We’ve all heard of Amazon suspensions for what’s known as “review manipulation,” but what about manipulation by Amazon consultants? What makes an Amazon seller account consultant, by the way, other than just calling yourself one? What is going wrong, and what questions should you ask?
What is Going Wrong with Amazon Consultants?
I spoke with Cynthia Stine from egrowth Partners on how to avoid being scammed by Amazon consultants
Sellers looking for help are deluged by would-be Amazon experts who vie for their attention, charge a wide range of prices from low to high, and then proceed to offer dubious services in exchange for excuses more common than results.
People pretend to know internal Amazonians that they can show your appeal to for inside help, without specifying who those people are. Sometimes, they simply appear to be making it up. Other times, they DO know somebody…but they work on a team that has absolutely nothing to do with suspensions, reinstatements, appeals, notifications, or anything else related to Seller Performance.
Sometimes it’s an attorney trying to frame a problem as a legal issue, or one where you need an attorney only, but no true legal matters are present.
Other times, it’s simply a business charting the growth of services like these looking to cash in. They hit you with a lot of false promises (money back guarantee) or an absurd track record that has no basis in reality (100% reinstatement rate!), then they tend to disappear on you or tell how you had a hard case, without much else. Very few seem to know how to fight or escalate on your behalf.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- We know account investigators in India! We know investigators in Seattle! They will look at your account and help you because they know us.
- We will help you with services offline, that Amazon will never find out about! Don’t ask and we won’t tell what we’re doing for you, aside from what it costs.
- Then there’s the “Spamalot” method: Is the major push of their approach to spam as many Amazon email addresses as possible, to see which one replies? Do you really think that will work, sending the same POA over and over to everyone near and far?
- Look for an army of minions in the popular Amazon seller Facebook groups where people ask you to “PM” them based on a post you wrote, asking for help. The minions claim to be sellers who were already helped by this or that consultant, right? Are they sellers or just paid promoters? Take it all with a grain of salt.
- When you call or email and they reply, are they spending more time selling you on their services than understanding the particulars of your situation? Do they promise they can do anything? Anything at all?
- Are they asking you to spend only hundreds of dollars on proven techniques anyone can use? Are there basic, generic templates involved that usually result in instant denials by Amazon account investigators?
- Do they sound like they are personally working on your account reinstatement or listing block, or are they outsourcing and offloading the real work to other teams? If so, who are those other teams? Did any of them ever work at Amazon, or if not, who trained them? Are they simply lower paid support staff or do they have a specific track record with each of the many kinds of suspensions?
- How secretive are they about their process? Are they claiming they can collect your fee and communicate directly with Amazon on your behalf, no need to send any appeal at all? Or, just give them a basic appeal, they will send it for you and do the rest? If it sounds shady, guess what, it is.
- Do they promise or guarantee to get you back on quickly or in a limited amount of attempts? Is there anything presented at the time that backs it up?
You need to know how to vet these sorts of bogus claims. Ask real questions, don’t make snap judgments based on bad info, or chest-beating talk that stems from self-confident fantasy
What Can I Do (Differently) when hiring an Amazon Consultant for my Account?
Good news! Now that you know this, all you need to do is be savvy and critically assess your options. Here’s a good list of my top suggestions to be smart and protect the account. Nobody will do this for you, it’s up to you to decide who you can trust with your Amazon account future!
1. Beware of “too good to be true” legal services that offer to wipe out competitors with fake or weak legal claims of infringement, “document creation” companies that create fake invoices for you, or obvious scams around shortcuts to reinstatements that make no sense. If you get suspended again later and investigators find a previous reinstatement that had no substantial reason, you’ll pay an entirely different price.
2. Vet your consultant, and ask for examples similar to yours. Don’t believe everything they tell you. Some of them have no experience on the issues they advertise as experts about, and you can disprove their claims by asking them key questions.
3. Do they really know Amazonians, did they really work there once? Is there any evidence of this when you email or talk to them?
4. What KINDS of Amazonians do they know? I once had a client tell me with great pride that they knew a Kindle VP. Did that VP get them anywhere with Seller Performance? Of course not. Are their contacts the kind who will follow up with internal teams and pass along good info and advice afterward? Or do they come back with generic advice SP teams give anyone who asks for to appeal? The latter is a lot more common.
5. Ask about Black Hat tactics- is what the consultant offers to do for you compliant? Are they secretive about how they will complete the work to get your account or ASIN reinstated, or the category ungated for you? In this case, if it sounds like magic, it’s probably black magic. It’ll cost you eventually even if they manage to “fool” Amazon temporarily.
6. Make sure those who offer glowing testimonials are actual sellers that are their clients. If it’s legitimate and they’ve actually been helped by said consultant, then great, I’m all for it. If they are “incentivized” to do so, then stay away from it. The incentive taints the credibility.
7. Be wary of SEO-savvy, Google ads-driven “consultants” who pitch generic templates with run of the mill content. You remember that this involves the fate of your ASIN or account, right? Unless you really don’t care how things turn out, don’t use these. You’re wasting time and what little money they charge. Have the sense to understand that these are chop shops.
Remember, ultimately you are responsible for abiding by Amazon TOS, and if you pay Amazon consultants that offer workarounds or non-compliant methods, you will be the one left holding the banned account.
You get what you pay for. That’s never truer than in the Amazon space. Believe it now, before you blow through legitimate chances and solid reinstatement opportunities by trusting an empty sales pitch.
If you need me to look over your POA or escalation email prior to sending, grab a half hour of my time, and talk to me. I’ll give you some blunt and relevant feedback without pitching you on hiring me to replace the so-and-so you handed the reins to before.