Suspended. Whether it’s just an ASIN or your entire account, “Suspended” is probably one of the worst, if not the worst word to ever see in an email from Amazon.
If you’ve had an ASIN or account suspended, take a breath, And get to work to get it back. Accounts and ASINs can be reinstated. It won’t be easy but it can be done. Sometimes it might require hiring someone. You’ll need to figure out the right way to structure your appeal and the right tone to use to do that.
“It’s that thoughtful approach. It’s being respectful in tone and the investigator hears abuse all day long,” says former Amazonian Rachel Greer.
Rachel used to work at Amazon doing product compliance. She would receive complaints from sellers regarding issues. Now she runs a company called Cascadia that helps sellers get reinstated and follow the guidelines that Amazon sets.
When you get a suspension notice, The first thing you need to do is figure out what Amazon is saying you did wrong. Often, the phrase Amazon uses to explain the suspension doesn’t tell you exactly what happened.
“The wording them Amazon uses may not actually mean what you think it means so we get a lot of these complaints like ‘you sold as new,’” Rachel says.
Rachel says in this example of “you sold as new,” what Amazon means here is the product you sold was described as new but when the customer received it they felt like it wasn’t new.
The product appeared used or damaged in some way. Often times the most common reason why this happens is that the packaging is poor quality.
“It arrives to the customer its a giant pile of smashed cardboard with occasionally smashed bits inside the cardboard,” Rachel says.
So if you get that complaint, “you sold as new,” you probably want to do a quality check on your packaging. Also, check your returns. You should be tracking your returns and the reasons for returns. If you get a pattern of similar feedback. You know you have a larger problem you need to resolve. Tracking that information gives you the opportunity to stay ahead of the issue.
In any suspension situation when it comes to a suspension, don’t automatically admit to Amazon that you did something wrong. First, look at their complaint and do some research and work to figure out what the exact problem is. Then work to determine a solution. Once you’ve determined a solution, you can start structuring your response. Make sure that it’s done in a respectful manner.
“There’s a very narrow path between disputing the complaint in a respectful clear way and being super defensive and super defensive and angry that this even happened,” Rachel says.
When it comes to appealing a suspension, you get one time when someone is guaranteed to read the appeal, but typically, you get three shots to get reinstated.
“The only time I’ve seen people basically shut down on the second try is people who really screwed up. People who are really trying to work at it and providing useful feedback to Amazon where they’re engaging in a dialogue, we’ve had six or seven responses before the account was reinstated,” Rachel says.
It’s always best to try and get reinstated on your own first, but if your first and second attempts aren’t successful when it comes to ASINs, then it’s time to hire help. If your first attempt isn’t successful when it comes to your account, then hire someone to help.
When it comes to writing your appeal, you want to write it like a basic essay. You want to apologize to Amazon for the poor customer experience if that’s applicable. Then state what happened and your solution. Keep your appeal easy to read and add in all the pertinent information. Investigators have a certain quota they have to hit. If your appeal is lengthy, poorly structured or aggressive, it’s going to be passed over. Keep the appeal simple, providing enough information to support your statement.
“If you get the exact same response from Amazon, there are two root causes: the first is that you are so utterly confusing in what you sent or so long or so disorganized that they couldn’t follow it and gave up or you didn’t answer their questions at all,” Rachel says.
When you’re including supporting information, like attachments, keep in mind this can hamper the investigator too.
“Taking screenshots or attaching a supplier invoice rather than writing out the supplier information in your field means that now the person on the other end, you’re making them do work,” Rachel says.
You don’t want to give an investigator more work because of their time constraints.
Rachel has a format that she uses with each appeal that they do for their customers through Cascadia. They also have a guide on their website that can help you navigate suspensions. You can find them at thinkcascadia.com.