Ever since I started the ASGTG, which was started for the purpose of creating a “safe space” and an actual path for legitimate white hat sellers to survive and strive on Amazon, the biggest fear has been the dreaded false positive Seller Suspension. Amazon has made substantial improvements in this area and the fear is not as bad as in the past for most suspensions. See this Viral Article. Of the types of suspensions still most feared by legitimate sellers, the false positive related account suspension is by far #1.
Amazon does not allow a seller to operate an account if a previous account has been enforced for a policy violation. This makes sense as any suspended seller / bad actor can simply shift their inventory to a new account, and this will turn into an endless game of Whack a mole. The nightmare for a seller occurs when the seller is genuinely not related to another seller and Amazon says you are. At that point, you can try to explain that you are NOT related to an account that you do not know exists (kind of impossible) or exists but is different accounts OR graciously and gently close down the business that you built for the last X years and go into a different industry because you do not want to ruffle feathers. There is no work man-like path to solving this issue.
If you do not want to graciously and pleasantly close down (as some prefer), lay off your employees, foreclose on your debt, not pay your suppliers and abandon ship, you can try to make some noise on social media and hope it gets properly escalated and reinstated that way. Here are some insane samples. Hard Working Immigrant. 7 Year Business Destroyed. Horrific Nightmare. You can also try tweeting and hope and beg (in a super nice way of course), but those are just about your only options If the graciously self-destruct option doesn’t work for you.
Approximately a year ago, Amazon started reforming the related account suspensions by actually giving the root suspended account and also allowing sellers to call “account health” which at least gave sellers a chance to lament, though often without tangible results. These changes were giant steps forward and appreciated by all. Still, significant gaps remain.
The problem is that Amazon relies on algorithms without an ounce of context which leads to laughable results so hysterically pathetic that no sane person would ever accept this as reasonable.
Take, for example, this 10-year business (almost) destroyed for selling a Replica Soccer ball. The algo caught Replica, and boom, he is gone. The problem is that a Replica in the Soccer world is simply a practice ball and only a human with nuance can understand that after a conversation. Thankfully this business was saved after this video.
This brings us to related accounts issues. Since a false positive-related account suspension by definition can happen to anyone at any time, no seller can ever feel safe it won’t happen to him / her regardless of how careful they are. Sure, you can try to keep everything separate and fresh but ultimately, you can be perfect and still be suspended without any clear pathway of avoiding business destruction and for no reason and with no benefit to anyone. It also causes anxiety for sellers this never happened to leaving them wondering when the hammer may fall.
A recent ASGTG sellers poll showed that 98% of sellers agree this process needs substantial reform. A snap group of current false positive related account suspensions quickly had 240 members with 100+ suspended accounts easy. So what to do?
Here are my suggestions. Amazon in 2019 started a Neutral Patent Evaluation process where if someone files patent complaints against a seller, they can each pay a fee ($4,000 ) for a neutral arbitrator to decide who he thinks is correct. The winner has his fees returned so nobody will do this unless they think they will win.
For suspended related accounts, my suggestion is a seller has a call with a SR Amazon Rep who can talk and discuss the issue at length and question the reason why they think this is a related account.
My guess is 80% would be reinstated since context changes facts.
If the seller is still wrong, the fee he/she paid for this call is not returned. If it’s a large account, there should be no fee. The seller should simply have one challenge (the way you can challenge a call in the NFL) with a phone call from a Senior knowledgeable rep that can hear out the whole situation and make a determination of the facts WITH THE context on the evidence.
This simple change will dramatically reduce Seller friction and increase trust overnight for an issue that has been a historic nightmare for legitimate and trusted sellers.
Please join the ASGTG Sellers group, telegram, or any part of the ASGTG platform in which these issues are attempted to be resolved amongst white hat experienced and Senior sellers. When the issue is system-wide we surface the issue to Amazon in hopes of reforming the suspension process.