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Mon Dec 15 2014 22:15:58

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native American Goods

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
I would like to make you aware of the fact that eBay is not following its own policy regarding prohibited and restricted items where Native American clothing, as well as arts and crafts are concerned. They claim to be following the guidelines of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (link).
 
To be able to list items such as clothing or jewelry using Ethnic, Regional & Tribal, Native American, you MUST have the artisan's name and tribal affiliation. The artisan must also be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe.

There are many Native Americans that sell on eBay who are enrolled in federally recognized tribes which follow the guidelines set forth in the IACA. Yet for everyone who does, there are dozens of sellers who do not.

I did a search under just one category; Jewelry & Watches, Ethnic & Tribal, Native American, Necklaces and Pendants looking for something that was truly Native American made. On the first 2 pages in that search alone, I found 20 sellers in violation of eBay's own prohibited and restricted items policy by not stating and artisan or tribal affiliation.

Every single one of those sellers has been reported numerous times by numerous enrolled Native Americans for the policy violations for several years. Yet not ONE of the listings has been removed. But on the rare instance where a Native American forgets to fill out the item specifics citing the artisan and tribal affiliation, they listings are ended by eBay for violating that same policy that these other sellers continue to violate, although eBay has been made aware of the violations.

Not only is this a slap in the face to those of Native American descent, it is unfair that those sellers are allowed to continue to sell their non-native made items using the term "Native American", and their heritage as a marketing tool.

If eBay is going to have a policy for prohibited and restricted items such as this, then they need to enforce it. Not just for some sellers, but for all of them. It is not fair to those who are Native American and do follow it, who are now also losing sales due to so many fake "Native American" items being listed as real. Not to mention how a buyer is deceived by receiving an item they think is truly Native made, but is mass produced somewhere.

This isn't just a problem on eBay. It's also happening on Etsy. It's making it very difficult for true Native Americans to sell their items because they can't compete with the low prices of the mass produced items being sold as handmade Native American.

I am on a team on Etsy ("teams" are equal to eBay "groups") that is comprised of Native American artisans who have been battling this problem for years. On eBay, out of the 100 listings on the first 2 pages of a search on eBay, about 70% of the items it brings up are not in compliance with eBay's policy. On Etsy, they use tags (keywords) for items when you list them. Anyone can put Native American as a tag, and have their items appear in a search, even if the term isn't in their title.
E.




Comments (15) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: lostinNYC This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 15 23:19:34 2014

That is very offensive that sellers can break the law (and eBay rules) in this way, without having their items removed.

The problem here, as indicated in the original letter above, is less eBay's policy or lack thereof, but eBay's enforcement.

The reporting process is severely lacking. I had quite a few unimaginative sellers copy my listing text completely and have found out, that the reporting tool does not give many options and generally appears to be not human run, but by machines.
For other issues that impact my sales, I have not even found decent ways to effectively report sellers that ruin the marketplace for others competing in the same category. I don't care if someone else gets the sale, because they are cheaper or provide better service, but to have other sellers swindle their way to a share of the overall sales, is bad for buyers and all other sellers.

How can we collectively get eBay to resolve the issues of Native American sellers?

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Dec 15 23:31:37 2014

Now hear this! All of eBay's policies are "words only"—except where any breach thereof may adversely affect eBay bottom line, then, look out ...

The eBay executive suite—where the incompetent mingle with the disingenuous, the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: MostlyArt This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 00:22:28 2014

What makes an item ''Native American'' beyond the DNA of the person who made it?

I have always been curious but never thought to ask...  

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: SparklyEyes7 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 00:30:24 2014

I'm looking to bid on a Naive American item in a charity auction tomorrow and can't figure out the hallmark.  I looked on n online site of known hallmarks and it wasn't there.  I emailed 2 different experts to ask if they could help identify it and haven't heard back yet.

So am I supposed to pass on it?

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: Puamelia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 00:59:13 2014

I've sold many vintage Native American items on Ebay, and for many of them I did not have the artisan's name. It is often impossible to provide on a vintage item. Many are unsigned. Many signatures are illegible or are undocumented hallmarks. Exactly how is a seller supposed to deal with this?

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 01:31:26 2014

If I cannot identify the piece as an actual Native American item and most are that way, I just list it in the southwest category and stay out of Native American all together.
As for selling genuine made items, your category has a lot of competition and unfortunately, where money is involved rules fly out the door.  

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: Cloud This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 03:05:31 2014

Frankly I wasn't aware of this policy. My guess would be that a lot of the violators are not aware of it either. I've used the words ethnic, and Native American inspired to describe my items. I'll keep this in mind now that I'm aware.

Since my husband is 1/4 Native American and my daughters therefore 1/8 (though none have any affiliation), I would have been especially sensitive to this subject had I known. Thank you for getting the word out.

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: beverly This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 09:29:35 2014

Ebay does nothing about prohibited items..there are many items with titles ''faux ivory'' which are really ivory, but when these items are reported , they are not removed

just give up..ebay is not going to do anything.

my suggestion would to contact the Feds (justice dept??) and report ebay and sellers for breaking the Federal law.

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: MRV This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Dec 16 09:32:16 2014

It is indeed a problem, with so many fraudulent  items being misrepresented.  However, it can be a sticky wicket when it comes to vintage NA items.

This would include unknown marks as already mentioned, guild marks, and unmarked items -- as well as early mass produced NA items such as Fred Harvey jewelry, etc.

Then there is 19th century silver work, pottery, textiles, etc., well sought after by knowledgable collectors, but which can't possibly comply with the Arts & Crafts Act, however well intentioned.

As a result, it becomes a case of caveat emptor, as it does with so many other reproduced items being sold, which is very unfortunate.

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: sundance This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 10:54:21 2014

Good for you, Tiffee Jasso.  I do the same thing, sticking items in a non NA category if I can't get the item authenticated by an NA expert.  

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 12:04:21 2014

as a jeweler for 45 years, I can tell you first hand, not everything is marked and or some are worn off, I cannot speak for etsy as selling there from what I understand, can be a hassle if you invade another sellers turf, ie jewelry. e bay has their search engine set up strange however if not able to identify a tribe or artist, I always use the hand crafted> artisan> other category, with no mention to Indian or native American however for what ever reason it would show up in that search, and have read were others have listed reproductions from china by them listing them as " native American look" e bay has bent over to this effect with someone posting this morning on e bay's take
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/why-ebay-t
el
ls-chinese-manufacturers-what-youre-searching-for/375624/
 

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 12:05:26 2014

here is a better link
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/why-ebay-t
el
ls-chinese-manufacturers-what-youre-searching-for/375624/
 

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: Sick of It This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 16 18:05:28 2014

MostlyArt, DNA, a Native American's blood line, is exactly what determines if an item is Native American or not.  Also, as stated in the letter, that person must be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe in order to state they are Native American.

Beverly, all you can really do is to report the sellers to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board by using their online complaint form.  

It's not that uncommon for a NA artisan to not sign their work.  In many cases, like with most necklaces and earrings, there is no place to sign it.  So you can't always go by that.  When eBay requires you to list both the artisan and their tribal affiliation, it is acceptable to say ''unknown'' for the artisan.  BUT, you must at least have a tribal affiliation.  If you don't know either, you can't, per the IACA and eBay's own policy, list an item as Native American.  One time, my husband was in a hurry and forgot to enter the item specifics, didn't put his name as the artisan or his tribal affiliation.  The listing was ended because of it.  Yet there are hundreds of listing by just one seller alone that have neither.  They even state in the description it is ''Native American Style''.  Yet not one of their listings has ever been removed when reported.  It's infuriating.  Not only can they sell for less than true handmade Native American items, you find the same items they are selling on sites like AliExpress.  You can also buy them pre-made from the same businesses many Natives by their supplies from.  

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Dec 16 19:48:43 2014

I imagine it would take a lot of complaints to the federal government to get anything done.

But for tho who do complain, ebay is just as much at fault as the seller who who doesn't follow the law or ebafia paper tiger policies.

Once agaiun.

It's ALWAYS about the money. ALWAYS.

If ebafia makes money from dishonesty, the odds are that prohibited items, fakes, or counterfeits will be removed.

What is the IACA?

eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America   eBay and Etsy Fail When It Comes to Native America

by: balloo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 24 10:52:57 2014

I have a 26" roadrunner necklace , with 10 small roadrunners around the top , & 1 large on bottom. It is , zuni , it is very nice , well made , the word zuni got it rejected. I had mad customers wanting to know why? All I could say , " ask ebay why? " It is not signed , though definitely a master craftsmans work. I still have it , nowhere I trust to sell it.



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