Despite what the Seller Forums may lead you to believe, “emailing Jeff” isn’t what it used to be.
Jeff doesn’t review appeal emails and/or complaints from sellers anymore or add a “?” before delegating to VPs, Seller Performance managers or anyone else. Jeff’s pretty occupied with other things (as you may have heard) and Andy Jassy has been Amazon’s CEO since July 2021.
What used to be known as a “Bezos escalation” required an investigator certification process, where someone like me in Seller Performance would have to demonstrate core competencies in order to be the person deciding the fate of an appeal. These criteria included successful resolution of past escalations, written case summaries that made sense to our superiors, and a competent presentation of facts that the higher ups. Jeff could have at any time decided to review the results along the way, because he wanted both buyers and sellers to feel like respected members of the marketplace. Our rigorous training process stayed in effect for years since the emails with Jeff’s “??” wound up going to my boss, and my boss’s boss, and to Jeff’s assistants. Ultimately, it was on me to respond with convincing deep dive results and a well-thought out decision. And if I failed, a lot of key people would notice.
Unfortunately, today’s emails to “Executive Seller Relations” don’t always result in a serious review inside the Amazon walls. It may not be read at all, so how you strategize appeals is more important than ever.
When my group at ecommerceChris® writes an escalation to Amazon teams for our clients, they always encapsulate what Amazon looks for when reinstating ASINs or accounts. There’s more to the escalation process than simply writing one up, sending it in, and waiting.
We receive numerous messages daily from sellers who are stuck or lost in the appeals process. Many have already emailed Jeff in desperation, or tried their hand at escalating to Amazon executives – without positive results.
Some sellers hire a subpar service to assist them after hearing and believing a dubious yarn about past escalation success. When we review those appeals and discover the amount of time they’ve been suspended, we come to the conclusion that they’ve wasted tons of time, money, and energy. Worst of all perhaps, they’ve burned opportunities to sell sooner! They could have been reinstated earlier, if they had approached the process correctly.
What does “escalate” mean, anyway?
Most suspended sellers need two things to survive the ordeal, whether it’s a top selling ASIN or an entire account that Amazon deactivated. They require a solid appeal or Plan of Action (POA), and if that gets ignored, an escalation to make sure appeals get to the right place and get reviewed the right way. If you choose to do this yourself, make sure you know what you’re doing!
Unfortunately, multitudes of sellers look for shortcuts in videos or search for templates shared in seller Facebook groups. Or, they ask for advice by commenting on Seller forums posts. Why would they risk the fate of their business to strangers? Well, it takes a lot less time to do that than to research and compose a proper escalation from scratch, right? In theory, those sellers who post about something similar go through the same things that you do.
In reality, conflicting or outdated info abounds on this topic. What goes into one escalation for sticky situations and what belongs in another rarely gets addressed on generic public posts.
If you need someone who understands how escalations work, ask the right questions and truly vet the party you’re handing over the keys to. First find out why Amazon denied your appeal. Call into Account Health reps to get some basic info. If they can’t or won’t tell you any rejection reasons or denial notes, at least determine if they see evidence that Seller Performance reviewed the appeal at all. An Amazon escalation based on the failure of the team that suspended you to do any work is not the same as an unopened appeal, or one they transferred to some other team who then just ignored it.
Tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars are typically on the line, so decide right out of the gate if the process got away from you, and take action to right the sinking ship! You only get so many cracks at appealing before Amazon justifies ignoring you entirely. Can you afford to be deactivated for months?
Stay current on appeal strategies!
Why are escalations such a big deal? Escalations represent your last attempts to get reinstated. They shouldn’t be rushed or taken lightly.
Maximize your odds by doing it right early on, not late in the process. I’m still amazed every time I read copy and paste “letters to Jeff” sent in by sellers who email firstname.lastname@example.org based on generic posts from two years ago. Why anyone would risk an entire account like that, I have no idea. Many of the ones I talk to say things like “well we saw a post by a seller who wrote to Jeff” or “we didn’t really know what we were doing.”
So what types of things are sellers doing wrong when they write escalations? If you’re quickly escalating your reinstatement appeal just to get it over with, keep in mind that you’ll think about it way more if you fail.
- We see appeals lacking a POA (even after one was asked for) or there IS a POA, but it doesn’t follow the right format. Some sellers write in long paragraphs, not realizing that no one will read it like that. Amazon just sends the same generic denial messages over and over until the seller wakes up and understands what they’re getting wrong. Details matter!
- Some sellers put together extremely long appeals thinking it will look like they did a thorough job going over all facets of a problem, or they write long desperate letters that only focus on the negative impact of a suspension. Giving Amazon a list of employees sent home, creditors unpaid, and other business or financial problems only gets you so far. It doesn’t prove to Amazon that you can provide what they need to reinstate.
- If you have little to offer in terms of an appeal because you’ve been caught red-handed doing something terrible, then understand a last ditch attempt won’t have much of a chance no matter what you write. Identify your error, plead for mercy, and see what comes back. They could surprise you.
- We hear from many sellers who submit the same Plan of Action several times, going for quantity of contacts and forgetting all about quality. If there is no response from Amazon, you’ll know why. Spam is not the answer, it just gives them an excuse to ignore you more.
When sellers fail to grasp how escalations have changed, they receive generic denials that cite a lack of “sufficient information” or just a “We’ve reviewed your Amazon account, and have decided that you may no longer sell.” Know how to ask for proper clarification in calls to Account Health Services (AHS) when you call in and ask for denial notes. Take with a grain of salt the info you get, and make sure you’re never talking to any India-based reps. Keep calling until you have someone who can tell you exactly what Seller Performance rejected you for, or, if your appeal was completely ignored.
Still not sure when to escalate? Read our guide.
And, while we’re on the topic, be sure how NOT to escalate an appeal.
How Not To Escalate
- For starters, don’t take everything straight to Jeff without even knowing why exactly you’re doing it. Yes, we know the “Write to Jeff” advice appears everywhere, on any online thread about this. And we know that everyone online calls themselves an expert. As discouraging and repetitively unhelpful emails to Seller Performance can feel, try at least once to request action by an Account Health manager prior to escalating. 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 now like a clogged queue, with lots of emails and complaints in it. Many aren’t even reinstatement appeals.
- Don’t rely on emotional pleas that lack the details Amazon needs. Trust me, Seller Performance is 100% numb to things like that and won’t give it the time of day.
- Don’t waste space writing about your performance metrics if the suspension is for policy violations, not for performance. Stick to the core needs of the appeal and avoid filler, or unrelated topics. Their eyes glaze over and they deny it, then move on to the next one.
- Don’t just think about WHERE to send it. Think about WHAT to send, and is it good? We see lots of sellers telling us that they have a great appeal, if Amazon will only read it. We read it, and it’s not wonderful.
- Don‘t burn appeal attempts by sending the same old POA to different emails. Many sellers tell us they have already “escalated” by emailing this or that person, even if there’s no escalation-grade content in it. They’re just spamming Amazon, and it’s just an email at that point. Not an escalation.
- Don’t waste appeals listening to armchair “experts” – find someone who really knows this process to review it, and verify that they know what they’re talking about by fact-checking glowing reviews or “years” of success. Amateurs use public postings on seller group sites as sales leads.
- Vetting providers, services and consultants is on you. Failure to do that basic step is not Amazon’s fault, and they won’t accept that you hired a weak or poor performer to handle past appeals for you.
- Don’t write in ALL CAPS, ever, in emails to Seller Performance, marketplace VPs, or really anyone. They may be looking for an excuse not to read it. You hand them one if you do this.
Ok, So… How Do I Write an Amazon Escalation? Expert Strategy Tips:
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 invalid POA. Not sure when or if you have a good one? I can help you assess that before you make any mistakes by sending it prematurely. If you care about your Amazon business, make sure Seller Performance won’t pick apart your POA within seconds and reject it. If a strong appeal represents your last chance at reinstatement, take revisions seriously, and only submit it if you’re reasonably sure they will accept it (if they read it properly).
What goes into an escalation email? Emphasize the best parts of the POA while also citing your calls to Account Health to find out why it hadn’t been accepted, including the name of the rep you talked to and what the rejection reasons or denial notes indicated. Pick the top three completed proactive solutions that fully resolved any specific problems that closed you down.
Seller performance must believe that reinstating you means you won’t make the same mistakes all over again. If you fail to convince them, it could result in additional appeals, and the same Amazon copy and paste responses, over and over again. Nobody wants that waking nightmare.
Convince Amazon that will never happen. Show them the documentation to prove it.
2. Don’t ask Amazon executives to review without cause
If you’re going to take the “escalate to Amazon execs” path, consider this. Is escalating premature in your case? Are you simply looking for a fresh reply because a few prior appeals were ignored? There’s nothing wrong with nudging them to review you the right way, especially when you’ve heard nothing back from them for days. But it doesn’t mean sending the same email to everyone you find.
“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, preemptive measures you’ve put into place. Not only are those already implemented, by the way, they’re working! Give examples, too.
3. Make it clear what you’re asking them to do for you and show how you’ve pursued proper channels to handle the matter, without resolution or response.
Whether you seek account or ASIN reinstatement, or if you’ve reported abusive attacks against your listings, or if you saw fake product reviews that Amazon 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 wording or ideas
No investigator has time to waste on something poorly written that barely makes sense. If you lack a good writer who understands some of the specific and detailed language required to escalate, find someone else. That “expert” must know how to tell Amazon what you’ve addressed to solve past problems. They also must know how to push Amazon to read the POA again. Show some bulleted highlights to convince them! Demonstrate 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 they ignore you or send a generic denial, use that as escalation fodder! Point out how calls to AHS left you with no additional info, only with basic guidance on how to write a POA. Amazon may have barely annotated your account, or there may be nothing there at all. Anyone who reads your escalation can review appeal annotations 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 emphasize the justification for reinstatement.
Escalations to Amazon executives are most successful when your appeal contains rock-solid and unimpeachable content. Don’t gamble on these without understanding how it may be dealt with internally.
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.
An escalation for reinstatement could be your last chance, so appreciate that fact! The life of the business is at stake when you compose escalations. Trusting bad sources of info or relying on generic public posts may not be something you can correct later, if you are looking for copycat shortcuts. Don’t make any guesses, unless you’re OK with losing the account.