How to Appeal Your Amazon Suspension | One Plan to Rule Them All

May 3, 2021
Written by Jayce Broda
Amazon Suspension

Imagine you’re doing what you do best -- selling on Amazon. Everything’s going great until you receive an email from Amazon suspending your selling privileges. What a shock that would be, especially since you’ve considered your earnings on Amazon to be your primary source of income. You’ll feel the first indications of panic creeping up on you, and you won’t know where to direct that pent up energy.

I don’t blame you. Appealing a suspension isn’t something you should rush into. A serious situation like this deserves a lot of planning if you expect to come out of this on top. 

Third-party sellers accounted for more than $53 billion of Amazon’s earnings in 2019. For that reason alone, you might be motivated to appeal your Amazon suspension right away, but you don’t know where to start. 

Instead of relying on multiple sources, why don’t you rely on our ultimate plan? One plan that gives you everything you need to do is better than a multitude of others that provide a tidbit of information at a time, anyway.

Here’s how you can appeal effectively:

Step #1: Gather As Much Information As You Can

Step #2: Formulate a Plan

Step #3: Start Writing the Appeal Letter

Step #4: Have a Backup Plan

One Plan to Rule Them All

Follow the steps provided in this article, so you can be sure your Amazon suspension appeal goes smoothly. Ready? Here we go!

Step #1: Gather As Much Information As You Can

Every good battle plan needs a solid strategy. However, you’d need reliable information before deciding what to do. There are numerous questions to answer. Who’s your enemy? What kind of damage can he do to you? Where is he located? When is a good time to attack?

Just like in war, information is the most important weapon you have. Without it, you might as well be shooting in all directions.

Read the Suspension Email Carefully

When you’re overcome by emotion, it’s easy to miss some details about the Amazon account suspension email sent to you by Amazon. The message usually contains a few things that you must watch out for:

  • Reason/s for suspension
  • Policies violated
  • Documents needed if you want to be reinstated
  • Which department to contact for an appeal

There may be multiple reasons for your suspension, so read that email carefully. The most common reasons for an Amazon account suspension are:

  • Negative Feedback: Poor seller performance will get you suspended as quickly as major policy violations. The only difference is, it’s easy to be reinstated. In some cases, sellers got reinstated 15 minutes after filling out an appeal form sent to them. Ensure you only have a few negative reviews as a lot would indicate to Amazon that you’re not providing good service for their customers. This is reflected in Order Defect Rate (ODR). Keep your ODR below 1% to continue selling on Amazon.
  • Having Multiple Accounts: The policies clearly state that no seller can open more than one account. If you overlooked this, you’re not alone. Only about one in a thousand people read any website’s terms of service, including Amazon’s. Whatever the reason is, opening a second or third seller account will get you suspended every time. Two sellers using the same internet connection might even falsely alert Amazon that you’re using multiple accounts because of the same IP address. You can now try to appeal that you didn’t know about that rule, but the chances of getting reinstated are slim to none. Read the terms and conditions from now on, and follow them to the letter. 
  • Selling Inauthentic or Counterfeit Items: Amazon prides itself on providing good-quality items to its customers. One whiff of any seller offering inauthentic items will result in an Amazon account suspension as fast as you can say, “Bob’s your uncle.” You may be required to furnish documents to prove the authenticity of your products, such as a Trademark Certificate of Registration if you’re the brand owner, an Authorization letter from the brand owner allowing you to sell the said products, and other documents that show a valid supply chain.
  • Intellectual Property Infringement Claims: Obviously, Amazon will not initiate a claim like this on their own. A complainant must notify Seller Performance of any infringement claims, and they will enact a preventive suspension until further investigation is done. A lot of reports have been submitted about this by sellers just to force their competitors into suspension. Amazon knows this and has promised stiff penalties to people who report IP infringement without probable cause. 
  • Selling Restricted Products: Sellers can’t sell anything they fancy on Amazon. There are products and categories that are considered restricted. That means you may have to submit to more stringent rules, such as safety inspections, quality control, etc. Any violation of the rules on restricted products may result in account suspension, permanent deactivation, destruction of your inventory if you’re using FBA, and legal action if the products are illegal.
  • High Late Shipment Rate (LSR): Most customer complaints stem from late deliveries. As a Fulfilled-by-Merchant (FBM) seller, your Late Shipment Rate should be under 4% in a 30-day period to avoid an Amazon seller suspension.  
  • Products Are Not As Advertised: Be careful of any claims that you make for your products. If you tell customers that they’re new, they’d better be new. If you claim that your products can cure cancer, you’d better have documentation to prove it. Otherwise, your listing will be suppressed, and your account deactivated. Amazon is cautious about managing its customers’ expectations. 

Confirm the Accuracy of the Charges

Now that you know the reason for your suspension, checking if it’s true is the next logical step. If it’s a seller performance issue, log in to seller central and check your account health. Under the Performance tab, click on Account Health.

This page will apprise you how your account is faring against all the performance targets and policies Amazon requires of its sellers. 

If your suspension is not about seller performance, then reviewing Amazon’s policies might be in order. You can even go to the Seller Central Forums and find other people who had the same issue as you. Ask how they resolved the problem, but don’t rely on their advice on how to appeal an Amazon suspension too much. Like you, they’re also customers, so how reliable are their testimonies? Besides, you can’t be sure they’re telling the truth. 

Find the Root Cause of Your Amazon Suspension

Not all problems are as straightforward as you might think. Unlike having multiple accounts where the root cause is not knowing Amazon’s policies, an issue like a high late shipment rate may be caused by an unreliable shipping partner, or you’re sending your items too late to the shipping company. Find the root cause, and you’ll know how to solve any issue.

Be Ready for Any Possible Outcome

Expect the worst and hope for the best. Like a general planning his entire battle strategy, you have to be ready for any eventuality. That doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It just means you will continue trudging on, whatever happens. 

Consider not being able to sell on Amazon anymore. There are other eCommerce platforms out there. They might not be as lucrative as your Amazon gig, but at least you’re not giving up.

If your suspension results in legal action, hiring an Amazon suspension attorney might be a good idea. That way, you’ll get expert advice on dealing with the charges, no matter what it is.

Step #2: Formulate a Plan

Now that you have all the information you need, it’s time to conceive a plan that will give you the best chance of getting your account reinstated. Step two is all about strategy. It’s impossible to predict who you’ll be talking to, but it’s possible to charm your way into getting him to do what you want. At least, that’s the plan.

Identify the Right Department to Contact

Don’t believe what it says on the suspension email. The people from seller support are only able to handle simple questions about your account suspension using a generic template provided for them by Amazon. You’ll hear a lot of horror stories about sellers following the advice provided by Seller Support but only succeeding in making their situations worse.

You can avoid all that by directly contacting Seller Performance, the department responsible for suspending and reinstating seller accounts. By the way, you can’t call them; only send them emails. When you get a reply from Seller Performance, you can ask them about the details about your suspension and confirm if the email is accurate. Once confirmed, politely say goodbye and hang up. Now, the real work begins!

Next, find out how long an appeal usually takes. It’s different for everybody. Nowadays, the norm is three days to a week for simple issues and 4-5 weeks for major problems. Know what you have and prepare accordingly. Fulfill all your pending orders and make sure you have enough money (or patience) for what’s ahead.

Acknowledge Your Mistake

There’s nothing Amazon employees hate more than somebody who isn’t taking responsibility for his mistakes. If you contact them claiming that it’s all Amazon’s fault or their customers’, you’re in for a world of hurt. Not only can they deny your appeal, but they can also hold your sales payments. 

The best thing to do is to acknowledge your mistake. Then, you can explain to Seller Performance that you know how this issue has impacted Amazon’s customers, and you’ll create a plan of action that will address these issues as soon as possible.

Create a Plan of Action (POA)

At this point, you should already know the reason for your suspension. You should also know the root cause of the issue. What remains to be done is to enumerate the things you need to do to resolve this issue. That means changing shipping companies if your problem is a high LSR or reporting to Amazon that there are two sellers in your house, so they don’t mistake you for having multiple accounts.

Make sure your POA is sound. If it’s not good enough, Amazon might decide to keep the suspension. Your chance of reinstatement diminishes on your second appeal.

Present Steps to Avoid Future Issues

Solving the problem now isn’t enough. You have to inform Seller Performance of the steps you’ll take to avoid the same issue from happening. For example, if it’s the issue of a high LSR, you can tell them that you’ll be changing shipping companies, but you’ll also ask for updates from the shipping company for all deliveries. You can give your customers information on when they can expect their package to arrive to set their expectations. 

If your shipping company is late for a delivery, assure Seller Performance that you have a backup shipping company to use.

Prepare the Needed Documentation

This usually happens when there’s a question about your products’ authenticity or a claim of Intellectual Property Infringement. Usually, Amazon will require proof of brand ownership, an authorization from the brand owner, and invoices in the last 90 days to prove a valid supply chain. 

Don’t try to submit false documents to Seller Performance as they’re used to receiving these types of documents on a daily basis. They can spot a fake a mile away. If you’re caught, you’ll end up with another charge related to falsifying documents and kiss your seller account goodbye

Step #3: Start Writing the Amazon Suspension Appeal Letter

Now, we get to the good stuff -- writing the letter itself. This letter will most probably spell the end or rebirth of your account. You have to make sure the language used in your letter is professional and persuasive without being overly forceful. If possible, commission the best writer you know to draft your letter or hire an Amazon suspension service.

Create an Easy-to-Read Structure

Sending a 1000-word letter about your suspension and how it’s so difficult for you is the last thing you should be doing. You have to remember that Seller Performance is probably receiving thousands of letters like yours every day. Nothing discourages reading more than big blocks of text. Highlight the more essential things that they might want to read first and use bullet points. Make your letter easy-to-read, and the battle is half won.

  1. Be Specific: Assume the associate working on your case has little to no information on your file - you want to make it as easy as possible for them to understand who you are and what the issue and resolution is.
  2. Introduction: Just give the necessary information they would need, such as your name, the name of your account, and the reason for your suspension. You should include the  specific SKU and ASINs involved, if applicable. Include a paragraph that describes your situation and what you’ve learned during your suspension. Keep it short and sweet.
  3. Impact of Your Mistake: Because Amazon is a vast retail company bent on providing excellent customer service, showing that you know how your mistake has affected Amazon’s customers is an excellent way to impress them. 
  4. Actions Taken Since Suspension: Inform Seller Performance of everything you’ve done to rectify your mistake. Give as many details as you can, as this is the most critical part of the letter.
  5. Actions You’ll Take Once Reinstated: Go one step further by enumerating the things you’ll do to avoid future issues. 
  6. Summary: Give a brief overview of everything you’ve mentioned within your appeal letter. Don’t make it too long.

Wait for a Response

Now comes the hardest part -- waiting. For many sellers, this process is difficult because every day they’re not selling means less revenue. If you don’t get a response immediately, don’t panic. It takes time for Seller Performance to get to your letter.

Sending follow up emails will only make it worse. It will cause your first letter of appeal to be buried in additional messages. Be calm and trust the process. As mentioned previously, the norm for a suspension appeal is 4-5 weeks. 

Step #4: Have a Backup Plan

A good tactician always has a backup plan. Just in case Seller Performance denies your appeal, you can resubmit your appeal, but the chances of getting reinstated would be slimmer a second time. If you’re resubmitting, don’t send the same POA. Maybe the reason why you were denied the first time was an insufficient POA. 

Make your plan of action more comprehensive. Add some things to make it more acceptable.

If it still doesn’t work, it’s time to take out the big guns!

Email Jeff Bezos

The forum in Seller Central is full of people who advise everyone to contact Jeff Bezos for every concern. That’s not a good idea. Contacting Jeff Bezos is only an option if you’ve already exhausted all the other options. By the way, Jeff doesn’t answer these emails personally. He has a team that does it for him. If they find out that you’re still waiting for a response from Seller Performance, they’ll bump your issue down to that department, and that’ll cause more delays.

Jeff’s team will most likely read your appeal and decide what to do. Let’s call them the Escalations Team.

If you intend to email the Escalations Team, there are a few things you have to do to ensure a positive outcome. Following the same process you used for Seller Performance isn’t going to cut it. 

  • Don't give them another sob story or an emotional plea. They get that all day. Emotion only serves to muddy the situation and make it hard for them to assess the problems. Instead, focus on making your letter professional and detailed. Enumerate the steps you’ve taken to address the reason for your suspension in broken-down, easy-to-read highlights. Forget about big chunks of text that will likely rock them to sleep. Use bullet points, highlighted text, and italics to show them the most important parts of your POA.
  • Make it clear that you’ve already gone through the usual channels, to no avail. You can also give a brief explanation of your experience with Seller Performance regarding your Amazon suspension. No bad language, please. Keep it professional. Your explanation about the previous department should be limited to their response to your appeal and the reason for the denial.
  • The Escalations Team isn’t interested in your glory days as a seller on Amazon. Giving them an overview of your great metrics and sales history is unnecessary. They have all of that information, anyway. Limit the narration about your history with Amazon to a few sentences, not an entire paragraph.
  • You need to understand that the Escalations Team may be receiving thousands of emails daily about suspended accounts. Now is the time to be realistic about the time frame. If you’re expecting your reinstatement to happen with the snap of someone’s fingers, you’re mistaken. It will take time as the Escalations Team will coordinate with Seller Performance and get updates on what happened to your account. All you can do is wait.
  • If you needed persuasive language to deal with Seller Performance, you’d definitely need seductive language for the Escalations Team. This is your final shot at reinstatement using the process stipulated by Amazon. A denial here would basically be the kiss of death. Get a professional writer to help you.
  • Write a brief but informative letter. One of the writing techniques you can use is the “nudge-forward” method. Use direct sentences that each nudge your argument forward. Creating this kind of POA will have your reader wanting more information and end up finishing the letter. That’s what you want. 
  • Lightly highlight the merits of your POA. Don’t overdo it. Praising your plan too much is like awarding yourself a gold medal. Just explain how effective your POA has been in dealing with the issue at hand. You can present statistics that will help you prove your point.
  • Finally, wrap it up. Just summarize everything that you’ve put in your appeal letter and thank Amazon for allowing you to appeal your case. A little gratitude wouldn’t hurt your cause.

Consult a Lawyer

Asking for legal advice isn’t the same as planning to sue Amazon. In some cases, asking a lawyer’s expert advice about your situation may help you understand the legal aspects of your case. However, it’s a bad idea to let your lawyer contact Amazon directly. 

Many cases have floundered in the mud just because a seller’s lawyer directly contacted Amazon. Neither Seller Performance nor the Escalations Team will respond to your lawyer. It will only cause more delays to an already delayed process.

As a last resort, find out if Amazon can potentially file charges against you, but that’s only for extreme cases. Poor seller performance wouldn’t result in legal action. Neither will opening multiple accounts unless you’ve been selling counterfeit or prohibited items in your accounts.

It’s important to make sure that you’re free from legal worries. Now, I’m not saying Amazon can’t be beaten in court, but they have a lot more resources at their disposal for such things. You don’t.

One Plan to Rule Them All

There you have it! The ultimate plan that puts any other plans to shame. If you follow this guide to the letter, the chances of having your Amazon suspension lifted will increase significantly. Where else can you find a comprehensive plan that touches every aspect of the Amazon appeal process? 

Hopefully, you’ll get an email like this:

There are plans that give advice about which department to call and some that tell you to prepare the documents required by Amazon. Some websites outline strategies for writing your letter of appeal or guidelines to create an effective POA. However, we have something that covers all of those things: one plan to rule them all.

For more information, please contact us at [email protected]

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