Amazon’s goal is to be “the most customer-centric company on Earth.” The company is notorious for strictly regulating sellers to preserve the high quality of its marketplace. Most sellers have no problem following these policies since they’re eager to access the ecommerce platform’s customers shopping for products each month. However, even the best sellers risk finding an account suspension notice letter in their inboxes. If you ever find yourself in this unlucky situation, all hope isn’t lost. Here’s what you need to do to get your account back.
Identify why your Amazon selling privileges have been removed
You won’t be able to reinstate your Amazon seller account if you don’t know the root cause of the suspension. The first step to getting your privileges reinstated is fully understanding why you were suspended. Amazon will state the reason for your suspension in its notice email, but you’ll want to know in detail how Amazon defines these reasons to form a well-informed appeal.
Typically, Amazon account suspensions are due to these 3 reasons:
Poor seller performance
Sellers on Amazon can be suspended for failing to meet Amazon’s performance targets, which are associated with these 3 metrics:
Order defect rate (ODR): This metric indicates the percentage of a seller’s orders that have received negative feedback (1- and 2-star ratings), an A-to-z Guarantee claim (a buyer reporting an issue with their order) or a service credit card chargeback (when a buyer disputes your order as a credit card purchase).
Amazon requires that sellers maintain an ODR that’s less than 1% to avoid suspension.
Pre-fulfillment cancellation rate: This metric indicates the number of order cancellations initiated by the seller before the shipment is confirmed divided by the total number of orders in that period of interest. High pre-fulfillment cancellation rates are often a result of poor inventory management.
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain a pre-fulfillment cancellation rate that’s less than 2.5% to avoid suspension.
Late shipment rate: This metric indicates the number of orders that are confirmed for shipment after the ship date divided by the total number of orders in that period of interest. A high number of late shipment rates often lead to customer dissatisfaction since shipments that aren’t confirmed by their ship date can’t be tracked.
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain a late shipment rate that’s less than 4%.
Violations of Amazon selling policies
All sellers are expected to adhere to Amazon’s policies when listing products on Amazon. If you don’t adhere, you might end up with your Amazon account suspended. However, it’s possible to accidentally do something that is viewed as a policy violation, especially if you are a new seller. Let’s take a look at the seller’s code of conduct.
As an Amazon seller, you must:
- Make sure all information presented to Amazon (business registration requirements, tax obligations, etc.) and Amazon customers are correct at all times. For example, when listing products, it’s important to make sure your product descriptions are accurate and do not violate intellectual property laws.
- Act fairly at all times and do not misuse Amazon’s features or services. Unfair behavior includes artificially inflating traffic to your store or manipulating sales (paying for your orders).
- Do not abuse or damage another seller’s listings or ratings, unless you have a genuine reason for a bad review.
- Not influence customer reviews and feedback. For example, you can’t try and bribe customers with discounts in exchange for good feedback.
- Keep communication appropriate and only communicate through Buyer-Seller Messaging.
- Keep all sales through Amazon. For instance, you cannot message buyers from Amazon to shop directly on your website.
- Operate one selling account on Amazon, unless you have a legitimate business needs to operate multiple. Legitimate business need includes owning two separate brands that require separate seller accounts. For example, one Amazon business sells makeup accessories, and the other business sells hardware tools and supplies.
- Make sure you do not violate price-fixing laws.
Note: This content should not be used as legal advice. Always consult a lawyer or legal professional.
Amazon keeps these guidelines broad to encompass a lot of situations sellers could encounter. Some of these rules are pretty obvious, though, such as not faking your identity or abusing customers, and should be straightforward enough to follow.
Violations of Amazon-restricted product rules
Rather than one set of product rules, Amazon has specific product restrictions for each of its product categories. Supplying restricted products is grounds for account suspension, so make sure you check the Restricted Product pages to make sure that your supply is appropriate and whether your supply categories require additional action, like getting pre-approval from Amazon.
Appeal your Amazon account suspension
To appeal your seller account suspension, you need to submit a suspension appeal letter to Amazon Seller Performance. Here’s how to do this:
Understand why your account was suspended: The reason will be provided to you in the suspension notice email. It will fall under one of the 3 categories listed in the previous section (poor seller performance, selling policy violations or restricted product rules violations).
Follow the link to submit your appeal: Amazon gives sellers 17 days to submit an appeal, which can be sent through the link provided in the suspension email. Submitting an appeal doesn’t guarantee that your seller privileges will be restored, but Amazon reviews each appeal carefully.
Write a “Plan of Action” (POA) letter: Include details on how you will improve the issues that led to your suspension. You must put a lot of time and effort into your initial submission because there’s no guarantee that Amazon will allow you to submit a second revised plan.
While some sellers report being given a chance to provide a further explanation after a rejected Plan of Action, others weren’t so lucky and had their accounts permanently banned. Don’t take this chance. Increase your chances of having your selling privileges restored on your first try with a stellar Plan of Action.
Tips for writing a successful appeal
There’s no set formula for explaining how you will resolve your issue since the actions you list will depend on your unique seller problem. Having said that, there are a few general tips to keep in mind when listing your action points in your appeal:
Be specific. Amazon states that it values precision in Plans of Action, so be as detailed as possible when explaining your solution points. Beyond impressing Amazon, writing specific action points with clear steps will set you up for success with account reinstatement.
Keep it brief. You want your action points to be detailed, but that doesn’t mean each has to be an essay. Amazon receives tons of seller suspension appeals, so the company will be thankful if you can convey your points with brevity. As a guideline, try to keep each point to less than a paragraph, and at most two.
Don’t get emotional. You made a mistake as a seller, but that doesn’t mean your appeal should be a heartfelt apology. All Amazon needs to know to feel comfortable reinstating your privileges are the actionable steps you plan to take, so keep your points objective and logistical.
Don’t be defensive. If you make a statement in your Plan of Action about how you think your suspension is unfair or why this issue isn’t your fault, you’re failing to identify your issue as an Amazon seller, a key part of the Plan of Action. Amazon has already determined that you made a mistake as a seller, so you’re better off accepting this as truth in your Plan of Action instead of trying to prove why you’ve been falsely accused.
Plan of action template
Need help with framing your identified issues and action points? We’ve provided a general format below for writing your appeal. The language you use in your plan of action will be unique to your seller issue, but this framework will help with the organization of your ideas.
Dear Amazon Seller Performance Team,
Thank you for providing me the opportunity to appeal my selling suspension from Amazon. Please find my Plan of Action below for resolving [state the issue identified in your suspension notice].
A) The issues in my [selling and/or inventory management practices]
[identified issue][identified issue][etc.]
B) What actions I have taken to resolve the issue
[action step][action step][etc.]
Thank you for taking the time to review my appeal. I look forward to hearing your response.
[insert seller name]
This template should serve as a reference point, not a definitive format, for your Plan of Action. That said, be wary of including information beyond your identified issues and action points in your appeal. Adding too many extraneous details about your situation will dilute your main points about resolving your issue, which could decrease your chances of being unsuspended.
After you submit, you should be prepared to wait for your response. Amazon reports that they will notify the seller of their decision within 48 hours, but many sellers report that it can take as much as 60 days or more to receive a response.
Below is a full timeline of the suspension and appeal process for Amazon sellers.
General practices for avoiding suspension
If your appeal is successful and your Amazon seller privileges are reinstated, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid suspension in the future. Here are a few habits that will help you track whether you’re meeting Amazon’s standards for sellers or need to improve your practices.
Check your account health regularly. The data in your Return, Imperfect Orders and Feedback reports will provide a clear sense of whether you’re consistently meeting Amazon’s performance metrics.
Keep an eye on your order shipping. Unless you’re an Amazon FBA seller and Amazon handles your shipping and delivery, you’ll want to make sure that customers are reporting on-time shipments and properly packaged goods to avoid buyer complaints or a high late-shipment rate.
Double-check your listing descriptions. Misrepresenting your supply is a seller policy violation, so make sure you are accurately describing the items in your listings.
Download the Amazon seller app for quick communication. The earlier a problem is addressed, the easier it is to solve. You can get performance notifications, and you can respond to seller account notifications and buyer messages instantly with the Amazon Seller App.
Review Amazon’s product rules before adding new items. Check the restricted product rules for the items you want to add to make sure that they are not in violation of Amazon’s policies.
Seek advice from other Amazon sellers. As an Amazon business owner, you’re not alone! Take advantage of the Amazon seller central forum, where you can ask for advice from experienced sellers.
Learn from the experience
Amazon knows that its success counts on great sellers, so it won’t keep you suspended if your Plan of Action is convincing and shows that you won’t make the same mistakes. That said, there are no guarantees here — Amazon has permanently banned sellers before, so increase your chances of suspension removal by taking the time to craft the best appeal you can submit.
If your appeal is accepted and your selling privileges are reinstated, take measures to avoid suspension in the future. Amazon sets up its seller standards to ensure the satisfaction of buyers, so following its rules won’t just allow you to keep selling — it will also help you create positive customer experiences, which in turn spur your company’s growth.
Amazon is a thriving but strict marketplace. Maintain a clear understanding of its policies, and you’ll be able to steer clear of suspension by consistently checking whether you’re following the rules.