Season 1, Episode 147

Avoiding Last-Minute Listing Takedowns Ahead of Prime Day

As Prime Day approaches, the spotlight intensifies on seller performance and compliance. This time of year often reveals significant trends in listing violations, ASIN reviews, and occasional account suspensions, primarily stemming from compliance issues. In this episode, Chris and Leah share some key observations and practical advice to help you navigate these challenges without compromising your compliance.

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:00] Chris: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. Leah is smiling and laughing, which is always a good sign. Yeah. Especially leading into Prime Day, which is practically on top of us at this point. I think we’re finally at the one week mark. So as you can imagine, Leah and I have been looking at last minute random ASIN reviews, listing takedowns, occasional account suspensions, of course, primarily for listing violations.

[00:00:27] Chris: We’ve noticed some interesting trends we wanted to share with you. We’ll just do a couple because I know you’ve got a lot going on. Every brand owner is managing lots of deals and A plus content that may have gone awry. I’m not sure how many different random messages we’ve seen from people doing some last minute scurrying, but the bottom line is you don’t want to spend time the next seven days or during prime day doing appeals work of the kind and variety that we do.

[00:00:54] Leah: No.

[00:00:55] Chris: No. So I guess my first since you’ve been seeing and you usually in your consulting see a wide variety and array of listing violation messages from Amazon, people’s appeals, denials from Amazon that are generic, that have no information. Given the constraints of timeframes, right, where you can’t necessarily jump on quick calls to catalog and get quick answers, or you can’t, even if it’s not listing compliance related, you can’t necessarily talk to account health reps and get a straight answer.

[00:01:28] Chris: So given the constraints of both the timeframe and the fact that you’d have to wait for Amazon to reply to any appeal, what are your tips based on what you’re currently seeing in terms of, you know, avoiding problems or tidying up things quickly if they do come to pass?

[00:01:46] Leah: Yeah, so there’s actually a couple of good things that I’ve been seeing.

[00:01:49] Leah: One is that I think that Amazon has done a little bit earlier of a cleanup before Prime Day than they normally do. We seem to get a big influx of ASIN takedowns and account suspensions. It’s kind of well in advance of Prime Day this time, as opposed to right before Prime Day, when they usually happen.

[00:02:08] Leah: So, I think that that is beneficial to a lot of sellers. Doesn’t mean that you’re not necessarily going to be attacked by a competitor. But, at least Amazon actually did things a little bit earlier. I’m also seeing a lot more on the, PCRP compliance side of things, where Amazon’s actually giving you a bit of a warning.

[00:02:27] Leah: They’re giving you a leeway before they block the ASIN, which makes things easier for a number of reasons. One, because you have time to fix it before the ASIN is blocked. But two, it’s a lot easier to correct things on the detail page before the ASIN is blocked, which generally makes it a lot faster to resolve those.

[00:02:47] Leah: So a lot of those were getting resolved In less than 24 hours before the ASIN is even being taken down. So as long as you are ready to go, as soon as you get those sorts of warnings to correct the detail page and make sure you check the A plus content as well, not just the backend of the listing.

[00:03:02] Leah: Those are a lot faster to resolve. On the not so great side of things, I think seller performance is very backed up right now and are taking a long time to respond to appeals.

[00:03:13] Chris: Yeah, I think the first thing you have to think, if you submit any appeal for anything from this point out, I think you have to factor in what is my plan if they don’t respond within 72 hours or 48 hours.

[00:03:25] Chris: If it’s on the cusp of prime day, and you’re listening to this and prime days tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, you should already have a plan B in terms of a request for an update, perhaps multiple different avenues that you plan to pursue to get an update, to nudge them along to at least review what you already sent.

[00:03:45] Chris: If it’s the day before the day, or two days before that, and you haven’t even sent the first appeal in, you have to factor in that you could have to send a second appeal, whether they respond to you or not, whether they deny it or not, you might have to send that second one during Prime Day.

[00:04:02] Leah: Yeah, we’re also seeing a lot, and I’m assuming this is a glitch, we’re seeing a lot of appeals from Seller Performance being marked as evaluation completed without any notification being sent.

[00:04:18] Leah: But on top of that, also, when you call into AccountHealth to find out why the appeal was denied, AccountHealth tell you that it actually hasn’t been reviewed yet. And so I think that evaluation complete messaging hopefully is, is being sent an error and AccountHealth isn’t the one that’s wrong. But we are seeing a lot more of that than we have, I would say in the last.

[00:04:38] Leah: I would say like, beginning of this year, I didn’t really see that. It’s only really in the last month that they seem to be having account health dashboard glitches again. Which is always fun before, but, but you need to make sure that you’re verifying anything that you’re, that you’re seeing in account health.

[00:04:53] Leah: That doesn’t make sense. And you also need to make sure that you’re checking account health dashboard rather than just waiting to get an email notification saying that your account has been reviewed or your ASIN has been reviewed.

[00:05:04] Chris: And peak sales periods, they’re always going to have these. Misfires where they think they’ve sent you something but they haven’t like factor this into how you appeal.

[00:05:14] Leah: Well, and a lot of them are saying even though it says evaluation complete account health says it’s still pending review So you just need to you just unfortunately need to spend the time on the fire and verify this information

[00:05:27] Chris: Yeah, and a SAS core reps Sometimes they also tell you, I need 48 hours to get an answer, 72 hours, and again, same problem.

[00:05:39] Chris: If Prime Day is the next day, 48 hours isn’t helpful. They know that. They are not supposed to say anything other than that one script that they give that it’s going to take the team a couple days. They already know it’s built in, that it’ll take longer during a peak period. And even now, a week before Prime Day.

[00:06:00] Chris: The amount of appeals are increasing, right? There are unresolved issues from June that haven’t been fixed. The people are still appealing. They’re probably appealing it more often.

[00:06:08] Leah: Which actually that made me think of a tip that I had forgotten about before.

[00:06:11] Chris: Okay. You mentioned if it’s an account suspension, let me just run through this and then jump to your tip.

[00:06:18] Leah: Yep.

[00:06:19] Chris: If it’s an account suspension from June that has not yet been resolved, We’re 10 days into July. I mean, of course, people are feeling that twice as often as they would have been if it weren’t prime day. So this just makes sense.

[00:06:34] Leah: Yeah. and the tip that I had, I’d forgotten to mention earlier, uh, if you have an advertising rep and whatever the issue on your account is affects one of your prime day deals, your advertising rep is very much incentivized to help you because if your prime day deal doesn’t run, then they’re advertising KPI metrics.

[00:06:54] Leah: are harder to meet because you’re not able to spend the ad dollars that you had put down that you wanted to spend. So if the issue is, is any in any way going to affect your Prime Day deals, then I would be reaching out to my advertising rep if I had one and trying to get them to push things for you because they are very much incentivized to help, whereas, you know, support performance, they don’t really care about your Prime Day deals.

[00:07:18] Chris: Right. Another trend I’m seeing is people are still getting misuse of variation suspensions. Those are, those are still, I don’t know, I thought we had peaked on those. Those are still happening in a rapid clip. Yeah, bundles. And then miscreation of bundles. That, as far as I remember, started later in May or June.

[00:07:39] Chris: And that hasn’t really abated. So, like you said, this year, what’s different about Prime Day? Well, the enforcement teams kind of rolled out the tanks earlier and in a more widespread fashion across not just one trendy topic like reviews abuse, which circles around every so often, but across all these different listing violations.

[00:07:58] Chris: So I’d say it’s been six weeks solid of that now. And there’s always kind of a period where it takes time to die down. So if prime prime day is only one week out, that means this is going to linger and people that haven’t resolved their variations, abuse suspensions. And as you know, many haven’t, the bundle stuff, I’d say lots of people are confused about that.

[00:08:21] Chris: Whether it’s the sellers, whether it’s Amazon itself, maybe catalog teams. There’s a lot of confusion around anything that involves complication or nuance. We don’t think listing policies are a hundred percent terrible, complicated, impossible to interpret, but we deal with this stuff 24 7.

[00:08:41] Leah: So one thing I have noticed is that people like to read the sentences that they like in the variation policy and not read the sentences that they don’t like in the variation policy.

[00:08:49] Leah: And if you only read some of it, it’s very easy to make them wrong.

[00:08:52] Chris: And I don’t want to throw the doors open and say if you’re interpreting They send variations to be this, and Amazon thinks it’s that, show us everything, we’ve got time right now to look at all your flat files, all your variation themes, and we will give you a definitive answer.

[00:09:09] Chris: I’m not in a position to say that, what we are in a position to say is, get your number one compliance person, in terms of listing creation, and in terms of a proper interpretation of Amazon’s policies, to come down on one side of the fence or another. These are compliant, these aren’t. And if you’re on the fence, if you’re really not sure, then yes, that means you need help.

[00:09:32] Chris: If you’re 100 percent sure they’re compliant, Amazon sent you no warnings, nothing’s being reviewed, you haven’t had prior listing takedowns for this, let’s say you haven’t had any prior situations where Amazon separated variations that you had merged, anything like that, then fine. You’ve made the decision that this is not something you have to worry about.

[00:09:53] Chris: But if you’re on the fence or if you’re like, you know what, I don’t think we’re doing these right. That means you need help, and this is not the time. We’ve got listing suspension purges happening right around Prime Day. Now is not the time to just wing it and just wait until Prime Day is over. Will some people skate through and slide by and not have to deal with this during Prime Day?

[00:10:13] Chris: Of course some people will. My theory now, based on everything, well, what we’ve seen for five or six weeks is that I think that’s a minority of sellers that can count on just flying under the radar. Now, we have had a few people say, well, I’m in the Account Health Assurance program, and for some reason, lots of people still think that’s meaningful.

[00:10:31] Chris: It is meaningful in terms, well, there’s one way it can be meaningful. If you get the notification the night before Prime Day, and they give you 72 hours, then yeah, that does mean you can deal with it.

[00:10:41] Leah: Well, but that’s the thing, I’m still seeing tons of accounts that are in Account Health Assurance that aren’t given 72 hours for variation misuse.

[00:10:50] Leah: They’re suspended, their account health still says a thousand points or whatever, but they, they don’t get that. They get an email saying that you’ve been removed from account health insurance and then they get an email saying your account is suspended.

[00:11:05] Chris: And I promise you, we are going to do a podcast very soon on the meaning of AHA, the Account Health Assurance Program, and the fact that abuse, they can take you down any time. You’re not necessarily going to get a warning. You know, I was talking to somebody the other day, why didn’t I get a warning? Well, they reserve the right to take your account down at any moment for any reason.

[00:11:25] Chris: So just the fact that you’re in this program doesn’t really amount to much if they can take your account down any time and if they don’t need to justify the 72 hours. I have heard from some people. Who got the 72 hour message and then nothing happened within 72 hours? Like haven’t we talked to people who missed it?

[00:11:44] Chris: And didn’t even see it?

[00:11:46] Leah: Yeah.

[00:11:47] Chris: For four days and then like they didn’t get suspended. Well, why didn’t I? Well, that’s because there are a lot of people on that list of 72 hours and it takes them time to get through it.

[00:11:55] Leah: Yeah, and i’ve also seen more recently, policy warnings or Asin suspensions where they are giving the few days in advance, like I mentioned, but I’ve also been seeing on the account health dashboard, those dates actually getting pushed.

[00:12:08] Leah: So when you first got the notification, they originally said that you had to submit it by July 8th or, you know, whatever. And then I looked at it the next day and that date had actually been pushed forward. So I think they are actually thankfully adjusting some of those things as they are getting more behind on their end.

[00:12:26] Chris: And then, and we will address that in a podcast before the month of July is over, but closing remarks on this, I just had one other thing to say, maybe you can jump in if you have anything else we haven’t touched on, but this concept of, I don’t know who made our listings. Somebody else made our listings.

[00:12:46] Chris: We hired somebody. We didn’t know what they were doing. They said they were TOS compliant, yada, yada, yada. We’ve heard a laundry list of excuses from people. Who basically out of sight, out of mind, had someone else do it and had no idea of what policies they might be breaking, whether or not the work was compliant, so on and so forth.

[00:13:05] Chris: If you choose to do that, I understand maybe you’re trying to get some tasks off your plate, you don’t have time for it. I understand maybe it’s cheaper to have somebody else do it. The bottom line is, you are in charge, you’re the seller of record, you’re in charge of what happens or doesn’t happen on that account.

[00:13:22] Chris: So form your own strategy for reviewing their work or double checking it or checking it with somebody who understands this material. Because going to Amazon with a generic appeal, thousands of which we’ve seen denied at this point, saying we didn’t know what was going on. They knew what was going on.

[00:13:39] Chris: They did it wrong. Sorry. Here’s a plan of action that’s not flying anymore.

[00:13:44] Leah: Nope. Similar to, you know, the reviews abuse back in the day, that stopped being an acceptable excuse a long time ago, and we’re now seeing that with the variations as well. Although, honestly, that was never really an acceptable excuse for variations, to say that you didn’t know what was going on.

[00:14:01] Chris: Yeah, I mean, Amazon does like this concept, which we can do in yet another podcast, of, Oh, you’re blaming a third party service. That’s why when a lot of you are calling Account Health for any policy violation, What’s the first thing they say? Were you using a third party service? Yeah. They’re trying to create rosters and lists and they’re trying to be aware of who’s out there breaking their policies, creating these suspensions, making life miserable for the seller, for Amazon, for everybody.

[00:14:29] Chris: So they do like it when you put in your appeal. We’ve got information about a third party service. It depends on how you do it. You can’t just throw blame at somebody and say, well, we don’t know who these guys are. They were cheap and we found them on Fiverr and they had good reviews. I mean, these are, you know, Terrible excuses, which I won’t waste your time explaining why, but just be prepared for having to give them more than just we found these guys.

[00:14:54] Chris: We hired them. It looks like they screwed everything up. Sorry about that.

[00:14:59] Leah: Right.

[00:14:59] Chris: On that note, on that cheery note, thanks for listening in. We will be back very, very shortly, right? I mean, maybe not during Prime Day itself, but just before it with another episode and thank you again, Leah. Take care.

[00:15:14] Leah: Thanks, Chris.

Hosts & Guests

Leah McHugh

Chris McCabe

 

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