How NOT to deal with the Amazon Seller Performance Team

I wish I could be writing a blog that told you how to deal with Amazon’s Seller Performance team.   It does not get worse then dealing with this team and the best I can offer you is some things NOT to do.  But before we get into that, let’s me give a little background on who the Seller Performance team is and why you might get the displeasure in dealing with them.   If you have a question about your account you can email (open case), request call back or chat online with an Amazon support person.  In that case you are working with Amazon Seller Support.  There can be some challenges there, but at least they are very accessible and try to get you the information you want outside of just providing generic email responses.  The Seller Performance team is the team that emails you when they are suspending an ASIN (temporary or permanently) or even worse when they are suspending you.

Now let me get into my latest experience with them.  I received an email that a customer had claimed inauthentic on a specific ASIN and they were temporarily suspending the item.  I just needed to review the listing, confirm its accurate and then I could relist the item.   It sounded simple enough and how different things would have been if I just did that.  However, no one wants an inauthentic claim on their account so I felted compelled to let them know that I bought from a reputable source (item is an exclusive from a big box chain) and if needed I had receipts necessary to provide evidence item is authentic.

Here is my first exchange with this:

Hello Seller-Performance Team,

I’ve reviewed the listing against my stock in my warehouse and they match exactly the product description.  Additionally, we only sell NEW items.   We have a very strong history of selling this specific sku with no other reported issues.  Of the 189 items we’ve sold, we’ve only had 4 confirm returns which is a reasonable return rate in our opinion.  We have receipts for all items purchase and can provide if needed.


Based on this review and analysis we are comfortable relisting this item and have done so.


Thank you,

Jeff

I got a generic response from them now noting they need receipts to complete the review of my account. Ok no big deal, I got online receipts for every item I ever bought.  I gather that up and send that over with this communication:

Hello,

For the ASIN in question (XXXXXXX), all items have been purchased online at XXXX.  I’ve provided screen prints of my orders from my supplier or screen prints of my emailed receipts for my orders over the past 180 days.

As noted previously, I’ve sold many of these items without issue in the past including many positive reviews to my account.  Without more details it’s hard for me to speculate what caused the customer compliant, but I can assure you we only sell brand new authentic items.

Please let me know if I can provide you anything else to help resolve this.

Thank you for your time!


Regards,

Jeff

Some key things I did wrong with this exchange:

  • I did not take this as a serious concern because I had already had my ASIN back live and I had all my receipts so shouldn’t be hard to clear up the issue. I clearly wasn’t selling anything inauthentic.
  • Seller Performance does NOT want order confirmations, they want receipts or invoices. I provided mostly confirmations from retailer’s website that specifically said delivered thinking that would authenticate it.  However, the request from Seller Performance specifically said do not include order confirmations.
  • Also since I was having trouble pulling up some of my order confirmations I did provide some of my evidence in form of an emailed receipt (still technically email confirmation but retailer states this is my receipt). I should have made sure everything was in a consistent format, specifically the format they asked for.

sad dog

I then got another generic response back noting they need receipts.   At the time I’m a little confused at what they want.  I’ve sold over 180 of these in the past 180 days (time frame they need receipts) so its not easy pulling all this info to just get a generic rejection letter not providing any insight back.

So here is my follow-up:

Hello,

Thank you for your time.  Can you please confirm attached works for documentation purposes?  I can provide your team receipts like this for all items sold in the past 180 days, but before I collect them I just want to make sure this is the level of documentation you are looking for.

Thank you,  

Jeff

Oh boy was that was stupid.  Here are a few of my mistakes here:

  • I’m trying to have a rational conversation with these guys. There is no phone number or online chat or any other way to try to get any clarification on their request.  So why not email?  Never do that! Never try to have a conversation with them, it will be counted against you.  They even note that if you have any questions contact Seller Support, don’t bother them.  Not sure I would have got the clarity I needed from Seller Support, but I should have started there before asking these guys.
  • Email is even less formal then last time
  • Did not provide all requested evidence, just a sample.

Of course I got generic response which completely ignored my question and caused me to wonder if email receipts wouldn’t work either.  At this point, I’m frustrated and not thinking clearly so fire off another email with copies of packing slips as evidence.  That’s of course bound to go well as last question I asked them got me the same generic response as before.   Here is how that went:

Thanks again for your feedback.  Can you please confirm if this format works for you? Please see page 2,3 as page 1 includes another item that was also purchased that is not in question.  If this format works, I can provide these for the items sold over the past 180 days, but just want to confirm this works.


Thanks again!

Best Regards,

Jeff

The good news is I finally didn’t get the same generic response.  Bad news is the generic response this time was even worse, your ASIN is suspended please refrain from listing it.  Looks like I had three attempts to prove my item was authentic and I wasted two of them trying to ask them a question instead of actually gathering all documents and sending them over.

Key lessons learned through these exchanges:

  • Never try to communicate or ask questions to Seller Performance. Answer their question in a professional manner
  • Do not respond when heated or frustrated. Take time to cool off and realize that its Amazon’s sandbox and you need to play within their rules and system.  It would be great if I could actually talk to a person and get more information about what they are looking for and what caused the issue, but that’s not likely to happen.  You’ve got to work with what you got.
  • Retain all purchase evidence and realize even if you have ALL receipts you may still get rejected. Keep receipts, order confirmations and packing slips so you have multiple forms evidence in the event you need to authentic your purchase.
  • A temporary ASIN suspension which can easily be removed can very quickly turn into a more permanent ASIN suspension if you try to defend the claim against you. I’m not suggesting not to follow-up, but just keep that in mind.  At this point (time of initial ASIN suspension), my account is in no better shape than it was before I tried to clear the inauthentic claim and now I can’t sell this ASIN anymore.

At the time of the ban this ASIN was my #1 best seller making more profit than any other item I’ve sold to date.  I had very little competition with item being an online exclusive that I bought the stores entire stock any time it came into stock.   Outside of disappointment of loss of future sales, I had over 125 units at AZ Warehouse.  With an average sale price of $70 and average buy price around $22 I was looking at having $2,750 invested into this item with potential profits over $4,000 if I could sell through at my average sell price.  None of this would break my business as I’m not dependent on a single ASIN, but this certainly hurt and wanted to get the ban removed as soon as possible, if that was even possible.

sad1

Stay tuned for part 2 in which I’ll cover my next steps.  I’ll give you a hint, it was NOT to send a nasty response to Seller Performance, though I drafted one and came close, but I came to my senses before I hit send button.

Update: Here is part 2: http://sourcingsimplifiers.com/amazon-asin-suspension-now-what/

 

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