Getting your account suspended is every Amazon seller’s worst nightmare. And understandably so! When your account is suspended, your business comes to a screeching halt. No more sales = no more income.
At first, it can feel like a hopeless situation. But understand this: you wouldn’t be the first Amazon seller to have your account suspended and you most certainly won’t be the last. If others can navigate these treacherous waters and manage to get their accounts reinstated, so can you.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Amazon account suspension, from common causes to resolution strategies. Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
Understanding the Different Stages of Account Suspension
There are four stages of account suspension, and knowing the difference can help you better assess your situation. We listed these four stages in terms of severity, from least to most:
1. ASIN Suppression
Instead of freezing your entire account, sometimes what Amazon will do is restrict your ability to sell an individual product. This is called ASIN suppression.
ASIN, or Amazon Standard Identification Number, is a 10-character alphanumeric code assigned to each individual product. If you sell books, the ASIN is the same as the ISBN number.
To get an ASIN suppression lifted, you’ll need to write a Plan of Action letter to Amazon, which we’ll cover later on.
Suspension is Amazon’s way of temporarily revoking your selling privileges until you address and correct an issue with your account. If you’re lucky, Amazon will tell you why they suspended your account. If not, you’ll have to do some investigating of your own (we’ll discuss common causes of suspension later on).
The important thing to remember about suspensions is that they’re not the end of the world. Amazon will give you the opportunity to make an appeal within a specific time frame (usually seven days).
To make an appeal, you’ll need to respond to Amazon’s concerns by writing a Plan of Action letter explaining how you will fix the issue with your account. Again, we’ll teach you how to write a Plan of Action letter later on, so keep reading.
A denied status means that Amazon has rejected your Plan of Action. Although it stings, the good news is you can revise your plan and resubmit it as many times as you want. The key is to demonstrate that you’ve taken the proper steps to fix the issue and reassure Amazon that it won’t happen again.
If you’ve been banned, it means Amazon has made the decision to permanently disable your account. At this point, Amazon won’t even read your emails, let alone accept your Plan of Action. In other words, you’re toast.
And while you could, theoretically, open up another account, Amazon is pretty darn good at detecting dummy accounts. So if you get banned, it basically ends your career as an Amazon seller.
NOTE: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on April 9, 2020, Amazon said that it would temporarily pause suspensions stemming from late shipments, cancelled orders, and order defects. Those protections were extended through May 31.
Common Causes of Amazon Account Suspension
Unfortunately, Amazon isn’t always clear about why they suspended your account. So if the notification you received from Seller Support doesn’t outline the reason for your suspension, you’ll have to do some self-reflection. With that being said, don’t be so quick to beat yourself up! As Jungle Scout notes, “The event that led to the change in your seller status might come either from something you did and can control or from something outside of your control.”
Listed below are the three primary elements Amazon uses to grade your performance as a seller. These factors are within your control.
1. Customer Service Performance
Your customer service is evaluated based on your order defect rate. Your order defect rate consists of three different metrics: negative feedback, A-to-Z Guarantee claims, and chargeback claims. Sellers must keep their order defect rate under 1%.
2. Product Policy Compliance
Amazon is pretty strict when it comes to enforcing its product policies. All it takes is one complaint in any of the following categories to result in your account getting suspended:
- Claims regarding product authenticity
- Violation of listing guidelines
- Breach of restricted product policy
- Breach of customer product review policy
- Claims regarding product condition
- Concerns over product safety
- Intellectual property infringement
3. Shipping Performance
Amazon also keeps a close eye on your shipping performance, as they want to make sure sellers (especially FBM sellers who ship their own products) deliver on time and don’t cancel orders before they are fulfilled. In order to remain in good standing with Amazon, sellers must keep their Pre-Fulfillment Cancellation Rate under 2.5% and their Late Shipment Rate under 4%.
Now, let’s go over some common causes of Amazon account suspension that are outside of your control. These factors typically fall into two categories: policy changes and black hat sellers.
One of the downsides of being an Amazon seller is that you’re completely at Amazon’s mercy. At any time, Amazon can implement a policy change. And if you don’t like it, too bad, because it’s Amazon’s way or the highway.
Black Hat Sellers
A “black hat seller” is a term used to describe merchants who resort to unscrupulous methods of competing against others. For example, a black hat seller may leave fake reviews, bogus seller feedback, or make false intellectual property infringement claims in an effort to get your account shut down.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from black hat practices is to trademark your product and join Amazon’s Brand Registry. You might also want to consider investing in a tool like Jungle Scout Alerts, which informs you whenever a change has been detected in your seller feedback or reviews.
How to Write a Plan of Action
When you first learn that your account has been suspended, your first instinct is to launch into defense mode. But don’t jump the gun! A hasty response almost always backfires.
Instead, what you need to do is craft a written response that is discerning and methodical. But you can’t do that in a panicked state of mind. So make sure you step back and process your feelings before you begin writing your letter.
The foundation of your letter should be based on the following key points:
- Address the issue.
- Outline the steps you’ve taken to fix the issue.
- Explain how you’ll prevent the issue from happening again.
Here’s an example of how your letter should look:
This email is in response to a complaint regarding ASIN: V27ZY8PRQN. Title: Black Leather Swivel Bar Stools – Set of 2 – Counter Height Adjustable.
The complaint states, “The packaging was damaged when it arrived. When I took it out of the box there were scratches and scuff marks everywhere. It looked used.”
Upon further investigation, we have deduced that the issue may have occurred for the following reasons:
- Our quality assurance team did not properly inspect the item before being sent.
- The product was returned to Amazon and repackaged by mistake.
We have since implemented a plan of action to resolve the issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Here are the steps we’ve taken:
- To prevent damaged items from being sold, we have disabled the option to have returned products repackaged and sent back to inventory. Under our new policy, all returns will now be sent directly to us.
- We shipped all remaining inventory for this ASIN back to our warehouse. We no longer have any inventory at Amazon. For confirmation, please reference order #587413PNZ
- Moving forward, we will make sure to thoroughly inspect all items before sending them.
- We will offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee which includes full warranties on all our products.
- After each sale, we will send a follow-up customer service letter to ensure that the customer is fully satisfied. If they are not, we will rectify their concerns immediately.
- To further protect the quality of our inventory and maintain control over the complete customer experience, we will register all of our brands so that only we are authorized to sell these products.
In our four-year history with Amazon, we have maintained a seller rating of nearly 100%. Please note that prior to this complaint, all of our metrics were up to par. We have attached the invoices for V27ZY8PRQN to prove that the items we sold were new.
We hope that we have adequately demonstrated our commitment to fixing this issue and preventing it from happening again.
Thank you for helping us improve,
What to Do If Your Plan of Action Doesn’t Work
If your Plan of Action doesn’t work, it’s time to bring in the big guns. And by big guns, we mean professionals that specialize in Amazon account reinstatement. Here are some firms that you can check out for more help:
We get that you may not want to fork over the money to pay a professional, but keep in mind that you may be losing more money than it costs to hire someone depending on what your average daily profits are. For example, let’s say hiring a professional costs $2,500 to get your account reinstated within three days. And let’s say that you’re pulling in an average daily profit of $500. When you add the cost of the professional plus the three days that you’ve been out of business, your total cost amounts to $4,000.
Now, let’s say you try to get your account reinstated on your own, and it takes 20 days since your Plan of Action was rejected a couple of times. You’re now out $10,000, plus all the time you spent researching, writing, and rewriting your Plan of Action.
As you can see, sometimes it’s cheaper, faster, and easier to hire a professional from the get-go.
Preventing Account Suspensions
The best way to prevent your account from getting suspended is to familiarize yourself with Amazon’s rules and follow them to the T.
Start by reviewing Amazon’s Selling Policies and Seller Code of Conduct. Then, analyze your current metrics by logging into Seller Central and clicking on Performance > Account Health.
You might also consider reading SellerApp’s Guide to Amazon’s Terms of Service. It features a detailed breakdown of all the various regulations sellers must follow in order to remain in good standing with Amazon.
Should you ever fall victim to black hat sellers (which doesn’t happen very often, by the way) maintaining an excellent record will be your best defense against false accusations.
And lastly, trust your gut. If something you’re about to do doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Stop, re-evaluate, and make a better choice.