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Have you had problems satisfying Amazon with business documentation?

By Dan Wilson August 18, 2015 - 3:30 pm

We’ve received a fascinating email from a Tamebay reader and we wondered whether anyone else has had a similar problem.

It relates to money laundering regulations. The seller in question recently realised that they weren’t selling anything at all on Amazon. This is because Amazon required them to provide official documentation regarding their business and had hidden their items. But they hadn’t informed the seller.

As soon as the seller found out, he got together all the relevant documentation and submitted it. Most of it is actually already freely available from Companies House. But Amazon rejected it. So the seller went back, double-checked and resubmitted it.

Amazon, however, are refusing to accept some of this information, but won’t explain why. The seller is incredibly frustrated and writes:

“We all want to stop the bad guys having money to do bad stuff, but for most decent folk, this is an administrative burden over and above the day-to-day of trying to delight customers. eBay and Paypal must be bound by the same regulations but none of this has been necessary for them. As a registered company, we have to file documents which are then published by Companies House free of charge for anyone to inspect – a great example of open data in Government. That these documents are good enough for the government, but not enough for Amazon speaks volumes about how hard they are trying to make it for sellers to sell. We have now been unable to sell for 6 months and have only just realised this was a problem: we’re unable to speak with anyone at Amazon who can help us get through their validation process, and we’re left guessing what documents they require.”

Has anyone had similar problems with Amazon? How did you remedy the situation?

  • Simon E
    2 years ago

    Been through it 3 times recently.
    We have had an Amazon account for a good few years selling, but they seem to have a rolling program of requesting this extra information re bank account statements, Passport information and anything else they want.
    We had to give much the same information for Rakuten including about 20 pages of our Articles of Association. ( I had to search the loft for that one and scan it)
    Lastly, I wanted to offer Amazon payments on our website and lo and behold I had to sign up with another Amazon account and had to submit the same bank and passport information again. It was fairly smooth but took forever ( which was about 2 months from memory ).
    As to what extra information they want I don’t know. We are a limited company but Sole Traders may get a more difficult ride.

  • Ian
    2 years ago

    Absolutely disgusted with the whole process and Amazon in general with this farce. As a sole trader, I had to open a brand new shiny bank account just so the name on the account, matched perfectly to Amazon’s records (which couldn’t be changed), then request a paper statement – we managed to get approval 2 days before the 31st July deadline. The staff were absolutely unhelpful and lacking in knowledge and it’s all a complete waste of time!

    ( I was at one point even asked for a marriage certificate! This being rather difficult to provide, not being married.)

  • james
    2 years ago

    dont wanna point fingers at the OP, but the sentence “We have now been unable to sell for 6 months and have only just realised this was a problem” absolutely reeks of money laundering.

  • Lee Pearce
    2 years ago

    The Amazon Boards were full of sellers complaining about the verification process, so much so, there is now a dedicated section.

    It took me 6 days from Start to Finish, but we did have our bank statement rejected, so i scanned the same one and saved it as a jpeg then used Microsoft’s Paint program to add arrows with an explanation for each part they were looking for, including the receipt of the Amazon disbursement and it was accepted and all was good.

    What does seem to come out is that the team carrying out the verification didn’t seem to understand some of the peculiarities of some of our information, ie that as a ltd company, we will have a registered address (accounts office) and a place of business address (our shop), luckily in our case we had the place of business address as our customer service address.

    The main issue i believe that Amazon have not helped with is that documents are rejected but no explanation as too why.

    I am not totally buying that the seller in the piece was not informed as it comes up on the opening page of seller central.

    One benefit for me, once verified, was that i can get my money once a day as opposed to two weekly, although this time of year once a week is fine.

    Lee

  • 2 years ago

    Its taking a long time. Trying to set up amazon payments account for woocommerce website.

    They ask for a document, then take a week to validate it . Then there was a technical error. Team has to change privileges to I could log in and change a status as the customer support couldn’t seem to grasp that I’m a sole trader. Then they asked for vat cert. Provided, being validated… Its been 6 weeks so far.

    I’ve provided vat cert, utr ref, bank statements, etc etc. I just hope when it goes live it actually works in production mode and can get live for run up to Christmas

  • Pete
    2 years ago

    …as a sole trader I have to say my experience with the verification process was really straight forward. They grasped that I was using a trading name as a sole trader and they had no problems that my trading name did not appear on any of the documents they asked for. I had read in one forum that someone was having difficulty getting the person he was dealing with to grasp the sole trader T/A Name concept.

    I asked for and was granted an extension to the period for submission (had two surgeries and couldn’t get to complete everything in time). Amazon were really accommodating, I didn’t even tell Amazon about the operations and just asked them to extend the time period for four weeks as I was having difficulty getting my UTR from Inland Revenue. They sent me a very polite email saying an extension was not a problem. The only document refused was an out of date utility bill (I forgot to check the date so my fault), most of my paperwork was scanned or photoshopped jpegs from pdf files, all were totally acceptable.

    I only had to submit: Passport (image page), Utility Bill (electric, I use paperless billing so had to get this from a downloaded pdf and pull the first page out in Photoshop), Bank Statement (I blurred out all the figures except payments from Amazon) and my scanned UTR document.

    I was told the verification was complete and that my Amazon payment account has been activated, I tested it and all seems as it should.

    As with all things Amazon it appears to depend on who you are dealing with as to how smooth things go, some just seem to go that extra mile to be awkward, yet others (most) are really helpful. If it’s of any use, you can email the verification team direct: seller-verification-enquiry@amazon.co.uk

  • petestan
    2 years ago

    I’ve been through the verification process twice now as a sole trader, I trade on amazon under a shop name but all the documents I submitted were in my personal name and the first time there were absolutely no problems apart from having to get the tax man to send me a letter to show I was registered with them, it took me a 5 minute phone call and then I had to wait a few days for it to arrive, my tax return wasn’t enough.
    The 2nd time was a bit more complicated as I moved address so unknown to myself I didn’t realise I would have to go through the verification process again although I just had to submit bills to prove I was at the new address, so it did take over the time I was initially allotted so I wasn’t allowed to sell for a week or so until I got bank statements with the new address on but once submitted everything was fine.

  • 2 years ago

    Good morning everyone. I’m glad to see that we aren’t the only ones falling foul of Amazon recently. Over the weekend Amazon revoked our selling privileges for Amazon UK, including all four unified channels therein. Losing five channels simultaneously has hit us massively hard.

    Amazon have told us, through automated email I might add, that the revoking of our seller privileges has been down to customer complaints. This includes, but is not limited to, concerns of a product being authentic. That’s fair enough in some situations, but we are the manufacturer and brand owner of two of the items in question and we are brand registered with Amazon. Now it’s worth mentioning that for a couple of days we have invested heavily in getting our seller accounts back, and as we’ve sifted through our feedback and messages we haven’t found a single recent case of anyone complaining about the items in question. This means that it would most likely have been FBA orders that have had the issues. The thing I find annoying about this is that at least some of the items reported I would assume were co-mingled stock. And I am sure that we are all fully aware of the abuse of Amazon’s returns process, where customers choose the incorrect reason for initiating the return.

    A wihle ago we also lost another listing completely which again was supposedly down to concerns of the item being genuine. This again was an item branded to us and also in the brand registry. But at least three months later this very popular item for us is still blocked by Amazon as they are refusing to accept the official documentation that we have for manufacture and ownership.

    I suppose the short version is that why should Amazon care? There seems to be a culture within Amazon support that I’ve seen where support staff just copy paste from message templates without properly reading support requests. Most of the time it’s like they tell you what you sent them in the initial support request, they just re-word it. I keep seeing that Amazon are starting this new venture, Amazon are doing something else, then moving into something new and innovative. I’d prefer it if they looked at their seller based systems for a while rather than trying to dazzle and draw in new customers.

  • fusion
    2 years ago

    Yep, has been a very annoying process.

    Basically, we submitted the documents bu the beneficial owners was left blank at the time because I wanted to come back to this to add it but hadn’t realised when you save it actually submitted it and closed it for verification.

    Anyway, the verification was processed and accepted by Amazon back in June. We then added the beneficial owners. They accepted all of the documents apart from the memorandum of association, they said this needed signing. We signed it then submitted it. Again this was rejected but was not given a reason this time (already 3 weeks down). We then realised we could download a copy from companies house and submitted. This was back in July.

    Since then it has been verifying and we have had no news from them. We have emailed the verification team on 5 separate occasions and got the standard reply back. We contact customer service and they contacted them and we got the same response.

    The problem was when they are verifying the account, we can still sell but do not have access to the money as it is being held. After almost 4 weeks, we were able to get through to the payments team how released our money at that time for the UK and France as we need this for VAT and wages at the end of the month. However our other EU account were still holding the money and the UK and Fr accounts are still holding since then.

    All they say to us is it will be 5-10 days. The truth as always from Amazon.

  • 2 years ago

    Submitted all the same information for Ltd Co:

    Rakuten: validated in 5 days
    Amazon: 3 months – still validating

    The staff at Amazon in charge of this process are clearly not trained and normal support staff are not allowed to get involved. I guess they have been overwhelmed by a problem of their own making.

    I did actually get a phone call from them apologising for the situation and then requesting more information because the original information we supplied was now out of date because of the length of the process.

    I don’t understand the OP though, I would know within an hour or so if our selling was restricted.

  • Priti
    2 years ago

    Similar issue to most. Getting the documents accepted took forever, as they kept rejecting them – not understanding the difference between a registered address and a trading address. That bit took about 2 months to sort out. All documents have been accepted now, and have been waiting for nearly 3 months for the account to be verified. Sent numerous emails and contacted seller support, to be told each time that they will have it verified in a few days. Still waiting.

    This is only one of many frustrating issues that I’ve got with Amazon at the moment.

  • BigTimeTrader
    2 years ago

    Yes it has been a nightmare.

    We are a sole trader partnership. We have provided:

    passports for all named
    UTR (got this from a Tax return notice which showed the number)
    utlilty bills for all named
    bank statements
    credit card statements
    proof of business address
    partnership agreement

    We submitted documents early June and we are still not verified. We have chased up a few times and keep getting standard stock reply.

    No further action is required from our end and we are 99% sure all the info we have given them is correct.

    It is insane how again the “SMB” is forced to jump through hoops.

    We should be asking to see their documents seeing as they are the ones looking for every legal loophole going to avoid paying their dues.

    Yet again the small man is penalised due to a corporate giant (lack of knowledge/resources and processes) and illegal activities of others (money laundering criminals).

    As you can tell I am not bitter about it at all :|

  • Phil Blue
    2 years ago

    I have had a similar nightmare to you Dan Eales
    We too recently had one of our UK shops suspended which in turn blocked our other UK shop and US shop. At the same time they are withholding £7000 that they owe us for 90 days ,which has crippled us . As with you for this was for supposed customer complaints. On inspecting these ,one was from a customer in the highlands of Scotland who brought a picture frame from us, it was double wrapped in thick card but somehow parcel force managed to pierce this with what must have been a very heavy sharp object pierceing the perspex. The customer complained,we spoke several times with him directly,paid to have the item returned ,paid for a replacement to be sent. He was entirely satisfied. A second was a stock photo we used from the manufacturer which showed a slight difference in actual product and a third we sent out by mistake a very similar product but followed this up by sending out the correct item and told customer to keep the other one as well. The other two shops were all showing green and the affected one only went yellow but was still rated good the day before the suspension.
    This on the back of Amazon approaching me several times to sell on their channel and me only agreeing after 4 or 5 calls over several months when they offered to have someone in India do all of the work in shifting over our inventory from another channel.
    I have tried sending in an action plan which was supposed to be answered within 24 hours ,two weeks later it came back with more detail needed.
    I would warn any other business to be very very wary of the Amazon machine !

  • derek duval
    2 years ago

    Why do u lot bother with amazon. Simply to much hassle. You must be desperate to put up with that crap

  • Anna S
    2 years ago

    We too have had issues with opening a seller account as we are a limited company and wish to trade through that. It’s taken over 3 months of being asked to send in all the various documents. I send one lot in and then another set is required. Why it can’t all be done at once is beyond me. And Seller Verification team is not on the phone; Seller Central do their best to help but can’t really help. At least we’ve not sent any stock in until the account is verified. Today I get an email saying they have all the documents they need and they will let us know if we are verified soon. I don’t think their people understand all the different documents they need for a Ltd Co to open an account with them. Anyway, let’s see how much longer it takes. I may even get a chance to sell stuff in time for Xmas …

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