What is a venue’s responsibilities? How should it police it’s sellers?

There’s been a thread on the Artfire Maven forum this week about a seller with a less than stellar record on the interwebs.  Some of the discussion was about this seller’s behavior, communications with other sellers and buyers, copyright issues and about this seller’s flagrant disregard of it’s prior customers.  It’s not one issue with this seller, but several that would directly impact other sellers as well as unsuspecting buyers.

It got me to thinking about what I think responsible venues should do to protect its seller and customer base. Is it the venue’s responsibility to ensure that its potential buyers are protected in some fashion when it has knowledge of a seller’s misdeeds in other venues? Should the venue take a wait and see attitude with respect to its own Terms of Use?  Should the venue approach the seller and ask some basic questions about some of the information swirling the interwebs?   Should the venue ask the seller directly if the accusations have any truth to them? Should the venue ask the seller directly if their intentions are honest?

My nature is to gather facts before making a decision; talk to people involved, conduct a little research, noodle on a possible solution for a while. Basically gather data from several places as well as the source. THEN make a decision. I don’t generally take a position of wait and see. I think doing so doesn’t generally help anyone involved, and connotes apathy.  Plus, if I were a buyer that purchased from this shop, endured a bad experience, and then found out that the venue had prior knowledge about the seller, I’d be more than just a bit annoyed. Wouldn’t you?

Admin’s stated position in this particular situation was not to approach this shop and ask questions; rather to wait and see. The seller has since closed up shop. I don’t know if it was because of Admin’s actions behind the scenes or something else.

This isn’t the first nor the last time a potentially harmful seller will set up shop on Artfire. And while I was disappointed, Artfire’s stated response wasn’t dissimilar to what I’ve witnessed from other venues.

What is your opinion? What are your expectations of a venue’s administrative team? How do you think future situations should be addressed? What is Admin’s responsibility to you as a Seller or a Buyer?

Kristy from ShinyAdornments Artisan Jewelry


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Comments

  1. Interesting discussion, Kristy. As I’m not active over on Artfire, I can only speculate on the seller you’re talking about.

    I think the issue with selling venues is that they are a business first, so they have to protect their interests first; hence their Terms of Use. In my experience, the handmade community as a whole has been very into taking responsibility for their work and creating with integrity, so they enter a relationship with a venue that promotes handmade thinking that venue will feel and think the same. And while that venue may have the best intentions to do so, unless they craft their TOUs in a particular way to include this kind of situation, they have to default back to a “hands off” mentality.

    I get that venues want to be fair to all users, even the ones who are seemingly abusing the system, because maybe it’s just rumors. Maybe it’s just a case of person A not liking person B. I think I would start investigating the matter at the first sign of trouble, but at what point do you step in? You can close a forum thread after discussions get too heated, but when do you close an entire shop and ask that person not to come back? It seems to be a sticky area, so if a venues hasn’t already thought of a “what if” scenario, I can see why they maybe wouldn’t want to start now and set a precedent they might not be willing to enforce over and over again. Plus, are there legal issues involved in kicking someone off the site?

    I know that I’d personally love it if venues would clearly state what they will do in these kinds of situations. No random shop closures, no sticking their heads in the sand, but state a clear course of action – “if this happens, we will do this”. I think it’d help everyone involved understand their roles better. But the reality is that a lot of businesses don’t want to take responsibility or action anymore.

  2. Brandi, you said “But the reality is that a lot of businesses don’t want to take responsibility or action anymore.”

    Yep. I agree. It is frustrating, but I am afraid you are correct.

    I’m still in favor of asking questions of the seller. Investigating at the source is a good way to quell either the rumors or determine that perhaps this seller isn’t a good fit for the venue.

    I’m not holding my breath, though, that any particular venue will change their practice in this area.
    :-(

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