How you are putting yourself in danger by buying sex toys from Etsy

How you are putting yourself in danger by buying sex toys from Etsy

It's a well-known fact that Etsy is turning into a copycat of Wish. This is the case for all categories on Etsy, including sex toys. A dangerous  development considering resellers are massively selling toxic sex toys while advertising body-safety. Here's what's happenings and why you should be aware when buying a sex toy on Etsy. 

How Etsy started 

Etsy was founded 17 years ago in 2005 in New York (USA). 

It is the place for handmade and vintage goods. Back in 2018, the marketplace had listed over 60 million items. 

In 2015 Etsy had its stock market debut. Many people believe that this was the moment when Etsy changed. But, you know the song right: it's all about the money. Shareholders demanded more significant profits, which meant the marketplace was bound to change. 

What can you find on Etsy? Jewelry, crafts and supplies, wedding essentials, or home decor. All are supposed to be handmade. You can find about anything on Etsy. 

What is not allowed on Etsy? 

Things like tobacco, human remains (what the hell?), weapons, or items glorifying, promoting, or supporting violence are prohibited. 
Pornography and mature content is not allowed on Etsy. But what is the definition of pornography? Etsy says: "Although pornography can be difficult to define, an item generally qualifies as pornography when it contains printed or visual material that explicitly describes or displays sex acts, sex organs, or other erotic behavior for the sole purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation."

Biggest categories on Etsy

According to cedcommerce.com, the categories that outshined during covid are clothing, jewelry, and home and living items. To our surprise, sex toys are not on their list at all. Even though sex toy sales have been rising due to COVID. Read more about this increase in sales in our blog about 'How lockdowns are boosting sex toy sales'. 

best-selling-categories-on-Etsy-in-purple-image.

How does Etsy make money? 

First off, a seller pays a fee to create a listing of 0.20 dollar cents. Then there are the fee, a transaction fee, and ad and promotion costs. In addition, you can get a subscription to Etsy, which is called Etsy Plus. And you can build a personalized website via Pattern. It doesn't seem like much but it can however add up pretty quickly.

Did Etsy lose their soul 

It started great. People created fantastic, indie, handmade items from home and sold them to others via Etsy. They gave people a new opportunity to generate income by doing something out of passion. How can this go wrong?

Not curating sellers but letting everyone open up shop might not have been the smartest for starters. Well, from a money-making point of view, it's probably the smartest.

In essence, everyone can open up an Etsy shop. Even worse, people can open shops and offer things not allowed by Etsy. To make matters even worse, people can open up shops on Etsy and sell items that can harm your health. Say what? 

Etsy still markets itself as a niche marketplace filled with handmade items. There is an Integrity, trust, and safety team that is supposed to monitor the integrity of the marketplace. However, in reality, they cannot create a genuinely safe website that only sells 100% handmade items. 

Handmade Hoax 

Is it even legal we wondered? To sell items as a reseller and then call it handmade? Or importing dildos from a Chinese factory and still calling it handmade? According to the EU consumer laws Europeans have the right to truthful advertising. Do you think it's truthful advertising when an item is listed as handmade even though its not? 

And what is maybe even more disturbing is that it's not illegal to sell a toxic and porous toy and advertise it as body-safe.But that is something we'll dive in deeper another time.  

Etsy sellers

Sellers on Etsy are not happy about the influx of low-quality, cheap, low-value resellers in the Etsy community. Some even blame COVID for it because many people lost their jobs. However, others stick up for Etsy, saying they have reported some resellers' shops. As a result, Etsy closed some of them. 

Etsy-seller-compaint-about-resellers.

How the authentic sellers of handmade items compete with all the re-sellers beats us. On the Etsy community, we find numerous posts of Etsy sellers who complain about all the resellers. For example, ThePrincessTower mentions in the comments that "it's hard to compete with them especially when mine are handmade, it's hard to compete with their prices." 

Etsy-seller-complaining-about-unfair-competition-from-resellers.

Sex toys on Etsy 

First off, Etsy does not have dedicated categories for adult items. With this, we mean that when you go through all the categories of Etsy that you find on top of the marketplace, you will not find adult, adult toys, sex toys, BDSM, or anything adult or sex-related. This is rather sad, considering Etsy earns plenty of money off adult listings and sales. 

sex-toys-you-can-find-on-etsy.

In the end, Etsy is not the marketplace for adult items, and they will never be. However, many visitors of the website and other sellers complain about their Etsy feed being transformed into an adult shop once they 'accidentally' clicked on an adult item. 

(not so) Funny feed 

It is also very likely to see a child's item next to an adult item. Do you want to shop adult items from a marketplace where you can also buy children's toys? We think not! 

What adult items can you find on Etsy?

You can find sex toys like dildos and fantasy dildos, BDSM furniture, erotic art, but also floggers, buttplugs, and whips. One of the most peculiar listings? Sex spells of all sorts. 

We noticed that many sellers on Etsy sell the same items. And that these items also came up during our research on Wish and Ali Express. 

Etsy-listing-rose-buttplug-by-kinkplay.

One example we researched is a rose buttplug we found. We first discovered a shop on Etsy called Kinkplay that has made over four thousand sales. They ask a staggering €45-. After a little more browsing on Etsy, we found two other Etsy shops that sell the same rose butt plug. Their prices are €15,90 and €16,42. The three sellers on Etsy advertise the product as handmade and have silicone in the description. 

rose-buttplug-by-other-etsy-resellers.
Next, we went onto Wish to see if we could find a rose butt plug. And yes, we found it. This time the butt plug costs €10-. Quite a difference with the one from KinkPlay. The rose butt plugs on Wish are made from silica gel, so they say. Well, which one is it? Silica gel or silicone? 

rose-buttplug-on-wish.

We thought we'd check AliExpress as well, just for fun. Of course we also found the handmade rose butplug from Etsy for only €1,08. 

rose-buttplug-sold-on-aliexpress.

Blocked out of the blue 

The adult items sellers on Etsy encounter one issue most: their shop being blocked for unknown reasons. And being blocked out of the blue can lead to income loss. Why? Most sellers never find out what they did to deserve this. 

These blocked sellers contact Etsy but get no clear response or explanation for why Etsy stopped their shop. It might have to do with the fact that they have adult or mature content on their profile. A person working for Etsy looking at content in that specific moment can classify it as pornography. This is what happens when there are no clear rules or when not every employee of Etsy interprets these rules the same.

Other Etsy sellers might also be the instigators of this issue. Sellers can also flag other sellers. And when we dive into the Etsy community, we see lots of messages concerning mothers who don't know how artisan sex toys ended up on their feed. 

A seller on Etsy named DonnaJoDesigns is upset that sex toys are allowed. She comments that the products are not handmade and that the photos are borderline pornographic. 

complaint-by0etsy-seller-about-sex-toys.

Etsy can do DonnaJoDesigns and Konfettie a favor by deleting all sex toys from their marketplace. We would support that decision and be happy to welcome all body-safe sex toy sellers on Konfettie that truly create their products by hand or designed them themselves.

But still there are many resellers on Etsy  that:
  • do not offer handmade adult items 
  • offer the same products as you see on Wish, Amazon, and Ali-express 
  • Have no clue what they are selling
  • Sell toxic sex toys 
  • Sell porous sex toys 

There are, however, many great sellers on Etsy that offer great products! Not all is bad. Some of them are even body-safe and genuinely handmade. 

 

Is it body-safe? 

Some sellers advertise that some of their products are liquid silicone or body-safe silicone. While this may be the case (we have not tested it), what strikes us is that the same seller also sells PVC items. And as we all know, PVC is bad news. 

A seller that offers toxic and porous toys, as well as body-safe ones, tells us that these sellers do not value your safety. They probably don't have the slightest clue of what they are selling. 

Flag a shop

One thing you can do is flag a shop on Etsy. You can do this when you see a shop that does not honor the website's policies. We did this but have not seen any feedback from Etsy. Meanwhile, body-safe and high-quality vendors shops are being closed without warning due to flagging or inappropriate content (what is unacceptable when selling adult items anyways?).

In 2020 Etsy received 4 million flags. Four million messages about a listing that could potentially be non-compliant is a lot to process. And while those millions of flag reports fill Etsy's inbox, new resellers of low safety, low quality, and low-value sex toys open shops. Maybe they like to carry water to the sea? 

No what? 

While Etsy is turning into the next Wish or Ali express, they are making an effort by investing 40 million in policy enforcement. This means that Etsy is expanding its moderation teams and content review teams. 

Furthermore, Etsy claims to: "Evolve their policies and continue to target key categories like weapons, hate or violent speech, mature content and luxury counterfeit items." What they mean with 'mature content' is still unclear. Luckily you got Konfettie now, where mature, classy, and body-safe content is our business. 

Etsy recently announced raising transactions fees from 5% to 6.5%. By doing so, they want to keep Etsy unique. "We'll build on last year's roughly 40 Million USD investment in the teams and technology that help make our marketplace a safe and secure destination for handmade, vintage, and special items. This year. We'll expand our efforts to remove listings that don't meet our policies and help you resolve issues with buyers."

Good luck with that. 

What can you do yourself?

Before purchasing a sex toy online, contact the seller and ask questions. You will find out soon enough if they have the know-how about their products. We did this when we ordered some adult items on Wish. You can read more about this adventure in our blog about why you should not order sex toys from Wish.

Most of the re-sellers shops don't even bother creating a profile. An introduction of who is behind the operation? Why bother? These shops carry low prices and do thousands in sales. 

Why would Etsy ever want to get rid of them if these resellers mean: money in the bank? Ka-ching.  

Conclusion 

Yes, you can get lucky and order a body-safe item for a low price on a platform like Etsy. Yes, Etsy still has plenty of great sellers who create body-safe items. However, as a consumer of sexual wellness items, you have to be cheeky and savvy to find out if you are buying truly body-safe items or not.  

Whether it's on Etsy, Wish, or Ali Express, all these marketplaces are flooded with toxic and porous toys that can potentially damage your health.  

Let us repeat that: toxic and porous toys can damage your health. 

But, if you want to be sure about your own or your partner's safety, shop at Konfettie. After all, they call us the sexy version of Etsy for a reason. 

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