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“Amazon is holding over 4.2M dollars, suffocating our business” (amazon.com)
711 points by hippich on April 28, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 194 comments

The OP said it was a velocity hold tripped up due to COVID19 situation that caused the sales to spike drastically.


And got the attention and escalated:


And then eventually resolved: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/t/amazon-is-holding-...

And now what? Will Amazon improve their business process to avoid future situations like this?

(of course not)

Amazon is known to be two things

1- data driven 2- revenue maximizing

They’re constantly tweaking the website in order to even marginally increase revenues. Halting the transfer of funds hurts Amazon’s bottom line because those companies would just be using that money to replenish sold inventories. It’s unfortunately not a direct measurement, but if halting the transfer of funds resulted in the business going out of stock on Amazon, or leading to more delayed fulfillments, canceled orders, less satisfied customers, more refunds, etc then Amazon lost future commissions due to this. If Amazon can update their statistical models to prevent such potential loss of sales in the future without risking more false positives, then their in-house quants have strong incentive to do so.

Maybe their models already take into account this and the cost of lost commissions in such events is lower than the cost of increased scams.

"Now, should we tweak our process ? Take the number of merchants in the marketplace, A, multiply by the probably rate of false positive, B, multiply by the average cost of lost commissions C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost in increased scams, we won't do it".

"Are there a lot of these kind of issues?"

"You wouldn't believe"

"Which cloud company do you work for?"

"A major one"

My guess this will lead to a internal Correction of Error (COE) report and there will be some change to either reduce false positives or increase the velocity of addressing them by making some systematic change.

Ha! Amazon has had this velocity issue locking up legitimate funds for a decade. It's a feature, not a bug. They know it locks up funds for legitimate sellers but they don't really care that much about their 3rd party sellers and they get to retain a lot of cash for longer than usual anyway. It won't get fixed.

I think you vastly underestimate the degree to which Amazon's actions are shaped by ongoing, pervasive fraud by 3rd party sellers.

Your reply doesn't make sense. He said they won't fix it. You said he's wrong because he's not thinking about fraud. But not fixing it is better for preventing fraud anyway. So you both basically said they won't fix it.

First poster implied Amazon does this to retain more cash. Second implied they do it to prevent fraud instead.

I just mentioned that retaining more cash is a plus for them and yet another reason they won't fix it.

If this is anything like Quality Assurance at manufacturing companies than this COE will be pure performance designed to look like action without anyone having to do more than the bare minimum to look like the problem is resolved.

Can those who have downvoted me here explain why? This was my genuine experience working in a GMP company and I would like to know if this is not the norm.

That's your opinion. You have no idea if Amazon will make changes or not.

Ten years of not fixing it is a pretty good indicator that they won't.

This basically happens for a good reason. Basically, the potential scam is to sign up to a marketplace and list very popular products at lower prices than everyone else. Then ship empty packages or boxes full of rocks. The marketplace will pay you every few days, and if you are "shipping internationally" they won't figure it out for a few weeks. So trust is gained slowly.

The real takeaway here is that this guy pays $5,000 USD per month to get a support rep on a platform he sells a million dollars a month worth of goods on, of which it already takes a decent percent, and the support rep can't even talk to anyone with any power. This is the dark side of monopolies.

Surely the scam doesn't last since 2013. Stop making excuses for Amazon, this isn't acceptable given the circumstances.

There's no scam going on here and bringing it up is just a way to take blame away from Amazon and for what end?

I have had XXX,XXX funds locked and a business wrecked in this exact same way but I'm explaining why it happens. If they didn't do this, they would be exploited. The real issue here is that, because they're a monopoly, the customer service sucks, and they don't care at all to let you prove you aren't running a scam. To the sibling commenter: No, what Amazon is doing is not a legal requirement. Yes, they act like PayPal now.

> If they didn't do this, they would be exploited

Amazon are offloading their fraud risk onto random small businesses and the nuance of their platform gives the small business no recourse. In a fair platform, you could resolve something like this pretty easily. I'm sure you agree, but it's worth noting explicitly. It's not a stretch to imagine Amazon are allowing for this "bug" in their support system to remain because it saves them money.

> In a fair platform, you could resolve something like this pretty easily

How? It seems that Amazon could provide better communication, but how would this situation be easily resolved?

A human talks to another human and they discuss the situation, figure out what documents or proofs they could provide and come to an agreement. Make those humans lawyers if you have to. It's not some unknown landscape of grey area in content moderation, it's a marketplace holding onto another businesses money unfairly. We can't treat it like a social network or other ephemeral software platform, this is real transactional commerce and Amazon should behave like it and provide support to resolve things like this quickly.

To argue Amazon's side here, they most likely don't view this as unfair withholding. From Amazon's point of view, this seller moved from FBA to self fulfillment and had a massive increase is sales. The OP said they were averaging $1M per month, and that Amazon had held $4.2M for 15 days, so it looks like they'd had an up to 8x increase in sales while simultaneously moving to a system where Amazon had no oversight.

As I said, while I can feel the pain of getting automated replies from a company that owes you a lot of money, I don't think this situation lends itself to easy solutions without a waiting period, even if you involve lawyers. There are circumstances where payment processors will hang on to the cash for much longer than this. Concert tickets come to mind.

Amazon doesn't even have real oversight in their own FBA program. They comingle fake products all the time and then also punish sellers when customers receive those fake products.

I agree. In order to get access to an API which enables you to proxy web requests through a network of participating consumer computers, I had to do a Zoom meeting a few years ago with the service provider.

Obviously their service could be used nefariously and they asked a few questions, wanted to see my office and validate a few things to ensure I was going to use it for valid purposes. (I used it to scrape publicly accessible data for research purposes).

Sometimes the low tech, manual human process is the best final filter.

Release a small fraction of the fund, let's say 30%, maybe limited to transactions deemed older/safer. It's trivial and it's enough cash flow for the vendor to continue operating until the next release.

Amazon has two days delivery for most orders. They can quickly get customer feedback (product review, refund, shipping issue). They could even directly question customers "have you received product? Yes/No".

They could easily determine that a vendor is legit if they wanted to, they do not need to hold funds for months.

What PayPal does or did (according to stories I read a while back) was freeze the funds and then simultaneously advertise a loan to the customer. So I guess we could subtract the interest rate charged by other lenders for that kind of loan from the rate that PayPal would charge, to get an estimate of the risk that PayPal believes it is mitigating when freezing people's funds.

Sounds odd for PayPal to do that (might be a US thing?). They're the one owing you money but you're the one who has to pay extra fee?

The purpose of delaying was to prevent fraud and this achieves nothing to prevent fraud, the vendor can just take the loan and run away. If PayPal is confident enough to give a loan, they're confident enough to release some of the funds, but they prefer to force a loan on the account holder and get extra fees?

I don't expect that going well in many jurisdictions. Consider the massive power imbalance and usually shorter legal timelines to close SME payments, that give more weight to the case.

Yea that's really the question I have in the other reply I just left.

Does it save them money? Maybe in the short term. Maybe even in the long term if the PR cost doesn't hit them at all.

I think as people this is a reason where we need to hold them accountable by pushing our businesses back to platforms where we have more control, and pushing our selling habits back to those same platforms.

I don't think Shopify is ideal, but I do think it's better for both sellers and buyers than Amazon.

>If they didn't do this, they would be exploited.

You're implying that the way they're currently doing it is the only possible way to deal with the problem.

Exactly, the problem isn’t that they are protecting themselves against fraud, it’s the way they do it. There is so much low hanging fruit they could implement to do better than this, it’s inexcusable.

That's fair.

What makes it so insane is they still get exploited on both the buyer and seller fronts. Really though the crux of the problem if they want to do this type of enforcement is they just need a better internal policy of expedited processing of reviews for accounts > some age && > amount of held funds.

If they ramped up this current type of "enforcement" to deter fraud it's going to come with a PR cost.

>because they're a monopoly

They're not a monopoly.

Yeah, they're not a monopoly. And my business isn't a monopoly either. But, notably, not in quite the same way that they're not a monopoly.

Sure, they are not a monopoly yet when you look at the whole of e-commerce. But Amazon effectively is a monopoly for at least books and probably electronics, depending on where you live.

Quoting from an article published in 2018: https://www.retaildive.com/news/amazon-beats-best-buy-as-top...

> 60% of every incremental dollar being spent online in North America is gong to one company — Amazon. No matter what you sell, Amazon is coming for you

They exercise monopoly power, by the law that makes them a monopoly.

Getting the JD to enforce monopoly laws is a whole other problem

In the same sense a giant Walmart in a 5000 people town is not a monopoly

They will after the COVID crisis eases.

mind you shopify is acting the same way too. i get that they have to protect themselves, but when they hold all the money and power they have little incentive to resolve things quickly.

I'd have though Amazon legal or their rep would have at least got something happening.

But just Fyi, often fraudsters will buy or otherwise gain control of companies with long histories to commit fraud. They do this exactly because you'd assume a company in business since 2013 is legit.

You see the same thing with old ebay accounts, people buy/hack them, suddenly start selling again and when it turns out all they mail is bricks in boxes it's too late, they took the money already.

For tax evasion (and I'm sure also legit purposes) you can buy companies that have been setup, registered and had returns filled for years, and now look like real entities. They're called "Shelf" companies.

Edit: I think they even do it the Sopranos. A guy has big gambling debts, they put a gun to his head and his company maxes out its credit with the bank and all its surpliers such that it will never be able to repay. The money goes to Tony and the bank/suppliers are left wondering why an established businessman ruined his own business and probably their's too.

Criminals are clever and that makes everyone's lives more difficult...

It's a huge shift in behavior. Outside of Covid-19 context something like this could have been a huge red flag. I'm sure people at amazon are working near as hard as anyone to respond to all of these changes. This was flagged and resolved by them in a day. I'm sure there are a lot of latent checks and balances that are there to catch things but when context changes need to be updated. In emergency times often the squeaky wheel gets the grease and I have no doubt Amazon is relying on customer feedback to point out less common problems that have arisen due to all the change.

The two can happen simultaneously. Assuming a particular case is either one or the other either with algorithms without human review is arrogant, unprofessional, fascist, and lacks nuance. Making it convoluted and difficult to receive money owed is fraud, theft, and deception by design.

Scams do happen on established accounts too. Accounts get stolen. Accounts get sold on private forums and Facebook groups. Established sellers do go rogue sometimes too.

> This is the dark side of monopolies.

Tech monopolies are particularly good at it, online support tickets and "community" forums are fantastic decoys for real support.

Google is one of the worst offenders, had a user tell me that Chrome deleted all of her passwords. Try to look up solutions online and all I find are tons of community forums with 60-80 posts each of people talking about how all of their passwords are gone and there is no solution/remedy offered to anyone.

I had a weird positive experience with Google lately. An account rep messed up all my AdWords (I still call it that) campaigns and blew $900 on worthless mistargeted clicks on Christmas Eve 2018. My request for refund was denied, so I chargebacked and got banned (who cares).

I need to use AdWords again next month so I reactivated the account and asked for another appeal. They immediately deleted the $900 debt and unbanned me.

Stop using chrome?

It doesn't fix the problem, it just makes it no longer your own problem. Chrome is still one of the dominant browsers.

> This is the dark side of monopolies.

Oh; no introduction necessary. We go way back.

As you said, they are paying $5,000 a month ($60,000/yr, they alone are paying 30-50% the salary) for an account rep whose sole job is to facilitate communication between customer and Amazon, and they are proving useless.

If this is some sort of "suspected fraud, don't tip them off" then it is a really shitty way to handle it - and probably not legally required. Amazon is choosing to handle it this way.

Sounds like Paypal - never keep your money in it a day longer than necessary. I don't know how Amazon Marketplace funds work, but this is a lesson never to trust Amazon with your money if you can avoid it.

This is probably the thing that bothers me the most about this story. Every couple of weeks there's another post about "Google de-listed my app from the Play Store", etc, and the common thread tends to be that there's a wall of powerless drones that act as the interface between the tech giant and the "tenant" (developer or seller). Contact support with a complaint, they say that you violated some nebulous policy and they can't give you the details of the violation, and all the tenant can do is shout into the void or hope to make enough noise rising up the ranks here at HN that somebody with actual power takes notice.

So, it's chilling to see that Amazon has a system where you can pay a frankly astonishing amount for a "priority" rep, who you would think would have the power to actually get any issues addressed, and actually they're just as useless as the Tier 1 guy who read you the script about violating the terms of service.

The vendor in question had been a steady seller with a 7 year track record. It's really hard claim to swallow that that is plausibly an exit scam, even to an extremely naive fraud-detection system.

Seller accounts are bought and sold on the grey/black market.

I don't think that math adds up.

Seller does $12 M/yr revenue with Amazon. How much is an exit fraud worth? I find it difficult to believe that anyone on the black market is willing to pay anything close to the discounted future earnings of a $12 M/yr revenue business just to pursue an exit scam for about a week.

5% margins, which are in the realm of normal, on $12MM/year would be $600k. If you didn’t ship $3MM worth of product, that would be five years of profit.

But also: shit happens to people. They get into debt. Businesses go bad. There’s a reason Amazon has a system in place to flag and shutdown this pattern of activity. Maybe it was wrong in this case, but it exists for a reason. Chesterton’s Fence and all that.

There is also credit risk for an established business that maybe heading to bankruptcy. Amazon is essentially extending credit by paying sellers for items that may not have shipped. Given recent disruptions they are likely on high alert for credit risk as well.

I don't think they need to hold ~4 months of average sales to cover that risk when ship times are a handful of days. AMZN seems to have been holding funds on sales that were not only already shipped, but delivered.

I get that Amazon has created this "self-correcting machine" that makes sure certain constraints are met in terms of vendors and products and what not. And if a vendor is detected as violating some rule, they're "eliminated" and Amazon prefers not to have human intervention.

But does Amazon share the full details of this "machine" with the partners/vendors beforehand who are going to be subjected to it? If I'm a vendor I'd like to know the exact rules of the game, down to the last if-then-else, no matter how complex, so I can at least have all the information to decipher what may have gone wrong, or how not to overstep. Sharing this information would only make it easier for both Amazon and the vendors.

And the fraudulent sellers would also love to have this information, so they can precisely step around every piece of logic Amazon's systems are enforcing.

What I'm asking is not unlike how society works. The law of the land is publicly available and it's a right of every citizen to know the rules that they're expected to abide by.

If someone reads all of the law and finds and exploits loopholes, did they really commit fraud? or is there something wrong with the law that needs to be fixed?

How are they reacting that way for an established seller, yet they are apparently incapable of getting rid of the "don't buy via amazon, contact me at my email address first, I will reject all orders via amazon" scammers that put fake offers at half market price in? That sounds more like an intern clicking on a few things. If their scam-hunting-systems (which I'd reason are an important part) are fully automatic and that bad, it's a miracle how AWS works.

It seems an established account is as likely as any account to sell a ton of ghost items and cash away the money. Consider if the vendor account gets hacked or the wife of the vendor pulls a stunt on him. The reward for fraud only gets bigger as the account is more trusted.

By that logic they should always freeze all accounts, because "they've not scammed up until now, which makes them more likely to scam in the next five minutes then ever before".

It looks more like a simplistic trigger that somebody just threw in there that doesn't take e.g. Amazon's ability to fulfill FBA orders. And it looks like a terrible policy to just say "yeah, fuck the seller, shut them down, we don't do manual reviews of the decisions of some Perl script from a decade ago".

I'm saddened that you don't consider these serious issues in the real world. I personally know a man who used to run a small company (not related to Amazon) and whose wife drained all the money away over a small period of time, as well as taking a few extra lines of credits, before vanishing.

Thankfully scams are limited in time. Freezing funds for 30 or 60 days is an effective fraud prevention tactic.

P.S. Of course in this case it's stupid and there should be a way to contact a human and release some of the funds.

I do consider them serious, I just don't believe that Amazon cares at all. I run into scam shops on the German amazon site all the time, they don't get removed, and they are trivial to identify, so much so that you can generate a very good list for manual screening with a simple regex on the description. Amazon does not remove them. Amazon does not care. But I bet that Amazon would pretend to care and remove them if I could make noise on social media and shame them for allowing scams to happen on their marketplace.

> Freezing funds for 30 or 60 days is an effective fraud prevention tactic.

It's also an effective tactic to ruin companies. Amazon should pay a hefty sum for any false positives, they currently have little to no incentive to a) make their automated systems work well ("just block everyone that looks kinda suspicious, the ones with lawyers and enough money will get our attention") b) actually have a process in place to check their automatic decisions.

Freezing funds is one thing. Freezing funds and being unwilling to get in contact and work with the person in question to evaluate and remedy the state of affairs is an entirely different issue.

> This is the dark side of monopolies.

Is there a bright side?

People get same day delivery diapers. Apparently it's worth it.

Same day delivery of diapers that they probably won't even notice are sketchy counterfeits.

Does authenticity matter for a disposable excrement catcher? If they sold you diapers lined with broken glass, fraud would be the least of their crimes.

Yes, the ability to hold enough pee without it leaking is something certain high quality nappies do far better than others. The ability to pull the moisture away from the skin as to reduce the chance of rash is done better by certain brands and I would hope the 'non-fakes' adhere to some sort of standard where the material doesn't affect the health of the skin as it's medically approved etc.

If your comment is correct, we could just wrap old tshirts around my babies arse.

Well, you certainly could. Cloth diapers were once the standard (and are in fact still used by some).

Cloth diapers don't fill up landfills, but they are a pain to clean.

Yes =(

Pros and cons to everything.

ANd your cheap chinese rip off cloth nappy will arrive which scratched yous kids skin to death.. I don't care about the cloth vs nappy - I am saying that you should care if you are receiving fakes.

Peter Thiel would have you believe that monopolies are the only places where truly creative innovation and invention can happen at the corporate level, because they no longer have to focus everything on staying afloat as a business in the first place.

Thiel would love to be able to embrace, extend, and extinguish.

Peter Thiel would have you believe a lot of things.

When the monopoly suffocates competitors it is usually by offering goods and services at below market price (which benefits the consumers).

Edit: maybe “while” would make my intent clearer? I understand it leads to worse pricing/progress later.

While*. Its a honeymoon phase until they find the price equilibrium which is worse for the consumers. Econ 101. Not saying you don't know, just mentioning that the intuition that monopolies are bad is a very simple one that apparently we tend to forget

Yeah, that was my intent, when (while) it is suffocating competition things are ok to good, not so much after.

For a little while, until they don't have to anymore

I managed a $60M/yr amazon business and these kind of issues would happen on a monthly basis.

We were on Vendor Central so we had a dedicated rep. He would avoid helping us however, and use the opportunity to force us to renegotiate our rates (so Amazon could have more margin). Then the issue would disappear.

This happened so often we suspected these automatic issues were actually orchestrated to secure more margin.

The Amazon rep told us that he had quotas to hit of new margin targets for us every quarter.

We also consistently had issues of Amazon reporting under-deliveries and holding our funds. We shipped product in packages of (modulo) 8, and so they ordered in packages of (modulo) 8. When it arrived at the warehouse, they'd mark only 7 delivered, which is not feasible, sell the extra one and refuse to pay us for that 8th unit. This amounted to millions of dollars.

I eventually tracked every single package we had ever shipped and presented evidence of this fraud to them. They offered to pay us 30 cents on the dollar if we signed a waiver forgiving the rest.

I would certainly love to read more about your experience. Not sure if you are tied with some kind of NDA, but if you can share more - please post a complete story!

"The Amazon rep told us that he had quotas to hit of new margin targets for us every quarter."

That is truly wtf.

It's management by KPI. Possibly the greatest wealth generating mechanism ever created. The closest we have yet come to building the fabled paperclip maximizer of AI doomsayer fame.

> I eventually tracked every single package we had ever shipped and presented evidence of this fraud to them. They offered to pay us 30 cents on the dollar if we signed a waiver forgiving the rest.

Did you get your full dollar? I don't see why you didn't get more, this is ripe for lawsuit.

12 hours ago the OP reported the issue was resolved. No further explanation except thanking Pax from amazon.

Lol! That's why social shaming works. Ignoring quiet people scales. Ignoring loud people doesn't scale. So learn your lesson and complain everywhere you can when you have an issue.

I used public shaming on Usenet once, in the Computer Shopper era, when a vendor kept telling me “next week” on the motherboard I ordered. All summer. The system was going to cost me a huge fraction of my income for that year (student, gift from family) but I wanted it for career advancement. And in fact had cost me, because they charged my card immediately. So I was furious.

Three hours after posting a fair but damning report where all the home brew people hang out and I get a manager on the phone and some sob story about how they probably shouldn’t be selling that hardware anyway. I didn’t disagree.

And even then I had to go to the bank anyway and reverse charges because they tried to charge me a restocking fee for hardware they clearly couldn’t even get their hands on. What are you restocking?

I ended up using the money to move to Seattle instead, which was at least as good an investment.

Likely some sort of NDA

Just saw that as well. Pretty frustrating that they didn't add any detail.

There may be a clause in their contract (or something they had to sign) where further communications or sharing details is disallowed or conditional to actually getting the money.

TBH for 4.x million + continued business (12M a year at least), I'd shut right up myself. That's not just "your" money but all of your employees as well (with 200K shipments / month or however much it is they're likely operating a warehouse of their own)

How is it totally fine that a company should have enough leverage to blackmail you into shutting up and continuing to use their platform?

I'd be sorely tempted to shout from the rooftops, hit up every VC I could, and move heaven and hell to break into their vertical just on principle at that point. Sometimes, not rocking the boat does more harm than good. Doing anything else is basically accepting the legitimacy of the practice.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the inherent risk. I realize they have their business and employees to think of. However, taking the hush money and moving along just sets Amazon up to do it to someone else. It isn't "just business"; it's bad business, damnit and getting away with it lowers the bar for everyone because you're not willing to hold someone to account.

If the next 5 businesses who catch Amazon out doing this type of thing carefully, documenting every detail, and take it to the authorities, you can bet there will be change. They may make more money than a small nation, but tie up non-trivial portions of it fighting tooth and nail against multi-national legal scrutiny, and I guarantee there will be traction gained.

Anyway... End rant, andapologies. That type of thing makes my blood boil.

Have you seen what the big chains such as Tesco, ASDA, Next, M&S do to their supply chain vendors? Amazon aren't any different or more evil.

Still worth upvoting to spread awareness. The more people are aware of horror stories of interacting with digital monopolies, the better. Even if they solved this particular case, in may cases they just shut you away.

Promoting a post about a resolved issue that doesn't prominently show that the issue is resolved is misleading. It would be better to promote critical non-misleading posts.

What's misleading about "Amazon has chosen to go the Google route and only offer support if you can drum up a lot of attention on social media, even if you pay $5000 per month for a support agent"?

I think you answered your own question, as that is not the content of the post.

They do stuff like this all the time. Large sellers are treated like subhumans that do not deserve attention from an intelligent person at Amazon. You get bots and contractors making very expensive decisions.

>Why would Amazon, in the middle of a pandemic squeeze a business such as ours so hard that we cannot get ANY of our funds for goods sold or to pay our people. I understand risk mitigation, but this is over the top. Please mods, help us!

Amazon considers sellers to be a renewable resource that can be disposed of haphazardly at the whim of an automated system or a low level employee. Note that they also pay for an account rep, covering a significant portion of that rep's fully loaded salary, yet they are still unable to get timely information. You have to understand that even if you are on the larger side, in the top 10% of sellers, that Amazon still considers you expendable.

Paid reps are very helpful but the cost is sort of absurd for what they wind up doing in high pressure suspension situations for nebulous or stupid/incomprehensible reasons.

Unfortunately, they are trying to write to "Amazon legal" which does not exist to field seller problems. Writing to "Amazon legal" is indeed a black hole. The way to force a response is to file for arbitration.

I'm a 20+ years customer of Amazon, bought stuff for tens of thousands of euros.

Tried to sell my book, was twice denied after a lengthy process without any explanation and a "this is settled, we will no longer answer your emails, good bye". No way to appeal, no way to get an explanation. No way to properly sell the book because of the Amazon book discovery monopoly.

You can't be surprised though right?

Their whole business model is built around automation and removing human decision making. Yes, it's going to result in false positives that cost them 20+ year customers (and even $100k in spend over that time period is a blip of a blip of a blip to them) but it's clearly something they've thought about and can live with.

>> You have to understand that even if you are on the larger side, in the top 10% of sellers, that Amazon still considers you expendable.

No. Amazon considers them a threat. Amazon itself is the largest of large sellers. Any profits made by an upstart large seller are profits that Amazon would rather be making itself.

Even more cynical: Amazon considers them a valuable source of business intelligence and/or ML model training data.

Sellers are more profitable and less risky overall because Amazon does not need to buy the inventory and they make a profit off of every interaction with the seller from transaction fees to storage fees to PPC ads and more. Amazon's vendor business sucks and is overall shrinking proportion of marketplace revenue.

I think you are more likely to be correct than the poster on principles. A marketplace model makes more and easier margin than being a seller.

However as any gigantic organization, Amazon is not a single minded entity. It's likely these activites are handled by totally separate entities with different employees and targets. So it's entirely possible that Amazon is pushing simultaneously for more marketplace and for more own selling actively sabotaging both aspects.

>Sellers are more profitable and less risky overall

Amazon has all the data anyone would ever need to determine which products the above is true or false for. They would be negligent if they weren't putting that information to use.

Amazon could just start drop shipping like these sellers do.

Ok, but holding their money until they go out of business smells strongly of anti-trust litigation being necessary.

They're not just a renewable resource, the most successful ones represent opportunity. If this guy is selling over $1 mil per month, Amazon has every incentive and resource to assume those sales themselves. One way is to make it as hard as possible on those sellers, without taking the PR hit from the transparency of shutting them down and selling the same products.

If you don't think Amazon thinks that way, ask yourself why it takes so many clicks to unsubscribe from Prime, but only one click to buy whatever you want. Amazon is waging a war of attrition against its top sellers, and Amazon is winning.

> Amazon considers sellers to be a renewable resource that can be disposed of haphazardly

It's almost like... Amazon doesn't have to... compete to draw sellers to their platform

Amazon won, and they know it.

So did Standard Oil.

Standard Oil was a monopoly.

There was no Target Oil, or Wall Oil. There also was never any ginormous hypothetical foreign oil company. Like, if a middle eastern company existed back then that called itself Ali Baba's 40 Oils. It wouldn't have been a monopoly.

That's the problem today. People want politicians to act against Amazon based on laws that are over a hundred years old. We never conceived of a situation where a company could have enormously powerful competitors, like Target, Walmart, and Alibaba, while simultaneously controlling an enormous market. Our laws never conceived that as a possibility.

Or maybe our laws don't really see that situation as a problem?

But whatever the case, if we want change, we're really going to need to rethink some of the laws on the books. They're going to need to change.

The laws on the books are fine. The problem is that the USDoJ and Fed courts have been captured, and don't enforce the laws as written. Judges and prosecutors invented their own modifications to the laws.

By the law as written, anybody seen exercising monopoly power is, and has chosen to be, a monopoly, and is governed by public utility rules, not regular market rules. The way the DoJ has chosen to re-interpret the law, it doesn't kick in until "consumers" see high prices. Charging below-cost prices and driving everyone out of business first, so there is after no one to compare prices to, gets no attention.

Standard Oil peak at 91% of US market for refined Oil products after 40 years, so there were competitors. Obviously there were far more competitors internationally and their international market share was far lower.

Target and Walmart are not platforms. Amazon isn't the only company selling consumer goods in general (for now), but they are the only online-seller platform in their category. Shopify exists, and Ebay exists, etc., but people wouldn't put up with stuff like in the OP if those platforms served their needs.

Isn't Walmart a platform? They have similar "Sold and shipped by XXX" as does Amazon.

Random example: https://www.walmart.com/search/?query=bicycle%20tires

Or like they are a large trust ... that ... needs breaking ...

Trust means something fairly specific legally. A group of businesses that team up to, in theory, monopolize a market is a trust. A cartel would be when those businesses are all the manufacturers or suppliers, leaving, for instance, retailers with no other recourse but to pay the higher prices that the cartel sets.

I think what you're thinking of with Amazon is more of a monopoly. I'm not sure they really need to team up with other businesses.

EDIT: Yes. I know that Amazon does not fit the legal definition of "monopoly". I was only saying that if we bend the legal definition of "monopoly" a bit in just the right manner, Amazon would fit. Whereas Amazon would never fit the legal definition of "cartel", or "trust".

They are certainly trying to vertically integrate all of their businesses. Prime video is hosted by AWS. Amazon is getting into the delivery business. Won't be surprised if Amazon buys a few cheap factories overseas after real estate crashes, or a container vessel.

They are a vertically integrated non-monopoly. Consumers and manufacturers both have plenty of other places to do business.

> Amazon considers sellers to be a renewable resource

In all honesty, isn't it? Isn't that the fundamental thesis of Amazon?

Amazon is an American business, and American capitalism has always favored the (near) monopolists. Nowhere else in the West do we find such a lack of diversity in options as in the US for consumers. Americans perhaps like succes more than others, for instance I feel the French are much more prone to sympathizing with the underdog, which builds a natural counterforce to monopolism.

Sometimes I think Americans do not realize their large internal market is both a benefit and a downside:success can snowball like nowhere else, into bigger snowballs like nowhere else. No other western market has a natural market of similar size, therefore foreign competition is always an underdog, or must succesfully learn to expand internationally before they can match for size.

We let Amazon get away with it, because we are letting them get away with it. In other circumstances, we'd not identify one company with its market so easily or totally, and Amazon's competition would keep them sharp.

I wrote about almost the same experience I had in a previous thread that happened to me a decade ago.

In some seller categories, you are required to show Amazon where you purchased your items. The excuse is that they need to make sure they are authentic.

While this may be the case, Amazon will most likely use this information to go around you and put you out of business. In the re-sale business, sources are your best guarded secret and competitive advantage.

You aren't really building a business anyway. Amazon doesn't allow you to access any real customer information, you can't communicate outside of Amazon's communication channels, and you will get banned if you include any advertisements for your own business/website.

When selling on Amazon, you could sell there for a decade and have nothing to show for it.

From their SAS - Core program FAQ:

"How many accounts does each account manager manage? Each account manager manages between 12-15 accounts. We limit the number of sellers that each account manager has in their book of business so they can focus on optimizing your account and helping you reach your business goals."

So up to $900k/yr of the revenue made by each of such managers. Yet they are either nonresponsive or not helpful. Not sure what to think about that kind of business...

>This was resolved and funds were released. Sorry I got capped on how many posts I could make and then didn’t circle back to this. Thanks for stepping in and helping out Pax!

I'm always suspicious of these pieces. Their own comments say they do 1m a month is sales. But a 15 days hold has them at 4.2m? So their business went up by a factor of 8 overnight? Sounds like good reason to have a hold in place to be honest. Even top sellers under coronavirus have only gone up 6.5x haven't they?

Plus who are they paying? Most businesses have 28day payment terms don't they? So 15 days in is a little early to panic.

Plus everyone is dealing with coronavirus, so not getting a call back from Amazon for 2 weeks doesn't sound like the world ending...

Some businesses are getting ludicrously more traffic during this period. I'm not sure how much Amazon sales have increased for my workplace, but I know we've been pulling in more orders on Etsy in a day than we did in a month before.

Our revenue is about $1m there. We are paying for everything upfront, wait for the sea freight to arrive, clear the custom, etc. Amazon also pays once every two weeks + keeps about two weeks of proceeds on hold on a rolling basis. That together with a spike in sales can easily crush if there are no fat cash reserves.

Mind if I ask: how long between paying for goods and being able to send them to people? Does shipping take long? I'm sort of fascinated by these supply chains because by making things (say) a week quicker you get a week's worth of capital back. But if things slow down by a week suddenly you have to out a lot of capital back in. Its like a very high leverage position in finance would be...

Here's what our capital requirements look like (we manufacture in Asia and sell on Amazon): 35 days in transit from Asia to U.S. West Coast + 60 days of safety stock + average of 14 days from when we sell to customer to when Amazon disburses funds. But the factory extends 60 day payment terms, so we need to cover 35 days of cost of goods sold (@ 50% of revenue) + 14 days of revenue. Or ~31 days of sales. I would say that we are probably in the typical range for a company that sources from Asia. If you source domestically, then you probably only need 30-45 days of safety stock, depending on lead times, but you might not get 60 day terms from your supplier.


In our case it is longer then usual, as the assembly chain is quite long and we are very conservative with cash flow. Manufacturing on avg is 15-45 days in China in my experience. Sea freight - 2-3 weeks, and couple more weeks to get through customs (if there is no random check on your container) and receival by Amazon. During pandemic last step is there most unpredictable. Also these avg numbers apply to something more or less standard product factories already making a lot of (meaning a lot of other sellers also sell it). Any customization adds time.


I think running lean was considered a great idea, but it leaves companies very vulnerable to any interruption in supply or demand or cash flow. Glad to hear you are in a better position!

Frankly, with all the bailouts going on, I am not sure our conservative approach to growth was right. Not sure if cash flow conservatism is a virtue anymore. But that is totally a different discussion :)

> We are paying for everything upfront

This is insane. You should have at least 60 day terms from oversees factories. Unless you're in some really weird industry where that's not the norm.

We are working with many suppliers to arrange the final product. The positive here is that we have much better control and fewer points of failure (and competition). Downside - we are still quite small for each individual supplier.

Have you tried to negotiate longer terms yet?

We did not. Amounts are insignificant for each individual supplier and negotiating, keeping track of, and be leveraged (delayed payment is just that - a bridge loan offered by a supplier) seems like a burden for now. Despite higher risk tolerance being encouraged by the economy today, we are quite cautious about using any kind of leverage. We do have lines of credits, revolving accounts, etc for tough times, but prefer to avoid using significant leverage unless we absolutely have to.

FWIW, you don’t have to use payment terms as financial leverage. You can just use them as a way to give your balance sheet more capacity to absorb problems, should they arise. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. Also, your suppliers will be more committed to you and they’ll respect you more if they’re extending you terms. Anyway, if you want a playbook for negotiating terms, feel free to reach out via email (address is in my profile).

That's an interesting view of it, I did not consider it. It is essentially the way we are using credit cards - we are not increasing our leverage, but at the same time, we are building a credit history for the company. Just sent you an email about your offer :)

I'm amazed at how many of the respondents on the Amazon forum are taking Amazon's side. That's nuts.

It is nuts. Many people on the Amazon forum not only take Amazon's side, but try to shame you and blame you for your situation.

I was researching another issue we have currently, and saw a bunch of similar topics (funny how these were in the "suggested topics" block =)) I posted a few of these.

What you noticed about negativity, I experienced myself on these forums, as well as noticed in all topics I viewed today. Not sure why that happens. Presumably, most if not all of the posters there are sellers facing similar challenges since such issues come up with both big and small sellers.

The Amazon Seller forums are a great educational tool, and also a window into the frustrations that many 3PS are experiencing on the platform and off (such as issues that relate to UPS and USPS).

There are lots of automated freezes on accounts, some legitimate (selling products from protected brands without permission) but lots of shutdowns for no clear reason and it's impossible to get an explanation from a human.

Damn there sure are a lot of people blaming the victim in those replies.

Yeah, HN is a weird place. I got grayed out for saying Amazon desperately needed competition.

If I were Amazon, I would certainly hire people/trolls/bots to participate in prominent online forums, such as HN.

Edit: Now I'm getting downvoted too.

This is just an opinion without personal experience, but as others indicated you likely have been snagged by a bot; your case seems really clear cut and a review with a human should fix this quickly.

The challenge is to get a human on your case. One option would be to give your rep a heads-up that in 24 hours you will ask your state representative (choose one which likes to bitch about Amazon or monopolies) for help. Or media. You like Amazon, blah-blah, but they are killing your livelihood. This has some risk that Amazon will retaliate and kick you out after releasing your money, but unless you seriously misrepresent your case they have way more to lose from publicity than you do. Good luck!

Note to Future Self:

I have to wonder if it wouldn't be a great business idea to find / gather all disgruntled Amazon shippers / sellers, then create some small-scale, yet large enough to get the job done, Amazon alternative...

After all, "Where there's muck, there's brass", as the old expression goes, as Joel Spolsky reiterates in one of his essays:


I remember hearing advice years ago about how vendors give you more grace period to pay when you make regular payments but once they have to bug you about it then they eventually cut you to 30 days and then cash.

It was impressed upon the other participant that you should make dead sure to pay your bills on time if you actually have the cash. Once they stop trusting you your cash situation just snowballs.

It seems like that relationship becomes very topical when your retailer starts sandbagging on their end. Like the question shouldn’t be how many dollars, but how many days.

I think engineers are partially to blame for these type of situations.

I can just imagine the internal scenario, the rep escalated, there's some support ticket sitting on some engineering teams backlog somewhere. Rep can't do anything since it's all automated, have to wait for the devs to do something about it.

The systems probably lack manual overrides, or other such measure. Maybe they were flagged for fraud, but somehow the payload got stuck in some error state somewhere, and now there's an engineer that needs to figure out how to get things moving again. To the engineering team, that's 1 error out of hundreds of thousands of requests per day. This is low severity.

I guess my point is that, as an engineer myself, I often feel very disconnected from the users themselves. We see errors and issues as percentage of total traffic. Low number of errors, not important. We don't always stop to think, wait is there an actual person or business that relies on this for their livelihood? This one error, what's the impact to the user that depends on my systems?

The same way that big corporations start to see users and employees as just a number, I think so do we often fall into this trap. We're always focused on the scale out, never the quality of service of individual requests. It always seems more important to launch in one more region, than to fix the hand full of errors and corrupted requests in the existing one.

>To the engineering team, that's 1 error out of hundreds of thousands of requests per day. This is low severity.

I think ignoring these edge cases is a mistake. In statistics, we are often most interested in the tails of our curves. That is where the interesting stuff happens. P-values disprove null hypothesises, things fall outside confidence intervals, medium importance individuals suffer a failure and cause a PR disaster that diverts millions of dollars in revenue from your company.

I wonder if big (or even small) companies could benefit from this "attention to the tails" thinking. It would be the kind of long term thinking and planning that keeps them on top for a long time instead of crumpling at the first sign of disruption. Of course this subscribes too the idea that anyone in the money-side of the company even cares when mostly they are just fighting for power in a zero sum game.

I am worried this doesn't make sense, but I hope it provides insight :)

Hum, I don't know much about statistics, so I'm not totally following, but this got me interested to read more about this "tails of our curve".

I feel common metrics applied to software systems arn't very elaborate. Like I said, you might look at percentage of errors over total. Then you might take a goal like ok, let's try and have it less then 1%. The number chosen is arbitrary and has no rational, could have been 2%, or 0.5 but 1 sounded good right now.

Every metric seem mostly linear and arbitrary, nothing fancy. I wonder if applying something more thorough like what is done in research and leveraging better statistic could make things better.

Hmm I definitely think using some basic statistical theory could improve your choice of numbers. A bit of stats provides a lot more information from which you can draw more informed decisions. And of course there are lots of results that are highly unintuitive which have real world applications. I think this would fall under "risk engineering" and it is most relevant there.

For an example, say you are interested in how frequently a particular function fails. You are especially worried that a first time user will have this function fail on the first attempt and then disengage entirely from your product. So you want to know how likely it is that your function will fail on the first try. You can run an experiment where you call the function repeatedly until it fails. You find it fails on the 10th attempt. You can use knowledge of probability distributions and a trick for calculating the most likely probability given the experiment you conducted to conclude the obvious: that it has a 1/10 chance of failing on the first go. What the long way gets you, is the chance for it failing after x attempts. So a bit of knowledge gets you a lot more information to make informed decisions with.

You could always simulate this experiment in a script to estimate these numbers as well, which I think could be useful to someone with a software engineering background but without the time or resources to learn statistics.

0.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_distribution 1.Probability dist for the example: https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=geometric+distribution...

A better way to look at this is to consider a webmail service.

There are 20 engineers on the core dev team. There are 1 Billion customers. 99.9% of customers love the service. 0.1% fall into some bug, and need customer support to sort it out. 0.1% of those complaints are unusual and need an engineer to sort it by writing some code.

Thats 1000 issues that require one of those 20 engineers. 50 each. It might take a day per issue, since these are the in-depth, real corner cases. Some will require re-architecting things to fix.

You are the project manager of this webmail system. Do you spend 2 months of the entire teams productivity to help 0.0001% of the customer base, or do you ignore them and build some features for the other 99.9999%?

How many of the users pay the company $5,000/mo for an account manager?

That's my sticking point. If I pay a company to have a human advocate for me at the company, I should actually have a seat at the table instead of being subject to the machinations of a black-box system that nobody can seem to touch or do anything about unless someone high enough sees people on social media shaming them.

I know that this is how the common thinking goes, but this is also the same thinking that those "big bad corporations" use, and that the "big bad government" uses, etc.

My point is that we're no better. Do we stop and think... Hum, what's happening to that 0.0001% Did they just miss some important email from the USCIS about some mandatory thing they needed to do? Will that get them deported? What if they missed a memo from their boss? Etc. And in the case of the article here, does it mean that a few dozens of people haven't been paid in a few weeks?

By reducing everything to some number, I feel it disconnects us and trivializes things.

I don't know that I have an answer. But I find that it is interesting how I think everyone in a company can somehow wash their hands on issues the company is causing by adopting this kind of mentality. Well, given the constraints we had, we went for the big fish only. It's almost some kind of oppression by the majority. Majority of users get their new features while a minority suffers.

I think it's easy to start scape goating left and right: well our team isn't given enough resources, well we missed out on profit targets so had to cut back, well investors are pulling out, well government imposes all these regulations on us, well voters wants us too, etc.

So I guess we're all a victim of the system and no one is to blame or could have done anything about it.

Maybe I'm being a bit cynical, but it's something I've been asking myself more. Could I actually do something about it at my work? At least when it comes to engineering systems without such error, maybe just thinking about impact one such failure could have, I can push a little harder, I can consider it a little more.

> I guess my point is that, as an engineer myself, I often feel very disconnected from the users themselves. We see errors and issues as percentage of total traffic. Low number of errors, not important. We don't always stop to think, wait is there an actual person or business that relies on this for their livelihood? This one error, what's the impact to the user that depends on my systems?

I feel the same way, in fact, I won't see any production errors until a ticket is assigned to our team. So if the business decides to ignore certain errors or issues, I simply won't know about it. And if I know about it, I won't get a chance to fix them. And even if I fix them, they most likely won't be pushed to production.

It's one thing I truly liked when working at startups, you're much closers to users, and it makes you care more. At that time, I had no problem staying late or working weekends to fix an issue a user had experienced. Because when a user experienced a problem, it would most likely also be a problem for me.

You can't blame engineers implementing the business logic defined by management. Current business logic appears to be something like "remove humans making decisions, implement algos doing the job, remove the ability to question that logic, in any not clear case pick safest for amazon option".

I wonder if there are provisions against the seller adding a flyer to their sales packages pointing to their own website and including a link to a writeup on this?

While I can understand the need for this type of action on Amazon's part... I do not feel that taking nearly 2 weeks to resolve this kind of situation is appropriate. They should have at least a 72hr max turn around for requests from paid account reps.

I'm also not sure if Amazon is experiencing higher fraud rates than normal right now either... the silence is deafening.

yes, they specifically prohibit that (adding flyers). The customers is Amazon's, not seller's (but all the risk is on the seller).

Looks like mods noticed HN traffic and closed the topic. Wanted to ask how they resolved it in the end.

A good friend of mine sold product on Amazon back nearly ten years ago. I got to have a pretty good look into the operation as he sought my advice on both business and technology issues.

The best way I can describe what being a third party seller on Amazon is like is something like this: If you are interested in ending-up in the hospital with a massive heart attack, become a third party seller on Amazon.

This is my opinion, of course, your mileage may vary. That said, the things I've seen defy description. Things like your entire product line suspended overnight without cause, recourse or a clear and immediately actionable path to recovery. Or how about your entire account being suspended and the Seller Support people you talk to are useless?

And how about this one: How about people who never bought your product leaving negative one star reviews. Even better: People leaving reviews before they receive the product they purchased, then they cancel the order and it never goes out. I mean, think about it, as an example, say you buy a weight loss product. How can Amazon's software allow anyone, even an actual buyer, to leave a product review before they receive it? How can they allow it a week after they get it?

Here's a nice one: You manufacture your own product (not a Chinese one-in-a-thousand-copies private label product). In other words, you are the sole source and the sole retailer of the product. Nobody else makes it and nobody else is authorized to sell it. Amazon has no protections against some scammer claiming they sell your product. What happens is someone buys from one of these scammers and either get a box full of rocks, something totally different or a bad quality copy of your legitimate product. Whats worse is you are left to answer for what happened and your reputation, seller and product scores suffer due to the bad reviews.

Then there's the issue of no protection against competitors attacking your ads within Amazon. They have a pay-per-click system. You set a daily budget. Competitors will pay offshore click farms to click on the competition's ads while everyone in key markets are sleeping. By the time your potential customers wake up your ad budget is gone and you produce zero sales for your money.

I could go on. He left the platform and got really good at running his own online operation. His stress level is a thousand percent lower and, more importantly, he knows his business isn't going to be shutdown overnight by some all powerful online retail god who could absolutely ruin him. I mean, these people are supporting families. The way Amazon treats legitimate third party sellers is just terrible. And they make so much money because of them.

> he knows his business isn't going to be shutdown overnight by some all powerful online retail god who could absolutely ruin him

Like Google?

Yup, that happened years ago (10+?) to other people I know. And this is the main reason that, to this day, we do not use any Google product other than search and AdWords (when we have to). After seeing what happened to people who's accounts were shut down summarily and without recourse (not even a way to communicate with a human being) I have less than zero interest in exposing my businesses to that nonsense.

I mean, who does business like that in the real world? Even the IRS will pick up the phone, talk to you and help resolve issues. You have to wonder what kind of personal and corporate culture leads to having such contempt for clients, customers and partners that a company would think it OK to treat them this way.

Facebook is another one. Someone I know was advertising exercise clothing for women. Tank tops, spandex shorts, that kind of stuff. His account got shutdown without recourse for showing too much skin. As she tells the story, she was treated to a daily dose of ads from Victoria's Secret while browsing FB, and they show far more skin and in very suggestive ways than she ever did with her workout clothing. Three years later she is unable to reach a human being to have, you know, a human-to-human conversation and attempt to get the account back.

This is wrong. I guess it's the new normal.

Yell, Wail, gnash your teeth. It won't matter. This is the issue with not owning your own business when you think you do. Amazon sellers are in reality just affiliates of Amazon and do not have control over their own business. This is the reason people pay marketing companies instead of living in the marketing companies platform.

It won't be long until Amazon represents the entire market of many goods. At what point will we decide that the function of a market should be left to an independent regulator? Or that "selling stuff online" should be a utility?

I think eventually it will break itself. Sellers facing such risks will add a significant premium for selling there. Also, even tho you are called a seller and bear all the risks, you do not even see the customer's address (for FBA orders). Meaning it is not seller's customer, it is an Amazon customer. So you are not building business, you are taking advantage of the temporal situation. In the long term such seller would build their own sustainable business and Amazon would become just one of channels, expensive one tho. As businesses expand other less risky channels, and 3PL solutions offer similar shipping service to prime, Amazon will no longer be a place to get a good price. And it is already often not a good place for trusted reviews or genuine products. Too bad some sellers like us who bought in, will be collateral damage in the process.

So even large accounts don't have an account rep they can call ? They still have to plead for help on the user forums ? Having no account reps seems petty and reckless. It's like Amazon is begging to be regulated.

Amazon is the new Paypal.

Write to jeff@amazon.com

They did, their lawyer did and their support rep did.

When I saw that their pricey support rep also emailed jeff@amazon.com on their behalf, I laughed out loud.

Nothing says organizational dysfunction better than having a disempowered employee email the same last-ditch "please may a human see this" support email address that's given out to customers.

> Nothing says organizational dysfunction better than having a disempowered employee email the same last-ditch "please may a human see this" support email address that's given out to customers.

And yet it's all too common. I currently find myself "escalating" issues constantly because other people aren't helpful. Usually it's easy to go up the chain, to their manager, then that manager's manager, department head, ...etc

But every so often you find yourself in a situation where the next step is upper management, then what do you do... (This is at a 90K+ employee company)

That seems like a nightmare job. I hope the rep gets paid well for their unnecessary misery.

I am sure jeff@amazon.com is just pointing to a customer service department at this point, but it makes people feel empowered when they get an answer after sending to this address because they feel like they went over everyone's heads through a back door.

I got my ISP’s IP range unblocked by Amazon Prime video by emailing that address, after their idiotic official support channels were unable to even comprehend what I was talking about.

Good thinking but they replaced the responder with cheap outsourced agents a while ago.

This is one of the reasons why I completely pulled out of amazon and now focus exclusively on ebay only. Amazon constantly screws over their 3rd party sellers.

Almost looks like a bank. They do exactly the same shit

And credit card processors as well.

Please support small business and real people. I keep reading stories of Amazon not paying fair wages and avoiding paying tax. This arrogance and disregard for small business is even more reason to avoid Amazon.

Sellers sell where buyers go. Unfortunately, Amazon today represents a very-very large portion of online sales. And if you don't sell there, you lose. And convenience (I think? I don't think it is a place to find a best price anymore) looks like it takes over concerns over small business.

Maybe so but the customer is king and if more customers move away then maybe sellers will move as well.

You can bet sellers will move where customers go. Unfortunately, that is not happening, and if anything, during that virus time, Amazon appears to increase its positions (another interesting topic to discuss, btw).

Can you even speak to Amazon on the phone?

In theory - yes, in practice, you speak with someone who has no authority and appears to be there solely for the purposes to be not helpful enough for seller to give up. Only once I was able to reach someone who was able to make a decision (which was made quickly, but I doubt I can repeat that when I need it again)

EDIT: also when escalating (because their first layer of reps defense can not resolve the issue) and requesting a call, I got a very specific "we do not have capacity to call you".

Corporate inverted totalitarianism at work. Corporations using the pandemic to ostensibly justify their poor service and ruinous treatment of others is what they do. They're not your friends and basing your business on them is a critical mistake like not owning the mineral rights to farmland.

All the FAANGT's desperately need MORE competition

They'll get it as that acronym grows longer...


Wait, this merchant sells $1MM/month and his business has no LOC (line of credit)? No lawyers? Something's not right here.

The OP explains in the thread that their lawyer is already involved. I would guess that very few businesses in retail can float 100% of their costs with no income for weeks/months.

$1M/month with low margins won’t get you a $4.5m LOC in the best of times let alone a pandemic.

I am pretty sure they have LOC. I am also pretty sure that said LOC can be easily exceeded in a situations as the one originally described.

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