It’s not used!
If you’re not selling used items but face a suspension for “used sold as new” it might be tempting to respond to Amazon correcting them for an error, “I don’t sell ANYTHING used at all!” Unfortunately, firing off a couple of sentences to Amazon stating that you only sell brand new products won’t cut it with these teams.
In most cases, Amazon flagged you for Used Sold as New due to valid condition complaints, even if your items are new. The buyers likely had a negative experience with a damaged product, one that didn’t work properly, or it simply didn’t appear new when they opened the box.
Begin with a little digging into your inventory, return reasons, and seller feedback. Are any products missing parts? What about damage in transit complaints in Voice of the Customer? Have your buyers reported anything consistently amiss? Review your on-hand inventory, as well, to see if boxes appear unsealed. If so, have you addressed these issues with your supplier? This is the kind of initial due diligence that Amazon expects any seller to do.
One seller, who carries motorcycle helmets, received buyer complaints because the shield on the helmets were arriving with scratches. The seller sent off a generic appeal to Amazon, stating that he had sent the customer a warranty part. Amazon rejected the appeal.
What went wrong here? First, the seller didn’t identify the root cause of the scratches. Their appeal went from bad to worse when they told Amazon how they handled complaints that already happened, but failed to mention measures to prevent future complaints from happening.
A better response would have been to:
- Identify why customers received damaged products (in this case, it was a lack of quality control procedure to check for damage before sending inventory to Amazon)
- Outline the immediate steps taken to fix the issue. Sending a replacement item to the customer is the bare minimum Amazon expects from you in these instances. Have you checked the rest of your inventory and removed all damaged items? Or are they still sitting there waiting to go out to an Amazon customer?
- Give Amazon a clear picture of new procedures you have implemented to ensure this issue never happens again. What additional quality control steps have you added and who is in charge of implementing this? What checks do you have in place to ensure that your improvements are properly followed?
These 3 steps are the difference between a reactive plan of action, which will likely get denied, and a PROACTIVE plan of action, which is what Amazon is looking for to reinstate you.
Understand where the complaints originate
Why do they insist upon proof that you know what went wrong? Amazon wants to see that you clearly understand what operational improvements are needed, and why you are receiving complaints in the first place. Even if it’s only a small percentage of your orders, don’t appeal this pointing out how small the number of complaints are. It won’t get you anywhere to point the finger back at Amazon for flagging you without cause. If anything, you dig a deeper hole.
Instead, look into what your customers are complaining about specifically, and put these details in your appeal. Don’t grab a generic template through basic online searches and pad it with language like, “Buyers received damaged items” without saying what the damage is due to.
Speaking of Solutions to Buyer Condition Complaints
As a seller, you must understand one chief objective of the Plan of Action appeals process: Amazon tasked you with convincing them that your solutions to past problems will work. Once you demonstrate that you can identify the main causes of mistakes, gaps in processes, or other flaws in your quality control, they need to start hearing the good stuff. You have not fixed everything that broke, but you’re monitoring your fresh new solutions to ensure they work. How effective are they, and how good are you at presenting credible solutions?
Remember, these Seller Performance investigators have seen and heard it all before. Make it good, but don’t make it up! They can see right through that. These are actions you’ve already completed, and not only do they work well thus far, you guarantee they will work on into the future. You tested them, audited them, and double-checked each step. Sell them on success.
Check your invoice
Some sellers we hear from have written up a good POA for a “used sold as new” suspension (Amazon Account Health even may give it a thumbs up) but they get stuck when they submit incomplete invoices. Naturally, an acceptable invoice from your supplier helps prove that you sourced a new item to begin with. Invoice quality varies, though.
Do a thorough checking over of your paperwork. Make sure your supply chain documentation meets Amazon’s requirements. Not sure what those are? Check our list here.
From the Amazon seller forums, we learned of a seller who manufactures his own products in-house, and he does not have the invoices Amazon asks for from a supplier.
He’s already in Brand Registry and can show purchase of the items used in his manufacturing process and included design files and all other relevant documentation. Once he provided invoices for the components of the products and other supporting information about his branded products, along with a solid POA, he was cleared to sell the items again.
Don’t use commingled inventory
This falls more into the prevention category, but an ounce of prevention goes a long way. If you send your inventory to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), make sure you’ve opted out of commingled inventory. Otherwise you’re opening up a pandora’s box for issues because Amazon can’t necessarily distinguish your inventory from someone else’s.
To make sure you are clear of this worry, use the FNSKU, which will identify you as the seller and owner of that specific piece of inventory. It won’t prevent suspension if your own products have quality issues, but it removes any question as to the inventory that your customers are receiving.
Customer satisfaction is Amazon satisfaction
The reasons customers complain to Amazon in the “used, sold as new” category are many and varied. It can be confusing and upsetting as a seller to receive that suspension, especially when you know you’re only selling new. Some categories of complaints aren’t easy to figure out, either. “Inauthentic,” for instance, is a bit of a catch all, and getting to the bottom of it can be time consuming and frustrating.
But remember, it’s about customer perceptions—for whatever reason, your product arrived in a way that didn’t match their expectations. It can come down to packaging, defective or damaged goods. It’s your job to determine why a customer complained. Once you’ve got that figured out, it’s time to take on your suspension.
As tough as it may be, leave “I don’t sell used” out of the equation because it won’t do you any good. Instead, send a specific POA in your appeal, explaining how the product ended up in unsatisfactory condition and highlighting exactly how you will fix it.