A growing number of unethical Amazon sellers are abusing the system to take down their competitors. Here’s how they do it.
We all know that Amazon is a competitive marketplace. The battle can be intense and sellers are constantly on the lookout for ways to boost their listings. When it comes to the Buy Box, this is usually through price, maintaining good performance metrics and using FBA.
But some sellers will take things a step further and try to shoot down their competitors using a range of dirty tricks. Their aim is simple – to get a competing seller or listing suspended.
This underhand behavior is rife on Amazon, and a variety of different tricks are being deployed. These range from leaving negative reviews on competing products to switching genuine items with counterfeits, then making inauthentic item claims to Amazon.
Massive disruption is caused for the “victim” sellers, who lose money while their account is suspended. They are left frustrated, having to write a Plan of Action to reinstate their account – for problems that don’t actually exist.
To raise awareness of these anti-competitive practices, we’ve found five of the most prominent dirty tricks being pulled by Amazon sellers on their competitors.
Best practices for Plans of Action and DMCA counter notices
This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Amazonian and founder of ecommerceChris.com, with Suzi Hixon, an Amazon FBA seller and attorney specializing in intellectual property law at The Private Label Lawyer.
Chris McCabe’s first post on this topic, False Infringement Claims are Rife on Amazon, was published on Web Retailer in January.
The incidence of rights infringement claims at Amazon spiked upward recently, as many parties have realized how easily this can be abused to remove unwanted sellers from a desired listing.
In fact, Amazon’s policy teams have moved much more aggressively to suspend sellers, instead of warning them and removing the ASIN in question from their listings.
The net result of these actions is to drive up the number of suspended account appeals. These appeals require Plans of Action to address not only how you’ll resolve the current dispute with the claimant, but also how you’ll avoid such rights infringement cases in the future.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the increased friction around notice claims has resulted in new methods to prevent notice abuse. Amazon is now taking this subject very seriously and no abuse of Amazon’s systems or policies will be tolerated going forward.
…and the top 5 things you need to know about each of them.
This post is by Austin Fisher, Product Manager for SellerEngine’s product research scouting app Profit Bandit. He also works with SellerEngine Services, helping Amazon sellers with listing and account issues.
For those of us who have dealt with Amazon for a while, it was only a few years ago that selling through the ecommerce giant seemed like the wild wild west.
Anyone could start selling and making money. There weren’t many third-party software or service providers, and – most importantly – there weren’t so many rules, regulations and rapid-fire changes to watch out for.
Today it feels quite different. Amazon selling, FBA, retail arbitrage – they’ve all hit the mainstream now. And Amazon has got a lot more proactive in regulating their marketplace.
How unethical sellers abuse the system with bogus IP, trademark, copyright and patent reports
This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Amazonian and founder of ecommerceChris.com. For Amazon sellers, having their merchant account suspended means losing time and money trying to get back in business. ecommerceChris shows sellers how to keep their accounts healthy, or, if the worst should happen, how to get their account back from a suspension.
UPDATE FEB 2017: A follow-up to this post, How to Fight Amazon Rights Infringement Claims, covers Amazon’s changing attitude to false claims, how to create a Plan of Action, and how to file a DMCA counterclaim.
As demonstrated in a recent CNBC article about Samsung sales, Amazon scarcely has any process in place to vet disputes over sales rights or to filter counterfeit claims from alleged rights owners.
In order to meet a minimum liability standard, Amazon only acts upon properly submitted and completed notice claims of infringement. They notify specified marketplace sellers which party reported them on what listing, and how to reach that would-be rights owner via email. The rest is up to you.
Unfortunately, now word is out that anyone could submit a form without any true vetting or verification process on the other side. Investigators merely check the form for completed content in all the right spaces. They don’t independently verify that any of the information is actually correct, or valid. The rights owner makes a legally-binding declaration in the form, and signs it. What if you can’t locate a party who submits a false form?
If anything there does not square with reality, then it’s up to you to chase them down.
One of the most popular topics on Web Retailer is being banned from selling on Amazon.
It’s an emotional experience. One seller described his state in the day he found out he was suspended as, “confused, destroyed, anger, sadness, extreme worry”. Bans are an everyday occurrence for Amazon’s Seller Performance team, but they’re a gut-wrenching experience for the sellers who go through them.
In this roundup we cover everything you need to know about Amazon suspensions, from a blow-by-blow account of one seller’s suspension, to detailed advice about how to find out why you were suspended and put together a successful appeal.