Why Amazon Suspends Seller Accounts and How to Prevent a Suspension
Selling on Amazon can be a profitable and fulfilling exercise for businesses of all kinds - but what happens if you are suspended from the site?
That is a measure that can occur for a number of reasons, not all of them intentional. But knowing what to do when an Amazon Suspension hits for the first time is crucial, and can ease what can be a daunting time for online businesses.
Here is a five-step process to follow if you are suspended from Amazon, as well as eight common mistakes that can result in suspension, providing a telling insight into the way Amazon operates.
1. Don’t panic
It sounds simple but it’s also crucial, and many Sellers we deal with have made this mistake. Personally, I can still recall the first time I had an Amazon Suspension and it was undoubtedly a scary moment initially. It was something I’d never experienced before, I didn’t have any understanding of the processes involved, and if I’m being honest my initial reaction was to get angry. But I’ve since learned that is one of the worst things you can do, so definitely don’t fire off a panicked response after an Amazon Suspension that could end up doing more damage to your prospects of getting back online. It’s also worth appreciating that you can have an Amazon Suspension even when you believe you’ve been operating within the rules - it can be a genuine mistake that can be rectified.
2. Get all your information together
If you’ve suffered an Amazon Suspension, you need to gather all the relevant information possible about why it has happened ahead of writing an Amazon Appeal. It’s important to accept that you have made a mistake in Amazon’s eyes and begin to piece together ways to remedy that moving forward. Amazon want to hear how you’re going to avoid the same situation occurring again in the future, so it’s very important to understand the reason why you’ve been suspended.
3. Compile a Plan of Action for your Amazon Appeal
This is absolutely the most important step when trying to get back online. At Thompson and Holt we specialise in helping businesses write their Plan of Action once they’ve had an Amazon Suspension, because especially if it’s their first time, it can be difficult to understand exactly what they are looking for in that vital response. The key thing we always stress is never copy and paste a generic Plan of Action from the internet for your Amazon Appeal - it’s just about the worst thing you can do. The experienced Amazon teams are extremely familiar with these and it will actually work against you rather than in your favour. Instead make sure you reference specific details of your Amazon Suspension and outline clearly how you’re going to ensure they won’t be repeated again.
4. Structure your Plan of Action correctly
Plans of Actions that are poorly put together could hinder your case of having your Amazon account reinstated.
The fundamental structure should include an introductory paragraph, the description of the issue, your action steps to avoid repeat and a closing statement. Keep it concise and to the point without feeling the urge to use overly descriptive and long-winded paragraphs. There’s plenty of material online that goes into great depth about the best structures involved in an Amazon Appeal, but that straight-forward approach will serve you well.”
5. Send your appeal to the correct place
Once you’ve finalised your appeal it needs to got to the correct place. From the ‘Performance’ dropdown in Seller Central, select ‘Performance Notifications’. Find the suspension notice that you received, click the ‘Appeal’ button, and then the ‘Appeal Decision’ button. In the form that’s provided, enter the details of your Plan of Action, and include a telephone number where you can be reached in case there are any questions. Then click on ‘Submit Appeal’ and your Amazon Appeal will be sent to Seller Performance for review. You should receive a response to your appeal of your Amazon Suspension within 48 hours.
How can I avoid being suspended on Amazon?
Being excluded from selling on Amazon can be a hugely frustrating period - but there are ways to avoid it. Here are some of the main reasons for being suspended.
1. Registering more than one Seller Account
This is an issue that Amazon enforces strictly. Sellers must not operate multiple accounts without Amazon’s prior approval, or they can find themselves land with an Amazon Seller Ban. Amazon’s guidelines state: ‘Operating and maintaining multiple Seller Central accounts is prohibited. If you have a legitimate business need for a second account, you can apply for an exception to this policy.’ Yet we still see examples of Sellers ignoring this. They can be detected by identifying the same IP address, using the same bank information, tax ID or address. If you are caught doing this you’re facing an immediate suspension - it simply isn’t worth it.
2. Including sales or coupons in your product title
This is another clear Amazon policy violation that can lead to deactivation. Avoid title information including things like ’25 percent off’ or ‘lowest price’, because it can be seen as being promotional. Stick to simple descriptions of the product you are selling.
3. Buying fake reviews
A number of investigations and reports have suggested that buying and selling fake reviews is actually becoming a thriving marketplace of its own. It might be tempting but avoid it - if you’re found to have done this (and there are clear tell tale signs that Amazon teams will pick up on) then you're going to end up suspended.
4. Selling inauthentic items
This is something that customer-driven Amazon takes very seriously, outlining in their guidelines that ‘If you sell counterfeit goods, we may immediately suspend or terminate your selling privileges and destroy inventory in our fulfilment centres without reimbursement’. Don’t run the risk.
5. Selling restricted products
Amazon’s policy is very clear on the prevention of the sale of illegal, unsafe or restricted products, including those only available by prescription. If you sell any of those items, you immediately risk an Amazon Suspension. It pays dividends to familiarise yourself with Amazon’s policies and lists of prohibited items - and then to avoid them.
6. Failing to address intellectual property complaints
Intellectual property law deals with the enforcement of patents, trademarks and copyrights. What usually happens is that when a rights owner makes a claim against a Seller, Amazon first notifies the Seller of the complaint. Amazon will often remove the listing for that product and instruct the Seller to work out the complaint with the rights owner. Make sure you deal with the issue at that stage, because ignoring those warnings could quickly lead to an Amazon suspension.
7. Having an Amazon Late Shipment Rate
Amazon Seller Late Shipment rates are a fairly common reason for suspension from the site, but probably one of the most avoidable. Keeping good records and being up to date with how your account is performing in terms of shipping are common sense ways to avoid being suspended.
When an order is confirmed as being overdue for shipping by three or more days, Amazon considers it to be late. The number of orders that are confirmed to be late, divided by the total number of orders in the given time period, provides the Amazon Seller Late Shipment rate for that time period.
Shipping and delivery times and performances are absolutely integral to Amazon’s business plans, which is why they set such stringent markers for how you should be performing. But as long as you’re organised and on top of the way your Amazon account is performing in terms of shipping, falling foul of Amazon Seller Late Shipment rates should be something that you’re able to avoid.
8. Selling offensive or controversial materials
In this case, familiarising yourself with Amazon’s full terms and conditions over Offensive and Controversial Materials is highly recommended. There is an element of subjectivity, because Amazon can use their own judgement to decide whether items fall under that category. But knowing the terms will help - and our advice at Thompson and Holt would be to steer clear of items that you think might breach them. It simply isn’t worth the threat of suspension in the vast majority of cases, and given recent public controversies, their systems are likely to become stricter in coming weeks and months.
Thompson and Holt’s advice
Selling on Amazon is a privilege, not a right, and because of that you have to play by their rules, especially so when you have suffered an Amazon Suspension and you’re looking to get back online.
When writing your Amazon Appeal you have to take responsibility for and accept the reasons for your suspension. Then clearly and concisely - without ever using generic online templates - outline why this is not going to happen again in the future. Put together detailed information that it specific to your own business and case.
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