7 types of Tricky Customers You’ll Find on Etsy and how to deal with them

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Most people think being an Etsy seller is all sunshine and flowers. People assume Etsy customers are willing to pay a higher price for a quality item. They’re on Etsy, so they must love artsy stuff and want to pay for it, right?

Apparently these people live in the same universe where money grows on trees and unicorns shit rainbows.

It’s true that the Etsy shopper is a completely different species than an Ebay or Amazon customer. But when a website has a large following like Etsy, you’re bound to run into a few oddballs. Let’s talk about exactly what you’re in for, and how to come out on top.

  1. The bad reviewer

This one often comes out of nowhere. Either they didn’t ask any questions, or they pictured something different than what they were getting.

But for whatever reason, they’re upset. And they feel it’s their duty to tell the world.

How to Deal:

Keep your cool. This customer tends to explode in your face. Especially if you come back with a thousand excuses or you accuse them of doing something wrong.

Pretend you’re the customer for a minute: You just ordered this thing, you were all excited about it. You thought about it on and off for days. You spent your hard-earned money on it. Then it arrives, and it wasn’t what you were expecting.

Working with this customer is simple: they want you to understand their pain and fix it for them.

I’ll usually contact them and say something like this:

“Hi there, I just read your review and I’m so sorry you weren’t satisfied with your item! I’d love to make it right for you! Would you like me to exchange your item or refund it for you?”

This little gem of a response works wonders. Customers write me back a whopping 90% of the time, and they’re always willing to tell me what’s wrong. They want to work with me to make it right.

Once I’ve given them the most amazing customer service that ever existed ever (and fixed their original problem), I’ll gently ask that they edit their review:

“I’m so glad I could make this right for you! I hope everything works out to your liking, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s a problem.

PS – If you’re happy with the customer service you received, it would mean the world to me if you revised your review. I really want to ensure each customer is 100% satisfied…no matter what it takes!”

Every single solitary time I’ve sent that message ↑↑, a revised review was posted that same day.

  1. The never satisfied

You send this customer a carefully crafted response, maybe you’ve included a mockup, you do everything to ease their doubts, and then they shut you down.

Common responses I get from this customer include “can I see more options?” (often after we’ve worked on the existing option for 4-5 rounds). I also get a lot of “can you just change this one little thing?” — which actually means change 16 different things.

How to Deal:

This customer has a vision, and she’s working with you because you’re her style. So don’t get too frustrated with her initially*.

*I want to warn you that this customer can be tricky. I’ve had customers act like this to get artwork they would later bring to their local shop or artist. They never had any intention of paying me for my work. They just wanted a free custom graphic design service.

If you think this is your customer (trust your gut on this one, it’s almost always right), then ask them to pay a custom design fee. The ones who are trying to rip you off will run for the hills.

Here’s what I do with never satisfieds:

  • If we’re working on a custom order, I’ll show them 1 initial design and make 1 change for free.
  • After that, I’ll ask them to pay a design fee.
  • Here’s what I say, “This time of year, I get lots of requests for custom orders. If you’re happy with the work we’ve done so far and want to continue, all I ask is that you pay a $2.50 design fee to hold your spot in line. Don’t worry – the amount you pay now will be subtracted from the total on your final order!”
  • I provide them a link to a “custom design fee” listing for $2.50.

This method keeps people from taking advantage of me, and it ensures I get paid for my work. I’ve never had someone pay the design fee then back out. This method makes customers commit. And if they’re not willing to do it, they probably had no intention of buying anyway.

  1. The discount hunter

This is the customer that feels entitled to a discount. On everything. All the time. For no reason other than the fact that she exists.

She’ll send you a message just to tell you your item is too expensive and she wants a discount.

How to Deal:

This is a judgment call. I do this one of two ways:

If she’s rude about it, the answer is no. This is my business, and while I want my customers to be happy, I won’t take abuse for a sale. If this customer is rude to you, you don’t want to work with her anyway. Just apologize and say you aren’t currently offering any discounts at this time.

If she’s nice about it (and most people are), I’ll tell her that I offer discounts of 10% on all orders over $15.

There are lots of micro-discounts like this you can offer, but it’s good to have one lined up and ready to go. For example, I’ll do free shipping on orders of $50 or more. I also do 15% off on orders of $100 or more.

But here’s the thing – these discounts aren’t a secret. I put them in my Etsy FAQ which appears at the bottom of each listing. So ANYONE can use them.

Basically, she didn’t read the whole page. If she had, she’d know what discounts I offer. I’m just repeating what anyone can find back to her.

This is how you keep it fair 🙂

  1. The knows what she wants

When I buy things on Etsy, I AM this customer. We understand each other. She knows what she wants, when she wants it, and she’s planned it for some time. She’s probably watched your item for weeks before finally deciding to buy.

Just because I am this customer doesn’t mean I’m not a pain in the ass. But she’s easy to handle if you know what you’re doing.

How to Deal:

This customer will be your WORST NIGHTMARE if you give her a ton of options. When I get a custom request from this girl, I start with one option.

We make changes from there. I try my best to hit the nail on the head the first time, because this customer is NOT a monogamous shopper, she will go elsewhere if she feels like you’re not listening.

If her requirements aren’t clear, I’ll start by asking her questions. Then I send her a mock-up. (As in ONE, singular mock-up).

I’m going to tell you a secret:

The more revisions you go through with a customer, the LESS LIKELY they are to buy. So read her comments twice if you have to. Make sure exchanges are easy and straightforward.

If she asks for other options, only give her TWO max. Any more than that, and you’ll overwhelm her. She may think she wants to see everything. But the more you show her, the more confused she’ll get.

  1. The has no idea what she wants

This customer can go two ways. She can be easy peasy, quick as pie. Or she can be the ongoing convo that never ends.

I’m going to try and help you turn her into an easy peasy.

How to Deal:

Reassure her. She’s come to you because she saw something she liked. You are her style.

Just like the ‘knows what she wants’, give her one option to start. Even though she’s indecisive, she will know what she likes and what she doesn’t. You’ll know immediately if she likes the direction you’re going.

Once again, if she asks for other options, only give her TWO max. Work on revising one of those two options until it’s what she’s looking for.

  1. The last-minute shopper

Part of me understands this shopper because I’m so busy, and part of me can’t wrap my brain around how this could happen. Maybe it’s because I plan everything like a year in advance. Maybe I have a touch of the crazies. Whatever the case, this is usually a super simple, black-and-white case.

How to Deal:

There are two options here. Either you can get her item to her on time or you can’t.

The worst possible thing you could do is try to send an item when you’re not sure if it will make it.

I’m sure you’ve learned by now that the post office can be a fickle being, so don’t think it will perform miracles for you.

In this case, I’ll tell customers normal shipping times and request that they upgrade shipping to get their item in time.

But if it’s not possible, it’s not possible. If it takes you 2 days to create an item and they want it on day 3, it’s not going to happen.

Be upfront and honest.

  1. The I Don’t Read Anything

This customer gets under my skin. I can handle everything else on this list, but this girl is a hardcore challenge for me. She asks questions that are clear as day, and not really worth your time to answer. The worst one I get is “how much will it cost me for two of this item?”

Well…why don’t you look at the price and multiply by two? Or select “2” as your quantity and watch Etsy do this magical thing called adding two numbers together??

Maybe she just wants attention, or maybe this is her cryptic way of trying to get a discount. Whatever the case, I don’t get it.

Ok. Rant over.

How to Deal:

All jokes aside, this one is easy to handle. Because she annoys me so much (and I don’t want to yell at a customer under any circumstance!) I just create convo snippets. There’s a short tutorial about how to do this here.

This allows you to send frequently asked questions to customers in one click. When I wrote my initial snippets, I made them sticky sweet and thorough, so the customer could have a pleasant experience when reading the answer (to a question that’s already plastered all over my shop…just saying).

Here’s how this usually goes:

  1. I get an obvious question from the customer.
  2. With one click, I answer her convo using a snippet.
  3. I move on with my day.
  4. I’m free to forget that other human beings refuse to read even when they’re perfectly capable.

And poof! Easy as that!


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Hi there, my name is Jenni. You’re reading about the Etsy shop that freed me from the worst job I’ve ever had (and a lifetime of working for somebody else).
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