Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I want your letters!

Hello, Polite Readers!

Please send me your letters! I have quite the busy weekend planned, so I will be writing Sunday's post within the next day or two. If you'd like to have the chance to be the first letter I respond to, e-mail me now!

Here's a bit more information on what I'm looking for:

You can either send me a specific message that you've received and need help responding to, or a situation you've encountered in the past and were unsure how to handle. Or you can create a hypothetical situation that you are curious about!

You can sign your actual name, an alias, or ask to be signed "Anonymous." You can include a link to your website, blog or Etsy shop if you'd like.

Here's a reminder of what I can't do:

I cannot give you legal advice. I am not a lawyer.

I am not an advice columnist in the traditional sense. I can provide you with a politely worded response, and a bit of generic advice on how to handle a situation, but I am not Dear Abby or Miss Manners.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Those Pushy Etsy Sellers

Hello Polite Readers! Since I just started this blog, I haven't received any letters yet. Instead I'm going to craft a Politely Worded Reply based on a conversation that some friends were having earlier this week.

If you shop on Etsy, this has probably happened to you. You're browsing around, and something catches your eye so you give it a heart. The next thing you know, you have a convo from the seller thanking you for favoriting their item, offering you a coupon code, and telling you all about their layaway plan! Wow, talk about pushy!

Now, I get it. It's a hard world out there on Etsy. We all want to find our niche, get a following, and become Etsy's next "Quit Your Dayjob" success story. All it takes is that one loyal customer who is going to blog about it, causing dozens of their followers to flock to your store and then tell all of their friends. All you need to do to win them over is be so friendly, and give them a 20% off coupon for their first purchase, and surely they'll be hooked for life.

The problem is, it comes across as a little desperate. First, it assumes that you even wanted to buy their item. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you use your favorites as a wish list for your family (it works!). Maybe its a "someday" item. Maybe you only hearted it because it fits the theme of the treasury you're going to make next week. If hearts equaled intent to purchase, I wouldn't have time to write this blog post because I'd be too busy restocking my store.

But most importantly, this practice directly violates Etsy's Terms of Service, and nothing annoys me more than someone breaking the rules for personal gain, especially when it basically amounts to spam.

Sadly, this is a case where it's probably best to say nothing. I'll elaborate more on that in a bit. First, let's get polite! Here is what I would love to say to this sort of seller.

Hello Seller!

I see you noticed that I favorited your item. It's quite nice and I think you do great work. I had even hoped to buy from you someday, maybe even this exact item. But that was before you violated Etsy's terms of service! Did you know that the rules state clearly 'If someone hearts your shop/item to mark it as a Favorite, that is not an invitation to send a Conversation to that person.'? It's almost like they had you in mind! I do appreciate the offer of layaway and a coupon code. If you have a special for first-time shoppers, that should probably go in your Policies or your Shop Announcement!

I hope you have a lovely day, and I do wish you the best with your business, but this message has turned me off from shopping with you.
Maybe the snark is a little heavy for the initial post on my Politely Worded blog, but I just can't help myself. Spammers deserve a little snark.

Why shouldn't you actually send this to the next person who sends you an unsolicited convo? Quite simply, it will probably be a waste of your time. People rarely respond well to this sort of correction. I can practically guarantee you they'd respond along the lines that they were "Just trying to help" and they will probably call you mean.

But just between you and me? You should totally report them to Etsy for abusing the Conversation system. There are plenty of hard-working sellers who do their best to earn customers without spamming, and if you can remove the rule-breaking competition, good for you.

Remember that you can E-mail Me if you'd like your own Politely Worded reply, and come back next Sunday for another column!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Introducing... Politely Worded!

Your Hostess
Photograph by Dina Farmer

Hello! My name is AJ and I have an unusual talent/hobby... I love to write politely worded responses to weird, inappropriate, and rude messages. Allow my to elaborate. I am a belly dancer and an Etsy seller. Both of these communities are occasionally beset by requests they can't accommodate, insults about their work, and creepers on their Facebook fan pages. Often in our forums, people will ask "How should I deal with this person?" and I love to craft specific responses! Sometimes they're just for fun, otherwise they are genuinely helpful to the person who asked the question in the first place.

I recently decided that I should expand upon this talent, and one of my wonderful Etsy teammates suggest that I set up a blog! So here it is! "Politely Worded." Send me your problems and I will give you my best idea of how to answer them!

Here's how it works:
1. Send an e-mail to Politelyworded@gmail.com explaining your situation and including any message you'd like me to specifically respond to.
2. Let me know what name you want to be identified as.
3. Please keep it clean. I'm not a shrinking violet, but I'd like to keep this blog from getting too raunchy, so I will not be answering any sexually explicit Facebook messages from your creepy stalkers.
4. Every Sunday I will post at least one letter!

A couple of disclaimers:
1. First and foremost I am not a legal professional. I cannot advise you on the best legal avenues to pursue if someone is ripping off your art or if you're being genuinely harassed.
2. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. Hopefully, it will be very entertaining.

Check back tomorrow for my very first letter!