Selling on Amazon is the most frustrating experience ever for our business


#1

We’ve been selling sports merchandise online for years, decided to start FBA beginning of this year (Jan 1). Everything was going great, we had close to 100 orders, all of a sudden got a “Your Amazon.com selling privileges have been removed” notification for “complaints about the authenticity of the items you are listing”. All metrics are great, 100% positive feedback. All items we list on Amazon are licensed and come directly from a reputable supplier. We are 100% positive that everything we sell is authentic, and suspect a competitor has made the claims because we had gained a large number of buy boxes.

We were not told which items caused the “complaints”, so we requested that info and were given 4 ASINs. We re-confirmed that all our inventory for these ASINs was 100% authentic.

As requested, we sent copies of invoices from our supplier issued in the last 365 days, as well as contact information for our supplier. We were also told to send “NFL licensing verification”, however, the NFL does not issue licenses to retailers, it issues licenses to manufacturers, and those licenses are then transferrable to suppliers and retailers such as us. We explained this numerous times. We also offered to simply remove any listings causing rights issues so that we can just get the issue resolved.

We have provided requested information and sent succinct but effective plans of action no less than 7-8 times. Every time we have just received the same response telling us to send more information about “The issues that caused the complaints” and “The actions you have taken to resolve the issues and prevent similar complaints”. How are we supposed to provide a plan that explains the issues that caused the complaints, when we haven’t been told any information about any complaints which were apparently received regarding our products? And every time we ask, we just get the same stock response?

We also opened a “Suspended” case ticket to try to get more info, but it was closed with no response. So today we opened a new ticket asking to get a call to figure out the issue, but the only response we got was “The Seller Performance Team does not offer telephone support. We can be reached via email at seller-performance@amazon.com.” and they closed the ticket. No attempt to actually address the issue or offer to help, just telling us to try again at something that doesn’t work.

Meanwhile all the money we need to pay the credit card bills for all the products we’ve already sent to Amazon and shipped to its customers has been seized by Amazon, and all our FBA products are collecting storage fees while we can’t sell any of it. Curiously this all happened just a couple days before we were supposed to be paid, too. We’re also basically scammed out of our $40 Professional account fee, which we paid in the expectation that we would be treated professionally. How foolish of us.

We are a legitimate seller with legitimate, authentic products, and we can’t even get a proper response after numerous attempts, meanwhile tons of obviously fake sellers with fake listings and 1% feedback ratings go on selling with impunity. This is really unacceptable and we just hope someone from Seller Support will see this and actually take our issue seriously or try to help us resolve it. Please, please, please.


1 year later: Amazon suspended our (100% legitimate) account and (stole?) our $1500
#2

You likely won’t hear from them. That seems to be the general consensus on most of these threads. Unless you first prove you have permission from the NFL to sell, they will waste no time in answering other questions. As Boardgames said, this isn’t for Amazon to adjudicate. The manufacturer needs to step up and either take back the product or provide what is needed in a timely manner.


#3

If your supplier cannot provide you with NFL license verification you have a supplier problem.

Many sellers have been in your situation and have been reinstated.

If you are paying by credit card, I’d guess you are a small seller dealing through distribution.

It might be that the larger sellers who are manufacturer direct have resolved their problem.

And that might be the situation that Amazon and the NFL want.

Edited by: Lake on Jan 23, 2017 2:08 PM


#4

>
There is no easy solution for you.

I think where things needs to start is with the licensees you have sourced from and that will probably take legal action on their part.

The basis for this problem (I believe) is that the licensors (the sports leagues) have stated and posted policies that only they can sell their branded products online and have gone after Amazon as such. This is even though many manufacturers had unrestricted licenses for the sale of their products. It is likely that there are broad complaints from those license owners.

I had a similar case for a couple of poduct lines I sell and I went to the supplier and advised of the restriction (no suspension) and advised that Amazon was no longer allowing sale of these items. I advised that unless resolved I would be returning those items back to them. It was a surprise for them and they took action with their lawyers, presuambly based on their license contracts and that ended up involving Amazon as well. Within a few weeks that restriction was reversed and I was allowed to sell the products again.

I certainly understand suspension impact and request for direct approval from the brand owner. I have encountered and argued that, as well, but it only got resolved based on the brand owners intervening with Amazon directly.

You will not be able to resolve this directly on your own, but your suppliers will have more success than you.

You should start by making a request through them for the letter that was requested. They will be better able to make that request with the license owners who can be made to understand their obligations in supporting your licensed use of the product. I am sure that those license owners do not want to fact litigation for violating their own license agreements. You may need to take similar action to return your licensed products to the suppliers if they are not successful in supporting your ability to sell them online (on Amazon, specifically).

Hopefully, the accumuated pressure will force the issue through the legal process and make Amazon take action to address the problem for you and others in the same boat.

Dave


#5

+decided to start FBA beginning of this year (Jan 1). Everything was going great+

For 3 whole weeks?!? lol Good onya’!

+“complaints about the authenticity of the items you are listing”. All metrics are great, 100% positive feedback. All items we list on Amazon are licensed and come directly from a reputable supplier. We are 100% positive that everything we sell is authentic, and suspect a competitor has made the claims because we had gained a large number of buy boxes.+

If you did just a minimal amount of legwork you would have realized that licensed sports merchandise have been in turmoil and a source of numerous headaches for many sellers over the past 6 months or so.

+Meanwhile all the money we need to pay the credit card bills for all the products we’ve already sent to Amazon and shipped to its customers has been seized by Amazon+

And there is a real chance they will never forward those monies to you.


#6

> If you did just a minimal amount of legwork you would have realized that licensed sports merchandise have been in turmoil and a source of numerous headaches for many sellers over the past 6 months or so.
>

To be fair, there is nothing mentioned in any of the help files or seller U of any sort of prohibition of NFL or MLB merchandise here at Amazon. As far as I can tell, those items aren’t even gated. A bunch of these suspensions happened in the past two weeks without any sort of warning.

With that being said, there is also no clarification as to what is banned. There are tons of MLB and NFL toys, blankets, grill covers, etc. here for sale by everyone. One of the brands of puzzles we sell makes a series of licensed NFL, NHL and MLB stadium puzzles. Are we going to get banned for listing that? Another MLB toy item which we carried was not showing up on the website, even though the item said active. It took 6 weeks for seller support to finally say that they cannot verify if the manufacturer, Lionel, had license for MLB. We pointed out that Amazon was selling other Lionel MLB items themselves. They said they were going to escalate the matter to a specialist. That was back in November.
If Amazon said “we will be gating everything NFL” like they did 2 or 3 years ago with Frozen or jewelry category, then that would be fair. But I haven’t seen any such notice.

They are shooting first and asking questions later.


#7

"If your supplier cannot provide you with NFL license verification you have a supplier problem.

Many sellers have been in your situation and have been reinstated."

The NFL does not issue licenses to retailers. It issues licenses to manufacturers, and the license transfers to retailers. So there is no way for us to provide a license directly from the NFL, but that does not mean we don’t have the right.

Anyhow, as stated, “We also offered to simply remove any listings causing rights issues so that we can just get the issue resolved” but this was also ignored by Amazon, just as our other questions.

We realize that other sellers have been in our situation and have been reinstated, but many of them had the exact same problems as us and had very frustrating experiences before Amazon finally fixed the issue. We’ve read the horror stories in these forums and now the same thing happened to us…


#8

Thank you for the info, very helpful as far as actions we can take on our end.

We still need to hear directly from Amazon regarding the important questions we need to have answered by them.


#9

I believe the NFL sent a letter to all its authorized vendors stating that nobody is authorized to sell their trademarked products through 3P marketplaces. One can sell the stuff through one’s own site, but not a 3P site. Why can Amazon sell the gear? Because Amazon is Amazon’s site and they’re not a 3P here. (and aside from that they’re special.)


#10

You do not need a license.

You need proof the product is authentic.

Your supplier should be able to provide you with proof the manufacturer is licensed. It is likely the manufacturer does not know you from Adam. If supplier cannot get the manufacturer to act, he is suspect too.

Amazon does not forgive sellers of inauthentic merchandise or may be inauthentic merchandise. There is no guarantee that you will be reinstated. with or without the listings which were flagged.


#11

+To be fair, there is nothing mentioned in any of the help files or seller U of any sort of prohibition of NFL or MLB merchandise here at Amazon. As far as I can tell, those items aren’t even gated. A bunch of these suspensions happened in the past two weeks without any sort of warning.+

Not yet, anyways.
But the forum has been abuzz for months now

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?messageID=3779643

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?messageID=3783008

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?messageID=3794439

https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?messageID=3738432

That’s just 4 examples of over 100 posts to choose from.


#12

The major problem that Amazon has, which ebay is attempting to resolve is the authentication services that are not mainstream.

With ebay, if the seller does not want to pay an extra amount for a product authentication, the buyer can request and auditors are independent professionals in that specific market.

Amazon currently authenticates comic books and coins.


#13

Sorry to hear of your situation. You need to be very careful about your FBA inventory holdings. If your suspension is not resolved within 30 days, you will probably need to file removal orders to recall your inventory before Amazon decides to “dispose” of it. If Amazon argues it is counterfeit merchandise, they may try to refuse to return it.

Removal orders are $0.50 per unit for standard size items.


#14

AZ is Risky Business for Some Sellers…Especially If you horn in on Other Sellers or AZ itself?


#15

Their behavior sounds very familiar to me. I am suspended, but I don’t have as much at risk as you do. I have basically concluded that they play games with those they do not like, for one insane reason or another. I hope you can exit out of this situation with as little loss as possible. Amazon is famous or infamous for treating their employees badly.


#16

>
I had a similar problem with a selection of puzzles - probably the same brand. As mentioned in my earlier post, that was escalated through the manufacturer to both Amazon legal and the sports league legal and was removed a few weeks later.

Amazon took pre-emptive action without the awareness of the manufacturer. Longer term, you can expect something more formal, but that will first require new agreements with the manufacturers who paid for the licenses in good faith. The sports leagues won’t want to give the money back, so until the existing stock is sold through, there should not be very much action in that regard, but you can be sure that new agreements or extensions will restrict online sales in the future.

I suggest that before that happens, that you initiate action with your suppliers to get written permission from the sports leagues as part of support for their licenses. That is really the only way to stay ahead of that.

Dave


#17

Amazon does not authenticate coins. It does not authenticate anything.

It only allows sellers who have 3P authentication to sell in the Collectible Coins Category.

The NFL MLB issues are not a requirement for authentication. Just as brand approval is not.

It is a restriction of who can sell to a portion of the intellectual property owners’ authorized sellers.

There is no similarity to Ebay’s Verio or other authenticity programs. Different goals and methods. It is harder to sell on Amazon because it has always been harder to sell on Amazon.

Among the paces I’ve sold before was Ebay. It was a quick transition for me, and more money per sale. Amazon’s rules were pretty much the same as how I did business everywhere.

Lots of Ebay sellers have came to Amazon, hated it, found it too limiting, had tons of customer conflict and left. Been the case for years.

Others found a mostly happy home.


#18

Amazon probably plans on selling the products themselves and they are just trying to imply that they don’t want you competing with them. There’s most likely nothing you can do about it.


#19

And there are many sellers who maintain a presence in both worlds.

It’s about knowing what sells best on each platform and adapting your business to fit in there.

Knowing what each platform expects and understanding the difference between the two is essential.

Thinking that Amazon is just another ebay is guaranteed failure here.


#20

I was reading about this the other day… maybe it will help someone.

The NFL football league is banning the sale of its licensed goods on eBay, Amazon, and other third-party marketplaces. Online sellers received notice from their suppliers in March of the new prohibition effective April 1, 2016.

The manufacturers explained that the NFL is banning them from selling to merchants who list on third-party marketplaces, otherwise, the NFL will cut them off - eBay, Amazon, and Buy were specifically mentioned.

“As a licensee of the NFL we have to comply with their regulations,” one supplier told its merchant customers. The notice continued:

“The NFL has announced that they are restricting all 3rd party online sales. As a licensee we will not be able to sell to anyone who sells our NFL products online through any 3rd party portal. All sales of our NFL products must occur through the retailer’s own e-commerce site. These restrictions include, but are not limited to, sales on amazon.com, buy.com and ebay.com. To sell our NFL products online you, as our customer, must have ownership of the URL that the transaction occurs on. If you own a URL that redirects back to a 3rd Party URL for the ultimate transaction you cannot sell our NFL products.”

The new policy also mandates that suppliers force merchants make sure their websites comply with NFL requirements, such as the following: “You cannot have any NFL logos or team logos present on your site that are not part of an image of the product without express permission from the NFL.”

Sellers say they’ve received notifications from suppliers including Rico Industries, Wincraft, Siskiyou Gifts stating no sales of NFL merchandise on third Party sites.