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.
I 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.
So 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Then 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.
Yet, 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:
Thank you for writing. We have considered your request for reinstatement and decided that your account will remain blocked.
A 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.
Even 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.
It 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.
Anyways, 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!