Etsy sellers ripping off customers by charging up to seven times more for fake ‘handmade’ products, Which? uncovers

Some Etsy sellers are ripping off online shoppers by charging up to seven times more than other websites for items falsely presented as ‘handmade’, a snapshot Which? investigation has revealed.

Etsy pitches itself as ‘the global marketplace for unique and creative goods’, serving ‘buyers looking for an alternative something special with a human touch’. But the consumer champion is concerned that some shoppers could be ripped off and misled into paying a premium for products advertised as handmade, but available at significantly cheaper prices with popular retailers such as Amazon, Asda and B&M.

In March, Which? analysed the first page of items in a selection of categories on Etsy including furniture, toys and clothes. Researchers then filtered results to show ‘handmade’ items only and used Google image search to see if they were for sale elsewhere.

More than 20 ‘handmade’ items (23 out of the 192 looked at) were also available on other online platforms or retailers and all but two had a higher price on Etsy. Nine items cost more than twice as much on Etsy than the cheapest price elsewhere.

A freestanding ‘handmade’ bookshelf was £59.99 on Etsy, six times the price of an identical item available for £10 on Alibaba, while on Amazon the same product was £28.88 and on eBay it was £28.90.

One seller claims that it is ‘all about designing the best product’, and has been tagged as a ‘star seller’ on Etsy. There are several criteria for becoming a star seller including responding to messages quickly, making at least five sales worth $300, a star rating of 4.8 or higher on average and dispatching orders on time.

The seller’s ‘handmade’ rustic bedside nightstand table was £128.31 on Etsy, nearly three times the price of the same item on Amazon (£43.99).

Which? found an industrial coffee table from the same seller available on Etsy for £146.10 but much cheaper on Wowcher (£59.99), Manomano (£84.99), Wayfair (£89.99), Aosom (£99.99) and eBay (£131.99).

Another Etsy ‘star seller’ had a ‘handmade’ shabby chic chest of drawers for £175, plus £25 for delivery. The cheapest price Which? found elsewhere was on B&Q marketplace – £72.99 with free delivery – a £102 difference on the price of the item, or £127 if delivery costs are included.

Which? checked the details for the seller and found that the profile picture on the account was actually a stock image of a woman wearing a suit. During the investigation, the account had 105 products for sale. Which? checked seven of those as part of its investigation, and found that all were available on other platforms and all were more expensive through Etsy.

In the toy category, Which? checked a handful of busy books – a popular toy for young children. One ‘handmade’ busy book was also on Alibaba where it could be bought for £4 ($4.40) compared to £27.98 on Etsy – seven times the price.

In women’s clothes, Which? found some Etsy sellers claiming items were handmade that were also on Amazon and eBay from apparently unrelated sellers. One of these Etsy clothing sellers had made nearly 9,000 sales.

One Etsy seller had 19 ‘handmade’ items on sale. Six were actually from Asda, one from Dunelm and one was from B&M. Which? found all the other items on at least one other online marketplace.

One Asda side table was being sold as handmade on Etsy for £42.99, while at Asda it was £22 – meaning it was being sold on for nearly double the price. A bee print shower curtain that was £7 at Asda was 3.5 times the price on Etsy (£23.99).

In its house rules, Etsy states that it’s a ‘unique marketplace’ and that buyers are looking to buy items that they might not find elsewhere. It also says that everything listed for sale on Etsy must be handmade, vintage or a craft supply.

To be listed as a handmade item, sellers must have been involved in the making or design of the item. If there are others involved in the process, they must be open about who. That means that sellers can sell mass produced items as handmade, as long as they have had a role in the design process, and they declare that on the listing page.

Only two Etsy sellers in Which?’s sample mentioned any other company had helped in the production process – but researchers could not find any evidence that the named companies existed.

Technically these listings classify as misleading advertising because the sellers pay Etsy to post these listings and make the accompanying false claims to market the products. Currently, online platforms which host the type of misleading listings Which? identified in its investigation would face little punitive action from regulators.

Which?’s research suggests Etsy needs to step up its efforts to scrutinise claims made by sellers. Since Which? notified Etsy of its findings, the company has removed some of the sellers from its platform.

The government is currently looking at how misleading advertising can be better regulated as part of its Online Advertising Programme. Which? recommends putting in place a statutory regulator with powers to ensure platforms have sufficient processes in place in order to prevent misleading advertising, including by issuing fines to platforms that break the rules.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:

“Our research shows some Etsy sellers are brazenly ripping off customers by making misleading claims about their products. Etsy needs to up its game in tackling these dishonest practices, which serve as an example of why a crackdown on dodgy claims and advertising online is long overdue.

“The government must put a statutory regulator in place to ensure platforms have sufficient processes to prevent misleading advertising. This should include the ability to issue fines against platforms that flout the rules.”


Notes to editors

  • More information on the government’s Online Advertising Programme looking at the regulation of misleading advertising can be found here.

Price on Etsy

Cheapest price elsewhere

% difference

Pink Busy Board for Girls




6 Shelf Tree Free Standing Bookshelf




Rustic Bedside Nightstand Table




Industrial Coffee Table Centre Table W/ 3-Tier Storage Shelves




Shabby Chic Style Chest of Drawers




Compact Bedside Nightstand Table With 1 Drawer




Rustic Sleek Design Chest of Drawers




Two-Drawer Herringbone Bedside Table




Scandinavian Style Bookcase Storage Cabinet




Prices collected 23 and 27 March 2023

Tips for shopping on Etsy

Which? also saw Etsy sellers listing items that appeared to be genuinely handmade, and only found the same product on the seller’s own website.

  1. Find out if something is unique – when using a Google Chrome browser, right clicking on an image will bring up a menu of options. Select ‘search image with Google’ and it will show you where else the image appears. It isn’t perfect, though, so you’ll need to click on the related images to find out more.
  2. Look out for on trend items – if an item is particularly on trend, then there’s more incentive for a seller to have products in that design.
  3. Read the reviews – look at the reviews of the product and the other products for sale, but don’t just read the positive reviews. We couldn’t find a way to sort reviews by star rating on Etsy, but we’d recommend scrolling through a few pages to see what the less positive reviews say too. If you spot a pattern of feedback emerging, such as the materials being cheap or badly put together, then tread carefully.

Right of replies


An Etsy spokesperson said:

‘Etsy is proud to be home to millions of unique, handcrafted, and customised goods, and protecting the integrity of our marketplace is critical to our business. Our policies prohibit counterfeit and resold merchandise on Etsy, and we use a combination of automatic controls, manual review, and user flags to continuously monitor the marketplace and identify policy violations. Etsy users are also encouraged to report potentially violating listings via our site-wide flagging tool.

‘Since 2018, we’ve quadrupled our investments in the trust and safety of our marketplace and, in 2022 alone, we put $50 million towards these efforts. Specifically, we are intensifying enforcement of our Handmade Policy, and we have expanded our team of content moderators and strengthened our automated detection systems to steadily increase our removal of resold content.

‘Next week, we’ll publish our annual Transparency Report, an overview of our enforcement efforts for the year. This report will also include details about the investments we’ll make in the coming year to bolster the integrity of our marketplace. Our 2021 Transparency Report is available here.’

Etsy’s 2022 Transparency Report has since gone live here.

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

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