If you haven’t seen it on your own Seller Central “Account Health” page by now, you’ve probably seen a screenshot of it or read about it on forums, observed commentary in Facebook groups, or listened to podcasts covering it.
The new “At Risk” status alert indicates how many complaints you’ve received for the past 90 days and for which items in your inventory. Amazon also broke things down by complaint category for you, as they have in the past. You now may have a display like this:
This suggests that the seller had several complaints in each category.
Normally it won’t take too many buyer complaints about the safety of your items to generate a warning and listing removal, but some of these items remained active. On the “inauthentic” item complaint side, we’ve seen this category used as a catch-all that could represent buyer reports of item condition, “not as advertised” complaints, “not as expected” items or even “Fake” and “counterfeit” products.
Where inauthentic item complaints focus on differences between what you might have listed on Amazon and what the buyer received, safety warnings comprise a serious new approach by Amazon policy teams. Amazon reserves the right to take down any item perceived to be harmful or posing a potential injury to an Amazon buyer. You will need to show documentation and all manners of due diligence in order to defend your inventory against complaints of this nature.
What’s New About This?
Amazon now reduces the doubts around your account’s status from an item quality perspective. Instead of wondering how many months investigators go back in order to review your account for problematic inventory, Amazon has set that number at 90 days.
You no longer need to compile your own lists of ASINs you’ve received warnings for and what kinds of notifications you’re tasked with defending because they have grouped the complaints for you. This makes the timeframes they are focused on clearer and also delineates how many of each type of notification they considered when evaluating your item quality status for the time period.
What’s Good About This?
No more must you receive a vague “your account is under review” email without having any idea why or when the review will be completed. Most of my clients who received this messaging never heard at any later date once that review was complete. In fact, most never heard anything about it again because we provided Product Quality with solid correspondence and specific actions taken to improve operations. Behind the scenes, Amazon may or may not have finished a review.
The lack of transparency made a seller’s sense of their current status almost impossible to fathom. Now, they have clearly indicated who is close to the fire and who is in good standing in terms of item quality Account Health. You already knew from performance notifications piling up if you had a growing problem, but they’ve quantified things for you within a set time frame now. That can only help you form a solid plan of attack when investigating and defending such reports about the quality of your products.
What’s Bad About This?
In my view, this does not represent a substantial improvement from the past. For one thing, Amazon remains reluctant to share crucial information about the complaints themselves or even why they consider them valid. Their lack of transparency continues in terms of why they considered each of the complaints valid once vetted. Or even, did investigators properly vet them at all? Did they consider a buyer’s knowledge of a product or their clear reading of a listing description, or is any report of a bad buyer experienced evaluated and regarded in the same way, as concrete proof of a seller problem?
Due to Amazon’s fears of compromising a buyer’s privacy by revealing anything at all about the order or complaint, they insist upon withholding the kinds of details that might help you determine what went wrong. It also saves them the bother of having to evaluate the merits of each buyer complaint. You still must ascertain the real reasons why you received the complaints via your own investigations into buyer comments, inventory, and supplier let downs from bad product batches. Amazon won’t help you rule out this or that potential cause.
What Do I Do Now? Can I get Out of This ‘At Risk’ Fix
It’s still a bit too early to tell when and how Amazon will consider you ‘cleared’ on certain complaints when it comes to this Account Health metric. Naturally, if you defend your ability to list against restricted ASINs and present an acceptable Plan of Action appeal with proper documentation, you’d be well within your rights to assume Amazon is no longer counting that complaint against you. But are they? Has Amazon made their approach to resolution clear? Also, how many is too many? If you sell millions a month and have 20 to 25 inauthentic complaints to go alongside those sales, will Amazon remember that your “inauthentic” complaints still represented only a tiny percentage of sales overall? Will enforcement continue to be as anecdotal and complaint-type based as it has been until now?
We can hope that Amazon grasps why changes were needed on their complaint assessment processes. But as of this moment, your best bet is to correspond early and often with these Product Quality teams. Even if you don’t intend to list certain items again, if they’re counting against your Account Health, you must address and resolve any lingering problems associated with those products. Anything short of that could result in a continued downward slide in suspension risk right to the point of an actual suspension. While suspensions are never a good thing, this is an especially difficult time of year to have to recover from one.