, the whole thing can be sorted in just a matter of a few emails.

If the buyer does not go in and amend their review – 

Now, what – they don’t want to amend their review.

Well, you are now safely able to go in and respond to the review publicly on the shops’ platform.

Again – write as though you are speaking to the buyer. Be considerate and honest in your writing. 

Acknowledge that you made a mistake on this occasion and say what you have done to resolve the issue. Other buyers will read your response, and as long as you have been sincere – the majority of buyers will know that your customer service is good and that they are safe to buy from you.

Don’t worry if this is you – I make a tonne of mistakes when I first started on Etsy

Honestly – this can benefit you if it’s done correctly.

Explain in brief what you did to resolve the issue and clarify the customer is now satisfied with the outcome. 

Use your response to sell your products and branding – say thank you and be kind.

What happens with a buyer opens a case against your Etsy shop

If the issue can not be simply resolved, and the buyer still feels there is a case to answer. They can formally open a case against you.

Once a case against you has been opened, you can find the information under your shop settings, community and help, and cases. I didn’t see a tab for it in my shop- so perhaps you only see it if it is relevant.

To close a case, you must achieve one of the following 

  1. The buyer closes the case because you have ratified the problem and is no longer disputing the transaction
  2. You have issued a full refund to the buyer 
  3. In the case of missing items in the post – you provide delivery proof confirming the item was delivered as per instructions.

Each case is separate – and it’s best not to get into a dispute with the buyer in the first instance if you can avoid it.

How to avoid bad reviews on Etsy

Your Etsy shop is a business, and you should treat it the same, whether it’s making over 10,000 a month or as little as 50$. Every penny counts because you are now an entrepreneur and not a hobbyist.

While it would be almost impossible to control everything, here a few things, which may ultimately mean the difference between a bad review and an excellent review. 

Manage buyers’ expectations. Ensure you have told the buyer what size the item is – that your photos give an overall representation of the product. Don’t try to trick the buyer with pictures – because when they receive the product, you can’t hide. 

Delivery times– this can be the biggest gripe for buyers. If the product is going to take an additional 20 days, then say so. Be honest and manage their expectations.

I recently purchased some paints on Etsy, and as I’d checked out as a guest, I didn’t see the email to say it had been dispatched. When I contacted the shop to ask where my item was, their response was – I don’t understand, and I’ve already told you when it was shipped. Hmmm. – now, why would I be asking then? 

Paints still haven’t arrived and it’s been 5 weeks, but the shop owner has already told me – no refunds.

Ensure you are selling the best product you can. This might mean taking a product off sale if you receive a complaint – As I did once, a customer complained of the poor quality print. 

Listen to your customers and build your shop with their wants and needs in mind – not yours. 

Keep an eye on and encourage feedback on your items. Adjust your products based on that feedback, as this will guarantee you don’t spend time making products no one is interested in. 

Include a message to buyers. Build a connection with your customer and always seek feedback where you can. Many sellers work hard to include personal touches in their products, from additional gifts to handwritten notes.

Remember to make your product memorable.

Does this mean you should always give away the farm to keep the customers happy? 

No – not at all. You have shop policies in place to protect you as a seller, and if you stick to your policies, then Etsy will back you up. (For the most part) – 

So – you don’t always have to refund a digital item – your shop policies can be broken if you wish. I choose to refund in the majority of cases. Simply because – the buyer didn’t read the ‘it’s a digital print’ in large capitals mentioned 4 times in my shop.

It happens.

Use your common sense; you can also be a happy shop owner when doing business on Etsy.

Frequently Asked questions

How to remove negative feedback from Etsy 

You can have negative feedback removed from Etsy by clicking the ‘report this review’ flag underneath the review in your shop. Etsy will remove the review if it goes against Etsy’s policies, such as mentioning violence or racism or is a direct result of something or someone not under your control as a seller. See Etsy policies

Can you ask a buyer to remove their review from Etsy? 

Yes – you can contact the purchaser and ask them to remove or amend their review. Try to resolve the issue through the Etsy email in the first instance before you ask them to do so. The buyer is not obliged to remove their review, though.

When can you leave a review on Etsy? 

You may leave a review on Etsy at any point within 100 days of the estimated delivery times or, in the case of digital downloads, immediately the following download by the customer.

Can you dispute a bad review on Etsy? 

The shop owner can contact Etsy by reporting the review and dispute it because it goes against Etsy’s policies on reviews.

When you receive a bad review, should I stick to my policies on Etsy?

Your shop policies are there to protect you from buyers. They provide a framework to work to. You may or may not stick to your shop’s policies during any transaction if it is beneficial to both parties. It is not wise to go against your own shop policies if it is detrimental to the buyers. 

Can you delete a bad review on Etsy? 

The shop owner can not delete a bad review on Etsy. They should contact the buyer privately and attempt to resolve the issue. Or in Etsy can remove the review if it goes against Etsy policies.

I received a bad review on Etsy – what should I do?

Firstly – don’t panic. It happens and is hopefully a minor issue; both parties can sort out quickly and move on. Please do not respond to a nasty review on Etsy. If you feel the review is unfair or has no grounds, contact Etsy and report the review.

Do bad reviews affect my Etsy shop?

It is thought that a bad review on Etsy does affect your rankings. Still, Etsy has said that negative reviews only marginally affect your place in search and have only a slight impact on your shop ranking. So yes, and No.

What happens if I receive too many bad reviews on Etsy?

Well, simply put – Etsy will suspend your shop if they see fit to do so. Administrators can close your shop or suspend it at will. As well as when you have failed to pay your Etsy shop bill on time.

Final thoughts on Dealing with a bad review on Etsy – Remember to respond to reviews with a business attitude and be polite and considerate in the first instance. Try to resolve the issue outside of the public reviews first.

This might mean refunding the customer or delivering a new replacement item. Treat your reviews as a gift and not something to deal with – remember to use the tips above to ensure a perfect 5-star review every time.

If you enjoyed the post – please feel free to pin it to your favorite pointers board. 

etsy and bad reviews

I hope this post was helpful, let me know in the comments if you have any more thoughts to add on how to Deal with a bad review on Etsy.

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  1. Thanks a lot for this post!
    That was my first time getting a bad review and didn’t know what to do.
    I fully refund the buyer and hope she will remove it.

    1. Hello Justyna,
      Well, I think it’s ok for you to respond to the review and apologize and say, I did complete the refund etc. At least if she doesn’t come back and remove it, you can at least use it for your benefit incase anyone else reads it.
      Fingers crossed she will reverse it.


  2. Sharon Maus says:

    Hey-I left a three star review for an item yesterday. (I’ve never left anything less than a five star). The seller had a vinyl decal that was hick, good quality. The color however was super bright and almost neon, making it virtually impossible to read and make out on the vehicle. It is what it is, so I left a neutral review. It was a cheap item, it’s not worth my time or his to return it so I reviewed with no contact. He’s TICKED. He responded with afore demonstrated caps throughout publicly on my review. He commented immediately and sent he same thing via message. “It is NOT neon” I am a rider too. So, here we have an example of refuting the customer-I too sell products, I’ve been in retail and hospitality, even dead wrong customer is always right and there are reasons for that. Right of the bat he calls me a liar and blasts his knowledge of the products color based on his hobby (an orange motorcycle ribbon and his biking hobby). What the heck?? I’m pretty annoyed. I am not required as a customer to reach out to him about a product color (which I just suggested specifying it is a very bright neon styled orange), or to fox it before reviewing but he IS obligated to not be a jerk in response. My reasoning. For commentingwas to thank you for a concise article that I will utilize myself as I sell, and to point out that when you respond, publicly and angrily, you kill any business I could have gotten you. I ain’t telling my friends who want a decal too to use your shop and most other buyers would see your three hundred five star reviews and ignore my three star. But now they see you responded to my three star in a very offensive and aggressive manner. Ugh!
    Thank you for the post!!

    1. Oh, dear Sharon, I am sorry you’ve had to deal with this. Unfortunately you are right, it is in everyone’s interest to keep the reviews both useful, practical and with some style. You did the right thing – except I might have contacted him first. But his response isn’t very helpful.

      Glad you found the article helpful
      Thank you

  3. I received my first 2 star review the other day and I have not stopped crying since. I had a family emergency and couldn’t ship the item out until a little later – she and I communicated and she said no problem – then she left a review saying the item was late and the quality of my item was not worth the price. It completely devastated me. I have reached out to her and offered to give a full refund if she sends the item back, but she hasn’t responded. I don’t know what else to do. It’s definitely eating away at me.

    1. Hello Audrey
      Ok – first things first, we are all human and whilst a 2 star review isn’t ideal, in perspective – your family and kids take precedence over any shop. Simple. Never feel guilty for that, Etsy is not in charge here, you are.
      Now, please don’t let this overwhelm you. Mistakes, errors, difficulties, problems, are all things which build your shop, each one is a learning curve.

      Let’s, flip this on it’s head. You did everything you could, you communicated the issue and kept the buyer informed.
      I would respond to the review with a friendly note to apologise that the parcel was delivered late, that you did of course communicate this with them giving the reasons why etc etc.
      The point of this is so if a future buyer reads the review, they will lastly understand that you had kept them informed and that it doesn’t happen often etc.
      So use the review to show off how good you are at customer service.

      I hope that helps and you feel better soon

  4. I have just received 2 start review from an item I shipped and confirmed customer received 2 months ago, I know she liked the item as she follows me on social media and had her baby in the outfit serval times, I have followed advise on here and contacted her and her reply was the quality wasn’t good , I feel lost it’s been 2 months if quality is t good why not contact me? Try to work it out? I have worked so so so hard building my shop up and I’ve just are star seller and things feel like there taking off now I feel like I’ve been knocked back 😩

    1. Hi Lindsey

      I can feel your disappointment in your written message, and I wanted to reply to let you know – it’s ok.
      Please don’t feel disappointed and allow a single review derail you from your project. You have come such a long way and obviously have high standards and take the customers journey seriously. This is all great, stay passionate about it and you will succeed. For this individual customer, well – you will always find those who feel the need to be critical. It’s often the nature of the game.
      Remember this is how business is, since it can not be cupcakes and candy everyday, it’s how you grow.
      If you have contacted the customer and asked them, well – this is all you can do.
      Just put it behind you, it’s unlikely to affect your shops sales going forward and I’m sure you have lots of very positive reviews to offset any minor setbacks.
      And again – don’t let a single bad review put you back, just move on.
      I’m sure you will do great.

  5. Thank you so much for your article, has been really helpful! I recieved a 2 star review last week saying the colour quality was bad and for the price the item should have come with a frame, I was devastated!

    After receiving their return I have given them a full refund and they have seemed really happy in our private chat so I asked them to update their review, she has changed the wording to talk about the excellent customer service but unfortunately it’s still a 2 star review!

    It’s my only review in the last 12 months, is it worth me asking previous customers (I have 4 from within the last 12 months) to add a review as currently my overall shop rating is only 2 stars? I love my hobby and don’t want to give it up but I doubt anyone will buy from a 2 star shop!

    1. Hello Anna,
      I am sorry you received a 2-star review – but I don’t think it’s worth contacting the others prior to this one. The moment has passed. In your message, you indicated that it was wall art – is it possible to dramatically drop your prices (I’m sorry, I don’t know if this is possible for you). If you can dramatically drop your prices or give something for free it might help your conversion rate – so you can get a few more sales and improve your overall shop rating. I know when I started, I just sold digital and everything for $1. Sounds a bit cut throat, but I was able to get to 100 sales quickly and then I increased the prices. Take a look at what you delivered and see if the price is what make the customer complain about the colors. eg. would they have complained if it was cheaper item? I hope this helps a little. Trina

  6. Can you elaborate on why you think digital items should just be refunded with no further reasoning? I think the opposite in fact, customers can see EXACTLY what they are receiving with a digital item and delivery is instant, why should digital sellers “move on with your shop and have a cup of tea” you seem very blasé about this and I’ve no idea why.

    1. Hello Jasmine
      Good question- the reason I say this is because by the very nature of digital the cost to you, save the listing fee is minimal. And for the most part digital items range across the lower price point and it is therefore not really worth the inconvenience of proving a point.
      In my experience those who ask for a refund – although rare are not going to go away lightly if you just say ‘can not’.
      However the exception to this may be if you have spent time creating a custom digital item of course. But for my part, risking a bad review for less than the price of a coffee doesn’t seem a good use of time.
      Better for a customer to leave no review than one which shows you in a poor light.
      Since Etsy policy’s protect you most of the time anyway – most people don’t bother.

      Hope this helps

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