Navigating Amazon Suspensions
Navigating an Amazon suspension can be on of the worst things an Amazon seller has to deal with. Because it’s such a hot-button issue I wanted to talk to Ed Rosenberg of Amazon Sellers Group TG. He consults with some of the top Amazon sellers and is a compliance specialist so he understands how to not get suspended better than anyone in the space.
In this video we cover: 👇
- Why a suspension is so powerful against a business
- How he ended up being a compliance specialist
- Why accounts get suspended
- What you can do to not be suspended
- Top three tips for avoiding an Amazon suspension
- A bonus tip!
Check out the full interview below:
In this episode of the Actualize Freedom Podcast, I talk with Ed Rosenberg, the founder of Amazon Sellers Group TG. An Amazon sellers group with over a hundred thirty thousand messages that provide support and information about information important Amazon updates and changes. He also has well respected Youtube channel with over 140 videos of in-depth, valuable amazon sellers information.
He is also one of the best compliance and suspension specialists consulting the top 200 sellers on Amazon. Because Amazon suspensions are such a hot topic, I wanted to speak Ed and understand how an Amazon business can avoid being suspended and navigate what happens if they do find their accounts suspended by Amazon.
There’s not a whole lot of people who have as much experience as Ed does when it comes to one communicating with sellers into helping them on the compliance issues, so I wanted to understand how he got started in this niche.
Ed: I found myself suspended on Amazon and I couldn’t believe how powerful it was against businesses. The impact a suspension can have on an Amazon based business can be almost worse than an IRS audit. One day, just like that, a company decides to just shut down your business. No names. No signature, no faces, no to talk to you.
I got really intrigued and started learning all about suspensions. I got somewhere, but I figured the best way you can learn about suspension was if we all get together and communicate. Eventually, even with Amazon, you can figure it out. I never really thought Amazon was suspending businesses just because they don’t care about people. Amazon is trying to please an open marketplace with millions of people with a lot of bad actors. And unfortunately, a lot of times good people who are good sellers get caught. On the other side of that, good people who are bad sellers also get caught.
Danny: I’ve been suspended before myself actually, and it put a massive stick in the spokes my cash flow, I had to hire a lawyer and right after a few big inventory purchases, so dealing with an Amazon suspension is definitely one of the scariest things.
I want to bring up one of the most hot-button issues right now on Amazon. You recently put out a post talking about the uncertainty of review sweeps. Tons of big sellers are getting wiped out, and then their views come back and then they’re taking off again. No one really seems to know exactly what’s going on. So can shed a little light on what you’ve seen is happening with the review sweeps?
Ed: I think whats happened is Amazon is not necessarily sitting there watching every step you take but let’s say every six months an article will come out, and for whatever reason they will focus on a specific issue which is abusive on the platform and clean it up and which is what they did in the last month. In the previous month, Amazon suspension team was focusing on reviews because there were some articles that came out saying that you can’t trust Amazon reviews. Articles like this mean that they are going to clamp down on whatever that article is about in order to address that issue.
What they do when they do these sweeps is very smart. They use the most intelligent people in the world and make everything focused on the buyer experience, so they don’t necessarily have a particular and clear rule book. In other words, they’ll say that they don’t allow review manipulation. Well, what does that mean? Am I allow to have my neighbor do it? Or is someone down the block allowed to buy it and leave me a few reviews.
They don’t really tell you what you can do but what they are doing with these sweeps is not necessarily looking at tactics around how people get reviews. Amazon would suspend you for that if they knew you were using tactics to manipulate reviews. But they could notice you are a Facebook group where people are giving each other reviews. Amazon would suspend you for that as well.
If you want to get, your account reinstated they ultimately want to want you to snitch. So Amazon sees what Facebook group you use, who did you buy from, and then the only way you’re going to get reinstated is if you give them all this information. Now Amazon suspension teams can then take that information, and they know that a specific Facebook group is hot. From there they can start putting things together and see “okay anybody that has had a review from these 50 people, chances are that the same scheme, and suspend you”.
They get a lot of information from sellers when they get suspended because that seller wants to get reinstated. But the vast majority, from what I can tell, of sellers being suspended by Amazon through review manipulation is if you listed against an item or multiple items with too much abuse they will ask why. That is very strange. It must be that you probably engaged in some kind of review manipulation because you have an interest and lifting against those items. So, if you have if you’re lifting against three, four, or five items and you are the cheapest -and there’s with you manipulation against that item. They’ll assume that you’re involved now. They won’t necessarily have evidence that you did it but let’s say let’s say an average item for every thousand views has five purchases and one review. If your item has 200 reviews out of a thousand views, clearly something was done. That’s it. That’s the end. Amazon will suspend your business.
Just because it’s not against terms of services doesn’t mean it doesn’t make it a bad buyer experience.
Danny: But about people who are good actors and they have a lot of legitimate reviews. Let’s say they have 200 reviews on a product that they know are legitimate and didn’t actually buy them or do any shady Facebook group tactics. A lot of these sellers are still seeing these reviews wiped. There’s a lot of conflicting reports like reviews where you’re getting reviews wiped that are legit and then able to get them back somehow and then they’re wiped again the next day. Do you see any rhyme or reason to what’s going on here?
If a seller has had their legitimate reviews wiped, is there any action they can take to contact Amazon about this and get it figured out.
Ed: Yes. Just because the seller says, it’s legitimate. Amazon suspensions are so advanced that you may think its legitimate and they may be manipulated which will then get removed. A lot of the sellers that have told me they had legitimate reviews wiped, their reviews we’re actually not legitimate. They just didn’t think was possible to get caught and Amazon figured out that they were gaming the system.
Sellers that have done nothing to manipulate reviews. They are just selling an item, Amazon will often cast a wide net and sometimes go too deep, and in this case, it seems like they took off a lot of reviews and then they put many back when they realized these are legitimate reviews.
If a week or two passes and you’re 100% sure that you review the legitimate, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can try and make your case. Saying “look I’ve been selling it since 2015. I have 45,000 sold and 200 reviews every single one legitimate. You can then make a case.
Danny: I would love to hear some examples of how easy is it to get a suspended account reinstated in different situations. So let’s just get an example of like a really easy account reinstatement versus a tough one just so people can kind of understand potential dangerous situations.
Ed: That’s a great question because a seller just hears “my account is suspended,” but an Amazon suspension means that you cannot sell. They are not interested in stories. But there’s a massive difference between one type of suspension was really just sort of like like a fine and the suspension where they don’t want you back and a real danger of never getting back on track.
The easiest, I would say, is ODR related (order defect rate) like late shipping. There is also A to Z claims and chargebacks.
Now sellers have gotten so good they are close to 0%. There’s no reason why you should ever get a chargeback and with negative feedback, many times you can get that off. ODR should never happen to a professional seller. If it does happen, your data is right there, and Amazon gives you the information so you can generally get on a plan of action pretty quickly.
There’s no significant risk to Amazon by letting you back. No one is going to sue Amazon if they let you back. No brand is coming after Amazon. So I would say petty things which can happen in the long term (late shipping chargebacks and negative feedback) you can eventually get back. On the other side of the spectrum, anything that puts Amazon at risk like a forged invoice makes Amazon look less trustworthy, and it will be almost impossible for your suspension to be lifted.
Amazon knows that anybody can go on Fiverr and create an invoice for five bucks. By doing that you are putting Amazon at risk and at that point it almost impossible to get back. The other thing to be wary of is selling real-counterfeit. If you source a product from Alibaba and it’s real counterfeit, you are also putting Amazon at risk.
Another impossible situation to come back from is review manipulation a second time. Amazon keeps track of how many times you’re suspended for the same thing and if you are caught a second time it is unlikely you will come back.
Danny: Hopefully that gives some clarity for the Amazon sellers out there as well as a bit of peace of mind hopefully. My last question for here is; can you provide a quick overview of your top three tips for avoiding Amazon suspensions. Define three really clear, actionable things that Amazon sellers can do to prevent any of this drama.
Ed: Okay, so first it depends if you are on private label or you are selling branded items.
Tip Number 1
My number one tip by far. Not even close to number two and three. My number one tip is to be educated and informed. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to be in this seller performance feedback Facebook group. If you informed about Amazon suspensions and what they’re after, you could proactively prevent a suspension. An example of this was many sellers got suspended for pricing their products based on theory.
Example: If you sell an item for $10 and then sell multi-packs of $25, $12.50 each you don’t really know that’s against the policy, but if you on the Facebook group and you see all of a sudden people are getting suspended then you can act quickly and fix it before you get banned.
Tip Number 2
Having everything you sell backed up by invoices. Even if it’s still receipts, generally they’ve been pretty good accepting story sheet. So I would take to have everything backed up by invoices that from your manufacturers or your wholesalers. Whoever you’re buying the product from.
Those invoices are accepted as proof if you ever get banned, and you have to prove where you got your items from.
Tip Number 3
Don’t sell junk. Even if you have invoices, you don’t want to be that in that situation where they are going to accept my invoice, but you could get banned anyways. Try to sell good stuff which adds to a great buyer experience.
If you are selling a completely authentic item but the product reviews are 2.2 stars there’s a very good chance that you are going to get complaints and then get suspended. So again, keep your invoices, very important to not sell junk. If you cannot prove that it’s authentic, should Amazon, you should proactively not sell junk.
Don’t be a headache to Amazon. Even if you can prove that you’re right if everybody is complaining about you saying that it’s fake, they are not going to be a court and decide who’s right. They are just going to say have a nice life and suspend you.
This blog post was condensed from the original interview with Ed Rosenberg. You can watch the full video in even more detail above.