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Ask HN: Amazon delisted me – what do I do?
495 points by nikkwong on Apr 2, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 97 comments
I'm at my wits end with big tech platforms. I run a popular photography product company (which was a Kickstarter project in 2014) [0] which gets a lot of love for its ability to help photographers take interesting images.

But I'm continually running into walls with BigTechCos. I'm just coming off the end of having had my Instagram account deleted by Facebook because a graffiti artist and his trolls were able to flag my IG account and left me unable to appeal[1]. 20k followers, 4 years of work gone. My entire customer base is primarily on IG and they are shocked to find that I'm not; so I feel the pain every day and the fact that I'm no longer advertising on FB because of it is a loss-loss in my opinion. Can not explain how upsetting it is for me.

To add insult to injury Amazon randomly delisted my product. I randomly received an email that they removed me [2]. I checked the listing and saw that a customer had left a bad review. I went to contact that customer [3] and saw that the seller in that instance wasn't me, it was Adorama, a retailer who sells the product I created. I figured this was the sale that got my account flagged, so I responded trying to explain that I sell an OEM product so I wouldn't sell anything used/broken[4]. They then respond that my response is not sufficient[5]. I then decide to give them what they want, contact my manufacturer, come up with a plan [6]. Pretty long, with evidence, a spreadsheet, and even more detailed notes at the end of the email.

Today they've just gotten back to me saying they refuse to reinstate it and that I'm shit out of luck [7]. I am livid at this point. What else did they want? And if they weren't going to reinstate me in the first place, why not just say that? According to my account dashboard my account is in perfect 'health'[8] and there is absolutely no indication that there is anything wrong. I feel like I am being trolled.

It feels so perverse because I live in Seattle so I am always rooting for Amazon. Now, after having finally taken the leap and quit my job and started a company that's beginning to do well, the companies that I've always applauded are totally screwing up my business and leaving me stranded with no options. Not even a customer support number. I don't typically get stressed but the helplessness in the hands of these companies has been keeping me up at night. I feel the stress.

Does anyone have any ideas of what I could do? I live in Seattle so are there any offices or people I could try reasoning with in person? And also if anyone can tell me what I did wrong. If anyone has any information that could be useful I would seriously appreciate it because this is quite literally my livelihood and my entire life.

Thank you for reading. Also sorry for the rant; I am not usually so forthcoming; the entire situation though, is just so dis-empowering.

Edit: here is also the product listing in question [9]

[0] https://www.getfractals.com

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19166053

[2] https://imgur.com/a/aQLThvj

[3] https://imgur.com/a/xm8dAoI

[4] https://imgur.com/a/8biKZlT

[5] https://imgur.com/a/ZSVz7vn

[6] https://imgur.com/a/IZgOfuA

[7] https://imgur.com/a/j81rJyk

[8] https://imgur.com/a/dP11fCc

[9] https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OHD49R6?ref=myi_title_dp

You need professional help. It's unfortunate, but there's a very specific format you need to be responding in that's not intuitive unless you've written a bunch of these.

Check out any of the following (I've met both of them and can recommend them):

Ed Rosenberg, ASGTG

Chris McCabe, ecommerceChris

You'll pay somewhere in the $1-2k range for a listing reinstatement, they'll write a professional letter to Amazon in the format they want and hitting all the right points, and you'll be back in business.

Alternatively, you can sell wholesale to other sellers who will sell on Amazon, and not have to deal with this crap yourself.

Or just figure it out on your own and then turn around and charge a few grand to all the folks amazon will do it to next week.

apparently helping sellers get reinstated might be more profitable than actually being a seller.

In addition to those consultants, Cynthia Stine of egrowthpartners.com was recently interviewed in The Week's Jan 25, 2019 "The Last Word" column and her firm helps Amazon Sellers with Marketplace challenges.

Also, Amazon's Selling Partner Summit is taking place next week at Amazon HQ. It is currently sold out but maybe there is a waiting list ? I'll be attending primarily to make internal contacts should I ever encounter a problem with my account but I can't say for certain if that conference will be helpful in that regard. Sorry for this situation and good luck!

Small world, but yes look into Ed Rosenberg. He knows who and how to talk. Out of Brooklyn but I am sure he can help.

There's going to be a massive rise in this sort of stuff over the next few years. Firstly consolidation, then organisations too large to care about their clients, then semi-automated punishment. Always remember that Amazon is in the same business as everyone and they can burn you down in a second if they decide they don't care. It's a pond full of bureaucratic crocodiles and the biggest one is boss. On numerous occasions companies have shipped me "fuck you" instead of what I paid for and Amazon won't deal with that. It's no better than a traditional market now. The good traders lose to the bad ones, the customers lose to everyone and the only winner is the landlord.

The only thing you can do is refuse to play.

I'd get a (off shelf) storefront up on a domain you control and can remain in control of and start looking for alternative sources of customers. If you have a customer database of any kind, send out marketing emails with product / brand relaunch. Start posting on twitter, insta, google adwords, popular related forums, everything you can. If you have a loyal customer base they will find you again. I know I would.

> On numerous occasions companies have shipped me "fuck you" instead of what I paid for and Amazon won't deal with that.

What? I've never once had a problem with an Amazon return. You click "return this item", choose the return method (their newer "Locker" thing around the corner is pretty convenient) and that's all that needs to happen.

I mean... there's lots to complain about with Amazon, as there is for any big company. But customer service just isn't one of them as I see it.

What has your experience been that you think Amazon "doesn't deal with" returns?

their automated systems are fine, but their actual service is terrible. anytime you need to do something outside of their "system", it is a complete mess and most of the time a complete dead end.

as an example, in the past year, i have had to return/replace greater than 50% of the books i received from them since the books have ranged from being damaged, torn, or just plain dirty. it may be less than 50%, but there have definitely been windows of time where it's greater than that. this is a MASSIVE inconvenience because although all i have to do to initiate the return is click a button, i also have to handle repacking the books and then physical driving or walking them to a dropoff point, all of which takes an hour round trip. i have contacted amazon multiple times, and i am not even able to get the point across. they see that i returned or exchanged the book, so the problem is solved from their end. when i explain that this wastes so much of my time and effectively negates the amazon prime benefit of one or two day shipping (since once the book ships, arrives, i see it's damaged, initiate return process, wait on new shipping which defaults to two days even for books that shipped in one day in the first place takes about a week), they offer a $5 amazon gift card. there was no escalation process whatsoever or even concern.

just this week, i have had to return two books back to them because both books basically arrived used, with dirty and damaged covers and stained pages. the box is in my car ready to be dropped of at ups. it's to the point that i am beginning to have no reason to shop on amazon for books anymore, and i am even considering canceling prime. i have noticed a marked dropped in quality of the books and packing, and i am also just tired of their terrible website. they were the originator of the online book sales, yet their website remains absolutely horrid for books, especially when it comes to multiple editions, releases, paperback vs hardback, etc.

earlier this week, i came across a product listing that had reviews that were clearly for another product. there is no button to report such instances of reviews. try contacting amazon and see if anything even remotely helpful is done. and that's a case of you trying to help them.

amazon, apple, and google are perfect examples of what you get at "scale": companies that treat customers as replaceable resources that should have interactions minimized. the less these companies have to deal with customers and users, the better, from their perspective.

calling them in always a fiasco, both times i've had to call, the operator agreed with me that it was completely stupid how they run things and how complex certain things were. When your own employees agree, there might be a problem.

I canceled Prime when my renewal came up this year. Never looked back.

> What has your experience been that you think Amazon "doesn't deal with" returns?

I ordered something and the wrong item came in. Returned it, another wrong item came in. Contacted support (had a bookmark, as apparently it's very hard these days to figure out how to reach somebody in their UI), they apologized, returned it and what do you know... another wrong item received. Contacted support again, made a fuss, they finally sent the right item but now the return tag was not 'package free' so I had to pay for the packaging at the UPS store. I wouldn't care normally, it was super cheap but I was so pissed off, contacted support again and only then did I manage to return the thing and get my refund.

> it's very hard these days to figure out how to reach somebody in their UI.

You can go in your recent order -> Return or Replace items.

Want to contact an human? Go to the Footer -> Customer Service -> Contact Us -> Fill the fields -> Select Phone Call or Chat.

It's really one of the best customer service I've ever experienced on an online marketplace.

They call you and have your customer file already open.

They also give a General Help Number on their Contact us page.

> Toll free: 1-877-586-3230 (Canada) > International: 1-206-266-2882

Sorry for the delayed reply. Have been too busy.

Today I got a delivery for 6 revision books for my daughter. One is incorrect. I know when I return it, I'm going to get the same damn wrong book again because somewhere along the line someone doesn't give a fuck and everything is so utterly compartmentalised.

I only say this is going to happen because it has happened to me twice before.

Then there's the two marketplace sellers I've complained and complained about and they didn't deal with it at all.

Whereas the OP got shafted once.

It's an efficient bureaucracy, reminiscent of the film Brazil, nothing more.

I am incredibly drawn to the appeal of refusing to play. It's not only the fact that they take an exorbitant amount of my cash flow, but they also act as a full-stop from having potential customers interact with the content on my website (of which I've built a lot). God forbid the day when Amazon's listing for my product outranks my own domain's ecommerce listing.

But, (and I can attest to this myself personally), some people just won't purchase if it's not sold on Amazon. I know when I buy on a third party site, I am very worried about shipping, accountability, giving my CC info out, etc. The peace of mind that Amazon offers is tremendous. I get that. So, there's a huge fraction of my overall volume that I sell on AMZ that diminishes completely when I stop (happens, for example, now, and other times, when inventory runs out). It's a shame but I totally get it.

It looks like your listing is removed but your account is still active. Is that right?

You need to do a little bit of research on the type of response they are looking for as far as your "plan". You are talking to them and sending them screenshots as if you are talking to a human that cares. They do not. Your messages are going into a queue of thousands where low paid, unskilled workers are skimming through then as fast as possible and clicking approve or deny.

You need to work the system, adjust your responses according to what their blanket response says and just keep at it. Modify your plan and resend it. But wait for them to respond each time before you message again.

Don't over do the detail. But create a numbered list with what you are going to do to correct the problem. I had the same issue with one of my accounts. It took maybe 9 letters until they finally reinstated me. There was nothing special in that 9th letter. It probably just got read by someone in a good mood that day.

If this is your first issue and you don't have any other serious issues with your account, you should be able to get it back.

Yeah it is insane. Trying to approach these appeals like you are talking to a regular person just results in failure. A whole industry has popped up around writing Amazon appeals.

It is silly, the whole process encourages you to wildly over promise in your plan, a reasonable set of steps to solve the problem likely won't get you anywhere. Even have to admit to and propose a fix to problems that were never there to fix their check boxes.

There is also a wall between account managers and the seller performance teams, we have had account mangers pushing to get our account back on and not being able to help.

OP- There is a lot of information online so just continue to research and work out exactly what they are looking for, what their check boxes look like, and then write something that hits them all. On the positive side it is rare a final determination from them is actually final and they will generally still look at things after the deadlines they have set.

Yes, make it as easy as possible for the random worker who is reviewing your case to approve a positive resolution. It's unclear if you sent several mails but the last one where you simply attach screenshots of your discussion with the manufacturer requires too much "effort" from the worker to understand the context.

You should include the screenshots as documentation but you should clearly summarize the steps you are taking to address whatever concerns they have. It's tedious and stressful but should make it easier for your case to be resolved.

Good luck.

A family member had the same problem recently. Amazon "deleted" all seller accounts in Europe, because they allegedly didn't sell anything. There was only an US seller account left to contact support. We send support requests over the request platform (forgot the name), to one of the email addresses we got from another support request and to a local post address of Amazon. We got answers from all sources, from different persons with quit different results. Some told us to use the EU support request platform (which was no longer available). Some answers told us the same thing the automatic email said. There is no quality control here, no due process. Luckily (literally luck), all stores got reinstated after a week. At some point, we provided evidence that those seller accounts did in fact sell products and our requests were forwarded to an internal business department. There, finally, someone realized that Amazon made a mistake.

Our case isn't yours, but that's the only thing I can tell you. Shotgun initial requests to 3-5 addresses. Make it quit clear that you a) are generating value for Amazon b) want to continue doing so and c) fixed the issue (or better that there actually wasn't an issue and you got flagged for the wrong reason).

Ultimately, this is a question about policy. Big platforms need to be regulated. They are no longer a single business you can avoid. They are a platform, a monopoly holding influence over our daily lives, with the power to destroy financial existences due to algorithmic decisions. You never know beforehand what could go wrong, there is no proper way to contact Amazon in emergencies (like a hotline). You have no way to reinstate your seller account if Amazon simply says "no". (Maybe you could sue them, but you're going to be bankrupt long before that process is finished). Power imbalance is at the root of all injustice and exactly the reason we need rights to protect those with less.

I sincerely hope you can save your business.

> Amazon "deleted" all seller accounts in Europe, because they allegedly didn't sell anything.

In the US, I used to use Amazon to re-sell things I no longer wanted / needed. Old books, especially technical ones, usually got a great price. Electronics I'd replaced would also do really well, especially since I kept the original packaging. And before I'd move to a new city, I'd sell as much as I could. Back then it was essentially encouraged, with a button showing "You purchased this item on <date>, click here to sell it!". I'd had excellent reviews from all buyers and as far as I was concerned it was the best way to get rid of quality goods because the sale was already made - I just needed to package and ship.

About a year later, I tried to go on to sell some things I'd replaced and it turned out they killed my seller account. Worse, I couldn't contact customer service because authentication on their Seller site was required, and my account was closed.

I called a few numbers and finally got hold of someone and was told my account was closed because I hadn't sold anything in a while. Seemed odd. I asked if they could re-open my account, which had been left in excellent standing, and that was denied. The support person suggested I just start a new account with a new email address. That seemed ridiculous to me. I don't want a new email address.

All that good will I'd built with the hundred or so things I'd sold: Gone, with no chance of return. Since I'm not trying to make a living on the platform, I was tossed. I'm surely not a blip on their radar, but I easily would have sold at least another $10k worth of stuff through them over the next few years.

It was a pretty great thing. Unfortunate how they've ruined it so.

> The support person suggested I just start a new account with a new email address. That seemed ridiculous to me. I don't want a new email address.

One of the replies told us exactly the same. Just reopen with a new email address. Ridiculous on it's own, but we had inventory in Amazons warehouses left, worth thousands of euros. What would have happened with that? Destroyed without compensation is my best guess.

I am surprised the support person suggested to just start a new account as I doubt this is sanctioned advice by Amazon and could lead you to be banned again in the future.

Best to try to email jeff@amazon.com and be polite and succinct with your issue and desired outcome. Even perhaps mention that you were told to simply create a new account but that you doubt that this is the right approach. Hopefully someone from his team will respond.

I believe Dave Clark (SVP of Ops) is also on Twitter so you could try to reach out to him and see if he can direct you to the right person. Best of luck, hope you resolve the issue.

That's ridiculous. I imagine you're right. They would have likely sold it off at one of their bulk auctions.

> Amazon "deleted" all seller accounts in Europe, because they allegedly didn't sell anything.

Very weird. I know a guy who wants to close his seller account and the number of hoops he has to jump through is ridiculous, despite not having sold anything in years.

Though it may not help your position, I wouldn't dismiss the idea that petty / bureaucratic staff are giving you the runaround.

I had exactly that happen with the Apple App Review squad. I managed to somehow offend a mid-level manager type and she purposefully kept moving the bar to get our app through review.

"Did I say you need one of those? I meant one or two. You need two."

I had an old contact there that was way up the food chain and he contacted her boss on my behalf -- who called and apologized and took the idiot woman off the case.

If I didn't have that contact, we would have been at the mercy of some worthless drone who wanted to flex her muscles.

Big tech absolutely should be broken up. There is no such thing as Amazon -- well, there's Amazon the monopoly, but the Amazon you deal with is one of a 100 rent-seeking fiefdoms staffed with people who got picked last in school.

Collectively they do much more harm than good. (And that's ignoring the more pressing problem of political bias and censorship.)

Creating a tmp account to roast minimum wage workers, classy.

Feel free to go work as a reviewer at amazon/apple if you feel like you can improve the process. I'm sure you'll enjoy getting 20% of your current salary + being treated like an animal by basically everyone.

I don't think a "mid-level manager" makes minimum wage.

I'd assume the average wage here is more than 5x minimum.

The only way to protect against commercial deplatforming is to promote and sell through your own website, with a choice of payment processors.

It's hard work but there's really nothing else to say.

Every other presence should be considered as a disposable inbound funnel. Instagram or Twitter deleted you? Start a new account and link back to your website again.

Whenever I read this advice, I can't help but feel it's futile.

Do you realize how hard it is to gain people's attention without being on one of the major platforms? How do you get people to come to your website, to trust your service and give you their credit card details? How do you accept payments? You have to use something like PayPal or Stripe, also platforms which can ban you for any (or no) reason. The economics are unworkable, and platforms are unavoidable.

This is our new reality.

> How do you get people to come to your website, to trust your service and give you their credit card details?

There are several ecommerce website aggregators and search engines, where you can hook up your website (export product list via XML) and promote your products.

You don't need to handle ccard info at all. You can use direct bank-bank money transfer, or use post office to get you the money from the customer on delivery. Post office is regulated and can't refuse you service.

> You have to use something like PayPal or Stripe

No you don't. There are many other options, individual banks and other third parties offer payment gateways (where you can accept credit cards). I know about at least 6 common ones, and I'm sure there are more.

Not US.

Economics of this clearly work well enough.

It's so weird. I live in a country that's 30x smaller population than US, and we seemingly have more ways (that are workable and widely used), to help sellers sell their stuff in an independent way, deliver it, and accept payments for it, without being dependent on semi-monopolistic unregulated third parties like PayPal or Amazon.

You might have to use the big platforms to gain traction initially but as soon as you get a decent following and a customer base you should start hedging your risks. Any of these companies can pull the rug from underneath you. Especially critical if the business is your livelihood and not just a side project.

Depends what you mean by "platform", and it might depend on what you are selling, but other channels you might want to look at are SEO, discussion forums, integration marketing etc. Take a look at the book "Traction".

Which "Traction" book is this? There seem to be a few with this title.

This. Exactly this. This whole “stop relying on third party” is a silly meme that sounds nice and fluffly on the surface, but impractical when you dig into it.

I prefer buying from individual websites. I've never had a problem doing that. Buying on Amazon, I've gotten misrepresented items several times.

There are so many stories lately with deplatformings and how troll attack prone are these platforms that it's inexplicable to me how many business owners still relying heavily on these platforms and not having a b plan.


The Oatmeal sums this up very well.

As much as possible but it is never perfect as you always depend on someone. Organic search rankings, Google/Facebook ad accounts, PayPal (in ecommerce at least I think you probably give up some sales if you can't offer it).

It is always tempting to sink time into the platforms as well to increase volume even if it is a risk.

Are you communicating with Seller Central, A-to-z, or Seller Performance?

You need to be talking to Seller Performance. That’s the legal team. My mom had some return fraud, same person, second time at a new address. I proved beyond a doubt the damage photos were photoshopped and we refused to refund and refused to replace. We pre-emptively contacted Seller Performance before denying to take care of the customer as it was in a grey area of the seller contract. Seller Performance said it was our customer and we could do as we saw fit. A-to-z got all unreasonable with us and threatened to terminate our account until we referred them to the Seller Performance email stream. Yes, all this over a shitty pair of $5 sunglasses...but it’s the principle of the matter.

Talk to the lawyers. Be brief, clear and truthful. That’s your best bet.

Seller performance is not the legal team.

As a customer, not a seller, I'm now activelly avoiding Amazon as much as I can. Even if it is inconvenient.

Especially since I read this article about commingling (you need to register (free) to read): https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2019/03/20/1553085361000/Amazon-...

They are now dangerously close to be a monopoly AND a monopsony in way too many markets.

They just don't need to care anymore and it shows.

He clearly doesn't understand what he's writing about - his example is Apple Earpods, where Amazon is the only seller due to an exclusive contract between Amazon and Apple, and there's no commingling at all going on.

Great read. Thank you for sharing.

I have personally purchased your product as a gift for my sister and she loved it. I really hope that Amazon realizes their mistake.

Thank you so much!! That means so much.

Once (and if) you exhaust all options mentioned by HNers, trying emailing Jeff Bezos and write a proper explanation with kind of tldr; in the first para.

I know it sounds stupid but it worked for me. I had a $$$ of affiliate payment pending with them and the CS staff dilly-dallied the payment - to my Indian account - for more than 10 months. I emailed, Jeff intervened, deputed his secretary on my case. He, in turn, got me in touch with India manager. The Indian manager bent over backwards and was extremely apologetic for the trouble I had to face and sent the amount quickly. He ended the last call saying for any kind of trouble with Amazon I can contact him.

It is reassuring to hear that Jeff at least operates like a decent human. It is so nihilistic to imagine a future where leaders of these insanely powerful tech companies act moreso like, say, characters on wall street.

Don't know what to say. You should move away from amazon. It is already a monopoly. Recently I flagged a product which has all 5(10s of them, not a singe 4 or -ve reviews!). Looked at the reviews on page 1, all single lines, great product, received promptly etc. None properly describing the product. I was almost convinced to buy, then dig through the reviews and found that the reviews are not related to the product at all. The product is a vitamin supplement, the reviews related to some skin cream not available on street. And it's directly an amazon prime product (not from market place).I was raged and immediately contacted amazon cs and had a lengthy chat and they said some one will get back to me and do something about it. Never heard anything back and the product stays and people still get fooled.

Unfortunately, your best bet is to hope this gets enough attention here that an Amazon employee on some higher level happens to see it. This is more or less the case with a lot of these tech companies right now. You have my upvotes, hope it helps.

Also to further your point into existential territory. I remember hearing Elizabeth Warren saying her plan was to break up BigTechCo's and thinking to myself about how ridiculous it is and how she's totally pointing her guns in the wrong direction. But after these events and some reflection; it's true. These companies are clearly only accountable to themselves leaving everyone else to go f* themselves. Consumers may win in the short term with the low prices that commerce conglomerate Amazon can offer, but I think the long run; retail death will only further widen income gaps and continue to tear our country's social fibers further apart.

I feel like I did everything I could to be on the correct side of this economic gamble; having worked for a few BigTechCo's; studying, training hard, teaching myself to code. But still, they don't even treat me right. It's like they're accountable to no one. They are more and moreso becoming public enemy #1 and I feel like that's a position for which they are totally deserving.

I can't see how breaking up Amazon helps this kind of thing. Sure you could break of AWS, you could separate fulfilment stuff from the main marketplace and have Amazon itself just another marketplace seller, you could insist they use 3rd party courier companies, not start their own etc.

But fundamentally there is still a website that has listings and someone has to patrol it for quality / spam. Those people will have to use algorithms, and they will make mistakes.

Don't get me wrong. Breaking up Amazon is a good idea, and should happen, but it's unlikely to help here.

> I can't see how breaking up Amazon helps this kind of thing

Read up on the break-up of Standard Oil.[0]

If we took that approach with a tech giant, we'd end up with lots of smaller independent companies which compete with each other in their markets, not companies which each (still!) completely dominate one particular market segment.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Oil#Breakup

That doesn't seem like it would work in this context. Whichever retains the Amazon domain name (or if somehow forfeited the most memorable/closest) would retain the lion's share for the one stop shop. Barnes and Noble is still around but that market seems fairly winner takes all.

MmThe break en up mantra seems demagogic pandering as opposed to a real solution- especially when actual abusive and far more dominant, abusive, and all consuming monopolies walk by in the background whistling.

She wasn't talking about breaking up Amazon randomly. Whether I agree with her or not, it was a well thought out position. You must read that before passing judgment. Basically, her point was that Amazon as a seller and Amazon as a marketplace must be two different entities that cannot and should not coordinate with each other. This makes a third-party seller on the marketplace at an equal footing with AmazonBasics. The marketplace stays neutral and is not subsidizing the Amazon seller and thereby putting other sellers at a huge disadvantage. Where I disagree with her is that this is the exact same practice that every major supermarket brand does.


How can someone hold an opinion that goes against their own bias in the first place?

Thank you so much. Unicode alone can not allow me to truly express how much just having someone even listen to me means. Thank you.

FYI, in case it helps, there are many accounts online of people emailing jeff@amazon.com and getting a helpful response (though not necessarily from Jeff Bezos himself). Obviously, it's not guaranteed, but, if you've tried everything else, perhaps it's worth a shot.

In any case, good luck.

Thank you kindly for the idea, Qohen. I will give it a shot. I just wrote a rather nasty comment about Amazon on this thread but hopefully whoever reads it may understand the sentiment. :)

If you write a nice email -- perhaps not referring to this thread -- I expect one could hope for a decent outcome. :-)

(You're welcome for the idea and, again, good luck).

Ah yeah, that's probably true. Thank you again so much.

First: DO NOT email jeff@amazon.com, DO NOT Do media or any of crazy stuff like that.

I have to be honest with you OP. This is a case of you not understanding how the platform works, while Amazon is unclear in their policies. If you give them what they need, they will collaborate with you most of the time.

Here's what I believe happened based on what you provided.

Your product listing, you must have created using manufacturer's barcode. You can check your seller central Settings -> Fulfillment By Amazon http://prntscr.com/n6j53l

If you had this at manufacturer barcode, or created the listing with manufacturer barcode. Then your products are commingled with the other sellers.

From what I saw in the image, it looks like the other seller Adorama sent in a product that looked used to the buyer. Then buyer complained. Now you are on the hook since the products are commingled.

If this is indeed the case you will need to write a Plan of action that addresses what Amazon is asking.

Point them to your manufacturer's website (https://www.getfractals.com)

Root cause - inventory commmingling

Action Taken - removed all inventory to verify no issues

Prevention - no more commingling

Sourcing: I source directly from manufacturer, I am the brand owner and manufacturer. point to the your website, and LINK the verifiable information back to you (same address, same storefront name, same personal nam etc), this is to prove you are sourcing from legitimate source.

Listing: You have double checked listing to make sure product matches

Packaging & Shipping: address this if necessary

Buyer communication: I've reached out to buyer, and found out this product is from a commingled seller.

Also you will need to draft a invoice to yourself (your manufacturer identity to your own seller identity) in order to give the document amazon needs to pass this.

If you draft the correct POA plan, Amazon will accept it. Also make sure you never use commingling if you create your own products!

Strongly disagree.

First of all, Adorama is selling merchant fulfilled, not FBA. So commingling is irrelevant here.

Second, it's unlikely the Adorama order is what caused the issue, being as it wasn't even FBA. My guess is it's a different order that caused the issue, they haven't identified it properly, and that's why they're getting rejected.

If there is anything I may be able to assist you with, you are most welcome to email me: helen@adorama.com

Helen Oster Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

Thank you so much for the interesting insight. Got your email :)

I am going to look into trying this since it seems to be one of the best options, and I don't know, it just seems like a culpable enough an explanation. Can you kindly explain what you mean by stopping commingling? I don't think I am aware of what the word means in this context.

They have said that they will not necessarily respond to future emails, but I hope if I send this plan they will decide to.

Thank you Patrick.

commingling is when you use manufacturer barcode when you label your individual units.

This means the products you send into Amazon FBA warehouse will be mixed with other sellers.

This is an issue because if other sellers have problematic inventory, you are on the hook for their mess up.

My advice: Think long and hard about which third platforms your products rely on. I understand that it's not practical or even advisable to completely avoid third party providers, but at least your store should be independent and reachable under yourdomain.com. It should be the primary destination for your customers.

I'm not affiliated with them, just a happy customer, but a service like Shopify will enable you to run your own store without a technological background or server administration and it doesn't prevent you from also selling via external channels like Amazon, eBay or others. The difference is that your primary store, or in the worst case your domain, will be there even if Amazon & Co. decide to stop selling your products over night.

I recommend that you read the article below. At the very least, you might find some solace in knowing that you are not alone. Alternatively, you could reach out to some of the consultants mentioned in the article, who specialise in unravelling the Amazon ToS and act as arbitrers.

Good luck.


Don't try to make a new account as others have suggested. You're essentially guaranteed to be permanently delisted by Amazon if you do this and they react. Instead, send a polite but compelling email to jeff@amazon.com explaining the situation in full.

I once had an issue that Amazon's customer service wouldn't address. I emailed jeff@amazon.com and had a response within a week, with a full resolution to the matter.

Worth a shot?

I'm going to echo a lot of people's response here, and say that your best bet is to reduce and/or eliminate your dependence on Amazon. As far as IG, I think that it's a channel worth pursuing because your product fits the platform so well.

Just an idea: you mentioned that you had a successful Kickstarter in 2014. If you still have the list of backers, and their emails, this is a good opportunity to start an email list, and tell your story to them. The primary goal will be to tell them why you're not on Amazon, and on IG, and how it happened.

It is an opportunity to also direct them to your new selling channel (or tell them that you are working on one). You can also appeal to your customer to lend your their support (I don't know how, but it is a good opportunity to figure out how that support could look like).

> because a graffiti artist and his trolls were able to flag my IG account

Super curious about the story behind this..

Seems like people are saying art is art, and copyrighted, even if it was illegal graffiti.

That begs the question:

1) what if I start tagging everything possible in public space, and if anyone takes photos of it then I can claim copyright violation or royalties? Evidence in the comments seems to show that this actually works to get settlements.

And this was brought up by a commenter:

2) what if a my car window is smashed (as a work of art), and I take a photo of it for evidence?

Seems like copyrighting artwork done on public property (or other people's property) is an unfair and unjust invasion of one's personal vision space (it's forcing me to look at it). It reduces my personal rights to take photos of a public area and retain what would be my rights to the contents of a photo by having someone's copyrighted artwork imposed there (often illegitimately). In my opinion, if I am forced—that is to say I have no choice—to see something then it should lose copyright (or be applicable as fair use).

I always found dealing with Amazon Kafkaesque outside of "my parcel didn't arrive - ok we send a new one" or "I don't want this - ok send it back". Some of my interactions ended with involving the police who solved them in my favor.

Ask this in the Amazon sellercentral forums, not here. Yes there are pro Amazon sellers here but most people here don't really know anything about how the Amazon reinstatement system works at all - as others pointed out it's unfortunately somewhat byzantine in nature.

BTW - same deal with IG, there's a process to reinstatement. Now to think about it - there's actually a skill involved with talking to BigCos, understanding how support teams are structured (and who has power/discretion), and getting resolutions in your favor. A lot of these issues come from overarching policies followed up by corner cases, so you need to present yours well basically.

When you try to make a living outside of the big corporations, you can feel the invisible wall that they've built to protect their business interests from small players. It's ridiculous that if I work for a corporation, I can get paid a huge salary with huge options package for doing very little actual work but if I try to do my own business, I can produce much more of the same work but can't make 10% of the salary.

It is entirely possible to get your Instagram reinstated. What you need to do is know someone who has a close relationship with FB. In the past I used a friend who owns an influencer agency. After months of submitting my own appeals his single appeal did the trick.

Tweet at the company and the CEO of such company with details. That is what the media is watching. This will get their attention. Worked for a couple of people I know personally.

This can be a powerful tool, but in this specific instance it's probably more likely to get his account locked down for good.

Hello, i completely understand your frustration, reading the messages it's clearly some drone on the other side replying.

I would echo the statement to put up your own store, hosted on your own domain, and to stop relying on third party suppliers that are not interested in your well being. (but i have no personal experience)

i have seen YouTubers echo this statement in regards to ads disappearing, and i have seen amazon wipe companies out with these idiotic issues.

i wish you the best, and i love your product design/idea!

I think this is right. It is possible to sell on your own site. Luxury goods do it right now. For example, if you want to buy perfume directly from Chanel, you cannot do it through Amazon. My sense is that Chanel wouldn't give Amazon product even if they asked for it.

That said, I think this approach is best combined with voting for and supporting candidates and social movements which will break up big tech and/or socialize their assets.

Wow, thanks for sharing, unbelievable story, hope you can find a quick resolution. Hopefully the buzz from this post ends up being a net positive for your business.

To anyone questioning why breaking up big tech is important, just imagine doing nothing wrong an receiving a form email like this in regards to your livelihood: https://i.imgur.com/gWewbd1.png

I have no idea how to help but your product looks wonderful and I think I'm going to buy it - I'm sorry you're going through this

+1 looks like a really cool product and I’m probably gonna buy one as a gift. Insane that a clearly legit product like this can be banned with no recourse at these sites. They should invest some of their smart people into improving the UX for these situations.

At least this is on the homepage of HN now. That might get it some attention from someone who works for Amazon.

But that really sucks, hope you can resolve this!

If you live in Seattle, perhaps you have friends who work at Amazon who can intro you to someone in the right team? You're trying to deal with a giant bureaucracy, so access to someone on the inside is going to be really effective.

Push your own ecommerce channels, there is no need to rely solely on Amazon.

What does "US Patent #14/205-314" mean?

Is that a new patent-number style? Because it does not look like a normal patent number.

That is a patent application number. USPTO Public PAIR [0] shows that the application went abandoned 12-12-2016.

[0] https://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair

I think I might be able to help - I've just sent an email to the address listed under "contact" on your site.

Surprised no one has mentioned a lawyer. Even if Amazon/FB is in full rights to do what they've done, having a lawyer send a letter usually gets a more indepth and careful examination of your issue(s).

Make a new account - the only thing that works.

Amazon has no qualms delisting businesses making tenth of megabucks on Amazon, and it is very unlikely that they will make an exception for a small business.

Very hard to successfully do this, basically have to commit to going full stealth with a different company, owners, emails, bank accounts, IPs ect.

9 times out of 10, they seem to don't mind.

I know no Amazon vendor in China that doesn't deal with random closures by just reopening the account, and often with the same credentials.

That's a really bad advice for US residents. Maybe their flagging ML system doesn't work well on random Chinese addresses, but with US history they pretty much either prevent a creation of a new account in any way associated with an old banned account, immediately flag it for a review requiring extensive internal company documentation/proofs or remove it in regular (quarterly?) sweeps when they kick bunches of sellers from their platform.

"Funny" thing is their anomaly detection algorithms are really bad and they tend to keep counterfeit sellers while kicking out genuine ones more often with no way to appeal in a reasonable fashion, i.e. paying some external company with individual ties to Amazon managers to reinstate sellers... Complete mafia around selling on that badly designed platform.

My hypothesis is that they intentionally disabled or relaxed fuzzy string match based ban lists in China.

It is common knowledge that you have much better chance to re-register without any trickery in a big city, than in a small one.

Imagine, you have few hundreds Liu Chens running some undescript Zhongguo Electronics in every megacity, and very likely all having addresses like "Northern/Western/Eastern Industrial Park Zone 123" – add some fuzzy logic here and you have a recipe for disaster.

I remember the internet before Amazon, people controlled their own stuff. Do likewise, respond like it's 2002.

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