Amazon Appeals for FBA Sellers: What Not to Do
It’s every Amazon FBA sellers’ worst nightmare: the account suspension email.
During the holiday season, even a temporary FBA listing suspension on a profitable product can put a sizeable dent in an FBA Seller’s profits.
Sometimes, the issue gets resolved quickly, whether by Amazon or the Seller. Other times, the email is vague and the seller is stuck in account or listing limbo for weeks or months in the Amazon suspension appeal process.
What you do the moment you get that email could determine whether you get reinstated or banned. But how can you know for sure if you’re making crucial mistakes that can delay the process or worse, get you banned?
We interviewed a former Amazon Technical Account Manager to shed light on some common mistakes FBA sellers make when making an Amazon suspension appeal.
1. Not disclosing the information Amazon actually wants in the suspension appeal letter.
Sometimes, a seller may deserve to be suspended or banned for shady practices. In that case, it would be hard to explain in the appeal letter. And the worst thing you could do is try to skirt the real issue. Here’s what our source says:
I’ve seen FBA sellers who provide counterfeit invoices—the thing is, we see thousands of invoices day in and day out. And for every shipment that’s more than $1,000, we have to check the invoice. We know exactly what the counterfeit invoice looks like. If you type in “free invoices” on Google, I [know] what each fake invoice looks like.
- Did you claim multiple times to ship 100 units without actually shipping 100 units?
- Did you attempt to sell a potentially “hazardous” material on Amazon without getting it cleared?
Sometimes, it’s a simple mistake. Amazon gets that. But if the first issue, in particular, repeats—you can bet that you’re suspension bound.
If you have been engaging in dishonest practices, don’t continue the trend. Be honest and tell Amazon exactly what they want to know—your chances of being reinstated may be slim, but Amazon will be able to call your bluff anyway. CJ Rosenbaum states that “when appealing, it is best to provide the information requested by Amazon, nothing more, nothing less. When Amazon does not accept your initial plan of action and they seek additional information you don’t want to open the can of worms to other issues. Amazon allows its staff to work very independently and each person reviewing a plan of action or an appeal can choose to do a more thorough investigation or simply review what is in front of them. Keep your appeal simple, concise and persuasive. Stick with the information that they asked for.”
2. Disclosing more than Amazon wants to know.
According to our source, the first mode of contact for any sellers is the Seller Support Team. They receive a notice that the account or listing has been suspended, and they look into the issue. The important thing to remember, our source points out, is that Seller Support deals with an overflow of seller issues every day.
Our source shares what he noticed:
A lot of suspended sellers will write a big essay to the team at Amazon explaining a lot of [needless] stuff. The person reading it won’t have a lot of time to read the seller’s essay. Just state the point: Hey, [this product or my account] has been suspended, I have all the invoices, and this is how I fixed the problem. If everything is explained clearly and stated properly, Amazon will do their best to help solve [the problem].
This doesn’t mean they don’t care about the fact that your best selling products are gathering dust in a warehouse during the holidays. But it will certainly affect the way you write your appeal letter.
3. Not checking in with Seller Support on the status of your suspended listings.
Sick of getting the same response to your emails? That Seller Support is “looking into the problem”?
Well, FBA sellers should never stop contacting them. Every piece of communication is recorded, and it could affect how quickly your product listings are reinstated.
And the last thing you want to do is let those suspended product listing issues fall by the wayside.
“I’d estimate 40% of the thousands of cases I’ve account suspensions I’ve seen started with listing suspensions,” our source states.
When you receive that notice, contact Seller Support to find out why listing is deactivated, and for especially big sellers, emphasize the fact that this deactivated listing is causing you to lose out on sales. Every Seller Support associate updates the service ticket for that product listing [when a seller contacts them].
The more notes on a product listing, the more likely the internet team will speed up the inspection process of the warehouse team.
4. Relying too much on commingled inventory.
Using Commingled/Stickerless Amazon inventory opens you up to quite a few risks, says our source.
When there are multiple complaints from buyers on a product listing, the listing is deactivated for all of [the sellers], and you may just get a generic email saying “Your listing has been suspended.” Let’s say Amazon sees 10 people selling the [problematic] products. They will deactivate all the listings and check all the units in the warehouse to see if they are counterfeit or not.
Here’s an example of what this email might look like, although the reason may not always be listed:
Greetings from Fulfillment by Amazon,
We have received feedback that the physical condition or type of product * has been inconsistent with your listings for this product. In order to provide the best buying experience to Amazon customers, we have temporarily suspended your listing and corresponding inventory for review while we determine the root cause of these issues.
Your listing and the inventory will be restored upon completion of the internal review unless we determine that additional action is required. The review will consist of a physical inspection of your inventory and the ASIN catalog details.
If additional action is required for this inventory on your behalf, we will notify you again.
If you want to be safe, pay the cost to label every valuable unit you sell. Commingled Inventory is a gamble, and it’s likely it will be for the foreseeable future—even with Amazon’s new Brand Gating policy in place. CJ Rosenbaum believes that “something that can preemptively help FBA sellers is to opt out of commingling and repackaging. Sellers are opted into these programs by default. If you do not opt out of these programs, when a consumer returns or product and it goes back to Amazon’s FBA warehouse you are relying upon the warehouse staff to review the product to make sure it still in new condition. The people that work there do not have time to do an examination and to make sure that the product is still unopened or that it was repackaged properly or confirm that there was no damage during the shipping back and forth. If you want to prevent consumers from making complaints, avoid returns going back into inventory and being delivered to new consumers.”
5. Waiting too long to take action.
There are lots of other FBA sellers doing their job well and dealing with suspended listings correctly the first time. Why would Amazon wait around for a deceitful or disorganized seller to get their act together?
“Amazon’s a big company,” says our source. “They don’t have time to wait around. And sometimes, they have no choice but to suspend you because you’re taking too long to fix an issue.”