Season 1, Episode 2
Used Sold as New Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Means
[00:00:04] Chris: Hi, everybody. This is Seller Performance Solutions. I’m Chris McCabe. I’m with Leah McHugh. Hi Leah.
[00:00:13] Leah: Hello.
[00:00:14] Chris: We’re here to help sellers understand what the heck is going on with Amazon. How to sell, how to deal with Seller Performance teams. I’m former Seller Performance. And also we’re troubleshooting listing problems, policy warnings, account suspensions, all sorts of things that trip up sellers that are just trying to do a good job and build a nice business. So.
[00:00:32] Leah: Yep, we make sense of the nonsensical. Sometimes.
[00:00:36] Chris: Exactly. There’s going to be lots of wild, crazy stuff that we cover. Today we’re talking about “Used, Sold as New” complaints just because they’ve been spiking astronomically, and we’ve noticed a lot of sellers aren’t appealing them the right way from the get-go. We hopefully can give you a couple of ideas on how to avoid two, three, four different appeals after sending in a couple that really weren’t on target and were not what they were expecting.
[00:01:00] Leah: Well, and ideally we can help you avoid getting “Used, Sold as New” complaints in the first place
[00:01:04] Chris: Yeah, exactly. A lot of people – the most common mistake number one, I would say is “We don’t sell used items. We only sell new, you guys are wrong. Reinstate our ASIN” and the plan of action is usually pretty threadbare. I would say
[00:01:18] Leah: That usually, actually, what you said is usually the plan of action. I see people send in just that. Two sentences.
[00:01:24] Chris: Right. And we do. I mean, have an honest conversation with yourself. Do you have items that look used. Not that they’re used, we know that they’re supposed to be new. But you have items that are in – for whatever reason – somewhat poor condition or less than new condition, right? If it’s an open box, even if it’s a brand new item that’s considered not new by Amazon standards. If you’ve got a return, right, and it gets mixed in with the new items-
[00:01:47] Leah: the return part is tricky because if you’re using FBA, that could have been somebody in FBA incorrectly returning it into your re-sellable inventory.
[00:01:56] Chris: For sure.
[00:01:47] Leah: that one is difficult to get around. But, yeah, “Used, Sold as New”, It’s really more of a condition complaint rather than claiming that your item is used. So was it damaged? Was it defective with something open that should have been open, was something missing. What led to that happening is what Amazon wants to know and what have you done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
[00:02:16] Chris: The plan of action needs to address that you’ve done some due diligence, some quality control to figure out where the damage complaint or the condition complaint came from. Maybe it’s not packaged to the extent that it needs to be to avoid damage in transit. And so it’s the items not secured properly in the packaging. It’s floating around banging into things, and the way it’s handled is making it look less than new. That needs to go straight into the solutions, right? Your plan of action has to include better packaging, a better methodology for securing the item, and making sure that damage in transit doesn’t occur. But maybe it’s also on the supplier side, right? You’re buying batches of products. Maybe you’re not pulling samples and checking them out and making sure that they’re in the top-notch condition that your supplier promised you when you bought the product.
[00:03:02] Leah: Yeah, and it also could be a matter of inventory control. Are you mixing your returns accidentally into inventory that’s getting shipped out or are you not properly inspecting returns before you send them back to be sent to somebody else? A lot of it really comes down to quality control.
[00:03:18] Chris: What your due diligence is and also practice due diligence around the documentation you submit because some people are just sending in an invoice, “Hey, we don’t do used. We only do new. Here’s an invoice that shows that we buy new items. We only make or sell new items.” Make sure the invoice isn’t tripping you up like you have a good PoA (plan of action) but the invoice isn’t acceptable for some reason, because we do see a lot of appeals rejected where the PoA is kind of accepted, right? The sellers call account health, “Yeah, your PoA looks OK” I mean, the count health reps say that a lot. Not always when it’s true, but maybe the PoA isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s something missing on your invoice.
[00:03:59] Leah: Yeah, or they weren’t able to verify your supplier because we have heard of them calling and verifying suppliers for the same as they would for an inauthentic complaint. So it needs to have the contact details, website and it needs to look like a real invoice. (laughs)
[00:04:13] Chris: Right. It can’t look like you made it home. Also, we do see a lot of overlap with inauthentic complaints. Over time, I think “Inauthentic” has morphed into this “Used, Sold as New”, and that’s why we see so many more-
[00:04:24] Leah: Yeah, I haven’t seen “Inauthentic” in a while. Actually, it’s either suspected “IP infringement” or “Used, Sold as New” at the moment.
[00:04:30] Chris: Right. I mean, if you know exactly why the item condition complaints happened and you address them appropriately in the plan of action and Amazon’s just not reviewing it properly, not paying attention, not giving you the time of day, we know that happens way too much of the time. Feel free to show it to us. We’ll give you a quick opinion on “Yeah, this has most of what you need. It’s on the Amazon side”. You have to come back and pressure them to do the right thing and to review this properly. For everyone else, just make sure you’re really digging into details. You’re not giving vague statements or pronouncements. “Hey, we’ll do a better job at this” without giving them the specifics
[00:05:06] Leah: Well, and also don’t guess. I mean, look at return reasons. Look at voice of the customer, look at what people are actually saying and also inspect your inventory and see if you – Like, don’t just make things up because that – you think that’s what Amazon wants to hear. Actually, like dig in and see like “Oh, this was scratched or oh, this box consistently is not making it through transit without damage”, even if the product inside it is fine, damage to the outside box can also flag a “Used, Sold as New” Complaint. So maybe you need to add an additional box to your products and make it get to the customer in good condition. Try it out via the 6 ft drop test is one of my faves because it’s really easy. You just literally drop it from 6 ft on all sides and see if there’s any damage. And if there isn’t any damage, great, it’s probably going to be able to get to the customer without damage.
[00:05:57] Chris: And please don’t dwell on “the buyer made this up just to get free shipping on the return”. Some sellers you’re still doing that and that’s just – You get off on the wrong foot.
[00:06:06] Leah: It’s just not going to get you anywhere.
[00:06:07] Chris: Not going to get you reinstated.
[00:06:09] Leah: And also it’s you’re missing an opportunity because if customers are genuinely complaining about issues, this is giving you a chance to fix it before it becomes a major problem.
[00:06:16] Chris: Right. And we had a client the other day. They didn’t understand the connection between product reviews and a complaint like this, leading to an ASIN suspension. Could be in a product review complaint, could be in voice of the customer complaint, could be in Return Reasons, as he claims, negative feedback. A lot of sellers still don’t understand where these complaints could originate on the odd chance that it’s just somebody contacting customer service and you don’t necessarily have a record of it. You do the best you can to find out what complaints you’ve had on that ASIN in the past. But you don’t necessarily need the specific order that it comes from. You just need to understand what the trend is. If several people are saying the same thing, something’s up and that’s the solution that they’re looking to see embedded in your plan of action and, like Leah said, not just copy and paste you got from some template site somewhere where it may or may not fit your situation. And it comes from somebody else’s appeal for you sold as new. We’ve seen, I don’t know how many permutations of PoA’s for “Used, Sold as New”. Ten, eleven, twelve. There’s a lot of Used cases, but that’s what this is all about. Amazon wants those details because they want you to do the research and homework to show that you know why it happened. That’s why they start you off with very little information. They expect you to run around.
[00:07:32] Leah: I will say it’s been a very long time since I’ve worked on a “Used, Sold as New” Case Where there was only one complaint about the condition of the item. I have – digging into I mean voice of the customer especially but voice of the customer, “A to Z” claims, return reasons. I can’t remember the last time I worked on a case where there was only one thing that brought up a red flag. Generally speaking, you see the same complaints over and over again before you get a “Used, Sold as New”.
[00:07:57] Chris: It’s occasional. Occasionally, I speak with sellers that say we know which one it is, but it really is only one. Beyond that, Amazon has decided by the time they send you this message, and certainly, if they suspend your ASIN, they’ve decided that there’s something that needs to be fixed, so you won’t get anywhere really debating that with them. You have to – any seller has things they can improve, just like any consultant has things that can improve. So you have to show the proactive measures that you’re putting into place. They’re really interested in The third part of the PoA, right? Future prevention. Don’t go short on that, because that’s in a sense, what this is all about. Not so much changing the past, which you can’t do, but changing the future, which you can do. You can make an impact on preventing this sort of thing from happening in the future. That’s why they have this suspension process to begin with. It might seem heavy-handed or aggressive. It might seem overly punitive, and we, you know, Leah and I agree in a lot of cases that it is if it’s based on a straight complaint, right?
[00:09:00] Leah: Sure, but again, as I said, it’s been a long time since I worked on a case where there weren’t consistent complaints about something to do with how the product was being received. In terms of prevention, and this is probably more for you to prevent getting these complaints in the first place, and this is something that I have been saying for so long, and it’s very simple and you just have to do it once. But if you’re sending stuff into FBA, please, please, please, please, please don’t use commingled inventory because then you’re potentially responsible for somebody else’s crappy inventory being sent to a customer because Amazon can’t tell what’s your inventory and what somebody else’s inventory
[00:09:33] Chris: They say they can, but –
[00:09:35] Leah: They cannot. Let’s be honest. I’ve worked with Amazon long enough. I’ve gotten inventory sent back to us that just, like, definitely wasn’t ours.
[00:09:42] Chris: wasn’t yours. Yeah, that happens. That happens to everybody.
[00:09:45] Leah: So, like, just please opt-out of commingled inventory. Use the FN SKU because that identifies you as the seller as the owner of that specific piece of inventory that they have in FBA. And again, this is if you have quality issues with your own inventory, that’s not going to fix the problem. But it stops this from being a problem because other people are sending in crappy products.
[00:10:07] Chris: Yeah, And just beyond that, I think in summary, we can say just make sure you’re not appealing this focusing on the category name, which is “Used, Sold as New”. A lot of people are just mentally attaching themselves to “Well, we don’t do used”. These are condition complaints.
[00:10:24] Leah: I like to think of it as a decision tree. So you get a “Used, Sold as New” complaint. Number one: Are you selling used inventory? If your answer is no, then the next question is Why did somebody think that they received a used item? So rather than just getting hung up on the like, “Nope, I don’t do it”, the next step is, “Well, why did somebody think that?”, And that’s where you need to face your PoA.
[00:10:43] Chris: Or why did somebody think it was somehow not as described? I mean, these aren’t clear-cut categories that they seem to be. “Inauthentic”, you would think it’s just well is a genuine inventory or not. “Used, Sold as New,” you would think that just means were you selling a used item or not? It’s murky in real life.
[00:11:00] Leah: I think all of these really just means not as described or not as expected. You know, it could be damaged. It could be defective. They’re just – it could be a small scratch on the outside of the packaging, but, like, what was it about your product that caused somebody to complain?
[00:11:14] Chris: Right. And Amazon takes care of buyers, so buyers are fussy for a reason, and they expect to be taken care of. And if they’re not 100% pleased, often they will take the time to complain where they wouldn’t on another site or when buying things retail. So if you take nothing else away from this chat we had today, please don’t latch onto the name “Used, Sold as New” and just say “We don’t know what you’re talking about, we don’t sell used items”. Focus on any potential quality complaint or condition complaint about that product, even if it’s on a small percentage of orders. Please don’t appeal saying “This is a couple of complaints out of 10,000 orders, which is .0003% of our orders. So we don’t know what you’re talking about.” They already know that. Do not base your appeal on it.
[00:12:01] Leah: They don’t care. (laughs)
[00:12:04] Chris: They’ve already suspended the ASIN, so you’re past that point. So once again, we’re happy to answer any questions on this topic. We’ll be back again, Seller Performance Solutions with another topic that will help sellers deal with the reinstatement process, properly format and appeal, and get to the solutions they need to sell on Amazon. So thanks, Leah.
[00:12:21] Leah: Thanks, Chris.
Hosts & Guests
Category Listing Reports are one of the more useful tools available to sellers, and most don’t know what it is! We use these reports to vet cases, identify abuse, all the way through to strengthening plans of action. Sellers should be using these to protect their accounts. BONUS: they can simplify your listing management.
Dealing with an account suspension is difficult for most sellers. Even more difficult is getting suspended for the same reason twice. Amazon only gives you so many changes, and that second reinstatement is hard to achieve. How do you prove to Amazon that you’ve REALLY implemented a plan of action to prevent future issues when you already failed to follow through on your previous appeal?