MY SHOP: WWW.STUDIO11CHARMS.COM

Saturday, March 5, 2011

ARTFIRE REVIEWS AND SCAMS


I have an Artfire shop along with my 2 Etsy shops.

Why did I sign up for Artfire in the first place?
Well, I was really attracted to their low listing pricing. Just $10 a month and no per item listing fee or final value fees on sold items.

You really get what you pay for.
They really have no service. When customers email me, I could not email them back. I have had many customers who have emailed asking questions on my products on Artfire and when I email them back...I get a notice from my email saying that "the person I was trying to contact does not exist"....hmmm so what the heck is going on?

Why would so many people email someone a bunch of questions and don't provide a legitimate email address for that person to email them back? Is it a scam? Are these my competitors trying to annoy me? I have no clue. And what makes it worst is that I can't find anywhere on the Artfire website where their Admin would help me out with this kind of issues.

In addition, why isn't there a rule on Artfire that makes people verify their email address before they can send messages to other Artfire members?

I have also had a few incidences where people would purchase items in my shop and don't pay for the items. And there is no where on Artfire where I can set my shop setting so that upon checkout, payment must be made (like on Etsy). And then when I try to email the buyer back, I would have the email bounced back, and the message "the person you are trying to contact does not exist." What makes this problem worst is that the email notice that Artfire sents to sellers when they get a sale is very confusing. When someone checkouts through your shop and don't pay for the item, it looks the same as if someone had already paid. The only difference, is that there is a very small print at the very bottom of the screen that would say that "this order has not been paid." Wow, I have almost missed it a few times. And the first time I got a sale, it was a phony buyer and I didn't even see the little note at the bottom that said that the buyer hasn't paid; and I had already wrapped the item to get it ready to be mailed off. But while I was double checking for the mailing address, I realized that I couldn't find them in my paypal records...so that meant that they had not paid. I then sent the buyer an email asking them to pay for the item or if they had changed their mind, just let me know. But the email bounced back to me and it said that "the person you are trying to contact does not exist." What the heck!

I have had Artfire for a few months now, and I haven't really gotten any real sales from this website. In addition, all I have been getting from them are phony buyers and people emailing me, asking questions, and don't provide a real email address for me to respond back. I have been getting no help from their admin team so far, despite the fact that they advertise how they provide more help than Etsy...what a bunch of BS! Excuse my language!

But I am writing this review to let all of my readers know how horrible of a service and program Artfire is and that if you are planning to open an Artfire shop, please think twice about it. I am planning to close my Artfire shop soon!

If you have had a different experience than mine, please comment. Or if you know the solution to my call for help, please comment as well; as I do not get any help from the admins at Artfire. Thanks.

***Oh and I wanted to clarify: I am not stating that Artfire is a Scam. I am merely stating that I am suspicious that some of the people who are contacting me through Artfire are Scammers. And that they are trying to purchase my products and not make payments for them. And possibly trying to get me to ship out their orders without first making payments. I have never had these issues with Etsy or Ebay before so this is a major concern.

16 comments:

  1. wow! thanks for letting all of us know! I was actually considering signing up this month - am so glad I saw your blog - really appreciate it!

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  2. Perhaps I can help with these issues.

    1) Customers can contact you through the "Contact Artisan" link on ArtFire. However, because our Artisans requested that their email addresses not be made public without and we offer Guest Checkout to shoppers, that message is routed to an internal message system ( like a convo). You can't use the internal message system to email, because if we made it an email client and any seller used it to send spam, we could see the entire sales notification system blocked by spam filters.

    In order to contact the customer who is a guest ( no such account) you need to email them from your email client.

    2)Our artisans asked us to empower them to accept a wide variety of payment options including PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments and Check or Money Order. In order to create this system we cannot setup an order that is only complete after payment is confirmed. Etsy can do this because you can only pay for an item via PayPal. Our Artists felt flexibility was more important.

    3) There are many ways to get help on ArtFire. We have more than 75 help guides with screen shots and step by step instructions in our help guide forum, our customer service reps turn around emailed questions in 4-12 hours during the week and we have an 800 number for Pro sellers during business hours. We pay staff to sit an answer questions on the phone. There are also over 100 Fire Mentors in the ArtFire forums who are experienced and willing to help new sellers learn the ropes.

    4) ArtFire is designed to use a sales management hub ( not emails) as the primary tracking methodology. This includes auto-mailing tracking data and tracking sales made on Facebook, your Blog, Artfire, and outside shopping engines in one place. That is why the email message confirming a sale is not a robust management tool.

    5) You will get some level of solicitation, and bad customers on ArtFire. We currently push product out to shopping engines to get it in front of nearly 70 million shoppers per month. This means your product is right next to Amazon, Overstock, and the other big retailers. It also means that the challenges big retailers face selling globally may also surface in your customer base. More potential customers means more potential issues.

    Kindest Regards,

    Tony

    COO, ArtFire. com

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  3. Thank you Tony for responding to my call of help!

    Okay, before I wrote this review, I have already scoured the "help" section on Artfire, and I didn't find anything on there that touched on any of the topic that I needed help in. I am NOT the type of girl that likes to complain. And I always try to do things on my own first before I will contact others for help. And most of the time, I am pretty good at resolving my own issues. So this is a legitimate complaint and review.

    But here is a response to your response to my call of help:
    1. I actually tried to send emails to the people that have contacted me through Artfire, using my personal email address on Google mail (outside of the Artfire program), and even then, after 3-4 attempts per different emails, I kept getting it bounced back to me...so of course, any normal person would think, OMG, is this a "phantom" buyer/emailer?!

    And the many times that I had trouble with these issues, happened to be on a Friday early evening or on a Saturday...which Artfire business hours for help contacts are on weekdays only (and they close at 5pm). So I couldn't get anyone to answer my questions. And the fact that my issue needed to be figured out A.S.A.P.

    I always start to package my orders as soon as I get the sold confirmation either on Etsy, or on Artfire. And I needed to be able to contact my buyers to confirm an order if I have not received payment. And naturally I would email a potential customer back if they have a question on my products...but I couldn't email them back...do you see how frustrating and confusing that could be? And even when I emailed them back using my Google mail (outside of Artfire) their email bounced back and said that "the person you are trying to contact does not exist." I just want to be able to answer my customers' questions for them and not have them think that I don't have any service in my shop! And the fact that there was no other way for me to contact the customer my hands were tied.

    To me, the Artfire program just seems so confusing, and unlike Etsy where everything is consolidated and in one place (where it can easily be found)...it's like a JUNGLE on Artfire. OMG, just by what you have just told me, Tony, my sales records can be in more than 5 different places...this can be a major problem.

    Many people rely on convenience and ease of use to run their business, and if a program is too confusing or complex, OMG, I have lost customers because of these issues.

    So every time that I need to email a customer, I would have to open another external browser/window on my computer to just send a response?! How inconvenient that is! And so many people rely on their emails to update them on sales being made. Because every time a seller gets a sale, they should be notified via Email that they got a sale so that they can respond to their customer/s. And if they don't know if they got a sale, then how can they respond promptly? And worse yet, even when I try to respond to my customers, I couldn't, it keeps bouncing back!

    Please please please, make some changes to Artfire so that it would be more user friendly. A lot of people are not computer savvy. I have more computer knowledge than most people, and I still can't find answers to many things on Artfire.

    I will say that I do like the 12 photo options per listing, and the 1 page listing form versus Etsy and the low monthly subscription fee. But with Etsy, I can just jump in and start listing and selling. I feel like on Artfire, I have to get a computer degree to configure out all of the functions of the shop. And what is email client by the way? most people don't know what that is.

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  4. Thanks for that review as I had wondered about Artfire myself; glad I did not sign up. Regardless of what Tony said, if it's too hard or confusing to use then the flexibility is useless... less flexibility and more utility!! The SELLER who is the Artfire customer needs to be protected and it sounds like Artfire is not doing that. Good luck and thanks!

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  5. Wow, what a response! ;) Thanks for the info on your experiences. I adore Etsy but have toyed around with opening an Artfire shop in addition because the monthly charge is sooo appealing (I spend much more than that on Etsy each month!) At this point I think I'll stick with what I know and love! :)

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  6. Thanks for the feedback, it will be shared with the rest of the development team to improve the "on-boarding" process for new sellers.


    As always it is a case of cost benefit selling online. All of the many places your product is displayed are tracked through the MyArtFire panel. So, it is not 5 places to track, just 5 outlets for product tracked in one place.

    While messaging can be more difficult via email, allowing guest buyers effectively doubled our artisans' sales. In fact, all websites that have allowed guest checkout have seen approximately 100% increase in sales (including our main case study company which increased sales by $300 million per year just by moving to guest checkout). What we find in most online selling is that if it is easier for the seller it is more difficult for the shopper and costs sales.

    The Etsy system requiring an account is easier for sellers, but if they moved to guest checkout everyone's sales would double this year.

    As to weekend help coverage, you won't find that on etsy either. Very few companies offer it and no company offers it when they have 80% of their sellers paying $0 to sell ( most of our sellers are free). Someday we may offer extended hours for Pro sellers. But right now we have to choose where every dollar is invested ( it costs millions of dollars to build and advertise a website like ArtFire) and our focus is on improving the selling platform and gaining exposure.

    There is a learning curve with ArtFire. And we are constantly working to make it easier for people. In fact, we have a new knowledge center and streamlined control panel launching in the next few weeks. But, the reason ArtFire is more difficult to learn is that if offers more than 25 seller tools that no other venue (including Etsy) has. These tools are developed with seller input and at seller request. Few sellers use all of them, but the diversity lets a seller pick and choose what is best for their business.

    We continue to add tools, partnerships, tie-ins and features because sellers keep asking for them. That level of customization and tie-in is more complicated than just a marketplace. Think of ArtFire as much closer to running your own website. You get a lot more control, but you have to learn to use it to best fit your business goals.

    That is not for everyone. Some people are not ready yet in their business growth curve for the added complexity. But, if you visit our forums and ask, there are hundreds of helpful people who are more than willing to guide you through the transition.

    It is my sincere hope that you will continue to add your creative voice to the ArtFire community. If you would like a mentor, drop me an email ford.tony at gmail.com.

    Thanks.

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  7. I have had problems with non-paying buyers on Etsy frequently (in the past, but not much recently), but never on Artfire. I would definitely say that Artfire is much less user-friendly than Etsy. I mean they don't even have a way that you can view your public shop without entering the exact web address or searching for it. Duh -- I want to know what my shop looks like to my customers!

    About the e-mail problem, I can see how that can be confusing. It seems like every message I get through Artfire is one of those where they "were not signed in" when they contacted me. But when that e-mail arrives in your inbox you can't just hit "reply". You have to look at the message itself where the customer's e-mail address is included, then copy and paste it into either a new message or replace the "no-reply" address with the customer's e-mail address when you click reply.

    I don't get anywhere near as many sales through Artfire as I do Etsy, but I admit I don't put as much time or effort into it as I do Etsy. I did sign up during a promotion so I have a Pro shop on Artfire for $6 per month. I think with a little more attention it could be well worth it.

    Also, one other thing. I don't package items until I have the money in hand. Usually I just go by what shows up in my Paypal account. I haven't had anyone want to pay with money order or check on either site, but I would wait until I have it and the check has cleared before I even prepare the items.

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  8. Just thought I would chime in here- I have had an ArtFire pro account for 3 years now and it has become my favorite place to sell. I do love Etsy, and have a shop there as well, so I am not a "sour grapes" person:)

    Here are some of the reasons I love ArtFire:

    LOW FEES-my Artfire sales are now up and equal with my Etsy sales most months. My Etsy bill is usually $150-$200 per month (final value/listing fees and Im not a chronic re-lister on Etsy). Now consider I make the same amount of sales on ArtFire and the pro seller account is only $10. It took awhile for my ArtFire sales to match Etsy's but now that it does its REALLY worth it. If you think about it, even the months I paid and didnt have many sales- 3 months of Etsy fees is more than the entire 3 years on ArtFire!!

    SALES MANAGEMENT-The Artfire dashboard is easy to use and very user friendly. One of the handiest things for me is the option to archive orders when they are shipped. I make each item to order and it takes 2-3 weeks for some custom orders to go out, so the ability to have ONLY the unshipped orders in a list really helps me keep track of things there. I also like the fact that I can put notes on each sale. If I need to remember what size ring is needed or event date the order is needed by, I can record it there and on my printed invoice so I dont forget. It also allows me to input the tracking number for the order right there in the record. I also LOVE the fact that the customer is sent a shipping notice when I click "shipped"- that saves me a LOT of time!!

    PAYMENT OPTIONS/CUSTOMER COMFORT: On Artfire, a customer doesnt have to join the site to buy from me. While that can lead to a few problems like you were having with emails,in the long run I have found the pros FAR outweight the cons in this instance. There are people out there who dont want to bother with joining a site just to purchase something, and I have had several customers who have actually told me they preferred ArtFire because of this. It makes it easy for me to send my in person fair and festival customers online to shop as well. Having other payment options has been a plus too. Amazon payments has proven a very popular alternative to Paypal in my shop of late.

    I have a couple more, but will put them in a separate comment:)

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  9. Reading the comment above my previous one: Catherine, you can get to your shop to look at it from any page on ArtFire when you are logged in...up in the top lefthand corner you will see 3 links that say "My Artfire/Inbox/Logout if you click your username ABOVE those links you will get to your shop as others see it:)

    Here are another couple of reasons why I really like ArtFire:

    PERSONAL SERVICE- just take this post for example- you had a direct, polite answer from ADMIN to your problems right here on the blog...and they do that on site as well. Any time I have had a problem I go to the community forums for an answer-there are lots of helpful people there and in the event that a question is not answered by fellow sellers, admin will step in and be sure it is. Etsy started out with a bunch of nice, creative souls running the business, but has ended up with corporate people more and more in charge- I understand why,and am not really that fussed about it but at ArtFire, the creative people are also corporate people who know how to run the business. I like that personal touch, which I think will remain as ArtFire continues to grow.

    CROSS PROMOTION: Artfire allows us to promote our other shops- we can promote our Etsy shop, any other presence on the web as much as we want on the site, without worrying that the exclusivity police will come down on our heads. I had a link to my blog in my Etsy profile and was asked to remove it because THE BLOG contained links to my other shops. The initial email I received was very confusing, just said I needed to remove any "Reference to other selling venues" from my profile...It took several emails before I finally deciphered what they meant- and never did get a direct answer about what link, they just kept referring me back to their TOS and the blog link was the only thing in my profile that remotely fit the bill.

    I hope these points help- I understand your concerns with ArtFire, but with anything new there is always a bit of a learning curve. I found that once I got used to it, ArtFire was just as good as Etsy in most things and better in some. I have been really impressed with the efforts ArtFire makes to get ALL sellers seen and have seen it make a difference in my sales in just a short time...I hope you will give it another chance:)

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  10. Thank you EVERYONE for your input! Tony, I really appreciate that you have taken the time to help me out. And I will take up your offer to help me out...so I will be emailing you. Thanks.

    And I will give Artfire another try...I don't give up that easily! And hopefully Artfire will tweak some of the email complications and make it easier to email our customers back. Thanks again!

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  11. My experience is different. I receive emails from customers and can easily respond to them with the Artfire system and have never had a problem with the checkout. I am sorry you have had these experiences with the emails.

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  12. May I introduce you to A new selling Venue Groove Press.

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  13. Hey! I have the same problem with Etsy not Artfire. I was having problems with scammers left and right and I did not know how to handle the situation as customer service did not contact me ONE time. I switched to Artfire and found them to be very helpful and friendly. My sales have even jumped and I don't have to pay all of those annoying fees.

    I think we all have different experiences with different places.

    I know it is frustrating, this particular problem you speak of. I read somewhere about a scam where people purchase things and don't pay for them. I researched some of my "customers" that were doing this and found most of them had LinkedIn profiles and were in marketing.

    I don't fully understand the purpose (and cannot find the site where I once read it), but...I read that marketing people have some buying quota and print off their purchases even though they have not been paid for. I don't know the reason for this, or how they benefit from it. It does not make any sense at all! I would just put on your policies that you will cancel orders not paid within 24 hours and relist your item.

    On Artfire, the forums are really helpful. People are really friendly and the Artfire customer service frequents them and will respond at times. You also don't have all of those annoying TOS like on Etsy, so you can speak freely about your situation.

    I hope I helped you at all...Sorry I could not give more answers! I wish you the best of luck!!! BTW, cute blog :D

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  14. The forums are a matter all their own. A free for all, so it seems for mavens, ( people chosen by Tony, that are supposed to help new sellers) That statement is another ploy to get you as a seller, to think they really want you to make sales. Mavens are simply Tonys favorites, thats right, just like Etsy, and the main goal of the mavens, well just to cause as much trouble as they possibly can. This is done, by one maven very skillfully, she simply tells other sellers to "Fuck Off", or leave, just pack your bags and get off Artfire! Then she skillyfully laughs about it. Think I am making this up? Just sign up for your free trial, and read the forums. A vast magority, are now blocked form buyers so they cannot see the rude and child like behavior, of one certain maven, who goes by catfluff. Coolstraps, is also another who will bash you, cuss you out, and treat you like a lesser form of life.

    This week alone, 5 sellers have left, there is NO sales period, and they will tell you, change your pictures, improve and revise your listing until you become so frustrated you will want to pull your hair out. And none of it will do a bit of good. If you dare to disagree, with one of the "favorites", you will be chastised, and called names, accused of being a scammer, a bad seller, and just plain stupid. And if you think they will not shut down your postings on the forums, or close your shop without warning, like etsy, I am telling you, that they will, and do. I have seen may sellers muted on the forums, if you dare to stand up to a maven, shops are closed without warning, just like etsy. In some respect, this is worse than etsy, just due to the abuse that goes on in the forms. The site is a run away train, and it will crash someday, thanks to Tony and the mavens, or as artfire sellers call them, the "artfire cheerleaders". It has to be one of the worst sites I have ever sold on, and that includes ebay and etsy. Don't waste your time or money, to feed this abuse machine.....
    http://fairytaledesignstudio.blogspot.com/2012/06/horrible-truth-about-selling-on-artfire.html

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  15. I have had a very good experience with Etsy. Four months ago I signed up for a free trial on Artfire. I made the mistake of forgetting all about it and had not made the discovery that they were receiving monthly payments from my credit card. As a widow, it was a bitter taste to have lost four months of fees without any kind of notification from Artfire. I will never again fill out a form for a free trial. But I WILL warn others to beware.

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  16. I have sold on ebay, etsy, and artfire. Most of my sales are done via craft shows, so I don't have hundreds of things to list online.

    I just joined Artfire less than 2 months ago.

    Here are my thoughts: Ebay- you get the sales, things are not sold for fair prices, and high fees. Etsy- good for large sellers, but not so much for small shops. If you are not constantly listing, you have very little views. Have purchased on Etsy a lot, but only 2 sales in 2 years. Artfire - love the set fee, have had quick help from service, and I get at least triple the views received on etsy. Made 2 sales (via 1 customer), and my store is not even completed yet.

    Artfire is best for me. As in anything else, one has to learn the ropes, how things are done etc. I find it to be very user friendly, and better for small sellers like myself.

    In my opinion, it won't be long before Artfire really climbs the ladder. Etsy is starting to look like Ebay with all the wholesalers from China, which is a huge disadvantage to sellers.

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