April 22, 2022

By:

Lesley Hensell

“What is the No. 1 type of suspension on Amazon right now?”

In the years that I’ve been asked that question, the answer has never been clearer than it is right now: linked accounts.

Since September 2021, linked accounts suspensions have dominated the Amazon account suspension types worked on at Riverbend Consulting. Keep reading to find out what triggers these account suspensions and how you can protect yourself against them.

Linked Accounts

Does Amazon Allow Sellers to Have More than One Account?

Third-party sellers are allowed to have more than one account on the Amazon Marketplace. But there are rules. In brief, a seller must have a valid business reason for operating more than one account. For example:

  • Selling in different categories, such as an account with health and beauty products and another account with pet products
  • Maintaining separate accounts for various brands
  • Operating one account that is private label and another that is for reseller goods

In addition, each account should truly operate as a separate entity. It should have its own LLC, bank account and credit card. Funds should not be co-mingled.

Why Does Amazon Suspend Sellers with Linked Accounts?

There are a few different reasons Amazon may have a problem with one seller maintaining multiple or linked accounts.

First, a single person or entity cannot sell the same ASIN. This is considered a vehicle for price-fixing by both Amazon and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. If Amazon believes that inventory is being shared across related accounts, it raises a red flag.

Secondly, many linked account suspensions are because one account has been closed by Amazon in the past. In other words, Amazon shut down an account for enforcement reasons, and then the seller opened another account. This isn’t allowed. You get one shot. If you blow it, Amazon doesn’t want you on the platform.

Looking at it from Amazon’s point of view, this makes sense. If a seller has an account shut down for inauthentic or condition problems, for example, Amazon doesn’t want them to simply move that questionable inventory to another new account and sell it again. Or if a seller is deemed untrustworthy because of platform manipulation or other offenses, Amazon won’t trust them with a different account.

Is Everyone Suspended for Linked Accounts Guilty?

Not everyone suspended for linked accounts violated Amazon’s policies. There are many false positives picked up by Amazon’s artificial intelligence (AI) and investigators.

Dozens of factors can link accounts. Amazon doesn’t reveal its formulas and technologies, but it’s clear that Amazon links accounts by factors such as:

  • Computer “fingerprint,” including versions of software, screen size and resolution, etc.
  • IP address
  • Phone number
  • Addresses
  • Credit card and bank information
  • Email addresses and logins

Sometimes, sellers are linked to other closed accounts by some of these – or other – factors. But they aren’t always related to the account.

What Do I Do If I’m Suspended for Linked Accounts?

We’ve worked on hundreds of account suspensions for linked accounts:

  • Some were false positives
  • Some were sister companies that are allowed to have separate selling accounts under Amazon’s rules
  • Some were related to past accounts closed by Amazon for disciplinary reasons

Here are some examples:

  • An Amazon Seller who forgot to ship the college textbooks he sold a decade ago. When he tried to open a new seller account for his brand-spanking-new brand, Amazon linked the two and shut him down.
  • An electronics seller who was shut down years ago for Order Defect Rate. When his newer – and successful – account was popped for inauthentic, Amazon also found the relation to the old account.
  • A supplement seller works as a consultant to other supplement sellers – and logs into their accounts. Amazon detected the activity and assumed there was shared ownership.

Can these tricky suspensions be solved? Yes! But it’s not easy. It takes detective work, patience, and sometimes a plan of action for every single account involved. (Sometimes that means two accounts. Sometimes it means five.)

Every situation is different and requires a unique plan of action sent to Amazon. Some tips on how to write a winning plan of action for Seller Performance include:

  • Ask Amazon for the first three letters of the linked account’s name, if they didn’t already provide it for you.
  • Don’t simply deny the connection – even if it’s a false positive.
  • Explain why the connection occurred and why it shouldn’t have shut down your account.
  • If there is an older closed account you’ve been linked to, solve that account suspension first. Then ask to have your current account re-opened.

What’s the lesson? Only those with a strong business case for operating multiple accounts should do so. And even then, don’t commit the cardinal Amazon sins. Use separate bank accounts, separate credit cards, separate LLCs, and carry separate inventory.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation and, even after reading this, aren’t sure where to start, reach out to our account appeals department, fill out the form, and take your first step towards getting your Amazon Seller account reinstated.