How long does it take to appeal an Amazon Seller Suspension?
Receiving an Amazon Seller Suspension can be a daunting and worrying moment, particularly if it’s the first time it’s happened to you.
Amazon Seller Suspensions can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which you may understand and familiar with, others that are more complex. Immediately your thoughts will turn to how quickly you can get your Amazon Seller account reinstated - it’s why you’re using the site, in order to sell your products, and any obstruction to that can be damaging financially. What Amazon wants from you now is information - and assurances that whatever you’ve done wrong, it won’t happen again.
If you’ve received an Amazon Suspension, it’s likely that you’ve had a message along these lines:
“If we do not receive the requested information within 17 days, or after two unsuccessful appeals (whichever occurs sooner), your account will be permanently deactivated. Failure to successfully appeal this decision may result in us permanently withholding any payments to you and any FBA inventory of the items that caused “inauthentic” complaints may be destroyed at your expense.”
Again, for somebody that has not been in this position before, those words can sound foreboding. Losing business in the short term is bad enough, but the threat of permanent exclusion, and the loss of any inventory in Amazon’s FBA can be a devastating prospect for many.
But panicking about the situation at this stage will not help you, and it’s important to retain a sense of perspective. This is something that has happened to thousands of Amazon Sellers before you, and the vast majority of them will have had their accounts reinstated.
TIP: How to write a successful Amazon appeal and plan of action, click here
Rushing into thoughtless and ill-advised responses will also not be beneficial. Nor will attempts to bluff your way through the process and hope that you can easily navigate Amazon’s sophisticated systems on the hoof. Their employees are extremely well versed in all manner of attempted corner cutting and deception, and deciding to do either will harm your chances of being back on site selling as quickly as possible.
Research has shown that many Sellers rush to send two appeals well before the 17-day mark. They compile a Plan of Action straight away in the hope that a speedy response is the key to being reactivated, but any missteps there leave you with just one more chance - and the threat of permanent deactivation.
How many appeals should I send to Amazon?
Amazon doesn’t want a flood of appeals from each Seller, which is why they have put in place a limit of two. But what that also does is limit your chance to get this right - and in the absence of any published appeal process guidelines from Amazon, you need to tread carefully and go through a proper process because the last thing you want is your account to be permanently removed.
It’s also worth bearing in mind at this stage that Amazon investigators find it much easier - and quicker - to fire off rapid rejections or requests for further information than it does for them to examine a well compiled appeal. They now have their own metric targets to meet. So simply throwing something together quickly and pinging it straight to Amazon in the hope of an immediate return to the site is certainly not the best tactic to use.
That can lead to a delay in responses to Plan of Actions that have been well put together, which in itself can be hugely frustrating. But hearing nothing for a few days can often be more promising than a rapid rejection or a request for further detail and information to your appeal.
What has caused issues in recent times is a perceived disconnect between Seller Performance Teams and Account Health Services, who you can ring to try and clarify details of messages you’ve received. That can lead to conflicting messages in some cases, which again can cause significant frustration for suspended Sellers.
Reports from past Amazon Performance team members say that is down to a change in systems, which used to work in tandem and were not as focused on meeting targets for appeals. Appeals were done on a case-by-case basis and judged on their own merits, to avoid a situation where investigators handled suspensions like robots.
But that is a stance that has clearly changed in recent times, and Seller Performance teams are even now able to choose pre-written and often vague replies from drop-down menus, aimed at speeding the process up - at their end at least. Investigators that were previously encouraged to take a holistic view of all cases before reaching a decision, looking into account history and the strength and credibility of the submitted Plan of Action, are now being pushed down the route of quick - but often poorly executed - reviews.
None of which is good news for Amazon Sellers. The only positive is that being armed with this information, you can accept its reality and cater the way your respond to a suspension in turn.
Still the question remains - how long does it take to get reinstated on Amazon?
It is not a straight forward question to answer, and can vary significantly from case-to-case. Some Amazon Seller accounts take longer than they should, and the harsh reality is that it can run into several weeks and even months. Some of that is the fault of the current flawed system, but it is also undoubtedly due to poorly written Plan of Actions, and ill-advised responses once initial rejection has come.
If you appeal too hastily with poorly constructed content, it will harm your chances of being reinstated quickly. Some Amazon Sellers then compound that mistake with weak responses, or even worse, simply trying to force the same point to Amazon despite having been told that it is not sufficient. You cannot keep sending the same mistakes and expect the outcome to change. Getting angry and aggressive with Amazon staff is also a common mistake that will significantly harm your chances of being reinstated quickly.
And for all the time you are sending inadequate, ill-informed or inappropriate responses to the Amazon teams, you’re losing the opportunity to sell your product on the site, and losing traction on your rivals. And by the time you then approach a company like Thompson and Holt to aid your case, you could have damaged the situation considerably.
Asking Account Health Services about the state of your case has been shown to be futile by a number of companies, linking back to the poor connections with Amazon investigators. Sellers can become frustrated by responses that don’t seem to be relevant to their case, hinting that they have not even been read by the department you’re trying to deal with. Calls to regulate the quality of the investigation process have so far proved worthless.
Amazon are still holding my funds!
While all of this is unfolding, Amazon will have held onto the funds in your account, another source of significant frustration for Sellers. They have made changes to their processes over the last two years, linked to performance reviews, but what often happens is that Amazon puts you in a position to demand your funds back. Suspended Sellers may be required to pass through an additional payments appeal process, on top of their account appeal, and are generally given seven days to provide relevant info.
Thompson and Holt would advise any Seller who is struggling with this to focus on full account reinstatement, even if they don’t plan to sell again, because there have been numerous reports of final payments from Amazon going even beyond 90 days. Some even suggest that funds have not been returned in some cases, if you’re unable to prove the validity of your products or suppliers on particularly brands. You will be treated as guilty until proved innocent, and the ability to prove legitimate sourcing is absolutely vital.
Not only that, but permanent fund holds are no longer limited to accounts selling fake goods, committing fraud out bad faith policy abuses. Sellers have reported difficulties regaining funds if they have been found guilty of writing fake reviews or arbitration cases, falling under Amazon’s Code of Conduct for Sellers.
In short, the quicker you have your account back up and running, the quicker you can access those vital funds. Which makes the way you appeal and your Plan of Action absolutely vital in this whole process. Minimise Amazon’s opportunity to reject or delay your appeal through the use of detailed information specific to your own case, and keep up to speed with their current processes where possible.
What to do if your Amazon account is suspended?
If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Seller business back online as quickly as possible.
Thompson and Holt are also offering a free months trial of their Monitor and Protect service to help sellers prevent a suspension of ASINs or an their account during the COVID pandemic, more information on how to protect your Amazon seller account from a suspension can be found here.