Chris McCabe explains how to get the most out of Amazon’s Seller Support team, and when calling them is the last thing you should do
This post is by Chris McCabe, owner and founder of ecommerceChris, LLC, an Amazon seller account consultancy.
I’ve seen more than a few sellers expect big things and serious help from Amazon Seller Support, on life-or-death crises like account suspension. They usually come away disappointed after expending a lot of time and effort, simply because they failed to understand the nature of the beast before they started. There are a lot of things that Seller Support just can’t do.
Confusion over the inability to find help related to account performance problems tops the list of concerns, so I’ll tackle in detail what Seller Support actually does offers you as a seller. You’ll want to harness their skills in the best ways possible, and ignore them for areas they don’t cover.
So first, let’s delve into some basics around the Seller Support teams. Who are they, what do they do and where can you find them?
What does Amazon Seller Support do?
Seller Support is able to assist if you:
- Have problems logging into Seller Central
- Need help uploading inventory feeds
- Want answers to general account questions
If you reach an experienced agent, they may assist with looking up annotations regarding an action that was taken on your account or on a specific ASIN. But if you don’t nail down the best times to call, or finesse the best methods to reach qualified agents, you may be wasting your time. More on that below.
One seller I spoke to disliked the lack of advanced information available when they message or call Seller Support. He referred to it as:
Almost completely useless for someone who does already know Amazon.
This is mostly due to the fact that Amazon can’t make inbound distinctions between new sellers who haven’t fully grasped the basics of selling, and advanced sellers who have honed their knowledge over several years. This remains the most common complaint I hear from my established and well-seasoned seller clients.
How do you know if you are dealing with a more experienced support agent? Try to skip the introductions and move straight into problem resolution, without getting lower-level assistance where the party on the other end simply reads out items from Seller Central Help. Decide quickly if you’re going to get anywhere on the call.
What is the best way to contact Amazon Seller Support?
The most effective method of getting questions answered is by directly calling the Seller Support number found in Seller Central. You can also email them through Seller Central by accessing the Help section and then following the prompts.
At a basic level, Seller Support is easy to locate and talk to. It offers the best chance you have to get a voice on the phone to discuss account issues. But keep in mind, there are limits to what they can actually resolve for you. They may offer guidance and come up with some suggestions based on their training or past experience, but it may not specifically match your account situation.
How can you get through to more experienced teams?
Do you sell in multiple global marketplaces? You can open a case with a Seller Support rep in one region, then ask to get help in another. You can also ask for English-speaking help in the region that you’ve called. Sure, they may just send you back to the same team you are trying to avoid, but it does work for some sellers.
For instance, one seller I spoke to created cases with Amazon Seller Support teams in Japan on a regular basis. He speaks Japanese and past experience showed that the Japan teams have better training and more ability to help than the teams in India he had been put through to previously.
It may even help to ask for a specific team and region and indicate you were told to ask for them. “I need to be put through to the Captive team in South Africa”, for example. Insist upon speaking with that team in that location and don’t settle for any substitutions.
Where is Amazon Seller Support based? Are they all offshore?
The main Seller Support team is based in Seattle, but there are many other sites used. North Dakota, India and Costa Rica all have major call centers to help address concerns 24 hours a day.
If you’re seeking English-language help, teams in India are known to have a high rate of employee turnover. Since those reps come and go quickly, try to get through to another region where you sell. It sounds tedious, but hang up and try again if it sounds at the start like it won’t go anywhere.
The last thing you want is an untrained rep who reads everything out to you from menus. India may have the largest number of reps from any region, but they don’t necessarily benefit from quality training or years of experience.
How can Amazon Seller Support help me?
You’ll want to manage your expectations and understand what Seller Support can and cannot do before you even reach for the phone.
For example, they can be of some assistance when you contact them for technical issues. Definitely contact Seller Support any time you have issues logging into your account. If there is any sign of account hacking or if you receive an error message when trying to log into Seller Central, Seller Support is a great place to start.
They should be able to look inside your account and see if Seller Performance needs to take the next action or not. Perhaps Performance teams already combed through your account to clean it. You may not know what stage of “account sanitization” you are in without asking Seller Support.
Seller Support will help get you over to the correct teams if you have notifications about listing removals due to Catalog issues, or FBA problems due to Hazmat. There are a wide variety of teams at Amazon, so make sure Seller Support send you to the right place. If you get put through to the wrong team, don’t stay there too long. Check if they are familiar with the material in your notification, and move on quickly if it’s not their area.
What is the best approach for contacting Seller Support?
As there are sometime language barriers, it is advisable to be as clear and to the point as possible. Start the conversation by addressing your main concerns and be very detailed. Don’t expect reps to fill in the blanks for you. The less info they have, the more they guess.
Again, Seller Support is limited in how it can assist when an action was taken against your account or listing. They are only trained to answer general questions and assist with technical difficulties.
If you sell overseas, it helps to have foreign language skills to talk to Seller Support for that specific marketplace. If you have to switch to English, they may try to put you through to Bangalore in India. Say no! Insist they find someone who can speak English within their own team. It usually works.
What happens if you don’t get any resolution?
Naturally, you may find Seller Support reps fail to assist with non-technical problems. They may misdiagnose the issue from the outset and not even transfer you to the proper team. Often, when listings are restricted, sellers misunderstand the difference between buyer safety complaints and prohibited item changes. You may need to reach out to other teams or escalation specialists to get these problems properly answered and resolved.
It is common to have to open and reopen Seller Support cases multiple times to get a resolution. But don’t spend too much time chasing cases around. If the first or second try produces general, non-specific, and unhelpful results then pull the plug and look elsewhere.
Also, keep in mind, Seller Support is known for giving wrong information, whether it’s out of a mistake, ignorance, or poor training. You cannot point to an errant Seller Support case as proof of the validity of actions you took. Seller Performance won’t accept that and likely won’t read it, or won’t care.
What can Amazon Seller Support NOT help with?
Sellers generally want to contact Seller Support when their account or listing is suspended. In that situation, balance your business need for reinstatement against your emotional need to demand answers from someone.
A support agent might be able to tell you why the suspension occurred, but they have no authority to reinstate the ASIN or your account. What you gain by being able to talk to someone, you lose by not investing time in writing to Seller Performance to appeal your suspension.
When Seller Support can’t get you past a certain point, they may have enough access to internal tools to steer you in the right direction. But will they know where to look? Have they enough experience to locate proper account annotations from which to offer relevant, useful advice? Some will, but others won’t even know where to start.
According to one seller:
If you can get on the phone with smaller teams, they may know more or be better able to find someone who can help you. Once you get on the phone with one, ask them about issues you have with other marketplaces. You may even get the same person who remembers you. You’ll never get the same rep in India.
Reps in Germany have a high level of English, and more knowledge. If a German seller phones for U.S. marketplace support in English, they will likely get put through to India. But the German support is actually better. Small teams. More experienced support.
Other problems Seller Support can’t tackle
Many other problems fall outside of the scope of Seller Support including Buy Box issues, product review problems and rights owner complaints.
If action has been taken against your account, write to the Seller Performance, Product Quality or safety teams that took the action in the first place. You may not need Seller Support’s advice at all in those situations. Push the teams that restricted you and escalate in the proper way, if needed.
With Seller Support, you may get through to a manager eventually, but a manager can’t help you if they’re not in the right team. They don’t have access to the same tools, and often can’t do anything other than transfer you or repeat what you already know.
If you can get them to read out the wording or specific reasons for buyer quality complaints, then great. Run with it when you compose a POA. But don’t expect them to lay out the entire appeal for you.
Why can’t Seller Support deal with all Amazon selling issues?
Seller Support was created by Amazon to offer operational and informational support to marketplace sellers. It’s just the first point of contact for sellers who need help.
Due to internal processes, training gaps and the size and complexity of the Amazon system, there can be a lot of frustration getting that help reliably. It can take several calls to get through to a knowledgeable agent. Sellers also experience frustration at the inconsistency of the information they are given by Seller Support. You can call them ten times and get ten different answers.
Recently long hold times have been reported as well as a general lack of knowledge on new programs such as changes to the account suspension and “Pre-POA” processes. You could get a message from an Account Health Support rep and call Seller Support to get more information, but discover they have no idea what the rep was talking about.
Amazon has a vast network of teams and program managers that specialize in many different fields. Seller Support doesn’t have access to a lot of the resources other teams have, and often don’t even know which department to transfer you to. Understand their limits, learn how Amazon is organized, and focus on getting through to the right team to help with your specific situation.
This post was by Chris McCabe, owner and founder of ecommerceChris, LLC, an Amazon seller account consultancy. Chris was formerly an Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team.