Questionable

Another thing that’s on my mind right now is the amount of time I spend online answering questions (and this is NOT to make anyone who has asked me a question lately feel guilty). I think I’m agitated about this right now because not only have a pulled a muscle in my wrist typing in the last week (HOW LAME IS THAT) but also in the last… oh… three weeks or so, I have received … ten Etsy messages. No, twelve. But two of them were only to tell me I have an item featured in a treasury.

Most of these messages, at least six of them, are people wanting to know about my neatly wrapped yarn cups. Someone apparently favorited a listing from November of 2011 when I was taking custom orders after being in that magazine (I didn’t know you could favorite sold items, but whatever) and now that sold item has been making the rounds. Again. Eighteen months later, or however long that’s been.

 

Now, in spite of the fact that I’m in a situation right now where I keep emailing someone to get information back, and get nothing but the sound of crickets, I still answer people when they contact me. Even though I am annoyed, and have a completely irrational moment of “MY questions aren’t being answered, why should I take the time for YOURS? Clearly *I* don’t matter, why should I give when I am not getting?” — and that’s not juvenile  at all. Which is why I respond. And – in my opinion – I answer well. I thank them for taking the time to contact me. I acknowledge their question, I acknowledge any frustration they may have (for example, if they don’t realize that the custom order listing they are looking at was for March of 2012, not 2013, and was actually sold in November of 2011), and I construct an answer specific to their question, rather than copy/paste. If I have what they’re asking about (soap sets, yarn mugs, ceramic mermaids, whatever) I direct them to where they can find it on my new website, and then as a nod towards Etsy’s policy of not wanting you to admit you sell someplace other than Etsy, I offer to re-list the item on Etsy if they are uncomfortable purchasing on an unknown site.

Anyway. Out of those ten messages, one turned into a custom order, one wound up buying off my main site, one had a few more questions for me, and the last seven people just never got back to me.  Never Got Back To Me. Not a “thank you”… not a “fuck you”… nothing. Crickets.

The custom order? That woman was lovely. Funny, excited, happy. The one who bought off my main site? Former Hanks customer, an out-of-towner who had found us on Ravelry when looking for an LYS when visiting her in-laws, and she was so excited to find me and find I had what she was looking for. I love that. No, really — interactions like that with people make my day; that’s what makes the hard work worth it. But the cricket people? What. The. Hell. I just don’t even.

What am I supposed to do with that?

What am I supposed to do with people who don’t answer?

What am I supposed to do with people who don’t answer me?

Obviously, me being me, I will continue to peck out the most professional and in-depth answers that I can, whenever I can, to whomever emails me. Because that’s how I am. That’s who I am. Part of me wants to email the people who don’t email me back (whether I’m answering them or asking them questions), and ask them, daily, “did you get this? Now? How about now? NOW?” … but part of me is just… so… very… tired. I wish I had a Magic Eight Ball which could tell me if the person is going to be a non-responder, so that I could just not even bother. But then… the chance! The chance of making someone happy, making someone’s day, making someone realize they can get something they thought they couldn’t… I love that. And I wouldn’t get that if I just… didn’t answer people. Without people, I wouldn’t have a job.

4 thoughts on “0

  1. What if you had a “form letter” to send to non-responders. I am not sure if taking the time to make one and send it would be less and have a satisfactory outcome weighed against not making one and being upset or thinking more about it. I guess that would also open up a wormhole about how long before you send the form letter. So, I am sorry you are having to deal with that. I don’t think many of today’s people know what a lost art proper correspondence is.

  2. Well, HUH. Now I realize that I perhaps am an asshole without realizing it. If I sent a message to an etsy seller, and they replied that something wasn’t available anymore, I would feel like a jerk for bothering them about something that I could clearly see wasn’t in their shop. I might not respond back, thinking that I’ve already sucked up the time for this poor etsy seller who is working a jillion hours a week trying to pay her mortgage and really doesn’t need to waste time talking to people who want things she clearly doesn’t have. It might not occur to me that the seller was expecting me to respond. Thanks for writing about this. I’ll try to be more considerate.

    1. Okay, now I feel like an asshole, like I didn’t explain myself very well. It’s not that I’m telling people I don’t have things any more — that, I would totally not expect an answer to. There’s not really anything that needs to be said about “nope, don’t have it! Good luck finding it!” and believe me, I do tell people that sometimes — mostly when they’re asking me to make something I can’t make, like the person who contacted me about making a 6′ tall angel as a headstone. Shit. I *wish* I could have made THAT one!

      In this case, what I’m telling people is that I do have what they want, and it’s right over there, so they can absolutely get their heart’s desire! In eight different colors! And then I hear nothing… so, what do I do with that? Do I wait a week and message them again? Is it my place to remind them? Or … I don’t know! I just don’t even know what I’m supposed to do with that. You tell me you really, really want something, I tell you it’s right over there on that shelf, and instead of picking it up you just walk out of the store without even looking at it. Er?

      Or, someone asks me about a seasonal item. For example, “do you have any skull mugs left on Etsy? I am so sorry I didn’t get one last fall and I would sell my baby to own one!” to which I answer, “I looked, and I have one left that I have hidden on my other site, would you like me to list it for you here on Etsy? I don’t even want your baby! I’ll just take cash!” and then I hear… nothing. No reply. So I have gone and pulled the mug, cleaned it if it were dusty, and set it by my desk since the potential customer sounded really fired up about getting it, and then… what? Do I leave it sit by my computer where a cat, or my usually flailing self, could knock it over and break it? How long do I keep it there? Do I email the person again, to remind them that I have one? Is it my place to remind them they wanted to give me money? That feel so bossy and desperate. So do I go put it back on my shelf, where it was at the back, and I had to move twelve things to get it? Do I leave it at the front of the stack in case I get messaged again? Do I put it in the back since it’s a seasonal item and I’m not going to list it again until August and I really don’t need it blocking other things until then? Should I have lied, and told them that no, I don’t have any skull mugs, and check back in August?

      I want to make people happy. But there must be something about my replies…? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’m only typing “that item is right over there and if you don’t want to buy it off my other site, I will list it here on Etsy for you” but maybe there’s some weird Etsy algorithm that changes that into “your mother was a Kookaburra and I would fall on my sword rather than take your money!”. I really… I just don’t know. It happens so often I figure I must be doing something wrong, but I don’t know what.

      Maybe I’m not magically making things appear for people on Etsy; maybe what they want instead of an answer of “it’s right over there, have it it” is “I listed that special for you on Etsy, here it is”… except that I have to pay to list things on Etsy, and I’m not going to list it unless I know for sure they don’t want it. And I don’t know for sure because I never hear from them again. Er, or maybe that is their answer. I don’t know!

  3. Aha! Now I understand. Those people are being insensitive jerks. I think it has nothing to do with you; you’re communicating clearly to them, painting a big red arrow that points directly at the item they want. I don’t really understand their behavior–doesn’t it seem that people would go out of their way to be nice to an artist when they’re talking directly to her/him? It’s not like they’re sending an item inquiry to amazon. They know that this is handmade and they are communicating with the maker. (Ooh, you should start referring to yourself as The Maker, and you should always say it in a deep, ominous voice. “I Am The Maker. Do Not Be Rude To Me.”)

    I think perhaps the answer is a) you’re doing nothing wrong, b) you shouldn’t have to contact them beyond saying, “Hey! Here it is!”, and c) people are often startlingly rude.

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