“My heart sank because it was $25,000 on hold.” Our client, a working mom with a young child, described her horror when she received her account suspension notice from Amazon. She had started her Amazon store shortly after her child’s birth, hoping to earn some passive income at first, and then enough to stay home with her daughter. Now, saddled with debt, unable to access her funds, and confused about why she was even facing an account suspension in the first place, she was in a tough spot.
It’s a spot we see so many of our clients in: Amazon Jail – certain ASINs or an entire Amazon account suspended because of authenticity complaints. And while any Amazon account suspension notice is often one of the darkest times for our clients and their businesses, there is hope! We help clients get out of Amazon Jail and back to selling every day – let us know if we can help you. But our favorite thing is when we empower all Amazon sellers (clients or not) to avoid account suspensions or ASIN suspensions all together. So, here are five tips for staying out of Amazon Jail – we’ll walk you through the best ways to avoid authenticity complaints and make sure your ASINs and Seller Central Account do not get suspended or get back online quickly.
Step 1: Understand why Amazon suspends accounts for authenticity complaints
Many sellers’ first instinct when they receive a suspension notice is to blame Amazon. “I’m an honest seller – you’re wrong to put me in jail!” But you have to remember: Despite what your favorite legal drama may have taught you about justice systems, at Amazon, you’re guilty until proven innocent. And that’s not because Amazon is a heartless mis-carrier of justice. It’s because Amazon puts the customer first. Always. Amazon’s first principle is “customer obsession.” Their mission is to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” And to do that, they protect their customers at all costs, including from bad products (meaning ones that are stolen, counterfeit, in violation of copyright…inauthentic).
The other thing to remember: There are indeed bad actors selling bad products on Amazon. By some accounts, it runs into the many billions of dollars. And Amazon would much rather take a broad approach that suspends some innocent sellers alongside the bad ones, than to risk letting too many bad actors stay on the platform unchallenged. It may not seem fair to you, the innocent seller, but it’s certainly customer-focused, and it’s the reality of the world you’re selling in. Understanding that is critical to making sure you do the right things to stay out of Amazon Jail. And the good news for innocent sellers? You can win in the end – it just takes some diligence. Here’s how…
Step 2: Source your products legitimately and have the paperwork to back it up
Our client above, the well-meaning mom with $25,000 on the line, was drop shipping with Walmart as her supplier. We don’t recommend this business model, and once you’ve followed Step 1 and put yourself in the right customer-centric mindset, you’ll know why. Amazon has no way of knowing that the goods you’re buying from Walmart and selling to their customers are authentic – or even that you’re properly buying them. Indeed, there are billions of dollars of retail store goods sold fraudulently on Amazon each year: Criminals steal it from the stores and resell it online as legitimate.
So, to be able to prove to Amazon that you are innocent – that your goods are authentic – you need to source them legitimately and have the paperwork to back it up. If you want to sell storage bins on your store, don’t buy them from Walmart. Find a storage bin manufacturer, determine who their authorized distributors are, buy it from them, and – this is just as important! – get legitimate invoices from them with details about what, when, and how many you purchased. This may sound like more work than the way you’re currently doing things, but it’s the only way to prove the authenticity of your goods, and it actually helps you make more money. Buying from a distributor who doesn’t have the retail markup is ultimately less expensive. Not to mention that keeping your store from being suspended is always better for your bottom line. Let us know if you want some help making sense of all of this.
Step 3: Respond immediately to any authenticity complaints
Remember how we said in Step 1 that many sellers’ first instinct when they receive a suspension notice is to blame Amazon? Well, their second is often blaming the customer, especially if their account was suspended because of an authenticity complaint that seems unwarranted. By now you should know that blaming the customer is almost never going to work with Amazon. So, the best thing you can do is to avoid getting those authenticity complaints in the first place.
If you’ve followed Step 2, and you know you’re selling authentic products, any authenticity complaints you receive are likely actually something else. But in a justice system in which you’re guilty until proven innocent, you need to get to the bottom of where those complaints are coming from so you can avoid even misguided accusations. As soon as you receive an authenticity complaint, dig into it right away. What did the customer say about your product? Has another customer said the same thing? Are customers questioning the authenticity because the product is showing up damaged due to bad packaging? Are they questioning it because your ASIN picture is outdated and what you sent them looks different than what they expected? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes – adopt the expectations that they are likely to have – and see where you might be going wrong. Remember: To keep selling on Amazon Seller Central, a customer-obsessed place, you need to take ownership for anything that is causing customers to complain, whether the complaint is genuinely related to authenticity or not. We help clients every day in striking this balance and navigating complaints – let us know if we can support you.
Step 4: Don’t go it alone! Get account monitoring support (from us or another provider)
Up until this point, you can do everything in this article on your own. But if Step 3 is starting to sound daunting – “read and respond to every customer complaint??? I barely have time to sleep as it is!!!” – know that there’s support. At Appeal Wizards, we aren’t just wizards at crafting tailored appeals that help you get out of Amazon Jail, reinstated, and back to selling quickly, we also have wizardly powers at helping you avoid suspension and the need to write an appeal all together.
More and more, sellers are coming to us for that support in account monitoring because, let’s face it, Amazon can be a mystery. It’s not just that you’re guilty until proven innocent when selling on Amazon. It’s that you’re assumed guilty of breaking ever-changing rules you didn’t even know existed or had been adjusted! Amazon is constantly updating its policies and the metrics it focuses on, and most of our clients are shocked when they receive a suspension notice. They never saw it coming. An account suspension can sneak up on even the most compliant of sellers.
Our Amazon Seller Central experts use deep knowledge and advanced technology to help sellers make sense of it all so that you can stay focused on what you do best – selling – while we do the work to help you avoid suspension. Reach out today and we’ll be happy to tell you more about our Account Monitoring services.
Step 5: Appeal Suspensions Right Away
While following Steps 1-4 can help keep you out of jail, we recognize this blog post may have come too late for some of our readers. Fear not! Even if you are already sitting in a cold Amazon Seller Central jail cell, there’s a way out of that account suspension and toward reinstatement. The key: act fast. By assuming you are guilty, Amazon thinks it has caught you selling inauthentic (maybe stolen!!) products on its store. It’s not going to wait patiently, and you shouldn’t want to wait patiently either, because Amazon is holding onto your money.
That said, do not fire off an appeal that is incomplete, poorly written, or that casts any blame on Amazon or the customer! Amazon is looking for answers and for ownership. They need to see not only that your products are authentic (or if not, why not), but that you understand the problem and how you will ensure you never make it again. If you’re not sure how to get started, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friendly wizards – we’re here to help, and have assisted hundreds of clients with these exact Amazon account and ASIN suspension problems.
Speaking of which, our client above – the mom with $25,000 on the line: that money is now hers again! One of our dedicated case managers quickly drafted a customized appeal that helped her get her Amazon account reinstated and her back in control of her money within days. “As soon as I got that email from Amazon, I wanted to cry!” she told us. “I’m so, so grateful for your company. I really am. You guys are great.” We think you’re great, too, Kristen! And we’re always glad to help.