• Craig Gedey

Everything you need to know about the new Amazon fines for breaching packaging rules

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey has urged Amazon sellers to be fully aware of new measures brought in by the company surrounding unsafe packaging.

Reports emerged at the beginning of December that sellers are set to be subject to new fines and possible Amazon FBA suspensions if they violate the company’s safety regulations.

A CNBC investigation revealed that the fines are aimed at merchandise sold by third parties and shipped by Amazon, after an increase in safety concerns at the company’s warehouses.

Fees will be categorised as “unplanned service” charges, which is the same classification under which Amazon charges for expenses such as replaced barcodes or added packaging.

Products that present potential harm, such as rechargeable batteries, chemicals and aerosol cans, must be packaged correctly and in compliance with federal regulations, or they can cause harm to those that handle them.

Amazon declined to comment on the CNBC story, but confirmed that it is running a trial period that started November 29, and that it would notify sellers at least one month before it starts charging the fees.

Thompson and Holt’s Gedey said: “It’s important that Amazon sellers know exactly what these new rules entail.

“Charging for Amazon safety violations is an effort to both protect Amazon employees from the likes of leaking chemicals and harmful substances, and to make sure the customer has a good experience.

“Amazon is basically making sellers more accountable for the products they are selling.

“But if you do fall foul of the rules, the new fines could have a financial impact that is then compounded if you are later suspended.

“If you need help in that scenario, including an Amazon FBA suspension, then I would advise you to contact Thompson and Holt as quickly as possible to remedy the situation.”

Some details of the new measures emerged in the CBNC investigation, which had managed to secure details of the actual Amazon report.

CNBC state: “Amazon will charge the fee under what it calls ‘unplanned services’, which will make sure the packages meet safety standards in six areas - shipping box overweight, shipping box oversized, electrical products hazard, sharp products hazard, spilled products hazard and unacceptable pallet condition.

“In one case from April, a gas pressure washer was shipped with gasoline inside the machine. The report said the fuel eventually leaked, and the package was found to have none of the required hazardous markings visible.”

The news outlet then quotes the actual Amazon report that they obtained, which reads: “If materials are going to be shipped with fuels inside, they should have clear warning labels and hazardous warnings. If possible, machinery should be shipped without fuel at all. Another case from March caused some warehouse employees ‘hand, arm, and skin irritation’.”

CBNC concluded: “An investigation later discovered there was a hazardous spill from a package containing Red Crown High Test Lye, which could potentially cause severe burns.

“Multiple reports involved ‘undeclared aerosols’ that were flammable and had no hazardous markings on the packages. There were also a number of undeclared lithium-ion batteries. In October 2017, smoke came out of a package containing a cellphone battery.”

There have been some concerns aired by sellers over the lack of clarity around the fee structure and Amazon’s propensity to incorrectly fine some sellers.

But overall there is a belief that the measures will improve the overall Amazon experience, helping products to move faster in less cluttered, safer warehouses.

Amazon may suspend your Seller account if you breach Amazons policies, if this happens and you need assistance you should contact Thompson and Holt fort immediate help.

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