Check out the revised version. It now says the written statement of reasons must do this: “Without disclosing information that would result in the disclosure of any proprietary, confidential or trade secret information, or disclosing information that would hinder any investigation or prevention of deceptive, fraudulent, or illegal activity, describe the facts and circumstances that led to the decision unless the marketplace reasonably believes that giving a written statement of reasons could negatively impact the safety or property of another user or the marketplace itself.”
In other words, Amazon doesn’t have to tell you anything. And the word “specific” was removed. So your suspension notice will be generic, just like they always have been.
Another section has Amazon’s fingerprints all over it. The past language stated that the marketplace must “identify the terms or conditions that permit the suspension or termination.” That has been changed to “identify the term, condition, or policy that serves as the basis for the suspension or termination.” This is the same-old same-old, but now California’s legislature is adopting specific language that recognizes what has always been – Amazon’s policies have the force of contract law with sellers. In other words, third-party sellers will see no improvement or relief.
What does it all mean?
Just as the changes to the BSA made very little positive difference to Amazons sellers, the California legislation will have little to no positive effects. The only question I have at this point is what it means for those sellers whose accounts are frauded. Let me explain. Sometimes, Amazon designates an account as “frauded” because Amazon suspects one of a wide range of fraudulent activities has occurred. This can be anything from money laundering to buying/selling fake gift cards to violating laws about overseas ownership, and more.
In these rare cases, the account is closed with no notice whatsoever. The seller cannot login, and there is no appeals process in place. Sometimes, we can get these accounts reinstated if the fraud designation was made in error (yes, it happens – twice in the last month at Riverbend, in fact!). But it is an extremely tough uphill battle.
Under the new legislation, Amazon would have to provided frauded California sellers with a reason for their account’s deactivation. Don’t be surprised if this provision disappears down the memory hole by the time the next version of the bill is considered.