UNETHICAL TRICKS AMAZON SELLERS ARE USING TO HANDLE THEIR COMPETITION
Competition is always a welcome development in business because of its many benefits. However; it can get nasty when people with the wrong mindset get involved. Amazon is one competitive marketplace. The number of Amazon sellers offering similar products is quite large and so the battle to make sales can get intense. Every seller is on the lookout for ways to boost their listings. There is an increasing rate of misunderstandings leading to account suspensions, product suspensions and so on.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had fired employees in the United States and India for selling internal Amazon data and manipulating search results. Some of these employees were reportedly leaking internal sales and keyword data; some had deleted negative product reviews in exchange for bribes while others had even sold customer email addresses to sellers. An interesting piece of information if you know how this could help Amazon sellers and that is not all. There are so many other unbelievable tricks that some Amazon sellers are using and you will get to see some interesting ones as you read on.
MANIPULATING THE PRODUCT REVIEW SYSTEM:
It is quite understandable that Amazon doesn’t take it lightly when there is a suspected manipulation of its product review system. In a statement released by Amazon, they had clearly said that they put in quite an effort to ensure the protection of the integrity of their reviews, knowing well how shoppers value the opinions and shared experiences of other shoppers. Their spokesperson had said that they have clear participation guidelines for the reviewers and Amazon sellers and won’t hesitate to suspend, ban and take legal action on people who violate their policies. According to their statement, they use a combination of teams and automated technology to prevent and detect false reviews as well as take actions on the actors behind them. They also use machine learning technology to analyze incoming and existing reviews and also block or remove false reviews.
In the past, the method some Amazon sellers used was either paying for reviews or giving incentives to customers who leave reviews. Amazon always placed such sellers under close watch and investigated their product listings thoroughly and if such sellers were found involved in shady activities, it could lead to immediate account suspensions. In recent times, however, new tactics have emerged. Some Amazon sellers generate dozens of false positive reviews for their competitors which would immediately raise a red flag in the system and may cause an immediate suspension of the product or account.
Zac Plansky, the founder of the company AT3 Tactical has had his brand products attacked the same way. They had received quite a large number of reviews overnight. The reviews were unverified and left by new reviewer accounts. They reported to Amazon and the reviews disappeared a week later but then, two weeks later, their seller privileges were revoked on account of manipulated reviews. Their first official account suspension appeal was denied but the account was eventually reinstated after they had contacted an Amazon employee who was contacted in their network.
This has happened to many other Amazon sellers and many of them complain that the Amazon Account Suspension Appeal service isn’t always helpful. There is also no guarantee that these incidents won’t be repeated again and again.
HIJACKING PRODUCT LISTING CONTENT:
So many Amazon sellers have complained repeatedly that their product listings have been compromised even though their brands were enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry which should prevent any other seller from making changes to the product detail page.
Marketplace sellers started making this complaint since 2018 when some strange pictures were uploaded to their various product pages and replaced their product images. Hundreds of products belonging to sellers in Amazon’s own Seller Forum were affected.
A marketplace seller who manufactures craft products for children had their listing taken over by another seller who changed the name of the manufacturer, changed the product images to cell phone cases and much later 5-star product reviews which referenced another product appeared as well. The manufacturer opened several cases with Seller Support when the issues first appeared but it took another two months for the issue to be fully rectified and for the brand to regain control of their product listings again.
Amazon has released statements, however, insisting that they are doing their best to protect their sellers and stop bad actors from abusing the Amazon system. They showed their displeasure at the disregard these bad actors show for their policies and the law and said that they will continue to use sophisticated tools to combat them. They would also be working with sellers and law enforcement to hold them accountable for their fraudulent activities. They encouraged sellers to get in touch with them when these issues rise so that they can easily access the ASIN reinstatement services as soon as possible.
Many sellers who fall prey to these scammers continue to complain that Amazon’s centralized support team takes too long to get to the root of these issues and this affects their sales seriously.
SELLING COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS:
With Amazon’s marketplace system, unless a product or category is gated to new sellers, any seller can list inventory for a product and start selling it. This has allowed some sellers to knock off some brand products without the brand even noticing. Some of these sellers are also selling counterfeit products to customers. These counterfeit products knock off original products and lead to negative reviews from customers who don’t know what they ordered from the wrong source. When such activities are noticed, the victim’s account could be suspended.
Amazon has always maintained that they strictly prohibit the sale of counterfeit goods and they try to prevent the sale of such products on their platform. Most times, Amazon wouldn’t act on such matters until they have gotten evidence of the fake product and where it is coming from. “We remove counterfeit items as we become aware of them and we permanently remove bad actors from selling on Amazon,” said a spokesperson. According to Amazon, dedicated teams of software engineers, program managers, research scientists, and investigators are involved in their anti-counterfeit program as well as systems that scan sellers, products, brands, and even the offers to identify counterfeit issues.
USING FALSE INFRINGEMENT CLAIMS TO SUSPEND OTHER SELLERS ACCOUNTS:
A common method these sellers are using to suspend other sellers accounts is by submitting false copyright infringement claims that take a lot of time for the sellers to resolve. They threaten to sue Amazon or even the victim seller and this creates a lot of confusion. This pattern has become alarming and Amazon has reportedly suspended some sellers accounts for even submitting these claims.
Chris McCabe, a former Amazon Seller Performance investigator who now works with Amazon sellers to resolve suspension issues suggests that all brands should keep every paperwork that is related to product safety and compliance as well as copyright information like patents and trademarks in an easily accessible place so that they can show it when necessary.
Amazon would not reinstate the products facing such claims until they hear from the brand owner saying that the seller is authorized to sell that product. This may take a while to happen and this works well for the culprit who can now make more sales in the absence of the victim.
FALSE OR EXAGGERATED NEGATIVE PRODUCT REVIEWS:
Negative reviews are as dangerous as too many positive reviews. Some sellers try to tarnish the image of the competing brands by targeting their competitors with negative product reviews or making false safety claims about a product.
The dishonest seller may set up multiple buying accounts that are unlinked to the seller account and proceeds to leave negative product reviews about the targeted product. They use their multiple buying accounts or the accounts of friends and relations to upvote the negative review as well as down vote existing positive reviews. The result is to make buyers scared or discourage them from purchasing from the victim and then increase traffic to the competitor’s product.
These sellers know that it is hard to tell a genuine review from a false one and they use this to their advantage. When the affected sellers report to Amazon’s Product Review Abuse team, they hardly get the desired results. Most times, these tricks are never resolved.
With the increasing aggressiveness among sellers on Amazon, it is advisable for every seller to get an attorney, to better understand trademarks, intellectual property and copyright. Sellers need an ASIN reinstatement attorney to properly advise them on these issues and also ways to respond to them as they arise. They need to keep their eyes open to spot these tricks and report them on time for appropriate measures to be taken.
Amazon has several services kept in place to help sellers who are facing these problems. They include; Amazon product appeal service, account suspension appeal, reinstatement services. If the problems still exist, feel free to connect with our Amazon suspensions consultants and attorney. Not being aware of these services can prevent them from getting help as soon as possible.
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