Deactivated for Restricted Product Policy Violations


#1

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…


#2

I am SO shocked and saddened for you by this.
I sincerely hope that you can keep the strength up to fight this all the way … and win.
How can Amazon ban you yet sell the item themselves ? - I am speechless.
Good luck.


#3

We are really not bothered about not being able to sell the items.

We are beyond heartbroken they would strip the business to bits over it, while ignoring all attempts at seeing the system is broken and they still sell the items themselves, even though we removed ourselves from the offers as per the performance notifications instructions within the timeframe stated.


#4

Hello @Superfood_Market1

As per your post I understand your account has been taken down for the restricted product violation.

I appreciate you closely monitoring your account, and taking corrective measures to keep your account compliant to our policies.

I would recommend you to go through the help page in your seller central to understand the policy in detail and thoroughly review all listings proactively on your account to ensure they are in compliance to our policies. Kindly review your Account Health Dashboard to understand why those products are flagged as prohibited listings. Below is the help-page where all the details are given as to which products are not supposed to sold on Amazon marketplace.

Category, Product and Content Restrictions - https://sellercentral-europe.amazon.com/gp/help/201743940

For reference you can also check the performance notification to get more insight on what Amazon wants you to provide in your appeals or if they want you to update something in your listing. If you have already replied, kindly wait for them to revert on your appeals. If not, then kindly appeal or make the changes respectively.

Good Luck on your account,
Dhoni


#5

What a useful reply.


#6

Unfortunately for you yes, they do.
Amazon are the owners of the platform so are judge, jury and executioner whether you, or anyone else feels that that is appropriate or not.
I feel sorry for your predicament but it does appear that you have had six months of warnings and notifications prior to this final push.

Then stop tring to fix Amazon’s systems, and worrying about whether they treat you fairly and concentrate on working how how tosurvive without selling those items on Amazon…

I hope you manage to sort this, but you need to use a different approach IMO.


#7

Dhoni, which policies would alert sellers to the fact that children’s toothpaste is classified as cigarettes? Or that Pasta is a class 1 explosive?


#8

I reckon the bots picked up on these terms/keywords and incorrectly applied the new policy rules (meant for the sale of e-cigarettes -e-liquid effective from August 28, 2019) to the kiddies toothpaste.
Electronic cigarettes or similar devices are prohibited if the products, branding or other listing information:
• Depicts cartoon characters
• Depicts real or fictitious characters that are likely to appeal to people under the age of 18
• Looks like, or could be confused for, a food item
• Contains any other content likely to appeal to people under the age of 18
The following e-liquid flavours are prohibited:
• Candy, sweets, desserts and other confectionery
• Carbonated beverages
• Slush or slushies
• Milk, milkshakes or smoothies
• Pancakes or waffles
• Rainbow
• Bubblegum
• Popcorn

Stupid Bots! (again) :robot:


#9

Keep drinking the kool aid Dhoni.

Your system removes items that are FULLY compliant for zero reason, it’s broke, simple. You know this but we understand you want to keep your job so you have to tow the company line.


#10

Selling Pasta thats gets removed as explosives is impossible to predict or protect yourself from. This is clearly an Amazon mistake and as the OP stated, they remove products as soon as they get a notification. I’m not quite sure what you advise to do differently.


#11

Hello

We reply to all the notifications that we recieve via Email, Performance Notifications and the Account Health tab.

Kindly note: You do need to check all three locations as some do not pull through to others.

Please also note if you click in the list in Account Health tab you do not get to see the reason for the “Restriction” you only see “Listing Removed”, so unless these have also been emailed or have a related performance notification you have no idea why the restriction.

This makes it even more infuriating when Amazon sell the product “Despatched from and sold by Amazon” but SUSPEND us for it.

What do we do now?

Kind regards
Gemma


#12

Evian Mineral Water identified as Alcohol

The listing shows the 18 badge - its mineral water!


#13

As usual a totally scripted reply from Amazon Mod,CS is so inept it defies logic!!
Why do they even bother replying to posts.


#14

This would be the better Product Page detail to list against.
Forget the other one until they remove alcohol out of the product description the AV warning will stay in place.


#15

@ training fuels
did you read the types of complaints that the Op has been receiving?

There seems to be a trend that is appearing, and it is that trend that the OP needs to address rather than simply reacting to each notification as it comes in.
Forget what Amazon are doing and focuso finding out what it is about their listing style that is aleting the bots, and then change that style.
If that means stop making unproven medical claims, or stop listing products with dubious ingredients then that is the action the OP needs to take, and should have taken some momths ago.


#16

Hi Adrian

Thank you for your responses.

In terms of these kinds of alerts, we don’t really have any way to predict what will be picked up yet. For example today we had an alert for Toilet Roll being a medicinal product for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

We are just the retailer, not the brand owner or page creator and just add out offer onto the listing via the mechanism of Seller Central > My Inventory > Add a Product and searching the barcode number on the item.

In terms of things that we have tried over the past six months they include:

  • Conference calls with Head of Consumables
  • Meetings in London office with our Strategic Account Manager
  • Solicitors letters to the restricted products team about the almost comical nature of some of the Restricted Products performance notifications
  • Examples provided to PCP team via email to ESR Managers

We also have an email chain dated 18th October 2019 where our SAM makes admissions of the issues with the Restricted Products system.

So to just get totally disconnected after this has been deeply frustrating and a bitter blow.

Any help you can provide is most welcome.

Kind regards
Gemma


#17

Agree with this, but believe our offer was on the other referenced listing before the system/bot misidentified it as alcohol and put the AV warning on the ASIN so we got stung with the hit on our account health - for just selling mineral water…


#18

So sad. Gemma and Mark are incredible people and the reason we are now selling and building a business and without their help it just never would have happened. What has happened to them here is a travesty and should be rectified ASAP.