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Mon Nov 26 2018 11:12:28

Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy recently changed its billing system, and some international sellers describe a nightmare trying to make sense of it, especially when it comes to VAT (Value Added Tax) and GST (Goods and Services Tax). Even if they wanted to, sellers can't ignore any discrepancies since they must reconcile records and be able to justify them to tax authorities.

Etsy is aware of the issues - we sent an inquiry 2 weeks ago pointing to this thread on their discussion boards where sellers describe problems, which we summarize as follows:

1) Sellers say their selling fees are inaccurate and believe Etsy is overcharging them, a problem that appears to be related to currency conversions.

2) Sellers are unable to decipher VAT calculations, which appear to them to be incorrect.

3) Sellers say Etsy changed VAT on invoices retroactively, which they say would be illegal.

Some sellers are voicing their concerns on social networks using the hashtag #5percentis5percent. We found a thread on Twitter where Etsy advised a seller: "reach out to our team at support@etsy.com and a specialist will be happy to take a look at this for you."

The seller said @EtsyHelp hasn't provided them with a link to its Terms of Use showing that conversion of transaction fees might result in slight variances of 5% of the total order value in the seller's domestic currency depending on exchange rates - "TOU says 5% only. Can u give link please," the seller responded.

To get a sense of how complicated the issues are, a seller posted on the Etsy boards an example of their October VAT statement (before the new billing system took effect) and the same statement after the new billing system took effect:

October statement, before being transferred on 6th Nov
subtotal ... £98.36
VAT............ £19.44
Total ..........£117.80
VAT 19.76%, should be 20%, but there are rounding differences on small amounts, so explainable.

NEW October Vat Statement, after switched to new finances
subtotal ... £86.45....so fees are way down
VAT............ £22.05...and VAT is way up
Total ..........£108.50
VAT now 25.5%, but look at all the figures!!!!

THEN, if I go to my payment account, and look at the monthly statement for October, with the circles thingy

Fees and taxes £84.51 (this should be the same amount as "subtotal")
VAT ...... £19.18
VAT now 22.7%

One can see why sellers came up with the "5 percent is 5 percent" hashtag - how can the totals on the same October VAT statement be different for the seller just because of a new way of presenting the billing?

We found a thread where Etsy answered questions related to the new billing system. A moderator wrote: "Retroactively changing your VAT invoices was not intentional. We've identified a bug with some of the invoices and are actively working to resolve the issue. We'll update those affected as soon as we have more information."

However, in response to a seller who wrote, "The 5% transaction fee is being incorrectly calculated for non-USD shops resulting in affected sellers being consistently overcharged for each transaction. I've been informed by customer support via live chat that this is a BUG," Etsy responded:

"We can confirm that this is working as intended, and we've clarified this with our customer support team. The 5% transaction fee charged by Etsy will be assessed on your listing's price and shipping cost after it has been converted to United States dollars (USD). All fees from Etsy are then converted to your Payment account currency. We're looking into improving this and will update you as we have more information."

It would be helpful to see some examples. International sellers continue to report consternation about the new system. Who needs more fee- and tax-anxiety, especially during the busiest shopping period of the year?

Update 11/29/18See update.



Comments (33) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: Smc54 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 06:04:51 2018

Etsy changed me over to the new account system in the middle of November.
The worse possible time of year to do this to any seller.
The new system takes a lot of working out. And the figures do not always add up.
I'm still trying to work out why my previous invoices from Etsy changed.
I spend more time working out my account, than selling or listing. Can't see how this helps either the site or me.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: RosieMo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 06:10:57 2018

I'm an Etsy seller affected by both these issues and so far I have not received any answers as to why this is happening.
All of my transaction and Shipping fees have been calculated at more than 5% in most cases 5.2% although percentages on either vary during the same transaction. Because of this overcharge VAT is then calculated on these figures making VAT charged higher than it should be.
My statements have been retrospectively changed and now make no sense at all, last change rendered them unusable as figures are in US$ and Euros, my currency is GBP as there are no conversion rates given they are just invalid.
As an example of the overcharge I sell something at £19.25 plus £4.75 shipping, 5% of £19.25=96p and yet I am charged £1 by Etsy 5% of £4.75 is just under 24p I am charged 25p by Etsy so over all I am overcharged by 5p for one transaction.
It may only be pence but imagine that over lots of sales by the amount of Non US sellers and that amounts to a lot of money being overcharged.
I have complained to Etsy who's standard answer is to either point you to a generic help page or to deny and dismiss everything you are saying as ''the system is working as intended'' They will not admit there is a problem or indeed provide answers to any and all questions.
Its very disheartening for this to continue on such a big platform.
All of this has serious legal implications for sellers and should really urgently be addressed.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 06:14:06 2018

Seems Etsy has found a new way for money grabbing. WARNING Ebay will be next. They like money grabbing schemes especially when they can give you the run around and you believe it.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 06:23:11 2018

etsy doesn't care about YOUR accounting of how they take their fee's , all the complaining in the world won't change a thing,

if sellers continue to use etsy, then etsy will continue to use and abuse sellers, it's just that simple,

As Donahoe said, it's all just noise,

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: isabella This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 06:38:14 2018

Italian seller here. I'm also affected by the 5% overcharge (average 5,2%) for me. In my last transaction I was overcharged by 3,5 € and this goes on almost since june...
Of course VAT is overcharged too and VAT statements were changed retroactively that is absolutely ILLEGAL.
Support gave the canned answer "exchange rates fluctuations", but it's pretty obvious that they use 2 different rates for the same transaction: 1 rate (favorable) for conversion € to $ and another one (favorable) for the back conversion $ to €.
Of course this is also ILLEGAL in the EU, left aside the fact that, when a currency conversion is involved is MANDATORY to disclose wich rate is used.

I will also report another interesting fact reported by a fellow seller. They charged VAT on VAT on the listing fee ant this is HIGHLY ILLEGAL.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: HappyOne This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 06:51:53 2018

The mask is off Etsy. The 88% of sellers are women many working for very little because they love to create. Now sales have immediate reduction of all fees; previously much of this was in a month end credit card billing. Many did not realize they were actually losing money when Etsy suggested/recommended promotions and free shipping were used. Many are finding with their labor it is like selling a $20 bills for $10. It will/can only last so long.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: FIVEPERCENT This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 07:26:40 2018

Thank you Ina for publishing the latest Etsy debacle.  As others have said, Etsy's TOU clearly state that sellers would be charged 5%, however, they are taking more than that from some sellers whose shop and payment accounts are in the same currency and they will not adequately explain why.  This is a very serious situation which needs to be immediately addressed.  

Etsy's TOU below:-

''To avoid incurring foreign exchange charges, Etsy recommends you list your items in the same currency as your payment account currency. Buyers will see the items in the currency of their choosing. If you decide to list in a currency other than that of your bank account, you will be charged 2.5% over the current market rate to send funds to your payment account.''

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: IanB This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 07:39:43 2018

Charging the wrong rate for fees is important, for me anyway, not just because of the money, but because of the way Etsy has behaved in trying to hide it, to fudge the issue when it's pointed out and the loss of trust in them this has generated.

If that wasn't enough, as a by-product it seems of the implementation of this change, they have scrambled the financial data we need almost beyond repair, creating serious concerns about their financial competence. Sellers in the EU get a monthly statement showing VAT paid. This has a series of line items and a subtotal before VAT. On the copies I have downloaded, the line items don't even add up to the sub-total! Neither figure matches the data in the csv file which is supposed to show the detail! How can anyone think that is acceptable? How on earth did such a travesty ever see the light of day. In their attempts to correct this they have managed to change the currencies. I have no idea if it is just the symbol or the amount. It makes no sense.

Then, if even that wasn't bad enough, they backdated these changes to at least June, altering closed financial documents used for quarterly tax returns, without acknowledgement, without any audit trail showing the changes and retaining the original invoice number! I can show what has gone out from my bank to Etsy, but I can no longer link that to what Etsy say I had to pay.

AND - to make matters even worse, assuming they correct the 5%/5.2% debacle, all these VAT statements will again be wrong, because they will have been basing their calculations on the wrong amounts.

How a major international quoted company can make such a huge mess out of collecting its money is incomprehensible.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: STC11 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 08:20:17 2018

My VAT statements have been retrospectively changed. Total amounts, different between before and after modification, appear it's unusual and illegal. This problem has been reported from many people in the Etsy forum. It's still without an official response and not yet reported as a bug.

All of my transaction and Shipping fees are calculated at more than 5%.
An example of the overcharge one of mine order: Transaction feed on item of 98€ is 5,09€, 5% it should be 4.90€. Transaction feed on shipping of 24€ is 1,24€, 5% it should be 1,20€.
In Etsy Terms of Use exchange rates are indicated on Etsy payments (in my case 4% + 0.30) but nothing conversion fee or other cost on transactions fees is showed.
If non-US sellers pay more then 5% we ask Etsy to clarify it and to indicate it in their TOU, showing also the exchange rate used. Otherwise, it's a bad mistake. In this case, we ask Etsy to work to solve it and kindly, we ask to be refunded for all overloads.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: Floopsie This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 08:34:09 2018

Being charged over 5% as a Non US seller is one thing, but never having been made aware of the fact that Etsy charges us more, then totally ignoring questions about it on the Esty forum for weeks is a rude way of treating your customers..i.e. sellers. Numerous sellers emailed Etsy about the problem only to receive different answers from different staff members. Finally Etsy came out with a statement that the overcharging was “working as intended”... justifying it with currency exchange fluctuations which contrary to the real world,  in Etsy’s world currency conversions seem to only go up in their favour never go down in the favour of the sellers!  

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: rdsao This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 10:10:00 2018

Etsy's behavior on this issue has been nothing short of offensive - sellers know they are being overcharged on transaction fees and we also know that it is not ''currency fluctuations'' - another poorly executed roll out by Etsy and  Etsy's response is deny, deflect, ignore - they have positioned themselves to make millions on this so called ''currency conversion fluctuation'' on the backs of their own customers (the sellers) - what they have done is criminal to say the least

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 10:51:39 2018

@Floopsie "' totally ignoring questions about it on the Esty forum for weeks is a rude way of treating your customers..i.e. sellers. "'

you realize etsy has turned into ebay's evil twin baby sister, which means sellers are NOT customers, buyers are their real customer, etsy has no reason to answer to sellers, they are nothing and quite disposable, plenty of new suckers coming down the pipe,

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: TeenyTiny This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 11:42:36 2018

I'm a UK seller affected by this. I have been waiting over a week for Etsy Support to reply to me after a month of copy/paste responses.

Simply, Etsy states in their Terms of Use that sellers will be charged 5% transaction fees with no mention of a currency conversion. Etsy are breaking their Terms of Use.

They charge VAT on the transaction fee and so we're also paying a higher VAT charge than we should be.

For me the difference is pennies, but that doesn't make it right. Although I sell low cost items, I get orders everyday, those pennies are adding up!

My standard item cost example:
Total item cost: 4.00
Transaction fee: 0.21
5% of 4 is 0.20

Right now, instead of being able to prepare for what is supposed to be the busiest time of the year, I'm chasing after answers from Etsy regarding a problem that shouldn't exist. It's taken the trust and joy out of the site and Etsy should not be trying to ignore this, but admit they have caused an issue and rectify it.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: Iwishiwaskidding This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 12:26:43 2018

Gee it sounds like someone who does not understand accounting made a mistake on the back end.  Wonder how many mistakes we will see when ebay gets into accounting with adyen too. Some things should be kept apart.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 13:29:07 2018

I don't know about Europe, but in the good ole USA, these financial machinations and rip offs are, in many circles, considered to be a fraud and subject to CRIMINAL penalties.  

No corporation should be allowed to get away with this thuggish behavior, because that's exactly what it is.  The sellers are busting their a$$es trying to make some money and Etsy just reaches into our pockets and grabs it before it even comes near our bank accounts.

My heart goes out to my fellow sellers overseas who are going through a worse ordeal than we are in the US.  I hope you guys follow through and report them to the appropriate trade regulator.

Another problem that I would like to mention, although it's a little off this topic, is the fact that we are no longer allowed to pay down our bills during the month.   The sheer stupidity of this is mind boggling as there is no way this perversity can benefit Etsy.   As far as I can tell, it is mere spitefulness on their behalf.   The people who work for Etsy are sadistic monsters who must enjoy torturing people for a living.  

They should all go make an honest living at a BDSM dungeon.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: FIVEPERCENT This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 14:25:06 2018

@Flying Childers
"They should all go make an honest living at a BDSM dungeon."    LOL!  Nearly spat my wine out.  ;-)  

Seriously though, Etsy is foolish if it decides to sit this one out until we all give in gracefully.  It is currently trying to sweep this under the carpet, but that is a bad mistake to make.  Too many people are very angry and want transparent answers NOW.  I would politely ask the CEO, Josh Silverman, to explain to us where our over payments are and when he is going to give them back to us with interest accrued.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: rideaway This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 15:04:59 2018

Same experience, seller from Europe. Written Etsy many times about it. Lately it seems to be normal in Etsy support land to divert te question as long as possible ( so that you give up? ) It makes you feel as a seller not being taken seriously. No one at Etsy support can give you clarity where it is written more then 5%. Even if they do currency conversion, and doing everything in one go with the new payment system, it would mean 1:1, so still 5%.

Regarding Transaction fees, in the seller handbook is only written 5% when looking at transaction fees. No where is it written that non-US sellers pay more then 5%. Etsy needs to be transparent about such things.

It gives irritation seeing that with the new payment system when you sign up for free shipping running up to Christmas you make a chance of winning $25.000 US dollar. But.... only US sellers... Yet EU sellers are paying more, getting always less services and being on and on less visible to US buyers on a so called world wide marketplace.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: BlueDenim This user has validated their user name.

Tue Nov 27 16:57:05 2018

This new payment system is rough. Every renewal, new listing, paid promotion;  to the fact if you need to void a mailing label to buy another is all taken from your next deposit. The tiny amount of money that makes it to our bank accounts is so very sad. I am just happy the phone company, electric bill and cable provider didn't switch this this cluster...

Everyone is right the numbers don't add up and I am still confused on how the tax from Washington and Pennsylvania state factor into this new account system.   That isn't shown on the finance page.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: wilburnet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 28 03:43:28 2018

To minimise daily fees adding up i have stopped Google Shopping and Promoted Listings. Since i dont this 2 weeks ago my sales have increased

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing   Etsy Sellers Describe Nightmare Reconciling New Billing

by: Writings on the Wall This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 28 22:28:49 2018

Etsy has Finally commented on this debacle in an announcement in the forums. They are crediting anyone who was charged more than 5% transaction fees. I seriously doubt that they would have responded at all had Ina not shone a light on this.

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