What is this?
In this guide, we’ll go through the industry-proven process of getting unauthorized Amazon seller removed from our private label listings. We need to do this for items that are both in stock and out of stock.
Why it is important?
We need to protect the reputation of our brand. People who are selling on our listing are not always selling our real product. Many times they are selling counterfeits that are inferior in quality.
What I’ll need:
Access to an Amazon Buyer Account.
The hijacker will either leave the listings voluntarily or will be removed by Amazon.
#1. Identify a hijacker & record his information
- The first step is knowing that you have been hijacked.
- You can do it either manually or automatically using 3-rd party software services. Pro sellers should stop monitoring their listings manually. As a Pro seller I would go for an automatic listing monitoring. It will free up my time to grow my business. E.g., Bindwise provides 24/7 monitoring of all your listings (unlimited ASINs) and detects any hijacker activity. You’ll be notified as soon as there is hijacker activity. You can create your free Bindwise account & setup monitoring in just 2 min here.
- Record Seller ID.
- Record Store Name.
- Record Storefront & Seller Page URL.
- Record ASINs.
- Record Date.
- If instead of monitoring listings manually, you use a service, like, Bindwise, the information will be provided to you automatically.
#2. Check Status of the hijacker inventory
If the hijackers are Prime sellers (typically FBA) or in any case, try to determine how much inventory they have by adding their product to “My shopping cart”, starting with a very high number (e.g., 999). Amazon will tell that this volume is not available. Then adjust the number of units by coming down until Amazon allows you to order that quantity. Usually, it’s efficient to start at 999 units, then come down to 500, then 100, then 50, etc. The number of units added to the cart is the number of units the seller has available.
So, to wrap things up :
- Go to the product detail page.
- Click “Buy from other sellers” or something similar.
- Click the “Add to Cart” button next to the hijackers’s listing.
- Go to “View Cart”.
- Change quantity to “999”, “500”, “100”, etc. until Amazon allows you to order, thus you can find the real inventory size of the hijacker.
The more units the seller has available, the more likely they are to be the hijacker who is selling counterfeit products.
#3. Double-check: hijacker or reseller
A reseller is someone who has purchased your product from you at some point and has decided to sell it on Amazon. While this can be annoying, they are actually selling your real product so it’s ok for them to do this. They’ll often get your products free or cheap by buying them, e.g., from one of your promotions.
A hijacker or a piggybacker is someone who is trying to sell a fake version of your product and is claiming that it’s the same thing. Sometimes they will try to replicate the packaging to make an exact copy, but other times it will be a totally different product.
Don’t send a C&D letter to somebody selling one item. That is not hijacking, that is reselling.
#4. Send “Cease & Desist letter”
Ok, it turns out the seller is the hijacker, not the reseller. We found the #1 key to successfully getting rid of the hijacker is FAST and AGGRESSIVE communication with the hijacker. Send a Cease & Desist letter to the seller immediately. From our experience, a template below handles the majority of hijackers. Feel free to copy the C&D letter template:
It has come to our attention that your Company is using [BRAND]® and/or [COMPANY]®name and trademarks to sell products on the Amazon[.COM, .DE, .CO.UK, ETC.] marketplace, in violation of multiple international and national criminal laws, as well as civil laws regarding trademark infringement and unfair competition.
Our company, [COMPANY]® is the exclusive distributors and the owners of the brand. We have never granted permission to your company to sell our brand nor have we sold you inventory for resale.
This will serve as your Legal Notice to Cease and Desist all further actions described above, including any mention of our Products/Company on your Listings on any Marketplace, websites or marketing efforts.
You are hereby instructed to comply with this letter immediately or face legal sanctions under applicable International (International Bureau of WIPO located in Geneva, Switzerland), Federal and State law.
I have also reported your trademark and copyright violation to Amazon Seller Performance. You have 24 hours to comply or we will take further legal action against you.
- Go to the hijackers’s seller profile page on Amazon.
- Click “ask seller a question”.
- Select “other” for a type of inquiry.
- Modify words in [brackets] and paste the template.
#5. Wait 24–48 hours
Want to succeed with a private label?
#6. Place an order
If the seller removes their listing, then you are done. All you have to do is let Bindwise monitor all your listings (or do it manually) for repeat offenders.
If sellers continue to return to your listing as hijackers, we’ll have to take more drastic measures.
If the hijackers only have a few units in stock, then buy (use your personal Amazon Buyer account) them all (Don’t worry, you’ll refund these sales later!). Pay extra for one-day shipping, if possible, to speed things up.
This accomplishes two things:
- You can test their product and prove to Amazon Seller Performance that what they are selling is a fraudulent copy of your product,
- Now that they are out of inventory you prevent any more sales.
If the hijackers are not Prime and they are selling from, e.g., China or a country from which delivery time is long to your country, don’t buy their product unless they refuse to take down their listing. Then buy their product, but this is tricky because you have to wait weeks for it to arrive.
Rest assured that if they are shipping from far away, they probably will not sell very many units, because who wants to pay for all that shipping and wait weeks when they can just order from you (Prime)?
#7. Ensure you’re winning the Buy Box
Most probably the seller FBM and recognizes that the order is coming from you, they may cancel the order. That’s because they know you are trying to report them as counterfeit. If this happens, just keep placing the order again each time it’s cancelled. It will either hurt their seller metrics enough to get them kicked off, or they will give up and delete their listing.
Meanwhile, the hijackers are usually lowering their prices to win the Buy Box. Bindwise alerts will notify you about it. So you don’t have to play this ridiculous game of watching the Buy Box all day. After you get Bindwise alerts with detailed insight about the competitor, try to keep lowering your price one cent below theirs, which wins you back your own Buy Box.
#8. Report to Amazon
Once their product(s) arrives, take photos and file an infringement report with Amazon here.
Also, fill out this report.
Doing these reports before you physically receive the product has proven to be a complete waste of time, as Seller Performance just sends you a copy-paste letter about how they “respect you as a seller”, but will do nothing to protect your listing until you can prove that the seller is selling something other than this product. Doesn’t matter that you’re brand registered, trademarked, etc.
Remember, Amazon does not exist for you, private-labelers, to showcase your brands. Amazon wants sales, even if that means other people selling your stuff without your permission. But if you can prove they are selling something else, then Amazon will be on your side.
N.B.! When filling reports, don’t forget writing your final goal, i.e., what do you actually want from Amazon regarding the infringer.
#9. Leave negative feedback to the hijacker
While you’re waiting for Seller Performance to investigate your infringement report, photos, etc. you will leave negative seller feedback. Negative seller feedback decreases the likelihood that the hijackers will win the Buy Box.
However, some people think this may violate some Amazon policy, so do so at your own risk. Remember, you’re only buying this product because Seller Performance told you so. True seller feedback is 100% valid and we use a different Amazon account for our purchases anyway.
#10. Get back your money: refund from Amazon
Wait for Seller Performance to do their job. Bindwise will continue to watch your all listings day and night, and make sure they’re sold by you.
When “Mr. Fraud” is finally removed from your listing, you, of course, return his product(s) for a full refund from Amazon. State reason as “counterfeit”.
Dealing with hijackers is a part of doing business on Amazon, unfortunately. The key is how do we efficiently deal with hijackers?
You can free up your time by letting software pieces, like, Bindwise, assist in dealing with hijackers.
The goal is to reclaim your listing fast. Also, the most effective way to deal with hijackers is immediate and aggressive communication when they jump on your listing. Be patient and agile with the steps outlined above and you will benefit from this proven technique.
Do you have any questions about what makes this solution great? Let me know in the comments below.