On Selling Platforms

As many small biz owners have noticed by now, most selling platforms protect the buyers but don’t seem to be too bothered about the sellers.

If any conflict arises, the platform will side with the buyer, making sure they are refunded, usually without even investigating the situation to determine who’s really at fault.

It has baffled me for a while, but it’s not different from the many hospitality venues that offer discounts or comp entire meals for difficult customers, or the shops that accept expired vouchers or returns without a receipt rather than fight the Karen.

Some of you may know I used to manage a cafe’ before the birth of my daughter, and will soon return to it (although in a different place). One of my pet peeves in that role was the company/owner’s policy of offering discounts to customers who complain about the food or drinks, no matter what.

Because many of them just take the piss.
They would eat their meal, clearing the plate and leaving nothing, and then complain that it was too bland/salty/cold/overcooked/whatever else, and I would have to comp it (delete it from the bill, basically offering it for free).

When that happens, you know the customer is complaining only to get a free meal. If it was that awful, they wouldn’t have eaten it.

On top of the dishonesty of doing that, they usually are very rude to the staff, adding insult to injury (quite literally!).

Why letting them get away with it? Why give them what they want? I always thought: certain customers are better lost, for if you give them what they want they will come back and do the same again and again, and create a loss to the business and problems to the staff. While if you don’t give them what they want, the worst that can happen is that you get a bad review, but at least they’ll never be back.

Outside of the hospitality sector and into handmade small business, I was disappointed to see the same phenomenon within selling platforms such as Etsy.

Why are they not looking after the sellers? Why are the sellers never protected?

This morning I had a thought: there are more sellers than buyers, which means that there is more offer than demand, and that’s why.

Last year during the lockdowns a lot of new business came to life (including mine!) in an already busy market.

On the other hand, people have less disposable income and therefore are more cautious with their purchases.

Selling platforms have no interest in protecting sellers or keeping them happy, because there are many others available. On the other hand, customers are fewer, and platforms fight over customers by offering them more and more perks, advantages and protection.

They don’t care about the damage the customer might create to the seller any more than how much the restaurant owner cares about how rude the customer was to the member of staff. That’s not their problem, and if the employee leaves they will be readily replaced by someone else (although that might prove a little bit harder now that many Europeans left because of Brexit, but this is a story for a different post).

That is how the selling platforms see the sellers: as employees. Replaceable as there’s an abundance of us.

Now, this thought is really bothering me, because I didn’t start a business to be someone else’s employee, to make someone else money.

I really need to find another way of selling!

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