Sellers face a lot of unanswered questions when attempting to appeal their account suspensions. When Seller Performance rejects a Plan of Action (POA), often there’s no information in their denial messaging to indicate why. At times, they simply resend the original suspension notification asking for the same things requested previously (a POA, invoices, supplier info, etc.) which only creates more confusion for the seller who is appealing.
Why did you get this same copy and paste message again?
Why does Amazon struggle to clarify what’s missing?
What other ways can you decipher what they’re looking for?
Often, you need help to read between their lines and determine what has to be submitted next.
I spoke with one seller, Bethany, struggling with all of the back and forth on her appeals, leading us to discuss her calls with Account Health Services (AHS). On the off chance she acquired useful info on the call, I asked how it went. She immediately commented, “calling AHS hasn’t helped with anything so far. They’ve even told me that submitting anything new will just stall the investigation and when I ask to speak to a manager or Seller Performance, or the Captive Team or ANYONE, they just tell me no.”
She felt “completely blocked” with frustration over that team’s apparent interest and willingness to help, but inability or refusal to offer true help that would lead to an account reinstatement. This is something that we hear from numerous sellers on an ongoing basis, who wind up completely stuck.
“Amazon does not want to be convinced of your innocence, they want sellers to repent, reform, and rehabilitate. If Amazon had to admit that they mistakenly mistreated an innocent seller, that would be an admission to a flaw in their process and procedure which would open them up to liabilities.”
What did Bethany try next?
“I did end up sending a separate email to email@example.com. I don’t know if it’s even a real or viable email address anymore, but it did help me feel a little less helpless so I was able to sleep a little better last night.”
Amazon is trying to cut off additional ways of reaching out to them to resolve account suspensions, including closing access to email queues previously used to submit POAs. Instead of pushing your appeal in front of a new or different Seller Performance team member, this message just serves to deflect you.
“This email address is not the correct channel to submit an appeal. Please follow the instructions below to resubmit your appeal to the correct channel.”
That then leads many sellers back to Account Health teams, since it’s impossible to call Seller Performance and you don’t know exactly when you’ll hear back about reinstatement.
Calling AHS will lead you to reps who insist that appealing through Seller Central is the only way to go, and if a past POA was declined, they’ll usually offer their own opinions of your POA. What’s missing is any encouragement to escalate a POA that met all expected criteria. If Seller Performance failed to review it properly, why would you rewrite it again? That makes no sense, of course. But AHS reps also typically tell you they can’t help you push it up the chain of command themselves, rendering you just as stuck as prior to your call with them.
I speak all the time with sellers who have tried to resolve Plan of Action denials or lack of responses to get their feedback on the process. Indeed, even when usable information becomes available, rewarding calls that do help advance an appeal are few and far between.
Every seller has heard of escalation emails to Jeff. Unfortunately, anyone with any kind of complaint about Amazon’s processes, sellers and buyers alike, complain via the Jeff path.
“One of your articles that I read warned against sending an email to Jeff prematurely so I’ve held off on that for now.”
I had to tell her that writing to Jeff isn’t what it used to be.
“I’m more than willing to jump through hoops and dot my i’s and cross my t’s for Amazon. It’s the silence that is killing me.
The problem with Amazon is that in some instances, strangely enough, silence is better than the feeling you get when Account Health reps give you answers. Unless they resubmit a newly written, 100% solid POA straight to Seller Performance for immediate acceptance, you have no idea whether or not you’ll hear back in a timely manner, nor with a positive result. More often than not, you receive the same generic, uninformative denial that you received the previous time you tried it. And if you call back to ask “why is this happening again?” AHS just tells you “we don’t make the rules” and looks at the POA all over again, completing a cycle of limited value.
I asked another seller the same questions, and he had the same type of experience. He told me,
“Both of these people actually ended the call to look into my appeal and account then called back later in the day. The first time was a guy who gave me loads of info to put in the appeal and then got me to upload it to a case and he looked through and called me back the next day to say it’s great and to submit. Yet still rejected by seller performance.”
Sometimes, following their advice is worse than not getting any suggestions at all. Why is that? Account Health reps like to say you’ll increase your odds of reinstatement if you listen to their guidance and rewrite a POA, but the fact is, often individual reps won’t even agree with each other in back-to-back calls on what you’ll need to do to improve an appeal. Make sure you get some second and third opinions, first, before accepting the word of an AHS rep as gospel.
“Take a note from the Salem witch trials and admit to something to avoid being burned at the stake”
The reference to Salem might allow a moment of humor, but more troubling is the fact that sellers believe they must “confess” to violations just to get Seller Performance to pay real attention to their appeal. It has little to do with what actually happened. That makes for a tough time writing your Plan of Action, if they can’t clarify what you did. How would you lay out root causes, or preventative measures? You have to read tea leaves at that point.
“More info isn’t always better. Sometimes sending them all of your invoices, email chains, cute pictures of your 6 kids, and unsolicited yet improved POA’s just annoys them for some reason.”
More info definitely isn’t better — the right kinds of info, presented the right way, is what sellers need. As Bethany understood,
“You need them more than they need you and they’re allocating more resources to customers than selling partners so you’re just going to have to wait….indefinitely.”
The fact is, Seller Performance only expects you to wait, backed up by the AHS reps, because they understand you have little choice unless you figure out their magic key and break through.
And, yes, they’re likely going to buy their own teams time by making up reasons for you to wait. If you haven’t yet waited that long, sure, give it another day or two. If you’ve already done that and continue to hear them push you back, hang up, and escalate it.
“I liken them to either a priest interceding on behalf of your poor soul stuck in purgatory or the prison guard giving you legal advice while waiting for your trial.“
Account Health Services reps provide a buffer between sellers and Seller Performance, that is true. But beyond telling you IF a POA has been reviewed yet, or WHY you’ve been denied without a response, do they serve any other purpose? Some appear to review annotations on your account during the typical 5 minute hold time and try to give you encouraging words even when there are none left to give. They won’t tell you to appeal elsewhere to another team, though, even when that’s possibly what you need to do next. What I would advise you to do, they may never suggest at all.
Bethany later gave a quick update on her most recent phone conversation with AHS. I had advised her to ask if the case could be pushed to performance managers for a real review.
“He said that it had already been sent to “another team” to verify the invoices that I originally sent over. Probably an elite CSI forensics team specializing in proper soap submissions. When I asked what team it was with now he wouldn’t tell me.”
Not very efficient, is it? Bethany certainly didn’t think so.
“Why devote costly hours to investigating a case when It would be more efficient to click a deny button, send a canned email, or just ignore and move on? It’s not hurting Amazon’s bottom line.”
When I asked her why she thinks amazon created this team to talk to you, she replied:
“AHS is there to placate the sellers just enough to keep an uprising at bay, but even if AHS wants to help it has no power or ability to do so. The people who make the final decisions are impossible to access or communicate directly with except by creating another case which just pushes you to the back of the line and delays the process further.”
This is why you can’t depend on their assessments of your POA, even if what they tell you sounds logical, to the point, and accurate. They don’t decide your fate, someone on my former teams does. And Seller Performance isn’t what it used to be. The messaging only gets murkier with each passing year, leaving you no choice but to cast about for reasons why they denied your last appeal for reinstatement.