Navigating the Etsy case system

Reading time: 5 minutes

Someone opened an Etsy case against me, now what?” While issues are somewhat rare, not every transaction goes perfectly. Sometimes, they end up downright bad. Often times it’s not your fault as a seller. Customers will choose to open cases for any number of reasons, but usually because they feel like they aren’t going to get what they want from the seller. You’ll need to step carefully to defend your business.

When a customer has requested help via the “Help with Order” message link, and you’re unable to resolve the issue together within forty-eight (48) hours, a buyer may file what’s known as a “case.” Using the case system, a buyer informs Etsy that there is an issue with their order that they were unable to resolve with the seller. Etsy will assist in the resolution of the case between the buyer and seller. Cases are opened because either the package was not delivered, or the customer felt the item was not as described.

Ideally, you would be able to resolve a case with the customer without Etsy’s intervention. With most issues, it should be obvious to you who is at fault, even if the customer doesn’t agree. Whenever possible, you should try and avoid the case system altogether. Having an outside third party mediate the transaction can be really helpful, and Etsy’s caseworkers are generally quite fair. While Etsy has a robust buyer protection policy, Etsy also has a seller protection policy.

Starting August 1st, Etsy will be instituting its Seller Protection Program. In some circumstances Etsy will handle the case and refund the buyer on the sellers behalf with no cost to them.

Here’s what to do (and not to do!) if a customer opens a case against your Etsy shop.

Don’t Panic!

            The first time you have a case against your shop, and may really hit your nerves. Your store is not going to get closed down, and it’s not the end of the world. Take a breath and think carefully. Once you’re over the initial shock, find out why the case was opened, and proceed accordingly.

Gather Information

Go through your conversations with your buyer carefully and make sure you have your facts straight. As long as you’ve kept all conversation within Etsy, you’ll have a complete record of your back and forth with the customer to review. Also review the listing they purchased from to make sure you understand how the product was advertised.

Start Fresh

Always assume that the person reading the case hasn’t read any of the conversation between you and your buyer. Restate everything in the case, upload photos again as evidence, etc. Try to catch the case representative up as quickly and efficiently as possible. Keep the details to the point, and do not get into an argument with the customer.

Keep It Professional

When responding, keep it very professional, simple and even bland. The Etsy caseworkers just wants to get to the point. If the customer wants to make themselves an embarrassment in front of the caseworker, let them. Customers will often get combative and even make things up within the case system. Stay above the drama, and don’t give the Etsy representative any reason to think you’re part of the problem. Not every rude comment a buyer makes requires a response.

Respond As Soon As Possible

Don’t let the case fester, try to respond right away. Once you respond, there’s generally no reason to follow up. Many customers who open cases insist on having the last word, let them have it. Say what you need to in the first messages, and don’t add any more unless absolutely necessary.

Keep Communication In The Case

Once a case has been opened by a buyer, there is really no reason to communicate with them via conversations, email, phone or otherwise. You’ll want a detailed record of your communications, and it is ideal to keep the communication in one place once a case is opened. If a buyer contacts you outside the case system, just politely inform them that all communication must go through the Etsy case from here out. While this isn’t a concrete rule, I think it’s good advice.

Try And Resolve The Issue

            Whenever reasonable, try and resolve the issue, even within the case system. Etsy does tend to pressure sellers into eating the cost of making the buyer happy, regardless of whose fault the issue was. But if you know you’re 100% in the right and the customer is in the wrong, do not give in to the customer. If you were clear and transparent with your customer, there’s no reason to give them a credit unless you made a mistake. If you find that it’s best to just refund the customer, a refund will automatically close the case.

Be patient

Etsy cases can take a lot of time to resolve, it depends on the time of year and other economic concerns. This is normal, just wait it out and remain firm with the customer. The case might take a couple of weeks or longer to respond. There is no need to follow up with Etsy or the customer, Etsy support will get to it when they get to it.

Final thoughts

No one wants to have conflict with their customers, and we do what we can to make them happy within reason. But eventually you’re going to run into an Etsy case. I am an Etsy seller of physical goods with over 100,000 sales, and only about one in two thousand transactions have resulted in an opened case for my shop. When you’re starting out, problems are more common as you learn best practices to selling. Do your best to ship the correct product and on time, and you’ll have an overall great experience selling on Etsy.


Joshua Carlson is a proud Etsy policy nerd and Etsy seller with over 130,000 sales. Joshua’s new website is, which specializes in wooden desk name plates and other personalized engraved gifts.