As an Amazon Seller, you have worked diligently to make sure your business runs smoothly on Amazon. However, you will need to do more than just follow the existing policies – you will also need to frequently check for policy updates from Amazon. For example, you may believe a new product is new, as long as it has not been opened yet, but Amazon has a more strict interpretation of what constitutes as “new.” In fact, anything that was returned, had damaged packaging, or was opened but not used, cannot be labeled as “new” pursuant to Amazon’s conditions policy. Even though the product could be brand new and never used, it may have damage to the packaging or even been previously opened and later returned. These issues regarding item condition are the source of many used sold as new suspensions.
Have you received a used sold as new complaint?
Amazon sellers who receive this form of buyer complaint usually find themselves bewildered upon receiving notice of it. The majority of high volume Amazon sellers limit themselves to only sourcing products that are 100% new, unused, and packaged according to both industry and Amazon standards. So why this type of complaint would become an issue at all for sellers who stick to brand new items tends to be a gray area.
Here’s the answer: all too often, these mysterious used sold as new complaints can be easily traced back to the FBA warehouse that stored your inventory.
This is a good thing for sellers – if your inventory is sold via FBA, you will be relieved from any responsibility when it comes to damaged packaging. In addition, used sold as new complaints are out of an FBA seller’s hands for a major reason: returns sent back to the FBA center are left at the discretion of the warehouse employees.
As a seller, you value your Amazon account in the highest regard – you would never resell a returned item that is clearly damaged. However, it is a common scenario where FBA warehouse workers classify a damaged return as “resellable inventory”. When this happens, the used item is sold again, and another complaint could be issued. FBA sellers have a major advantage in avoiding these complaints – by choosing to manually opt out of FBA repackaging services. This ensures that any items returned will not be resold. For those who sell Merchant Fulfilled only, give FBA a try. At the very least, you are alleviated of handling packing and shipping, returns, and even customer service.
Used Sold As New: The Problem
It can be tempting as a seller to put something up as new even if it isn’t. If the item was barely taken out of the package or is in extraordinarily good condition, you can get more money for selling it listed as new as opposed to listing it as used. But customers are wary of these sorts of things and tend to report to Amazon when they see a violation. To the buyer and the seller, it may seem like a subjective scale to determine whether an item is considered used or not, but it’s really pretty simple.
Amazon defines a “new” item as the following:
“Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.”
The second the packaging on a product is broken, the item is no longer considered new. Even if the item wasn’t used for its intended purpose, it cannot be sold as new on Amazon’s marketplace. So if you’re unsure if an item is used or not since you bought it through a warehouse or liquidation center, source it back to find out or just play it safe and list it as used.
A common theme with Amazon’s rules and regulations plays out here: be meticulous and detail-oriented. Keep track of all of your products and where you get them from to make sure something is truly new before you sell it as new. Amazon doesn’t have the patience for sellers who won’t keep a watchful eye for these kinds of things.
The Different Categories of “Used”
Once you get into the category of used items, things get a little bit trickier. There are a few different stages of “used” that Amazon lists. Here is the company’s description of each of their item categories, courtesy of Amazon.com:
Used – Like New:
An apparently untouched item in perfect condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and pristine. There are absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging. Instructions are included. Item is suitable for presenting as a gift.
Used – Very Good:
A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly
Used – Good:
Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or show other signs of previous use.
Used – Acceptable:
Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. The item may have identifying markings on it or show other signs of previous use.
As you can see, these descriptions allow for a little bit of leeway and judgment. It isn’t as simple as used vs. new, where the item still in the packaging is considered new, and an item taken out is considered used. Amazon Sellers Lawyer doesn’t see many cases of sellers getting suspended for mislabeling used items, but it’s still important to be careful when labeling. Even if you don’t get suspended for a complaint, a bad customer rating can be detrimental to your sales. Make sure the item is as close to how you labeled it as possible so the customer gets what they expect, otherwise you could be in for a bad review or two.
CJ Rosenbaum talks about Kerry McDonald, our Senior Paralegal in the office. She’s one of our longest employees here and she’s just fantastic. She manages a team of up to 9 paralegals here in our Long Beach, NY office.
Here are Kerry McDonald’s top 5 issues for Amazon sellers dealing with “USED SOLD AS NEW” allegations, suspensions, and listing loses.
Let us help with your reinstatement. Call today 1-877-9-SELLER
1. Do Not Participate in Commingled Inventory:
If you are allowing your products to be commingled with other sellers’ products, you are basically responsible for everything that they are selling, and they may not have good packaging, or be the same packaging as when the manufacturer sent it out. They also may be allowing returns to be evaluated by Amazon’s warehouse staff.
2. Invoices / Receipts to Show Genuine Products:
As a seller when you are sourcing, keep in mind, that you have to be able to show Amazon that when you source the products, they were new where you got them from. You can’t buy goods on Amazon and resell them on Amazon. Amazon doesn’t consider its own sales to be significant enough evidence that they are new. You have to be able to show that when you purchased your products, they were brand new.
3. Merchant Fulfilled Sellers’ Storage Issues:
Depending on where you’re storing your products, especially if you’re merchant fulfilled, you have to make sure that they are not getting dusty, dirty, or being exposed to direct sunlight which could bleach the color of the packaging. If you have been suspended / accused of selling used products, that’s one of the things you want to talk about in your POA (how you’re going to change the way or the place you store your products being shipped to consumers).
4. Do not allow returns back into inventory.
This is vital. If you allow returns to go back into inventory, you are allowing Amazon’s warehouse staff (who are not paid or treated particularly well according to the news, and do not have the time to make good evaluations) to make the decision whether your product should be delivered to a new consumer. If you are worried about the long term health of your account and want to avoid suspensions, do not allow returns to go back into your inventory.
5. Manufacturer packaging:
On your products being sold to Amazon, all the information has to be exactly the same as what’s being sold in stores or directly from the manufacturer. For example, plastic wrap… if the entire box is wrapped in plastic wrap, yours has to be in plastic wrap. It has to be exactly the same as the way the manufacturer would deliver that product that they would buy at brick and mortar stores in order for it to be deemed “new” in Amazon.