At around midnight on June 23rd, I was brushing my teeth and just about to head to bed when I heard my notification ringtone on my phone. I picked up my phone to check it out, and it’s a notification from the Amazon seller app telling me that my Amazon seller account has been suspended. Initially I thought that this couldn’t be right. I login to my Amazon seller account to see what’s going on, and sure enough my account is suspended. Receiving this derailed my plans for going to sleep right away, and I began to research how to get my account back to active. I will get into the details of that further in this post.
Here is the notification that I received as the reason for my suspension (click to enlarge, same goes for all screenshots included in the post):
The ASINs in question from this notification were: B00FARK5BM, B0070SZM62, B0038ALXZ0, and B001GF5F9E. The last ASIN was a dog nail grooming tool, and is no longer available on Amazon. The common theme on these items is that they were either returned and marked as “item not as described” or the customers feedback indicated the item was not as described on the Amazon listing. With the exception of the 4th ASIN on the above list, I only had 1 return of each item. The 4th ASIN there were quite a few returns on, as I bought a liquidation lot of this item. I had sold a significant number before I realized the issue with the item. Amazon had previously blocked my ability to sell on that ASIN due to the return issue.
Before we get into my appeal process, I want to share a few other screenshots from my account to show what my account health looked like. First, here is a screenshot of my customer satisfaction report, you can view this by logging into your seller account, hovering over performance in the top center of the screen, and clicking: “customer satisfaction.”
The 2 unread notifications are directly related to the suspension, and didn’t go away until I submitted the appeal. The policy warning that you see from 6/21/2015 related to this item: B000N043DW which is a Microderm Abrasion device that was purchased from woot.com to resell. I didn’t actually have any in stock at the time of this warning, but it was in my inactive inventory, so here’s a reminder to delete items from your inactive inventory, and particularly that item if you ever sold it. Other than that, though, you can see that most of the metrics look pretty solid. Here’s the next tab over:
The refund rate is increasing due to my experimenting with the clothing and shoe categories, but nothing too alarming on this screen either. Next up is the seller rating tab, here’s the top half of the screen:
And here’s the remaining screenshot (I forgot to take this one while I was suspended, so here it is as of about 8PM on 6/27/2015):
Overall, you can see that my metrics were solid (in my opinion at least). Over the past 2 years while my account has been open, I have received 4 other notifications for blocked listings, or to review my listings besides the ones that were outlined previously in the post. My guess is that the number of these items played a large factor in the suspension. I did not respond to all of these to try to get the notifications removed from my account as the notification read to respond if you wish to continue carrying the item, and I did not intend to continue selling the item at the time.
Up to this point in the post should give you an idea of the standing of my account at the time of the suspension. Now, onto the appeal. I began researching shortly after receiving the suspension, and began to formulate a plan until around 2:30AM when I called it a night. Before calling it a night I did a post in my mastermind group sharing that I was suspended, the reasons, and asking for any guidance/insight they might be able to provide. I picked back up around 8AM, and went to my warehouse where I began to formulate a response with the help of one of the guys on my team who works on the business with me full time, and is now involved in just about every aspect of the business.
After reading through the information Amazon has out on how to appeal, the Amazon seller forums, the input of my mastermind group, and searching through other websites with information on the topic, it appeared that the key components of the appeal were the following:
1. Identify the exact reason for the suspension.
2. Take complete responsibility for the problem, and acknowledge the harm done to the amazon customer.
3. Create an action plan to ensure that the things causing the suspension will not happen again.
4. Identify that if given the opportunity, you will continue to provide excellent service to the customers of amazon.
Key things not to do include:
1. Deflect any blame by making excuses, or by saying there are other sellers doing the same thing and getting away with it.
2. Responding too quickly to the case without fully formulating a solid response.
3. Responding in a manner that is not concise. The goal is to say everything that needs to be said in as few words as possible.
With those key ideas in mind, I had an outline for my appeal, and began writing it at about 9AM. Writing it took a couple of hours, and then revision of what had been written took another hour. Around 12:30PM I shared the document with my mastermind group. They were able to provide a good deal of feedback, correct some grammatical issues, and provide tips for making it more professional. I made the vast majority of changes suggested by them, and I had my appeal in a finalized format by about 5PM. I read through it a few more times, and submitted it to Amazon for their decision at about 5:15PM.
That night I was checking my email very often, and nothing of any real value was accomplished. I called it a night around 11PM, and hoped to wake up to some good news. Luckily, that is exactly what happened, I received this email just after midnight:
Being suspended was a painful process, and a quick reminder of just how quickly things can change. There is a somewhat limited amount of information out there when you are suspended on the appeal process, so I am going to make a minimally edited version of my appeal letter available for download. I have only removed personal information, and have left the content of the letter the same. I believe this letter is very valuable as it gives an example of a successful appeal should you ever be in this position. The letter is available for any price you want, even free if that’s what works for you, I don’t want price to be the issue with this. All you have to do is click the add to cart button below, pick the price you want to pay, and you will receive an email with the download:
I hope that everyone reading this never is in the position of having to submit an appeal, but I do believe seeing a successful appeal letter could be very beneficial which is why I am making it available via the above add to cart button.
If you do not feel comfortable submitting your own appeal, I would recommend checking out Cynthia Stine’s Reinstatement Services. They are not cheap, but she has been getting some excellent results for her clients. Also she has written an excellent guide on making sure you don’t get suspended in the first place. It is only $19.99 and covers an extensive list of processes to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your account in good standing. Here is the link to the book: Suspension Prevention.
Overall, this was a learning experience. Going forward however, I will be responding to all notifications about inventory items that I receive from amazon regardless of if I plan to carry the item in my store in the future or not. I am also going to change up the wording of the automated emails Feedback Genius sends out on my behalf to make it abundantly clear that I will work to resolve any issue a customer may have. In addition, I will be much more careful with the inventory I carry if I think there might be a higher level of risk of return. I really do value the opportunity to be a seller on amazon, so I will do everything in my power to make sure that I continue to have that privilege.
With that said, it’s quite unnerving to have your account suspended when all of your metrics indicate that things are going well. Especially with sales of 118K in the first 24 days of June:
In reality though, the fees on this amount are hardly a rounding error when they have revenues approaching $100 Billion per year. This has been a reminder of just how quickly things can change, and another reminder to diversify income sources. Luckily, the suspension only lasted a little over a day and I should be able to pick up where I left off.
Lastly, I have to give a big shoutout to my mastermind group, as they were very helpful in assisting me in the appeal process. They gave me ideas of things to include, and helped me edit the final version to make sure it gave me the best possible chance of being reinstated. For all of your assistance I am extremely grateful!
If you have questions or comments, please let me know below!