How to Handle Suspension Due to Amazon Variation Policy Violation & Duplicate ASINs

A businessman feeling frustrated, with his face covered by his hands, sitting in front of a laptop, illustrating the emotions of a seller after violating an amazon variation policy

Last updated on July 31st, 2023

Written by Ken Zhou

Thou shalt not disrespect the catalog

These are important words to live by as an Amazon seller if you want to avoid account suspension. The Amazon marketplace is developed with the customer in mind. That's why the "Earth's most customer-centric company" kicks out sellers who violate the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) and Amazon variation policy. 

Don't worry; we will teach you how to prevent an Amazon suspended account because of unintentional variation and ASIN violations and share tips about creating an Amazon suspension appeal

Understanding Variation Listings and Amazon Account Suspension

Before going anywhere near an Amazon suspension discussion, learning the ins and outs of Amazon variation listings is crucial. By knowing the boundaries of the policy, you can avoid unintentionally violating it and understand how you may have abused it (in case you did).

What are variations for, and when can Amazon sellers effectively use them without breaking Amazon’s rules? 

💡 Variations, also called as parent-child relationships, are sets of products closely related to each other, differing only in specific product characteristics such as size, color, etc. 

an annotated screenshot of Kitchables double wall glass variations on Amazon

Sellers must also be familiar with the following terms and relationships to understand the variation system further:

  • Parent product or parent listing - refers to the general non-buyable category under which all child ASINs or products fall.
  • Child products or child listings - fall under the parent product category. These are related buyable items with unique ASINs.
  • Variation theme - shows how each child product differs from each other. While single-variation theme categories are most common, two-variation themes are also accepted for some products (e.g., size-color theme).

Sellers and customers both benefit from the variation listing system. The parent-child listing allows interested customers to browse products easily, improving their online shopping experience.

On the other hand, multiple variations of a product can boost the visibility and traffic in a seller's store, resulting in increased sales and conversions.

The variation model can also be a cost-effective way to offer multiple child ASINs. Here’s a wonderful example of a brand called My Daughter Journals that used personalization for low-cost variations:

🚫 However, it is important to follow Amazon's guidelines for creating variations and avoid resorting to duplicating listings. While parent-child listings benefit both parties, abusing this feature can lead to severe consequences. Variation manipulation is one of Amazon’s big no-nos.

How Variation Misuse and Duplicate ASINs Result In a Suspension

You can mess up your Amazon product listings in many ways, including duplication. According to Entrepreneur's article, this may happen "if the same item is accidentally listed twice under two different ASINs."

Technically, Amazon only requires a single ASIN per unique product. So ASIN duplication can lead to poor customer experience, the retail giant’s ultimate pet peeve.

Aside from duplication, here are other actions that are considered violations of the Amazon variation policy:

  • Adding an incorrect variation under the ASINs you created.
  • Adding products that are different from the parent ASIN or variation family.
  • Editing the parent product’s detail page so it won't match its children.
  • Adding multi-pack variations that aren't manufacturer-created to an already existing parent.
  • Adding multi-pack children by bundling two or more of the same manufacturer products.
  • Adding newer product versions or models of the parent ASIN.

As stated in Amazon's ASIN Creation Policy, creating a new ASIN based on an existing product listing or committing misuse of variations may result in an Amazon suspended account or removal of your selling privileges. When this happens, you have no choice but to file an Amazon suspension appeal.

closeup of a red enter button from a white keyboard spelling out Appeal Procedure

Steps and Tips for Filing an Amazon Suspension Appeal

Just in case you've got an Amazon Vendor Central suspension notification (or Amazon Seller Central for third-party sellers), follow the steps below to get your account reinstated:

  1. Do not panic and rush to reply when you receive the "letter of doom." We know it is hard to remain calm when your source of income is in peril, but being patient will pay off in this situation.
  2. Speaking of patience, never send multiple letters or status requests to Seller Performance. 
  3. Do not use impolite language or blame Amazon or the buyer when sending an appeal. Amazon doesn't tolerate excuses or reasons.
  4. Create a professional, brief, straight-to-the-point, and factual Amazon suspension appeal. Use bullet points and authentic credentials.
  5. Amazon gives you 17 days to submit an Amazon suspension appeal, and you will send this appeal via the link indicated in the suspension notice email. 
  6. It would be best to craft a "Plan of Action" which tells why you've got an Amazon suspended account, what actions you've taken to resolve the issue (workarounds), and your permanent solutions to avoid recurrence.
  7. The official waiting time until they will notify you of their decision is within 48 hours. But the cold and hard truth is you NEED to wait 60 days or more because the Seller Performance team often receives thousands of appeals.

How to Avoid an Amazon Suspended Account

Naturally, you wouldn't want to experience the nerve-wracking process of Amazon's suspension appeal. So here are some tips to avoid violating the ASIN Creation Policy:

✅ Check if the ASIN or product exists before taking any other action. You may do this by searching within the “Add a product” page of the Amazon Seller Central account. Search by UPC, EAN, model, or product name.

✅ Enroll your brand in the Amazon Brand Registry to protect your products and listings.

You can request a brand or SKU-level UPC exemption for unique products without an existing UPC, EAN, ISBN, JAN, or ASIN code. To do this, send a support letter on the “Apply for a GTIN exemption” page. Amazon will reply to you within two working days.

✅ Provide fitment data to Amazon for car & motorcycle and power sports products. There's a dedicated page for this, which is called the Part Finder tool. 

✅ Join the Amazon Custom program for print-on-demand or customizable products. It boosts discoverability, search relevance, listing efficiency, and inventory management. Plus, a product with multiple designs only requires one UPC exemption.

✅ Don't list different products on the same detail page. Incorrect usage of a variation theme is also prohibited. For example, different colors should not be listed within a size theme. Also, ensure that your product listings are optimized.

If you have forgotten having created a listing in the past, you have the option to delete it, or you may merge them

Alternatively, you may ask Amazon to do this for you. Report to Amazon Seller Support if someone else created the duplicate listing, and you may do this if you are the brand owner. 

  • In your Amazon Seller Central account, select "Contact Seller Support." Then go to Selling on Amazon > Products and Inventory > Product Page Issue and choose "Merge duplicate or split product pages."

In Closing

Getting an Amazon suspended account is the bane of the existence of any seller. No one wants to endure the tiresome process of getting an account reinstated and writing an Amazon suspension appeal. 

That's why you should have weekly maintenance, including checking  duplicate ASINs and ensuring correct product variations. If you want to solve your suspension problem fast, exploring Amazon appeal services to recover your suspended account without a hitch would be better.Seller Interactive has a team of experienced Amazon experts willing to help you reinstate an Amazon suspended account. Book a call today with our Amazon professionals.

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