You’ve browsed and searched for handmade goods and have found some things you’d love to purchase. How can you be sure you’ve selected an artist who will ship your item promptly, communicate with you as needed, and make sure your package arrives safely to your door?
Fortunately, it’s rare to find an artist doesn’t ship at all and it’s relatively easy to deal with that sort of issue if it does occur. The best way to be fully protected (and I would say this about any online purchase) is to pay with a major credit card. In the unlikely event there’s a serious problem you can, as a last resort, report it to your credit card company. They’ll will take the charge off of your bill while they sort it out.
If the item you’ve chosen is on Etsy, you can check an artist’s feedback to be sure there have been no major problems before you commit. Some of the other venues also have feedback ratings, so check them before you purchase. Sometimes the number of sales by an artist can be an indicator of experience selling and shipping, but often new artists will be just as conscientious so don’t let a lack of sales stop you if you find something you really love.
Most venues have a Policies page for each artist’s shop, so look for it before buying. You should find complete information about shipping and returns. If you have a question, send an email or “convo” and ask. If you don’t feel comfortable with an artist’s policies, or if the information is sketchy, don’t make the purchase. An email will also give you an idea of the communication you can expect later in the process. In most cases you should get a response within 24 hours; if it takes longer than 48 hours you may want to rethink the purchase. Normally an artist who is away longer than two days will have put their shop in “Vacation Mode” or at least added a note on their main shop page letting you know.
The venues themselves do not normally get too involved in transaction issues. You can report not receiving an item, but that’s usually about as far as it goes. The Amazon A-Z Guarantee applies to all 1000markets purchases, and Paypal also has a Buyer Protection Policy although it apparently only applies to ebay purchases. Both of these have specific requirements, so be sure to check them out ahead of time if you’re going to be relying on them.
Before taking any action with a third party, be sure you’ve given the artist an adequate amount of time to create and ship your purchase. It’s a good idea to communicate with the artist before buying to ask when they would be able to ship so you’ll have an idea of when to expect it. If it’s a gift or is needed on a specific date, leave plenty of time for creation and shipping and ask if you have any doubt.
If a problem does arise, your first step should be to contact the artist. Most will do whatever it takes to make it right.. And more times than not you will have discovered an artist that you’d be happy to purchase from again.