3 Horror Stories Of Amazon Sellers Being Suspended That Will Haunt You
3 Horror Stories Of Amazon Sellers Being Suspended That Will Haunt You
Without rules, there would be chaos. No matter how rebellious we may feel, we know that without laws, rules, and generally accepted standards of behavior, society would fail to function as it should. And we accept that if we get caught violating these rules, we will likely be punished.
The Amazon marketplace is no different than society at large. It has a lengthy set of a rules and a code of conduct that sellers are expected to adhere to. These rules are made to protect the integrity of the space and keep all transactions on the level and the punishment for violation is swift and can result in a suspension of your selling privileges.
But sometimes, these rules have unintended consequences. Sometimes suspensions are applied to people who have not really done anything wrong. What happens if you violate these terms without meaning to? What if you followed the advice laid out in a warning from Amazon and they suspended you anyway? What if you did not do anything wrong at all? Well, judging by the following horror stories from Amazon sellers, Amazon wields a lot of power, and they are not always quick to set things right.
Horror Story #1 -- Mistaken Identity
Our first horror story involves a gentleman who failed to properly register his seller status. Band new to the marketplace, he registered his account, listed himself as an individual seller and he was off to the races. Trying to garner some reviews, he sold his product at a significantly reduced price for his first week of business. By the end of that week, he received notification from Amazon that he had been suspended. Individual sellers are people who do not plan to sell more than 40 items a month. Our seller had wanted to see how his product was going to sell before setting up an LLC
Amazon informed him that he would have to register as a business and update his information. This response from Amazon was incredibly reasonable and the seller was more than willing to comply. He established himself as a sole trader, got a tax number and updated his account. He did everything he was asked to do but the suspension had not been lifted. When he reached out to Amazon to ask why, it was 15 days before he got a response! He was once again asked for more details. He provided these details but still was not reinstated. Another 13 days passed, and another message came from Amazon -- a message asking for the exact same detail our seller had just provided. As a family man, there was a lot tied up in this appeal and he was starting to suspect he would have to walk away and find another source of income when all of a sudden, more than a full month after the ordeal began, he was reinstated.
While this story had a happy ending, it was not a happy experience. For many, losing a month’s worth of potential income could spell disaster.
Horror Story #2 -- Misinformation?
Our next seller had a lot of success on Amazon before his suspension hit. In the past, he had to prove his authenticity to Amazon in response to unethical practices by some of his competitors but in those instances, only specific listings were frozen and once he proved himself to be the owner of the brand, everything was set right again. It was just a part of keeping everyone safe from underhanded tactics. But then it happened…his entire account was suspended. Amazon told him, “it has come to our attention that you have continued to list items which violate our Condition Guidelines and/or our policies regarding product authenticity.” They removed his privileges, cancelled his listings, and put a hold on any of his Amazon earnings. Basically, they left him with nothing. After carefully crafting an appeal to Seller Performance, he waited for a response. Amazon wanted him to submit an action plan, copies of invoices/receipts, and his manufacturers information. He did exactly what they wanted and unfortunately, the response from Amazon was not what he had expected. Simply put, he was told that his listings did not match the products he was selling.
Not really understanding his offense and not knowing what else to do, he decided to shut down all of his listings and never sell those products again. The only way to fix it was to take it all down and try and sell his products elsewhere. After removing these listings, he sent another action plan to Amazon. Once again he was told they would not reinstate him and that he had “listed against detail pages that do not accurately describe your items or are not in accordance with our Condition Guidelines.” He completed his new action plan and tried again. Same response. He deleted everything and tried Seller Performance again. This time, he was told his account was under review and a few days later, he was reinstated. He lost the business he had been working to build, and he had lost the ability to sell certain products, but he was allowed to sell again. Not a perfect ending, but an ending nonetheless.
Horror Story #3 -- Linked Account
This next seller did everything right. He found success in wholesaling and grew his business to $60k/month! He stayed on top of all policy changes rolled out by Amazon and prided himself on carefully following the rules. But then the suspension came. He was charged with having multiple seller accounts, a clear violation of Amazon’s rules. While he did historically have a buyer account, he knew, for a fact, that he did not have another seller account. So what happened?
Our seller had a friend who worked as a marketing executive and he was interested in learning the ins and outs of selling via FBA. The seller agreed to teach him what he knows in exchange for help with his PPC ad campaigns. After a few months of working together, the seller gave his friend access to his account. This is what caused the problem. Years earlier, the friend had sold on Amazon and thought his account was properly closed…it was not. So when the friend logged in to our seller’s account from the same computer he used to manage his own account, the two accounts became linked in the system.
The seller sent an appeal, which ended in rejection. He escalated the appeal and had his friend address any outstanding issues with his old account. Another appeal, another rejection. In a last ditch effort to save his business; he crafted an email to Amazon owner and founder, Jeff Bezos. The morning after the email was sent, he was reinstated. It is doubtful that Bezos had anything to do with the reversal of his suspension but somebody certainly took notice. After nearly 40 days without an income, the situation was finally set right.
You put time, effort and money into finding the ideal product and perfectly optimizing your listings, it would be a real shame if you were to lose all of that. Appealing your suspension is the only way to get yourself back on track. This can be a lengthy and complicated process, which is why it might be a good idea to hire a team of professionals to handle it for you. They have in depth knowledge of Amazon’s policies and have all the tools necessary to properly plead your case.
These are haunting and terrifying stories that prove nothing is completely safe in the Amazon space. As frightening as these stories may be, they have all had a positive outcome. If you follow the rules and submit a timely appeal, hopefully you can escape with your business intact. Never lose hope! There is always a way!
This is a guest post by Andrew Maff, Director of Marketing and Operations for Seller’s Choice, a full-service digital marketing agency for e-commerce sellers. Seller’s Choice provides uniquely personalized marketing and managed services for digital marketplace sellers, e-commerce merchants, and brand builders worldwide. You can learn more by emailing email@example.com or visiting here.