Season 1, Episode 42
Giving Amazon More Information when you Don’t Have More Information
[00:00:07] Chris: Hey everybody, welcome back to yet another episode of Seller Performance Solutions. I’m Chris McCabe of e-commerce Chris. I’m a former Amazonian, and I love talking about things that sellers need help with and also the crazy world that Amazon inhabits in all of our lives, especially when it comes to the third-party marketplace.
I’m here with Leah McHugh, also a consultant at e-commerceChris, Leah, how are you doing?
[00:00:35] Leah: Good. How are you Chris?
[00:00:37] Chris: Good good. Today I’m pretty wound up because I’ve read so many emails well, all month, really–but this week in particular. So many messages from sellers looking for help that are struggling to understand how they can write an appeal and address complaint causes. So buyers complaining about the authenticity or the product quality or sometimes the expiration dates on their products, how they can do any of these appeals or even start one when they have no information on where that complaint came from. And Leah and I have discussed this quite a bit.
We’re definitely sympathetic to the fact that calling account health services is often a complete waste of your time or feels like it’s a useless phone call, but people will still have to do it just because they might be able to see what the actual complaint was. Now I understand that they often say, all it says is expired or all it says is inauthentic.
And we can debate whether or not they’re just not sharing more info with you, but they need to paraphrase or give you something to go on. Right? There has to be a thread to pull on, you can’t just give generic copy and paste the root causes for that complaint, or you’re ensuring that your appeal will be rejected, right?
[00:01:52] Leah: Yeah. I think first step before you call account health is also looking in your account to see if you can find more information about those complaints. So you do need to look at voice of the customer return reasons, a to Z claims feedback. Reviews all of the usual places to make sure that you can’t find that information on your account.
And sometimes you can’t. So then you either call account health to see if they can shed some light or you call account health armed with the information that you’ve found and see if they can provide better info. It will probably take more than one call. We should. We should say that. T he people that you get at account health are not really consistent in their training or ability to do things.
[00:02:31] Chris: Sometimes they overshare, sometimes they under share, I guess sometimes you’re calling hoping they overshare and we admit that there’s a complete lack of transparency, but we’re used to that. Amazon’s always got a complete lack of transparency problem when it comes to any of these teams that interact with any of these sellers, that’s your starting point, but get comfortable with being like a investigative journalist type or a detective or whatever word you want to insert there, be willing to ask these questions. Don’t be passive on these calls with the account health, be proactive. If they’re rejecting, if you send them an invoice, let’s say this is about authenticity.
You’ve been flagged for inauthentic, whether you’re private label or a reseller. This happens to everybody all the time. Ask relevant questions. I don’t think enough sellers are pushing these reps to say, look, if you’re saying my invoice wasn’t accepted, why? What’s the reason, how can I write an appeal if you’re hiding all of that information and refuse to dilvulge it.
[00:03:33] Leah: Well, and in all fairness to account health, sometimes the investigator doesn’t put out those notes. It’s just rejected without any notes as to why. So, I mean, it isn’t all on account health, but it is ridiculous for you to have to just figure out why it was rejected. If there was no reason given. I would also say that don’t get too hung up on the actual verbiage Amazon has used, like used sold as new, inauthentic, expired. All of those are potentially just condition complaints. So, we’ve definitely brought this up before, but just saying I only sell new products. Isn’t gonna get you anywhere. You need to look at why would a customer think that your new product was used?
[00:04:15] Chris: Authenticity too? Same deal. I only sell new authentic items. I only buy from authorized distributors. Let’s say you only buy directly from the manufacturer. We know a lot of people are still getting invoices rejected, or sometimes they just say suppliers not verifiable and we can’t tell you why. You have to do some of the research and running around.
You can press account health reps, all you want. They may not know why it was rejected. They only know that it was rejected. Try to get a little more info, like Leah was saying, try calling a couple of times, bottom line is study their website yourself to see if that’s the reason, contact them yourself.
[00:04:53] Leah: Even something as simple as the packaging in stores is different from the packaging of the product that you’re sending could cause somebody to complain that it’s inauthentic . That may not be in the complaint from the customer, but that would be research that you would need to do with your supplier to try to figure out what’s going wrong there.
[00:05:10] Chris: Be in regular contact with your supplier– has Amazon called? When they called, did you answer the phone? Did they send you an email?
[00:05:17] Leah: Definitely prep your supplier before you give Amazon their information.
[00:05:22] Chris: And when you’re appealing to Amazon, give the hours of operation for your suppliers so that maybe Amazon calls at the right time, too. Because if any of these one little things goes wrong. Like the invoice isn’t legible or the supplier websites down that day, or doesn’t have enough information on it or they don’t answer the phone.
Any one of those things, even with a brilliantly written appeal could result in a decline and a rejection. And the more you get rejected, the more times you have to find out why it was rejected. And the more often you do it, it seems like the less likely account health is to tell you why it was rejected.
They seem to say, now just, well it’s been rejected and I can look at it and give you my guess based on my training, why I think it was rejected, but they’re really guessing. And they’re really giving you an opinion and you need factual information, right?
[00:06:11] Leah: And So again, you know, in all fairness to account health, I do see a lot of invoices from Amazon sellers and a lot of their invoices are missing a lot of important information that Amazon is looking for in order for it to be verifiable, we have a list of what your invoice should include. I will link that in the show notes. Make sure that whatever you’re sending into Amazon has the information that they need and not a whole bunch of information that they don’t need. And I’m not suggesting that you edit your own invoices. I’m suggesting you go back to your supplier and ask them to add any of that missing information, whether it is a UPC for the product or some of their contact information, whatever the case may be, that’s missing from your invoice.
Go back to your supplier and have them. Don’t start manipulating your own invoices because that’s a whole other barrel of fish.
[00:06:58] Chris: Anyone who’s still manipulating invoices–
[00:06:59] Leah: you would think it would go without saying, but I’m going to say it because again, we’ve had too many people tell us that they changed invoices and now they’re frauded out of their account.
[00:07:06] Chris: Right. But those are legitimate actions. Amazon’s taken anyone at this point who’s still out there faking product reviews, paying black-hat services, forging invoices, or even buying from suppliers who you know don’t have a website. You’re so far behind. You’re so far out of touch that you probably can’t be helped.
And, or you belong to a group. I mean, I talked to somebody, I think it was last week. They’re in a group of advisers. I don’t know, they pay a monthly fee. Maybe it’s a class. They contacted them for advice and the group reps advise them to fake their invoices.
[00:07:45] Leah: I still see services that say that they can get you a real invoice with your information on it. If you haven’t bought items from a company and somebody is giving you an invoice with your company’s information on it, that’s not a real invoice. That’s a frauded invoice.
[00:07:58] Chris: Right. So, I mean, I considered those types of sellers too far gone at this point. And looking at ahead to 2022, especially on this podcast, we’re going to be tailoring our content to sellers who get it and who are with it and who aren’t living in a cave somewhere who are ignorant of all these things.
[00:08:17] Leah: Oh my God, why have you been saying the same things for the last five years?
[00:08:20] Chris: This is a bit of a precursor for what lays ahead for also Leah and myself. So we don’t go crazy talking about the same things all the time. Amazon expects to shed a certain number of sellers a year. A certain percentage of sellers will be eliminated through this suspension process or through other means. I think that’s because there are still too many people out there listening to the wrong people, paying the wrong services, ignoring best practices who don’t get it. And there’s just too much competition on Amazon for Amazon to care about getting rid of those types of sellers at this point.
[00:08:55] Leah: I mean, there are a lot of, in any industry where you can make money, there are a lot of people claiming to tell you how you can do it easily without problems and without really trying. I would say if you’re looking to hire somebody or a purchase course, and you’re not sure. Send us an email.
We’re happy to answer questions about that. And we’re definitely happy to tell you whether the content is good or whether the content is dangerous. We would much rather help people before they’re suspended them after they are suspended. And then they really need our help.
[00:09:25] Chris: But a lot of the kind of YouTube-y gimmicky stuff. I haven’t even heard of it before myself. because it’s just so far outside of the realm of what solid, knowledgeable Amazon sellers consume or use or understand that. You also just have to have some street smarts. You can’t be too gullible when you can listen to like sales pitches or promises. Leah and I deal with this all the time.
We have agencies or even marketers and others coming to us saying, well, we have a client that got into some hot water and somebody told them they could do A, B, C, D, and E for them. And if you’ve never heard of the person before, or you’ve only seen their ads, I mean, it’s kind of like those personal injury law firms you see on TV or on billboards, right?
They’re the loudest and they know that if they spend enough on ads, they’re gonna attract enough eyeballs to make it worth it. You don’t want to just become one of their statistics. This applies to dealing with Amazon as well. If you’re talking to seller support or account health reps and it sounds like they’re spinning you or it sounds like they’re making things up don’t just be gullible and believe what they tell you. I’ve challenged a couple of recent clients about this and they said, well, look, it’s hard to know what to believe and what not to believe. Okay. But find out in the Q and A process when you’re on a call with, let’s say account health, find out if they’re just giving you an opinion based on something they’re looking at or is there something factual to it or are they just not looking at any annotations seller performance didn’t do anything to review your appeal. And you’ve got somebody on the other end of that phone. Who’s just guessing, that’s the street smart side. You want to figure it out who is giving you real information. I know this isn’t easy.
[00:11:12] Leah: I think you’re maybe underestimating, we are familiar with all of this because we’re doing it every single day. If you’re just getting started and you’ve never called seller support and you’ve never called account health before, you assume that what they’re saying is correct.
It’s a lot easier for us to know what is misinformation because we’re dealing with this all of the time. I think it’s difficult for sellers, particularly new sellers, who aren’t dealing with this all the time to be able to identify what is incorrect and what is correct, especially when, what is incorrect sounds better than the correct answer.
[00:11:44] Chris: Of course, But you can’t, I mean, life is like this too, you can’t just believe whatever is comfortable to believe and assume that’s the truth. Also, I just think learning curve wise, we’re not living in a world anymore where new sellers have a longer learning curve.
This, again, I think is going to be one of our 2022 themes which is the bootstrap methodology, I get it, but you have to prepare yourself as much as possible for Amazon to be as difficult as possible or for them to even get in your way of a successful business. So wrapping this up. Question things, investigate things. Don’t just sit out, sit down, bang out, and appeal or copy and paste a template. You do have to present real info about complaint causes.
You do need to write real root causes. You can’t just find generic content and regurgitate it and expect that to work. That’s why so many appeals are denied. You’re giving Amazon an easy excuse to deny your appeal. And Leah keeps saying, in all fairness to account health, you’re taking the pro account health.
[00:12:44] Leah: I’m definitely not pro account health, but I do also understand that a lot of times they just aren’t given the information to help you either. It’s not that they have these abilities that their not utilizing, a lot of times they don’t have and I do feel the frustrations that has to be a really bad position to be in. To have these like angry and upset people call in and you’re like nope, no info. Sorry.
[00:13:06] Chris: Right. But that doesn’t give account health and excuse to spin you or to throw incorrect content at you just to get you off the phone and just to hurry you along your way. I’ve been on calls with clients at an account health multiple times where I put it to them. How do you expect us based on what you’ve said today, how do you expect anyone to rewrite an appeal or revise an appeal or write a plan of action or really do any of the things that create the building blocks of an appeal that Amazon tells you is the format you have to follow given less than useless information and they still don’t have an answer for that.
All they say is, well, all else fails. Go back, look at your operations. Look at how your warehouse operates. Look how you’re picking and packing product. Look at your listing details. Is the detail page accurate? We already know that like anyone that hires us, of course, we’re going to coach them through that already, but that’s just such an unsatisfying answer for them to say we’ve got a strict, rigorous appeals process. You’ve got to appeal giving us relevant details. Okay. Well, why did you flag me to begin with. Really? They can’t even answer that question. I mean, that doesn’t seem legit to me.
[00:14:16] Leah: No. I mean, it’s just Amazon. None of it surprises me anymore. I’m like, is this incompetence or is this someone that you’d be abusing the system? I don’t even know anymore.
[00:14:30] Chris: We hate to finish this episode with it is what it is, but questions on this, we know there’s tons of people sort of being ignored or lost or stuck in the appeals process. Sometimes a few of these reasons are why. And we’re happy to go over them with you. So thanks again from Chris McCabe and Leah McHugh. Keep listening. We will talk to you again soon. Thanks Leah.
[00:14:51] Leah: Thanks Chris.
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