Was your Amazon seller account suspended? Were your product listings blocked? There are many reasons for Amazon account suspensions, from improper registration to copyright infringement. Regardless of why your account was suspended, let’s talk about how to get it back! Regardless of the reasons leading to your suspension, following the best practices outlined below can help reduce time and stress and help you get back to selling as quickly as possible.
Amazon Suspension Process
A suspended Amazon seller account can be frustrating, financially damaging and downright confusing. Because of the large number of third-party sellers utilizing the Amazon platform (over 2.5 million in 2019), Amazon has chosen to employ a broad, aggressive strategy in policing its seller marketplace in an effort to protect its customers. Key to Amazon’s buyer-friendly enforcement blueprint are (1) suspending sellers for many different reasons (ranging in severity from failing to properly register on Amazon to downright illegal practices such as price manipulation and product infringement) and (2) making it difficult (or, at least labor-intensive) to attain reinstatement. This far-reaching strategic approach, while helping ensure the safety of Amazon customers, results in a high number of Amazon suspended accounts. In fact, an estimated 20% of all Amazon sellers were suspended in 2019.
In light of the frequency with which Amazon suspends its sellers, coupled with the ambiguous path that they paint toward reinstatement, it is crucial that suspended Amazon sellers understand both the formal process for reinstatement and the steps they need to take to accomplish it.
Amazon Account Suspension: Timeline and Sequencing
The lifecycle of an Amazon account suspension begins with an email notifying you that your Amazon seller privileges have been removed, your listing(s) have been taken down, and no further funds will be transferred to you pending further action on your part. This email will also give you the opportunity to submit an Amazon appeal letter through your Seller Central.
At this juncture, two things are important to note. First, the sending of this email starts a 17-day clock for your appeal. In other words, if you do not submit an Amazon appeal letter within 17 days of receiving this first email, Amazon will permanently close your account (with any held funds owed to you then returned within 90 days thereafter). While Amazon has stopped expressly indicating this 17-day window since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, our market research has indicated that they remain committed to this 17-day period. Thus, it remains best practice to submit any Amazon appeal within two weeks of receiving this email. Second, upon receiving this email, you should decide in short order whether you will draft and submit your appeal on your own or employ an appeals service such as Appeal Wizards to help with your appeal. While Appeal Wizards can create your Amazon POA within 24 hours, most appeals services operate within the 7-10 business day window (and often even longer in the COVID-19 world). Thus, if you intend to utilize an appeals service to help with account reinstatement, we recommend that you contact that service within 48-72 hours of receiving this initial suspension.
Amazon Appeals: Nuts and Bolts
There are five key steps to your Amazon appeal:
- identifying the root causes of your account suspension;
- drafting the Amazon Appeal letter;
- drafting the Amazon Plan of Action;
- identifying the correct contact to whom to send your appeal (that is, the correct level of escalation within the Amazon Seller Performance Team); and
- if needed, working with the Amazon Seller Performance Team to address any follow-up issues or documentation requests.
Successful reinstatement requires (1) swiftly and precisely identifying the issues that led to your suspension, (2) addressing those issues completely and (3) succinctly communicating these issues and the steps taken to address them to Amazon.
Amazon Plan of Action Process Considerations: How to Appeal Amazon Account Suspension
If you choose to write your appeal without hiring an appeals service, we recommend that you stick to the following process best practices:
- Work Quickly But Don’t Rush. While you must submit your appeal within 17 days, submitting a hastily written, ineffective Amazon appeal letter can have significantly detrimental consequences, and can even result in permanent deactivation. As a result, it is important to put the time and effort into your appeal so that the product you submit to Amazon is professional, targeted, and efficient.
- Stay on Top of Amazon. Once you submit your appeal, you should expect to hear an initial response from Amazon on your appeal within 48 hours. Hopefully you will hear good news, but it is possible that you hear no news or bad news. If you hear nothing from Amazon within 48 hours of submitting your Amazon appeal letter, you should contact the Amazon Seller Performance Team again within 24 hours thereafter. This email can be a simple re-submission of your initial appeal with a short cover email explaining you submitted the appeal on “x” date and have not heard a reply, but it is very important to keep the communication window open. If you hear bad news from Amazon (i.e., a notice that your account remains suspended) it becomes even more important to act quickly in addressing the issues and submitting a second appeal since this notice does not reset the initial 17 day window.
- Do Not Complain or Criticize. Using your Amazon appeal letter as a venue to voice your complaints or criticisms of Amazon or its seller guidelines will not help you get reinstated. In fact, it is a surefire way to remain suspended.
- Do Not Try to Circumvent the Appeal Process. It may be tempting to try to circumvent the appeals process altogether by opening a new seller account with a different email address and information. Above all else, do not do this! Amazon Seller Performance Team consists of smart, savvy individuals and their seller database is very sophisticated. Amazon will detect this ruse when they review your initial seller application. Not only will they reject this application, but they will permanently ban you from selling on Amazon.