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Handling an Amazon Account Suspension

An account suspension on Amazon is a terrifying process to go through if you’re new. As anyone who has experienced it knows, account suspensions are extremely stressful if you’ve invested a significant amount into the business. In this article, we’ll go over what you can do once you receive your account suspension. We’ll start with the common mistakes people make and then offer some advice for writing your appeal to reinstate your account.

Common Mistakes

Before we begin, you’ll have to understand some of the mistakes sellers make regarding account suspensions. Account suspensions have a few opportunities for appeal since Seller Performance (SP) will only look at a case for so long. Some sellers managed 4-5 exchanges before finally being reinstated, but this depends on the nature of the suspension. Other sellers have received notice that they were permanently suspended only after the second appeal. Limited opportunities are why you should not immediately respond with some poorly-worded plan and waste your first chance to appeal.

Seller Performance can take days before they get back to you. During this time, be patient. Any further requests regarding your appeal will “reset” the timer. Let’s say SP takes an average of 5 days before a response. If you message them on the 4th day, you’ll have to wait another five days. Many Amazon sellers tend to believe that this is the case regarding messages to SP, but we’re not sure if this is true. It doesn’t hurt to wait a week before you send another polite reminder regarding the status of your suspension.

Many sellers confuse Seller Support with Seller Performance. These are two completely different teams in Amazon, and in numerous instances, Seller Support has been known to give bad or false information. The team that handles suspensions is Seller Performance, so be wary of anything that Seller Support tells you to do. We’ve seen Seller Support telling sellers that they had to refund orders delivered over 90 days ago.

Avoid any emotional response about money, your pregnant wife, your employees, or anything of that nature. None of that will matter to Amazon, nor will they care. In their eyes, you’ve failed to abide by their terms, so you’re at fault for your suspension.

Sellers are often vague about their corrective actions. For instance, they’ll say that they will “implement stricter processes” to reduce errors. Comments that claim that you will do something aren’t convincing. Instead, focus more on what you’ve accomplished. Something like “I switched to FBA for the ASIN that is causing late shipments” is far more convincing than “I’m going to be more careful and look into FBA for ASIN.”

Write well, but be concise. No one will spend more than a few minutes trying to decode your bad grammar. And no one will want to read the day-by-day play of how you got your product idea, researched, sourced, and listed your product. If you’re not a good writer, then have someone edit or write your appeal. Just make sure the appeal addresses the issues that led to the suspension.

Finally, read the suspension email carefully and follow the instructions. In many cases, you’ll still have to fulfill open orders. Failure to do so will result in a hit to the metrics, and depending on how long your account is suspended, your order defect rate can take a massive hit since sales have stopped. That means that even one or two errors in fulfillment can lead to another account suspension.

If the suspension states that Amazon will not respond to any more messages, then your suspension is permanent. Very, very few people manage to be reinstated after this particular response. These permanent bans are usually a result of severe violations, like feedback manipulation or opening a second account.

Strategies for Writing the Appeal

First, don’t panic. This is easier said than done since some have invested a significant amount of time and money into the business. Read over the email carefully to identify any issues that prompted the account suspension. In some cases, suspension emails include the causes. Sometimes, Amazon will tell you what the problems are after the first failed appeal.

When the suspension is unclear, you’ll have to do some research. The first place to start is with your metrics. Many suspensions are a result of some trigger in the metric, like a high order defect rate caused by late shipments. Metrics trigger automatic emails, and you’ll receive some warning before an account suspension. Be sure not to ignore warning emails regarding your seller account.

Once you’ve identified the issues that led to the account suspension, then it’s just a matter of coming up with solutions that address those faults. We recommend that you sketch out a list of possible solutions before you write your appeal. For suspensions caused by late shipments, you might come up with these solutions:

  • Move high-velocity items to FBA
  • Purchase shipping through Amazon
  • Hire additional warehouse workers if inundated with orders
  • Switch carriers or purchase faster delivery methods (2-day, overnight, etc.)
  • Replace or train workers if identified as cause of late shipments
  • Replace equipment if identified as cause of late shipments
  • Better customer service if items sold require special handling or delivery instructions

One or more of these changes may apply to a suspension regarding late shipments. When you write your appeal, follow the structure below. The first part is the introduction, which briefly acknowledges your mistake and thanking Amazon for the opportunity to appeal and fix the issues.

The introduction briefly establishes your awareness and acceptance of the errors. You can use these headings for your body paragraphs: Issues that caused the suspension, Steps taken to fix issues, and How solutions will prevent future issues.  The last section can include any pertinent details regarding your business, plan, or solutions.

In short, your plan of action should have these sections. Except for the introduction and conclusion, you should write and bold the three middle parts to alert SP to your plan. You should use block format with spacing between paragraphs.

Introduction

Briefly, explain that you’re aware of the issues, apologize, and state that this letter is your plan. Don’t waste any more words here.

Issues that caused suspension

If you have only a few orders that have caused the suspension, then list the order details here. Then talk about how you fixed the orders. Or if the problem is because of the same issue, then talk about the problem in general. For example, one ASIN had an incorrect inventory count that led to a high rate of order cancellations.

Steps taken to fix issues

Include one or more of the solutions above. Make sure to speak of action, not thoughts.

How solutions will prevent future issues (or other relevant comments)

Sometimes, you’ll need to explain how your fix will prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future. If it was human error that caused the suspension (employee who neglected to enter tracking numbers or postal worker), then you’ll explain how your new training will work. Otherwise, saying that you’ve moved your inventory to FBA makes it pretty clear that any fulfillment issue will be on Amazon.

Conclusion

The conclusion, like the introduction, should be brief. Thank the team for reviewing your plan, invite any questions or comments, and then close with your account name.

The important note here is that you need to be short and to the point. Make sure you have the plan written well, and structure your appeal with enough spacing to break up blocks of text. Again, we emphasize not including emotional claims or arguments. Avoid placing blame on customers, employees, or Amazon even if you’ve identified that the fault lies with them.

With some patience and persistence, you can usually lift your suspension within a few days. Some sellers reported success within an hour of sending in their appeals. Remember, you may have your first plan rejected. If this happens, review the response, revise accordingly, and resubmit your appeal.