For any seller, account suspension on Amazon is a nightmare. It can seem like a long and intensive process which can effectively derail the countless hours of effort you put into building your business—to speak nothing of the costs to both your reputation and your wallet.
You’re not alone. Each day, thousands of sellers are faced with the very possible threat of suspension for seemingly minor infractions. This isn’t just a question of selling counterfeit merchandise or attempting to manipulate Amazon reviews. Each negative review you receive doesn’t just affect your status to potential customers. They send a red flag to Amazon which can altogether trigger a permanent ban.
To make matters worse, it can happen without notice. In October 2020, Amazon fell under criticism after an algorithm misidentified many parties during a mass suspension designed to remove sellers operating under multiple accounts. While many of those accounts were eventually reinstated, the reactivation process has been known to take up to 90 days. If you’re concerned about the potential threat of account suspension, there are steps you can take to appeal your Amazon deactivation.
Review Selling Policies and Account Health Regularly
Amazon changes seller policies and code of conduct regularly, with many sellers being entirely unaware of the specifics of those changes. While Amazon typically informs sellers by email of how revised policies can affect their business, it’s entirely up to you to review your seller code of conduct at least once a quarter in order to ensure the health of your account. Regularly reviewing the Account Health tab under Performance in Seller Central is an excellent first step which can help safeguard you as well as identify some of your weaker points as a seller.
If there actually is an error in your account suspension (and it’s not entirely unheard of), clicking on Reactivate your account at the top of Account Health and indicating why you feel Amazon may have made a mistake can sometimes result in reinstatement in a matter of days. But more likely than not, you’ll have to submit a plan of action and include any supporting documents in order to successfully appeal for reactivation.
Your Amazon Plan of Action
The first step is identifying the cause of your suspension; and Amazon will typically reach out to you with a 30 day notice indicating just what violations were committed. If it’s a recurring issue, you will need to demonstrate clear and specific steps you’re currently taking to address policy infractions as well as any measures to prevent future misunderstandings. If you’re knowingly selling inauthentic products or committing significant breaches of Amazon policies, your chances of reinstatement are virtually none. Amazon takes seller privileges very seriously. And the increased scrutiny they’re facing from federal agencies could result in an even stricter maintenance of seller protocol.
Your Amazon plan of action (POA) not only indicates your willingness to abide by Amazon’s code of standards for sellers. It can help outline best practices you should be engaging in on any retail platform. It can help you identify just why your performance was less than stellar. Were there outstanding delivery delays within your control? Significant order defects? Slow response time to customer queries? All of these will affect your seller rating and should be carefully addressed in your POA.
Above all, precisely identify the specific causes of your suspension and be meticulous in outlining the steps you’ll take to prevent future issues. The language of your POA should be concise, easily understandable and address only Amazon’s explicit concerns. Avoid the temptation to defend your business emotionally and strive to be as objective and understanding as possible. Provide the context of the issues at hand, and include any supporting evidence relating to products and ASINs in review.
It’s a good idea to bold or highlight any relevant points to ensure reader-friendliness of your POA, breaking them down into bullet points. Introducing your business, including the length of time you’ve been selling on Amazon and any positive customer feedback you’ve gained, can help provide Amazon with a context which affects their decision. Sometimes a suspension is entirely Amazon’s error, and mistakes as a result of automated bots and algorithms aren’t uncommon. If that’s your circumstances, avoid blaming Amazon or be overly defensive in your argument. Politely but firmly point out the oversight. If you’re uncertain about any issue, ask questions. Amazon will not likely engage with an automatic template containing no relevant information.
But stay calm. You have approximately 7 days after the end of your 30 day notice to fix and address any issues. While Amazon has indicated most suspension appeals are decided upon within 48 hours, decisions are still on a case by case basis. And it’s not an automated bot reviewing your POA, but a human Amazon representative. Patience and positivity are necessary for any successful appeal, and your POA should reflect your values as a seller as much as it reflects adherence to Amazon policy.
Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your eCommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.