As an Amazon seller, there's very few situations that are worse than waking up to find an email from the Amazon Seller Performance Team, telling you that you've just been hit with an Amazon account suspension.
I remember my first suspension clearly. It was the perfect day in Jamaica where I was vacationing with my wife and my son. I woke up a little later than usual, head out to the balcony for a little morning caffeine and to peruse my emails.
There it was. The email that sends sellers into a panic. You're selling privileges have been revoked.
The thing is though, more often than not, losing your Amazon seller account shouldn't really come as a surprise. It usually happens because you've been breaking Amazon's rules, getting buyer complaints, or breaching another seller's intellectual property.
But we get it, sometimes it's not expected and it comes as a shock. And unless you've been doing something downright illegal, we're not here to judge.
In this article we're going to cover the reasons why you might find yourself with an Amazon suspension notice or deactivation, how to avoid getting a suspended Amazon account and what you can do to get your product listings or Amazon account reinstated.
What Does it Mean if I Have a Suspended or Deactivated Amazon Seller Account?
There's a few moving parts to this kind of scenario, so let's address them each individually.
First, any violations of Amazon's policies will be communicated to you in whats called a Performance Notification. You can find all of these inside of your seller central account, in the Performance section of the main menu.
Performance notifications will have two parts to them:
- The reason a listing is removed or an account is deactivated
- The information required from you in order to appeal or dispute the action that Amazon has taken.
Initially, you may only receive a product listing deactivation. This might be because an offer or specific ASIN is in breach of one or more of Amazon's seller policies.
Inside of your Amazon Account Health dashboard, which we go into further detail later in this article, you will see any policy violations that need to be addressed.
You can then click to go into the policy violation details, where you will see an appeal button. Before you appeal though, you will need to ensure you have taken steps to fix the issue first (keep reading for more info on that).
You may also find that your Amazon account has been deactivated, which is usually only temporary and is more like a "suspension" than a deactivation. You can apply to reinstate your Amazon account simply by addressing the violations and submitting an appeal.
Your appeal may also require you to submit something called a Plan of Action (POA), we will cover this entire process later in this article.
Once you appeal a violation you will either get an approved or a denied outcome, so don't be too hasty to appeal before you have taken the appropriate steps.
Things That Will Get Your Amazon Account Suspended or Deactivated
Prevention is better than a cure, right? That's why the first thing we want to do in this guide is cover the most common reasons that people end up with a suspended Amazon seller account. The more you know, the better you do.
Selling "Knock-Off" Counterfeit Products
Amazon has a strict Anti-Counterfeit policy. It might seem obvious to most, but you can't sell fakes or counterfeit products on Amazon. You must only ever sell authentic products.
If you've received a product authenticity customer complaint policy violation but you don't believe that you are in violation, you can appeal directly inside of your account health dashboard. You will need to provide copies of invoices or receipts (yes, Amazon WILL accept them despite what anyone may say to the contrary) from your suppliers and specific supplier information for each ASIN in question.
Product Detail Page Compliance
Product detail page policy compliance is important to Amazon so customers get a consistently good experience across the entire marketplace.
There's a lot to note when it comes to this topic, but these actions are a big no-no:
- Duplicating products
- Using low quality or inappropriate product images
- Including links in your descriptions
- Requests for reviews
- Irrelevant information
Once your product listing is approved, be wary of going and making changes to it. This might put you in violation of Amazon's product detail page policy.
Variation Policy Compliance
Variations are subject to certain criteria. Product variations need to essentially be the same. The simplest example is a t-shirt or a pair of shoes. Variants should only be different sizes or colors.
Common violations include adding or changing variants that are different products to the "parent" product, or in some cases adding multi-packs as variations.
Use a bit of common-sense when adding variations to your listings and always consult Amazon's terms of service.
Multiple Selling Accounts
Generally speaking, Amazon does not allow multiple selling accounts unless you have a legitimate business reason for multiple accounts. The reasons you can have additional accounts can be wide and varied.
They include a teaching account, an account for every brand you may have as a private label seller, an account to sell used products, or an account to focus on "marital aids" or other items you may not want to show up in your storefront alongside children's toys.
You can have one account per seller, per region. If you have registered brands that sell distinctly different products, you will most likely qualify for multiple selling accounts.
If you have multiple legitimate selling accounts but one account gets suspended or deactivated, your other account may be suspended or deactivated too. It's quite common for this to happen.
Intellectual Property, Trademark or Copyright Complaints
Amazon's Intellectual Property policy is serious business. If you're doing retail or online arbitrage reselling on Amazon, you need to be aware of potential IP claims. Before you go crazy sourcing a heap of branded products, make sure you're not buying inventory that is known to attract complaints from the brand owner. IP Alert is a good chrome extension to use for this.
Those of you doing wholesale aren't exempt from IP Complaints either. Not every distributor will be forthright about what brands allow you to sell on Amazon and what brands don't. Always do your due diligence.
You also cannot use words that belong to another brand, to describe your own products. One example of this would be using the word "iPad" on a product detail page if you are selling a generic tablet. This should be avoided at all times. There is one caveat to this rule. If your product is FOR an iPad there are ways you can use that in your title but you need to strictly adhere to Amazons guidelines.
Using photos or videos on your product page that you do not own is another thing you need to avoid. You probably have a pretty good camera on your phone and editing is easy and or cheap depending on the route you go. Make sure to take your own pictures for listings you create.
Dropshipping (the wrong way)
There are legitimate ways to dropship on Amazon, and there are ways that will result in a deactivated Amazon seller account.
If you're dropshipping directly from retailers (Walmart, Sam's Club, Costco) to your customers, or using your Amazon Prime perks to dropship from another Amazon seller to your customer, you are in breach of Amazon's terms and will come unstuck very soon.
If you want to dropship make sure to get with suppliers that will ship on your behalf, with your address as the return address on the packages, and no branding on the boxes. You'll also need to be sure that they ship in a timely manner.
Any form of manipulation to get reviews on Amazon is a serious breach and will end up with your Amazon account deactivated quickly.
Don't be tempted to offer buyers money or a refund for reviews. You're also not allowed to buy your own product and review it either.
Approach reviews with common sense. Sell quality products, provide quality customer service and great reviews will naturally flow as a result.
Understanding Account Health to Avoid a Suspended Amazon Account
If you manage to get yourself into trouble and have committed any of the above-mentioned policy breaches, they will be highlighted inside your account health dashboard.
There are three performance pillars that Amazon uses to measure your overall account health, and you must meet minimum standards in order to maintain an acceptable Amazon Account Health Rating (AHR).
Customer Service Performance
Amazon really loves customers and as sellers, we always have to keep that in mind when running our Amazon business.
Your Order Defect Rate (ODR) is a holistic measure of your customer service performance and it needs to be less than 1% in the past 60 days. Your ODR consists of the following three metrics:
- Negative Feedback: a customer feedback rating of 2 stars or less is considered to be negative feedback.
- A-to-Z Guarantee Claims: I've written about A-Z Guarantee Claims in greater detail before, but in a nutshell it protects buyers who purchase from Amazon FBM sellers.
- Chargeback Claims: Amazon doesn't take too kindly to customer's doing a credit card chargeback for their purchase, so you really want to avoid these.
If you're running a high-quality Amazon business, you should have no problems meeting the target Order Defect Rate of 1% or less. Here's some of the ways you can make sure you do:
- Use trackable shipping (Amazon or an Amazon owned subsidiary like Veeqo is best)
- Package your products properly to avoid damage
- Reply to and resolve customer concerns ASAP
We've going to cover a lot of the policies further along in this article, and how to avoid breaching them, but here's links to all of the Amazon seller policies included in your Account Health Rating:
- Amazon Anti-Counterfeiting Policy
- Amazon Brand Name Policy
- Amazon Intellectual Property Policy
- Amazon Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy
- ASIN Creation Policy
- Communication Guidelines
- Customer Product Reviews Policies
- Product Condition Guidelines
- Product Detail Page Rules
- Product Guidelines for Adult Products
- Product Guidelines for Selling Software
- Restricted Products Policy
- Selling Policies and Seller Code of Conduct
The third performance pillar that makes up your AHR is your shipping performance, and it contains three metrics. These metrics are only for seller fulfilled orders because Amazon handles all of this if you're an FBA seller - and they don't make mistakes, right? 😉
- Late Shipment Rate (LSR): FBM sellers need to ensure their late shipment rate is less than 4%. This is a measure of the percentages of orders where shipping confirmation occurs AFTER the expected shipment date.
- Pre-Fulfillment Cancellation Rate: This metric is calculated based on the amount of orders that are cancelled by the seller, prior to being fulfilled. The target for this metric is 2.5% of less.
- Valid Tracking Rate (VTR): Over 95% of a seller's order need to have a valid tracking number so customers can track their order.
If you fall below the expected performance standard for any of these metrics, you will most likely get a warning and you'll have 30 days to remedy the issues.
How to Appeal an Amazon Account Suspension
We've covered the account health dashboard of your seller central account, and that's where you will find all the information you need regarding product listing deactivations or selling account suspensions.
Amazon sends you something called a performance notification if they believe you have violated their seller policies. You will find information of the specific policy you've breached inside your Account Health dashboard.
It's important to know that deactivation of a listing or suspension of an Amazon account is usually temporary, allowing you time to respond and appeal. If you don't address these issues however, you may find your Amazon account permanently deactivated.
Amazon wants to see that you are being proactive in your approach to getting your Amazon seller account or product listing reinstated, and it needs to be communicated to Amazon in what's called a Plan of Action (POA).
A Plan of Action has the following three characteristics:
- Identifies the issues or problems that led to your account or listing deactivation in the first place.
- Explain the actions that you have already taken to resolve the issues you're having.
- Provides a solution so the issues won't happen again in the future.
Tips for Creating an Effective Plan of Action
It's important that you prepare your POA properly to give you the best chance of a speedy resolution.
These tips are straight out of Amazon's seller university learning modules, so make sure you understand them and use them to your advantage:
- Be clear and concise. Don't "beat around the bush". Focus on the specific facts that led to the issues in the first place.
- Provide explanations for the issues and why they occurred.
- Provide Amazon with supporting evidence to support your appeal.
- Highlight relevant areas of your supporting documents so the Amazon staff member assessing your POA can get straight to the details.
Things to Avoid With Your Plan of Action
The Amazon seller performance team are busy and they don't have time for tomfoolery! Make sure you avoid these potential downfalls when preparing your POA:
- Don't be tempted to recycle an old POA. You need to recreate a brand new POA. You can borrow from an old POA if necessary but I always like to change around the wording a bit.
- Avoid outsourcing your POA. It should be written by you or a business partner that is invested in the business and knows the intricate details of the scenario. If you do need to employ the help of a professional make sure they are vetted and trusted. No Fiverr gigs for this.
- Avoid the fluff. Don't tell them about you, your business, or your products. Just get straight to the point.
- Keep your emotions out of it and speak only in facts. Telling Amazon that you are disappointed that this has happened is not going to help.
- Leave the past, in the past. If you have had similar issues in the past they are not relevant to this situation, so don't make mention of anything that has previously happened, even if there was a solution to a similar issue.
- Don't talk about things you're planning to do. You should have already taken all necessary steps to rectify the issues, and this is what you should mention in your POA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we've covered this topic in great detail, let's recap and address some of the most common questions.
Amazon will suspend your account if you have violated their seller policies or have a low Account health rating.
Yes. A suspended amazon seller account is usually only temporary and when you resolve the policy violation and submit an appeal, you can apply to have your account reinstated.
This depends entirely on the situation. It can be a day, or it can take much longer if you need to continue submitting further information to Amazon as part of your appeal. The best thing you can do is properly prepare your appeal and any supporting documents, before you submit.
If you have gone through the appeal process, prepared a plan of action and you end up with a terminated Amazon account, you might be out of options sadly. Serious and continual breaches of Amazon's seller policies, and the law, are generally not tolerated and will result in a complete ban from Amazon.
If the suspension is permanent then no, you are not allowed to open another Amazon seller account. This is why it's so important to do the right thing and strive to be a high-quality and professional Amazon seller.
Conclusion - Amazon Seller Account Suspensions
Amazon's seller policies and all the rules around selling on the Amazon marketplace can be quite daunting, but don't despair.
Do the right thing, treat your customers right, and sell quality products and you will be safe. Getting a performance notification is not the end of the world, and Amazon is usually quite good at giving you a notice period to sort out the issues at hand.
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