Starting around early November, merchants began receiving new alert emails from the Fulfillment by Amazon team. The messages contained the wording “We’re contacting you to let you know that we have closed your listing for ASIN XXXZZZ as the rate of negative customer experiences (returns, refunds, and contacts on orders) over the past 60 days is considerably higher than expected. This indicates that there may be issues with this product or listing that need to be corrected.”
Beneath that, you would see specific product information and then something like this:
-Total orders shipped: 34
-Total defective orders: 5
-Defect rate: 14.7%
Then under that, you’d see a small handful of comments taken from buyer return reasons or direct order complaints to Customer Service. There could be some normal, legitimate complaints sitting right there looking back at you about late deliveries, items damaged in transit, or items that were not as the buyer expected due to a listing violation of yours. If that’s the case, make sure you investigate the issue and remedy it, immediately.
Unfortunately, you might also see a collection of illogical comments or complaint quotes that do not represent a bad buyer experience with you as a seller. Instead, they simply show a buyer’s misunderstanding of the item purchased or buyer’s remorse.
Here are some examples:
-Found a cheaper option
-microsoft $150 off
-Better price available
-Tablet is running too slow and is not compatible with the software we are using
According to current processes, these will all count against the seller as viable order defects. The buyer agreed to pay the amount when they made the order, and they wanted to return it after finding a different price. Fair enough, but Amazon sends you this message because they see too many order defects related to that particular ASIN in your inventory. They don’t weigh out or eliminate buyer errors, mind-changes, or anything similar.
Here’s a second example from a Home category order.
-Total orders shipped: 32
-Total defective orders: 5
-Defect rate: 15.6%
And here are some of those return reasons given:
-Gift for spouse who received same item from another family member.
-Ordered incorrect item
-Product is larger than anticipated. Please process refund asap. Thanks!
-This product won’t mount properly on our door. We called the company for assistance but the only solution they gave us didn’t work. The product is not usable for us
Order defect warnings are justified if you have listed the item using incorrect dimensions or failed to include enough specifications for an educated buyer decision. But an item quality complaint for a “not as described” item would not make sense if the buyer simply missed the measurements or failed to install an item according to instructions. Amazon teams collect up all of these comments using a script to gather “negative” buyer experiences but I see no separation between valid complaints and invalid ones.
Here’s one final example, for some headphones:
-Does not fit in my ears, falls out
-These headphones are not ideal for running, jumping, etc, not ideal therefore for working out
-I ordered the wrong color by mistake. I attempted to cancel but it had already been shipped
Naturally, you should not be held responsible for the size of the buyer’s ears or for canceling an order some other day that shipped moments after you got the “Sold, ship now” message. As a seller on Amazon, you may have already seen these on your account and wondered what to make of them. The phrases “that’s a false positive” and “hey, this is a product review” enter your head as you dig more into these buyer claims but buyers only report problems to Amazon. Amazon’s interpretation of these comments matters most to you because Amazon investigation teams are ultimately responsible for policy warnings or performance notifications.
What Can You Do?
My advice to sellers is simple in relation to these messages. Email a response to Seller Performance pointing out the “negative buyer experience” inconsistencies. Ask them to annotate your account accordingly and cite the specific comments that make no sense, such as these two:
“-its no refund”
“-Best buy or –Toys R Us.” You can always ask for clarification as to what these phrase fragments mean. Hopefully, the reply contains a translation.
There won’t be a lot you can do to eliminate these kinds of comments from coming in, of course. The most that you can do currently is to tell Amazon that you looked into the matter by inspecting the inventory and either corrected any problems or noted the refund patterns for future reference. When or if they review your account for too many complaints of one kind or another, you will have already documented your side of each of these “negative experience” stories. You’ve spoken in your own defense.