Seller Support Yourself

Seller Support Yourself by Christopher McCabe

March 4, 2015

Reposted with permission….by Chris McCabe

During my many years at working merchant risk investigations, I would see regular messages from sellers about their dealings with Seller Support. I read the words “My Seller Support case was closed without having my question answered” more times than I could have imagined. Some sellers who had their access to the marketplace restricted due to violations of Amazon policies or poor performance suggested that they would have a better shot at success if Amazon’s teams supported them more. Other sellers would cite support case numbers to explain what went wrong, hoping that all internal teams shared information about their account. My team had the option to take the case information into account (on a case by case basis, naturally) when applicable. Ultimately, we had our own evaluations of performance metrics to do and established guidelines upon which we based our actions. Whether or not a seller received a second (or third) chance rarely involved much of what a seller had discussed with Seller Support teams.

Now that I am working with Amazon sellers from the independent consultant perspective, I see things differently. True, I still have some contacts on Seller Support teams to whom I reach out for assistance. I also contact Seller Support through Seller Central just as any seller would. In the course of those efforts, I have seen some crucial bits of information lost in the shuffle of messages back and forth. I have had some Seller Support members fail to read prior case annotations and ask me repeatedly to provide the same details. Other times cases have been prematurely closed after I had been promised a future contact with more helpful information. I have even heard Seller Support reps read to me straight from Help menu pages that I already had in front of me, despite their awareness that I knew these word for word and needed more support.

Amazon is also steering sellers to Twitter these days, presumably to handle the many questions and problems that could come up.

We’ll see how the Amazon Seller Forums and social media will cope with the many requests for assistance in the months ahead. In the meantime, I have included five Seller Support tips based on my consulting experiences.

1.) Keep it simple and reiterate what you need to know or ask, whenever possible. If you can drive the main point home to Seller Support more than one time, they likely will enter better case annotations. Subsequent calls or contacts will pair you with a different support rep on a different continent, so clarity is the key here. This is all the more necessary if you have multiple cases opened around the same or similar topics.

2.) Don’t mention unrelated questions or mix information between cases. You will be decreasing the chances that Seller Support will help you resolve either of them if the details become confusing to the rep annotating your case. They may merge follow up contacts into an existing case if they determine them to be related, and that may not help you at all.

3.) Understand that depending on your issue, Seller Support may not have a ready-made, “one size fits all” answer. You may expect them to get back to you with someone who does but it could take more time than you had imagined. Even simple-sounding questions can quickly become more involved depending on the services, tools or teams attached to each. Expect there to be some time lag between the moment you ask an

d the moment you receive an answer.

4.) Keep in mind, Seller Support reps may not have access to account annotations made by other teams, such as an action taken by Merchant Risk or Product Quality teams. For example, if you have lost the ability to list one ASIN due to a buyer item quality complaint, then you may only hear WHAT happened to your listing, and not much about WHY. The Seller Support rep you’re talking to might not have any additional detail. They’ll hopefully do their part to reach out to the team that took the action but Seller Support may not have the steps you need to take in order to resolve the problem.

5.) Don’t lose your composure, however tempting it may be while communicating with Seller Support. One occasion, my Seller Support rep disappeared from an online chat only to copy and paste our entire exchange into the case annotations. When that happens, you haven’t resolved anything and you might have a little more explaining to do to the next Support rep.

5 Ways to Avoid an Amazon Account Suspension

Posted with permission by Chris McCabe

Chris is an accomplished consultant with nearly a decade of ecommerce experience.  After several years evaluating selle account performance for Amazon’s merchant assessment teams, he left Amazon to apply those skills as a merchant account liaison.

Tips from an Amazon Insider

In my history of evaluating seller performance working for Amazon, I have seen a lot of merchants make decisions that land them in hot water with the online retail giant. In this article, I present five things for Amazon marketplace sellers to consider in order to avoid losing access to their accounts. While no post could possibly cover all the various scenarios that I see every week in my consulting work, this should provide a guideline for future reference.

1. Keep An Eye On Your Listings! Some Other Sellers May be Changing Product Details While You Sleep

It’s a good idea for every seller to be aware when changes are made to product details on the items they offer. I had one client recently who sold successfully on a certain product line for months until a competitor came along and changed multiple product descriptions. Sizes changed, extra items or “free” items showed up in the bullet information, and even packaging specifics were altered. Before too long, this seller received buyer complaints for “wrong item sent” and “missing items” or items “not as described on your site.” Given Amazon’s penchant in recent times for taking aggressive action whenever “different item” complaints flow in, you’ll want to be as vigilant as possible on this front. If you detect any detail changes on your offer pages, contact Seller Support and open cases with your list of impacted ASINs. You may have to cancel orders or explain item differences if you don’t catch this in time, and that can lead to unhappy customers and trouble with Amazon.

2. Monitor Metrics Aggressively, Including On-time Shipping and Customer Response

It’s easy to take a quick peek at your performance metrics and zero in on your great 99% feedback rating, or to celebrate the fact that you have no A-Z Guarantee claims to action. Are you paying as much time and attention to your on-time shipment and customer response time metrics? As an account consultant, I often see sellers fail to confirm shipped orders only to find a notice under “Your Orders” on their Seller Central account asking them to confirm shipment of around 144 orders. Some have even let shipping metrics slip into the yellow range before they show interest. On the Contact Response Time side, it’s common among sellers to respond Monday morning to messages received during the day on Saturday. That’s a lot more than 24 hours, and if you’re playing the Amazon game you need to keep it around seven to ten hours, if possible. This is the world’s most customer-centric company, and that’s not just a movie tagline. You don’t need to solve all order problems on the spot once you’ve read the message, but take some time to respond in a non-automated fashion. This will indicate to the buyer that you’re taking appropriate actions to research the matter.

3. Respond to Amazon Policy Notifications / Warnings About Item Quality Complaints

If Amazon prompts you to review a “potential customer complaint” on an item, conduct an immediate review of your listings against the ASIN, past complaints or returns on the item, and any bad buyer feedback left. You will not get the policy teams or anyone in Seller Support to give you quotes from the reporting buyer, but you can show that you’ve taken the complaint seriously by emailing into the queues with a worthy response. If nothing else, you’re taking preventive action on future similar problems and your account will be annotated. If this is the second report on the same item, decide if it is worth the risk of selling those items at all. Multiple complaints often result in canceled listings, and too many “strikes” may end in an account suspension. Don’t just issue a refund and forget about these complaints without looking into them. Investigate further by asking the buyer what specifically was wrong with the item. Find out if it was damaged in transit, or if the item came defective from the manufacturer. Then take all necessary steps to prevent it from happening again.

4. Track Notice Warnings on Specific ASINs and Contact Product Quality Teams

Along similar lines, if you receive a Notice of Infringement notifying you that your listings have been canceled due to a rights owner report, look into the matter right away. If you’ve been reported for selling something you weren’t authorized to sell or you need an erroneous notice form rescinded by the rights owner, acting immediately could strongly improve your chances of avoiding a suspension down the road. If you are using Amazon’s commingled inventory FBA program, then be sure to sticker your inventory. Labeling helps Amazon identify inventory as yours and yours alone, which becomes important if you receive a policy warning from Amazon saying that a buyer reported you for counterfeit items. If FBA sends out your order using commingled inventory from a seller with bad product, then this may be your best layer of protection. Overall, Amazon takes the need to protect the marketplace very seriously and to ensure the best buyer experience, you should, too.

5. Research Amazon Contacts in Category or Account Management BEFORE Anything Bad Happens

Naturally, you can always retain the services of a consultant like me who understands both the game and the players if you run into trouble. But before trouble comes knocking, you could prepare a list of your internal contacts and keep in touch with them from time to time. You may have an account manager from your earliest days on the platform who is still at Amazon or knows another manager to map to your account. Or, you may have made specific category contacts during your onboarding process. While it’s true that many Amazonians move around the company after a year or two in one role, your connection may be able to assist you in finding the right path to resolution.

8 Ways to Crush Seller Competition & Boost Sales

Posted with approval by Jordan Malik
I have been thankful to have worked with Jordan.  I have appreciated Jordan’s voice of integrity as I’ve read his blog.

He has long been committed to providing great material and properly vetting anyone for whom he advocates.  This is invaluable
because you know that when Jordan recommends a product or service, he isn’t just passing along information for his own gain.  He
only encourages use where he has seen value and would personally guarantee the results.  You don’t find this kind of depth very often.

Beyond that though, I have appreciated Jordan’s partnership.  He has brought me more and higher quality traffic than I’ve garnered
elsewhere.  You can’t beat that kind of connection.

see the original here:

8 Ways to Crush Seller Competition & Boost Sales

Amazon sellers (and eBay sellers – much of the below advice can work for you, too)….

Print this out because I’ll be taking it down soon…


> Have your sales dropped?

> Noticed more seller competition?

> Downward pressure on prices?

No, it’s not ‘just’ you. There are other sellers and other retailers (big and small) experiencing the same thing. You won’t buy my relief if I just say “it’s just seasonal/cyclical” (it is, but there are a number of factors that play into that — economy, eBay’s umpteenth flubs, and a dramatic increase in new FBA sellers).

But it’s futile for me to analyze (or for you to dwell on) external factors. So instead….

Here are 8 (proven) ways you can deal with it:

1. ‘Double-down’ – “The fools start complaining. The wise refine their game and double down” quote by FBAMastery founder and author Peter Valley. (Not required, but I highly recommend his $47 book ‘s loaded list of ways to boost your FBA business.) In other words, don’t ignore your dip. Find ways to compensate for it (the next 7 ways will help you do that).

2. Multiply your sourcing methods, A ‘sourcing method’ is a way you get merchandise to resell on Amazon. If you’re just buying from (say) local thrift stores and retail stores, you need to add (say):

a.) Source from ebay <– that link is to my proven guide that can help you, but you can learn on your own instead, of course.

b.) Source from craigslist <- that link is to my proven service that can help you, but you can learn on your own instead, of course.

c.) Source from OfferUp <- that’s a new ‘classifieds’ site (I have no affiliation with) that’s more user-friendly than Craigslist.

d.) Hire and train a neighbor to do local sourcing for you. The fools complain about this (“I’ll be creating my own competition”) but that’s unlikely because many people don’t  want anything to do with selling on Amazon, they just need steady part-time or full-time work. Hire one or two so you’re doubling/tripling the amount of volume of locally-procured merchandise. A $9.95/month app for their iPhone/Android is all they need. Buy it for them and have them join you on 3 scouting trips. Explain every buying/not-buying decision you make and have them take notes. Presto, you’ve instantly duplicated yourself.

e.) Browse/research more sourcing ideas on my free site here.

3. Diversify your product types. If you’re just selling just (say) books and DVDs, expand into CDs and toys and games. (By the way, don’t worry about your seller ID. If your Amazon or eBay seller ID is JoesBooks, the end customer does notcare if you are selling Toys or Kitchen gadgets too. Trust me on that one.) Likewise, if you’re just selling new toys, expand into collectible (used) toys and used/new books and used/new Kitchen gadgets. Diversify and when you think you’re done, diversify again.

4. Build ‘barriers’ that separate you from other sellers of the same merchandise. Examples:

a.) Write detailed Condition Notes – see here and here for my examples. Most sellers just slap up their merchandise with generic or no condition notes. But most buyers want to know exactly what they are getting (and thus may not always pick the lowest-priced seller.) Take the time to give at least some details in your condition notes.

b.) Emphasize the assets Amazon gives you in your Condition Notes – We all know Amazon’s return policy is pretty liberal for the buyer. But do buyers know that? Further, do they know the same liberal policy also applies when they are buying from you, a 3rd party merchant? Let them know (see the end of my condition notes here).

c.) Throw in ‘freebies’ that don’t cost you anything (or that cost you just a little extra). I give a lifetime replacement guarantee on an item I created(no competition). (Out of a few hundred sales (<5 years), I had to honor that guarantee about three times.) You can do this to other existing Amazon catalog items too (just include “lifetime” or “1-year” or “5-year” replacement guarantees in your language). Believe me most Amazon merchants, big and small, are too chicken-sh*# to do this because they’re envisioning a flood of customers sending in their product 6 years later demanding a replacement. It just doesn’t work like that: In most cases you’ll never get a replacement request if your item is a.) relatively inexpensive for the buyer (they’ll just buy another one or dispose of it. Requesting a replacement takes too much time for them) AND/OR b.) hard to break (they’ll never need to get, or bother with, a replacement).

5. Assume all sales of your products don’t occur until 6 t0 9 months out from the date you send them into Amazon (the exception here, of course, isChristmas, when sell-through rates are generally very fast). This is actually critical now. I frequently hear frustration from new-ish Amazon sellers (“I sent in 48 sets of cutlery and haven’t sold a single one in the past 2 months!”). This is the new – no, the always-been-there- reality. If you want hot, fly-off-the-shelf products, please expect 5% net profit margins and tons of competition. If you want to enjoy 35% to 50% net profit margins, slow, long-tail niche wins the race, but don’t begin lowering your items’ prices until 6 to 9 months after you send them in.

6. Create new products/bundles for the Amazon marketplace. This is where the real winners separate themselves from the pack. I’ve talked about how bundles are almost a fool-proof method (when researched and executed correctly) for a.) making your direct competition virtually disappear and b.) cornering (and evendominating) a niche/marketplace.

7. Go where other sellers are turning their nose up. I love these routes because other sellers (generally) don’t touch them:

a.) Liquidation stores (common seller refrain: “It’s too dirty!” My answer: wear rubber gloves)

b.) Yard sales (common seller refrain: “It’s too dirty!” My answer: wear rubber gloves)

c.) $1-and-under items (common seller refrain: “There’s not enough profit”. My answer: Ok, I’ll keep all the profits to myself). To wit, qty:200 of a novelty gift bag I bought. I have sold about 200 since Oct. 2013. My total net profit projection for this single SKU was $800+ in about 1 year. That doesn’t look like much, but now multiply that by just 12 other similarly-priced $1 products and you get ~$10K profit annually. Where do you these ~$1 products? See a.) and b.) above, and also c.) Buy lots on eBay and then sell the items from those lots individually on Amazon or back on eBay.

8. Fools rush in, so there will be a shake-out (Don’t be the fool). This is for you who are nervous about the influx of new sellers. Many of those sellers undoubtedly are rushing in because they think this “Amazon thing” is a push-button goldmine (looks like they’ve been buying into the oversold hype). Then they retreat (faster than they entered) when they realize they have to, like, work to make it a real viable income stream.  So yes, there is an increase. Expect many of those sellers to disappear at their first taste of failure (or their first taste of actual work). Also remember how quickly eBay sellers (needlessly) exited when eBay made things a little more difficult. Those eBay sellers couldn’t go anywhere else (there was no ‘Amazon’ at the time). So stick around and find creative ways to win (see #2 through #7 above).

Comments? Post ’em below.

Need more help? Let’s talk.


(updated Nov. 6 2014)

50 Ways to Lose Your Seller Account…

….with permission by Cynthia Stine

Cynthia a trusted and reliable contributor to the world of content and support in the Amazon seller space.  She is the one expert in the world of restoring suspended accounts who I would rely on if I weren’t going to recommend my own service.  Look up her other posts as she provides valuable information on topics relating to dealing with counterfeit claims as well as how to avoid getting suspended in the first place, etc.

50 Ways to Lose Your Seller Account…


PS_50_WaysRecently I’ve been working with some private consulting clients to get their accounts reinstated on Amazon. This is extremely nerve-wracking for me and my clients. Once your account has been suspended, you have ONE chance to get it back. In addition, Amazon suspends all your payments for an indefinite amount of time and your inventory is sitting in the warehouse accumulating fees but not sales.

I don’t normally like to write about negative things and my intention in writing this post is not to scare people, but to help other sellers stay out of trouble in the first place. What I’ve learned in working with my clients is that these points are not obvious to everyone.

Don’t worry, I won’t actually be covering 50 ways to get in trouble with Amazon, it just seemed appropriate and less icky than a “50 Shades of Gray” reference.  If you don’t know Paul Simon’s song, just remember my goal is to help you in your struggle to be free…

Seller Metrics and Performance

Most sellers get in trouble because they don’t stay on top of their customer metrics. They may have A-to-Z claims, too many negative seller reviews, cancelled orders, a lot of returns for a particular SKU or even something as simple as customer emails that are not answered quickly enough. My Dad got a warning about that early in his seller career. He didn’t realize that his customers were even trying to reach him.

Depending on the severity of the infraction, Amazon will warn you first by email and then suspend you if they don’t hear from you immediately. You are allowed to appeal your suspension but there is no guarantee that they will reinstate you. This is your ONE chance to get back on track.

Performance issues are the easiest to address and fix. My experience is that Amazon is more forgiving of performance issues and will work with you if they are convinced of your sincerity and if you respond quickly.

If you are a merchant seller (vs. FBA), you will likely be dinged for this at some point. It is very hard to meet all of Amazon’s fulfillment requirements as well as they do. Infractions can include not getting your orders out fast enough, your refund policy, your shipping vendor, how you handle customer complaints and much more. If you are not selling FBA, they put your operations under a microscope.

One of my clients had issues because he was using USPS for delivery of a particular line of MF products. Even though customers had tracking links, USPS got backed up around Xmas and orders were taking more than a week to be delivered. He got a lot of negative feedback in a short amount of time for using USPS for shipping.

Guess what? Amazon agreed with the customer. From my client’s perspective, he had to use USPS or else he would lose his margin in the product. It wasn’t his fault that USPS didn’t meet their obligation. I had to explain to him over and over again that Amazon doesn’t care. He needs to charge more if that’s the issue and use a more reliable carrier. By applying refunds and contacting the unhappy customers we were able to get most of the negative feedback removed. Over time I got him to switch to FBA for much of his product line because he could not keep up with Amazon in the fulfillment arena and I felt he could still make a good margin using FBA.

FBA sellers get into trouble by not taking care of negative feedback, not responding to customers quickly enough and generally not paying attention to Amazon warnings and notifications.  Using FBA means our other performance metrics are great.

customer sat 2

As you can see, FBA sellers have power over our customer feedback, cancellations, policy violations, contact response time and defect rate. Amazon handles everything else. Cancellations are where the seller cancels the order.  I’ve had to do that once in my selling career because the customer wanted me to ship an aerosol overseas (it was MF) and I couldn’t.

Over the years I’ve also had some defective products.  They weren’t my fault – I buy new from retail stores – but once I realized I had a problem I withdrew the rest of the defective products and had them destroyed.

This is DIFFERENT from when a customer returns a product because it is defective.  Many customers give that reason for a return so they can get free shipping back. Amazon knows this. If the product was new going out to the customer, we get the benefit of the doubt. HOWEVER, if they get a bunch of returns for the same SKU, that is a problem and you’ll see it appear on your metrics.

I had an extra case of my own book that I wanted to get out of my house so I was selling them FBA.  Wouldn’t you know it? The manufacturer had a printing error! I hadn’t flipped through the books and didn’t catch it. I felt horrible and freaked out.  I withdrew the books and contacted everyone who had bought a book from me and sent them a replacement plus I gave them the eBook for free. It was the right thing to do and it kept me from getting dinged for a defective product. I was so grateful to the customer who brought it to my attention. Then I went and got reimbursed by the publishing company.

You will notice in the image that I have some Notifications. These were also sent to me on email and are being addressed.  With Amazon’s new policy requiring a high and low price point, I have several of these. They are not infractions or reasons for my account to be suspended.  Amazon merely suspends the listing until the issue is fixed. If they were serious, they’d be yellow or red.

You’ll notice that everything has a green check mark.  If you are in trouble, you’ll see either a yellow triangle (fair) or a red X (poor) in place of these green check marks. If you see that in policy violations or anywhere else, take heed! Address it now before you get suspended.

Policy Violation

bannedThis is much tougher. If you have violated an Amazon Policy you may never get your account back. Performance can be improved; rule breakers are bad in Amazon’s world. The most common policy violation is when your product doesn’t match the listing.

Last year I was attacked by some sellers who were changing my ASINs in significant and improper ways (a black hippo became a white dog, for example). I was really upset not only because this is evil behavior, but also because if a customer had complained to Amazon that my product didn’t match the listing, I could lose my right to sell on Amazon. It seems small, but this is a very serious violation in Amazon’s eyes. Knowing what could happen to me, I was proactive. I filed a detailed and specific policy violation against these sellers for deliberately changing the listings to certain ASINs. I spent hours researching the situation and making my case before I sent it. My problems went away immediately. I don’t know who these evil sellers were, but Amazon does. They know every change that is made to their catalog and by whom. I asked them to help me and look into it.

I don’t know what happened to those sellers but I’m confident that they were at least warned which is important because you only get so many warnings from Amazon before you are out. I don’t know exactly how many warnings you get, but my experience with my customers seems to show that it can be as few as two warnings and you are out for policy violations – especially if they are repeats (for the same reason). Amazon won’t tell you, of course.

Warnings are different from notifications.  A notification requires action and may result in a suspended listing or something like that, but it is not a rule infraction or policy violation. If you never fix the problem it will only hurt you – not them.  A warning means do it now or you’ll be sorry.

Another client of mine lost his selling rights because a competing seller repeatedly reported him for selling a different product than was on the listing. Basically, my client was selling on this other guy’s listing and he didn’t like it. It was actually the same product, but the other seller claimed otherwise. I’m trying really hard to get Amazon to reconsider their decision (he’s not just suspended, he’s out), but it may be too late. In his case, we knew who the other seller was and tracked him down. He is willing to drop the case with Amazon. My fingers are crossed.

Another policy violation is to sell a restricted or protected brand without permission. You will be warned first, then they’ll suspend the listing and then they’ll suspend you. One of my clients tried to argue with Amazon and got suspended. When I was hired, I told him to get a letter from the manufacturer giving him permission to sell. We submitted that letter with an appeal and his listing was reinstated.

Another seller simply missed the emails from Amazon.  He didn’t realize he was selling restricted products.  Because his sales were so high, he quickly got into trouble with multiple offenses before he realized what was going on.  His account was suspended.  He was able to get it back and now is much more careful about the products he buys to make sure they are allowed.


Your last chance once your account has been suspended is the appeal. You file it through the “Performance Notifications” page on SellerCentral (Under “Performance”). What I’ve learned from working with my customers is that most people are terrible letter writers. This sounds self-serving since I write these letters for money, but it is like night and day to compare their letters to mine.

Sellers whose accounts have been suspended, are frustrated, defensive and anxious. Their letters tend to reflect that. In this state most are incapable of putting on their Amazon hats and writing what Amazon wants to hear. If you find yourself in this situation and you feel confident in your abilities to write the appeal, I suggest you still have a friendly seller pal review it after you write it and listen to their feedback. That’s what I would do and I write for a living. Here’s what Amazon needs to hear:

  1. You are totally committed to the customer experience and will do everything to fix this issue so the customer will have an excellent experience with you. You want to be a good partner to Amazon.
  2. You recognize the customer belongs to Amazon.
  3. You were confused or didn’t understand what was expected of you. You are sorry.
  4. You have a plan to fix the problem. Said plan needs to be clear (short bullets are good) and somehow measurable or track-able by Amazon. Promising to do better is not enough.
  5. Things you have already done to address the issue. Be proactive.
  6. A request for Amazon’s help/clarification/whatever. This is important because it helps establish your sincerity, humbleness and willingness to change.

Please note what is NOT in this letter:

  1. Explanation of what happened or how you are actually right in this case or got bad advice from Amazon seller support, or it was the carrier’s fault, etc.
  2. Finger-pointing at other sellers who are getting away with what you are being accused of
  3. Finger-pointing at competitors who are filing policy violations against you to be evil (I’ve used the phrase “misunderstanding between sellers that did not affect the customer buying experience” instead)
  4. Anything that hints that Amazon is WRONG in suspending you. You MUST start from the position that they are RIGHT and you made a mistake – one that you are more than willing to rectify.

Does all this seem obvious? I assure you that it is not. Getting suspended is scary, emotional and potentially very expensive for you. This must be a very carefully crafted letter.

My clients are often desperate to explain to me how they did nothing wrong and I let them to a certain extent (I do need to know the story to write a truthful letter), but then I cut them off and tell them: “Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t care and we can’t make them care. All we can do is tell them what they want to hear and show them your willingness to work with them to fix the problem.”

Every word in your letter has to be aimed at improving the customer experience. Be polite. Be truthful. Do what you say you will.

When the letter is finalized, have it proofed by someone else so that it is as perfect as possible when it goes to Amazon. You want them to know you are detail oriented. A letter with typos and mistakes….not cool.

It has to be MORE than the letter, of course.  You actually have to change your behavior. For some of my clients this is a problem. They want to be reinstated, but they are not willing to change. That means they will be banned eventually. Once you are reinstated, you are on probation and they are watching you closely.  They do things to ensure compliance like limit your distributions (ouch) for months and throttle back on orders they send you (really! It seems counterproductive, but they want to make sure you can handle the orders that are sent to you if you are MF).

Even if you remove all your negative feedback and have improved performance metrics, they will not actually show up on your account right away.  Whatever algorithm they use is for performance over time which means you have to be good for months before your account goes back up to green again.  This has serious repercussions on your ability to sell.  It can impact your ability to get the Buy Box (no matter how low your price) for a while.

A Good Offense

While sellers who have been banned from Amazon will sometimes position their situation as coming out of the blue or being a complete surprise, the fact is these sellers did receive notice.  In the first case, they signed a contract with Amazon stating that they would follow Amazon’s rules.  Shame on them for not reading it. In the case of my clients and others I know of, they also had email and SellerCentral warnings from Amazon. What was really going on was that they were not paying attention.

They didn’t understand Amazon’s policies and performance metrics and weren’t working to meet them. They weren’t thinking like Amazon and their business practices reflected that. Sometimes they didn’t take the notices seriously or respond quickly enough. Some erroneously thought they were making too much money for Amazon to cut them off. In short, they were not paying attention and didn’t realize the consequences until it was too late.

YOU are not in this situation. You are forewarned and forearmed. You know that the best defense is a good offense. Look at the checklist below and it should help you stay out of trouble with Amazon:

  1. ALWAYS read notifications from Amazon relating to your account metrics – you may want to make a special folder in your email in-box just for Amazon notifications
  2. Address negative feedback immediately and try to get it removed. I use a software program that sends me texts the instant I get negative feedback so I can respond within a few minutes to the complaint – it goes a long way towards getting that feedback removed.
  3. If your customer wants a refund, give them a refund. You can do it for them immediately through SellerCentral. Don’t argue, don’t talk them out of it. (you wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve seen as a consultant).
  4. Check your customer emails every time you log in to SellerCentral (it is on your dashboard plus Amazon will send a copy to your email address) and respond in less than 24 hours.
  5. Don’t fudge on your listings. If your product is not an exact match for the listing, create a new listing rather than listing your product improperly Review all ASIN changes and dispute any that are incorrect (the dispute process is in the bottom of the email they send you) WWAD? Ask yourself this question whenever an issue comes up where you are not clear. Look at the world through Amazon’s customer-centric lenses – not seller-centric lenses.
  6. Read Amazon’s Selling Policies. You can find them in SellerCentral Help. There are policies for selling in general and then there are some that are FBA specific. Check out the list of Prohibited Seller Activities, too. Those are the ones that will get you in trouble the quickest.
  7. Head problems off at the pass. I use a program that sends letters to my customers the day they get their product and then a few days later. In each letter I tell them that I will help them if they are not 100% happy with their purchase. My letter tells them how to get a refund and return their product. I ask them for a 5-star review. It also allows them to contact me if they are unhappy about their experience beyond wanting a refund. This way I can deal with big problems before they call Amazon and complain.
  8. Be polite and sympathetic with customers at all times – no matter what. I’ve had customers say some pretty terrible things to me how I’m a liar (the product wasn’t what they expected), incompetent and worse. I’ve gotten dinged for things that Amazon customer service told them that had nothing to do with me. I’m always sympathetic. “I can feel how frustrated you are by your letter,” “I hate it when I think I’m ordering one thing and I get another,” “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” I own the issue even if it isn’t my fault. Then I THANK THEM for giving me the opportunity to fix this issue for them. Yep. I’m grateful. I can’t fix what I don’t know about. Then I offer a solution. Once I’ve fixed the situation, I’ll ask them to remove negative feedback.

If I had to sum this entire blog post into three words, they would be: Think Like Amazon. It will keep you out of trouble.

It would take a whole book to go through the myriad ways that Sellers have lost their selling privileges, but the bottom line is this: Amazon wants an excellent experience for its customers. It wants good seller partners to help deliver this experience.  They are not out to get you and they don’t want you to fail.  They want you to succeed. Be mindful of the possible pitfalls, but don’t waste time being afraid. You have a plan.

Mistakes happen. Honest sellers can get into trouble without realizing it. Customers lie occasionally and other sellers can be real bastards sometimes. In most cases, Amazon will give you a second chance if you handle the situation properly. Understand their policies and do your best. There is a good chance you will never have a problem with Amazon.