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First Suspension Ever - Fair Pricing Violation

by Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA

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

Tags: ASIN, Compliance, Listings, Pricing
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Seller_muLmDuaGtlC0c
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

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.

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Seller_IhnvbCacmJlG0
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

Sorry to hear of your troubles.

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.

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Seller_KnxmmlmoJ7HS6
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post
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Seller_WQj6Zg0jH6DBA
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

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.

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Seller_WQj6Zg0jH6DBA
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

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.

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Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

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.

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Seller_BO64jriLKohg2
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

you a dropshipper?

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Seller_qkDcLzIgvaTVb
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

regarding appealing suspension - believe other posts have covered it completely. I have to say seeing some of the pricing on some items on amazon I am not really surprised that amazon has created a new policy - not saying you deserved the suspension or were even overpriced but amazon tends to respond to problems with sledge hammer approach - look at dvd category suddenly even sellers with long term sales history and high metrics were suddenly not able to sell dvds over a certain price point.

Looking at products on amazon I have actually seen 10lb bag of cat litter priced at over 110.00 - dvd category personally I don’t usually even check amazon anymore as the prices have gotten stupidly higher than other sites.

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Seller_W8eSvWihXwrAN
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

Amazon’s attempts to “normalize” pricing may well be what finally gets them prosecuted under anti-trust laws.

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Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA
In reply to: Seller_e1yXSIZG2kRpA's post

SUSPENSION APPEAL UPDATE

Like all things, I’ve conducted copious amounts of research and did my due diligence crafting a suspension appeal letter. This is how it read:

"Dear Seller Performance Team,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit our appeal concerning our recent suspension.

I sincerely apologize and take full responsibility for not complying with Amazon’s Fair Pricing Policy. I did immediately delete the offending ASINs listed on the violation notifications received and conducted research to determine precisely how and where the violations occurred.

For the ASINs we received policy violations on, numerous sellers continue to sell at or above the price we had listed, so it was very difficult to know how to approach an inventory-wide investigation to remain in compliance when it appears it was just our store that was impacted.

There are many inconsistencies and non-defining answers in the Seller Forums community and with Seller Support regarding the policy, so that is why there was a delay in completely addressing any remaining offending listings.

Nevertheless, we have taken the following actions to immediately address any other listings which may fall under this policy:

a. PROBLEM - Multi-pack listings which violated Fair Pricing policy remained active and present in our inventory

b. STEPS TAKEN - All multi-pack listings have already been deleted and removed from inventory. Remaining listings are single quantity listings, unless packaged specifically in a multi-pack configuration direct by the manufacturer.

c. PLAN OF ACTION

  • I am fully committed to not listing any more multi-pack ASINs until I get a clearer understanding of where potential violations occur

  • I am active in several conversations in the Seller Forums to help identify resources I can use to properly identify and remain compliant with, multi-pack listings going forward.

The steps mentioned in section “c. Plan of Action” will ensure we will be fully compliant and will prevent future violations from occurring.

Based on the information submitted and the actions we’ve already taken, I ask that Amazon kindly consider reinstating our account.

If you have any other questions, we’ll be happy to answer them.

Best regards,
Signed, Me"

I thought the appeal was succinct, formatted properly, and addressed all past, current, and future actions and intentions. I now have joined the ranks of the denied 1st appeals population and have contributed to that statistic because SPT responded with the following:

"Hello,

We received your information, but your plan is not complete.

To sell on Amazon.com, please send us a plan that explains how you will address this problem and includes the following:
The steps you have taken to comply with the Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/G5TUVJKZHUVMN77V) on all multipack ASINs you offer.
– The steps you will periodically take to ensure that similar issues will not repeat.
– Any additional details you would like us to know.

For help creating your plan, search for “Appeal the Removal of Selling Privileges” in Seller Central Help.

Once we receive your plan, we will review it and decide whether you 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. This usually takes about 90 days, but we may hold funds longer.

We look forward to hearing from you.
Regards,
Seller Performance Team"

To dissect …

I advised I’ve removed every single multi-pack listing in inventory. What exactly are they referring to when they ask me to to address that step?

  • The steps you will periodically take to ensure that similar issues will not repeat.

I clearly stated I would stay away from multi-pack listings until I fully understand the policy, plenty of people do not list multi-pack listings, isn’t that my right too? How can they hold my feet to the fire if this is now a moot point? It’s almost as if they didn’t like the fact I was honest in stating I didn’t understand their loosely worded but somehow tightly enforced policy.

Unless otherwise what they really want to know is what new Inventory Management function I will implement, such as

  • examining unit price calculation in variation listings which are perceived to already be in violation and skip those (proactive). But again, what do we compare them to if they are a stand alone multi-pack listing and no one at Amazon is able to provide clear interpretation of the policy in these situations?

  • scheduled periodic review of inventory to ensure conditions have not changed which would cause just us on the listing apparently to be in violation (reactive).

We actually do this very thing already right before processing an order. We review the product detail page for every order in detail before committing to order fulfillment. If there are any errors or discrepancies we proactively engage the customer and advise them of the discrepancy and/or open a Case with SS who triages the request for the Catalog Team who then repairs the error.

That just made me realize, that’s the entire irony in all of this. Since I’ve not created a single multi-pack listing and as such do not have product detail page control, I have hundreds of SS cases where I’ve submitted corrections to things like incorrect Unit Price Calculations and other inconsistencies as a result of other sellers’ mistakes, blatant disregard for listing policy, or ASIN merge mishaps. It’s like no good deed goes unpunished.

It’s so apparent how other sellers (not all, I know) who make no such effort just continue to skate by not helping to improve Amazon’s catalog. Uh-oh, that’s beginning to sound too much like “woe is me, I’m the victim” talk … stop it you.

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