Etsy sellers go on strike over fee hikes

They're also angry about advertising policies and dodgy resellers.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Etsy sellers are acting on their promise to go on strike. The Wall Street Journal notes some crafters are protesting the marketplace's latest fee increase by putting their shops into "vacation mode" for a week ending April 18th. Organizer Kristi Cassidy and others are also asking customers to boycott Etsy for the same period. It's unclear just how many sellers have taken action, but a petition to CEO Josh Silverman has nearly 54,000 signatures as of this writing.

The catalyst is a transaction fee hike from 5 percent to 6.5 percent. While that might not sound like much, Cassidy noted that this essential fee will have "more than doubled" in under four years. She and other sellers have also complained about a sometimes-mandatory Offsite Ads program that charges extra fees for items sold through that system, and a Star Seller program that pressures shops into meeting sometimes unrealistic shipping and support goals.

There are also complaints of hypocrisy in Etsy's expectations. While the company wants shopkeepers to respond within 24 hours, as publisher Bella Stander said, Cassidy observed that it sometimes takes "weeks or months" for Etsy to answer urgent support requests. She also argued that Etsy's AI sometimes shuts down honest sellers while letting resellers of "sweatshop-produced junk" go unchecked.

The striking sellers have called on Etsy to revoke the fee increase, cancel Star Seller, let everyone opt out of Offsite Ads and clamp down on dodgy resellers. They also want an "automatic fast track" for appeals to AI decisions that limit their ability to do business.

Etsy has so far defended the fee hike by claiming that it would roll the extra money into the business rather than boosting profit margins. These contributions would help "maintain the human touch," according to operating chief Raina Moskowitz. However, Cassidy and supporters don't buy this — they see Etsy as "one of the most profitable" tech companies. They've also cast the strike as the first step in a greater show of solidarity they hope will give them more negotiating power.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.