Take the Decision out of Amazon’s Hands
Preparing to Testify and Get Your Account Back at Arbitration
In an arbitration proceeding to recoup and reinstate your Amazon Seller account, you need to be prepared to testify that you did not violate Amazon’s policies. If the arbitrator believes you over Amazon’s witness, your account should be reinstated.
How Amazon Sellers Testify at an Arbitration
Amazon Sellers’ arbitrations are held in either the offices of the American Arbitration Association or via telephone. When you participate in an arbitration scheduled against Amazon, you are permitted to either physically go to the AAA’s offices or you may participate via a conference call.
When an Amazon Seller testifies, he or she is first questioned by their attorney. Just like in court, this is called the “direct examination.” The Amazon Sellers’ lawyer will ask question of its own client so that the seller can tell his or her story. The questions by the lawyer are simply nudges to move the Seller along in the pre-prepared presentation. The Seller should know how best to tell his or her story because their lawyer will practice going over their testimony several times before the actual hearing.
CJ Rosenbaum, the Founder of Amazon Sellers Lawyer, has been involved in hundreds of trials. Any direct examination should have the Seller tell their story in a manner that is easy to understand, easy to follow and in a way that persuades the Mediator to agree with the Seller’s position.
Preparing to Tell Your Story
In order to prepare to tell your side of the story, you will need to review your account including all of the emails to and from Amazon that preceded the hearing. For example, when many sellers were initially suspended, they wrote a Plan of Action where they admitted to doing something wrong.
As in any trial, you must take the admissions you made that can hurt your case and either take the wind out of Amazon’s sails or find a way to make your admissions of wrongdoing into positive aspects of your presentation.
You and your lawyer should review each and every email and each and every Plan of Action submitted. You will then need to create a timeline or an outline of your case. Do not simply focus on your strong points, you need to outline the entire case.
First and foremost, you must argue why you should win. On the other hand, you also have to address the arguments you anticipate from the other side. You will need to identify the negative facts, figure out how to either make them positive or take the sting out as much as possible. Before the arbitration starts, you must be prepared to tell your story in a concise and persuasive manner that is easy to understand.
What Amazon Sellers Need to Say and How They Should Deliver Their Testimony
When Amazon Sellers testify at an Arbitration, it is essential to be clear and concise.
As the party bringing the arbitration, your story should be quick, simple and persuasive. You should be able to boil the case down to two or three sentences. Arbitrators are people just like us. They have short attention spans and are used to getting their information in sound bites…just like us. In an age of CNN, multiple screens and too many things on our plates, you need to be focused on exactly why your account should be reinstated and nothing else.
When Amazon Sellers Testify at an Arbitration, You Need to Be Persuasive.
You need use the same tools and methods that are used at trials around the United States by top trial lawyers. Some tools of persuasion include: teaching the arbitrator about selling on Amazon and empowering the arbitrator to reach a favorable decision.
One tried and true method for persuading someone is to provide them with the information they need to make their own decisions. You become the teacher. Through your testimony, you empower the arbitrator to reach a decision. For example, you want to teach the arbitrator how sellers live in daily fear of suspension. That no matter how perfect, big or small, the common theme among sellers is living in fear. You want to teach the arbitrator the fact that until the arbitration, all of the cards were in Amazon’s hands. That sellers will do and say anything to comply with Amazon’s hidden rules because when they suspend you, they withhold your money and often have your inventory. You want to teach the arbitrator that Amazon often refuses to tell sellers what they did wrong. Through your educating the arbitrator about how Amazon works, you are persuading the arbitrator that the rules are unfair…and that you should be reinstated.
How to Deal with Plans of Action Where You Admitted Errors
If you are like most sellers, before your arbitration, you sent in multiple Plans of Action and admitted to doing something wrong and you apologized for it. You were willing to say anything in order to get your account back.
As a trial lawyer, I can tell you that any admissions of doing something wrong will surely be used against you at arbitration. But, all is not lost. When you testify at your arbitration, bring out the admissions you made in your Plan of Action before Amazon cross examines you with them. By the time you need to discuss your admissions in your failed plans of action, you have already set the stage that Amazon is a bully and that you and all other sellers are at Amazon’s mercy. Of course you would admit that your products weren’t shipped carefully … you need to feed your family or make payroll.
As a strategy, you do not want to focus on the admissions of making mistakes, just touch upon it, explain the admissions briefly and then move on. Take the wind out of Amazon’s lawyers sails. Take the sting out of your prior statements.
Bury Your Problems in the Middle of Your Presentation
The Primacy and Recency Effect:
Basic human psychology and trial strategy confirm: people remember what they heard first and what they hear last. This is called “primacy and recency.” Use this psychological tool to your advantage in your arbitration.
When you testify, start with your strongest points about how awful Amazon treats its sellers, then address the Plans of Action where you falsely admitted to wrongdoing, then testify about how you are an awesome seller.
Testify about all of the products you sell, all of the positive reviews, and all of the time you sold without issue. Then, in the middle, you should mention that either you made minor errors (if you did) or explain why you admitted to things you didn’t really do and move on. Take the surprise and the strength of the arguments out of Amazon’s lawyer’s hands. Finally, make sure to end your testimony on a strong note.
Cross Examination by Amazon’s Lawyers
In every arbitration, you will be cross examined. But, remember, Amazon’s lawyers are not trial lawyers. They are good lawyers and, so far, good people to work with. But, they have not spent years trying cases and have not learned or been taught trial skills.
If you are properly prepared for your hearing, when you are cross examined you will have a few tools to use. For example, when you are asked about information about something that is not good for your case, just answer the question. Do not draw more attention to the issue by being evasive. Just say yes or no. Imagine the following testimony:
Question: Did you admit in your Plan of Action that you made errors.
Question: Did you admit in your Plan of Action that you made errors?
Answer: I do not remember.
Question: Take a look at Exhibit A, is that your POA?
Question: Do you see the first few paragraphs where you say that you are sorry for making mistakes and violating policies…
Question: Would you mind reading it aloud?
You have now brought a ton of attention and testified about your errors….It would have been better to simply answer the question with a yes and then force the other lawyer to move onto something else.
The point is this: give in quickly on battles you cannot win so that you can ultimately win the war against Amazon. The bottom line is to get your account back.
Also, rest assured, that after your cross is complete, any skilled trial lawyer will make sure to ask a few questions so that your testimony ends on a string point.
Sellers involved in an arbitration proceeding against Amazon must be prepared to testify. Telling your story, educating the arbitrator, and strategically admitting to any mistakes are crucial to guaranteeing you are able to convince the arbitrator you should win. The team at Amazon Sellers Lawyer has over a decade’s worth of trial experience coupled with knowledge from dealing with Amazon on a daily basis. We are here to help sellers fight the injustices on the Amazon platform.