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How to escalate an Amazon Account Reinstatement Appeal

By Chris Dawson July 4, 2018 - 8:00 am

Chris McCabe is a former Amazonian who saw a need to help Marketplace sellers. While working at Amazon in Seller Performance, Chris noticed that when sellers got suspended due to missed metrics targets or policy violations, they went about reinstatement appeals all wrong. Some sellers never sold again on Amazon despite ultimately fixable problems. If they had the right guidance and responded to Amazon in the correct way, they would have appealed properly and returned to selling after a reasonable amount of time.

Shortly after leaving Amazon, Chris started ecommerceChris to help sellers get their accounts reinstated and selling as quickly as possible and today shares his knowledge of how to escalate an Amazon Account Reinstatement Appeal if you’re not successful on your first attempt.

Top Questions to Ask Yourself When Escalating Your Appeal

Understanding the Amazon suspension escalation process can make the difference between a reinstated Amazon account and a business that never recovers. Don’t ruin your chances by escalating the wrong way! Before you begin, answer these key evaluation questions on how you should escalate an Amazon Suspension Appeal.

How do I evaluate how long it’s been since Amazon replied to me?

Are you waiting too long for a reply that isn’t coming, or are you expecting them to reply as fast as they did last time? There are many misconceptions around how long it takes Seller Performance and policy teams to reply to seller emails. If they replied within two hours the last time you contacted them, you may think they’re “late” or not replying at all once three or four hours come and go without response. In reality, it all depends on the number of emails ahead of yours in the queues. Volumes of emails to Seller Performance change from hour to hour, so there is no value in comparing one occasion with another.

If they don’t answer within 5 days and it’s not holiday peak, then yes, it’s possible an investigator simply annotated your account and moved on without messaging you back. You’ll need to send them what’s known as a “nudge” email to get them moving and responding.

Note: there’s a big difference between requesting an update from Seller Performance after a couple of days and desperately spamming them multiple times a day, assuming they’ll reply faster that way.

How do I evaluate the value of my Plan of Action BEFORE I escalate? Will my plan really solve any account problems?

Don’t even think about escalating a denied appeal without assessing what you have to escalate with. Is the POA unimpeachable, detailed, and relevant? Does it answer all of Amazon’s concerns about your account performance or policy compliance?

Sellers often start throwing together a handful of vague promises which may or may not lead to the improvements required to fix their Amazon account problems. Seller Performance can be finicky when they look over your appeal for reinstatement. If you give them basic steps that lack acceptable signs of improvement, it will not be convincing.

Ask yourself, are you solving the problems or just parroting what you think they want to hear?

Are you giving them proactive solutions as to how you’ll execute the plan to ensure its success?

This is your opportunity to prove to Seller Performance that you’ve corrected past deficiencies while also preventing their recurrence in the future.

If your POA fails to convince them, they’ll send you a general denial or request more information from you without being specific about what’s missing. You’ll need a way to determine what that might be. You’ll then have to write a Revised Plan of Action to move things forward.

  • Format can mean everything when it comes to Seller Performance accepting or denying a suspended account appeal. I’ve put together a few quick points for your POA self-evaluation.
     

  • Make sure you didn’t go ASIN by ASIN through the appeal to avoid creating a whole plan that will address deep-seeded and systemic account problems. If you offer root causes and then offer solutions on an ASIN-level basis, they only see particular ASIN problems solved. Remember, they took your whole account down, not just a few listings.
     

  • By the way, how long is the POA? They won’t read page after page of repetitive or volumes of seller account history. You can create a viable and acceptable Plan of Action in a page to a page and a half. Trust me, I’ve done it thousands of times. It’s possible!

    Amazon attempts to provide some framework for your POA by offering general guidance, like the list below. Keep in mind, that list is just a starting point. You can’t counter each one by one to make sure you answer every root cause that MAY be involved, or you’ll create a Plan loaded with jumbled, irrelevant text they will simply skip reading. You should certainly go through the list, and identify the areas in which you have had problems. Don’t hit them all and fill your POA with content that doesn’t apply. It wastes space and investigator attention.

    “Here are a few things to consider as you work on resolving this:

    Sourcing – are you sourcing the product from a trusted supplier?
    Listing – Is the product accurately described on Amazon? Have you ensured that there is no ambiguity and the customer is well informed?
    Shipping – Have you taken all appropriate steps and quality checks to ensure that the product is stored, packed, and shipped appropriately?
    Product testing – Have you taken steps to ensure that the product is safe to use?
    Expiration date – Have you taken steps to ensure that the product was not shipped close to or past its expiration date?
    Labeling – Does the product require additional warning labels for consumption?
    Condition – Have you taken steps to ensure that the product was shipped in the described condition?”

    In most cases, many of these areas won’t even apply to you. You need to use a proper format.

    How Do I Evaluate the Format of my escalation ? Will they Read this?

    Make sure you have a Plan of Action with four components. An introduction paragraph, a bulleted Root Causes section, a numbered Plan of Action (with specific, comprehensive steps, already executed, that attack the problems at their source), followed by a brief conclusion requesting reinstatement.

    a. Keep your introduction paragraph short, sweet, and to the point. Use the first few lines as a chance to set up the appeal ahead, culminating in your detailed Plan of Action. You now know EXACTLY what went wrong, and therefore, you’ve already decided what needs to happen to fix what broke. Even further, you’ve got an action plan that lays out precisely how you’ve completely remedied past shortcomings. Don’t simply restate why they suspended you. They know that already.

    b. The Root Causes must not contain basic information like a list of problem ASINs and then a summary of the complaints against them. Why or how did those items attract complaints? Specify this, because often a failure to identify accurate Root Causes results in an investigator who stops reading entirely.

    c. Keep in mind that the POA represents the core piece to your appeal. Pack it with some real solutions that Seller Performance considers key to your future success! Make sure you properly delineate how these actions will help prevent future complaints. Don’t assume that your audience wants quickly to check down a list of basic promises before welcoming you back with open arms. It doesn’t work that way. If anything, the investigators often seek easy excuses for denying you. It makes their investigation that much faster, and speed means quicker movement on to the next one. Like sellers, Amazon evaluates investigator performance based on metrics.

    d. Conclude things succinctly! Ask for reinstatement, don’t be shy. It’s not presumptuous. But at the same time offer a quick summary in one or two lines of why your executed actions will work. Remember, this has to convince them to take an action!

    Are you listening to too many voices?

    Are you asking around in all groups, forums and seller hang-out spots to get as many different answers as possible? You’ll get a wide variety of opinions doing that and then create a new problem: who is right, and who is blowing smoke or tooting their own horn? If you take advice from multiple shaky sources, you may try to use them ALL in your next Plan of Action. If you start thinking that everything you hear is a great idea, your appeal becomes contradictory, muddled, confused, and less likely to be read.

    You only get a few decent tries at account reinstatement. If you trust the wrong party or believe an overestimation of their abilities to help you, then consider that gambling with the fate of your Amazon business. Nothing less.

    Unless you really do want to gamble, don’t borrow from someone else’s POA, whether it’s one you found online or using a “chop-shop” appeals template service. Investigators who already have little time to spare toss aside an appeal all the time if it sounds like ten others they’ve read that day. Don’t let this happen to you.

    If you bother submitting an appeal, put the time in and do it right. Don’t expect someone who claims they experienced the “exact same thing” to get you out of it quickly and easily. You could burn one appeal attempt that you sorely need right there. Can you risk that?

    How will you learn what an “Escalation to Jeff” really is and when to email him? Do you know the difference between Executive Seller Relations and Seller Performance escalations?

    Start by asking yourself if you know how internal teams operate, what their names are, and what they do, because you need to know where to go if something goes wrong.

    Understand the difference between escalations within Seller Performance and those sent to Jeff or Executive Seller Relations, because that could make or break your escalated appeals.

    Misjudging who to send things to and when you’re sending a viable Plan of Action often represents the difference between a reinstatement seller account and one stuck in purgatory. Try an escalation within Seller Performance teams and ask for a manager to review yours, provided that you have a good POA of course. If a manager lets you down, it’s Jeff time!

    You may only get one solid chance to appeal to Jeff/ Executive Seller Relations.

    Doing an escalation prematurely simply because you’re losing money and don’t think you can wait another day often hands investigators an easy excuse to ignore your subsequent, stronger appeals with improved, Revised Plans of Action. Don’t give them that excuse and don’t make that avoidable mistake. Your account appeal and Amazon business depends on solid decision-making throughout the entire account suspension process.

  • 1 year ago

    This is great advice, Sellers sometimes make matters worse when they escalate an appeal early.

  • Pa
    1 year ago

    Any suggestions for making a “plan of action” when you haven’t done anything wrong? Amazon suspended my account, supposedly for selling counterfeits. But I have never sold nor had stock of any of the ASINs that that are complaining about. They want invoices for orders that never happened. I have never had a customer complain. I can (and did) remove the ASINs they complained about. But what exactly are they expecting?

  • 1 year ago

    You cannot list any items on Amazon anymore without having supply chain documentation ready for their review. If you don’t have invoices, does this mean you’re following the dropshipping model? This won’t work the way things are now. Amazon often runs scripts that capture brand names in your listings and even auto- deletes the listings pending review of your documentation, and even the entire account. It no longer matters if you’ve actually sold the items or not. You’ll want to have the invoices ready and indeed if Amazon seeks authenticity proof, a letter of authenticity from the supplier or brand. This is quite common now and evident in all of the policy team messaging Amazon sends out.

    • Pa
      1 year ago

      I’m not dropshipping. I’m using FBA. My understanding is that standard best-practice is to “add” items to your account before making a purchase to verify that you have permission to sell them. Many products, brands, and categories are gated, and just because you have the documentation you may not be approved. Why place an order with the wholesaler if you cannot sell the items?

      After placing an order, then you add the inventory and shipping plan. Amazon should only be checking after the shipping plan is created.

      In my situation, not only had I never sold the products, I had never offered them for sale. I had never told Amazon that I had any stock.

      While it has always been clear that Amazon requires documentation for gated brands and products, this has not been the case for all products.

      In my case, I think someone set up the ASIN wrong. It should have been gated, but wasn’t. I re-used the existing ASIN (as Amazon requests). When Amazon’s scripts noticed that the ASIN should be gated, then they suspended my account. What they should have done is just tell me I’m not allow to sell that ASIN.

  • 1 year ago

    Very useful advice !

    But the key thing I take away from this is that Amazon is a capricious master, with staff who take as little as ten seconds to decide whether you and your staff will have a livelihood.

    My goal for this year (achieved !) was one of channel diversification. With the exception of our own website, I didn’t want any one channel to be more than 25% of our business. Having eggs in multiple baskets reduces the risk if a single channel decides to arbitrarily pull the plug, or change the rules in a way which doesn’t work for our business model.

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