Anyone who sells on Amazon runs the risk of having their accounts suspended for violating the seller guidelines and terms of service of the Amazon platform. Everyone should know what to expect if and when Amazon suspends their account. This article will explain what happens when your account is suspended, answer some common questions about Amazon account suspensions and provide some actionable tips that can help you get back up and running as quickly as possible.
"MY AMAZON SELLING ACCOUNT WAS JUST SUSPENDED! WHAT DO I DO?!?"
Anyone who has sold on Amazon knows the sheer terror that the words "account suspension" evoke.
You've heard the horror stories about people getting their accounts suspended for minor offenses and it taking weeks, sometimes months, for them to get their accounts back.
Well, in this article, I am going to answer some of the most common questions people have about Amazon account suspensions.
If you've gotten your account suspended I recommend that you read through this article completely. It's going to give you a better understanding of what to expect.
It also might give you a little bit more peace of mind along with some insights into how to best prepare your plans of action and supporting documents.
Why Listen to Me?
Everyone has an opinion on why suspensions happen.
People who were suspended think, “It’s just a matter of time until everyone is suspended!” People who haven’t either think these people are full of it or live in constant fear that they are next to get the axe from Amazon.
Well, these aren’t the people you should be taking advice from. Their experience and opinion is based on one thing...their experience.
These sorts of people comment in threads like this one (don't use the seller central forum for advice on suspensions).
My experience is much deeper...
In 2015, I had my selling account suspended for having too many user permissions open at one time. After the process of appeals, I realized a few things:
- The process was a nightmare.
- Other people could benefit from knowing what I learned.
Word traveled that I had been through this process and I began writing appeals. In late 2015, I joined Cynthia Stine at EgrowthPartners.com (at that time it was onlinesalesstepbystep.com).
Since then, I have handled over 100 Amazon seller account suspensions and many more ASIN suspensions.
All of these questions are from real sellers and my answers are based on my 2+ years of experience. Please feel free to share your own opinions in the comments below or in the thread that inspired this post on my FBA Today Facebook group.
Why Do People Get Their Amazon Accounts Suspended
An account suspension can happen for a number of reasons. It can be for any one or a combination of the following.
- Late shipments
- Used sold as new
- Not as described
- Intellectual Property Complaints
- Linked accounts (multiple accounts)
- Product review manipulation
- Business identity fraud.
- Whatever Amazon decides.
Yes, Amazon has the final say in what can lead to a suspension and if they will allow you to sell again.
What Are the Chances That a Seller Will Have His or Her Seller Account Suspended?
I believe less than 1% of sellers per year will have their accounts suspended.
This is my estimate and not backed by any quantifiable research. If you held a gun to my head and I had to get close, this would be my guess.
Yes, I know it seems like everyone has their account suspended, but the fact is, that isn’t what is happening.
Can I Sue Amazon?
You are welcome to try but they have enough attorneys to keep your case in court until you die.
I have heard of sellers having success taking Amazon to arbitration. I am not an attorney and have never even played one on TV.
Your best bet is to get your account reinstated by going through the standard process of appeals. Suing them is going to be a monumental task, although I am excited to see when it finally happens.
How Many Appeals Does It Take to Get Reinstated?
The answer varies, but there are a few constants…
First, Amazon will almost never reinstate you on your first appeal.
No matter how complete your first appeal is, Amazon will almost never reinstate you. Don't panic. You could write a seven page, perfect letter, and they will most likely not reinstate you on the first attempt.
Next, Amazon will not reinstate your account until you answer all of their questions completely. If they want invoices and buyer information, you need to provide it. If you can’t, you need to explain why and essentially, beg for forgiveness.
Can I Get my Amazon Account Reinstated without Invoices?
This isn’t ideal, but it can happen.
If you have absolutely no invoices, you need to “fall on the sword” and explain to Amazon why you are such a crappy seller.
Seriously, you should be keeping invoices! If you get suspended and you don’t have them, don’t fake them, just explain clearly to Amazon your situation and hopefully they don’t close you forever for a one time mistake.
I wrote an article that will show you in detail how to get Amazon to accept your invoices.
Here is a video I put together showing the process of validating your invoices if you or your ASINs are suspended by Amazon (bookmark this video for future reference if you don't need it right now).
How Do I Upload My Invoices When Appealing?
This part truly blows my mind...
Amazon wants invoices, but they don't give you a way to upload them on your first attempt.
This is part of why you can almost never get reinstated on your first attempt because Amazon generally wants invoices for things like inauthentic IP claims, used sold as new, but they don't have an option to attach the documents. It is one of the most obnoxious flaws I've ever seen in a process.
This is part of why Amazon will almost never reinstate an account on the first attempt.
When working with clients, I try to include clickable links (Google Drive usually) that take them directly to the invoices.
Pro Tip: How to Spy on Seller Performance
You'll get insights that look like this...
I will warn you, you aren't going to love what you see...
Spoiler: They often don't even click on them!)
It's always smart to include clickable URLs AND attach the invoices into the emails to firstname.lastname@example.org (or wherever they ask you to send them).
Why Did Amazon Send Me a Random Email Saying “You Haven’t Sent Us a Plan of Action,” When I Definitely Did?
If you don't use the appeal decision button in seller central, in 17 days, you will get an email saying that your account is closed and that they will not return your information.
This is a default thing. It does not mean that your account's actually closed. This is why it's important to submit your first appeal through the appeal button, even though like I said in point three, they don't give you an option to actually attach invoices.
How Do I Submit My Second Appeal? There Isn’t a Button Anymore!
After your first appeal letter attempt, you have to email Amazon from the email associated with your seller account.
If you email them from a different email, it will screw up the case. You get the performance notifications to the email. You'll get them in the notifications center and to the email that is on file with Amazon. You can use that email and reply to it with your new plan of action.
What Is the Seller Performance Phone Number?
Amazon seller performance doesn't have a phone number that you can call to discuss your cases.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked, “Can you call seller-performance?” Or “what is the number for Amazon seller performance?
If you know someone who works there that will answer, for the love of all that is good and holy, email me!
You can call seller support all day, but that won't do you much good...but more on that in the next question.
Can Seller Support Help with My Suspension?
Seller support does not know anything about your account.
If you talk to someone in seller support and they think that they can help you and you think that they're going to help you, you are sorely mistaken. If anything, they will slow the process down and make things worse. I wish that it wasn't true, but you just cannot get help from seller support.
Why Is Seller Performance Sending Me Canned Responses?
Amazon is going to send you canned responses with little information.
Don't panic, this is totally normal.
Annoying as hell, but normal.
I Was Reinstated, but they Say My Account Is “Still Under Review.” Is This Normal? Should I Be Worried?
When Amazon Says, “You can continue selling while we complete your review,” It Almost Always Means You Are Good to Go.
Most sellers don’t gasp in relief until about 15 days after their appeal was “accepted.” 9/10, when your account is reinstated and they are “still reviewing it,” you are fine.
Here is an example of what one of these "pending review" reinstatements looks like.
How Long Does an Amazon Suspension Last?
Suspension cases can take as long as several months to complete
The questions I am often asked:
- “How long does an Amazon suspension last?”
- “How long does it take Amazon seller performance to respond to my appeal?"
- “How many times can I reply before Amazon suspends me permanently?”
Sometimes the key to reinstatements is perseverance.
Can I Open a Second Account if I Can’t Reinstate My Suspended One?
Yes, but it is a nightmare.
Amazon makes it extremely difficult to open a second account (or as many call it, a “ghost account.”)
Amazon links things like…
- IP Address
- Mailing address
- Billing address
- Credit Card/Bank Account Info
- Mac Address (computer)
So, this is to be avoided at all costs. I have met sellers with as many as 7 storefronts!
Amazon new account set up is possible, but not ideal, risky and difficult.
How Many Times Can I Have My Amazon Seller’s Account Suspended and Still Get Back?
You Can Be Suspended More Than Once and Still Get Back.
The difficult part is when you are making the same mistakes.
For example, if you were suspended for late shipment rates (merchant sellers only) and fixed that problem, but 4 months later were suspended for “used item sold as new,” you could likely still get the account back almost as easily.
What Categories Are Most Likely to Receive Inauthentic Complaints
This is something that can change of course, but this has been my experience (as of April, 2017).
- Beauty (make-up in particular).
In addition to these, any item that has a great deal of “intrinsic value” (value that is perceived rather than part of the cost of the good) is at risk for counterfeit claims.
For example, a Burberry scarf would be easy to counterfeit because the materials cost far less than the price that people are willing to pay just because of the Burberry name.
If I Was Suspended a Long Time Ago, Can I Still Reinstate My Account?
If you are at the point where Amazon has already shipped your inventory back to you, you are not looking good.
That being said, yes, there is a chance that you could possibly reinstate a "cold" suspension. Some sellers report having reinstated accounts that had been closed for over a year.
Does Amazon Accept Retail and Online Arbitrage Receipts?
If your account was suspended and Amazon wants you to reveal your sources and proofs of purchase (this is a requirement in authenticity suspensions and can be requested in other cases as well) you CAN slide by with retail receipts or online invoices.
This isn't ideal, but I have seen these documents work time and time again.
I highly recommend you consider investing in a tool like Shoeboxed. This mobile app/web platform/data collection service will make saving your invoices a breeze. You can quickly gather images of your purchase receipts and share them with Amazon seller performance.
DO YOU HAVE MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT SUSPENSIONS?
This post started as a thread on my FREE Facebook group for Amazon Sellers: FBA Today. If there are questions that I didn't answer in this post, please leave them as a comment in that thread or in the comments on this post.