“Amazon closed my account.” That’s the panicked statement we hear from businesses that are facing suspension of their Amazon selling privileges.
Amazon closes thousands of seller accounts each year, for a wide variety of reasons:
- Late shipping or bad valid tracking rate
- High order defect rate
- Inauthentic complaints
- Condition and expiration complaints
- Intellectual property complaints
- Platform manipulation, including best-seller rank (BSR) manipulation and review manipulation
- Counterfeit products
- Forged or manipulated documents
- And many more
When Amazon closes a seller account, this can be referred to as an account suspension, account deactivation, or account closure. In Amazon parlance, once Amazon has decided to not entertain appeals or additional appeals, the account is “blocked.”
While fear and frustration are natural first reactions to an Amazon account deactivation, it takes a measured and careful approach to get the account back up and running. This is not always a simple or easy process. Understanding the situation from the very beginning will maximize a seller’s chances of solving this most challenging of business problems.
Following are the most common questions we hear from sellers whose accounts have been closed, plus answers and advice that might help.
Q: Why did Amazon close my account?
A: In the vast majority of cases, Amazon provides a detailed notification explaining why it deactivated a seller account. This notification appears both in Performance Notifications in Seller Central and in an email to the seller. A careful reading of the message should provide the details of why Amazon closed the account, as well as steps the seller can take to appeal.
Q: Who at Amazon closed my account?
A: Enforcement against seller accounts is handled by a department called Seller Performance. This Amazon team includes investigators who review seller accounts and determine what actions should – or should not – be taken against them when complaints or concerning data patterns surface.
Q: What if Amazon is wrong about the reason they suspended my account?
A: It is tempting to assume that Amazon made a mistake on each and every account suspension. Typically, however, Amazon is basing its actions on data. Whether you agree with the suspension or not, you’re more likely to get reinstated if you assume that Amazon suspended the account because of concerning patterns in your account – not because Seller Performance made a mistake.
Most important, don’t let the emotion of an account or ASIN suspension ruin your reinstatement appeal. Take a cordial, fact-based and objective approach when reaching out to them, and during all communication attempts, no matter how frustrating.
Q: How can I see the data that Amazon based my suspension on?
A: You cannot. Amazon has a great deal of in-depth data about every seller account, including customer feedback, customer complaints, returns information and more. While you can see a portion of this data in your account, you cannot see all of it. But it’s important to find and analyze as much of the information as is available in your account to help you uncover problems and trends. This includes buyer-seller messages, returns reports, store feedback and more.
Q: How do I write an appeal that Amazon will accept?
A: Amazon typically gives very detailed instructions explaining what they want from a suspended seller. This might include a root cause analysis, a description of actions you’ve taken to address the problems in the account, and a plan to prevent similar problems in the future.
Appeals should be long enough to answer these questions in a specific fashion, but not so long that the investigator doesn’t have time to read them. In addition, appeals should be written in plain language that is easy to read quickly and understand. Don’t be too formal, but don’t be too conversational. Somewhere in the middle is ideal.
Before you submit an appeal to Amazon, ask a friend, family member or colleague to review it carefully and critically. See if they can fully understand your explanations and remedies on the first read. If they cannot, it’s time for a deep edit.
Q: Do I have to admit responsibility, even if I didn’t do anything wrong?
A: In reality, yes, you do. If you refuse to admit some kind of responsibility, Amazon is less likely to accept your appeal. Get creative. Find ways to cop to “lesser” crimes or shortcomings. There are likely always some areas in your processes that can be improved.
Q: Amazon rejected my appeal. Now what?
A: If Amazon rejects your appeal, it’s time to revisit your approach. Ask critical questions of yourself and your document. Did you use data from your account to determine the root cause? Did you explain your remedies in a clear and concise fashion? Are you confident that your “answers” are the correct ones, from the viewpoint of an investigator with all of your account data?
If you nailed it, edit the document again and ensure it is easy to understand. You might also consider hiring a professional to make sure the document is crafted using best practices so you don’t potentially waste another appeal attempt.
Q: Can I speak with someone in Seller Performance?
A: Unfortunately, no. Seller Performance will not speak with suspended sellers. The written word is your only option.
Q: Why are executive escalations part of your strategy?
A: Amazon thrives on an escalation culture. For its entire history, Amazon has welcomed escalations from a wide range of outside parties to point out errors and inefficiencies in its processes, people and technologies. We capitalize on this cultural anomaly to help our clients.
Q: How many appeals is too many?
A: Spamming Amazon is a big no-no. Sending too many appeals – especially to the same people or groups repetitively – will get you blocked and ignored. Also, sending spammy emails to multiple contacts is looked down upon. We walk our clients through a carefully constructed timeline, ensuring they appeal in a timely manner without upsetting the powers that be at Amazon.
Q: Amazon said they won’t answer future emails about my account. What do I do?
A: It’s time to hire a professional. At Riverbend, we work on “blocked” accounts every day. We have strategies to encourage Amazon to take another look at appeals. This includes escalations to teams within Amazon.
Q: Should I just open another account since Amazon won’t accept my appeals?
A: No! This is a recipe for disaster. Once Amazon detects that you have opened a second or third account, they will shut it down, too. We encourage clients to appeal the original suspension. It’s the best path for future success.
Q: How do I know when to hire a professional?
A: As mentioned above, if you’ve failed in appealing to Seller Performance, it’s a good idea to bring in an expert to help. Certain appeal types are best handled by professionals from the get-go. These include Section 3, Code of Conduct, forged documents, counterfeit and platform manipulation. Amazon gives sellers fewer opportunities to appeal these suspensions – and also reviews these appeals to very strict standards. Don’t waste chances on your own. Hiring a professional may be the right call.
These are just a few questions and answers to get you started. If you feel that you need professional help to solve your Amazon issue, then we’re happy to assist. Contact us today.