Season 1, Episode 97
[00:00:07] Chris: Hey everybody. Welcome back to another wonderful episode of Seller Performance Solutions. I’m Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris, former Amazonian, current Amazon seller and brand owner consultant. I’m here with Lee McHugh, also ecommerceChris Leah, wonderful to have you back on our program today.
[00:00:23] Leah: Thanks, Chris. It’s always a pleasure to be here.
[00:00:25] Chris: Today we’re talking about account health services again, a topic we’ve covered a couple of times, but recently they’ve gone back to this blinking red light here. They’ve gone back to the 72 hour warning where they say, we need a plan of action within 72 hours, or We need you to suddenly clean up all these demerits and marks against your account health on the dashboard within 72 hours. Or there could be potentially damaging repercussions, right?
And the first question we get is, is it a real 72 hours? Will it be less? No one knows when these teams are going to strike. Would it be 48 hours and they’re looking to get the POA, the plan of action from you right away? And others of course don’t even see the message until it’s been after 72 hours and nothing has happened by the time they read it.
[00:01:17] Leah: Well, sometimes they call as well, right? They call and tell you that you have 72 hours.
[00:01:22] Chris: Or they send a message saying, you get a call from us within 24 hours, right? And then once the call happens, then they put you on the 72 hour clock. But point being, it’s very kind of confusing and they don’t really stick to their own deadlines.
They never have truth to be told.
[00:01:39] Leah: No. often they just don’t even respond. And you’re like, I guess I’m not going to get suspended since it’s been more than 72 hours .
[00:01:46] Chris: Well, right, but especially for people who consult with us or hire us, they’re on edge. So they ask us, should we call back? Should we clarify?
And of course, every time you call account health, you get a different answer, right? But sometimes they actually tell you, no, you don’t need to submit another plan of action. This one hasn’t been rejected. It just hasn’t been reviewed yet and of course, this was somebody last week or the week before that hired us to do work on something like this.
It’s been a week, it’s been 10 days. They called again I think today or yesterday, and the answer was, oh, you don’t have to do anything else. We see that you’re in your account health. We see that you’re taking it seriously, but it hasn’t been reviewed yet. Begging the question, why do they blast all these out?
I know this is a rhetorical question, but why would they blast all these messages out, arrange for all these phone calls, tell you that they’re going to call so that you’re waiting every second of the day for that all important account health call that could determine the feature of your account.
And then you send this thing in after toiling over it for a day, a week, whatever it was, and then they don’t review it for three weeks, four weeks.
[00:02:56] Leah: Well, I mean, , at least they’re giving you a heads up. Compliance have gone the opposite way, where when they ask for documentation to do a documentation review, they don’t even give you a like grace period in which to submit it anymore.
They suspend your listing and then ask for the documentation. So at least there’s a heads up.
[00:03:12] Chris: But is this an artificial grace period? Is this kind of a smoke screen where they’ve taken so much criticism from so many angles about their lack of compassion for sellers, their lack of communication with sellers, their lack of transparency with sellers.
Is this really just so that they can tell somebody far down the line or maybe a few months from now, congressional hearing or whatever it might be, some media article. Are they really just going to count how many people were given 72 hours to appeal and maintain their seller status just so they can give a hard count number?
Well, we did send 711 sellers last month a message indicating that they had the better part of a week to appeal this.
[00:03:58] Leah: Well, so I know we’ve seen them doing this on and off before, but isn’t this also part of their whole, if your account health is in good status, we’ll warn you before we suspend your entire account?
Remember, a few months ago they announced that they won’t just suspend your account if you maintain a certain level of health, you get a warning. I assumed that this new kick of the 72 hours is part of that. But we have seen them do this on and off throughout the years .
[00:04:21] Chris: They do but not everyone is part of that new initiative or program, which is called Laughingly enough, aHA, Account Health Assurance.
[00:04:30] Leah: Right. That’s it, I couldn’t think of the name assurance.
[00:04:31] Chris: But some people got an actual message saying, you are now part of Account Health Assurance. And of course, last fall, I think when we heard from people they were definitely reassured that they got this message because they thought that automatically put them in the winner’s circle of I will not be suspended randomly or in a lightning strike or without warning.
[00:04:50] Leah: Which I think I said this at the time, and maybe I didn’t say it publicly, but I find it very hard to believe if they think that there’s fraud being committed or like a massive safety issue, that they’re gonna just like wait and not suspend you immediately because you’re part of Account Health Assurance.
[00:05:04] Chris: Well they reserve the right to suspend in what they would consider to be an urgent situation or an emergency. So those sellers aside, first of all, we haven’t heard much about this AHA.
[00:05:16] Leah: Well, I think you just get the heads up. So it’s a 72 hour thing. I have yet to see messaging that specifically said, because you’re part of account Health Assurance, you’re getting a pre-warning. But I mean, we have been seeing more pre-warnings.
[00:05:28] Chris: We’ve seen more pre-warning, but a lot of the people contacting us now weren’t even part of this AHA thing, so.
[00:05:36] Leah: Maybe Amazon just was like, maybe you should just do this across the board. I have stopped trying to make sense of this particular thing because like I said, the 72 hour thing we have seen on and off for what, the last five years.
[00:05:48] Chris: So it’s definitely confusing. Traditionally their communication skills not really up to snuff, what you should do about it. So we’ll move the conversation away from the madness because it is kind of crazy. As a brief aside to cattle prod somebody into, this is an emergency, write something quickly, but make a good, you might only have one shot at the pre-POA before we suspend the account then all the rest of the dominoes could fall and you might be tossed on the pile of account suspensions. Oh, by the way, we didn’t mean the whole 72 hour thing, right? We meant 572 hours, which is god knows how many days because you were probably changing the course of your day and week. You’re scrambling your teams, you’re going over your operations. you could be pulling inventory out of FBA to inspect it, just so you have a removal order cooking that you can put in front of them, Hey, we’re taking this quality control issue seriously.
[00:06:45] Leah: Well, I think when they say the 72 hours, I always just assumed that that meant that if you didn’t have a POA in by that time that you would be suspended. I mean, granted, maybe Amazon is implying that they’re gonna get back to you within 72 hours, but I just never thought that that was gonna happen because they’re not great at their own timelines.
[00:07:02] Chris: They used to make the decision shortly thereafter, so what you’re saying is maybe you just have to get the damn thing in there within that time and then they’ll get to it when they get to it.
[00:07:13] Leah: Yeah. I mean, well, that just seems to be how they’re treating them.
[00:07:16] Chris: This go round?
[00:07:17] Leah: Yeah.
[00:07:17] Chris: Which is kind of interesting because maybe it means they sent them to too many sellers. If they over sent it, then they’re raising anxiety levels and stressing people out for no reason. If this was the right number of people to send it to, then why wouldn’t they grab some people from other teams, get some headcount behind it so that people wouldn’t keep calling them and creating more work for account health reps.
Did you read it yet? Call tomorrow. Did you read it yet? Because nobody wants to just take off for the weekend. How many people contact us on weekends who have been suspended? Nobody wants to work on this all week. Take off for the weekend, come back Monday, suspended. Right? Everyone knows this, including Amazon.
[00:07:58] Leah: Yeah, I just think I’m just getting too cynical after doing this for so long, when they say that they’re gonna get back to you with a certain timeframe, I always just kind of take that with a grain of salt at this point because half the time they’re like, we’ll get back to you in 10 business days. And it’s like, I’m sorry, what?
[00:08:11] Chris: For your compliance cases that you’re working on?
[00:08:13] Leah: Not just compliance. I’ve seen brand registry come back with that as well. But in general, at this point, I just timeframes with a grain of salt on the Amazon side, whereas if Amazon gives you a timeframe, you definitely need to do your part of it by that time.
But in terms of like the 72 hours, I’ve just started expecting that if you have to have it in by then, if you don’t have it in by then, then you’re definitely getting suspended. Amazon may get back to you within the 72 hours, but chances are they probably won’t.
[00:08:40] Chris: And just as a warning to everyone, when I mentioned that we had heard from people who had been sent this message and missed it for a series of days. That’s very atypical. Most of the time, if they haven’t heard from you at all, the 72 hours shows you know that they’re willing to give you some time to do a POA, but if you don’t show any signs of life, you have to expect a suspension at that point if you haven’t submitted anything. On the other hand, if you hastily slap something together, as we often see and you submit it right away, you’re kind of wasting some of those 72 hours because you could have put a better quality document in front of them and you didn’t simply because you wanted to get it off your plate or you thought the sooner you respond the better.
We love to say haste makes waste around here. No more so true than with this because I think you saw those POAs that I was sent the other day where it kind of looked like something scribbled on a napkin had been typed up.
[00:09:39] Leah: Well, that’s always been my concern with the 72 hour notice since the first time we saw this, was one, it’s going to incite sellers to rush their plan of action which is almost never a good idea. And two, I mean, certainly previously, maybe not so much now because people are a little bit more concerned about getting suspended. But I remember the first time around that we saw this, a lot of sellers didn’t really take it that seriously.
They’re like, but they didn’t suspend me. It’s just a warning, so I’ll just send them something and it’ll be fine. That’s kind of always been my concern here, is that people are rushing it and people aren’t really taking it as seriously as a normal suspension notice. And yeah, certainly having that timeframe in there doesn’t help with that.
[00:10:20] Chris: I think at this point, historically enough, 72 hour message people have ultimately been suspended, that people do take it more seriously.
[00:10:26] Leah: But they still are rushing to send something in which, generally speaking, it kind of reinforces the behavior of, oh, we’ll submit this and fix the actual problem later, and I mean, that’s another thing is that Amazon expects you to fully implement your plan of action before you even submit it. So they’re giving you 72 hours to fully start doing the things that you’re promising to do in the plan of action and write it up and submit it to them for them to review.
They’re asking for that to not work well.
[00:10:58] Chris: That’s why I kind of overly kindly refer to this as like cruel and unusual punishment.
[00:11:05] Leah: Wasn’t there a case in the EU where they decided that Amazon had to give sellers notice before suspending them?
I think that’s where the messaging originally came from, however many years ago.
[00:11:14] Chris: Germany, yeah, that was Germany. But that was years ago and I haven’t heard about that since.
[00:11:19] Leah: I’m just saying I don’t think it was like a well-planned thought out process when they started doing this, it was just, oh, well we have to give notice now, 72 hours.
[00:11:26] Chris: We’ve talked to some sellers who have gotten on the phone with account health reps multiple times to go over multiple versions of their plan of action. So it seems like the account health reps are around. I mean, some of them at least have been well trained and they’re around to help you write a plan of action, which is kind of the biggest thing they’re there to do.
[00:11:45] Leah: And as account health likes to tell you every time you call them, they are available 24 hours a day. Two days a week.
[00:11:50] Chris: That’s right. The only problem is if you’ve already submitted one and you’re looking for like, where is it in the pipeline? That’s when they start drawing blanks and that might be what you need a lot more than hey, another pair of eyes on another POA. Some people have actually been alarmed because they went over everything with a previous account health services rep. They thought they had a pretty tight, well composed document together. They send it in, they’re waiting, and then when they call back to check on it, the new rep is like, oh, I don’t agree with anything that rep told you. I mean that’s very unnerving. It’s also just extremely inconsistent and poor management.
[00:12:27] Leah: Well, and half the time account health sends you on a wild grease chase about something that has nothing to do with the reason for the warning and not what seller performance is looking for anyway.
[00:12:38] Chris: Take it with a grain of salt. My favorite one this week was the account health rep told our client, maybe you should change categories. Which had absolutely nothing to do with the suspension case. I’m not sure why you would say something like that.
[00:12:50] Leah: Our frequent listeners are very familiar with this. If you aren’t a frequent listener, we have many episodes where we talk about dealing with account health. Check them out.
[00:12:58] Chris: Yes, but if this is new to you, make sure you’re not spending hours and hours and hours a day calling just to hear what everybody’s different opinion is, as if they’re just going around the circle and saying, Hey, think of something else to say to this person because that is the experience of numerous sellers. We haven’t heard much about the account health services teams in terms of we’re gonna tighten up the training, or we’re gonna audit these calls and make sure that there’s no bad information being handed around.
It’s kind of just sitting there left to its own.
[00:13:31] Leah: And what’s funny is I’ve had actual calls with Account Health and people who did know what they were talking about. And when I’ve mentioned that somebody else has told me something completely differently, they have actually said like, oh yeah, not everybody has the same level of training.
If somebody tells you something that sounds wrong, just call back. It’s like, oh, okay.
[00:13:47] Chris: Not only that, but I don’t think the reps realize they could be sweeping aside like a 55 minute conversation you had with that other person.
[00:13:54] Leah: Right, exactly. and it does take a long time a lot of the time, even if you was on hold for a good 10 minutes.
[00:13:59] Chris: Well, if they repeatedly put you on hold, it means they’re just trying to make it look like they’re doing something and they’re probably not sure what to do.
Or they’re just scrounging around for info or they’re asking somebody else to help them find some info. So that’s probably not. A good use of your time, but you probably figured that out when you’re on hold so much. So, getting back to the 72 hour window, anyone who’s got questions on where you think you are in that pipeline, how serious they are about suspending your account, their response or review of your plan of action draft that you put in front of them, whether or not that’s something you can trust or believe in, let us know. Obviously we’re dealing with these issues all the time and we’re happy to kind of help clear away some of the lingering discolor smoke from some of these episodes because we know it can be confusing.
We know there’s kind of a lot of back and forth if you feel like they’re kind of pulling a bait and switch on you in terms of the timeline, we’re happy to kind of clarify what your first or second action items should be at that point, you don’t necessarily wanna jump into rewriting the POA. You don’t necessarily want to write to Jeff at Amazon right away the way some people still seem to do.
And you, you want to make sure you vet whatever advice you find out there, whether it’s on the forums or on random blogs or kind of anywhere like YouTube.
[00:15:18] Leah: And so top tips for Account health because maybe you do have a 72 hour notice and you don’t have time to listen to our other episodes about this.
Top tip number one with account health specifically, keep calling back until you get somebody that’s in the United States. . And top tip number two, any information they give you, you need to clarify that it is from the investigator’s notes and not just their opinion. If it’s their opinion, it very well might be wrong.
[00:15:43] Chris: Correct. Very much so. They might try to tell you that, well, I’ve got a lot of training for this, so my opinion carries a lot of weight. But that doesn’t mean that they are giving you a real reason why your previous appeal was rejected. That’s what you need confirmed.
[00:15:57] Leah: Well, and at the end of the day, I think some sellers think that account health has the authority to actually reinstate or approve an appeal. They do not, it’s only seller performance. So at the end of the day, their opinion doesn’t really mean anything. It comes down to what the investigator’s opinion was.
[00:16:13] Chris: Exactly. So thanks for listening in on this episode of Seller Performance Solutions. Leah and I will be back next week and we hopefully will not hear from you with a major crisis, but if something big does develop, reach out to us sooner than later, as opposed to just diving in and winging it and throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, because that often doesn’t end well.
So thanks again for listening.
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