If you’re like most Amazon Merchants, you probably find dealing with their performance and policy teams a bit daunting. It’s like trying to navigate your way through a country where you don’t speak the language, right?
And that’s not surprising, according to Jochen Schall, a former member of Amazon’s Transaction Risk Management Services/ Merchant Risk Investigation team. Jochen recently left Amazon and offers insights into why certain internal teams operate the way they do.
I spent some time talking to Jochen to find out what Amazon’s strategy is and how Amazon marketplace sellers can cope with policy and performance team actions.
Last year we saw a huge spike in policy team actions resulting in a suspension. What accounts for the rise in Product Quality team suspensions?
Jochen: Policy has tightened the grip on the standard operating procedures. They are enforcing a lot more, and faster. One of the main reasons for this is the person who is the policy manager prefers to have a stronger enforcement rate,. They push investigators to suspend a lot faster, usually based on some random calculation (ppm – point per million). Now amount of suspensions has gone overboard.
How are buyer order complaints vetted for valid versus invalid? If a buyer makes it clear that they ordered incorrectly or did not understand instructions will that count against a seller (or lead to a warning) the same way that a legitimate product defect would?
Jochen: Unfortunately this relies on the investigator to make the correct call. Also, the buyer has the opportunity to still say the “item was not as described” even if they ordered the wrong item. In an ideal world, investigators should disregard questionable/invalid complaints, however sometimes errors are made, as investigators have to review so many cases per hour.
How many times do investigators review the complaints and annotate “buyer errors behind the item quality complaints? Do they take into account the buyers that fabricate a reason in order to get out of paying return shipping?
Jochen: Not often enough. Complaints are usually taken at face value i.e. if the complaint is there most times it will be considered. They don’t care for buyers fabricating a reason. I have seen buyer complains deemed valid when “the item looked a bit different on the website” which can be due to the device being used to view the item.
Chris: This is really an area that no one can dispute. Amazon went on the warpath last year against any seller suspected of possibly listing items that were not as they had listed them. Product Quality teams came into focus as a major front in the war on inferior item quality. Throw a wide net, catch who you catch, and throw the good ones back in if they were snared in error on the first go. This is the wave of the future as well in terms of aggressive enforcement, account restrictions, and tougher reinstatements.
Read the second part of this interview, Amazon Customers Are Trained To Complain, And It’s Your Problem.