Appeal Response Patterns
Amazon nudges sellers away from auto-responding to buyers who need order help because that is considered a bad buyer experience. When it comes to seller experience, will Amazon hold itself to the same standard? I’ve seen Amazon’s Product Quality team marking messages as read without an actual response that shows they reviewed the appeal content. Sellers must send in newly revised plans of action without any sign that policy teams understood why they asked for fresh information to begin with. The same slightly modified message comes back almost every time:
Thank you for responding to our request for information. However, we still need more information regarding your plan of action for [insert problem=”” here=””][/insert] item complaints before we can reinstate your selling privileges.
“We Still Need More Information”
On several recent appeals sent in by suspended sellers, we worked long and hard to put together a Plan of Action (POA) that addressed all points of concern included in the suspension notification. I encourage everyone I work with to investigate all potential causes of problem orders and ASINs. Unfortunately, we see the same replies over and over. That sweeps aside a seller’s solid work to identify root causes of the suspension. All of the presented solutions appear summarily disregarded.
In one of my ongoing client cases, the seller has been suspended since November. They immediately sent in a first Plan Of Action. Amazon originally asked for more information regarding “Damaged Items” and “Inauthentic item” complaints. After a thorough review of the account history, the policy warnings, and any potential deficiencies that led to the suspension, I composed a comprehensive new POA for the client. Product Quality decided that they needed to hear additional information covering only “Inauthentic item” complaints. They made no mention of any other areas of concern. We narrowed our focus and submitted another revised POA. Amazon changed gears, asking for more information about “Not as Advertised” items this time. No acknowledgement ever surfaced for the changes and improvements mentioned in either earlier POA, only yet another request for more information, the third of its kind. My client remains suspended as we chart out our next course of action.
Stuck in a Loop
Clearly, sellers stuck in this “POA loop” go round and round when they could be selling. Any new POA will generate yet another request for more information about a subject not included in previous correspondence. What’s the story? I asked an internal source the below question.
Why is there such resistance by investigators to reinstating sellers with a good POA?
According to a former investigator who worked on these cases for Transaction Risk Management in Product Quality email queues,
There is a culture of fear amongst investigators to reinstate sellers due to being afraid of getting reprimanded for potential bad sellers being live on the site again. This causes honest and good sellers to be treated the same way, causing hardship and unnecessary requests for further information, and in various cases ultimately having the seller banned for life.
Product Quality investigators are tasked with meeting time-sensitive “Service Level Agreements” on appeals. Due to investigations- per- hour performance metrics, they must complete a certain number of cases per hour. Sending a quick reply asking for more information allows them to move on to the next one. Additionally, they avoid the risk of reinstating a seller who can come back to haunt them in a later audit. So, round and round we go, until someone lands on your appeal who cannot possibly send you yet another request for more information because, well, there’s nothing left to ask you anymore.
What Can I Do?
- I hate to advise any seller against putting everything relevant into their first POA. Knowing that you’ll have to provide “more information” in the next one leads me to consider saving something for round two, or round three. Otherwise you’re left thinking “I said it all, already, in the first POA. None of that was referenced here. What else can I possibly add?”
- Make sure you attach the prior POA to the subsequent ones, and reference the earlier requests and answers in that new document. Draw as much attention as possible to the information provided in the past and in the present POA. Clarify anywhere you can.
- If you’re asked for the same exact information as you were in the last message, spell things out clearly and simply. E.g. tell them: On November 10th, you asked me for more info on “Not as Advertised” items. I provided several steps in my POA dated November 12. On November 13, you stated that you needed more information on “Damaged” items, which I provided in this POA on November 14. Then on November 16, you once again asked for more information about “Not as Advertised” items. Please refer back to this same POA from November 12, stating all of our implemented strategies, also attached here to this email.
- Follow up with Executive Seller Relations teams, reachable via the main switchboard/ corporate number. Ask to leave a message for this team because you have not heard back from Product Quality or you have only received the same generic response over and over. If you already wrote an email to Jeff B’s teams saying that you have been stuck in a “we need more info” loop with Product Quality, then tell Exec Seller Relations that you’ve tried to break the logjam with a “Bezos escalation” and did not hear back.
- You may need to submit an escalation to Jeff in the end if you cannot get a meaningful reply to your Plan of Action. Always be ready to email Jeff if necessary.
We have received the dreaded “kiss of death” email, so now we are completely revising our poa, visit the sellercentral forms to attempt to heat back, and of not we will deploy these tactics.
I’m stuck at the loop, then emailed Jeff, but they asked for “more information” again, so I guess they really need more information. So I needed to appeal inauthentic complaint. I have already provided the original invoice, and they want my plan of action.
I don’t have a very good idea of plan of action to avoid the inauthentic complaint even my products are authentic. Any input?
The invoice is only one part of the appeal for inauthentic – a good POA is required, too. You’ll need to address root causes of the complaints that resulted in these warnings/ this suspension, and also present viable solutions to prevent future such problems. A good place to start is customer feedback, returns and reviews. Then do an internal review of your inventory. Buyers may think items are inauthentic if the product is received damaged, looks used, there a packaging difference, or lack of clarity on a listing.
When you mention “Make sure you attach the prior POA to the subsequent ones …” do you mean as email message attachment, or in-line text?
Thanks for asking for clarification. I mean email with the prior POA’s as attachments.
I am on one of these same loops now and it is getting very frustrating because I just cant figure out what I’m missing. I’ve sent invoices, explanations and our POA and still get the same automated response. Makes you wonder if anyone really reads the emails I send.
I hear you Thomas. Have they been asking for the same information? Or more information about different complaint categories?