Hi Fellow Amazon Sellers
My name is Gemma, I founded Superfood Market with my Husband Mark in 2013/4. We have been selling on Amazon since then although I know in my heart that it’s probably all over now.
I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight our experiences, perhaps get some insight into where we should look to go from here, and hopefully encourage some of you to intensely and at the earliest possible opportunity diversify away from Amazon.
Before I go any further, I would like to link to a post I commented on in August 2019…
"When we started selling online it was just me, my husband and our kitchen counter. Fast forward five years and it’s still me and the husband but we have 109 staff, warehouses, leases on forklifts, supplier contracts etc.
The only way to secure all of these things such as our warehouse lease has been through signing personal guarantees.
The scary thing is that at any moment, a malicious complaint could be lodged with Amazon, and my home, my children’s bedrooms, our credit scores, our livelihoods - it could be taken away in a heartbeat.
I’ve learned to accept that whatever happens, as long as I try my best every day, if I lose everything at least I can say hand on heart I really did try my best."
Well, sadly that day was on 10th March 2020 where for the 5th time in the six months before that post we were suspended for absolutely ridiculous Restricted Products Policy Violations.
These are totally false positive alerts picked up by an automated bot removing 3rd Party Sellers from listings like you and me, while at the same time leaving the Amazon offer on the listing:
The below are real restricted product notifications we have received and the links to the products. If you notice we have been forced to remove our offer from the product page, but however Amazon is still selling the product
"This product has been identified as containing shark cartilage, or other shark ingredients, and is therefore prohibited for sale on Amazon.co.uk per Amazon policy."
This item has been identified as making unauthorised medicinal claims or presentations in reference to the treatment of Asthma, and is therefore not approved for sale on Amazon.co.uk
• Any product presented to counter or correct the effects of a tumour or cancer is classified as a medicinal product.
The sale of unauthorised homeopathic medicines, or other unlicensed medicinal products, is prohibited on Amazon.co.uk.
We have 128 more examples of this, and no matter how many times I pleaded with our Account Manager and begged for someone to help us things just kept getting worse, then the system started to make totally ludacris notifications such as:
- Childs Toothpaste as cigarettes
- Lasange Pasta Sheets as Class 1 explosives
- Shower Cleaning Spray as Poison
- Crisps as cannabis
Now on each and every Restricted Product Notification, the following text is at the bottom:
“Within 48 hours of this warning, please review your listings and close, delete, or archive any listings that do not comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon’s policies, including the product(s) listed above.
Please note that moving a restricted product listing to Inactive (Out of Stock) does not make the listing compliant. If you think your product was incorrectly identified as a restricted product on Amazon, close the listing immediately to ensure compliance while you appeal the restriction with Seller Support.
What happens if I fail to follow the above instructions?
Failure to properly close or delete all restricted product listings from your inventory may result in the deactivation of your selling account.”
We ALWAYS follow the below:
- We will never miss a single notification by a human member of the team checking restricted product notifications via email, account health page and under performance notifications
- Within 48 hours of receiving a Restricted Product Notification we delete our offer from the ASIN, ensuring full compliance with the notification
- We do not question Amazon, even if we believed the notification may be a FALSE POSITIVE, we delete the offer to ensure compliance and no further sales of the item.
But it became clear that even just submitting to Amazon is not enough for them, and we have now been not just suspended but deactivated for this matter.
We have had a solicitor write to Amazon SPT and send written responses to their offices in London and Luxemburg. We have submitted response after response trying to show them just how broken the system is but because we will not arbitrarily admit guilt here then we are gone.
If we admit guilt and apologise from a legal viewpoint we accept fault and any case of breach of contract to come will be damaged by that from us. But the truth and hard evidence should be enough for them to see the fault here, but they won’t.
So what does this mean for us? Our business relies on Amazon UK for 90% of its sales and revenues without it that’s it folks… We will close, our staff will be made redundant and myself and my husband will be unable to meet the Personal Guarantees we signed for the Warehousing, Forklift Fleet etc leases and will be forced into Bankruptcy losing our family home and savings. But I can replace material things - I cannot replace the seven years I have spent building a £10m a year top Amazon 100 business that is being stripped away from me.
Perhaps they think we will go quietly into that long goodnight - we will not. We will make sure our story is told.
Amazon cannot any longer hold sellers to a standard they cannot attain themselves.
They do not get to be judge, jury and executioner while at the same time not abiding by the rules themselves.
I won’t have my life, my children’s lives, my staffs lives decimated and be quiet about it.
Amazon have retained £100,000 of our funds for “90 days” which is just a final nail in the coffin really.
And all this against a backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic as if we dont have enough to deal with…