Not a week goes by that I don’t get an email from a reader who has been suspended or shut down by either eBay or Amazon. The reasons why often vary and there are a few things you can do on Amazon that you cannot do on eBay and vice versa. But there are many similarities too. Let’s look at some ways to get in trouble with your account:
1. Poor Customer service – this comes down to feedback and star ratings. If they get too low on either platform you run the risk of suspension or having your account cancelled permanently. If you are merchant fulfilling on Amazon, a poor record with A to Z guarantee claims and/or order cancellations will cause you problems. On eBay it can be things like cancelling sales because you can’t deliver (this often happens when you are using dropshippers who run out of product that you have listed and you cannot fulfill the order).
2. Conspiring with other sellers to fix prices – this is a very serious one and in fact is not only against eBay and Amazon Policy – it’s also a violation of a Federal Law called Price Fixing. Never, never, never contact another seller and mention anything about pricing -even if you are doing something innocent, it’s very easy to be misunderstood. You don’t have to necessarily contact the seller directly. I know of one case where an Amazon seller mentioned a product and the seller’s name on a Facebook post and said something like “I wish this guy would raise his prices up near mine so we could both make money.” Someone forwarded the post to Amazon and the seller was hit with a policy violation.
3. Selling fake, knock-off or counterfeit merchandise – this one is easy to run afoul of. There are dozens of companies that sell fake branded goods including fashion names like Ralph Lauren, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Channel, Dior and so on. And it’s not just fashions – there are companies selling fake iPods, iPads and even iPhones and their accessories. You might think you are getting the real thing, but if you list it and someone complains you will get shut down.
Look at the screenshots below from AliExpress. Notice the seller doesn’t use the brand name, but the product logos are almost identical to Tommy Hilfiger and Channel.
If you list those items, even if you do not claim they are the real brand, you will get an intellectual property complaint because you are using a trademarked logo and/or essentially selling fake goods.
4. Item Not as Described – Get too many feedbacks on eBay or returns on Amazon for this reason and you could get in trouble fast. Make sure you always provide a full and accurate description.
5. Selling non-permitted goods. One good example on both eBay and Amazon are any accessories or parts related to Assault Rifles such as the AR16 or AK-47. Even if a part is not made for those rifles but will fit them, eBay or Amazon may shut the listing down and issue you a policy violation. Currently I am appealing a case with Amazon because I sell leather slings for hunting rifles.
Amazon said they could be used on an assault rifle so they ended the items and issued me a policy violation. I won the appeal sort of. My sling comes in two colors, tan and black. So far they have reinstated the tan one, but have not yet approved the black one. What’s interesting is that Amazon sells a nearly identical sling but from another company. And theirs comes in black, tan and camo.
Also Amazon has restrictions on certain types of products by category. If you log into Seller Central and then go to this page you will see a list of categories on the left side of the page. Click on the category and you can read about what products or type of products are restricted or not permitted. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_cn?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201414190 (You will need to be logged into seller central to use that link).
Many of the items such as alcohol, tobacco and drug paraphernalia are restricted on both eBay and Amazon. On eBay there are also certain brands that are restricted such as Tiffany. If you only do this occasionally you will just get a policy warning, but repeated attempts to sell restricted goods will eventually get your account cancelled.
And just as a final note – I actually asked a contact at Amazon for the top 3 ways sellers can lose their accounts and this is what he said:
1. Make sure your customers get their stuff by the promised delivery date
2. Answer customer inquiries within 24 hours
3. Accurately report your inventory so that you’re not forced to cancel orders if you run out of stock
Number one and three can be avoided altogether by using FBA. They only affect merchant fulfilled sellers. Number two is something I check four or five times a day. My average for answering customer questions is under 4 hours but you definitely want to keep it under 24 hours.
I know of one case where a seller got suspended because she was taken to the hospital and ended up being away from her computer for over a week. She did get the account back by sending Amazon a letter from her Doctor, but if something like that happens to you and you can’t respond to customer emails, ask a family member to open a support ticket telling Amazon that you are ill or what the circumstances are and that might prevent a suspension.