First Suspension Ever - Fair Pricing Violation


#1

WHO - Over 2.5 year seller with impeccably sustained metrics. All listings are MFN and I do not participate in SFP or FBA.

WHAT - Received notice that our selling privileges have been removed due to a policy I’ve never heard of before and is very ambiguous: “Amazon’s Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy” The suspension letter reads:

"Hello,

We recently contacted you several times in regards to violating Amazon’s Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/G5TUVJKZHUVMN77V). To comply with this policy, the price per unit on multi-pack ASINs must be equal to or lower than the price of a single unit of the same product. Selling multiple units of a product for significantly more per unit than that of a single unit of the same product harms customer trust. As well, your price on a product cannot be significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon.

Since your prices on product multi-packs continue to be priced higher than a single unit of the same product or your price is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon, you may not currently sell on Amazon.com. Funds will not be transferred to you but will stay in your account while we work with you to address this issue. If you have any open orders, please ship them.

If you would like to appeal this decision, please respond to this message with a plan of action that includes the following:

  1. Explanation of the steps you have taken to comply with the Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy on all multi-packs you offer for sale on Amazon and the steps you will take periodically to ensure that similar issues will not happen again.
  2. Any additional details you would like us to know.

Once we receive your plan, we will review it and consider whether your account may sell on Amazon.com again. If you do not send an acceptable plan within 17 days, we may cancel your listings and hold any funds in your account for up to 90 days. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Seller Performance Team

WHEN - I first received a “Please review your listings” notification on 3/8 that read:

"Hello,

Your offers on the ASIN(s) below have been removed due to violation(s) of the Amazon Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/G5TUVJKZHUVMN77V). The per unit price on multipack ASINs must be equal to or lower than the price of a single unit of the same product.

Within the next 24 hours, please review your other listings in the Inventory section of Seller Central to make sure that they follow our policies (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/myi/search/OpenListingsSummary).

If this problem continues, we may not allow you to sell on Amazon.com.

ASINs:B005XXXXXX

To reinstate your ASINs:

  1. In the Inventory section of Seller Central, select Manage Inventory.
  2. Search for the ASIN you would like to reinstate, or select Fix Stranded Inventory.
  3. Edit the inactive ASIN by updating the current multipack price.
  4. Save and finish.

Sincerely,

Seller Performance Team

DETAILS & BACKGROUND

I immediately reviewed the listing and was shocked to see that other sellers still remained on the listing who were priced in the exact same manner in which I had received the warning for (I had already been removed from the list of available sellers by the time I checked).

My pricing is completely automated (competition driven) and I’m usually within the top 3-4 of the list, meaning among the lowest priced sellers. When no other sellers are present, max pricing kicks in to ensure pricing does not go out of whack crazy. I can probably count on one hand listings where I’m the only seller and they’re most likely suppressed listings needing to be deleted.

Our model is higher volume, lower margins so the news completely took me by surprise as we operate on very thin margins to begin which translates to very happy customers (and loss as well when the scammers and fraudsters hit the scene - which is quite often). I’ve always thought to myself that, that’s the price to pay for selling on this platform and I never complain - I just roll with the punches and boy have we been bruised up quite a bit. How is it that selling the exact same items, using the exact same carriers on other platforms don’t yield the same or even remotely similar problems that Amazon customers seem to have? I digress.

Additionally, I’ve had my fair share of of IP Infringement, Trademark Infringement, and Counterfeit Claims (all 100% false) like so many others have experienced. I simply would respond to the complaint, remove the supposed offending item and went on my merry way. Copious amount of research showed evidence that competing nefarious sellers were to blame in the majority of cases where honest sellers were being targeted in this manner. Being that I have had this happen to me before, together with seeing ALL of the remaining sellers still active on the offending listing, I determined that this was not the action of a bot and instead I was again being targeted by competing seller(s) and rather than contact a rather less than knowledgeable and generally unhelpful SS staff, I would do as I’ve done before, which is delete the item from inventory and move on.

Since that initial notification, I received three more notifications dated 3/13, 3/21, 3/28 and then nothing until today, 4/17 when the hammer dropped. No more than 3 ASINs were contained in the warning notifications, they were completely sporadic and random in nature and I again, reviewed the details, saw that I didn’t even sell other multi-pack variations on said listings that I was supposedly offending upon (they spring up like weeds all the time - and usually at outlandish quantities and prices in some cases), observed that there still remained a healthy amount of sellers on the listings priced exactly the way I was (or higher) and chucked it up to games competing sellers were playing that I did not want any part of, so I did not challenge a thing, did not attempt to reinstate the listings or even pose the very important question of …

  • “If I received this warning notification priced the way I was and subsequently got removed from the listing, pray tell why other sellers priced in the exact same manner - and in most cases significantly higher priced, remain on the listing with no issues?”

With beautiful metrics across the board, seller ratings in the very high 90s and reviews exceeding 5k, how can a bot selectively target me on these listings when the real perps remain at large? Was this a new loophole competing sellers found to rid the competition? That’s what I thought and so I simply removed myself from the ASINs delineated in each notification.

POA OBSTACLES FOR THE APPEAL

There are no tools in existence to my knowledge to review listings in bulk to ensure that:

  • “The per unit price on multipack ASINs must be equal to or lower than the price of a single unit of the same product.”

Do they mean on the same Parent Listing or on all of Amazon? Most listings began as a single item and later became a multi-pack listing; how am I responsible for that, I’m not even attached to those listings.

Even when I do get reinstated, how can I possibly prevent this condition from happening again?
How can Amazon hold someone accountable and yet not offer reports or tools where these conditions may be evaluated in bulk?

Every fiber of my being knows I’m asking rhetorical questions but there, just had to get them out.

I’m no mega volume seller but I have enough inventory where manually reviewing every single listing is just not economically feasible. I suppose I have no choice now as my sales are nonexistent here but I can’t imagine what would happen to sellers who have well over 100k listings if they got hit with this series of shenanigan warnings and subsequent suspension.

  • “Since your prices on product multi-packs continue to be priced higher than a single unit of the same product or your price is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon …”

I don’t have the purchasing power Amazon does; therefore I can’t compete with Amazon’s pricing. Moreover, I make it a point to list items that Amazon is NOT actively selling for this very reason. More alarming is how in the world would I know what “recent prices offered on or off Amazon” are like for any given product.

I should also note that according to Amazon Catalog rules, sellers are not allowed to create new listings when a proposed product already exists - whereby everything matches 100%. Therefore, it would appear I got suspended for listings I didn’t even create nor set Unit Price Calculations for because I’ve simply added myself to existing listings - which is a very meticulous and exacting process the first time around.

In being fair and honest with myself, I could say that I got suspended for not digging through my many thousands of listings to delete offending items and I’ll own that, but again, I suspected this was as a result of a concerted malicious attack and I had no current method, bulk tools or reporting to assist in remaining compliant on a policy that may or may not be new, but that hadn’t affected me or anyone else I know who also sell in my space in the two and half years I’ve been around, and quite longer for others before me.

LOOKING FORWARD

In researching the forums, I just discovered @Bad_Brittnie’s post on the topic of Fair Pricing Violation but opted to create a new thread so as to be the OP of this topic which is more of suspension appeal assistance than suspension prevention.

I take great comfort in knowing that @bunga_bunga and other reputable sellers have been suspended and know there is light at the end of the tunnel for me. In fact, suspension appears so commonplace now it’s almost like a rite of passage. For those who are not aware of it, you should totally review and bookmark bunga’s extensive POA write-up:

[How to Write a Plan of Action When You've Been Suspended]

Based on a recommendation I learned of in Bad_Brittnie’s thread, I will reach out and attempt to connect with the Captive team, Catalog team, and/or Performance Escalation team for guidance and overall direction to make heads or tails out of this situation.

Other than that, I’m reaching out to the community for assistance and thoughts to this real wacky suspension that just does not appear to hold any water and would serve as value added content for anyone else who is currently facing this same dilemma or will in the near future for this particular policy violation.

– C


Fair Pricing violation - New Info
Will this tactic give FBM the same visibility as FBA?
#2

I have wondered this myself. I received a warning and saw that others were there with me, Tonight I saw an item everyone was listing 10-30 dollars then the last bid was 100. or so. How do they overlook some really oblivious pricing and say our pricing is to high. find the email address for amazon performance team and maybe they or Susan can help you.

I also believe Amazon is now selling in most category’s. They are fixing the price they would like us to sale for. what they do not add in is that not all pay the same thing for item. Some on occasions have paid almost new price in the store. There fore it is difficult to comply with their price fixing.


#3

Sorry to hear of your troubles. :bouquet:

This should not be a tough suspension to appeal successfully. Can you not do a search through your inventory for multi-packs and be sure that the price when broken down by item does not exceed the price of one item?

Per policy linked:

Pricing practices that harm customer trust include, but are not limited to:

Setting a reference price on a product or service that misleads customers;
Setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon; or
Selling multiple units of a product for more per unit than that of a single unit of the same product.

Your POA should address that issue, and the fact that, as you acknowlege in your OP, you ignored Amazon’s warnings of the violation. Amazon expects prompt corrective action on those, understandably.

I get that you rely on a repricer. Maybe you need to exempt any multipacks you offer from it if the repricer can’t be programmed to ensure it doesn’t violate this policy.

(You can’t actually think that your convenience of using a repricer trumps Amazon policy, right?)

Amazon wants no customer to feel cheated when they realize they paid more per item when they bought a multipack than they would have if they had bought the item singly. If I had been that customer, I would have felt cheated, too.

Am I missing something? I know nothing about repricers. But the one you use isn’t working for you. Not on multipacks anyway. On any platform, this would look nefarious in a customer’s eyes.


#5

This is your first suspension and I believe the first I’ve heard of for this new policy. Scary stuff!

I read your post and it sounded as if it came out of my head. After a couple weeks of research and struggle, I am more frustrated today than I was the day I posted. I pulled my inventory down with only limited items restored. Cash-flow is down 90% while I’m working on this.

The three main problems I’ve found with “fixing” my listings is:

  • what does Amazon consider a “multi-pack”?
    – In the “real” world, a dozen eggs is one item but on Amazon it can be listed as “pack of 12”. In inventory, it would be one scannable, stock, item … but, on amazon, would it be a multipack?
  • Where does Amazon find or how does it determine the baseline, reference, “single unit price”.
  • What is the standard unit?
    – This should be a no-brainer … but on Amazon it is inconsistent and rife with errors. With the dozen egg example, is the unit a carton (12 eggs) or is the unit 1 egg? If there was a listing for 2 dozen eggs, I’d consider that a multipack of “2”. What would Amazon consider the “single unit price”? If the SUP is one egg, a pack of 2 egg cartons would exceed the per-unit pricing.

Even when you find an error, the “fix” is daunting and differs depending on who you talk to.


#6

I am providing a link to my post and vice-versa. I think is important to quickly get as much exposure as possible for this impending disaster.


#7

This is like deja vu all over again.


#8

Yeah … except, thankfully, I wasn’t suspended. The loss of sales is probably similar, but I’ll look at the glass as half-full.

Calling the Mod-Squad! @SEAmod / @discobot

This is a little much since no one can tell us what we’re being measured against.


#9

Anything with an IPQ of more than 1 is a multi-pack.

In your example it would be based on whatever smaller IPQ ASIN they could find. For this example either a 6 pack or maybe a 4 pack if it existed.

How Amazon links those without a parent ASIN ? Still a question …

Errors from sellers … For eggs we call them a “dozen” … so we know there are 12 units of the same thing, “egg.” 2 dozen would be 2 … it would be 24 because there are 24 of the base unit - egg

The REAL issue on the 2 dozen is it is a violation … UNLESS it’s 1 carton of 24. Putting 2 cartoons together and creating your own multi-pack is a violation … since that is not manufacturer created.


#10

It is because of your post that I took great comfort when this happened and I’m happy you’ve found and have commented on my thread (was hoping you’d see it - misery loves company is absolutely true).

You are extremely detailed and posed all the right questions, highlighted accurate theoretical scenarios and their respective inherent flaws from a benchmark/compliance standpoint.

I thankfully and luckily have custom SKUs that allows me the ability to quickly and easily identify and remove multi-pack listings in one fell swoop as a quick fix to reinstatement but all of the other important questions remain unanswered, such as

  • where exactly did the violation occur and what was it being compared to?
  • how can I prevent this from happening again?

I’m totally for following rules and being compliant; my account track record and metrics prove this to any human paying attention.

So if I essentially nix all of my multi-pack listings, then there’s the hugely reduced sales activity which you are currently experiencing. I don’t want to get into the “this is unfair, woe is me” argument, but for real … how is that even right with no premise of knowing what you did wrong?

What I simply do not get, and just blows my mind is … how is it that other sellers who were priced as I was (within pennies of each other), or even higher, still remain on the very listings that I received warnings on and subsequently got suspended for? Head scratcher - we technically should all be in the same boat :confused:

This is not a re-pricer issue as an early poster had alluded to. How can it be when you’re the lowest priced on almost all your listings?

If other sellers remain and is indeed a bot/algorithm issue, how does it selectively target sellers?

If it’s not a bot/algorithm issue, have the shady sellers figured out a way to bring this on?

The plot thickens.


#11

Knowing that you use a repricer, if a competitor wanted to get rid of you, they may set their price 1 penny above the price that would kick in this Performance infraction. That may be why you are gone and they are not.


#12

Hehe, trust me, the system is not that delicate and fragile. 100% this is not a re-pricer issue.


#13

What birddog is saying makes a lot of sense. If you are using a repricer and your are selling 1 X 3.90 ans 2x4.50. And you have set the range for the 2X from 3.80 - 4.70. A competitor could price to 3.80 and then back to 3.90. REMEMBER REPRICERS always price down. The one on amazon has a problem repricing back up.


#14

I would agree, but the existing pages are inconsistent. Up until Susan’s intervention, there were two conflicting multipack IPQ settings. A manufacturer’s multipack with one UPC used to be IPQ=1. A seller generated mulipack was IPQ=scannable quanty.

That page was pulled down a few days ago and now the verbiage is the same for all multipacks. IPQ = quantity of items contained in the pack.

So, this means to me that someone now sees there was a problem and is in the process of clarifying multipack “policy”, but we are currently being judged on existing ASIN attributes which were (at best) inconsistent. That is not even factoring for seller mistakes and manipulation.

Quick question, is this a single unit? Or is it a multipack? Would its IPQ be “1” or “48”?

What happens when you see this?
image

The answer would obviously be double whatever the first example was, but what was the first one?

Surprisingly, the IPQ on both are set to “1” … Someone photo-shopped the second one.

I was being hypothetical using “eggs” cuz they don’t tend to ship well ;), but my local store carries 1/2 dozen, one dozen, 18, 2-dozen shrinkwrapped together (multipack) and “flats”.

I usually buy the 2-dozen multipack. It scans as one item on the receipt because there is one barcode for the package.

According to Amazon’s newest rules, the IPQ would now be “2”. The problem is all the existing page IPQ attributes would range from 1-24 depending on who or when the listing was created.

Grocery has been an odd-duck because until Susan’s intervention, Grocery sellers were able to create their own multipacks … and to make matters worse, the UPC for the mutipack was allowed to be the same as a single item.


#15

That’s what I thought too. The problem is not what “WE” think is a multipack … it is what Amazon thinks is a multipack.


#16

Not my re-pricer, it prices up and down and remains consistent with market competition (which is how free enterprise is supposed to work - the law of supply, demand, and competition to drive price). Anyone who argues they shouldn’t use re-pricers doesn’t understand high volume sales. But if what you say is true, then the evidence of foul-play by the competing seller and the resulting loophole that can cause a seller to be suspended as a result of it, should be examined, dealt with, and code re-written to prevent from happening. Nothing is worse than following rules, policy, and TOS to the “T” and being dealt this hand.

Nevertheless, the re-pricer theory is flawed in the sense that if you have a stand-alone listing of a 2-pack with no other variations (aka - a single parent with no child ASINs), is a seller now to do a global catalog search for that exact item to determine if it is being priced accordingly or fairly?

What if the title search is not worded properly? What if you reside in a geographic region where Amazon decides which results to display to you? (a proven test demonstrated by sellers in this very forum)

Using a consumer-end platform and search techniques for analytics (and more importantly - compliance) should not be the precedent to make seller informed decisions to this degree.

Allow me the opportunity to download a report of all of my listings that show anomalies between two or more conflicting multi-pack ASINs for the same product that are in danger of or are in fact in violation, and now you’ve provided the seller with a means with which to make accurate and informed decisions to which you may hold them accountable and punishable.

To make matters worse, based on verbiage in the policy, we are supposed to take things a step further and analyze platforms outside of Amazon and evaluate what they’re being sold at and come up with a vague and arbitrary figure that is deemed “fair”?

  • What is defined as fair anyway?

Is it fair that you sell the customer a product that you legitimately sourced from a supplier at a given cost amount and the customer later discovers that they could have purchased the same item from a local retailer at a lower price and raises cain that you should price-match or refund altogether considered fair? I’d like to think that the customer paid for their education and have since become a more informed customer who should do their research before pulling the trigger.

I’ve searched, and nowhere have I found Amazon to ever state they are the low cost leader on anything. Not everyone is economically challenged and most would prefer to pay a higher price than hunting down deals just for the convenience of getting all their goods on a single platform.

What ever happened to having competitive advantage and introducing value to the marketplace by selling an item that a consumer may not have the means to purchase on their own - either through internet prowess or physical/distance limitations? Real customers are happy to pay the premium for getting exactly what they want, delivered right to their doorstep. And I make this debate fully stating I’m not even one of those sellers who pack on hefty margins!

I understand this may be a new policy that’s rolling out and becoming enforceable. But to suspend a seller based on an vaguely written policy and not be able to provide clear, exacting, and concise evidence where a violation occurred AND other sellers of the offending listing continue to sell at or above identified prices (all things being equal) is complete and utter hogwash.


#17

I agree. This rollout, if rollout it be, seems half-baked at best.

bunga bunga!


#18

Not so new. We were suspended for this back in, iirc, december.

They had merged our case ASIN into an ASIN for a single bottle. So yes, the price was somewhat off…


#19

Probably no one considered the potential consequences of bad merges on the enforcement of this policy.

I really think Amazon should just be caveat emptor about pricing. They don’t seem to mind when we list a book and other people are on the same listing at 4X or so the low new price. Are buyers at that price going to be any less unhappy than the (apparently) unhappy single unit high-price buyers?

bunga bunga!


#20

Check this out, random listing I just stumbled upon. Now isn’t this a fine example of hypocrisy.

So because they are low in inventory (“2 left in stock” at the time of this post) Amazon is allowed to raise prices to retard sales? With their own branded name on the listing as an available seller, how is that not impacting customer trust and hurting the platform based on the very policy I just got suspended on?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B078SZG6NZ

The rabbit hole is looking weirder and more daunting by the moment.


#21

you a dropshipper?