Is Amazon right to charge $5,000 a month for help services?
News has emerged this month that Amazon is charging third-party Sellers up to $5,000 per month to access a service that guarantees quick help from a real person.
The optional management-growth service gives Amazon Sellers the opportunity to quickly correct issues such as hackings or suspended Amazon Seller accounts. But it’s through a Seller that didn’t use the facility that the situation became major news in America. The Washington Post highlighted the case of Jeff Peterson, a Seller from California who found his Amazon Seller account hacked.
Peterson says that he called Amazon's support line, its customer service number, and emailed owner Jeff Bezos himself, but nothing worked, and was forced to look on helplessly as fraudulent orders and negative reviews flowed in, decimating his online business. It was over three weeks before Peterson was able to gain access his account again.
It’s a situation that has left Amazon open to criticism in America in particular. The company asks its 2.5 million sellers to pay into an expensive monthly service to guarantee fast help from a customer-service representative.
Amazon promotes this option as strategic account services, where you are assigned an account manager and “receive personalised coaching and mentoring to help you stay competitive and leverage our team to assist with time-consuming tasks so you can concentrate on growing your business.”
You can still sell on the site without this service of course, but that leaves you open to the kind of pitfalls that Peterson experienced. Some Sellers have reported finding it near impossible to receive the help it needs without this service.
Thompson and Holt’s managing partner Craig Gedey says that Amazon Sellers need to have their eyes open over the scenario.
Gedey said: “There’s an argument that Amazon’s role as both a retailer and a marketplace operation creates a system that can hurt Sellers, and limits the number who can afford to pay a premium for the extra service.
“Amazon has responded to that, understandably, by saying that all Amazon Sellers have full control over their businesses and they need to make the decisions that are best for them, including which products they choose to sell, and which services they choose to use.
“That much is true, and whether a business takes up what can be an expensive service is down to individual cases and needs. Amazon is ultimately a business as well, and one that provides a remarkable platform for selling worldwide. Some of their charges have attracted criticism, and even interest from government entities both in America and Europe, but they are the terms and conditions that Sellers agree to when joining.
“What we would say at Thompson and Holt is that if you do find your business hacked or suspended, and are having difficulties remedying the situation, then contact us immediately. Our expertise in dealing with these situations means that we can have your Amazon Seller Account reinstated quicker than anywhere else, and at a much smaller rate than the hefty monthly fees some businesses can incur on Amazon.”