Clearing up Amazon Condition complaints, are you compliant?

For a while now it seemed Amazon condition complaints had re-focused its enforcement and not paid that much attention to suspending ASINs for a Condition policy violation. We’re talking products where buyers complained about a product being used sold as new or wrong item sent.

While seemingly benign as a violation type, Condition is similarly serious to a seller. Continued complaints result in ASIN and account suspension.

Let’s delve into the issue here.

So, do you adhere to the guidelines? Amazon spells them out here.

Let’s see how Amazon explains its Condition classifications.

  • New condition: This is just like it sounds, it is a brand-new item. The original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments. Original packaging is present for most new items but certain items like shoes may be re-boxed.
  • Renewed condition: This is a pre-owned product that was inspected and tested to work and look like new by an Amazon-qualified supplier (a seller or vendor) or by Amazon. The product shows no signs of wear (or very minimal), no visible cosmetic imperfections when held 12 inches away, and may arrive in a brown or white box with relevant accessories that may be generic.
  • Rental: This is a product that was inspected and graded by a qualified supplier (a seller, vendor, or by Amazon) in working condition with no structural imperfections that could impact the functionality. The products may be packaged in a generic box and come with relevant accessories as expected for a new product. Any exceptions to this condition description will be mentioned on the product detail page.
  • Used—Like New or Open Box: This is an item in perfect working condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and in good condition with minor damage possible. Product instructions are included.
  • Used—Very Good: This is a well-cared-for item that has seen limited use and remains in good working condition. The item may show some limited signs of wear with small scratches or cosmetic blemishes. Item may arrive with minor damaged packaging or be repackaged–and could be missing some accessories. Missing accessories are clearly defined for each item.
  • Used—Good: This item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and functions properly. Item may arrive with damaged packaging or be repackaged. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or have minor cosmetic damage. It may also be missing some parts or accessories such as screws (in the case of furniture) or an instruction manual.
  • Used—Acceptable: This item is fairly worn but continues to function properly. Item may arrive with damaged packaging or be repackaged. 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. Item may be missing some parts or accessories such as screws (in the case of furniture) or a mouse or USB cable (in the case of a laptop).
  • Collectible: Items listed as collectible must provide added value; for example, they must feature an autograph or be an out-of-print edition. It should include a detailed description of the collectible aspects that justify the special value.

What exactly is an Unacceptable Item?

That’s a lot of information, but Amazon’s condition guidelines go further and spell out things they absolutely don’t allow and don’t fit in any of the above condition grades. You can find these on the Help page under “Unacceptable and prohibited items”:

  • Items in any of the following conditions are unacceptable for listing on Amazon:
  • Item is not clean, including signs of mold, heavy staining or corrosion.
  • Item is damaged in a way that renders it difficult to use.
  • Item is missing essential accompanying material or parts. This does not necessarily include instructions.
  • Item requires repair or service.
  • Item was not created by the original manufacturer or copyright holder. This includes copies, counterfeits, replicas and imitations.
  • Item was originally distributed as a promotional copy, promotional bundle, product sample, or advance reading copy. This includes uncorrected proofs of in-print or not-yet-published books.
  • Item has passed the expiration date (includes “best by” and “sell by” dates), has an unacceptable portion of its shelf life remaining, or the expiration date has been tampered with or removed.
  • Item was intended for destruction or disposal or otherwise designated as unsellable by the manufacturer or a supplier, vendor or retailer.
  • Item is prohibited for sale on Amazon.

Inadvertently violating Condition guidelines?

It’s not enough to read and understand Amazon’s condition guidelines. Understanding and adhering to them is paramount. Often sellers make mistakes that inadvertently violate the guidelines. Many of the nuances don’t seem logical (that’s a surprise, right?). The reality remains: If Amazon doesn’t like what a seller is doing, enforcement is swift and often unforgiving. “Unacceptable” can mean many things.

  • A common mistake is repackaging. A seller repackages items from retail boxes to plain boxes. A seller can do this but can only do so for the condition Used—Very Good and below. It’s a common mistake for sellers to change the packaging and use the condition Used—Like New. That results in suspension.
  • Condition confusion creates recurring problems. Sellers have not created and applied a consistent condition grading system. Sellers who don’t use FBA rarely care much about classifying condition, as long as the products are clean and high quality and stored properly in their warehouse. The problem here is the lack of processes or training for personnel to ascertain the correct Condition of a product before it is shipped, especially to FBA. It’s best to have an absolute approach to Condition, and for warehouse personnel to have established, defined mechanisms that classify product conditions.
  • Segregate the unsaleable. If returns aren’t hyper-organized, things that shouldn’t get re-shipped do. That results in warnings, bad feedback, and even A-to-Z claims or chargebacks. Have a dedicated place for returns to be stored, evaluated, and re-graded for sale if possible. Make sure “that place” is far from sellable stock.
  • Remember those unique Renewed requirements. For sellers who offer Renewed products (formerly known as Certified Refurbished), many sellers find themselves in hot water with Amazon because they don’t use an Amazon-qualified service provider to inspect and test their products. Repeated violations of this rule cause sellers to lose Renewed access altogether.
  • Read and respond to the returns. Busy sellers often direct-ship or have their supplier ship to Amazon fulfillment centers and then adopt a ‘set it and forget it’ attitude. This is a mistake. Read what buyers are saying about the returned items. These comments often reveal a clear pattern of what’s wrong and how to fix it. For FBA sellers, it’s important to know what buyers are saying as well since FBA is prone to mishandling, damaging, and doing other bad things with sellers’ products. Pay attention because FBA often loses and damages products, and even adds faulty products back into sellable inventory.
  • It’s imperative to inspect. Many sellers do not have an inspection process for direct shipping. It is critical for the seller – and the supplier – to always inspect every unit before they are sent to Amazon.
  • Adhere and appreciate category-specific rules. There are site-level condition classifications, but some categories like Baby, Toys, and Apparel have specific and unique rules. Ignoring or failing to learn these is a recipe for enforcement.

Avoiding condition-related policy violations really is a basic reality for sellers. It focuses on knowing the rules and having quality product sourcing, storage and shipping. Policy violations – and suspended ASINs – can be avoided with some initial steps to ensure Amazon buyer satisfaction.

When you need help and you’re in “bad condition,” we’re here to help.

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