Friday, January 6, 2012

Leaving ArtFire

My Farewell to ArtFire

I know many of you that follow me are on Etsy and some from ArtFire, some are on both. I have decided to close my ArtFire shop because of several reasons. I posted on the forums in AF last night my reasons, and I have really struggled with this decision. I was such a fan of AF when I joined, but all the things I was such a cheerleader for have changed. I posted in this blog how fabulous it was- I have removed that post. 

My post was moved to the darkest hole on AF so many will not see it- for those of you who don't go in the forums or shop with me on AF, here is my post so you can read it.

A Sad Departure

Tony, when I first came to ArtFire, I was THRILLED with everything. I loved the price- $9.95 a month and that was a bargain compared to the over $300 I pay every month on Etsy- for sales and reposting. I ventured warily into the forums one day to ask a question and you actually answered it- I was floored- I really couldn't believe that the COO of the company would take the time to actually answer a question from a seller. Needless to say, I was a huge fan- I even encouraged several of my friends on Etsy to get an AF shop- and they did. I have been nothing but a rah-rah for AF.  However, I do take issue with how things have been recently.

Here is my problem and my thoughts about the Assurance Program.

1) it is not really an option. Option by definition is: "the power or right of choosing"  You have taken   
     away the "right" of choosing by imposing the following:
     
                         " 7)  If I have a fixed rate and opt out what will be the impact?

A) You will not have the assurance graphic and message about this assurance displayed on your shop and items.

B) A radio button will be provided to shoppers so they can "show only items backed by ArtFire assurance"  this will limit returns on all shopping pages.

C) The email regarding the sale will have a line at the bottom similar to "This seller offers independent return and warranty policies.""

This is not the same kind of "option" that I am used to. My bank gives me the "option" of overdraft protection. However, if I choose not to have that option, they do not tack on additional caveats, such as "If you do not choose to have overdraft protection, you will no longer be able to use online banking". The option to have overdraft protection is just that- an option, not tied to anything else.

If a seller chooses to opt-out, I do believe and others have stated this as well, that it makes us look like some kind of sketchy seller because we don't have the big "AF stamp of approval" and it would seem to me, it should make buyers wonder WHY this seller or that one DOESN'T have it. They have no way of knowing we opted out of something- to them we just look sketchy.

And personally I think adding on the additional "punishment" of being left out of searches is ridiculous. One has nothing to do with the other- and yes, I know you said they have the option to search "free shipping" or "mature content" but I do not think this is even on the same level with those- this is just a strong arm tactic on your part to try and make everyone stay opted-in.

As sellers, and I think most of us are this way, we bend over backwards for our customers. We go out of our way to please them, help them and make them happy. Why??? Because we take pride in our work, we take pride in what we create and if we DON'T make our customers happy, we are smart enough to know that pretty soon we won't have any customers.

This program is totally redundant on so many levels. Most sellers have their own policies and as I already said, do almost anything to make a customer happy.  If a customer can't be pleased, then they have the right to go to Paypal, and have them dispute it for them.  And anyone that pays for something using a credit card can certainly dispute a transaction. So why when there are already so many levels of protection for a buyer do we need another one- we don't.

Honestly, and I am not the only one that thinks this, as I have seen it all over the forums, it seems to me this is just a way to raise capital, albeit not the smartest way.  I bet if you had approached your sellers and said, "hey guys, we need to raise some capital because we have some great new ideas and things we would like to implement to help you sell more, etc….that those of us who are in a position to help, would have been more than happy to accommodate.  I, for one would have- I would have said- "sure, I'll pay $25 a month, I would love to make ArtFire grow and be bigger and better." I mean this sincerely, I have had over 400 sales here since beginning in April, I was a HAPPY seller!  In comparison to what I pay on Etsy every month, $25 would have still been a great value.

But you didn't. Instead you decided to try this tactic. Which as far as I can tell from most of the comments I have read- and believe me I have spent a lot of my time reading them, the majority of people have some sort of problem with the Assurance program. 

Since I am pretty sure this will be my last post- as I will probably be muted or have my shop closed, I also want to say a few other things. (it is terrible that I even feel this way, worried that because I am disagreeing with you, I will never be able to voice my opinion again, but from what I have seen recently, I have no reason to think otherwise.)

As for the behavior lately in the forums:  When I first joined and ventured into the forums, everyone was so kind, helpful and courteous. I never witnessed any of the back-biting, profane remarks and outright hatefulness that has filled them lately.

When I saw that for the first time in the fall - I left the forums for several months, I didn't even read anything. I was very disappointed.  I am even more disappointed now, as it seems that some are able to get away with any sort of behavior and others are muted or are threatened to have their shops closed.  How is it that someone can respectfully disagree with you and they get muted or threatened and someone else can spew venom at another seller by telling them to "fucking go" and then telling the REST of us- if we don't like the language,  "blow me"?  REALLY??? You let someone say this to another seller and you do nothing. Yet several people I know that RESPECTFULLY  disagreed with you no longer have a voice. amazing.

My great disappointment:

Tony, the way you come across sometimes and the way you talk down to some of your sellers on occasion makes me think that you consider us a bunch of hobbyists, sitting around our houses, glueing sequins onto things and that we have no business sense at all.

I owned an invitation/stationery manufacturing business for 7 years, until I sold it 3 years ago. I had employees, I had over 100 dealers nationwide selling my invitations. The only reason I sold it was sheer exhaustion- I worked 16-18 hour days 7 days a week for 7 years.  I worked that hard because I wanted it to be a success and it was a HUGE success!  I KNOW what it takes to run a business, I did the accounting, I did the designing, I did the marketing- I had employees, overhead and inventory. I am not some ditsy housewife that has no concept of business principles.  I am sure most of the people that sell their things on here do too. No one likes to be talked down to in the condescending manner that you use sometimes, like we are a bunch of morons who you believe can't understand basic business and financial principles and that you wish we would just go glue our sequins and leave you alone.

I am so sad how this has turned out- my husband even remarked that he couldn't believe it, because for months when he came home all I did was talk about how great ArtFire was. And it WAS- it was before all the hatefulness in the forums, before you decided that we were all so beneath you that we weren't worth listening to anymore. 

The way I think you would like things to work reminds me of the "Charge of  the Light Brigade"  where the soldiers blindly rode into death following their leader- even though they knew he was making a mistake

"Their's not to make reply,
 Their's not to reason why,
 Their's but to do and die:
 Into the Valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred."

Well I for one, will not be foliowing you into the valley.  I wish you all great success, I hope you grow and flourish, but I can't stay under the circumstances and am truly sad to leave.  I wish things could have been different.

**********************************************************************************

I will be putting all my time and energy into my website and blog and Etsy store from now on!
thanks for being my customers, my friends and I hope we all have a wonderful and prosperous 2012! 

17 comments:

  1. You said it so much better than most of us.

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  2. Very well said, indeed. I am one seller who has been silent in the forums as I've watched everything unfold. I am sure there are many of us who have remained silent & will just close up shop & leave Artfire b/c we don't agree with these strong arm tactics...

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  3. I had been there since 2008 and downgraded before Christmas. I do not believe it has anything to do with buyer assurance. That is the sugar to get people to swallow a forced rate increase via extortion tactics. I saw it as the first of many to come.

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  4. I think he is going to find out there are a lot more people than he thinks feel the way I do- let me know where I can find you intothedawn and coltpixy- I am on Etsy and would love to favorite and circle you there!

    thanks again!

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  5. I happened to read your post on Artfire, and considered it very thoughtful indeed. I'm shocked (or maybe not), that it has been removed! How absurd.

    Back "in the day," the beginning, admin said they would not run the forums like Etsy and mute people or remove threads, etc. So much has changed from what we were led to believe regarding the running of Artfire. It's nothing like what they told us back then.

    Appalling is the word which comes to mind. I think you were respectful, and insightful in your forum posts.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here as well.

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  6. I'd like to add, I think you should join us on Plurk Beth. Many of us have been following your saga, and we support you.

    Plurk is somewhat like twitter, in that we have a limited amount of words, but we can add to our posts, and you follow friends and their conversations - if you are not familiar with plurk. It's a wonderful community of people.

    If you'd like to take a look, just follow my invitation link: http://www.plurk.com/essensu/invite

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  7. thanks essensu- I will do that- the post is still there, just buried I think, but if you look under "hot topics" you can find it

    gonna check out plurk later tonight- thanks for the support!

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  8. Don't shortchange your words Beth, because they were so well worded and eloquent, and moving. PS ~ You can find lots of us on plurk.

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  9. thank you again you wonderful alchemist!

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  10. I am on etsy I circled you earlier before I replied to your blog. I am ColtPixy everywhere.

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  11. Wonderfully worded post that so many ArtFire sellers are feeling right now. Thank you for posting.

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  12. thanks barlee- I really appreciate that!

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  13. Bravo Beth couldn't have said it better, lots of us feel the same way as you. Artfire has changed so much & I believe it's heading towards a place that many of us feel the need to look around for other avenues. Many blessings and good fortune to you & yours...

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  14. thank you Vamp, I think you are exactly right and I wish you great success wherever you are! Let me know if you have an etsy store and I will favorite you and put you in my circle.

    thanks again and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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