Saturday, April 25, 2009

There's No Joy In Going After Cafepress

When Paul and I first joined Cafepress I read joyful excited posts on their site from employees who LOVED the idea of helping other artists promote their work. Now when I look through the site I can't find those posts. But we did find one elsewhere from a disgruntled ex-employee complaining about the moronic, vitriolic crap they have to put up with everyday from Cafepress designers who don't understand basic business and don't even try to apply it to the designs they're trying to promote. It was a very long detailed post! Horrifying, actually, in how little respect this person had left for ANY of the people on Cafepress -- he lumped all the shopkeepers together -- but also more than a little sad.

I've been on the Cafepress forum and forums on other sites, too. I hate most of the interactions I find there and usually refuse to participate. Etsy is a major exception in this -- they monitor flaming really well-- as Paul and I have been taught we HAVE to do on our public forums (like this one) as well. Otherwise, we have found that the very WORST aspect of human nature comes out in these forums. It's all so anonymous. The vast majority of what goes on amounts to nothing more than the equivalent of a hateful drive-by shooting. If the Cafepress forum is any indication of what customer service people have to contend with.... I can understand why a business decision might be inadvertantly made that shuts the door on the very people (the individual designers and shopkeepers) who made them what they are today.

This particular change announced by Cafepress, though, got our attention. It's such an enormous change to cut commissions this much -- especially when it affects their top sellers, the ones who bring them the most money, and the people who have become rich or at least manage to stay afloat making their Cafepress shops their sole business. Ironically, we're not one of them but neither Paul nor I felt we could just walk away without saying anything.

But we said it, to them, to others. And now it's only fair to give this company time to respond.

There are actions those of us who will be affected by this can do... I've mentioned them in previous posts. But that's enough. The vast majority of Cafepress shopkeepers probably didn't even read the email that announced this pending change. The only ones squawking now are the proactive shopkeepers who put a lot of time and effort into the work that we do. Unless Cafepress changes their mind about this -- and they certainly have enough feedback to act on it -- come July and August the much lowered commission checks that arrive in every shopkeeper's mailbox will be the real wake-up call. Then the hew and cry will be so loud the rest of us won't have to do very much to publicize and fight back (if we care by then) at all.


Jai Johnson • GalleryJai.Com said...

The whole deal with Cafepress is just so sad. Time to make changes - I've been with them 8 years and feel like I've lost a friend. But alas, I have finally learned - businesses should be treated as businesses and not as friends. --Jai

Sheryl Karas said...

I'm learning to diversify. I've had to experience this lesson before. Get lazy enough to put all your eggs in one basket and watch out! They could have gone, could still go, out of business. That would be even worse and I'd be kicking myself for not diversifying along the way. I'm calling this a big wake-up call and a blessing, in the long run, not a curse. It's feeling better to think that way.