$60K / month Amazon seller suspended… now reinstated. Learn from my mistakes. BONUS: 6 pro actionable tips.
You can read my story about mistakes that nearly killed my Amazon business. Let’s also take a look at exact steps I took to reinstated my Amazon account and 6 actionable tips how to prevent suspension.
Hey everyone. I got some great news at the end of the last week, and I thought that I should “Pay it forward” so to speak. So I hope this can help inexperienced and seasoned veterans alike.
TL;dr — full-time FBA seller for 15 months now, was able to quit my job, and work full time for myself. Started an LLC, grew like crazy, eventually got suspended, my appeal rejected, and by some “miracle”, reinstated.
Expanded version of the story:
I grew my FBA account from humble beginnings (about $1K in sales for the first couple of months) to more substantial sales (over $60K/month) in 11 months.
I started like most of you, listening to “The Amazing Seller Podcasts” on my commute to and from my desk job everyday. I’d sneak an earbud in, and listen to every episode from the beginning, taking copious notes and following every link Scott shared. I listened to all the interviews, and ate them all up! I knew that I could be the next big seller on Amazon, all I needed was the right product.
Eventually, after sourcing tons of products from AliExpress and other companies, I tried my hand at private label, had some success, but I really found my niche in wholesale. That’s where I started making enough to make a living.
I added more and more products, growing my company, all from anywhere and anytime I wanted. I was living the dream, until of course, I got suspended.
Anyone who listens to the podcasts or belongs to Facebook sellers groups should know by now, the likelihood of getting suspended is extremely high and it’s the biggest concern of any Amazon seller. Amazon has a “Shoot first, Aim later” type policy when it comes to sellers.
They hold all the cards and they know it. They would rather have 100 angry sellers than 1 angry customer. That’s not a knock on them, I totally get it, the customer is always first, but if you're a seller, consider yourself warned.
I have outstanding metrics. I have a 4.9 feedback rating, tons of product reviews, and respond to every customer's questions. I knew almost every rule, written and unwritten to Amazon, and kept up on all the policy changes.
I had just finished packing up a large shipment for UPS, when I got the dreaded notification on my phone. My account had been suspended. I tried not to freak out, and ran to my computer to see what was wrong.
My account had been suspended due to multiple seller accounts.
Panic, disbelief, and anger. But… I knew what the steps were. I immediately hired an outside team to craft my appeal. I had heard from everyone that was necessary to get reinstated. I knew the odds of recovering my account were not good, and I took the chance and paid the thousands of dollars to the ‘experts’ to craft my response.
I do have one piece of advice regarding consulting companies. If you know how to respond to Amazon, then you shouldn’t need one of these services. If you don’t or are unsure about yourself, then you should hire the service. I felt like my money was not well spent. It took too long, I was bounced from one Rep to another and had to re-explain the situation to each person. In the end, the response they had written looked pretty much like something I would have written myself. I know, hindsight is 20/20.
The real reason why the suspension happened.
I have never had a selling account before my current one, I had a buying account, but I knew that was OK.
What had happened started a few months ago. I had a friend, who had sold on Amazon before, and was a marketing executive at a large firm, and was interested in learning the ropes of FBA. I’ve been friends with this person for years, since childhood, so I figured why not? He could help me with PPC campaigns, new products and the like, and in turn I would pay him what I could and teach him what I knew.
I didn’t allow him to access my account for the first few months. After I trusted him enough to give him access to my account, that’s when the suspension happened.
You see, he had sold on Amazon before (2–3 years earlier) and ‘thought’ his account had been closed. It wasn’t. So, when he logged onto my company’s account from the same laptop he used in that previous seller account, it linked the account and suspended my account.
After waiting two weeks for the team I hired to craft my response, it was finally ready. I fired it off to Amazon and…. almost instantly…. I heard back. Appeal rejected.
I immediately escalated it to a person that the team recommended I do, and I got a little further. I had to have my friend re-open his account, resolve some issues, and then close it back down. I had him do that, but again, my appeal was rejected and I pretty much lost all hope of recovering my business. I started to look for jobs, questioned what I did wrong, and what I could do.
One night, I wrote a word doc to Jeff. I didn’t know if I would ever send it or not, but I wanted to get all my feelings and grievances out. I won’t lie, the first draft was angry and not constructive. I had heard from most people on the forums that Jeff doesn’t respond well to people telling him off, or giving sob stories. I knew that I had about a 1/100000000 shot that he or anyone with some power would read it and I knew the odds of getting my suspension overturned were even slimmer.
I wrote an email, from the heart where I provided context, clarity, insight, and basically told him how hard I had worked for this, and how disappointed I was that this situation happened.
I sent off the email, I knew in my hearts of hearts that he would never see it, but I still felt better having said my peace.
You can imagine my surprise the next day, when I awoke to an email from Seller Support saying my suspension had been overturned and all my products were back online. I was overjoyed, I couldn’t believe it. The email worked. Now, I’m not stupid, I don’t think Jeff saw my email and reinstated me (…maybe?) but someone saw my email, and they had enough power to get me reinstated 24 Hours later! AMAZING.
So, That was about a week ago, and now I’m back to selling, after going close to 40 days without any income. I barely survived that. But I am optimistic, and hopefully I learned from the mistakes that I made, and hopefully you will too.
6 pieces of advice for sellers here that I hope you can take to heart.
- Buy a laptop and a mobile hotspot and use it just for FBA. I got a laptop for 200 bucks and the hotspot costs me 10 bucks a month. But this way I know that I am safe from unintentionally linking accounts. Trust me, if you move to a new apartment, and the person who lived there before you had an FBA account, you can get burned. Same goes for public WiFi terminals like coffee shops. Don’t even check your numbers from those. Use your laptop and specific hotspot only. It’s so cheap, and it protects you.
- Make every customer happy. Accept returns past the window of time, always respond to emails, and be friendly. This will be helpful when you eventually do get suspended.
- Use affordable services (like, www.bindwise.com) to prevent seller account suspension.
- Realise that you are building a business on unstable ground. I’m not married and I have no children. So, if I have to go a few months eating ramen, it’s no big deal. But, if I had a family and this happened to me, I probably would have been anxious 24 hours a day. Amazon is never going to allocate the resources it needs to run Seller Support correctly because that cost would be passed onto the consumer, and they won’t want that. So, be ready, because you will be suspended for some reason or another.
- Don’t stop learning. You should be reading about changes in amazon policy and rules almost daily. Because they change, and ignorance is not a card you can play.
- I think there will come a day where Amazon will shift away from FBA. I think first they will stop allowing any new sellers. Then they will start suspending sellers for minor infractions. Then they will shut down the program. I don’t have any evidence of this, but I think that it will happen in the next 5 years. So maybe think about that.
Anyways, I hope this was helpful to some of you, and I wish you all success! Please leave any comments here, and share if you find it useful.