2018 was another great year for ecommerce sellers with sales continuing to increase year-on-year. It’s not all been great news for sellers though, with an increasing number of Amazon accounts being hit with the dreaded Amazon account suspension.
For many sellers, an Amazon suspension is a major risk to their income and reputation and the whole experience can be very stressful. If you’ve just got a suspension take a deep breath and let us guide you through the process of getting your seller account reinstated.
What can you do?
This blog post will detail how you can protect your Amazon seller account and how you can get your account reinstated including what to include in your plan of action (more on that later).
Every day hundreds of honest third-party sellers get suspended, denied or banned by Amazon.
What’s the difference?
- Suspension means you still have a chance to appeal. You’ll need to work a plan of action.
- Denied means your appeal was rejected but you still have a chance to submit a revised plan of action.
- Banned is the worst scenario of the three. Basically, you’re out of there. Your appeal has failed more than once, and Amazon will no longer read your emails.
Ah well, I’ll just open another account… Not so fast — you’ll also be informed that it’s against Amazon’s terms and conditions for you to open another seller account. Darn!
Sellers who’ve been suspended often get frustrated with the fact they can’t pick up the phone and speak to someone to resolve the issue. Every minute a seller is suspended, they’re losing money! In some instances, it can take weeks or months for sellers to get reinstated.
Amazon selling privileges are removed for three reasons:
- Amazon feels your performance is taking a dive. They want to operate a competitive marketplace that values good customer service.
- You’ve violated Amazon’s policies. Remember it’s Amazon’s house and you have to abide by their rules.
- Selling a restricted product.
You can find out why your account has been suspended by checking your Performance Notifications within Seller Central.
A suspended seller will also receive a notification titled “Your Amazon.com selling privileges have been removed” with a list of ASINs that Amazon believe have violated their policies.
Performance-related suspension notifications will start off like this:
“We have removed your Amazon selling privileges because of buyer complaints about the condition or description of items they received from you.”
I thought we were friends Amazon!
Sellers are then expected to create a Plan of Action based on the information contained in the notification.
How to Prevent Your Selling Privileges Being Removed
I’ll be fine. I’m a good seller.
Suspensions happen to nice guys too like FBA Seller, Ryan Grant. Ryan had great seller metrics but failed to respond to four notifications for blocked listings as he didn’t intend to continue selling the items.
His failure to respond to these notifications contributed to Ryan’s suspension.
I’ll be fine. I’m a big seller.
Amazon won’t suspend me. MYTH! Amazon suspends big sellers too.
If I’m suspended twice, I’m out!
In business and in life, we all learn from our experiences and mistakes.
Now is the time to act to prevent your account being suspended. As they say, prevention is better than the cure.
If Amazon sends you a policy warning or your performance metrics take a dip — fix it and tell Amazon what you’re doing to rectify the situation.
6 Quick Seller Tips to Prevent Suspension
1. Ask Amazon to put an annotation on your account to state that the ASIN wasn’t counterfeit
You should check your Amazon reports on a regular basis.
Keep a close eye on your Returns, Imperfect Order and Negative Feedback reports to see what your customers are saying about you. Also, keep an eye on A-Z claims and your messaging.
Pay attention to shipping, ensuring you ship on-time and your goods are properly packaged. Lost or late deliveries can hurt your account and Buy Box percentage.
Amazon increasingly values customers. Check your shipping, returns and refund policies to help maintain excellent customer satisfaction levels.
Remember, Unhappy customers = Trouble
Pay attention to listings.
Ensure you label new products as “new” and used products as “used”. Examine your items carefully to confirm you choose the correct condition category. If you’re selling used items, check closely to ensure there are no missing parts.
3. Read your listings to check for any potential flags
Don’t sell generic products as private label. If you’re selling private label, tell your customers (and Amazon) what makes your product different to similar products on the marketplace.
Talking about product descriptions. Make sure yours are both accurate and honest.
4. FBA sellers should close and archive old listings. Merchant Fulfilled sellers should delete them.
Switch to FBA or at least consider switching any problematic ASINs to FBA. This will also help you deal with ecommerce fraud.
Read more on How to Prevent Ecommerce Fraud…
Returns and refunds are part of the selling game. The buyer has the power on Amazon, so for an easy life, sometimes it’s better to just accept the return or issue the refund even if it means you’re out of pocket.
Look at the bigger picture and don’t let a few customers damage your seller feedback rating. And if you do issue a refund, why not ask for positive feedback in return.
Be wary when buying cheap goods from liquidators, eBay or AliExpress to flog on Amazon. In some cases, this could lead to an increased number of counterfeit claims, and Amazon doesn’t take kindly to sellers who receive too many of these.
5. Don’t sell counterfeit goods
Simply put, don’t sell goods that are counterfeit. It’s not worth the risk even if you make a quick buck at the start.
How to Appeal Against Your Suspension
If Amazon suspends your account despite your best efforts, conduct a thorough investigation across all of your account, paying close attention to any ASINs with previous policy warnings.
You need to read over the suspension notice carefully to identify which rule(s) you violated referring to Amazon’s policies and agreements page and checking your Seller Central performance metrics. If you require more information on your suspension (and still have access to Support), consider opening a ticket to clarify.
In your appeal, identify the reason(s) for suspension.
- Do take responsibility and acknowledge the harm done to the customer.
- Do tell Amazon you are committed to providing awesome customer service and you realise it is a privilege to sell on their site.
- Don’t criticise Amazon’s product quality process.
To increase your chances of a successful appeal, your Plan of Action should be thorough and based on your internal account findings.
This is a really important part of your appeal. Remember, if the investigators ask for more information, your appeal will be delayed… and time is money.
Your Plan of Action should identify the reason(s) that buyers complained about the quality of your products and contain solutions as to why it won’t happen again.
For example, if you’re a seller who has been suspended for shipping reasons, you may wish to include that you’re moving to FBA to solve the issue.
Once you’re ready to submit your appeal, visit the Performance Notification section within Seller Central, find your suspension notice and click the “Appeal” button then submit your Plan of Action.
Then comes the wait.
Read more from Amazon on Appealing the Removal of Selling Privileges.
Tips for Creating an Effective Plan of Action
Your Plan of Action requires some time and thought so don’t send an immediate response by clicking the “Appeal” button. Instead, lay out an actual case that motivates Amazon to reinstate your account. Think things through before replying.
These seven tips for creating an effective Plan of Action are courtesy of Amazon suspension expert, Chris McCabe (Ecommerce Chris).
- Stay professional and don’t offer commentary about Amazon processes, the slowness of their teams, or telling them how disappointed and heartbroken you are to have lost the account.
- Keep it simple and give them facts. Focus on policy matters not performance metrics.
- Use bullets or numbers instead of paragraphs to communicate your understanding of what went wrong along with the steps you’ve taken to correct it.
- Include a short introductory paragraph that quickly shows the reader your overall grasp of what happened and how you already resolved it.
- Don’t include extraneous information or commentary regarding the account review process or Amazon. Focus on specific information related to your fixes.
- Don’t blame buyers if you’ve received policy warnings. Assume that there must be a legitimate reason behind the complaints and work your way backwards.
- Ensure that the Plan of Action has all elements that led to the suspension addressed specifically.
Learn from the Experience
If you’re suspended and you submit an effective Plan of Action and you get reinstated, learn from the experience and take measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Maintaining Amazon’s high standards and playing by the rules will let you continue selling on the marketplace and create positive customer experiences that benefit everyone.
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