Have you received Product safety warnings from Amazon for unnamed “Safety Concerns” and “Inauthentic Complaints”? Or had your listing removed without Amazon providing any order information or details to identify the complaint?
Amazon doesn’t give sellers much information about complaints. They fear disclosing discoverable information about their buyers. They rely on data mining investigation and automated processes that use keyword filters. These identify buyer comments about safety and inauthentic concerns that lead to automated warnings, or even manual account reviews.
If you receive a customer contact, negative feedback, a product review or a return reason that contains keywords like “fake” or “inauthentic ” then begin preparing a defense now. Amazon will warn the seller at best, suspend or permanently close the account at worst. Get ready in advance for either of these outcomes.
“But my products are safe and genuine,” we often hear.
It makes sense that Amazon tries to do anything possible to prevent the sale of counterfeit and inauthentic items. But many of the sellers getting these warnings sell legitimately sourced products. They don’t show a pattern of selling fake items nor consistently unsafe inventory.
In fact, in most cases that we see from our clients, these are sellers with excellent performance metrics and no prior history selling bad product.
Amazon is not transparent in these warnings. Since they usually don’t provide details or complaint specifics, it’s very difficult to resolve the issue. It often seems that these “Amazon bots” don’t factor in active listings or recent sales.
We’ve seen sellers get warned for an item’s quality when they haven’t even sold the item in the last 180-365 days. Or they’re warned about items they don’t even have in inventory because they haven’t deleted the listing permanently. These actions make no sense to us, and we worked there for years.
If a seller cannot find any complaint related to the item in the “additional information” field within the notification itself, it makes it hard to know how to proceed. Yet Amazon always demands a root cause for a safety complaint with no accompanying information.
What Should Sellers Do if they receive product safety warnings?
It’s time-consuming to identify the root cause when investigators give you little to go on. Often sellers with high volumes find stray customer complaints causing the warning often include speculative language like “doesn’t seem the same as what I bought at the store” or “must be fake.”
You need to track this down in customer communications to proceed. Remember, inauthentic and product safety complaints don’t necessarily mean your product is counterfeit or dangerous. These are catch-all descriptions meaning the product didn’t meet the customer’s expectations.
So, even for what we always used to call “one-off complaints” you need to provide Amazon with a root cause to explain item quality problems. Your Plan of Action must ensure this issue will never happen again and must convince them of that, too.
This applies even to items with high-volume sales without a pattern of issues.
Why is Amazon handling Safety Complaints this way?
There doesn’t seem to be any consideration of sales volume, brand ownership or overall account status. These processes create a lot of work for sellers and for Amazon itself. Amazon investigators are pressured to process as many as 14 to 15 “investigations” per hour. They are known to rush through the process and it’s not uncommon for a seller to receive the same generic reply multiple times with no useful information provided. Since investigators are incentivized to complete as many tasks as possible, skimming an email and sending a generic “more information” reply is an easy way to meet Amazon’s Investigation metrics.
A lack of training or quality assurance continues this errant behavior. Not much attention is paid to what investigators are doing in terms of value to Amazon, the seller community or even the Amazon customer.
Ultimately Amazon sellers need to address every one of these complaints. Amazon considers any complaint to be 100% valid regardless of whether or not the data supports such a conclusion.
This poses a problem for large volume sellers. It only takes a handful of these condition complaints to get your account shut down, without a statistical justification for that kind of action.
Sellers need to respond to most complaints with a Plan of Action-style content in order to consider the notification cleared or resolved.
What can you do as an Amazon seller?
- First, locate and track any instances where a customer uses language that could be considered keyword triggers for a safety complaint or an inauthentic complaint
- Address the concerns raised in the complaint. Identify causes, and then show proactive solutions to item quality teams — in the form of a Plan of Action
- Review your inventory on hand to ensure that all items meet Amazon condition guidelines and match the product detail pages
- Make sure your suppliers are authorized by the brand. Ideally, they appear on the brand’s own web site.
- Make sure you have verifiable invoices to prove your inventory is authentic
- If items are FBA, consider requesting a bin check. If you don’t have sufficient invoices or are concerned with the quality of the items in FBA remove them from sale and request removal via Removal Order
As an early member of Amazon’s Merchant Risk Investigations team in 2004, Michael has a deep knowledge of Amazon policy & performance management requirements.
He has comprehensive experience with all issues related to Amazon Marketplace abuse, manipulation, and fraud. Michael is an expert in Amazon processes regarding account closures, funds holds, IP violations, buyer-seller disputes, feedback, authenticity and quality standards.