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How to Prevent and Fight Amazon Account and Listing Suspensions with Riverbend Consulting With Lesley Hensell

Find more about Lesley Hensell and her Project: https://riverbendconsulting.com/ritz/
You can always send us a request at ritzarm.com or simply schedule a call via Calendly https://calendly.com/ritzarm/first-discussion

 

00:00 In this podcast
00:36 Intro
00:49 Hello Lesley
02:33 What Red Flags are on Amazon and how to prevent them
05:59 Fivver scammers
07:39 About linked accounts
11:16 More about «dogs page»
14:00 Scary stories from Leslеу
16:47 The story of anti-aging cream
19:21 When we see these Red Flags what should we do?
19:55 Why we should do manufacturer inspections
22:52 They stopped responding to our emails
27:01 Deep breath and then we write an appeal
31:11 When to turn to professionals
33:26 Review Manipulation is bad idea
37:00 Conclusion from Izabella
39:56 Outro

In the famous words of boxer Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. No Amazon seller plans to get their account or listing suspended, and yet it happens. When Jeff Bezos’s Amazon punches us in the mouth, many of us panic, and our plan goes out the window. As sellers we need to not only take precautions, but also have someone in our corner, coaching us when we are fighting for our business.

Lesley Hensell is Co-Founder of Riverbend Consulting, an Amazon appeals and account health company in which she oversees the client services team. A seller on Amazon since 2010, Lesley has personally helped hundreds of sellers get their suspended Amazon accounts and ASINs restored. Riverbend Consulting is the coach in our corner, helping us fight to keep – Amazon. Solved.

 

Red Flags on Your Account: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Ton of Cure

Amazon’s artificial intelligence (AI) is constantly scanning across accounts for three primary issues:

Product Quality: authenticity complaints, old but sold as new, and bad condition upon arrival.

Account Performance: typically Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) sellers having late shipments or not sending shipments at all.

Amazon Policy Violations

The last of these issues has one major culprit…DROPSHIPPING. Let’s be clear: you CANNOT do dropshipping on Amazon. A seller can, of course, have an established relationship with a manufacturer, but then, they are no longer dropshipping. Some may think that their cartel-like sneakiness will prevent Amazon from finding out about what they are doing. It may work for a few days, weeks, or months, but the algorithm will eventually find you, and your business may never recover. A violation like this will not just get your account suspended, Amazon may hold the money in your account forever because they do not want you doing it again.

Story Time “An Inside Job”

Riverbend had a client who was scammed by people on Fiverr and Upwork into dropshipping. The client was targeted and recruited into a get rich quick scheme by scammers promising that they would “do dropshipping right” on the client’s account. Once their Trojan Horse tactic gained them permissions into the client’s account, the scammers wreaked havoc. They stole the client’s credit card information, and listed their own products under the client’s account (which now becomes money laundering). Despite having multiple, reputable private label brands, Amazon shut down the account for fraud. The client never got the money back from the credit card company.

Lessons Learned: Dropshipping on Amazon is not worth it, and sellers need to watch out for sharks pitching ideas too good to be true.

Having linked accounts is the most common policy violation. While sellers can have multiple accounts if they have a legitimate business reason (selling private labels brands in different niches), we want to dispel one commonly cited reason by sellers for having a second account: they want a back up account in case something bad happens to their primary account.

 

You cannot have a back up account, or open a new account if something bad happens to your account without resolving the violation. If a seller tries to game the system, Amazon will shut down both accounts. In the experience of both Ritz Momentum and Riverbend Consulting, it is much easier and cheaper to get an original account reinstated, than to get both accounts reinstated when we try to circumvent the rules and processes.

This is not because Amazon hates sellers. Amazon doesn’t like individuals having multiple accounts because:

  1. They do not want bad sellers to use these “back up” accounts to continue moving bad merchandise in case their products get flagged.
  2. They don’t want a seller competing against themselves on the same ASIN because it is an illegal act that violates the Federal Trade Commission’s laws on price fixing.

 

Put simply, we can prevent red flags by:
Avoiding dropshipping like the plague.
Not having multiple accounts unless it is a legitimate business necessity. Creating quality products, and if you fulfill orders yourself, ship them on time.

 

Soooo…I got my account/listing suspended. Now what?

While we as sellers like to believe that we have done everything correctly and Amazon is bullying us, the truth is more complicated. Only about one third of suspensions come from Amazon’s AI over-enforcement. The other two thirds come from sellers that actually did something wrong, or unknowingly committed an error.

 

The Plan of Action (POA) serves as the instrument of our liberation for getting our accounts and listings reinstated by Amazon. Drafting a POA is not the time to channel your inner Shakespeare. Be brief. Be clear. Be structured.

Step 1: Identify the Root Cause

The root cause that you find must directly tie to the violation. Stating that another seller temporarily shared your home wifi is not a root cause for product quality issues.

*Pro Tip: Remember that Amazon expects an admission of fault from the seller. Sometimes it is easier to “find something to admit” than it is to fight an uphill battle, but this only applies when there is a legal reason not to give an admission (i.e. you are not going to admit to selling counterfeit products unless it was a genuine accident and can prove that you did not know).

Step 2: Steps Taken to Correct the Issue
Clearly explain the steps you have already taken to solve the problem.

How to Prevent and Fight Amazon Account and Listing Suspensions with Riverbend Consulting 3

Step 3: Measures to Prevent the Same Problem in the Future

Explain the procedures you have established to prevent the issue from occurring in the future.

 

Easy Fixes

Story Time – “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”

Ritz Momentum’s CEO Izabella Ritz was selling a women’s skin care product under one of her brands on Amazon. A customer that purchased the cream took the advertised age defense qualities a little to seriously (maybe the sales copy was just that good). The customer thought that after applying the cream, she was going to instantly look decades younger. In the customer’s frustration, she posted a picture in the product’s review of herself while standing five to seven feet away from a dirty mirror in a poorly lit public bathroom. The post read “this cream is bullshit”, and Amazon’s algorithm shut down Izabella’s listing. As any self- respecting seller would do, Izabella went into full damage control…to include the anxiety attacks that go with it. After writing her own POA and clearly demonstrating to Amazon that the customer’s claim was absurd, Amazon restored the listing.

Lesson Learned: when things are straight forward, and you know the truth, have the courage to draft your own POA and fight for what’s yours.

 

Not-So-Easy Fixes

Story Time – “A New Kind of Supplement”

One of Riverbend Consulting’s clients was a major supplement brand, and they started getting weird complaints from their customers. The first complaint said that the supplement smelled terrible when they received it; maybe just a coincidence. But after several more complaints describing mold, this brand knew they had a problem. After investigating their supply chain, they found that their manufacturer’s sealing machine had broken…and they neglected to tell anybody. The issue needed to get fixed ASAP. So the POA looked like this:

Identify the Root Cause: the manufacturer’s sealing machine had broken and the company had no way of catching the discrepancy before the product had reached their customers.

Steps Taken To Correct the Issue: the company issued a recall and removed all inventory using the lot numbers from the manufacturer.

Measures Emplaced to Prevent the Same Problem in the Future: the company instituted a deliberate quality assurance process with the manufacturer for both their product and the machinery’s maintenance.

Lesson Learned: no matter the size of the company, none of them are immune from problems, and a professionally-crafted POA can make or break a crisis.

 

Some Things You Can’t Come Back From

Story Time – “Getting Put In the Hot Seat”

A Riverbend Consulting client sold an electric car seat heater that plugged directly into a car’s cigarette lighter. The product sold well, especially for those living in colder climates, but it had one problem: because of its electrical wiring, it was only suitable for cars made after 1975. The client knew that limitation, and clearly put a warning label on the packaging…and the listing…and on the product wrapping. But how often do humans skip reading instructions? All the time. Unfortunately, a customer bought the car seat heater and plugged it into an early 1970s vehicle and…BOOM! The car furniture burst into flames and the car was completely destroyed by the fire! Luckily, the customer was not hurt. Despite all the warning signs, and the product testing and research…Amazon immediately suspended the listing and it was never reinstated.

Lesson Learned: just because there are clear warning labels does not mean people will read them. As sellers we need to think about product development from the client’s perspective, not just from the ivory tower of our “good” product idea.

 

When should I see a professional like Riverbend Consulting?

Although affordability is always a factor, the type of violation incurred is the primary litmus test. For simple appeals like “inauthentic product”, sellers can use good invoices to dispel them; order defect rate and late shipment are also fairly simple. Hiring a professional for simple appeals is only necessary after Amazon rejects your initial POA because it gets increasingly harder for a seller to win the more times Amazon rejects them.

Certain appeals sellers should NEVER do on their own because Amazon takes the infraction seriously enough to block an account if they do not like the first appeal. NEVER conduct the following on your own:

Forged or manipulated documents Code of Conduct (Section 3) Dropshipping
Seller Rank Manipulation Platform Review Manipulation

 

If you have reached the point where Amazon is non-responsive, seller’s should hire someone who know’s how to escalate within Amazon; there are escalation groups and executives that specialize in certain kinds of appeals, and it is more effective to make the case directly with them.

 

Wait…everybody has fake reviews. Right? How can Amazon possibly catch rank and review manipulation?

We may all shop on Amazon, but we have to give the devil his due: Amazon is a TECHNOLOGY company. Amazon spent over $30 BILLION dollars in research and development in 2021 alone. In addition to their advances in AI, they also have a data sharing agreement with Facebook and all other social media platforms. That’s right. Amazon easily catches social media chatbots because the social media platforms simply hand them the information. Lastly, if Amazon Web Services is sophisticated enough for the U.S. National Security Agency to use it in their efforts to find and track domestic terrorists, it is certainly capable of finding fake reviews.

Story Time – “Ruining Auntie’s Book Club”

Riverbend Consulting had a client whose aunt participated in a local book club. Without telling her nephew, the aunt asked all of her friends from the book club to help his business by buying the product and leaving a review. Amazon tracked the digital activity of the nephew, the aunt, and all 5 other women in the book club, and suspended the nephew’s listing for review manipulation.

Lesson Learned: do not try to game the system. Period.

 

Now that we have established a To-Do list, we should also establish a Not To-Do list:

Do not use emotional language to blast Amazon employees. We only help people that we like.

Do not CC other people in your emails with Amazon; EVER. Send a single email to single recipient.

Do not send 95,327 emails because you think you are right. Not only is it annoying to the reader, but all it achieves is knocking you down to the bottom of the inbox, making your request take longer.

*Pro Tip: Riverbend Consulting sends a follow-up about once a week.
Do not go over board with the details; this is not high school English honors class.

 

Begin With the End In Mind

As Amazon sellers and entrepreneurs, we want to win. It’s in our nature. Sometimes, however, our competitiveness can take us too far. We can have it our way, so long as we don’t get crazy and start thinking the rules for selling on Amazon do not apply to us.

A lot of the account issues we have with product quality and customer experience can be solved simply by putting more effort into product research and design. That’s why here at Ritz Momentum, we dive deep into the details of product development in order to ensure we deliver unique and authentic products that sell. That way, sellers don’t feel like they have to resort to breaking the rules to get an edge on Amazon. Your competitive product IS your edge. If you do it right, you don’t have to do it twice.

If your account or listing have been suspended, and you need help NOW, use this link to connect with Riverbend Consulting.