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Amazon Seller Central Pananoia

Has Amazon kicked off competitors?

     

donok

10:55 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I have a client that has been selling sleep products (memory foam and latex toppers, pillows, mattresses) through Amazon Seller Central for several years, all was good. My client is a good, serious business but had a few customer complaints that happened over the holiday season. Amazon dumped them like a criminal - technically, my client was performing poorly and exceeded the 2% failure/complaint level (2.5%). Now, I can't get Amazon to respond to any request for review.

Here's the weird thing that has my client wondering. All the products they were selling are now offered directly from Amazon. My client thinks that something is fishy - has Amazon knocked out the competition? There are still a few third-party sources, but it seems a lot less than before.

I just thought I would start a thread to see if anyone else is experiencing anything similar...

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Don

jwolthuis

10:55 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



2.5% seems very high for a complaint level, maybe by a factor of 10. Are you thinking that Amazon "knocked out the competition" by inflating this percentage, so tht they exceeded the 2% threshold?

Did they provide any backup data for the complaints? Or did your client presume to have a clean record, and the 2.5% came as a surprise?

donok

1:00 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The 2.5% was a legit number - the company sells products that rage from $200-$800 and sell only a couple a day through Amazon (over the last four years). So, at 60 sales a month, two complaints = 3%. They happen to have two fraudulent complaints (one guy got off basically stealing two beds - claiming they never arrived). The company tried to lay out the explanation to Amazon and got nothing back but curt form letters. My follow-ups have been completely ignored.

As far as the competition, it is only my casual searching, but I know that at least two competitors who were there over the last few months seem to be gone. I never really noticed their names, so I don't know who I could contact to see if they were dropped, too.

Maybe this is just Amazon cleaning up their external sellers, and maybe the lack of response from them is due to a lot of sellers being closed down?

I do know that Amazon has been very bad about backing the _seller_ when disputes happen. It think there is a growing number of schmucks out there who know that Amazon will just let them walk all over the seller. At least that has been our experience.

dpd1

2:28 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



There's been speculation that A wants to ultimately head towards mainly being a search engine. I don't know if that's true, but I think it's a terrible idea. The complaints you describe sound very similar to things you hear about, regarding another certain marketplace... which has fallen from grace over the last 5 years or so. You would think they'd learn from watching them, but maybe not.

Jane_Doe

5:21 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I am only a buyer on Amazon but I have noticed that the third party sellers seem to live in fear of negative reviews. Many will contact you individually and let you know that if you have any issues at all they want you to contact them directly.

Sorry to hear your client had issues. I always try to review all of the products and give excellent reviews to all of the third party merchants who deliver the goods on time as ordered, which is almost all of them.

donok

7:09 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



My client had one buyer who claimed the mattress pad was not the size advertised and wanted a refund. He complained about the product being cheap and not big enough to cover his mattress. My client paid for return shipping (as with most of these products, they are heavy, so in order to offer free shipping, a lot off sellers deduct the return shipping costs from the refund if a product is returned) but when the product came back, it had never been opened - still packed in it vacuum pack plastic wrap. The buyer complained so they wouldn't have to pay return shipping. Amazon never responded to my client's complaints about the buyer.

By the way, Amazon gave my client a big slap on the hand for trying to contact a buyer directly once. They insist that all contact with buyers go through them.

frontpage

1:18 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



File a police report for fraudulent transactions. Provide Amazon with the police report number. That way you document that these episodes are not your fault and you have proof to back it up.

Otherwise, they will always take the buyers side in the argument.

donok

7:30 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



That makes sense - I wish I thought that Amazon would listen to it. They seem completely disinterested in hearing about seller's problems. I think that's why my client just thought they would eat the cost of buyer's lies.

WillG

8:42 pm on Mar 30, 2011 (gmt 0)



I have learned after selling on Amazon for years they just don't care about the seller. Since they hold your funds for 2 weeks they can just take them at will to satisfy whatever complaint the buyers has. I now sell only limited items on their site and with everything I sell a card goes out to my website directly. So in essence I just use them as a redirect to my main site. They will fall just like flea bay has just give them time :)

donok

3:29 pm on Mar 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



As a final follow-up - I sent a detailed appeal that explained each order in question (3) - One was someone trying to game FedEx (and succeeding), in effect stealing $700 worth of merchandise, another who made all sorts of claims about the quality of the product, but returned it unopened, and lastly someone who returned a mattress pad matted with pet hair -- all were refunded anyway. I got a terse "go away" letter from Amazon

<<
Hello from Amazon.

Thank you for writing. After a review of your account by an account specialist, we have decided not to reinstate your selling privileges.

We regret we are unable to provide further information on this situation. Further correspondence regarding the closure of your selling account may not be answered.

The closure of this account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well.

Regards,

Seller Performance Team
>>

All this after five years of working with them and this client of mine is a 5-star rated company on NexTag and Bizrate, etc. For them, the loss of Amazon sales is really tough and the lack of control or the ability to expect and receive a fair deal is really unsettling.

bye bye Amazon, may someone bigger treat you as you did us.

super70s

11:38 pm on Mar 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I have learned after selling on Amazon for years they just don't care about the seller.


I completely agree. I got into it with them about a year and a half ago over this anal retentive buyer who claimed I didn't describe an item accurately. They took his side 100% and wouldn't modify the bad feedback he left me, even after I refunded his money. I haven't listed anything with them since.

About the only good thing you can say about them is you can list items for free and pretty much forget about it.

Oscar Blakely

8:11 am on Apr 1, 2011 (gmt 0)



So, even Amazon right now has bad reputations to other clients. The best thing to do is don't make an affiliation to amazon. just do direct selling through your website.

Luxoria

2:16 am on Apr 8, 2011 (gmt 0)



Here is a huge thread of people @$@%ed over by Amazon; [davepit.com ]

I was contacted by an Amazon rep and he wants to me to sign up to sell my product line, but after reading around I am going to pass.

aleksl

2:33 pm on Apr 13, 2011 (gmt 0)



Want to add to this. We are right now being harassed by Amazon Seller Performance Team to comply with their ridiculous S-4 "Parity with your other sales channels" policy, which basically states that you have to keep the same prices on Amazon as on other websites.

So they can dominate you in shopping comparison engines.

Yet they take 15% commission.

This is BEYOND RIDICULOUS.

We are in the same boat as OP's client, we occasionally get a complaint or two which puts us over 2% (and in our industry it is BEYOND TOUGH, you tell other competitors there's only 2.5% complaints and they will laugh you out of the building. One product for instance is made by GE and they just pulled it off the market due to over 30% returns rate...). We are seriously looking to pull our products off Amazon, because I think we will be forced to.

jwolthuis

2:46 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I've seen the "parity" policy, but find it hard to believe they actually enforce it.

How did they connect your Amazon listings with your website? Can you simply tell them, "that isn't my site, it's my spouse's"?

Can you list on Amazon using a different account?

Could you comply with their request for 2 weeks (until they stop looking), then revert to current pricing?

Maybe you could increase your product weights to gain the 15% back in shipping allowance.

aleksl

5:28 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)



How did they connect your Amazon listings with your website?


Via email addresses and phone#, over the years I had to deal with them screwing up our listings more than a few times so they have all our contact information.

They are now sending anonymous emails signed "Seller Performance Team" to basically tell you that you need to comply.

Most likely these are originated in India, because this is where their completely worthless and incompetent technical support team is (never had a normal answer from help stuff from up there, not a single one, a typical answer is to push the bucket back to you), and because emails come in between 1 and 3 AM US time.

The other reason I think they are India-based, because they refuse to sign a name and give out a local number.

I didn't think they'd enforce it either, my guess is that their left hand doesn't know what the right is doing.

Here's a quote from their email:

According to your seller agreement, the item prices and total prices you charge customers for products that you choose to list on Amazon.com must generally be at least as favorable as the item prices and total prices you charge customers via other sales channels.

In most cases, the “total price” of a product means the total amount payable by a customer for a product, including discounts, rebates, promotions and shipping, but excluding taxes.

aleksl

5:43 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)



donok: Here's the weird thing that has my client wondering. All the products they were selling are now offered directly from Amazon.


Amazon is collecting data based on your product performance, and WILL go into competition against you. Do not doubt that for a moment. They've done with us on several our products, one they went to a distributor instead of manufacturer and us and our biggest competitor immediately priced them out. The other 2 they just went blatantly below manufacturer's MAP pricing.

WillG

6:33 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)



Anyone see the new pay per click program they are now offering. One has to wonder WTH they are thinking.

Luxoria

7:13 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)




Anyone see the new pay per click program they are now offering. One has to wonder WTH they are thinking.



$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!


You give them 15%+ only for them send customers to some other off-site merchants! I can understand google doing that considering their product search is free for the merchants.

CernyM

3:39 am on Apr 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member




Most likely these are originated in India, because this is where their completely worthless and incompetent technical support team is (never had a normal answer from help stuff from up there, not a single one, a typical answer is to push the bucket back to you), and because emails come in between 1 and 3 AM US time.


Use the phone callback option during the day instead of the email contact option and you'll often get better results.

CPC_Andrew

4:01 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)



@WillG Amazon Product Ads gives merchant flexibility to leverage Amazon's loyal customers and actually capture some consumer data. It's a solid program for merchants, you should check it out if you're not listed there already.

It's one of the top ten shopping engines online (more like one of the top four). What is Amazon doing by offering it? Just like Luxoria said, their CPC rates are pretty steep so it's a cash cow for them. Their ads are displayed below marketplace products so they must be assuming that once a user scrolls down to a certain point they are still browsing for additional information or sources that sell that product.

Essex_boy

6:20 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Amazon is collecting data based on your product performance, and WILL go into competition against you - ON the nail, ive seen them A test products viability with other peoples money.

Then bang your gone when its worth their while.

StoutFiles

6:39 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Amazon sounds just like the Mafia. Play by their rules, give them their take, and they'll keep you in business. Or just take you over if you do too well.

Say there are two sellers, Seller A and Seller B. They both sell the same high priced items.

Are you telling me that Seller B could have a few friends buy items from Seller A, give negative reviews, and have him instantly kicked off Amazon due to being above 2%?

Are you telling me that I could find a company on the border of 2%, pretend an item was stolen, and basically hold him hostage with the threat of a negative review to get my money reimbursed?

Internet selling is MESSED UP.

ecommerceprofit

7:47 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Wow! I will most likely use Amazon when I get more time to sell merchandise because ebay has been good for my strategy but I will not spend too much time like I would have on Amazon page...this company seems to be treating people like scum - what a horrible response letter from Amazon you posted.

Absolute power corrupts goes the saying...legal disclaimer - not saying that amazon is corrupt - just saying that some people/companies have large egos. I hear a lot of people hate ebay too - I have not yet had problems but someday I'm sure I will.

Moral of the story...promote your own web site that you own. I laugh every time I see a company promoting Facebook in their ads on tv and when newscasters, etc. promote twitter...I remember thinking the same thing when they used to promote AOL.

aleksl

4:28 pm on Apr 29, 2011 (gmt 0)



StoutFiles, what you described is a routine thing with selling on Amazon.

ecommerceprofit

5:44 pm on Aug 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Update: I've been selling with great success on Amazon - as I add products my revenues go up exponentially...but you know what? I've had customers cancel orders even before I ship...for legitimate reasons...but now I find out that this counts against me. I also refund people sometimes but this counts against me. These both should be normal tasks for a regular business. Their feedback system is horrible and on top of that they compete with me...if I sell a product well they learn from my work...not right...

Even though I'm doing super well on Amazon I'm going to quit adding products so much and spend more time on my own web site. ebay, amazon, google, facebook - the big gatekeepers - are all good to an extent but I will not be dependent on them.

CernyM

4:53 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Update: I've been selling with great success on Amazon - as I add products my revenues go up exponentially...but you know what? I've had customers cancel orders even before I ship...for legitimate reasons...but now I find out that this counts against me.


It counts against you if it goes above 2.5% (in my category, may be a different number in others).

I also refund people sometimes but this counts against me. These both should be normal tasks for a regular business. Their feedback system is horrible and on top of that they compete with me...if I sell a product well they learn from my work...not right...


As far as I know, the refund rate is informational only.

ecommerceprofit

8:14 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



It counts against you if it goes above 2.5% (in my category, may be a different number in others).

Yes, I know this - any number is absolutely wrong though. It's not my fault that someone decided to cancel their order. I have no problem with people cancelling their order - it's their money and I should always refund - I hate companies that tell me as a consumer that it's too late to cancel pre-ship...so for Amazon to ding me is absolutely crazy...luckily I'm only at 1.5% but I'm getting there - makes me angry to no end that I even have to worry about this.


I also refund people sometimes...As far as I know, the refund rate is informational only.

I hope you are right...that would be nice - I just gave a $70 refund to a guy because his address was wrong and usps sent back to me.

CernyM

9:39 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member




Yes, I know this - any number is absolutely wrong though. It's not my fault that someone decided to cancel their order. I have no problem with people cancelling their order - it's their money and I should always refund - I hate companies that tell me as a consumer that it's too late to cancel pre-ship...so for Amazon to ding me is absolutely crazy...luckily I'm only at 1.5% but I'm getting there - makes me angry to no end that I even have to worry about this.


Even 1.5% sounds high. I've shipped many thousands of orders and I think our pre-order cancellation rate is something like 0.2% or so.

Amazon has a fairly detailed explanation of the pre-order cancellation rate and why it is important to them. Basically, in their experience, the most often cause of merchant order cancellations is due to out of stock, which they don't like.

The actual incidence over time of customer driven cancellations should be quite low over a reasonable time frame.

I hope you are right...that would be nice - I just gave a $70 refund to a guy because his address was wrong and usps sent back to me.


It happens.

I believe that refund rate was an important metric before charge-when-ship was implemented.

As an aside, if you start using Fulfilled by Amazon, your pre-order cancellation rate will drop to zero and your sales will generally rise.

ecommerceprofit

1:15 pm on Aug 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



<Even 1.5% sounds high. I've shipped many thousands of orders and I >think our pre-order cancellation rate is something like 0.2% or so.

I'm selling low risk products - not dvds, electronics, etc. but we will see over the next 30 days - could have been just bad luck...but had nothing to do with me

>Basically, in their experience, the most often cause of merchant >order cancellations is due to out of stock, which they don't like.

I have a ton of product - not me - this rule is faulty - if people like me who are honest and in stock get hit with this they need to modify...oh ya...it's a privilege to be on Amazon - just don't sell if I don't like their rules - I hear this everywhere (not from you) but unfortunately Amazon sales are good so I'm stuck with their faulty system. Their ego is in the cloud.

>The actual incidence over time of customer driven cancellations >should be quite low over a reasonable time frame.

You may be right - I'm hoping.

>As an aside, if you start using Fulfilled by Amazon, your pre-order >cancellation rate will drop to zero and your sales will generally >rise.

No way Jose! I would rather drop dead than give over my entire business to this company. The day Amazon makes it impossible to ship myself is the day I leave them no matter how good their profit may be...why? because eventually, in my opinion, they will have been given the keys to my business for free.

P.S. my pre-order cancellation rate will drop to zero...interesting...I wonder why...haha
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