Today, there’s a tube of topical skin medication on my bathroom sink. I take a quick look at the tube, which shows a date,4/14/22.
“It’s almost expired and I just bought it!”
No. The Expiration Date is actually one year after this date – the Manufacturing Date. It’s confusing for consumers, who then complain to Amazon, which then suspends your ASIN without any verification (or concern).
Virtually any seller of topical or ingestible products will get customers complaining they received a product that’s expired. Amazon shows no mercy. It is a consumer safety issue. And yes, the ASINs are suspended. Accounts may be suspended as well.
Resolving the issue can be difficult to navigate. The policies are hard to understand. But it is doable to fix. But the best fix? Avoid the issue entirely with these following tips.
Tips to avoid reducing consumer complaints for expiration date mishaps
1. Know Amazon’s policy
For expiration dates, Amazon uses a “general shelf date policy,” which depends on the product and product category. For example, chips and snacks can have a shelf life of 90-180 days while beauty products can have a shelf life of 900–1,825 days. It is extremely important to follow the expiration date policies because even if that product does not have a date on it.
IF IT CAN EXPIRE, IT NEEDS A DATE .
See Amazon’s own (partial) list in its Expiration Date policy statement.
Amazon does require extra time on top of these dates to ensure each customer has plenty of time to use the product before it expires. Please refer to these help pages below for reference:
2. Add an extra label, it’s worth it
Extra steps, extra costs? Sure, but adding an expiration date is best for you in the long run. You get the most benefit (fewer complaints, fewer suspensions) while customers see an exact date they understand. Be aware that Amazon requires products that have an expiration date to absolutely include a label. Most sellers don’t know this and miss the requirement, and face the consequences. Of vital importance is to make sure the label – and the dates on label do not obstruct any other date(s) on the product.
Labeling products in MM/DD/YYYY format is the easiest for customers to understand. The help pages listed above provide more guidance. Information on expiration violations is included in the help pages above for reference. Simply put, be prepared so if Amazon comes calling, your ASIN or account is down for the least amount of time.
3. Keep track, be prepared
Start by making sure the products do comply, then add a label if needed. Then, keep track of every product, every lot number, manufacturing date, best buy date and expiration date. Know lot numbers, take pictures (product top, bottom, sides and bottom (where dates may be), collect any documentation about ingredients, even certificates of analysis, if available. Do this for every topical or ingestible, be it your own private-label product or another brand you’re selling. Build this accountability system so you have a streamlined paper trail, which allows you to quickly respond to any customer complaints – or an Amazon suspension.
4. Own it, admit it
It may be too late to prevent the suspension. Now, you face the dilemma. How do you appeal the violation? You start by researching what happened, the root cause, the potential “why did this happen.” From there, you essentially own the problem and admit an error, explain the reason and map out exactly what must be done to fix the problem – and how to prevent it in the future. Humble pie and an apology go a long way with Amazon.
5. Don’t go it alone
You know the madness of an illogical Amazon who automates responses instead of really solving problems and reinstating your livelihood. It’s often the best medicine to call in the extra artillery. A professional team can support your quest to identify your struggles, the reason for an ASIN suspension or account suspension), and getting you reinstated quickly.
Whether the issue is consumer confusion or a mistake in product labeling, the potential is high for an Amazon take-down so apply these tips to mitigate any downtime. We’re here to help.