This is a guest post from Lesley Hensell. Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, which solves Amazon problems for third-party sellers and vendors. Lesley has personally helped hundreds of third-party sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running. She has been an Amazon seller for more than a decade, thanks to her boys (21 and 15) who do most of the heavy lifting.
Amazon account suspended? Welcome to one of every sellers’ worst nightmare.
No Amazon seller wants to wake up to the harrowing message: your seller account has been deactivated.
Unfortunately, this is a reality for sellers every day. But there are steps you can take to try and get reinstated quickly. And even better, you can proactively work to protect your account – right now.
Let’s explore both.
Got suspended? Follow these 6 steps first.
- Take a deep breath. Too often, the reinstatement process is made more difficult by the actions a suspended seller takes in the first hour after suspension. Don’t ask Amazon why they suspended you. Don’t send in an appeal that simply says, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Don’t lash out at Amazon, use profanity, or go on the attack. And don’t start spamming Amazon. None of these tactics are going to help. Breathe in. Breathe out. Clear your mind and prepare to fight smart.
- Determine the root cause of your suspension. Examine the account data. Are there buyer complaints or excessive returns? Interview the team. Did someone break Amazon’s rules? Come to an honest conclusion. Where were mistakes made?
- Write an effective Plan of Action (POA). Amazon wants the plan in three parts. Explain the root cause and why it occurred, including a statement of responsibility. Detail steps that were taken to remediate the problem, such as replacement products, refunds, or apologies. Describe the measures taken to ensure the same mistakes do not recur. These must be measurable and time-bound.
- Submit the appeal and wait. This is the tough part. It’s difficult waiting. Hopefully, the account will be reinstated in a timely manner. If it’s not?
- Reach out to Account Health Services (AHS). AHS can be contacted via the Account Health page. Sometimes, these agents can explain why the appeal was rejected, or when you might expect a response. Take their advice with a grain of salt, however. The advice is not always accurate.
- Find a professional to escalate. If you’re unable to understand the suspension or craft a winning appeal, bring in the pros. They can ensure your POA is accurate, on-point, and provides the remedies Amazon needs to see. In addition, a qualified professional should be able to help you escalate to executives and teams inside of Amazon, if necessary.
How to avoid suspension? Here’s what to do.
In late 2022, Amazon changed the way it enforces against sellers. It devised a strategy that is based on a numerical formula called the Account Health Rating (AHR). On each seller’s Account Health page, you can find the AHR and see any defects causing a reduction in your score. A score over 200 is considered “healthy.” The score can rise as high as 1,000 if the account has significant sales volume and minimal defects.
All defects should be appealed. Why? If a seller is suddenly hit with a harsh violation (imagine 30 intellectual complaints from the same brand but for different ASINs), your seller account could immediately be in danger of suspension. This is especially true if you already had a number of unaddressed violations dragging down the score.
Do the following to keep your account healthy under this new regime:
- Appeal everything. No matter the defect type, address it. The goal is to have it removed and increase your score.
- Do not “agree” with Amazon’s accusation, just to make the defect go away. In some cases, Amazon allows sellers to “agree” with the violation. Yes, the seller’s AHR goes up. But the seller can never again sell the product in question. If they make a mistake and sell the item again? A harsh Code of Conduct violation could be the result.
- Only “agree” if you are guilty and have no hope of appeal. For example, you cannot appeal an inauthentic accusation if you do not have invoices. But only “agree” if you are in this kind of extreme circumstance.
- Stay all over intellectual property (IP) violations. The “suspected IP” category is one of the most frustrating. Ignore it at your peril. For the first time, Amazon is suspending accounts for suspected IPs. Do the work to clear these violations, or find a company that can help you.
- Make sure your team knows the rules. Too many third-party sellers are unaware of Amazon’s extensive web of regulations. For example, many drop-shippers had no idea they could not sell items and fulfill orders from other online retailers – and it cost them their accounts. Other sellers did not realize that liquidation inventory is not welcome on Amazon – even if it came from the Amazon fulfillment centers.
Amazon account suspended? Don’t panic
Account suspensions are costly and stressful undertakings, but there are steps you can take to remedy it. And if you’re one of the lucky sellers who have yet to deal with a suspension, start putting in preventative measures today.