Ruby Lane: The grass may not be greener than Etsy

I am sharing this with etsy sellers and other artisans as a cautionary tale.  Many of us have spoken about setting up shop on other artisan selling sites. Before plunking down your hard earned moola on Ruby Lane, you might want to investigate them a bit more. Please solicit feedback from other etsy sellers that have closed their shops on Ruby Lane recently. Make sure you understand, exactly, what kind of customer support and shop advertising you purchase for your $35 or more monthly fee.

And so, without further adieu, here is my Ruby Lane Artisan Jewelry shop owner tale….

According to the Ruby Lane (RL) website it is “an online venue that hosts a community of hundreds of individually-owned shops from around the world.” Its a bit more pricey than etsy, but they supposedly advertise in more places and do offer some functionality for shop owners that etsy does not. RL includes ‘lanes’ for antiques, collectibles, fine arts and jewelry. Regarding the supposed advertising, what I found was that RL heavily advertises its antiques, but not much else. RL does offer to reimburse up to 40% of the shop owner’s off site advertising fees -  as long as the ads are pre-approved AND link to your RL shop.  RL also allows shop owners to contribute articles to their blog. In theory, this sounds good, right?

I wanted to take advantage of the advertising reimbursement program, so I submitted my request and received notification that my advertisement medium was preapproved. I paid for my advertisement and submitted my invoice according to RL’s stated reimbursement process.  After not receiving a return email message, I followed up several times, with no reponse nor reimbursement. Around this same period, I also submitted an article for the RL blog. My submission was received by a Ruby Lane staff member who stated that she wanted to use my article, and would follow up with me.  She didn’t.

A couple of weeks ago, RL updated the site to include an artisan jewelry ‘lane’. There was an issue with the way the site navigation worked following this change, so I contacted Ruby Lane’s Live Support.  The Live Support Rep stated that the navigation worked correctly. It didn’t. Still doesn’t.

So, I tried submitting the navigation issue via an email that included all the pertinent links to Ruby Lane site help. Additionally, based on RL’s previous non-responsiveness, I also emailed the info to two other Ruby Lane shop owners that I know, asking them to submit the same error. I thought that if more than one shop owner contacted them about the navigation error, perhaps RL would deem the change important to us and fix it.  (See the details in the email below…)

> Hi
> I noticed a small discrepancy that may keep buyers from finding
> our artisan jewelry.
>
> If you visit the Ruby Lane home page http://www.rubylane.com/ and click the SHOP
> icon, located in the upper left corner of the page, you will be brought to a SHOP WITH
> RUBY LANE page, http://www.rubylane.com/info/shop.html
>
> You will notice in the left navigation links for
> Shop
> Antiques
> Collectibles
> Fine Arts
> Jewelry
>
> And then a bunch of links for the different lanes under Shop Directory. A new visitor
> looking to browse Jewelry items might not notice all those links, but would probably just > click on the JEWELRY link located at the top of the list.
>
> Clicking JEWELRY brings the visitor to
> http://www.rubylane.com/jewelry.html, which ONLY lists Antique and Vintage
> Jewelry, no artisan. Not good for those of us that are in the Artisan Jewelry lane.
>
> Can you add ARTISAN as a category on this page
> http://www.rubylane.com/jewelry.html ? Or else point the JEWELRY link on the shop.html page to a more generic jewelry search page?
>
> The way the JEWELRY link works today, it appears that Artisan Jewelry is not part of > the site. And many browsers may not notice the additional lane link to the Artisan
> Shops.
>
> Thanks!
> Kristy

Guess what, Ruby Lane didn’t think the navigation issue was very important. It still hasn’t been corrected. Below, is RL’s response to me. (SAME DAY! WOW! That’s a first!) I’ve edited slightly to remove my email message above which was quoted in their response.

Hello Kristy,
The information you offered about links on the Shop page was passed along to appropriate technical staff yesterday morning after Customer Support received an email about it identical to your own from a different shop owner and the issue they reported had been investigated.

We note that you contacted several shop owners and sent them the same email you sent to us, along with this request:
===============
My Email Message Quoted here in RL’s response
===============
This activity on your part had the direct effect of making it necessary for multiple members of Ruby Lane staff to spend time investigating the issue relayed about the page, including contacting other staff about it and answering email from the shops you contacted. Realistically, this time could have been better spent. Had only one member of staff checked the issue mentioned and answered questions about it just one time this would have freed time for our other staff and allowed quicker responses by them to other non-artisan shop owners’ issues and concerns.

We understand that you are a shop owner who is fairly new to Ruby Lane. Perhaps you are not familiar with voiced concerns being taken seriously or perhaps in reporting issues of this nature on other sites you are more familiar with receiving no satisfactory response, at all.

Please keep in mind going forward that we do always carefully consider shop owner’s concerns. Every email of this nature received is important to us. We ask shop owners to refrain from asking the same question more than once, as this does not help to speed the investigation or response process along.

There are a very large number of shops currently on the site. We would appreciate if you kept in mind going forward that the Ruby Lane staff is a small professional team. We manage the site day in and day out, while at the same time planning and adding new features, programs and tools – all at a cost that everyone can afford. In the future if you have a concern about a site feature or notice a problem we would of course want you to contact us to let us know. But do offer us the advance courtesy of assuming we might be willing to acknowledge and address it, and refrain from attempting to encourage multiple email submissions to our staff about the same issue from other shops, as though you already know that we will not.

Thanks in advance for your future consideration in this regard.

Respectfully,
Name withheld to protect the less than stellar customer support person
Ruby Lane Customer Support

Um, all righty then.  So, my response…………..

Good afternoon “Name withheld to protect the less than stellar customer support person,”

While I appreciate that “every email of this nature received is important to us. We ask shop owners to refrain from asking the same question more than once, as this does not help to speed the investigation or response process along.”, my experience thus far with Ruby Lane customer service has not proved this statement.

To date, I’ve sent 4 messages requesting reimbursement for a previously approved ad as well as two to follow up on a previous message to submit an article for your blog. No response as of yet for the reimbursement requests, which started the end of August
and were approved earlier than that. And, after a preliminary response from your staff that they would like to use the article, nothing when I followed up. And that was weeks ago.

When you say ‘perhaps you are not familiar with voiced concerns being taken seriously” I haven’t experienced that yet, so you are right, I am not familiar.

So, based on my previous experiences with follow through, I thought that contacting 2 other shop owners in which I had a relationship might speed along the process.

Me

You know, I’d almost expect a response like that from a relatively new site, like etsy. But this is a company that has been online since 1998. 10 years!

I’ve closed my RL shop. I’m not spending my dollars with a company that shows so little respect for those that pay their bills.  And, was the navigation link updated? Nope. If you visit their home page and click the Shop link, the link for Jewelry on the subsequent page STILL only lists antique and vintage jewelry. Nice. Not exactly “planning and adding new features, programs and tools” for its artisan jewelry shop owners are they?

If you have made it this far, I thank you for reading. :-)

UPDATE 1: I’ve received several messages from former shop owners with similar and MUCH MUCH worse tales about Ruby Lane. Caveat emptor everyone.

UPDATE 2: The saga continues here http://shinyadornments.com/simplyshiny/2008/10/ruby-lane-a-former-shop-owners-saga-continues/

ruby lane warning problems bad service for shop owners


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Comments

  1. Ruby Lane is TERRIBLE! A seller ripped me off for $200, and they did NOTHING!! and they claim to be the best in online support. Scammers!

  2. Ruby Lane is very inconsistent with the quality they represent. The small team of there staff does not resolve issues. I would like a phone number to resolve issues. I had a vendor store my CC for no reason and her partner charged $500.00 over it. They have no protocol.

  3. very useful info for me.Because i’m new in running a blog and i’m in want of good tutorials like your post. Nice to visit right here,

  4. Well. Thanks a bunch for the heads up!! I have just been surfing around looking for other sites that I might tap into on the net to sell my wares. Naturally, I have seen Ruby Lane on the internet, done some research work there on some of my own items on Etsy..and the like. So I was checking out their fees…but, it never occurred to me to also checkout what people/shoppers THINK of Ruby Lane or what their shopping experience was like and if they might recommend the site. WOW! Glad I happened onto your blog here!!! I won’t be using RL for shopping, selling or anything that involves MONEY from me!!! Thanks again! Karen

  5. I recently discovered Ruby Lane. I think Ruby Lane is a beautiful and interesting place where I can finally find the right collectables and antiques for my collection. I have been collecting antiques for some years, most of which I`ve bought in antique show rooms, shops and on eBay but I am looking to expand my research and antiques hunting by buying on RL as well ! I have to say that the first positive point, I noticed about RL is the high quality of the articles for sale. So I decided to start buying something and see ..

    I started by contacting a few sellers to see if we could deal together .. not much response unfortunately, almost nothing, except for one seller that was more than happy to accept my reasonable good offer, so I purchased 1 article (not too expensive) in order to see how the website works and get started. I purchased the article and paid immediately, the seller was very responsive and prompt in replying. Now I am waiting to receive this purchase.

    Further more, I contacted another seller, I`ve made a good fair offer for two articles up for sale and good heavens ! it must be have been the most hard and difficult task I ever had in my whole shopping purchase history on the web !! I mean it was like stuffing your head against a wall for how much it has been hard !

    First, the seller in this case a woman, she didn`t accept to post my purchases by Priority mail International with delivery confirmation. She wanted to charge me Express delivery insured for an unbelievable cost of $53 for each purchase ( in this case super light miniatures) , so for the two small articles it was $106 shipping, all this for 2 miniatures of the weight of a feather !

    After an exhaustive exchange of 15 emails ( no kidding!! ) she very vaguely accepted to combine shipping.

    We agreed for a combined purchase of two articles (2 small weightless miniatures as said) for a price of $165 plus $53 shipping and then she started to get funny and she wanted me to buy the two articles for the full price without respecting our agreement, saying that anyway LATER she would have corrected my invoice with the discount promised but she couldn`t set the price agreed before for me to buy this article ( umm, a bit suspicious). She used excuses like someone else might buy it while it is discounted and you will not find this article for sale anymore.. yess ,.. So I proposed to set the price agreed for only 5 minutes for me to buy this article as agreed. Answer ? No.

    Now, I have been buying on other marketplaces hundreds of times and I have seen hundreds of invoices ! I know that once an article is sold, the price cannot be changed except for the shipping cost ! She went on and on telling me that SHE CAN MAGICALLY CHANGE THE ARTICLE PRICE AFTER THE SALE in my invoice ! and not only the shipping cost ! When I politely asked how ? ? I had no response. Concluding, she was trying to make me buy the two items for the full price and not keeping her promise. So I haven`t purchased the second article as it was clear that she wasn`t respecting the deal we had.

    My advice to buyers on RL is to be careful before buying from sellers you cannot trust ! There isn`t a specific policy on RL, most of these cheeky sellers are doing their business on RL by playing dirty games on buyers. It is easy for them as RL does not control their modus operandi.

    So at the moment it is a 50% positive experience.

  6. I have been a dealer on Ruby Lane for seven years now, and I sometimes make an agreement with customers that is honored after the customer puts in a Purchase Order. There is no way to reserve an item, so the customer must put in a Purchase Order which reserves the item for them. Dealers CAN adjust prices and it is common practice to do so… the dealer you communicated with was correct. When a customer puts in a Purchase Order for an item, the Ruby Lane system automatically generates an invoice at full price, and if I have agreed on a discount I then change the price and/or adjust the shipping costs and send an adjusted invoice. It is definitely possible and moreover it is common practice on the site.

  7. Hi, I have also been selling on RL for a few years. Each of the literally hundreds of shops are individually owned, so unfortunately one bad experience with one meh seller can make us all look bad … I just want to corroborate the above … The RL website doesn’t let us reserve an item for a specific buyer, so once we do lower an items price any other shopper can buy it at the lowered price. Therefore, if we already had an agreement with a buyer, and someone “sniped” that product, we, the shop owner, would be in breach of contract to the first buyer. So, yes, once you buy an item, we have to alter the invoice after you commit to buying it. I have done this several times with no issues … But then, I also keep my word :) I would suggest perhaps keeping the emails you exchange with the seller regarding price and then, if your seller doesn’t follow through, cancel your sale. Also, treat each store as a different venue (as they are all different) and check their policies. for example, in my store, I allow sellers to change their minds at any pint during the purchase — AND for two weeks after if they are unhappy for any reason. I have literally refunded an item after a return because the color of the jewelry “didn’t suit” my buyer’s “complexion.” (Really!) And that was okay with me. Happy buyers = Repeat Customers … But, again, we are all different. Hopefully, if you find a great seller on the site, you can keep doing business with them. Many of us, myself included, offer to help our buyers find whatever they may be looking for just as a friendly service.
    Good Luck!
    Jessica @ Ruby Lane’s Suncoast’s Hidden Treasures

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