Common sense tips to draft a plan of action (POA) to reinstate your account
Ending up with a suspended Amazon seller account one of the greatest fears for sellers. Getting an email from the Amazon Seller Performance Team notifying you that your account has been suspended can be very disheartening. Unfortunately, the reality is that Amazon owns its platform and “graciously” allows us access to its buyers—so we have to play by the company’s rules.
In fact, Amazon can temporarily or permanently suspend your selling privileges at any time for any intentional or unintended violation of Amazon’s terms of service (TOS).
However, all is not lost on a suspended Amazon seller account. You CAN do something about it.
Possible Performance Pitfalls
In addition to adhering to Amazon’s TOS and general guidelines, sellers must operate within the company’s tightly monitored performance metrics that address the following:
- High order defect rates
- Late shipments
- Pre-fulfillment cancellations
- Delays in responding to various customer inquiries
- Providing valid tracking numbers to buyers
Furthermore, the actual quality of your products also gets measured under the Amazon microscope regarding product safety complaints, trademark infringements, product expiration dates as well as allegations of selling inauthentic or counterfeit products.
It’s clear that the number of hurdles sellers must clear to sell on the world’s largest e-commerce platform are many and varied.
If your account gets suspended, the only way you can get it re-instated is by completing a Plan of Action (POA) document. Within the POA, you must acknowledge and resolve the specific issue(s) Amazon alleges that led to your suspended Amazon seller account. Furthermore, you must also explain the concrete actions you will take to prevent similar situations in the future.
Know Your Audience at Amazon
Before we discuss POA particulars, it’s important to understand the context of Amazon’s Seller Support and Performance Team resources.
Amazon continues to implement artificial intelligence and machine-learning software to automate as much interaction as possible with us sellers. More and more of our interactions with Amazon are with programming bots and software interfaces rather than actual humans.
If you doubt that fact, go ahead and submit a request to remove a recent negative customer feedback posting about your seller account. You’ll see that the instant responses you receive are automatically rejected or approved by software.
Additionally, it’s been my experience that in more than a dozen dealings with Amazon’s Seller Performance Team, virtually all of those interactions have been with individuals based in India.
So, within that context, here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your POA:
- Be clear – You’re trying to persuade someone to reinstate your account. Write clearly in an outline format with bullets and paragraph breaks to enhance readability and clarity.
- Avoid ambiguous references – Don’t include US-specific examples of regional news events, organizations (i.e., the NBA, ACLU, AFL-CIO, ) or personalities which might confuse the reviewer.
- Use concise language – Write short, simple declarative sentences that are easy to understand and read. Avoid unnecessary clauses, punctuation, and complexity in your description.
Preparing a Plan of Action
Beyond those contextual suggestions, here are some basics to consider when completing a POA submission for restoring your suspended Amazon seller account:
- Thoroughly review the email from Amazon that describes the alleged conduct attributed to your account to understand exactly why your privileges were revoked fully.
- Review your current inventory management, fulfillment protocols, and customer service practices to identify where the breakdown occurred.
- If there isn’t an apparent breakdown, then identify best practices that you can implement since Amazon expects you to take responsibility for the issue. Search the Amazon Seller Forum for similar instances to help give you some ideas in this regard.
Once the problem and solution are identified, your POA needs to include the following components:
- An apology where you acknowledge the privilege of selling on Amazon and accept full responsibility for the issue in question and its resolution
- An explanation of how the initial negative incident occurred
- The actions you took on behalf of the customer or specific policy violation to fix that initial incident
- Most importantly, your future steps going forward to prevent a repeat of the issue
Within the body of the suspension email, you received there will be a “Submit Appeal” button that will connect you to the POA form where you can enter your reinstatement request based on the guidance mentioned above.
There are no guarantees once you submit the appeal that your suspended Amazon seller account will be reinstated. Be patient and wait a couple of weeks. If you don’t hear anything by then, consider opening a case with seller support to try and jumpstart the review. You can also contact a lawyer who specializes in Amazon account reinstatement to seek a resolution with Amazon.
Another Account Suspension Protection to Consider
In addition to familiarizing yourself with Amazon’s POA process, there is Amazon Seller Suspension Insurance available that might be worth considering prior to a suspension, especially if you’re a high-volume, high-revenue seller. Depending on your situation, the insurance can supplement a significant portion of your lost sales revenue while your suspension is under review.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true that individuals “don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan”—don’t be one of those sellers. Give your Amazon business the best chance of success and be ready to respond with a robust POA response before you need it.