Amazon Takes My $1200, Sends Back Flurry Of Form Letters

One of the problems with selling online is that you can’t make your customers leave you feedback or ratings. You can remind them, offer discounts on their next purchase, and some shady vendors even try to bribe customers for food feedback. What you can’t do is force customers to leave you feedback, good or bad. Mike is a very small-time Amazon Marketplace seller, having sold seven items in the last four years, and none of the buyers have left him any feedback. He recently sold an expensive camera lens, and now Amazon has frozen his account because

I’ve been a loyal Amazon customer since they first began, and for the last four years I’ve used their Marketplace to sell odds and ends. A PS3 game here, a camera there, and so on. Since 2007 I’ve sold seven items.

The most recent item was a Nikon lens that I finally managed to sell after having it listed for months. It went for $1200. The email that it was sold, however, was preceded by mere minutes by an email telling me my account was under review (and that all funds were frozen until further notice) due to “Velocity Limits and Account Reviews.” As was later explained to me by a helpful phone operator, that basically means that I’ve been selling more items than I’ve been getting feedback for, and this is apparently a red flag.

There are a number of problems with this system. The first being that I, the seller, have no control over whether or not people leave me feedback. Lord knows I’ve reminded them by email many times. No one ever left feedback. Not once.

But on top of this, what difference does it make if they leave feedback or not? How does my not having feedback make me a liability?

The worst part, though, has been Amazon’s utter lack of response to any of my inquiries. When I first appealed the suspension (by form), I was notified that I could expect a response by 11am on March 3rd.

No such response came.

It was only after my numerous emails that they got back to me, and even then it was only in the form of boilerplate email. The same carbon copy claptrap they send to everyone. And every email that I sent, answering all of their cookie cutter questions, was responded to with MORE boiler plate. And the context of the successive emails (ex, asking questions I’d answered in the email prior) made it abundantly clear that not only are they not talking to me, they’re not listening to me either.

I’m at my wits end here. I’ve appealed to their sense of decency, I’ve railed into the wind, I’ve done everything I can and I’ve still yet to have an actual human being tell me in actual everyday words what I can actually do to get my account out of suspension and unfreeze my $1200. I kinda need that for rent.

Please, O Great and Powerful Consumerist, tell me what I can do to get Amazon to actually do something other than assail me with form letters.

Some readers have had luck getting a non-boilerplate answer from Amazon by contacting, or launching an executive e-mail carpet bomb.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.