Given the vast number of suspended sellers that we hear from on a continual basis, you can imagine how many Plans of Action (POAs) we read through. Unfortunately, many sellers have already written and sent in a POA (or two) before we hear from them. Their POAs often contain anything from no merit to partial merit, to a full complement of action items that Amazon should have accepted, but didn’t.
In any case, since Amazon keeps the average account reinstatement difficult, sellers definitely don’t need to create additional hurdles by submitting subpar or incomplete appeals. The time it takes to get reinstated will just extend from days to weeks or weeks to months. Very few Amazon-based businesses can survive that degree of damage to annual revenue, and no sellers that we work with could ever withstand seeing their entire Amazon account suspended permanently.
What are the Biggest Mistakes We See Sellers Make with their Plans of Action?
1. Appealing too quickly.
Many sellers panic into error by quickly running through all the steps Amazon provides to help them build a Plan Of Action, just to get it submitted quickly. You may speak with Account Health reps first, as Amazon may suggest, but fail to vet the guidance you receive for accuracy prior to composing an appeal. I realize that you don’t want to wait for several days and lose tons of revenue before you submit a POA, but you also don’t want to rush one through that has little chance of success. Remember, the more reinstatement denials you pile up, the less likely they are to take the next one seriously. Eventually, they stop replying entirely, and the problem becomes two-fold. Produce a good POA and motivate them to read it.
2. Using the wrong format.
Have you thought about how investigators read appeals? We aren’t sure why this still happens, but even in 2021, we see long, convoluted POAs sent to Seller Performance. In many cases, sellers use an incorrect format and divide content into the wrong sections, or even worse, make up their own format. Some sellers even compose an actual letter to comment on their suspension, writing long paragraphs defending themselves and missing the point entirely. They mount the appeal on company letterhead and create a formal-looking document to no avail, wondering why Amazon wasn’t impressed. None of these approaches work, in my experience. Style isn’t everything, and the simple, straightforward format is crucial. Don’t hand Amazon opportunities to ignore you.
3. Failing to attach requested documentation or information.
Are you failing to attach documents Amazon needs? Is your supplier not verifiable? Over the past year or two, Amazon increasingly devoted their investigative time, effort and energy into verifying supply chain documents and vendor information. This applies to both private label brands, those making their own products, and to resellers of other brands. Amazon needs to know where it’s made, who’s making it, and how you sourced it. They have promised the world that buyers are safe to buy from marketplace sellers, in the face of widening criticism and some evidence to the contrary. That means they have to be sure you’re not selling something counterfeit, something “different than described” or an item in inferior condition.
4. Only making statements, listing promises — not proving you’ve implemented solutions.
Amazon asks you to add bulleted action items in a POA format for a reason. They want specific, detailed improvements and due diligence changes that will convince them your ASIN or account problems are gone for good. Be credible by laying out implementation of new strategies that work, and you know they work, because you’ve tested them out already. Remember, Seller Performance wants to see numbered points with completed actions, not only things you’re considering, thinking about doing, mulling over, or trying out.
5. Adjusting or amending a template POA that you found someplace online, assuming that’s good enough.
Submitting something that looks like it could be used on any appeal for your suspension type, or used in multiple appeal contexts for any seller, means it’s likely generic. Amazon won’t take it seriously. You’re giving them a chance to bypass your appeal and leave you suspended, and that defeats the purpose of appealing at all. You won’t accomplish anything if you more or less guarantee that they’ll reply with a denial. You may not even get ANY reply, and you’ll be stuck calling Account Health services, asking what happened and why you haven’t heard back. God only knows what they could come up with to explain it.
Skip the generic, vague templates and avoid unclear promises to improve things. Give them solid measures that prove to Amazon you’ve picked a new, and better, direction.
How to say that? Stick with details that clearly show how new steps will improve your performance, or internal team policy enforcement, or listing compliance, or whatever may have caused your suspension. You only get so many shots at it before they lose interest in reading your POAs, so make these count!
And finally…if your POA is impeccable, and no one is reading it…what do you do next?
You can try talking to Account Health Services reps first, but we often find sellers reporting that they get different opinions or views on their POAs depending on when they call, or who they talk to. So, certainly give that a shot. Take their perspective with a grain of salt even if they sound confident and assertive in their delivery. Secondly, get professional eyes on your POA to see if it’ll pass Amazon’s muster. Even a cursory glance by someone who does this every day, or someone who used to work in Seller Performance, like me, should assist you in making some immediate changes. If nothing else, a few meaningful additions or subtractions may improve your odds of reinstatement.
What’s the one thing Account Health Services won’t advise you on, at all? Escalations! They either can’t, due to a lack of familiarity and knowledge, or they won’t, per their training. Either way, their suggestion will usually be to simply resubmit an appeal that should have been accepted, and hope you get a different result. On occasion, they will offer to submit it for you to Seller Performance, while reiterating the strength of the appeal. That, too, brings mixed results, and several reps refuse to offer that under any circumstances. That leaves you on your own, to escalate it however you can.
There are right ways and wrong ways to escalate an appeal, so make sure you use a proven approach.
At the end you mention escalations. What are the specific pathways of escalation?
There isn’t one specific path. It depends on what it is you are escalating.
Excellent article thank you
Very good advice Chris. Keep up the “Good Encouragement”.