Amazon Takes Page Out Of Kafka, Puts Seller Account ‘Under Review’ And Won’t Explain Why

Having the ability to sell items in the Amazon Marketplace is a great opportunity for individuals with just a few items to get rid of. That’s the case for Allan: he’s sold a total of three items, ever. Amazon arbitrarily put a hold on his account before he sold the third one, meaning that he can’t get money from his sales for as long as a month and a half. How can he fix this? What did he do wrong? To find out, he’d have to penetrate Amazon’s bureaucracy.

He writes:

I am a private individual seller on Amazon.com. I have sold 3 items to date, with no seller complaints whatsoever. My account standing as of this writing is at 100%.

On 1/9/13, at 2:25 pm EST, literally one minute before my third sale, I received an email from Amazon stating that my account was under review and that my funds would be withheld until the review was completed, which could be anywhere from 30-45 days. The email did not specifically state why my account was flagged; it only provided steps I could take to shorten the time the review would take.

After following those instructions (via an appeal), I received another email from a different department (instead of merchant-approval, now seller-support) asking for the very same information I just sent. After calling the seller performance department, I was informed that yet another (third) department was responsible for the account hold, so it is out of their hands. During this call, I was also told to resubmit all the information again.

It is now seven days into the review, and I still do not know specifically why my account is on hold, in spite of my high ratings as a seller. Amazon mentioned that I should try to get feedback from my buyers. The first customer provided feedback right away. The second never did, even after persistent prodding. The third – we’ll see, since his product arrived today (I have a FedEx tracking number and checked that he did sign for it). I spend extra money using FedEx (not UPS or standard mail) to make sure that whatever I’m selling arrives in tact. I go the extra mile, so I am at a loss right now. I cannot force the second customer to provide feedback. I did the best that I could in terms of communicating with him in writing. Even Amazon’s policies forbid the use of coercion to pry feedback out of customers. I was previously satisfied with Amazon, but now I am quite disillusioned with the way I am being treated.

We’re usually critical of companies’ methods of coaxing positive feedback out of their customers, but if Amazon punishes sellers (even micro-sellers) for not getting feedback, it’s no surprise that some companies resort to bribing their customers.

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