I have found an increasing number of sellers asking me for advice, suggestions or just plain emergency assistance because they recently found themselves suspended again shortly after reinstatement by Amazon policy teams. They had submitted an appeal using the “Appeal” button on their Seller Central account or via the email queues. Some received a reply like “we still need more information regarding your plan of action.” Some did not receive any reply at all, while still others submitted a second plan of action and received no reply to that. When sellers ask me where all their appeals go within Amazon, I inform them of the sizable backlog in the policy team email queues. Amazon’s Product Quality squad has taken the majority of actions against most of my clients’ accounts in recent memory. Until new headcount is added or Amazon institutes better processes, sellers may be looking at two weeks or more of waiting before reading a reply to their Plan of Action.
Sometimes, I have clients tell me that as they work up yet another revised plan, almost out of the blue a reinstatement arrives in the form of a brief, generic email. Prayers are answered and the client goes right back to work selling on the site.
After reviewing your account and the information you have provided, we have decided to reinstate your selling privileges.
For performance improvement tips, search on “Seller Best Practices” in seller Help. Please note that if your performance does not improve, your selling privileges may be removed.
Welcome back to selling on Amazon.com; we wish you the best of luck.”
Temporary reinstatement? Client Case #1
One of my clients received the above reinstatement message after having submitted two Plans of Action, one a few days after the suspension began and another, modified plan after Product Quality had replied asking for additional information. After several days, the reinstatement message arrived on a Sunday evening informing the client of their renewed ability to sell. Almost exactly 48 (!) hours after reinstatement and wishing the seller “the best of luck” appeared this message:
Upon further review, we have canceled your listings and extended the temporary hold on any funds in your seller account. Any new selling accounts you open will be closed.
We took this action because you have not provided us with a viable plan of action.”
Hold on, how did that happen? There had been no previous indication in the reinstatement messaging that the seller remained under any kind of review. Two action plans were submitted without any mention of a third, freshly modified plan required in order to attain (or retain) reinstatement. As a result, the seller’s next use of the “Appeal button” explained that the account had already been reinstated based on the plan sent in days earlier, and included a copy of it for Amazon to review of its own actions on the account. Sellers are given a date and time when they can expect a response to their appeals, and in this case, one was promised within 24 hours. Sixteen days later came the answer, here below:
Thank you for contacting us regarding your account. We have decided not to reinstate your selling privileges. After careful consideration and a review of your account by an account specialist, your account did not pass our review process. Due to the proprietary nature of our business, we are unable to provide detailed information about this process.”
Frustrated with the process beyond measure, the seller retained my services shortly thereafter. After reviewing this chain of events and receiving several contacts from sellers with other, similar cases, I was amazed to find out that this was not an isolated incident, an investigative mistake. The seller truly had been reinstated after writing two different improvement plans, asked for a third when re-suspended only days into their reinstatement, and finally denied on appeal when they complained.
Temporary reinstatement: Client Case #2
A second client of mine received a suspension notice in late July following buyer complaints of items “not as advertised” and “incomplete items.” After submission of a Plan of Action, this came back:
“Thank you for responding to our request for information. However, we still need more information regarding your plan of action for Missing Parts/Incomplete Item, Wrong Item/Item not as Advertised complaints before we can reinstate your selling privileges.”
Fair enough. Amazon wanted to hear more details about a specific category of complaints. After sending in a modified, second Plan of Action, the seller received this a handful of days later:
“At this time, your account is under review; we will contact you again when our review is completed. You should expect to hear from us within the next two business days. We appreciate your patience in the interim.”
Given current response times, sellers rarely see their appeal reviewed within that two days. This time, approximately 36 hours later, the reinstatement email notified the seller that they could sell again. The process promised to marketplace sellers appeared to have functioned as indicated.
Under normal circumstances a seller is afforded the opportunity to execute their plan of action for a reasonable amount of time. In this case, only six days later my client received word that “upon further review” they would no longer be allowed to sell on the site. Beyond recognizing what a poor seller experience this represents, I have observed the complete sense of confusion around the mixed messaging. My clients are unsure if they need to spend their efforts correcting an Amazon Product Quality team mistake, or if they simply need to write a new Plan of Action, when two or more have been sent in to date? With the inconsistencies evident in the policy team’s processes, what to do next can very often feel like a guess.
While I’m still scratching my head over both of these cases and how best to strategize seller responses, I have the following suggestions:
- Be sure to send Product Quality copies of all previous plans in your correspondence, and copies too of their responses to those plans asking for more information. Some investigators do not adequately review prior account annotations due to either haste, poor training, or lack of familiarity with the work itself.
- Make all appeal details clear by adding dates and times, and differentiate (as appropriate) between your action plans. Some investigators will read the second plan but not the first, and vice versa. Either way, unless both are read and understood, you’ll likely be asked to provide information already presented in one of the two plans.
- Use both your Appeal button and the email queues to communicate given the lag in response times by policy teams. While there is a risk of creating some confusion by submitting a plan multiple ways, the current delays mean that your appeal may get lost in the email queue backlog. Don’t chance it.
- If your account is reinstated and then re-suspended, and then your next plan is rejected, identify a lead or senior investigator for a policy team escalation. Internal teams are likely aware of automated reinstatements that are creating this problem and are willing to review case by case accounts as a result.
As always, feel free to reach me at this below link with any questions or concerns. http://ecommercechris.com/#contact