It’s every seller’s worst nightmare: The 1 star review. And I got it. It was the one and only 1 star review I ever got, a tiny sentence: “It broke apart within 2 weeks.”
Since this was an order from the US and I am located in Greece, the review took quite a while to come – and I had not the slightest idea what could have gone wrong with this bracelet.
“It broke apart” was not helpful at all to understand what happened (or how and why) and I was – almost – devastated.
In a matter of seconds, millions of thoughts crossed my mind: Now everyone would think I am a scammer, that I probably buy cheap, mass producted stuff for 50 cents and re-sell them as genuinely handmade pieces.
That my sales would drop sharp (and at this very same moment, I started caclulating the bills I wouldn’t be able to pay anymore.)
That Etsy would even suspend my shop.
That this was the end of a not-even-started-journey to my freedom.
Among many others.
That night, I fought the urge to message the customer about it. I was upset and probably would have said the wrong things.
I was very confident about my materials.
I was very confident about my work.
I would gladly refund – but could not replace with a same bracelet, as it was unique – a bracelet I had made with a single large rice semi-precious bead, and had no other.
I had no idea what went wrong with this order.
So, I went to sleep.
Next morning, I decided to contact my customer. I said I was deeply sorry about their experience, assuring them that this has never happened before – and it was the truth: No one ever complained about anything that they had bought from me.
I told my customer that I could refund or offer a free replacement of this and that similar bracelets, but not exactly the same, still asking them to tell me where was the fault about the one they ordered.
It was the bead? It was the leather cord? It was the braiding?
Where did I mess up with it?
I kindly asked for their feedback. I told them how much I respect their comments and how helpful they would be to me, to improve my work and make sure this never happens again.
Two weeks passed before I got any response.
The customer told me they are sorry for such a harsh feedback, but it was very dissapointing, as they waited for it with so much excitement and joy, just to see it braking apart so soon.
Again, I apologised deeply.
He was right! I would probably have done the exact same thing.
Shopping online has risks; You cannot see the product apart from few pictures that are carefully taken and edited for the best outcome. You cannot try it on, see how it looks on you, inspect it on every angle, feel its touch on your skin.
You only have a few pictures and what the seller tells you about it in the product’s description, hopefully along with some feedback from other customers who had bought the same.
When shopping online, you pay first and see what you bought later. And in some cases, as in my case, much later.
Two more weeks passed in silence.
I decided to reach out to him again.
I sent the links of the similar looking bracelets that I could offer as a replacement. Or, I would gladly issue a full refund.
Reluctangly, he replied back: “I would like the first one, please.”
Alas! I immediately prepared it.
I wrote a little note, too: “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make up for this. I hope you enjoy wearing it.”
I ran to the post office and mailed it.
(In the meantime, nothing happened. Etsy did not suspend my shop, I got no hating messages about what a scammer I was, and no customer left any other feedback apart from 5star reviews full of excitement. My panic was childish.)
Few weeks later, and I had almost forgot about all this. The 1star review was buried under the latest 5star reviews, I could not see it (unless if I scrolled all over my reviews), kept going on with my next orders, creating new designs, growing my little store.
Afterall, what else could I do?
Keep on keeping on.
And then I got a message from Charles.
“Thanks, Kate! Here’s your edited review:
An excellent artisan and seller – above and way beyond. First off, I purchased a bracelet from Kate in March and it broke within a couple weeks – most likely due to my carelessness more than faulty craftsmanship. But I left a bad review.
She immediately got in touch eager to know what the exact defect was – and how she could make it right. She offered to replace the item at and provideds several options from which to choose. I could have let it go as the risk you take buying online. But she persisted. She was going to make it right. And she did.
I’m delighted with the bracelet she created, especially the durable clasp rather than the previous leather tie. Best Etsy seller I’ve encountered. You’d hope every purchase you made was backed by a seller of her caliber. Charles”
I was in tears.
I did not expect this.
I knew I had done the best I could about this unfortunate incident. I knew I had done my best to make up for it. Still, I never expected it to have such an impact.
And most definitely never expected a 1star review to turn into a 5star review with such a kind feedback by heart.
Since that day, I became a better person. I started paying much more attention to my customers, answering all their questions in details, listening carefully to their own ideas, helping them to bring those ideas into life.
Sometimes, I make samples over samples of an idea someone had, just to having them telling me “nah, I don’t really like it 🙁 “
And it’s okay!
I cannot tell you how many amazing designs in my store are failed ideas of someone, that many others got related to and loved!
I became a better seller and I am grateful for all the trust and confidence in me that my customers show me. I am so happy that my little creations bring so much joy to people and their loved ones. My heart still skips a beat on every feedback notification. But I am not afraid anymore.
Charles, I owe you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.