Amazon has a policy of reviewing items that are sent to their FBA warehouses to make sure they do not contain hazardous materials. I realize the importance of that. After all, no one wants a warehouse worker injured or a dangerous product shipped by air that could damage an aircraft. But the system is completely broken and Amazon sellers are paying the price in shipment delays and slower inventory turnover.
The problem seems to have two causes:
1. A robot search engine that searches for keywords to alert Amazon to a potential hazardous item. When the search engine looks at at item you are about to send, if it sees one of those keywords it flags the item as Hazmat and tells the seller to remove it from the shipment. Then you get a notice from Amazon that they need 5 business days to review the item.
The problem is that thousands of obviously non-hazardous items are flagged this way. Just today I was about to send a UV flashlight to Amazon (with no batteries included). I already have the same flashlight selling on Amazon FBA, along with dozens of others that other sellers are selling. For this item I created a bundle to include a pair of UV Safety Goggles. Although I showed Amazon that the same item has already been approved and accepted, they still tell me they need 5 days to figure it out.
Here are some of the other items Amazon has flagged as Hazmat that are obviously safe:
- Leather iPad case – just a case, no keyboard or batteries
- Gourmet Walnut oil for cooking and salad dressing
- Gourmet Avocado oil for cooking and salad dressing
- Solar garden fountain (uses plain batteries – not Lithium)
- Starbucks Coffee Mug
- Teeth Whitening system (contains the identical ingredients as the one sold by Amazon and other FBA sellers)
- Vino Cotto Sweet Cooked Wine Syrup
- Children’s wood construction set (Slotto)
- Empty glass vinegar & oil bottle
This brings us to the second half of the problem – Manpower. I suspect that Amazon does not have enough manpower addressing this problem. I can send a complex question to seller support and get an answer within 24 hours, but it takes over a week for someone to look at an empty glass vinegar and oil bottle and decide if its hazardous or not.
So what can we do? About the only thing we can do is keep writing Amazon and complaining. And make posts to blogs and Facebook and Twitter. Amazon is sensitive to public relations so maybe some bad publicity will spur them into action.
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