Strategies to boost sales and maintain product visibility are constantly evolving on Amazon, but there's been a concerning trend of consultants offering to relist suspended listings under the guise of reinstatement. Many sellers, desperate to restore their listings, have fallen victim to agencies, services, or consultants exploiting loopholes in Amazon's system, falsely promising to reinstate listings while bypassing the root cause of the suspension. In this episode, Chris and Leah delve into the deceptive practice of relisting suspended Amazon listings and its potential repercussions.
Chris: [00:00:00] Hey everybody, this is Chris McCabe. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. I'm here with Leah McHugh, also of ecommercechris, how are you doing, Leah?
Leah: Good, thanks. How are you, Chris?
Chris: Good. I know you're oceans and worlds away right now, but no matter how far you go, how many miles you travel, one thing doesn't change, right?
We still hear from people who are telling us, Hey, we got our listing back up, but now it's suspended again. Oh, but the original listing was suspended too, right? We find out that they didn't actually get their listing back up. They somehow hired an agency or a service or a consultant or a service provider who just created the listing newly and ignored the fact that it was suspended, right?
We've seen this a handful of times and it seems to be growing. Is that fair to say?
Leah: Yeah, and sometimes the seller themselves, just rather than trying to get the original ASIN reinstated. We'll just create a new ASIN. And in all fairness, I have had account health reps and seller support people tell people to do this.
Chris: Oh, yeah, for sure. [00:01:00] I should have started with that. Amazonians themselves are erroneously giving terrible advice. Yeah. For whatever reason, they probably don't know, they don't care, they're not trained, no one's watching them, listening to them on these calls or in writing, they're saying, go ahead and relist it, you know, I have a theory that possibly they see that there's a note on the account that says, do not reinstate this listing no matter what.
And so they don't know what to tell the seller, except I don't know, try to put it somewhere else, try to change the listing, somehow, try to make a new one. They never tell the seller that they could lose their entire account to a suspension for doing this.
Leah: No, and I'm assuming it's because they don't know that or they don't care, I'm not sure which. I assume, but they don't know it.
Chris: I think they know it because per policy, if you're going to evade a suspension. It's the same thing as you can't just open another seller account when your first seller account is suspended and just hit the do over button. It's the same thing on the ASIN level.
Leah: [00:02:00] Yeah, it's also against the listing policy. Even if your ASIN isn't suspended, if for whatever reason you want to create a new ASIN for the same product, that is also against Amazon policy, unless it's materially different for some reason, like a brand rebrands a product or something like that.
Chris: The reason I mentioned, you know, working with an agency or a consultant who either didn't know what the policy was themselves, didn't care was because we saw this on LinkedIn, right? Somebody said, well, if Amazon's against this, why didn't they just pull the second listing down right away?
It must be within policy to do this. And then, of course, an Amazon person jumped on the LinkedIn thread to say, no, this is against policy. What the hell?
Leah: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I have that conversation with people every day. Well, if this is against policy, how come my other listings are fine? And it's like, oh, because Amazon's bad at consistently enforcing it, but it's still a policy.
Chris: Well, it's not even that. First of all, it wouldn't necessarily happen right away. It might be found later. Don't give Amazon too much credit for assuming they've got the best teams, the [00:03:00] best tools, the best technology, as soon as you screw something up, they don't immediately pounce on you and say, we found your violation.
We're taking that listing down. And you have to appeal on the first one and also we're taking your account down too or reviewing your account for a suspension. Amazon is not nearly that organized that sophisticated in their technology. So, of course, you found an evasive way to relist the item. What I was talking about originally was somebody said, oh, we got our listing back up, which to me meant their appeal was accepted for reinstatement. Not oh, we found a circuitous way of somehow getting our product relisted.
Leah: Yeah, well, I have had conversations with people who hired someone and they're like, yeah, they got it reinstated, but we lost all of our reviews and we had to assign a new UPC to it.
And I was like, oh that wasn't reinstated. They just made a new listing for the same product. And so then they want to get their old reviews and their old sales history back. And it's like, well, you can't do that in any way. And then also now your whole [00:04:00] account is a risk. So, sorry.
Chris: Well, and then the more they try and some of them, some brand owners, I guess, are being duped by services who don't tell them, they just say I'll get your listing back up. They don't say I'll do it breaking the rules, breaking policies, and I'll risk your whole account.
Leah: Well, and it's also not really getting your listing back up, but yeah.
Chris: But that's the phrase they use. And then some of the brand owners say, okay, well, they got my listing back up, but they couldn't harvest the reviews for us. So we want to hire you, meaning us, to take over and to lead that effort. We've tried to do it several times on our own and we failed. So they've been jumping up and waving and screaming at Amazon teams enforcement teams to take another look at their account every time they've appealed this every time they've tried to do it themselves. They had no idea they were risking their whole account because the service they hired deceptively told them that they had gotten the listing back up and didn't tell them it broke policies.
So, actually, they've been increasing their odds of an account [00:05:00] suspension, right?
Leah: Also if you try to merge the reviews by creating a variation family or something like that. That's yet another policy violation. So the more that you try to merge the listings and merge the reviews for this erroneous duplicate listing with the original listing, the more policies you violate in that process.
Chris: You compound the problems. A seller last week asked me if this is true, if my relisting this product under a different ASIN in after the 1st listing was suspended. If that was against policy, I went through all my performance notifications. Amazon never sent me a message saying that I couldn't create a duplicate. That was her logic.
Leah: Right, but it's in their written policy. They just didn't look at the policy page. Amazon's not going to tell you every time you might be about to violate their policy and be like, oh, hey, you might want to look at this.
Chris: Again I think she's assuming that they're all knowing all seeing, top of their [00:06:00] game.
And then as soon as you color outside the lines, there's somebody there watching you, like, some sort of overseer to slap your wrist and to send you the warning. I said, of course, you don't have any performance notifications. They don't know that you did this.
Leah: Well, and I think we have had the conversation before of like, well, why does Amazon allow this to happen?
And from a technical standpoint, it is very difficult for them to stop it before it happens. They're having to rely on product identifiers to differentiate between products because so many products are very much the same on paper. So they can't really look at keywords or descriptions.
They really do have to rely on that product identifier, because it could be the exact same product, but maybe it has a different brand name on it and that that makes it a materially different product. It really isn't technically feasible at this point for them to block it from happening.
So they really only have the choice at this point to enforce after it does happen.
Chris: Exactly. That's the [00:07:00] logic. I think a lot of sellers and brand owners don't understand that Amazon's logic doesn't necessarily square with ordinary logic. It might work for their purposes based on their resources, their tools, and their people, and how their SOPs, their standard operating procedures work.
It won't make sense to us really ever.
Leah: No, see, I disagree here. I think Amazon's logic is actually sound here. I think Seller's logic here is flawed.
Chris: Their logic, it suits their purposes and their interests for what's convenient for them.
Leah: Right. But I mean, what are they supposed to do? Every time someone goes to create a listing, they're like, hold on. Let me cross reference that against all the billions of listings we have in our catalog. I think that's a duplicate, that doesn't make sense.
Chris: I mean, in terms of seeing this play out in real time or not.
Leah: That's what I mean I don't think it's possible for them to like, do this in real time.
Chris: But I think the expectation is built out there in people's minds that Amazon can react and take action and pursue things real time and if they don't do it right away or within a [00:08:00] small amount of time, it means you've like gotten away with it.
Leah: Well, to those people I say, have you ever talked to seller support? Cause not in real time, right?
Chris: Our new comedy hour. Don't worry, everyone. This episode will not go on for an hour. We're going to keep this one short because we really don't need to go that far into it.
Whether you're doing it yourself or you're examining the claims made by a service that you might be onboarding to help you with something, examine their language. If they say, we're going to get this listing back up for you, say, okay, do you mean you're going to help me appeal for reinstatement and solve the problem at its source?
Or you're going to try to create some sort of masquerade of we'll get your listing back up, but we're going to find a creative, tricky way to do it. Well, that doesn't help your listing because any competitor can report you for this and get that new listing knocked down anytime they want to.
Leah: Well, also generally you're not fixing whatever [00:09:00] caused the original suspension in the first place.
Chris: Right if the same issues were never addressed or safety or compliance, whatever the case may be.
If you're selling anything that has any value to you or takes any valuable sales away from your competition, and I mean, even low amounts of money, they can easily report it.
They'll figure out if they have any brains at all, they'll figure out what you did and report it. And they can get Amazon to act on it. Unless they have no idea how to report things, I suppose. But also, consider before you, again, bring in a service to get your listing back up, quote unquote, consider what can happen to your account health.
Can you flag yourself in ways that you never would have before for an account review, which could take down the whole account, right?
Leah: Well, and I think as something I've said before, I'm sure is just because something is technically possible to do in Amazon system doesn't mean that you're allowed to do it.
However, if it is technically possible to do, there will be a service provider who will be happy to take your money to do it. So, just because it's [00:10:00] possible, and just because somebody offers it as a service doesn't mean you should be doing it. It doesn't mean it's within Amazon's policies and. Because I regularly have that conversation with people where well, it like, it's technically possible to do so what what's the problem or catalog will do that for me. So, what's the problem? Just because you can get around the controls and the system doesn't mean that you're allowed to do that.
Chris: Just because your account gets suspended, your whole account gets suspended. You somehow find a way to create a 2nd seller account. And they don't suspend it right away. It doesn't mean that's going to last forever. Number one, it's the same principle. But you know, that doesn't mean just because you can do it doesn't mean that it's within policy. The claims made on LinkedIn are becoming increasingly disturbing. So I want to caution everybody from just because it's posted publicly and a couple of people in the comments, are like great idea. Fire. A hundred percent. What a wonderful hack. And it might be LinkedIn. It might be at a conference somebody might. Say, oh, seller hacks, seller hacks. This is great.[00:11:00] The good thing about LinkedIn is we know that Amazon enforcement team people are paying more attention to those posts and sometimes they're commenting on them.
Leah: Which I actually really enjoy when they comment on them. It's pretty entertaining, right?
Chris: Completely just deflates the balloon, right? Everyone's excited. I can't believe this is a great hack. I can't believe you're sharing this for no money, no money, blinking lights. Obviously Amazonians are on there looking at these posts because they know there's tons of terrible advice.
They know that some of these consultants or whoever's posting it, agencies are getting dozens or hundreds of people to follow them Pied Piper style off the cliff.
Leah: Well, and that's not to mention the people that they're probably doing it for as their clients.
Chris: And if you took those clients or those types of paid customers away, then those agencies probably wouldn't even exist.
It's probably they're, not to go into French on you, but they're raison d'etre as people say would be. Yeah, I wanted to weave that in .
Leah: Chris is like, I know French guys.
Chris: Yes. I used to work on Amazon France. Everybody just outing myself [00:12:00] now, former French speaker. Definitely need to go back to France soon.
Thank you for joining me from the other side of the world. I can see that it's still dark there. It is very much light outside here. Trying to shine a light as always on compliance with Amazon policies, keeping you out of trouble. We understand that people are looking for new ways to get better sales rank, sell more items.
We're heading into Q4, this is going to be a recurring theme. You have any questions on should I do this, should I not? I was advised to do this, should I do it or not? Feel free to ask us, and especially ask Leah since she's our compliance person. Happy to go over things and answer any questions.
So thanks for joining me. Bye. Bye.