I talk to a lot of Amazon Merchants and I see a worrying trend in the seller community.
Following up on my time at the Prosper show, several Amazon sellers have contacted me about the three things to avoid, I mentioned in my presentation. #1 on my list was: Avoid blaming buyers automatically for any problem orders. I realized that sellers reactions to Product Quality team policy warnings fell into three main areas. Do you find yourself thinking any of these?
- Amazon is picking on me, and I’m not sure why
- Buyers are just trying to get free shipping on their return, and make up things that are wrong with the product
- Another seller, a competitor, is buying from me for the purposes of taking down my account with item quality complaints
Let’s take these one at a time.
I understand that you may be mystified when it comes to the reasons why Amazon warns you for item quality on items sourced from legitimate companies. The products you bought and listed were in “New” condition and certainly not used, defective, materially different/ not as advertised, inauthentic, incomplete, or in any way the wrong item versus your listing on Amazon. Yet you must avoid the urge to “point fingers” in your reaction and response to Amazon policy teams. Be proactive, be positive, and be productive by focusing on anything you could improve upon in an Amazon buyer’s experience with your items.Amazon is not picking on you. If every seller said this, and I hear it nearly every day, it would mean that Amazon is picking on everyone. That flies in the face of the definition of “getting picked on.”
Amazon does not go out of its way to find sellers that do not require investigation because performance and policy teams get bored and need to find things to do. In fact, they’d rather not investigate you at all. If no one had reported your item’s quality problem, Product Quality teams would prefer to focus on merchants presenting much bigger threats to the marketplace. Since Amazon is the site dedicated to the best buyer experience, these teams must look into all complaints of poor item quality. Seamless selling would mean you’d never need a second glance from Amazon, so they’ll never go out of their way to zero in on you for no reason.
Amazon is already well aware that some buyers may say an item had something wrong with it so that they don’t need to pay for return shipping costs. This is known as a, well, “known issue” internally. And it’s understood that it will happen sometimes. But not every time. Arguing or debating with Product Quality won’t work if this is the thrust of your main argument. Everyone internally still wants you to address different item or item condition complaints beyond the ASINs or orders you think may fall into this category. They detected a pattern of problems and require you to look into it, address it, and correct it for the future. Their main objective is to see a reduction or elimination of similar buyer item quality complaints. Then they won’t need to investigate at all, which makes everyone happy, internally and externally.
Sellers often refer Amazon to one of their competitors and cite them for a rise in item quality complaints. In certain cases, you can document this and give them specific orders to look over if you’ve seen a pattern of problems. God knows, enough sellers experience this sort of thing from a shameless competitor if they sell long enough.
On the other hand, consider that Amazon hears this explanation nearly every day from almost any seller who receives complaints for “not as described” items. Sellers mentally default to blaming another party for sabotaging them, but unless you can definitively prove this and present the information in an impossible- to- refute “Smoking gun” manner, your account investigator will not take this seriously.
It’s the “boy who cried wolf” problem. Too many sellers use the same reasons too often to the point that Amazon can’t, or won’t, look into this each time. Without your smoking gun or definitive proof, you have no real ability to claim that another seller attacked you in this way.
You need to make time instead to write correspondence citing all the wonderful operational improvements you executed, and lay out how those changes will reduce buyer complaints about your inventory. This will go a lot farther towards helping you continue to sell. Finger pointing won’t help you avoid the trouble associated with an account review or in the worst case, a suspension. It will only drive those who judge your account closer to the idea that you sidestep problems by assigning blame.
Think about the long-term effects of telling Amazon that everything flows perfectly except when bad apples arrive to hurt your performance rating. Be practical!