Double Jeopardy

Recently I had an interesting email conversation with a woman who “took a gamble” on a scarf from TBN, even though there were horrible reviews visible, in plain sight, from scores of TBN customers.  These were one star ratings and blistering reviews that would have kept most credit cards firmly anchored in a wallet instead of “taking a gamble” on a cheap scarf from China.

I started the conversation by asking her if there was a “made in China” sticker on her newly purchased scarf (which was made from material “a tad bit stiff and there was a hole where a 1/2″ piece seemed to be missing from the lace part of the scarf”).  She said “no, there was no ‘made in China’ sticker”, instead she sent me a photo of the scarf with it’s cute little “handmade with love – Three Bird Nest” tag.  TBN would have loved to have had her stop there, but helpfully she sent me a second picture of the scarf with it’s SKU/bar code taped to the outside of the package.  Dumbfounded, I asked her why she thought something that was “hand made” needed a SKU/bar code attached.  I’ll stop the story here and simply say that people don’t appear to understand that a “hand made” item doesn’t need a bar code sticker, and that, in fact, a bar code sticker attached to a hand-made item is an infinite loop of crazy.

But the bar code/made in China question brings up a double jeopardy situation that TBN currently finds itself mired in.  A situation worse than it’s 100+ furious customers with their scathing reviews, a non-existent BBB rating (it was an F until they discredited her store) and the universal stink hanging over the entire Etsy community’s heads.  TBN, by removing “made in China” stickers is in direct violation of the US Department of Homeland Security “Country of Origin Marking” requirements.

You see, there is a funny little thing called NAFTA “marking rules” that require that TBN disclose to it’s customers in which country the item is primarily “hand made”.  There are no exemptions to this rule that TBN can claim ~ in other words they can scam Etsy’s customers, such as the woman who believed that a hand-made item needed a bar code, but the US Department of Homeland Security isn’t going to be that naive.  And if TBN removes the “made in China” stickers in order to pull the (nylon) wool over their customer’s eyes, they are triggering a much heavier hammer than the BBB and it’s wimpy “F” grade.  Not even Etsy’s complicit board members will be able to bail Ms. Schaffer out of this mess.

Conversely, leaving the “made in China” stickers ON the items is just as risky for TBN, because obviously a head wrap made of one piece of lace that states “made in China” doesn’t have, nor will it need significant enough alterations to come even a continent’s length close to changing which country the item is “originating” in.

So which is it going to be…pick a bone with Etsy customers, or pick a bone with Homeland Security?  I know which one I’d pick, but oddly TBN seems to be straddled right in the middle of both positions, a very fascinating double jeopardy situation worth paying attention to.

Later this week…the story of the disappearing “negative” reviews from TBN’s site and the sudden random sprinkling of 5-star “shipped fast” reviews, designed to let all the customers know that the “warehouse issues” have been resolved.  Fair warning Etsy and TBN ~ not all of us think that a “handmade item” needs a bar code sticker…and some of us are even smart enough to print the negative reviews before they disappear.

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19 thoughts on “Double Jeopardy

    • She must have known she was in hot water…just by google searching one of her TBN images this popped up. Say hello to her 2015 online shop http://fancy-clothing.com/

      I haven’t done the dirt work to compare the two, but on the new site she openly admits that she finds stuff all over the world to sell. China probably her primary.

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  1. Very interesting. I often wonder why my absolutely handmade felt bags (that is, handmade felt, handmade into handmade bags using handmade beads and other handmade items bought mostly on Etsy from people who hand made them) sold so slowly if at all. Every now and again, there is a burst of sales (like a recent sale I made for four of my handmade bags to someone in Sweden), which keeps me paying Etsy their .20/ea every three months. To be kind, I never sold quickly on consignment in gift shops, etc., and I truly hated sitting at craft fairs, etc. selling my stuff which didn’t sell well there either. Etsy HAS made it possible for me to do what I like doing (which is writing and farming) without having to do anything else about my art (craft, if you will) and every now and again I get an email and exclaim “I just sold a bag!” Nevertheless, I’ve despaired of Etsy’s constant changes, and I agree with you that they have betrayed every one of us if what you say is true. And I believe it is true. But what Ilkinha says above, that TBNs attorneys should be grateful to you, is also true. If you are sued, will you have the evidence to prove what you say is true?

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    • Good question. A lawsuit against me for reporting flagrant violations of Etsy’s guidelines by TBN would be unfortunate, however I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said by respected journalists over the past few years. As Americans, we do enjoy freedom of speech rights – which of course does not include the right to threaten to harm another person. I have not threatened TBN in any way, I am merely a shop owner protesting what I see as a huge violation of terms Etsy ITSELF set up. Whether the model and Ms Schaffer are truly blood sisters or not is immaterial to me, and if it was proven with birth certificates that I was incorrect, I would happily apologize for my mistake. However buyers of TBN’s wares are the people sending me the bar codes and made in China/India details. I haven’t fabricated this information in the least. In fact, TBN’s own star ratings system is full of angry customers who speak for themselves.
      Interestingly on TBN’s Facebook page, when confronted with my blog, TBN chose to protest my use of a word that has two meanings, instead of speak to what they were doing as a company by selling Made in China products on a “handmade” site.

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  2. So with all this evidence, removal of tags, shipping imports etc.. what needs to be done so that the correct people can investigate? How do we proceed?

    Etsy obviously let TBN scam and cheat people out of their money, but the gov. surely won’t turn a blind eye to illegal activities right?

    If enough people go high up and through the correct channels then I’d like to think justice will prevail, so if anyone can point us in the right direction, let’s take the action Etsy won’t.

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  3. I just filed a complaint against TBN on the FTC website and plan on filing one against Etsy, requesting a refund of sellers fees. Here is a link to where you can do the same: https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/submit-consumer-complaint-ftc or call
    Just go to the bottom of the page and click on “I would like to submit a consumer complaint to the FTC”, and then follow their Complaint Assistant instructions. It’s quick, easy and totally anonymous. You do not have to provide any personal information or details of a purchase, etc. It’s not perfect but it’s done. If enough of us do that, I’m sure the FTC will listen.
    Here is a link to their California Secretary Of State Business Registration: http://www.bizapedia.com/ca/THREE-BIRD-NEST-DESIGNS-LLC.html . I added a link to their Etsy shop, their online shop, a copy of the Bill of Lading showing where they buy their items in China , etc. I believe the more details we give the FTC about this merchant, the better it is.

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  4. Also, I want to start a petition to Etsy on Change.org but I wonder if we’d get enough signatures because someone started one three yrs ago, when Etsy had that awful issue around Ecologica Malibu, and it fell short of the 1,000 signatures they needed. We would need to spread the word through social media channels until we got all the signatures.

    Smallplanetsonetsy, how do we get in contact with you via email? Thanks 🙂

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  5. Another pissed off Etsy seller here! Thanks so much for exposing the TBN shyster & Etsy’s ugly underbelly. Not only has Etsy’s reputation been soiled, shops like threebirdnest have made customers NOT TRUST ETSY, Etsy sellers nor even the term “handmade” anymore since Chad redefined the word & allowed in all the cheap crap resellers. Etsy is a facade; a stroll through the dollar store now…hopefully all these evil deeds are severely punished!

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    • I’ve been thinking that it is what it is and they’re not going to reverse this trend so I think the best way to show them what we think is by jumping ship.

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  6. Love your blog, I’ve been glued to the screen reading and all the links put up by posters. Awesome.
    After digging around this morning. I did a little search on Aztec Leg warmers on Etsyand was horrified to see not two or even three, but FOUR shops selling exactly the same item on the first page.

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