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As an Amazon Seller, it’s probable that you may have to deal with an account or listing suspension throughout your seller journey. In this post, we are going to share our knowledge in working with violations and suspensions, and also a few bonus templates that we have used to resolve various account issues successfully.
Last March 12, 2018, we received an email from Amazon that contained the words every Amazon seller dreaded to see:
“Your Amazon.com selling privileges have been removed.”
Amazon suspended our account. OMG.
We were petrified. During that time, we were still so heavily invested in our Amazon business and had yet to diversify our income streams. We felt lost, and we feared for the future of our team, business and finances.
We’ve never been ones to wallow in misery, so once the initial shock had worn off, we decided to get to work. We reread the suspension letter, did some intensive research, and started to work on our Amazon suspension appeal, which we submitted within 48 hours of getting suspended. We were very fortunate because on March 16, 2018, just four days after our suspension, Amazon decided to reactivate our Amazon seller account.
This is just one of many examples of issues we’ve had to battle Amazon on in our business. Despite having really clean products and systems in place for our businesses, there’s always a chance something can go wrong and get flagged. Below we are going to share all the information, strategies, and know-how that we acquired during this experience, and we hope that you’ll be able to use these for reference if ever you have to deal with a suspension (we sincerely hope you won’t have to) in the future. We will also be covering various Amazon policy compliance violations and how to address them so that you can maintain a good account health rating.
DISCLAIMER: Amazon is an ever-evolving marketplace and deals with policy compliance violations on a case to case basis. The following information is only an array of examples we have used in the past for our personal businesses. The information and templates are not guaranteed to work for your account or product reinstatements, and you should always consult with a lawyer or expert in account restoration. Amazon takes suspensions very seriously, so we highly recommend doing your research on what information they need from you before replying.
What Could Get Your Account In Trouble: The Most Common Policy Compliance Violations that Could Get Your Amazon Account Suspended
If you ask us for the best advice in dealing with a suspension, here’s our answer:
FOLLOW ALL POLICY RULES SO YOU DON’T GET SUSPENDED.
This may seem obvious, but the majority of the time a suspension happens, it’s because a seller either did violate a policy, or they were falsely accused of it from an error on Amazon’s side. As an Amazon seller, your priority should be to monitor your account health, understand the Amazon Seller Performance Policies well, and make sure that you are addressing any policy compliance violations that hit your account as quickly as possible (we recommend within 24-48 hours), even if the accusation is an error.
Amazon rarely suspends first-time offenders (as far as we know). Those who get nicked are either notorious repeat offenders or those who fail to address and resolve policy compliance violations or act on performance notifications. This is why it is very important to monitor your account health on a daily basis. Case in point: Our 2018 suspension was actually caused by our failure to act on a performance notification that required us to remove one of our ASINS because it had been added to the list of Amazon restricted products. Had we carefully monitored our performance notifications and acted on them, we wouldn’t have gotten suspended.
To check on your Account Health, log in to Seller Central, hover over “Performance” and click “Account Health.” If you have policy compliance violations, you’ll see them in the middle column. Most of the time you get performance notifications and emails from Amazon if any of your ASINS are causing account health issues. Make sure you are monitoring these as well.
It’s also very important to be familiar with the most common policy compliance violations. This comes in handy when writing your appeal letter because it lets you easily identify the root cause of the violation and formulate an action plan to address the issue. We discuss the ones we have already encountered during our years of selling on Amazon below:
Intellectual Property Complaints
When you get an IP complaint, it means that a brand owner has contacted Amazon and has reported you for unlawfully using its intellectual property. Unfortunately, this is often abused by brand owners as Amazon makes it very easy for them to file IP complaints against Amazon sellers. Resolving this requires a different route. The first step here is to contact the brand owner, provide an explanation on how you unknowingly used their intellectual property, provide the complaint number, and request for them to rescind the complaint.
Product Authenticity Customer Complaints
You get a product authenticity complaint when a customer complains that the item he or she received is fake or inauthentic. It’s also very important to note here that customers may also make such complaints if the item they received, while authentic, does not match the description in the product listing. Sometimes they even mark products as inauthentic to get free shipping when they return the item. It’s not fair, but it happens.
Product Condition Customer Complaints
Product condition customer complaints are usually triggered by complaints from customers who purchased products listed as “new,” but arrive in opened boxes or show signs of damage/wear and tear. This is one of the reasons you may not want to commingle inventory, as this makes you vulnerable to this type of complaint. It’s also possible that an item you sell through Amazon FBA may get used and returned, and the inspectors who receive the returns miss the wear/damage and relist the item as new in your inventory.
Listing Policy Violations
Any part of your listing (or the ASIN you listed your product under) which violates the listing terms set by Amazon will trigger this violation. The listing terms can found here.
Restricted Product Policy Violations
This violation is triggered when Amazon detects that you are carrying a product that they have added to the Amazon restricted product list because it doesn’t comply with applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon policies.
What To Do When You Get a Performance Notification? When Your Account Gets Suspended.
Responding to a policy violation or submitting an Amazon suspension appeal requires you to take similar steps. Here is an action plan you can follow:
You’ll need a clear head to plan out your response to a policy violation or Amazon suspension appeal.
Next, set a definite timeline.
As we mentioned earlier, it is best to be able to send out a well-crafted response within 24 to 48 hours.
Collect your data.
Start collating all the data pertinent to your case.
Annotate your receipts or order emails (if necessary).
If your issue is related to product authenticity or product condition, you’ll be required to provide proof of where your product was originally purchased. What worked for us was submitting two copies: the first one being the original and unedited version of the receipt or order email, and the second one which has the most important information highlighted. Providing the 2nd version makes it easier for them to review your documentation. Here’s a quick guide on how to annotate your receipts/order email:
Highlight the following information:
Supplier/Retailer and Supplier/Retailer Contact Information
Date of Order
Highlight Card Details
Include Image of Credit Card
Start writing your Amazon suspension appeal/ response to the policy violation.
We’ve all heard stories about how much of a nightmare it is to deal with Amazon’s Policy Compliance team. However, we sellers also have to understand that part of the responsibility of being able to communicate effectively falls on us. Hence, it is very important that you know the three things your appeal/response has to be able to do to be able to facilitate effective communication with the compliance team:
(Help facilitate effective communication between you and the Amazon Compliance Team to get the results you want.)
- Show That You Understand Why The Suspension Occured / Show That You Understand the Reason for the Violation – you have to be able to show Amazon that you fully understand the root cause of the issue. This serves as the foundation of your response/appeal, and your clear understanding of why the issue occurred will show Amazon that you have done the correct and necessary steps to immediately address the issue, as well as your ability to create a Plan of Action that will prevent this issue from occurring again in the future. Be as detailed as you can here: make sure to answer the 5Ws (who, what, why, when, where and how) and make sure to include case or complaint id numbers and other details relevant to your case.
- What You Have Done to Resolve the Issue – performance notifications and emails from Amazon regarding policy violations usually contain instructions on what actions you need to do to resolve the issue immediately. Make sure you review these messages from Amazon and follow the instruction/s they provide (in most cases, it’s a matter of removing your products and deleting the listing). Indicate in this section that you have followed their instructions to immediately resolve the issue.
- How You Plan to Prevent this Violation from Occurring Again Moving Forward – this is your POA or plan of action, and here you will state the steps/changes you will implement in your business to ensure that your operations are in 100% compliance with Amazon’s policies.
Take note that there are also Amazon lawyers and account reinstatement services that you can get in touch with if you don’t feel confident enough to write your own suspension appeal letter. These services may be a bit costly, but the best ones almost always get the job done.
Free Letter Samples You Can Use as Templates
We’ve attached a copy of the successful Amazon suspension appeal letter we sent, as well as copies of emails that we’ve sent to Amazon to successfully resolve various policy compliance violations.
Download them here so that you can use them as templates.
Amazon Letter Templates!
Download the 5 letter templates to solve Amazon complaints and suspension issues.
Prevention is always better than the cure.
Dealing with an Amazon account suspension can be a huge pain. So as early as now, monitor your account health closely and make sure that you are able to address and resolve performance notifications and policy violations as quickly as possible. Be a proactive seller and make sure that you are always in compliance with Amazon’s terms and policies.
If you do get suspended though, it’s not the end of the world. There are reinstatement services you can get in touch with that can help you with your appeal. Or if you are confident enough, you can follow the strategies in this blog post and craft your own suspension appeal. Just remember that the strategies we discussed here are meant to facilitate effective communication with Amazon’s Policy Compliance team, and while we have achieved success using these strategies, following them does not guarantee that your account will be reinstated.
Thank you for reading, and until next time!
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