Being honest has become one of the most critical values for Amazon sellers. Why follow the rules? Because Amazon is increasingly cracking down on sellers who fib, manipulate or otherwise break the rules.
Here are some recent examples:
Amazon has begun wielding the big stick of “Code of Conduct” violations to immediately block seller accounts. These account closures are particularly challenging since they often to not fully inform the seller what rules were allegedly broken.
Suspensions for suspected forged or manipulated documents are increasingly difficult to overturn – even for honest sellers who sent in real documents, but may have had some other problematic account issues in the past.
Amazon has silently partnered with textbook manufacturers and other brand owners to serve lawsuits against sellers who – knowingly or unknowingly – sold counterfeit or sketchy products.
Internally, Amazon has launched multiple investigations against staff members who were selling data and other favors to sellers. The sellers involved were summarily shut down.
Amazon is building on its history of going after sellers and service providers who use shady tactics and violate Terms of Service to “help” clients. A perfect example is the review-buying services that helped sellers purchase positive reviews for their products.
Amazon sellers are reasonably frustrated with Seller Support and Seller Performance don’t live up to their promises. But in Amazon’s eyes, that is all irrelevant. Seller still must provide authentic products at fair prices, stick to terms of service, and supply Amazon with whatever documents it requests.
Here are some rules to live by. If you currently cannot follow any of these rules, take the steps to put new processes in place – now.
Have real, true and unaltered invoices ready at a moment’s notice. The failure to do this plagues a huge portion of our clients. Amazon expects that you be able to show the chain of custody for your products and prove their authenticity. If you can’t, you will have problems. You need a true document management system to accomplish this, and all employees involved in answering Performance Notifications need access.
Don’t give in to temptation to create fake invoices. Amazon has incredible technology at its fingertips. They will figure it out eventually. We’ve seen clients suspended even six months after submitting false documents.
Set up a real quality control system. Your staff needs to know your products, inspect your products, and weed out the bad suppliers. Fakes are everywhere. You cannot sell them – even accidentally.
Don’t pay to play. We get the questions all the time: Can you help me pay someone to get my account back? Can you pay someone to get me ungated? Can you help me buy a clean account? Our answer is always a resounding no. We cannot put our business at risk. But more importantly, we will not put you at risk of personal or business liability for corporate espionage activities.
Know the terms of service and stick to them. Ignorance is not a defense. Amazon expects you to follow its rules about reviews, refunds, shipping …. All of it.
Do you have questions about Amazon’s Terms of Service? Need help clarifying rules or setting up better systems? Riverbend Consulting can help. Contact us.
Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, where she oversees the firm’s client services team. She has personally helped hundreds of third-party sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running. Lesley leverages two decades as a small business consultant to advise clients on profitability and operational performance. She has been an Amazon seller for almost a decade, thanks to her boys (19 and 13) who do most of the heavy lifting.