When I worked for Amazon I regularly worked on Amazon escalations that had been sent to Jeff. He reviewed these emails and sometimes famously added a “?” before delegating them down to Seller Performance teams. It became known as a “Bezos escalation” internally, and we knew not to mess around with them. In fact, I had to be pre-certified to work on those, and very few of us were, because of the visibility. Jeff’s people and my boss, and my boss’s boss, would all be on cc when I responded with a decision. So I know what Amazon is looking for when they consider reinstating your ASIN or account.
We receive at least one message daily from sellers who find themselves trying to appeal on their own and getting stuck, or after they’ve hired a subpar service to assist them. After a review of their situation, I often come to the conclusion that they will need two things to survive the ordeal: a rewritten appeal or Plan of Action (POA) and if that gets ignored, an escalation.
“But what does “escalate” mean? How does one ‘escalate’?” is frequently what we see as the response.
Many sellers who read articles, follow Facebook groups, or track Seller forums posts on this topic still come away scratching their heads. There’s too much conflicting or outdated info out there on this topic. What goes into one, and how do you write it? There are a lot of conflicting opinions posted publicly by those who want to appear as an expert on “all things Amazon” but that tends to create plenty of confusion over this process. Few vet advice for accuracy.
You need someone who used to work on reinstatement escalations on the inside to understand how this works, and what to do when amazon denies an appeal for no reason. Most sellers don’t understand how to do an Amazon escalation WITHIN the team that suspended their account or top-selling ASIN, but they should. Our clients would typically face the loss of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if we weren’t there to prevent it.
Escalating isn’t the same as it was last year, the year before….it’s a moving target
What is an escalation, anyway? An escalation likely represents your last go-round of attempts to get reinstated, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll want to maximize your odds of doing this right given the amount of revenue at stake. I’m continually amazed at the amount of sellers who use copy and paste “letters to Jeff” or who wing it themselves and write to firstname.lastname@example.org simply because they read an outdated post from years ago. Why anyone would risk everything on a shot in the dark, I have no idea. Jeff left!
What other things are sellers doing wrong when they escalate appeals?
- Some make it really short, too short, without any relevant details. Most of those don’t even use the proper Plan of Action format, they simply jot down a handful of notes and call it an appeal, or write in paragraphs. Amazon teams just send the same generic denial messages over and over in response.
- Other appeals are way too long, so long no one will ever read it. Some even pull on the nonexistent Amazon heartstrings and beg them to reinstate so the seller can save the business entirely.
- If you have little to offer in terms of an appeal because you’ve been caught red-handed doing something terrible, then sure, simply throw something at the wall, and hope it might stick. But I also say that has a low percentage of working. Understand that it’s a last ditch attempt.
- If you’re escalating your own case just to get it over with, and out of your mind. It won’t leave your mind at all if it fails to work.
- Some have submitted the same Plan of Action several times without any response from the other side, not understanding that Amazon won’t be replying, period.
What do sellers get back from Amazon, when they don’t grasp how escalations have changed? Many simply receive generic denials that cite a lack of “sufficient information” over and over or sent general denials, “We’ve reviewed your Amazon account, and have decided that you may no longer sell.” Others fail to ask for proper clarification in their calls to Account Health Services (AHS) when they call in and ask what happened. In many cases, sellers do exactly what they are told to do, only to have Seller Performance refuse it or fail to reply.
Not sure when to escalate? Read our guide. Not sure how NOT to escalate?
How Not To Do It
- For starters, and this should be fairly obvious by now, but don’t take everything straight to Jeff. Yes, the forums and various Facebook groups are full of this (worthless) advice. Remember that everyone online calls themselves an expert, then they repeat the most foolish advice that exists. As discouraging and repetitively unhelpful many emails to Seller Performance can feel, try at least once to request action by a manager or senior investigator. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve done this and avoided any emails to Jeff/ Executive Seller Relations at all. It is worth one properly written, well-composed attempt. Jeff’s email is not what it once was.
- Don’t space on sob stories in a loaded emotional plea to Amazon. Nobody reads it who isn’t 100% numb to things like that.
- Don’t waste space writing about past glory days from before your suspension, with details on all the great metrics and years of sales. Write up a single sentence that covers both, and leave it at that. Do not devote paragraphs to content that has nothing to do with the core needs of the appeal just because you can’t think of anything to say. Their eyes glaze over, they deny it, and they move on to the next one.
- Don‘t burn appeal attempts by sending the same old POA to different emails. Also, don’t believe you have “escalated” it by doing so. Sellers continue to believe that this is a good idea, but it’s just spamming Amazon.
- Don’t tell Amazon you wrote a fantastic appeal that they ignored or rejected unless you know for certain that it’s as wonderful as you say it is. Don’t assume it is. Get someone who really knows this business to review it, and verify that they know what they’re talking about. Vetting providers, services and consultants is on you. Failure to do that basic step is not Amazon’s fault.
- Don’t just think about where to send it. Think about WHAT to send, and how good it is.
- Don’t send it in pieces, assuming they can collate it all. Put the appeal and escalation all together, in one submission, each time.
Ok, So… How Do I Write an Amazon Escalation? Expert Tips for Using the Amazon Escalation Process
1. Have a Good POA to go with your Amazon Escalation.
Don’t write an escalation letter that would work wonders with a good Plan of Action, then attach a weak, irrelevant or otherwise terrible POA. Not sure when or if you have a good one? I can help with that. It’s worth a second or third opinion, if you care about your Amazon business long term. And especially if it represents your last chance at reinstatement of a top selling ASIN or your entire account.
Insist on going it alone? Emphasize the best parts of the POA in your escalation letter, including your top three completed proactive solutions that fully resolved past problems while preventing fresh ones in the future. Don’t forget strong root causes, too. Listing causes without making them sound like root causes, i.e. diagnostic analysis of what you did poorly to result in the suspension, only leads to heartbreak. Seller performance must believe that reinstating you means you won’t make the same mistakes all over again. If you fail to do that, it could result in an investigation audit and a bad mark on their own personal metrics.
Convince Amazon that will never happen. Show them the documentation to prove it.
2. Writing to Jeff isn’t what it used to be. He’s not the CEO
You may land a hurried, distracted investigator who took too long on their previous three Jeff emails that hour. If they read this at the highest levels of the company, make sure it’s readable and easy to understand! Get your best writer on it, and edit it for clarity. Unclear POAs or Amazon escalation letters get tossed to the side. And please, stop sending it to Jeff. He’s busy, and distracted by other business ventures. Andy Jassy is the new Jeff.
Also, consider this. Is escalation premature in your case? Are you simply looking for a reply when you’ve sent a few appeals that they ignored? Here’s a quick example to get the ball rolling. There’s nothing wrong with nudging them to review you the right way, especially when you’ve heard nothing back from them for days.
“Dear Seller Performance,
We ask that you confirm the receipt of our plan of action as requested by your team, as we have received no update on the progress of our account review. We have sent your team the performance plan and documentation required to reinstate our account and have not received a reply after multiple days.
Here is a recap of the actions we have taken to avoid future complaints:”
Then include the highlight reel of all the wonderful measures you’ve put into place. Not only are the measures implemented, by the way, they’re working! Tell Amazon exactly how you’ve implemented the POA, and what steps are already in place, and successful.
3. Make it clear what you’re asking them for and state plainly that you’ve pursued accepted channels already to handle the matter, without resolution.
Whether you seek account or ASIN reinstatement, or you’ve reported hijacked listing behavior, or counterfeiters copying your brand, or fake product reviews that Abuse teams refused to delete, you need to make your request easy to understand. Don’t beat around the bush, they’re reading this stuff quickly!
4. Communicate well, no convoluted text or sentences
No investigator has time to waste on something poorly written that makes little sense, yet we still see drafts like that in emails sent to us daily. Sometimes, the escalations se see were already emailed to Amazon executives. Anyone who cares about their business should not need me to tell them what’s at stake if they treat this like a writing exercise for a high school teacher. If you lack a good writer who understands some of the specific language needed in an Amazon escalation letter, find someone else. That someone must know how to tell Amazon how you’ve addressed and solved all past problems, and how to push them to read the POA again. Show some bulleted highlights to convince them! Briefly describe why your solutions will work.
5. Highlight the merits of your POA and the number of times, and dates, that you sent it in.
If you received the “We need more information” email multiple times without any clarification of what might be wrong with past POAs, feature that prominently in your Amazon escalation. If you received nothing, or a generic denial, use that as escalation material. You have no real idea what they’ve done with your POA. They may have barely annotated your account, or there may be nothing there at all. Anyone who reads your escalation can look inside your account though, and decide for himself or herself if you were given proper consideration.
6. Keep escalations to a couple of paragraphs of tight, direct sentences that will move your request for reinstatement forward.
Show them you understand exactly what happened that led to your suspension, without retroactively fighting with them about the validity of the causes or debating with them how harshly they treated you.
Hopefully, you’ve already sent an appeal written like this to Seller Performance and asked for a manager to review it. If not, perhaps you can try that before going to Amazon executives. It’s worth a shot, if your appeal contains rock-solid and unimpeachable content.
Don’t blame Amazon angrily if you failed to approach the escalation work the right way to begin with, knowing it could be your last chance and don’t gamble that you understand this material enough on your own before emailing these email queues. In most cases I handle, the life of the business or even the financial health of my client is at stake when we help them compose escalations. Trusting bad sources of info with the fate of the business may not be something you can correct later, if you guess wrong. Do things the right way, the first time. Don’t guess at all, in fact. Complete solid due diligence.