Another example of the problems with the Amazon marketplace

In another story exemplifying the problems Amazon creates for independent ecommerce sellers, here’s a story of a seller that was seemingly unfairly suspended, as told by Chris Dunne at RepricerExpress:

…a remarkable story about an Amazon seller who was suspended after being targeted by a competitor using false claims and malicious reviews. Here’s a summary of Mike’s story:

Mike and his wife began selling online in 2014. After starting out on eBay they preferred Amazon due to FBA. Things started to go bad for them in October when Amazon informed them of a claim from another seller that one of the products they were selling infringed their trademark. The claim was false, so Mike reached out to the seller to ask him/her to withdraw their claim. When he didn’t get a response, he contacted Amazon who reinstated his listing.

The original post has at WebRetailer has a lot more details:

Amazon is fierce. But I didn’t realize just how fierce until my business lost 50% of its sales in one month, thanks to the black hat tactics of an “online marketing expert” hired by a competitor.

What started with a false claim of trademark infringement turned into policy warnings, a stream of fake negative reviews, and my suspension from selling on Amazon

After some investigation, I found many other listings on Amazon where the same company – Acme Kitchen Products – had put their name as the manufacturer. These were also completely unrelated products that Acme didn’t make or sell. For example, they were listed (incorrectly) as the manufacturer for the best selling products in five different toy categories.
Around this time, I was also looking into the agent that Acme had used to submit the intellectual property infringement claims. I found that they were not a firm of lawyers, as you might expect, but actually an “internet marketing” agency. Submitting trademark and copyright infringement claims is a strange type of internet marketing, if you ask me.

So, why were they changing the manufacturer on Amazon product listings? I researched it further and put more of the pieces together. It seemed like the same agency were systematically submitting changes to unrelated listings, to drive traffic to Acme’s products. The product listings they were changing were bestsellers, so they knew the traffic would be high, and they could use the manufacturer link to divert traffic from popular products, which had nothing to do with them, to their own pages.

It was pretty clear now that the same agency was behind:

  1. False claims of intellectual property infringement against me
  2. Orders placed using fake identities so they could give me negative feedback
  3. Fake positive feedback submitted for their own selling account

He closes by saying he’s not angry at Amazon, but at the person/agency who targeted his account. Sure, they are the ones who acted upon the seller, but Amazon’s platform allowed this to happen and in fact, the system was somewhat manipulated to get the seller suspended without any actual wrongdoing.

Amazon takes an attitude of guilty-until-proven-innocent towards marketplace sellers typically. Sellers can be flagged for any number of reasons from late shipments, high return rates, damaged products, counterfeit items, and countless other reasons. It’s rather easy to target a competitor by claiming an item is fake or a shipment is late, which can auto-trigger Amazon to take action against the account in question. As a “customer-centric” company, Amazon would prefer to get rid of any sellers causing problems, especially when they are so easily replaceable, rather than question if a customer is telling the truth.

It’s a real problem and hopefully something Amazon will address, though I won’t hold my breath.

Andrew @ EcomLoop
Are you looking to start or grow a standalone ecommerce shop? I help independent businesses achieve success on the Shopify and WooCommerce platforms. As the owner of multiple ecommerce businesses, I've had the opportunity to get experience with nearly every aspect of the ecommerce industry. I started EcomLoop to help other quality independent businesses using my knowledge and experience. To stay on top of new ecommerce developments, I publish The EcomLoop Weekly Loop, a blog and email newsletter with original thoughts and curated links to help independent businesses improve their businesses.