The Reasons Why Cafepress Sucks.

Cafepress has done and continues to do many shady things that screw over the shopkeepers and customers. Their print quality is absolutely horrible as the digital prints wash off and fade after one to three washes. Their products are cheaply made, and made poorly. And their base prices are outrageously high.
  • When they first launched, the agreements with the shopkeepers (Terms of Service) that you agree to, stated the shopkeeper would get 15% referral sales bonus for every sale of everyone that opens a shop under them FOR LIFE. They changed this to one year for everyone, not just the people that signed up after the fact.
  • Before their "image tags", it was all meta based and their moderators always had their own designs as featured and nothing has changed. When they introduced "Image Tags" they had it where everyone could see what image tags you had used, and used them as "recommended suggestions" for all other shopkeepers. This of course lowered relevancy, and defeated the point of having unique tags or "keywords" to be found for in customers' searches. As everyone had added the same ones just because other people used them.
Consider the following. One shopkeeper used words like "leprechaun", "Irish", and "St. Patrick's Day" to describe a design of a leprechaun. Then later, another shopkeeper uses words like "beer" and "shamrock" and "Irish" to describe a beer mug with a shamrock.  The results being that other user gained "St. Patrick's Day" and and "leprechaun"  just because someone else used the term "Irish" and their program recommended it. This made more competition for the first shopkeeper and made the design irrelevant as a search result for "leprechaun". Eventually they did away with this ignorant tool. Similarly, they email everyone and try to get them to make stuff for each holiday and or event which makes more competition for the holiday niches. They even give existing ideas and image tags as suggestions which screws over everyone already marketing towards that event. Basically encouraging people to copy that shopkeeper's original design concept.
  • Originally, their "in house" affiliate program was designed so that the commissions come out of the shopkeeper's pocket and to where the affiliate makes more than the shopkeeper or designer. Now it's still the same for affiliate sales from the shopkeeper's shop, except now Commission Junction gets a cut of the shopkeeper's commission.
Here is an example. A shopkeeper could have a markup of $5 per item. Of that, they are now required to give up 20% of the markup to the affiliate. That affiliate gets that another 20% of the Cafepress base price. Of which they compensate their "cash out of pocket" by eliminating the shopkeeper volume bonuses from the affiliate driven sales. The affiliate now makes more than the designer. That's unfair since the designer or shopkeeper is the sole reason that product sold in the first place. Otherwise it would be a blank T-shirt and the customer was not looking for a blank t-shirt. Here is the math for the above statements. A shirt that is sold for $25 results in $5 for the affiliate ($1 from the shopkeeper's markup of $5 and $4 from the base price of $20) Leaving the shopkeeper with $4. The shopkeeper was screwed even more since they now have to pay for Commission Junction's cut (another middle man). That is even worse now that they implemented a forced 10% of the base price as the maximum markup in the marketplace. It's not even worth figuring the math for an affiliate driven marketplace sale of a shopkeeper's design. Any idiot can see not to sign up with Cafepress at this point. What is even more of an annoyance, as previously mentioned, is that the shopkeepers do not get a volume sales bonus credit for the affiliate driven sales. As this is the money they use to pay their "20%" or whatever amount they claim now to the affiliates. I lowered my markup for an after holiday sale to be just one cent and the affiliates ended up doing the only selling preventing me from making "tier 3" volume sales, that plan backfired. You can not opt out of the affiliate program without being punished and being removed from the marketplace too. Thus, making it even more difficult to get sales. Unless you have a site to send you lots of traffic, this is next to impossible.
  • If you had a shop and it was optimized for the search engines, then you basically wasted your time as they have their market place list your designs and products cheaper than you do in your shop. Therefore, they dominate the search results being the parent domain and not a lowly sub-domain like your shop. This happened when they implemented the aforementioned 10% mandatory markup for the marketplace (So instead of designers making say $5 off a $25 ($20 baseprice + $5 markup) shirt they now make $2.00 off a $20 shirt.
As a direct result, they get all the traffic for those designs and products in their marketplace by taking your keywords for their submitted pages in the search engines perhaps even going as far as excluding your shop from being crawled. Making the $60 a year premium shop fee a complete waste. Even if a person finds your shop it would not be long before they realize they could just go to the marketplace and get it cheaper, perhaps find a competitor's design or ripoff of your own that they buy instead.
  • They have been known to sell your designs on products that you do not offer them on. They also use your images on products that you do not offer on their banners. I have known people that get letters thanking them for custom items and the shopkeeper never received payment for and has no record of such sale.
  • Another point is for people that sell just a couple things will have their earnings forfeited for not reaching $25 minimum in commissions. Some people just do not have the time to keep up with CP and that is no reason those people should have what little they did make taken away. CP is just greedy. I know the point of a business is to make money, I know all about supply and demand. I realize a customer ultimately decides if the product is worth the asking price. But I also know a bit about business ethics. Given the points mentioned so far, does CafePress seem ethical or even ran by anyone with common sense?
This list could go on forever and will probably be extended later.