The seven most common questions about Amazon suspensions
Receiving an Amazon suspension can be demoralising, daunting and damaging - and if it’s the first time it’s happened to you, a step into the complete unknown.
But there are common issues that cover the vast majority of cases. Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey has vast experience of Amazon suspensions - why they happen and what to do when they are handed out. Here he answers the seven most common questions that arise when their situation unfolds.
1. What should I do if my Amazon account is suspended?
“There are three very clear steps you should take when this happens,” Thompson and Holt’s Gedey explains. “These are listed below.”
1 - Work out why you’ve been suspended
“It sounds obvious, but the first step of any Amazon appeal is understanding the reason for your suspension. Amazon can give you a very basic explanation for the measure, so it’s down to you to do some detective work and become familiar with exactly what it is that has gone wrong. The more you understand the reason for your suspension, the better your Amazon appeal will be. Amazon wants to hear clear plans to rectify whatever they’ve highlighted, not vague excuses about what you think might have gone wrong. Reasons for suspension can broadly fall into two categories - either failing to follow the site’s agreed Seller Policies, or your Seller Performance has fallen below the required expectations. Research both and figure out which one is the issue for you, but be specific with the details when putting your appeal together - the details of your individual case are important.”
2. Put together a Plan of Action
“This is absolutely key to getting reinstated. This is what Amazon looks at when deciding whether or not to lift the suspension, so it’s crucial to get this right. There is a wealth of material online to describe in detail how to write your Plan of Action, but remember a few key beliefs that you should always stick to. Clearly identify the issue that has caused the suspension and outline exactly what you’re going to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Be specific with your case - Amazon investigators don’t want to read generic responses that you’ve copied and pasted from the internet. Put together detailed information from your own case, highlighting that you’ve identified the issue and explaining how you will avoid it being repeated. It should include an introductory paragraph, the description of the issue, your action steps to avoid repeat and a closing statement. This is a vital part of your Amazon Appeal so it needs to be accurate.”
3. Send your Amazon Appeal to Amazon
“Now you need to make sure your Amazon Appeal goes to the right place. From the ‘Performance’ dropdown in Seller Central, select ‘Performance Notifications’. Locate 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 should there be 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 Amazon Appeal within 48 hours.”
2. What makes a good Amazon suspension appeal and Plan of Action?
“This is ultimately the key to getting back online,” Gedey continues. “At Thompson and Holt we specialise in helping businesses write their Plan of Action once they’ve had their Seller account suspended, because especially if it’s their first time, it’s difficult to know exactly what Amazon is looking for in that vital response. The first thing we always say is do not copy and paste a generic Plan of Action from the internet - it’s the worst thing you can do. The Amazon teams are well versed in these and it will work against you. Instead make sure you refer to specific details of having your account suspended and outline how you’re going to make sure they’re not repeated again.
“You also need to get your structure right. Poorly constructed Plans of Actions will not help your case. As a basic outline it 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 using long-winded, descriptive paragraphs. There’s plenty of material online that goes into great depth about the best structures, but that straight-forward approach will serve you well.”
3. Will Amazon give me warnings before being suspended?
Gedey says: “In some cases you might only get one warning prior to suspension. Amazon may also send a message indicating you have 72 hours to write a Plan of Action to prevent losing selling privileges, known within Amazon as a pre-POA or “proactive POA. What that does is give you a chance to avoid suspension by explaining your improved processes before it happens. But your solutions must be convincing or it will be rejected and you’ll find yourself suspended. You should accept that an Amazon suspension could strike at any time at all, with or without notice, although that is relatively rare. Policy warnings and blocked listings are indications from Amazon that something is going wrong on your account - act on them rather than ignoring them if you want to avoid suspension.
4. How long will my Amazon suspension last for?
Geed responds: “That 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. 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.”
5. How can I prevent my Amazon account from being suspended?
Thompson and Holt has seven key pointers to help avoid suspension, managing partner Craig Gedey explains below.
1 Listen to your customers
“Because Amazon is such a consumer experience-driven business, the feedback from your customers is absolutely key. Their responses and insights can be the easiest way to steer clear of suspension. Take criticism on board and look to make steps to ensure any mistakes are not repeated. And equally, if you have positive feedback look to build on that. Don’t ignore customer messages, and endeavour to make their experience on Amazon as good as it can be.”
2 Don’t put quantity in front of quality
“Everybody wants to sell as much as they possibly can on Amazon to drive profits for their business. But don’t sacrifice quality in chasing large numbers of sales. That is a sure-fire way to let standards drop, begin receiving negative feedback, and ultimately finding yourself hit by seller ban. Make sure the service you are providing is at the best possible standard it can be, it will pay dividends in the long-term and hopefully avoid the unwanted road-bumps of any suspensions.”
3 List your products clearly and accurately
“Misleading customers is a guaranteed way to land yourself with an ban. Items should be listed with accurate descriptions, clear photographs and correct measurements. Slipping up on any of those can lead to complaints and negative reviews, and the quicker they stack up, the more likely that suspension is incoming.”
4 Don’t be afraid of refunds
“Nobody really wants to refund customers if something has gone wrong. But sometimes it is necessary, even in situations when you feel you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a small price to pay to access Amazon’s huge and loyal customer base. Sometimes sacrificing a bit of money is better than losing a best listing product or even your account use.”
5 Pay attention to performance metrics
“The metrics that Amazon supplies for your account matter, because they determine how valuable a Seller you are to the company. Pay attention to numbers such as Late Shipping Rates and adjust your operation accordingly if you want to avoid a suspension.”
6 Don’t disregard existing copyrights and trademarks
“Some Amazon Sellers think they can simply grab an image from Google, source a similar provider and start selling. Before you list any item that you think is an original design, check for existing trademarks to make sure you’re covered. Falling foul of this can lead to ending your selling privileges.”
7 Don’t make the custom pay for return shipping
“This isn’t actually required by Amazon, but it is strongly recommended, so if you don’t currently offer prepaid shipping labels then looking into changing your settings now. If a customer needs to send something back to you the likelihood is that something has gone wrong - making them pay for that ‘privilege’ will lead to further frustration and negative reviews or complaints that could result in a suspension.”
6. Can I just open a different Amazon account after being suspended?
“This is an issue that Amazon enforces strictly,” Thompson and Holt’s Gedey stresses. “Sellers must not operate multiple accounts without Amazon’s prior approval, or they can find themselves land with a suspension. 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. despite what you might see of account holders boasting about this practise online, it simply isn’t worth it.
"We have recently seen a surge in suspensions by Amazon sellers who previously opened new accounts instead of fixing the issue.
7. Why do I need a reinstatement consultant like Thompson and Holt?
“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,” Gedey concludes. “The first thing we always say is never copy and paste a generic Plan of Action from the internet for your appeal - that is the worst thing you can do. The experienced Amazon teams are well versed in these and it will actually work against you rather than in your favour. Instead make sure you refer to specific details of your Amazon suspension and outline clearly how you’re going to ensure they won’t be repeated again. Our vast experience in this field means that we are perfectly placed to ensure your account is back up and running in the shortest time possible.”
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.