88. Avoiding Amazon Account Suspension w/ Ann Williams

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The Brand Builder Show
88. Avoiding Amazon Account Suspension w/ Ann Williams

If you’ve ever lost sleep over the potential of Amazon account suspension, this is the podcast episode for you.

In it, we’re joined by Ann Williams from GetUnsuspended. We talked through the most common causes for Amazon seller account issues so you can steer clear of them.

We also talked through what to do if your account ever actually gets suspended. 

To active accounts and free-flowing Amazon payments!

Episode Links

Additional Resources

Talking Points

  • 00:00 – Introduction To Guest: Ann Williams
  • 01:51 – How GetUnsuspended Started
  • 04:04 – Understanding the Common Causes of Amazon Account Suspensions
  • 07:47 – Strategies for Managing Multiple Amazon Accounts
  • 09:38 – Issues Related to IP Sharing
  • 13:25 – Things To Do To Get Your Account Restored
  • 18:35 – Recognizing Cases Where Account Recovery May Be Unattainable
  • 19:43 – How Amazon Handles Suspensions and Tips To Manage Them
  • 22:25 – Get Unsuspended Services and Packages 
Ben Donovan  00:00
Hey folks, welcome back to another episode of The Brand Builder Show. And today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about every Amazon sellers’ worst nightmare. No, I’m not talking about flat files, I’m talking about getting your account suspended. And we are going to be talking about how to avoid it, some common errors sellers might make. And so this is going to be an informative episode for you to find a way to try and avoid this ever happening to you. And we have brought the guest, the expert, to talk about this onto the show today and from get unsuspended. Ann, welcome to the show today.

Ann Williams  00:35
Thank you so much, Ben! It’s absolutely so great to be here and to be able to give your listeners some wonderfully good free advice. And hopefully they won’t get their accounts suspended. Or if they do, what to do on getting them unsuspended.

Ben Donovan  00:50
Absolutely and great to have a fellow Brit on the show. Lots of our guests are from America, as we said sort of before recording, which is great. You know, I love you, Americans out there. You know, you guys are amazing. But us Brits, you know, we’re over here working hard in the cold, in the rain. You know, nobody’s thinking about as much but here we are. So it’s good to have you on the show today, Ann, a fellow fellow Brit on the show. And we’re trying not to talk about the weather. We’re trying to talk about something that we can control a bit more, which is account suspensions on Amazon, which is going to be maybe some people might think, not particularly glamorous topic. But if you are generating revenue for your business on Amazon, and your account gets shut down. Boy, that’s a pretty serious issue. So these are going to be really key things to know and remember, so that you can really safeguard your business. So we’ll dive into that in a minute. But before we do, Ann, give us a bit of background about yourself, who are you? Give us some more history about the company, and then we’ll dive in. 

Ann Williams  01:51
Well, thank you. So basically, Get Unsuspended was started in 2017, because we realized that a lot of people were being suspended because they didn’t understand the process by which Amazon worked. So a lot of people would do something along the lines of they receive the email from Amazon, they panic, they contact Amazon, and they say, How does this work? What do I do? What’s the timeline? Please help me I don’t understand. And because of that, and because of the process, Amazon would then stop talking to them. Because every time you you talk to Amazon, it’s seen as a communication. Now I joined get unsuspended basically because I love to help people. And one of the things that I love about Get Unsuspended is we give so much free advice away. And yes, we are a business. Yes. You know, we have packages that people can purchase. And I will talk about those later. But at the end of the day, I’d love to help people and if we can get their accounts unsuspended by just me giving one email or two emails of device. Great. happily do that. Yeah, definitely. So yeah. So that’s that’s kind of my journey into get unsuspended it was just, I like to help people.

Ben Donovan  03:11
Yeah, fantastic. Yeah. Well, let’s dive into it. Because it is a topic that does generate a lot of fear. I think amongst Amazon sellers. I know when I’ve got this vivid memory when I started selling on Amazon, when my daughter had just been born. And I was having issues with compliance with some of my products. And I remember being in the room with her because I was giving my wife the night off trying to get get some sleep, and being, you know, up with my daughter, she’s screaming, she’s got colic. And then I’ve got my Amazon account issues in the middle in the middle of the night. It’s kind of like, you know, it was way less serious than I’ll make it sound but it felt to me like oh my gosh, this is like a really scary moment because this new fledgling business I’m excited by and is beginning to take off, all of a sudden, it could come crashing down like a house of cards. And so I know, you know, there’s lots of Amazon sellers out there that do feel that can happen to them. What are the common reasons that accounts do get suspended firstly so that we can avoid them? You know, prevention is the best medicine, isn’t it? So how do we do that?

Ann Williams  04:15
Absolutely. So basically, when you very first set up your Amazon account, if you’re brand new person, and you’ve never really done this first, you will, there’s a potential for you to be suspended before you’ve even opened your account. So that’s really scary in itself. And that comes down to the verification process. Now the verification process, as you know, because you’ve been through it means that you have to produce utility bills, passport, things like that. But it can be something as silly as when you send a copy of your passport over or the utility bills that you can’t see the four corners of the document. And they could suspend you for that because they’re not saying that it’s a real document. It could just be something that you faked. And so they suspend you for that until they can actually prove that this is real. So that’s the very first suspension you can get before you even sell anything on Amazon, which is absolutely terrifying because you’re trying to start this business and all of a sudden, it’s just gone. It’s awful. 

Ann Williams  05:19
The other things, IP is always an issue, you know, people selling brands they shouldn’t do. A classic example is No7. That is owned by boats in itself, and is not one unless you have a letter of authorization from them, stay away from it. That apparently, they used to give authorization for people to resell No7, but they don’t know. So there’s IP issues, there’s verification issues, there is invoices. So when people have to send invoices into Amazon to say that this product is authentic, again, there could be something wrong with the invoice. So a lot of people get caught out. Because if the, say, for instance, your postcode is slightly incorrect, or there’s a letter missing or something like that, Amazon will suspend your account until they can prove or you can prove that actually, that is an authentic invoice issue. And they will then come back and and suspend your account. But all the while you’re going through this, you have, as you said, that fear that this wonderful business that you’re setting up is banned. 

Ben Donovan  06:38
Do you find yourself working with a lot of wholesale sellers, as opposed to brands? Or is it a.

Ann Williams  06:45
All different? All different, completely across the spectrum? And we have people over in France, we have people in Australia, we have people in America, or who use our services. So we tend to find that even though they’re in different countries, it’s exactly the same suspensions, so we can help these people. So we don’t have to specifically stick to the UK, which is lovely. It means we can help other jurisdictions as well.

Ben Donovan  07:16
Yeah, definitely. I know, Amazon have changed their stance somewhat over the years. But one of the big fears used to be multiple accounts, you know, and how that whole setup works. Can you sort of shine some light and maybe dispel some fears for us about A – you know, do you see suspensions coming from your people being accused of having multiple accounts, and B – if someone does have, say, two businesses? Are there any thing they should be doing? You know, just to avoid getting their accounts suspended in for any reason?

Ann Williams  07:46
To be honest with you the biggest thing, if you want to have two accounts, the biggest thing is, if you’ve already opened one account, contact Amazon before you open the second account, because if you let Amazon know exactly what you’re doing, then you’re likely to get it passed through, not suspended. Because if you open multiple accounts with the same name, email address, IP address, they could suspend you because they’re like, What are you doing? So my suggestion, not my suggestion, but our suggestion at get unsuspended is contact Amazon before you open a second account, get their approval, tell them what you’re doing, because then you’ve got recourse to go back to them? Should they come back and say, Oh, what’s going on here? But you’ve then got recourse to say, actually, we checked this with you. You approved it before we actually did it? So that’s our best advice for having multiple accounts on your system.

Ben Donovan  08:45
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I manage multiple and I’ve been a proponent of it. And I’ve taught our community how to actually set it up. So you can log in through one login and access all the accounts. And and so I often get the question about getting suspended in that way. And so I’m always like, “No, as long as you set it up with different legal entities”. And yeah, as you said, ask permission and all that kind of stuff. That’s absolutely fine. The question I often get as a rebuttal on that is, what about IP sharing? You mentioned IP as intellectual property, but IP address as in, I’ve got an account and say, I live with my brother. He’s also got an account, you know, but then we’re accessing them on the same internet connection. Am I going to get in trouble with Amazon there? Do you have any clients that have issues with that?

Ann Williams  09:38
We do. We do have issues. But the issues that we find that Amazon do are literally it will be a case of if one account gets suspended, then the other one is likely to get suspended until you can actually prove their separate accounts. Right. Okay. So that’s why we kind of say, if you go to a friend’s house and you’ve got your Seller Central open, close it before you walk in their house and connect to their WiFi. Because if their account gets suspended, then you’re potentially going to as well, because they’ve been linked to the IP address. Yeah. So yeah, it’s it’s a difficult one. But if you’ve told Amazon what you’re doing, you’re less likely to be suspended for that reason. Yeah,

Ben Donovan  10:21
For sure. Yeah, that’s good. Because some people assume it’s just the fact that there are two accounts on the same IP, just that fact would get suspended. But I’ve said no, like, I maybe I should stop. But I go to like coffee shop and, you know, open up my seller central account. And there’s been hundreds of people in there. And who knows, maybe there’s been another Amazon seller that’s been in that coffee shop that same day, that same week, and over there Seller Central. And, you know, maybe I should stop doing that. I do sometimes think this is a little bit risky maybe.

Ann Williams  10:50
It is. 

Ben Donovan  10:51
But yeah, well, I don’t know. I’ve been doing it for over six years now. And it’s not I’ve never had any problems. Touchwood. But maybe, maybe I should stop doing it. Should I?

Ann Williams  11:01
The thing is if you go if you go to a coffee shop, and you’re working on your Seller Central account, if everything is okay, there, and no one else has been suspended on that IP address. You should be fine. Yeah, it’s if someone else gets suspended, and then there’s a potential that you could get suspended? Because they’ve linked to the two IP addresses. And then you’ve got to go through the whole Well, actually, that’s not my home IP address that sir coffee shop, that’s, you know, I wouldn’t say don’t ever do it. But I would say, be very careful.

Ben Donovan  11:35
All right. What about, I’m really testing you, I know,  sorry. But what about so I’ve got, I set myself up as a super user across the accounts, like our user account on Seller Central that is not the main holder of the account. The brand email, maybe is the main holder. If I log into my one that accesses them all. But then, because there’s a few things that only their account owner can do like connecting apps, like software like Helium 10, or whatever. And changing payment details, a few things like that. So I’ll might might log out of mine, and then log into the brand’s one. But I am a bit nervous about that. And I’ll log into the brand on like on my iPad, hotspot to my phone to avoid the whole connection. It’s stupid. I think maybe stupid. But what do you think there are any issues there?

Ann Williams  12:28
I would continue to do that if I were you. Yeah. Keep them separate as much as you possibly can. It Amazon are really funny based? Because sometimes everything is absolutely okay. And then sometimes it’s not. And you don’t want to be called out on a day that it’s not to be honest. So yeah, I would just continue if it’s worked so far, continue to do that. Because, yeah, you don’t want the accounts linked. If you can help it.

Ben Donovan  12:58
I thought you were going to dispel my fears. I say “No, Ben, don’t worry about it. It’s fine”. All right, I’ll keep doing my roundabout, difficult way of doing it. That’s fine. I see a lot of people on Twitter or X, as it’s now called, tagging Amazon Seller Support. You know, we’ve been suspended for 30 days now, 40 days now. You know, basically complaining Amazon has kind of almost ruined their business. If you do get suspended, what are some of the things that you need to do to get your account back up and running quickly.

Ann Williams  13:32
So it really depends on what the actual violation is. But I would say right from the beginning, and this is a pivotal point. For anyone listening this is this is the main thing, when you receive your email from Amazon saying that you have been suspended or at risk or deactivated. Read the email, read it carefully find out from there exactly what the information is that they need. But also look at the timeline, because you can be suspended a second time for not contacted them in the deadline that they’ve given you. So some IP violations are 24 hours. You have to collate all the information, get it back to Amazon within 24 hours. Now, if you’re not reading your emails often enough, if you’re not going into your Seller Central account enough and seeing the violations come up, you could absolutely miss that. And then you’ll get suspended again for that. So you get rid of the first violation but then you’re still suspended because then you know, you broke the timeline. Yeah. So big piece of advice. Always read your emails every day, especially if they’re from Amazon, even if they’re ones that say, you know, oh, hello, how are you? Just read them, get rid of them, but you know, make sure there’s nothing in there that you need to know about your account. The second big piece of advice here is if you do in a plan of action, which quite often you will have to do to get your account unsuspended. So when you’re doing a plan of action, it’s basically a one stroke two page document. It starts off, very polite and very courteous towards Amazon, if you are. Yeah, if you’re anyway, upset with Amazon, which you will be, but you write that in the email, it’s gonna go a long way to keeping your account suspended. So be polite, be courteous, list, the root cause of what’s happened, the violation. And sometimes you’ll have to do a bit of detective work. So read the email. And if you’re not 100%, clear, go into your Seller Central account, look at the orange or red triangles, have a look, see what’s there. And then you’ll be able to hopefully work out what the 18 is that they’re talking about, you know what the actual violation is with regard to that particular icing. And in the plan of action, do the root cause of it. If you have to put supplier details, put supplier details. So make sure you list out the supplier name, address, telephone number, customer service, email address, if you can, VAT number, and the ASIN that you’re actually talking about. And obviously tell them that you would never knowingly violate Amazon policies, and you’re very sorry, and you apologize, and you want to work with them to get it sorted. You know, it’s all about being really polite, and courteous and giving them the information that they need. If you have to attach an invoice to it, make sure that the invoice has your name and address in the shipping, doesn’t matter about delivery. But in the shipping areas, make sure you can see all four corners of the document because that could potentially be a forgery, if not, so they will always reject it. If you can’t see the four corners, make sure it’s not blurry, make sure it’s up the right way. One thing you’ve really got to remember about Amazon is the fact that they will never ever delve into your account, they will never look at things they will never go, Oh, here’s an invoice, I’ll have a look at that address, and I’ll possibly phone them, they won’t do that, what they’ll do is they’ll look at the plan of action and go write their name and address I’ll find them and check. They won’t actually look at the invoices, they do to make sure they I want to use the word kosher, but you know, to make sure they they are correct and concise. But they won’t actually take the information from them and act on it. So anything like that, you actually need to put in your plan of action. And then any communication you have with if you don’t have to do a plan of action, if you’re just literally sending the invoices in, make sure in the little comments box that you put the asin number that this all relates to add anything you can give like the supplier details, put it in that box. Because again, Amazon will not go looking for it. They’re expecting you to provide it. And you know, one of the things we actually say is, just remember that Amazon is not going to do your job for you. It’s you need to make the job easy for Amazon, otherwise they will keep you suspended. And the biggest thing is Amazon will rarely accept your first plan of action. Very rare. It could take 2346 months, 12 months. Yeah. And it’s difficult. It is difficult sometimes, but you’ve just got to persevere. And when you do a plan of action, if they reject it, don’t write another one. Just add to the one you’ve already sent. So you just keep adding information in.

Ben Donovan  18:35
Have you worked with people that have been unable to recover their account?

Ann Williams  18:41
Yes, yeah, absolutely. And they’ve they’ve got to the point where they have decided that they don’t want to continue fighting it any further, which is a real shame. But they’ve been going for a long time. To be honest with you, people that have that kind of issue are people who have started off trying to do it on their own. So what they’ve done is they’ve come to us about six months in and gone, right? I’ve sent 12 plan of action, 16 copies of my invoices, you know, things like that. And we’ve had to start from the beginning and try and help them get through. Whereas people that have come to us and said, “Oh, my account suspended, what do I do? Give us all the information”. We’ve got their account back into plan of actions, which has taken a week. So yeah, different people, different things have happened. But sometimes Amazon just doesn’t like people. 

Ben Donovan  19:42

Ann Williams  19:43
So one thing I need to tell your listeners sorry, one thing I need to tell them is the fact that every time you communicate with Amazon, it’s a different person you’re getting. Yeah, you never go back to the same person. So it’s not like they’re reading your plan of action going oh yeah, they’ve given me that information. So I can, you know, just a day and that’s, that’s fine. I’m happy with that the new people each time reading your plan of action, and someone did a, a statistic ages ago, where they did some research and they basically found out that Amazon, people who are reading the plan of actions and deciding whether people get their accounts back or not have between seven and 12 minutes per plan of action. Now, that’s not a lot of time to actually make a decision on whether someone could keep their business or not. So that’s why we say keep it concise, keep it polite, you know, don’t waffle, they don’t want your life history, they don’t care. And they haven’t got time to read it.

Ben Donovan  20:41
Yeah, I’ve found myself for like non account suspension and stuff, but just normal Seller Central stuff, when there’s an issue is I heard a tip a while ago and I started doing it is kind of re reconfirm all of the points in each update to the case you do. Because if you just reply with an additional point, yeah, there’ll be something completely new, and they won’t have the full history. So if you just summarize it really quickly for them, it brings them up to speed. And as that as actually has really helped get some better results. So yeah, I can definitely

Ann Williams  21:13
Always do that. It’s so much better to just, as you say, recap, and then go on and just add extra information in. That’s why we say you know, do one plan of action, and then just keep adding stuff to it, because it will all help. But we’ll also say, just be a little bit careful when you add extra stuff in, don’t take them down the rabbit hole of keeping you suspended, because you’ve put something in there that they’re not aware of. So for instance, if you say something along the lines of, oh, yes, well, when I went to this place and pick that up, hang on a second, we’ve never, you know, as an Amazon person, we’ve never dealt with you dealing with this particular section. So we’re going to keep you suspended until you can actually tell us what you’re doing in that section. So yeah, just be a bit careful about what you put. So just be concise. Be truthful, don’t lie at all, because they can ask you to prove it. But yeah, don’t embellish.

Ben Donovan  22:08
Yeah, definitely. I think obviously, we’ve covered lots of you know what to avoid what to do, if it does happen to you? Do you have any other kind of tips or advice that you can give for our listeners to keep their accounts in good standing? Anything else you can add before we finish up?

Ann Williams  22:25
Well, as I said to you earlier, we have packages. So if you don’t mind, I’ll go through the packages. And then if anyone’s interested, then they can come and talk to us about it. So we have three packages. So we have suspension protect. And that is for a small monthly fee. Someone can come to us at any time and say, “Look, my accounts in jeopardy, I need some help, can you help us? And we’ll look at the account and we do a six-monthly review on that. So we look at your account health. We look at you know how to increase it. We look at what you’ve done in the past and will give you lots of information as to how to keep your account healthy. But as I say it’s a small monthly fee. And it is literally insurance if you like. We hold your hand through absolutely everything, we guide you, we talk to you, we give you our templates, we help you right from the beginning so that if you should be at risk, suspended, or even deactivated, we can jump in straight away and help you get your account back. And as I said earlier, it’s a lot easier to do that right at the beginning, than six months in when lots of time has passed and lots of communication has happened. 

Ann Williams  23:37
Then we have our suspension Assist, which is if you have been suspended. That is a one-off payment. And it basically means we give you all of our templates. We tell you how to write stuff, we hold your hand through the whole thing, but you essentially do everything. And then we have our Goldstar service, which is Suspension Pro, which again is a one-off payment, and again is if you’re suspended or deactivated. And then what happens is we write everything for you. We write all the communication to Amazon, we write all of the plan of action for you. And we send them to you and all you have to do is click Upload to Amazon. But one thing I do like about GetUnsuspended is that even if you have no package with us, we will happily answer any of your questions. So you can come to us you can say, look, I’ve got this email. I don’t really understand it. Have you heard of this one before? Could you help us? And we’ll happily just reply back to you and go yeah, what this actually means is you need to send invoices or a plan of action or and this is how, you know we’ll give you the bare bones of how to write it and give you lots of information. But one very big essential tip on this is one communication from Amazon. One communication from you. Don’t keep bombarding them with questions and things like that. But yeah, so if any one of your followers would like to contact us and just ask a basic question, happy to answer them, it’s [email protected]

Ben Donovan  25:11
Perfect. And then the website is just getunsuspended.com 

Ann Williams  25:15
It is. And so there TikTok, and so is our YouTube. And last Wednesday of the month we do a live, so if anyone’s got any particular things they would like me to talk about, I’m happy to do a live on that particular subject. So

Ben Donovan  25:28
Perfect. Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good resource to have, obviously, the plans there, you know, sellers will know they’ve got that to fall back on. But you know, to have that extra content as well as is really, really useful. Because as we’ve said, it is something that does concern Amazon sellers. And it is good to have that in the back pocket as such so that we know, there’s, you know, that there’s hope, even if the worst does happen, and that dreaded email does come, that there is there’s hope there. Ann, this has been really informative. It’s been really helpful. And you know, I’m sure sellers will take a lot of solace in the information and the contacts that you’ve sort of given us. Thanks so much for taking time out and coming on. We really appreciate it.

Ann Williams  26:12
Wonderful. being here. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast. It’s been absolutely great. And yeah, if anyone ever gets suspended, please do come and talk to us. We’ll we’ll give you as much help as we possibly can. Definitely, yeah,

Ben Donovan  26:25
Must be quite rewarding to, you know, to be able to help people for such an important thing. You know, when they get their account back, it must be great for you.

Ann Williams  26:33
It is, actually. We all do the high fives and yeah, it’s really good. It’s lovely to have the messages come through saying “Oh, my accounts back. Thank you so much”. And it’s like, “Oh, this is great. Yes, we got another one”.

Ben Donovan  26:46
Awesome. That’s awesome. Good stuff. I want to thank you again. And thanks to everyone for listening. If you ever do find yourself in a spot where you need to get your account on suspended, then definitely check out and all the information on get unsuspended.com We’ll leave the links for that in the show notes and the description. So do check those out. And if you have liked the episode, please do like subscribe, all that good stuff. And we’ll see in the next episode same time next week. Take care

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