How Can You Appeal Inauthentic item complaints from Amazon?
I cannot say this enough: Be careful with how you present your invoices to Amazon. If Amazon believes that you have fabricated any documentation, you’ll find your account suspended, and quickly. Amazon Abuse teams enforce the Code of Conduct like never before, indicating that your bad faith actions to change invoice information conflicts with the honesty they demand from any marketplace seller. If you’re going to fake an invoice in an attempt to prove authenticity, then expect an account suspension and a tough reinstatement attempt ahead.
But I don’t sell inauthentic items!
Lots of sellers receive policy warnings due to inauthentic complaints. The particular wording of inauthentic item complaintsor counterfeit items then triggers manual investigations. Those reliably lead to a suspension of your Amazon seller account if investigators identify any item quality patterns or systemic problems. Seller Performance teams suspend both individual listings and entire accounts on a daily, if not hourly, basis. If Amazon investigators see no annotations on the account that reflect action on your part to research past inauthentic complaints and improve the quality of your inventory, then they know you haven’t paid attention. Now the suspension forces you to.
How can you get your ASIN reinstated after authenticity is questioned?
Inauthentic complaints can come from a lot of places. Did the buyer complain about your item quality? Have brands poked at Amazon with their “test buys” and questioned your ability to produce proof that you sell their genuine, authentic product? Have you reviewed your inventory, your supplier, or your item condition classifications? In sum, Amazon must ask you to convince them you sell legitimate products once inauthentic complaints roll in.
“Copies of invoices or receipts from your supplier issued in the last 365 days. These should reflect your sales volume during that time. Your supplier’s contact information including name, phone number, address, and website.”
This means providing invoices and a proper documentation trail to demonstrate supply chain. Seller Performance wants to ensure that an item’s promised quality on the product detail page matches up exactly to the products sent to buyers. If any doubt lingers in their minds, they disallow your future listings against those ASINs. That strike against you will stand, unresolved.
How does Amazon want you to prove authenticity and get that ASIN or account reinstated?
You must be willing and able to show all sourcing information to Amazon (other than pricing). Holding back anything crucial to evaluating the authenticity and quality of your products raises the risk that you will lose the ability to list against those ASINs and quite possibly your entire account. Remember, policy teams regard these violations as threats to a buyer’s experience. Higher-ups have given them the leeway and leverage to take action as they see fit against any account.
1. Invoices dated in the last 365 days.
This one is tough because it forces every seller to sell only products with reliable turnover. If you have anything sitting in FBA inventory that you didn’t buy in the last year, pull it back. If you’re FBM and your warehouse holds any aging items, pull them away from your Amazon inventory and sell them somewhere else. It’s not worth risking the chance that you may receive an “inauthentic” complaint from a buyer. You’ll face endless repeat emails from Seller Performance asking for the only info they can accept on an invoice–dates from the past year.
2. Quantities on invoices must match sales for the period specified?
Do the invoices you’re providing only account for a fraction of your sales on the site? This won’t wash because it only takes a small number of item quality complaints to trigger removal of an active listing or an overall account review. Amazon emails sellers constantly asking for the proper dates and timelines around the sales of the inauthentic complaint. If the complaint came in June, and you send them an October invoice, they’ll reject it. Multiple performance notifications for inauthentic that you fail to defend due to bad invoices will result in an account suspension.
3. Don’t manipulate or remove any info from an invoice for any reason, other than blacking out prices.
Sellers are understandably leery about sharing their suppliers with Amazon. While you may assume that Amazon is only interested in your supply chain in order to find ways to source items more cheaply themselves, consider that they can do this anyway, already, and don’t let that push you to bad decisions. Withholding information from Amazon motivates Seller Performance investigators to reject your documentation and maintain listing suspensions. Overly-redacted invoices cripple your ability to argue that you have legitimate product when you’re already suspended, too. It makes it look like you’re hiding something, and that’s not good.
4. Invoices must be in a professional, presentable format. Don’t send Amazon an invoice that looks like kids put it together for you.
- If they can’t read it, then it has no value to you as proof of authenticity. Invoices must be easy to read with crucial SKU info that’s easy to find. Don’t expect investigators to go hunting around for bits of information. If it’s not legible or they cannot verify supplier information on there, then don’t bother. They won’t look at it. They deny your reinstatement and move on.
- If you’re highlighting and drawing arrows and folding up receipts, make sure it’s legible. Investigators don’t have a lot of time to dig through copies of your documentation because of their own metrics. Yellowing things and circling things may work, but it may not. Be careful how you do it.
- Shipping info must be readable and accurate (Make sure to include the date, method, tracking, etc.) on your invoice.
- Don’t forget to show how you received the shipment of products, indicating that the items were sent to your warehouse or your place of business. Company name and address consistency is essential.
5. Supplier information must be verifiable
- If investigators don’t see any info they can verify about your supplier, then your “proof of authenticity” dies very quickly.
- Make sure you ask suppliers to put links to their websites on the invoice, it’s incredibly helpful for investigators to look them up.
- Make sure you include direct-dial phone numbers to names of specific people with titles and email addresses. Investigators look for all of this on invoices. When you’re suspended for inauthentic, less isn’t more.
6. Proof of authenticity. Letters!
Before Amazon even asks, be ready to provide authenticity letters from a brand, manufacturer or supplier that contains crucial info about their business relationship with you.
How long have you bought from them, and what items have you sold on Amazon? In what quantities? Have you anything to show regarding your supplier’s relationship with the brand, if they are not the brand themselves?
How can they prove authentic sourcing of the products sold to you, for the items sold on Amazon?
Investigators regularly reject appeals by disqualifying invoices for missing or incomplete information. Again, they really hate inconsistent supplier addresses, company name information, and anything else suspicious. If it looks like you are hiding something, you will be turned down cold. Investigators are sometimes even seeking reasons to disqualify an invoice and move on to the next case. It saves time, effort and energy.
Unbelievably, some grey market sellers hold back supply chain info because their distributor isn’t authorized to sell items in the US, and they simply don’t want to ask anyone for an authenticity letter. Those suppliers skirt the terms of their own deals with manufacturers and don’t want Amazon seeing the documentation that shows it. Unfortunately, that’s the Amazon seller’s funeral, and not the supplier’s. At that point, the strength of the invoices will play a major role in reinstatement or denial of appeal.
Can you risk an account suspension to protect your supplier’s interests? For most Amazon sellers that I talk to, Amazon IS their business. Losing Amazon means losing everything.