It’s just not easy getting money back from Amazon, even when it’s your own money. Also, it’s not the most fulfilling experience to be spending hours on the phone – or in Seller Central – to track, manage, reply and submit evidence that supports your cases.
Reimbursement management is painful for third-party sellers. Amazon loses inventory. In many cases, the ecommerce giant refuses to grant sellers’ claims for reimbursements, even when the Amazon Fulfillment Center (FC) clearly made a mistake.
It’s easy to give up. But high-dollar reimbursement requests should not be surrendered to Amazon. It’s time to fight back.
Reimbursements denied, now what?
That Amazon response features two of the most frustrating words a third-party seller can see in Seller Central. When Amazon doesn’t properly receive inventory – or loses, damages or otherwise mishandles inventory – sellers can ask for an investigation. The “investigation complete” response is Amazon’s way of saying, “Sorry. We’re right, you’re wrong.”
Many times, however, mistakes were clearly made at the Amazon FC. For example, Amazon will show that it accepted boxes at the dock. But then, it claims the boxes were all empty – despite bills of lading that clearly state each box weighed 20 to 50 pounds. Sometimes, Amazon eventually corrects the mistake.
But what happens when Amazon FBA simply refuses to reimburse the seller for these items? What if Amazon loses individual inventory items in its own warehouses or during transshipment?
Amazon frequently fails to credit customer returns to sellers. Amazon even allows customers to return items that were purchased months – or even years – ago. This is outside of Amazon’s own returns policy. In one bizarre circumstance we worked on, Amazon didn’t want to credit a seller for inventory damaged in an accident involving its own delivery truck.
When you get recurring Amazon denials, keep fighting
Most sellers think the Amazon denial is where reimbursement efforts end. Not so. The next step is a robust written appeal. Sellers must fight back to get reimbursed.
But first, sellers need to set their own internal rules for when they should and should not appeal Amazon’s denial of a reimbursement claim. It’s critical to save the full appeals process for important, high-dollar claims. Of course, even smaller claims can be challenged, but this should be done by working directly with Seller Support.
For smaller claims, reimbursement efforts usually start with submitting a case via Seller Central. It should be clear, simple and state facts – just the facts. If you made a claim and Amazon asked for supporting documentation – and you’re responding backs – be sure to re-examine your previously submitted documents. Check accuracy, including ASIN details, dates, supplier verifiability and more. If documents are not ideal, meaning they are hard to read, have missing information or seem incomplete, work with your supplier to get an updated version. One Amazon RED FLAG: doctored documents! Never, ever edit a document yourself. This can get your account suspended!
What if Amazon rejects you again? When your follow-up fails, re-open the case but ask that your information be sent to the FBA team for investigation. This isn’t a sure-fire success but occasionally does work.
Still failing? The next step is to request a phone call from the Captive team. This specialized team can chase down the issue. The Captive team is a specialized team within Seller Support. Often, it is more invested in identifying a real resolution for sellers. This group appears to have more power to get real answers and resolution.
Don’t exit yet, escalate it
Another Amazon rejection. Now what? When Amazon still refuses to acknowledge its mistake, an executive escalation is in order. An escalation is a succinct, fact-filled email or emails written and sent to higher-level Amazon teams or executives.
An escalation must be tempered with reason. Is this reimbursement worth pursuing and why? A seller should not go to the mat with executives for a $5 reimbursement, no matter how annoying Amazon’s bad inventory management might be. But a $500 reimbursement? Or a $10,000 reimbursement? Depending upon the size of the seller, these are completely reasonable to pursue.
The must-dos of an escalation appeal:
- Before writing anything, gather the data—the straight facts.
- Write the appeal so it is friendly to the Amazon executive. This means the e-mail appeal should be concise and to the point but not terse, critical or angry. Some “emotional content” may be warranted if this is a critical financial issue for the business. But in most cases, the emails should be brief, simple and factual.
- Prove it with paperwork and make sure the executive or team has access to all relevant documentation.
Then it’s a waiting game. Amazon never gets in a hurry. Be aware that this back-and-forth process can be lengthy and time-consuming.
Sellers can be reimbursed for:
- Unreceived inventory that arrived at the Amazon FCs
- Lost inventory that suddenly “appeared” in the Amazon Warehouse Deals seller account
- Mis-measured inventory that resulted in overcharged FBA fees
- Customer returns
- Inventory lost in transshipment
- Inventory damaged by the FCs
- … and so much more
In high-value cases, it’s likely you face “rinse and repeat.” You may have to submit multiple appeals.
Give up or give it to an expert?
For most sellers facing repeated denials, the process is overwhelming. It’s eating them up inside, wasting countless hours and costing too much money. That’s when sellers need experts. There is no shortage of companies claiming reimbursements expertise. When we say “expert,” it’s more than subscription-based software that automates reimbursements (and usually bombards Amazon with case filings that can result in account suspension). An “expert” isn’t just a smart team of capable personnel who can file cases. It’s more than that.
At Riverbend Consulting, “reimbursements expert” is a collective matter; a team of people working collaboratively for a client. This “collective expert” of three to five people per client delivers deep expertise about Amazon’s inner workings. It knows cases and case filings. It knows FBA, FC problems and procedures. The icing on the cake are the people who excel in escalation outreach to Amazon. They know who cares at Amazon. They know the right ways to write appeals, engage Amazon and follow up. Yes, I’m proud of the Riverbend Consulting team. We have worked with thousands of clients on reimbursements and recovered millions of dollars.
So, how are you handling your Amazon reimbursements? How many denials and follow-ups do you face? How many hours per day, month and year are you spending?
Check out our resources to learn more about FBA reimbursements.
- Use this online calculator to evaluate how much Amazon may owe you
- Read our FREE eBook; it shares 10 Amazon seller account profit-killers and more about Amazon FBA reimbursements
- Ask us questions about your reimbursement struggles
We also invite you to sign up for reimbursement services. See our special offer, open to only a few sellers. Learn more!