Season 1, Episode 9

Who is working on your account?

In this episode, Leah and I cover one of the more worrisome trends in the consulting space. Using the concept of “White labeling” services, a company contracts out the work that you’ve just hired them for, without making it clear who is working on your account. It is up to you to know who you’re paying, and for what level of skill. A company that also offers numerous other services may be the jack of all trades, mastering none of them. We delve into this phenomenon, and how you need to approach the problem.

Show Notes


[00:00:07] Chris: Hey everybody. This is Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris. This is the Seller Performance Solutions podcast. Welcome back to yet another episode. Today, we’re going to be talking about this interesting phenomenon of white labeling services, or hiring a company but not knowing who’s working on the actual troubleshoot of problems, remedying problems you’ve got, creating the solution. Some people are using outsourcing. Some people are using VA’s, we’re not sure what, but I’m here with Leah McHugh. How are you doing Leah?


[00:00:45] Leah: I’m good. How are you?


[00:00:47] Chris: I’m pretty good. This is a topic you and I have talked about a lot and I’ve written blog articles on this before, but I wanted to make a podcast episode on this because it seems to me like we’re in more and more conversations with people who can’t tell us who they’ve hired to do the actual work on an ASIN reinstatement or their brand’s been abused and listing alterations that they can’t explain. And they’re working with an agency or they’re working with a company, let’s say, who can’t explain who’s going to do it, how they’re going to do it. I mean, you and I have been working on these cases for a while and we do these ourselves.


[00:01:24 ]Leah: Yeah, we’ve been seeing different levels of this. We’ve  gotten emails from people who said, I hired somebody on Instagram who sent it to some guy who did it. All the way to hiring a legitimate looking agency, but they’re not actually handling the work. And the client doesn’t know who is doing the work because it’s all white labeled and they don’t have any insight into that process.


[00:01:48] Chris: Let’s talk about the white label stuff first, because I know you and I have talked about that a lot. I think there’s been an increase in companies that want to just be everything to everybody. And in my experience in the Amazon space, which I guess is six, seven years now as a consultant, you need specialized experts to get most of the hard stuff done, right?


[00:02:06] Leah: Yeah. I think I can understand as an agency why they would want to be everything to everyone in the Amazon space. Certainly if you can handle everything for a client, great. But it’s just not really the right place for it. It’s so complicated that…


[00:02:23] Chris: It’s not realistic. I don’t think 


[00:02:25] Leah: Well, and it’s funny because I look at our Google ads and there just seems to constantly be new companies popping up that are doing this;  One, that claimed that they’ve been doing it for 10 years. And I’ve never heard of them or seen them before. And two, companies that really don’t seem to have anything to do with this, but they’ve just added a landing page specifically for Amazon compliance. Like their ads people or their marketing people are like,  we also help with account suspensions. 


[00:02:53] Chris: Because that generates SEO. Right? I mean, part of that is just to get eyeballs, I would think. And then they’re trying to get people to review what other services they have. But,the white label phenomenon, they don’t seem to tell some of the sellers, like we’re not doing this in house and maybe sellers aren’t asking.


[00:03:10] Leah: That’s the point of white label, right? That the client doesn’t know that you’re not the one doing it.


[00:03:15] Chris:  Are they not asking though? I mean, maybe some of the responsibility is on the seller too. If you’re hiring somebody you need to ask that question, like, who actually worked on this, right? What times zone? I mean, even basic stuff. What time zone are they in? And I get those questions sometimes. And obviously there’s tons of Amazon stuff and services that we don’t offer that I don’t know enough to offer expert level. Right. Full disclosure. 


[00:03:39] Leah: We just don’t really, we don’t have the need to offer it. We’re so busy doing the small part of the Amazon ecosystem that we handle.That there isn’t really a need for us to do everything. And I think that’s, unless it’s a really big agency, if somebody is claiming to do absolutely everything to do with Amazon, I would question how good they are at any of it, because how come you’re not busy doing the thing that you’re really good at.


[00:04:04] Chris: Your bread and butter, right? Master of all trades, Jack of all trades master of none. Yeah. I knew I was going to botch that. Master of none. And that seems to be, I don’t know if that’s a trend. I don’t know if it’s a new phenomenon, but the white label stuff concerns me. 


[00:04:19] Leah: I think it’s sometimes just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what will stick, but again, or even if they are a larger agency and they have people doing all of this. Where are they getting the people that are handling this? Are these people who are actually experts in what they do or are these just general assistants that they’ve hired from somewhere who may or may not have been trained by somebody who may or may not know what they’re doing? Well, 


[00:04:43] Chris: I’ve noticed since I’m ex Amazon, I have to address the fact that some of these companies falsely advertise that they have ex-Amazon people on staff and they don’t, they’re just making that up because they think sellers will fall for that.


[00:04:55]Leah: Or they’re ex Amazon from some totally unrelated part of Amazon. 


[00:05:00] Chris: From some random team, but they worked in business development or they like, if you hire an ex, if you hire, let’s just say an account manager from Amazon , obviously an ex-employee they’re not going to know much about  troubleshooting seller performance because they had trouble fixing those things while they were employed at Amazon. So how would they be better at it now that they’re out? I mean, unless they learn from somebody that did it every day, right. When they’re out. So we’ve seen a lot of people kind of draping these flags over their services or businesses, you know? Well, we’ve got people who worked at Amazon. I mean, Amazon employs, but over a million people globally and 600,000 in the United States or something like that.


[00:05:39]Leah: Yeah. It’s not hard to find one of those. 


[00:05:42] Chris: You can find Amazon people. But, I mean, like I said, a moment ago, I don’t advertise lots of services that I probably could attract attention for because I’m not an expert or even knowledgeable in some parts of the Amazon ecosystem.It’s too big. And if somebody is going to pay us, I mean, we’re going to take responsibility for getting that done. So, 


[00:06:04] Leah: right. And I mean, again, we don’t need to do that. We get enough business doing what it is that we’re good at. 


[00:06:10] Chris: Yeah. And the quick explanation for that is by the way, Amazon keeps making life interesting for all sellers because their messaging is poor, poorly written, poorly vetted.It’s not any magic on our side. It’s Amazon driving that work, that need, because the messaging is bad. They suspend for random reasons. You appeal properly, they don’t read it. And for better, for worse, we don’t expect that to improve anytime soon. So yeah. 


[00:06:37] Leah: Another thing I’ve been hearing from sellers is that their onboarding experience with a consultant or with an agency is very different from the actual experience they have once they’re working with them. So they have a very streamlined sales process, a very convincing sales team. And then once you’ve paid your money, you’re not working with that person anymore more. You’re working with somebody else who may or may not even be responsive. So a lot of time, a lot of the company’s time and money is really going into that first part and not actually going into the part of helping you. 


[00:07:10] Chris: We heard about that a lot with the law firms, right. There was the sales guy who was the actual lawyer, and then he vanished as soon as you pay. And then you had a copy and paste template dumped on you, or you had some low-level. I don’t know if there were. I started wondering if they were calling people, paralegals who were really VA’s overseas or something like that. But the quality of the work when we saw it, when it didn’t succeed. They were no longer working with those guys. We saw what they were given, which admittedly might’ve been some low cost, cheapo copy, and paste. But why bother doing that in the first place? 


[00:07:42] Leah: Again, I understand the business reasons for the companies to do things like that. I mean, we even have people suggest that we do things like that. How come you don’t outsource stuff? How come you don’t hire people to handle things like that. And I think part of the reason, and this is actually something that I do when I’m dealing with any company as a client. One of the first questions I ask is, are you going to be the person that I’m working with or are you just part of the onboarding or sales team? Because it’s very easy for somebody to promise something that somebody else might do. But if you’re actually speaking to the person that you’re going to be working with, they’re telling you what they’re going to be doing. It’s not a problem. It’s a different conversation that you’re having. And there’s a little bit more accountability because they told you they were going to do something and they either do it or they don’t, it can’t just be an Oh no, they misunderstood. 


[00:08:30] Chris: I mean, you can tell pretty quickly if you talk to a second person who was a totally different take than the first person anyway. You can also tell that they’re not talking to each other, like, or they’re talking to each other again across time zones. I mean, I don’t mean to bash on anyone who’s got people in different time zones. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what we’re talking about. But, 


[00:08:50] Leah: and we work with people all over the world, so that’s not necessarily and issue. 


[00:08:54] Chris: Yeah. E-commerce is global. I don’t mean to say that you should all be in the same time zone, but. The issue needs to be addressed in terms of the time zone that the client is in versus the time zone the person you talked to is in versus the time zone that the person who writes up the appeal, quote, unquote, writes the appeal is in because that’s, uh, that could be three different times zones. It could be four different time zones.


[00:09:17] Leah: And particularly in terms of dealing with expectations, I mean, I have worked on, not these cases, but when I worked in logistics, I have had cases where you’re dealing with five different time zones to get each part to work. And that definitely slows things down because you’re always waiting for the next party to be online. So if, again, if that’s something that you’re aware of at the beginning and your expectations are managed, then that’s fine, but that’s certainly something that’s good to know before you get started. 


[00:09:45] Chris: Yeah, I don’t mean to keep harping on this white label question. I just find it amazing that, and we had people right, approaching us who wanted to white label us years ago. We emphatically said no to that, but I don’t understand how that’s not something that comes up in the conversation, how somebody white labeling the service for you and doesn’t say, it’d be different if they said, well, we partner with so-and-so and they’re good at this type of thing. And they’ve got the right background. We’re not doing it in house. We’re partnering. That’s a little bit different. I mean, you still need to ask some questions about the strength of the partner. But, to not even have that, Oh, we do that here. You saw our services page it’s on there. So that means we offer it, which means we do it. Right. And it’s not them. I don’t see how that can work or be fair. 


[00:10:32] Leah: I would also assume that you’re probably paying a premium for that too, because otherwise, how would that white labeler  make money. 


[00:10:39] Chris: I don’t know. Like you said, there, new services shops sprouting up. Some of them we’ve never heard of, they charge prices probably similar to ours. And it’s like, really? I mean, they’ve been doing it for two weeks as opposed to a couple of decades, right? Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, bottom line, ask questions, scrutinize. Any third party, not just consultants who do accountant  and ASIN reinstatement work like us. Any third-party service you use in the Amazon space, be very aware of what they’re doing, how they’re doing it. Don’t just have the name of somebody on Skype or a Facebook group, or. Have something that you can really sink your teeth into if you’re ever asked to provide information about who you’re working with. 


[00:11:24] Leah: Yeah. I mean, due diligence for anything to do with your Amazon account is important. Because again, you have to remember that if something goes wrong, Amazon is holding you as the account holder responsible. You can’t just blame it on not knowing what somebody else was doing. 


[00:11:39] Chris: The buck stops with you. So you need to be able to answer for your actions, whether or not you’ve hired somebody else to do the appeals process or something else. Because, you’re the one submitting the appeal, right? 


[00:11:51] Leah: Yeah. And just one last point, I, it was just something we’ve talked before on other episodes, I think is that can be a lot harder to fix problems after somebody has tried to fix it the wrong way. So it’s not just a matter of you’ve maybe lost some money hiring somebody that wasn’t that good, but you have also potentially lost your chance at fixing whatever that problem was. We inherit a lot of cases and it’s a lot harder for us to fix problems after somebody has tried to fix it the wrong way.


[00:12:18] Chris: Leah speaking from painful experience from having to burn things down to the ground and rebuild them from the ground up, which if they had been handled properly the first time you wouldn’t have to burn it all the way down. But also that’s a mountain of work for you to rebuild. Yeah. Some of the things you’re working on or have worked on it, it mystified me how you even had the patience to begin starting that rebuild because of the various compliance issues, mistakes that you had to clean up. Unfortunately, it still baffles me to a huge extent that people allow it to get that bad before they call the second person. But like you said, Sometimes they’ve already invested a chunk of cash in the first person, and they’re just, they’re hoping against hope that they can turn it around. I’m sure sometimes it does pan out, 


[00:13:03] Leah: but yeah, so like, you know, a money back guarantee is great, but that money back guarantee doesn’t fix the mistakes that were made. So something to keep in mind again when you’re doing that due diligence. 


[00:13:12] Chris: Yep. All right. Well, thanks guys for listening. Thanks Leah. And we will catch you on the next episode.

Related Episodes

Optimizing Amazon Communication for Prime Day

Season 1, Episode 143 Optimizing Amazon Communication for Prime Day Prime Day is a high-stakes event for Amazon sellers, requiring meticulous preparation and effective communication strategies to ensure smooth operations. Proper communication can be the difference...

Ensure Your Amazon Account is Prime Day Ready

Season 1, Episode 142 Ensure Your Amazon Account is Prime Day Ready As Prime Day approaches, it's crucial for sellers to navigate potential pitfalls, compliance issues, and unexpected challenges. In this episode, Chris McCabe and Leah McHugh discuss the critical...