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This weekend, I got my first one-star rating on Etsy.

Keep in mind, I have never gotten even a two-star rating. I have one three-star rating (received earlier this week, because a buyer didn’t realize the length of the necklaces she was purchasing). Two or three four-star ratings. And 408 five-star ratings.

I take a great amount of pride in this. To me, it means that shoppers

  1. Receive my jewelry and LIKE it.
  2. Are not surprised. My photos and product descriptions are accurate, indicating length or size, material, and any flaws. (This is especially important for vintage items, as vintage items can have fading/scratches/cracks. While I think this can add to the character and beauty to a piece, some disagree with me. I want to upfront.)
  3. Had a satisfying experience shopping with Jac & Elsie and with, in turn, me; and as a result of this satisfaction …
  4. Might return and/or recommend Jac & Elsie to their friends and family.

A one-star rating means I met zero of the above four details.

This shopper purchased a bracelet duo for her and her friend. Within the first hours of being worn, each bracelet fell apart. Ouch, man. She also expressed dissatisfaction with the color of the charms. While I couldn’t do anything about the latter detail–the charms in question are pewter, which is a darker silver color than, say, bright sterling–I could definitely do something about the first issue.

An example of the little bugger in question.

I contacted the seller and asked her to describe what happened. If it was a flaw in the bracelet design, I wanted to know what happened so I could guard against something similar happening in the future. She shared that the ring that held the charms to the bracelet fell off. To me, that says one of two things happened:

  1. I closed the ring poorly. Definitely a possibility, but the fact that both rings on both bracelets failed tells me this is unlikely. What I suspect happened is …
  2. The package was beat up a bit in shipping. Unfortunate for sure, but definitely something that can happen with online purchases. (I ship my jewelry attached to cards and in small plastic bags that keeps it secure, and I use bubble mailers. )

I shared some good news with the seller: Since nothing had snapped, the bracelets were completely fixable, if she so wished, and I sent her a YouTube video showing her how to open and close a jump ring. I also directed her to my policies page, which spells out how I deal with broken jewelry. I consider each on a case-by-case basis and, in this case, offered to refund her money. Because regardless of what caused the break, no one wants to get a gift in the mail and have it fall apart hours after opening it.

In sending her refund, I did something that made me nervous. I asked her to reconsider her feedback:

“I take my customer feedback seriously and strive for the best customer service possible,” I wrote. “If you would be willing to update your review to indicate the help you’ve received, I would hugely appreciate it. It is my goal that all feedback reflect customer experiences as accurately as possible. If you are still unhappy and wish to leave your feedback as-is, I do understand.”

Within minutes, her comments were updated, and her one-star rating was changed to a three-star rating. My excitement at this is infinitely greater than my original disappointment at her first rating.

I’m not a giant corporation and can’t always give a customer exactly what he or she wants. Sometimes, I can’t ship your item tomorrow as requested. In most cases, I offer store credit in lieu of cash back for returns. I am a one-woman show who simply can’t justify refunds any time someone is less than 100 percent happy. I suspect most people who shop on Etsy understand that. But there is something I can do better than a giant corporation: I can provide a personal touch that I suspect most people who shop on Etsy understand–and appreciate.

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