My Amazon Seller Central Rant

When I was first setting up an actual store for Carbon Fiber Gear, I went to Amazon to see what I could do about selling some of the unique products I was carrying on their catalog.  I found that they have a Seller Central program, where you pay $40/month and a tremendous 15% transaction fee (albeit – it does include the ~3% credit card transaction fees) to be able to sell your products on their store.\r\n\r\nI thought it would be a great opportunity not only for me to get my products out there, but also for Amazon, since there was a decent number of products that weren’t on their store…and I have the mindset that Amazon wants to sell everything possible.\r\n\r\nSo I signed up to see how it would go.  While I wasn’t selling a ton of things through Amazon (in fact there were probably months I lost money), it was still ok enough for me to keep going.  My problem comes down to the fact that I ended up getting a few bad feedback, that were all promptly resolved…yet Amazon still decided to close my account down due to it.  Lets run through the what happened, and the 4 pieces of bad feedback I got out of the close to 100 transactions we made:\r\n

    \r\n
  1. Customer orders a wallet late on 12/13.  It ships on 12/16 via USPS Priority Mail.  Without contacting us, she leaves a 1 (1 is the worst and 5 is the best) feedback rating because the product didn’t arrive.  Two days after she leaves her feedback, the product arrives.  She does not change her feedback, and we provide a seller response stating what happened.
  2. \r\n

  3. Customer orders a iPhone case, it was damaged in shipping.  Customer leaves us a 1 rating feedback, and then contacts us for a resolution.  We of course offer to accept the product back for a replacement, unfortunately things sometimes get damaged in shipping, and it’s outside of our control.  The only thing we can do is offer the best customer service.  We never hear from customer, customer never changes feedback.
  4. \r\n

  5. Customer orders a license plate frame.  It also ended up being damaged in shipping, and without contacting us, leaves us bad feedback.  We found out that we accidentally sent a prototype version of the frame that was prone to the backing falling off…the production version completely resolved this issue.  Without ever contacting the customer, or them contacting us, we sent him two of the new frames, along with a carbon fiber keychain, and a personal note explaining the situation.  The customer gets in touch with us, thanks us for everything we did, was happy with the new product, and goes back to Amazon to modify his rating and feedback.  That update I’ve yet to see in Amazon’s system.
  6. \r\n

  7. Customer orders a carbon fiber money clip that ended up having a few minor imperfections in it from the manufacturer.  He leaves bad feedback, but does not contact us.  We get in touch with him, send him a replacement that we made sure was perfect, he is happy with the new product, and he updates his feedback and rating on Amazon.  We have not seen this get updated in Amazon’s system either.
  8. \r\n

\r\nThen there are 3 feedbacks that are perfect 5’s.  So out of close to 100 orders, we get 3 perfect ratings, 4 bad ratings – 2 of which were changed to perfects and 2 of which there was nothing else we could have done to try and fix the situation.  From my perspective we’ve offered the best possible customer service we could, we’ve sent feedback to the manufacturers we work with to ensure their products are perfect and they take the feedback we send them to heart.\r\n\r\nYet, even explaining each situation Amazon still closed our account…permanently…and forever, and we were told via e-mail…we were not given an opportunity to speak to anybody in person.  The response we got was:\r\n

Thank you for writing. We have considered your request for reinstatement and decided that your account will remain blocked.\r\n\r\nA seller’s negative feedback, refunds and claims reflect a seller’s overall performance. High rates of these criteria generally indicate that buyers are experiencing unsatisfactory transactions.

\r\nEven though in reality everything we did was ok, and we didn’t happen to have the other 93 or so customers leave good feedback…so it looked like percentages of bad feedback was extremely high compared to good (4 to 3)…and it wasn’t even put into consideration that two of those had changed their feedback, even though I don’t see an update on Amazon’s side.\r\n\r\nIt just really sucks from our perspective, I was hoping to develop a great relationship with Amazon as we continued to grow…not only in sales, but also in the uniqueness of our products on their store.  I was extremely displeased with the sort of canned responses we were getting.  I mean we’re paying $40/month and we were giving them 15% of our sales, the least we could ask for is the opportunity to speak with a human.  I hope this isn’t an indication of where Amazon is moving as a company.\r\n\r\nAnyways, that’s that, and so we close that chapter.  It’s also a reminder to not put all of your eggs in one basket, because you never know what can happen.  Running a business is a constant rollercoaster of ups and downs, unfortunately this was a big down!

  1. faith

    02/09/2010 6:08 pm

    writing? WRITE ur congress?\r\n\r\nomg u r so naive. words will\r\n\r\ncontinue to do NOTHING. !\r\n\r\n\r\nit’s action we need to do\r\n\r\nSomeThing, NOT say\r\n\r\nanymore. nOthing\r\n\r\nleft to say.

  2. Tony Blankley

    02/27/2010 3:24 pm

    I became so fed up with Amazon’s comically pathetic customer service that I some years ago started a twitter account solely to inform as many millions of people that I could about this preposterous company’s pathetic customer communication responses. This all began when I was literally signed up for and billed for the company’s one-click purchasing system without my knowledge and consent. It was impossible to get anyone on the telephone and complaints by email were responded to with “canned responses” that provided non-answers to questions that I had not asked. When I used emphatic and angry language in replying to the fourth canned response I finally got someone on the telephone that literally had no ability to do anything other than type in keywords I spoke into his computer and rotely recite what his computer told him to say — similar non-answers, it was like talking to a malfunctioning robot. The operator’s incompetence — or more accurately Amazon’s systemic decision to put de minimis resources into customer service — was so unbelievable I didn’t know whether to curse, cry, or laugh. I was able to resist my strong temptation not to do the former, since I try to keep in mind that the person on the end of the phone is as much a victim of Jeff Bezos’s corporate cruelty and indifference as are the customers of this pathetic company. I am happy to say that so far I have received over 100 responses from persons with similar experiences, most of whom have agreed to boycott the company and more importantly to spread the word and exponentially increase the population of those who have committed themselves to using every interpersonal interation and internet forum and opportunity to encourage that everyone with earshot and e-shot not only boycott Amazon but return any already purchased items they can return within the compnay’s return policy parameters. It is our stated goal to continue indefinitely with our so far amazingly successful efforts, all conducted within the bounds of civil law regarding interference with business relationships, to decrease the revenue of this company from customers within the Seattle area and beyond and hopefully have a dramatic negative effect on the compnay’s profits. With the ease of twitter and other electronic communications, and — ironically – the use of one-key-touch twitters, instant messages, and the like, to maintain this effort for decades until Amazon dies a whimpering death on the ash heap of history.

  3. Randy Strong

    02/28/2010 1:54 pm

    same person Tony?\r\n\r\nhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-blankley/is-our-government-really_b_474743.html

  4. Dave Dirickson

    03/02/2010 10:38 pm

    32 ays ago my amazon funds were reserved….I’ve emailed them twice asking for specific reasons for my review but have only received the standard canned response. \r\n\r\nAfter reading all of these posts I feel even more frustrated as I now understand they couldnt care less about the seller’s experience.\r\n\r\nWhat happened to “Sign up, Sell, Ship, Get Paid!!” If it said, “sign up, sell, have perfect feedback and a five star rating, get reviewed, have your funds held for no reason with no recourse…” I wouldnt have started selling there!!!!\r\n\r\nWhat they are doing is definately not ethical or honest.\r\n\r\nI emailed them again today asking for dispursement of funds and letting them know I’ve contacted the Washington State Attorney Generals Office.\r\n\r\nThen I deleted my sales listings. \r\nI will not sell there again.\r\n\r\nDave, (dubbled4pres) on amazon and ebay

  5. JR

    03/03/2010 11:06 am

    Has the Washington AG responded to anyone here that has made complaints? I would think that they would be obligated to investigate this (at a minimum).

  6. Dave Dirickson

    03/05/2010 2:35 am

    Update!!! They dispersed my funds about an hour and a half after I sent my appeal mentioning the violation of their own policies and reporting them to the attorney general. If there are any actual people working in Seller Central they are all useless. My advice, DO NOT SELL ON AMAZON. And if you do, Definately dont give them your source of inventory. They’ll just cancel your account and move in on your resources.

  7. Jeff

    04/13/2010 1:01 am

    I am going through the same frustrations as every one else. My account was initially limited on Jan. 2 and I was told it was just a standard precautionary 30 day limit on funds disbursement and it encouraged me to keep selling! (which I did thinking at the end of the month I would get my money.) So just like clockwork on Jan. 30 I get the “blocked from selling email” and I have to wait an additional 90 DAYS to get MY money. I still have Christmas sale money I am still waiting on and altogether they have been holding on to $3,000+ of my money since Jan. 2. This is beyond ridiculous. Today I filed a complaint with the AG of Washington State about the situation and I would encourage everyone experiencing the same frustrations to do the same, the more people submit complaints the better the chances they will look into their ridiculous fund holding policies. Here’s the link to submit a complaint – https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ComplaintForm.aspx. Good luck to everyone dealing with this egregiously unethical business practice.

  8. pambie

    04/13/2010 6:12 am

    What’s really bad about all this is that eventually the feds will take action. Of course by then amazon, ebay, paypal and the big retailers who are ripping people off right and left will not be the ones to suffer. Nope, it will affect the little guy. The seller of goods on amazon or ebay … or even with an independent website.

  9. JR

    04/13/2010 9:18 am

    They are very savvy, hiding behind a wall of impersonalization. No email is signed by an “individual” person. There is no direct address or phone number to contact anyone. Hence any action taken can be blamed on virtually anyone. That said, I would imagine under the law the Washington AG would be obligated to investigate – unless they are in bed with the big A. If people aren’t getting responses from the Washington AG – I would think the FBI would appreciate knowing of their silence and unresponsiveness. I believe that a state AG that is unresponsive is definitely something that would be looked into… Because individual sellers cross state lines, it makes this a “national” issue. Might be smarter to go this route vs the press – I am sure Amazon would have no hesitation filing a defamation / slander lawsuit against us but law enforcement is relatively untouchable on that front. (I’m not a lawyer but have a lot of experience in this area…)

  10. Jeff

    04/13/2010 9:23 pm

    Here’s an update, the Washington AG emailed me back today with a case number and said they have contacted Amazon with my info and they have 21 business days to respond. We’ll see what happens but I was pleased they were on it so promptly. Again, I would encourage everyone to use the link I listed to file complaints with them, the more the better to try and have something done about this hurtful and unreasonable policy. When you fill it out you’ll need an address and phone number for Amazon and here it is – \r\n\r\nBusiness Name: Amazon.com\r\n1200 12th Avenue South\r\nSeattle, WA 98144\r\n\r\nBus Phone: 206-266-1000\r\n\r\nHappy filing!

  11. Albert

    04/16/2010 12:46 am

    A LAWSUIT HAS BEEN FILED AGAINST AMAZON IN THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA.\r\n\r\nAmazon’s actions (not allowing us access to our funds) have caused us a lot of problems because we invested most of our savings into selling on Amazon.com – and so we had a hard time paying bills, etc. Therefore, we had no choice but to file a lawsuit against Amaon! SEE MY LETTER BELOW.\r\n\r\nTHIS LETTER IS BEING ADDRESSED TO ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHOSE MONEY AMAZON IS CURRENTLY HOLDING “IN RESERVE” OR HAS HELD FOR MANY MONTHS AT A TIME WITHOUT A REASONABLE JUSTIFICATION AND WITHOUT COMPENSATION OF ANY KIND!\r\n\r\nMany of you have had to battle Amazon after you had received an e-mail message from Amazon which stated that your money will be held “in reserve” for a 30- or 90-day review period…. Most likely, you were told that the hold was placed due to your performance as a seller, even if you have not had any negative feedback or A-Z claims filed against your seller account. Most likely, if you tried to resolve the matter by e-mailing Amazon more than once, then you probably received a reply from Amazon, which stated that any further correspondence from you will not be answered. \r\n\r\nHolding someone’s money interest-free for many months at a time is NOT an acceptable business practice. The only way to stop Amazon from continuing to engage in this practice is through judicial intervention. In other words, file a lawsuit against Amazon as soon as you receive the “your correspondence will not be answered” e-mail from Amazon!\r\n\r\nSuch a lawsuit is presently pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. If you wish to contact me, either because you want to be added as a Plaintiff or just to tell me about your own situation, please feel free to e-mail me at: alby1969_98@yahoo.com

  12. JGC

    05/04/2010 9:45 pm

    Does anyone have any addresses of Amazon and any real names of people inside Amazon to address letters to?

  13. Kiel

    05/08/2010 1:09 am

    my seller account “went under review” at amazon.com apparently because i didn’t have enough feedback… i had sold to about 55 people in a 1 month period, and not a single person left feedback. when my account went under review, my funds were unavailable for up to 30 days. i emailed everyone requesting again that they left feedback, and 5 people left very positive reviews. this apparently didn’t help, and after 20+ days and an irate letter to amazon, they counter w/ closing my account, and withholding my funds for up to an additional 90 days… so that’s 4 months amazon.com will be keeping MY money, which i earned by selling MY things to people… they’re doing this without interest too… this seems insanely criminal… how could anybody refuse to give you the money you earned? despite their crafty wording, this CAN’T be legal… \r\n\r\ni’m no small business or anything, i’ve just been selling some personal things (books and video games) to stay alive while in between jobs… in the course of 5 or 6 weeks, i’ve sold nearly $1000 worth of things, and they’ve claimed nearly $400 in commission. i could understand an account review if one had multiple negative reviews, but to punish a seller because the buyer(s) doesn’t leave any feedback at all… c’moooooon…

  14. Kiel

    05/08/2010 1:17 am

    also, amazon is only holding $330 of my money, so it’s not (financially) worth me going to court over this, but i do want to see them face up to this… i’m certainly boycotting the site from now on. I’m in Illinois, should i write a complaint to the illinois attorney general?

  15. Jeff

    05/08/2010 1:33 am

    I feel for you Kiel. I also had the same experience and I also would question the legality of what they are doing. I’ve been waiting on my funds that they first starting holding them on Jan. 2. They were finally supposed to be released on April 30, I went into my account to request disbursement of about $3200, I received an email from them the same day saying a deposit to my bank account was initiated and I would have my funds in my bank account in 3-5 business days. On May 7 when it still hadn’t shown up I logged back into my amazon account and my funds were still sitting there. No explanation from Amazon on why it never got transferred. I’ve had to reinitiate the transfer, I’ve gotten the exact same email from the week before to expect to see the funds in 3-5 business days… we’ll see. It’s now May 8 and I am STILL waiting on my money. Its been like 130+ days now. I am resolved to take them to court, this seems to be a very deliberate and methodical pattern they are engaging in, put accounts on a 30 day hold followed by a 90 day hold with no break in-between. They are essentially running 120+ day holds on other people’s money in clear violation it appears to me of their participation agreement. I am resolved to find a good lawyer in the Seattle area and take them to court on this. This BS simply has to be stopped, it’s hurting too many people and is by far the most egregious example of corporate arrogance and disregard for doing the right thing that I’ve ever experienced.

  16. Ashton

    06/07/2010 6:16 pm

    I consider myself damn lucky. I bought a bunch of apple ipad accessories from my school bookstore and resold for a great profit on Amazon. I got the 30 day review with $1600 being held. Thankfully after a couple emails to customers my overwhelming amount of glowing reviews got me my money release right before the 30 days ended which probably would have became 90. What a horrifying way to treat sellers. Getting a large commission off my sale isn’t enough I guess.

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