Amazon suspended my account… What do I do now?
Rule #1 – Don’t push any “panic buttons”! Don’t burn up your first few chances to appeal, convinced you can do this yourself, unless you have an actual plan for doing so. Decide early on if you’re going to attempt reinstatement yourself, or hire out help. Try to avoid burning through potentially afterward appeals opportunities expecting for a rescue later on. If you need professional help, get experts involved early- you only have so many chances.
Ask yourself. Can I clearly identify root causes? Copying and pasting Amazon’s language from prior warnings or from the suspension notification is not specifying root causes. Are the operational improvements in your plan of action (POA) detailed and credible? Do they address the complaints Amazon cited? Remember, you only get so many chances at this. If account investigators give up on your ability to provide a viable POA after a couple of tries, you start seeing emails like this.
Your plan does not sufficiently address the complaints we received about your listings. To be sufficient, your plan must include:
— Greater detail on the root cause(s) that led to the complaints about the condition of your items.
— Greater detail on the actions you have taken to resolve the complaints about the condition of your items.
— Greater detail on the steps you have taken to prevent future complaints about the condition of your items.
And if you start seeing emails like this, then you’re not communicating your plan effectively. Something’s missing in terms of POA content, or something’s wrong in your POA format. You need to make changes and evaluate your situation again.
Either way, they won’t reinstate your account until you provide them with something vastly different. You may need to rip up what you have and start again. Modifying language and moving a few bits of text around isn’t enough. They can pick up on that technique easily, just as they can identify generic templates that they’ve read 15 times that day (and rejected).
You’ve invested time, money and energy into your Amazon business, so it’s time to demonstrate some serious problem-solving skills to the teams who have suspended you.
Complaint Causes Versus Root Causes
OK, let’s have an honest moment with ourselves. What broke? Answer that first before laying out the improvements. Until you know what caused the problems that led Amazon to suspend you, you’ll never be able to give the detailed solutions necessary to resolve those problems. Talk around it and you’ll get ignored.
Diagnosis and strategy in relation to “what went wrong” forms a big part of how we approach account reinstatement work. We understand the key differences between what Amazon refers to as “Root Causes” (or the problems that led to complaints) and basic causes. We also know that those differences can make or break an account suspension appeal.
Late Shipment Rates
Cause: “We had a technical error in our order fulfillment software that delayed some shipments until we could correct it.”
Root Cause: “We failed to assign a manager to monitor our tools and processes for on-time shipment confirmations, which led to some late shipments and out of range metrics.”
Cause: “Buyers complained of authenticity because we joined listings that did not match the products we sold exactly.”
Root Cause: “We lacked a listing review oversight process to match our inventory to the proper product detail page 100% in every detail”
Cause: “A buyer who consumed our product did not review the instructions check in advance to see if their allergy would be provoked when consuming the item.”
Root Cause: “We failed to update our listing details to include information on specific allergies that could lead to bad buyer experiences.”
Writing the Right Plan of Action to get Your Amazon Account Reinstated
Once you nail down root causes, it’s time to talk solutions. Plan of Action content needs to be detailed but concise- using bullets, not paragraphs.
Let’s start with some seemingly straight-forward but often neglected questions.
- How are you going to fix the problems?
- Are the fixes you need to put into place ready yet?
- Do you know what your capabilities are?
- Can you prevent the same complaints, problems, gaps or misses from happening again?
- How will you monitor the solutions to make sure they’re effective?
You won’t get reinstated faster by rushing through this part. Just telling Amazon what you think they want to hear gets you nowhere- they’ll see right through it.
Take a holistic approach to the health of your Amazon account, and business.
Remember, you cannot make promises that you won’t keep in a POA– make a plan to protect the account long term. Identify not only what you think Amazon wants to hear, but also what you can accomplish during your time offline. This might be the key to getting back and staying healthy. If you hurt your knee in a bike accident and required surgery, you may need some physical therapy afterward. The same principle applies here.
Determine what the best solutions are and fold them into your Plan of Action accordingly.
Next, once you have your causes and Plan of Action ready to go and you send it in after any last revisions, consider Amazon’s responses. If they don’t reply at all, then something may be missing. Email the POA again, requesting an update, and indicating that the plan has already been implemented. For emphasis, feel free to mention the main highlights that make your plan effective to produce solid results and eliminate the past difficulties.
Are Amazon’s responses looking for more details, or better documentation? Review what you sent them and fill in any possible missing information. Perhaps you need to get more specific about your solutions. Remember, vague copy and paste-style bullets like “We retrained our teams on all Amazon policies” or “We inspect things twice now, not once, before they ship to FBA” don’t mean much when you don’t give enough information to show why those changes will help. Will this POA be effective? Or are you just handling long-term failings with short-term bandaids?
Is Amazon spinning you in circles asking for something new each time, or asking you for the same thing each time?
Amazon may not have adequately read and assessed your POA. Some of that could be a letdown on their side, but you must assume that you could do more to show them how complete your POA really is. An improved POA with different emphasis may be what you need, or improved writing and presentation. Either way, the situation requires a stronger POA.
If you’ve got a strong, well-formatted POA that covers everything they need (are you sure? I can review it for you, first) you’ll need to push it in front of a manager to get results. You may need to break through the logjam and communicate along different channels.
Still stuck and unsure what to do next? Perhaps even with a well-honed and revised POA, you remain suspended and see no signs that Amazon teams are taking the time to review it. You need to escalate. Start by sending an escalation letter in addition to the POA to Executive Seller Relations. Emphasize where you sent past appeals the complete lack of action that you’ve seen. If Jeff and his squad don’t reply with anything beyond a previously canned response, you may need to consider other more aggressive appeals channels.
What are your other options, and how can you be sure if they are your last best chance? You need an expert to help you handle what goes into escalated appeals, and what stays out. We have examined POAs daily for the last several years, both at Amazon and since leaving the company.
If you require professional assistance and find yourself in dire straits, reach out to me directly.