One of the things I enjoy doing the most is to host our live online events. We call it our Happy Hour, Ask Us Anything event. We take questions from our seller audience and answer them. On the spot.
Here is the Q&A from our most recent Happy Hour.
Be sure to join us for our NEXT live Happy Hour, January 10, 2024, 6 p.m. EST online!
Lost in linked accounts, trademarks, inauthentic complaints, and more
Question: Amazon account suspended for linked account, what do I do?
Answer: The good news? Amazon is getting better at listening to sellers who get suspended for being linked to one or more accounts. For example, Amazon is now more likely to share the name of the linked account(s) or at least a partial name. The bad news? Many sellers are still stuck and have absolutely no clue how they’re linked or even who it could be. It’s one of the most common types of appeals we’ve written this year. It’s not an easy situation to sort out but here’s what you need to know—and what you need to do:
- The most common issues causing linked accounts:
- Past accounts that include your name, address or other information. Even if you attempted to open a seller account and failed, that could create a link.
- Friends or family members who open seller accounts that have linkage to you (address, credit card, name, etc.). They were shut down. Because of your “relationship,” you’re suspended as well.
- Somebody accessing your account has accessed other seller accounts that have been shut down. It’s common when a business partner, supplier or VA works in your account without proper security and permissions.
- Realize, accept and know that Amazon knows everything about you IF you’ve added anything into Amazon as a seller or buyer, whether it was done 5 hours ago or 15 years ago. Everything.
- The key to getting Amazon’s attention is to do the front-end research and collect as much information as possible, then share it with Amazon. Be really honest and stick to facts. Here are some basics:
- Start out calmly and try not to assume that Amazon is wrong. They could be, but the proof of truth and false starts with you examining the claim.
- If Amazon hasn’t shared the name or the few letters of the linked account(s), ask them. Do this by calling account health not as a response to seller performance.
- Your mission now is to find out who this person is. Ask everyone, those you live with, business partners, colleagues selling on Amazon, even those who have come to your house and connected to our wi-fi. Is there anyone you’ve shared a bank account or credit card, worked at a shared office, or shared a warehouse with someone? We worked with one seller who was linked to an account 13 years ago!
- Still no luck identifying the linked account? Then it becomes a different appeal. It’s laying out everything you know that documents what you’ve done to investigate the linkage – and what you will do to prevent it from ever happening again.
Ultimately, this account reinstatement is messy and can take multiple appeals and escalations. Don’t be an island, initiate a consultation as a first step, then decide to let us help you through this.
Question: How do I address a trademark complaint filed by another brand?
Answer: Most sellers who file these complaints do so because they believe you’re not selling the item shown on the listing. Of course, you also have bad actors or others who simply make mistakes and write the wrong storefront name, etc.
The quick answer to this question is proving that the complaint is not valid and that usually means you need a paper trail – great invoices and a letter of authorization from the brand you’re selling. Every seller should have great invoices or receipts. Not every seller will have a brand authorization letter, especially those doing arbitrage. Your best hope for reinstatement, again, are solid invoices and receipts. We have a lot of good information about Amazon-friendly invoices on our website.
Question: How do you handle a suspension due to product authenticity after a customer complaint? I appealed and provided invoices to Amazon. They were denied. I closed my listing and my account got suspended.
Answer: At this point, your appeal needs to be reviewed, as do your invoices. Are you answering their questions? Are you concise and clear? Are your invoices providing what Amazon requires? We’re betting the suspension directly correlates to something on your invoices since they suspended the account. Some basics:
- Make sure that the number of units on your invoices match the last 180 days of sales as of the date of the complaint.
- Only submit genuine unaltered invoices. They must be real – and believable. For example, we had one client submitting invoices with a certain address. A quick look on Google Maps showed the address to be in the middle of Lake Michigan. Another one, a trash dumpster—one even a strip club. Real address, real location.
- Include more than the invoices, offer Amazon your proof of purchase. While Amazon asks for invoices, what they really want to see is proof that you bought the product and own them. So, prove it. Match up the invoice with proof of purchase–a canceled check, wire transfer or some kind of electronic transfer that matches the amount of the invoice. It shows a real transaction. That can really, really help because you’re showing. Yes, I paid. So, it’s a real transaction.
- Try to always source from suppliers (brands and retailers included) that provide detailed receipts with UPCs and specific item descriptions and quantities. Amazon may also ask for chain of custody, which means they want your supplier’s supplier. This is a struggle for most. Having a friendly, personal supplier – and a key contact that is willing to help – goes a long way.
Question: Why does Amazon think my product is inauthentic? I buy directly from the brand
Answer: We see the leading reason for inauthentic complaints is product condition NOT inauthenticity. It’s largely about how your merchandise is being stored, prepped and shipped. A buyer doesn’t know the Amazon language for a complaint, is it inauthentic? Used sold as new? Other? In one seller’s case, the inauthentic complaint correlated directly to how the buyer received the product, it was a cosmetic blusher, but it arrived in a padded envelope. No packaging, no box. And it arrived all busted to pieces. It was authentic but poorly prepped and shipped.
Question: What are your thoughts about receiving a counterfeit complaint but there was no test buy?
Answer: A counterfeit claim is a serious allegation and Amazon is required to enforce the law. This means Amazon has to take each claim seriously, even when on its face the claim might look fake. The really frustrating part is how Amazon enforces them since anyone can submit a claim and be misrepresenting themselves. Example, someone says they own Coca-Cola and Amazon accepts it. Some unknown from across the globe owns Coke’s IP? We see this example so often. Maybe you’re looking at a specific product and it’s something that you think you want to sell, and you’re experimenting by putting up a listing and you don’t even have the product. You’re just looking to gauge the pricing and see what’s going on with it. And immediately you get hit with a counterfeit without a test buy violation. How? Because brands have people trolling Amazon and looking for people who list so they can control distribution and curb “unauthorized” sales. If you’re not sure you want to sell something, don’t do the above. Instead, do a little research to figure out if these brands are litigious because it’s not hard to find out if certain brands are birdwatching listings–looking for new listings that pop up. Then, they automatically assume that you’re buying outside their supply chain. But remember, Amazon is NOT supposed to enforce other brands supply-chain agreements.
Question: Did Amazon retire editorial recommendations?
Answer: Easy answer, Amazon did retire them and, to date, we have seen nothing that replaces them.
Question: Amazon has lost $20,000 of inventory. As a small startup, this money determines whether we can keep our employees and survive. It’s been two months. What can we do?
Answer: These are the cases that break our hearts and enrage us. Amazon rarely moves quickly, especially in Q4, so they send automated replies that they’re still researching it. This is the type of case that requires an executive escalation. You need help NOW so escalate immediately. Write an email using the login address of your seller account, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. This goes to the Executive Seller Relations team. Be sure to start by writing, “Dear Executive Seller Relations” … This shows that you know who they are and that they can escalate. Be sure to include your merchant token (this is in the settings of your account). This helps them quickly identify you. Tell them exactly what you told me. “We’re about to go out of business. You’re killing us. We are. We filed for this reimbursement two months ago. No one will answer us. Help me, please…” Make it short, sweet and to the point. Include bulleted content on what you’ve done. Be sure to let them know that without this $20,000 you will be putting 10 people out of work and the business will have to close on X date.
Do you have questions?
Be sure to join our live online event at 6 p.m. EST, January 10, 2024, on Facebook or LinkedIn.
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