So You Say You Need an Escalation

by Chris McCabe

Good news for those who thought the only way to get anything accomplished with Seller Performance or Product Quality teams was to go straight to Jeff. No more must you fret over agitating Executive Seller Relations or Jeff’s assistants. As you may have heard, Jeff’s the third-most richest man in the world. He’s a busy guy and has a lot on his plate. Why trouble his people if you don’t have to? Well, now you don’t need to. Not as much, anyway.

Escalations Before Vs. Now

Suspended sellers have faced long-term frustration with “canned” responses or generic, unhelpful replies after they’ve crafted detailed Plans of Action (POAs). You may have even heard a rumor that policy teams are staffed by robots. I used to work on policy teams at Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) and I am not a robot (or perhaps not a self aware one…). Investigators are motivated by internal procedures to move along quickly, perhaps at the expense of quality. But they aren’t robots either, their investigation metric targets simply forced them to rush the work.

Sellers are consistently unsure if they say enough in their POAs, or if they missed something important at a time where missing something means more days shut down.

I’ve seen everything that Seller Performance or Product Quality could dish out as a reply to an appeal. For most of this year, there were no signs that teams read appeals or asked for any specific kinds of information. Replies showed a general disregard for any details about the account or the complaints that led to warnings. Sometimes, investigators seemed only to read prior annotations without spending time on a fresh look at the account.

Fortunately, the policy teams at Amazon, in particular, have now begun guiding sellers in relation to the info they require. For instance, if they accept that you’re ending certain listings in an effort to protect buyer experience after a spate of authenticity complaints, they ask for specific info on your future suppliers. In the past, they simply spun out more requests for “more information” and did not tell you what kind they wanted. Now you might see requests for this:

— Supplier information (name, phone number, address, website)
— Buyer information (name, phone number, address, website)
— Invoice date (must be issued in the last 180 days)
— Item descriptions
— Item quantities

More crucially, they’re taking POAs seriously, finally, when you request review by a senior manager or lead investigator. After so many “Jeff B” or “Bezos” escalations attracted the time, attention, and energy of his assistants and Executive Seller Relations, the performance and policy teams at Amazon are finally handling internal escalations with quality reviews of the material. Previous investigations yielded overly aggressive action based on poorly vetted buyer complaints. More seasoned hands appear to be taking reversals of that work more seriously now. I advise many fewer clients to escalate to Jeff as the primary means of getting ASINs or accounts reinstated when compared to last spring. This is good news for everyone.

How Do You Do This?

Make it clear front and center in your opening paragraph that you’ve already submitted everything Amazon asked you for and did not receive a meaningful response back from policy teams. It makes life easier on everyone when the team that took action against your account handles not only your complaint about their work but also corrects for past failings and reinstates you. Here’s an example below:

Please note that we supplied invoices and sufficient supply chain documentation two days prior to this message. We request that a senior Product Quality investigator review our clear proof of legitimate items, and also that any buyer complaints for our brand new items as “used” be vetted properly by policy teams. Our items are neither “Used” nor “Inauthentic” and we can provide any additional evidence to this effect that you require. If any documentation we supplied so far fails to meet Product Quality’s standards for such an item, we would be happy to elaborate.

Thank for reinstating our ability to list against this ASIN at your earliest convenience.

It’s much better than having to say this:

Dear Jeff,

We request your assistance due to repeated poor seller experience with Product Quality teams. We have been repeatedly asked for “more information” despite addressing the product quality complaints we received. As previously stated we believe the singular inauthentic complaint we received was really an issue with packaging, as we do not and have not sold inauthentic items.

Do You Have a Good POA To Point To?

This works when or if you have a good case. Make sure your appeal is sound, your invoices or documents are together, and you wrote your POA clearly with all information relevant to the situation at hand. With that strength backing your appeal, you have every right, and ability, to escalate to the head of Seller Performance or Product Quality teams. If you’re stuck in that generic loop on canned responses indicating no additional insights nor actual review of your message content, then escalation is the last option you have. Use it.

Originally published on August 8, 2016, updated May 1, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.

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