How to minimise Amazon suspension Risk with Joshua Price -
How to minimise Amazon suspension Risk with Joshua Price

What is your Amazon Suspension Risk?

If you think you might be at risk of Amazon account suspension, we advise you to use the “Suspension calculator” on Joshua’s site  right now. It might just help save your account!

To learn how to minimise Amazon suspension risk, the first thing is to read the main Amazon policies. Policies on suspension risks have changed over time.

If you’re doing something and you don’t know what the rules are, you’re bound to risk it!

What are the main areas of rules that you recommend reading about?

Broader policies: 

Selling policies and seller code of conduct. 

They have bullet points that are the basis for all the other “spirit of the law” especially IP. 

It comes down to intentions from Amazon rather than actually stated. 

  • Never put a product out that could harm an Amazon customer. 
  • Never misrepresent yourself.
  • Never engage in misleading behaviour. 

Other specific areas:

Bundling policy

Drop-shipping policy (Added more recently) You should read this is if you’re a drop-shipper!

ASIN creation policy 

Product details page rules

Variations

Duplicate listings as well

It’s helpful for new sellers

Amazon has tried to break down the ways people can abuse the platform. 

Policies are actually a useful way into learning about being a better seller. 

Business Model

A lot of it comes down to business model.

People doing less traditional methods generally run into more issues like:

  • RA.
  • “Dropshipping” – just finding someone else with the product on Amazon.
  • Listing items they don’t even intend to sell  just to find out what will sell – is very risky.

When you hand the control off to someone else – whether sourcing products from someone else eg: Aliexpress or Dropshipping – you can run into conflict. 

How risky is drop-shipping in Amazon?

There are two ways. 

The first way is using a company that drop-ships properly , with a formal written agreement or written contract so you have evidence of authenticity. 

RA doesn’t give you any of this, including evidence of being allowed to sell an authentic product. 

Can one product take down an account?

It can. In one example Joshua dealt with, one customer complained about one product. 

Amazon then investigated more products. 

It then became a real issue. 

Having a lack of processes, documents and agreements increases Amazon suspension risk

If you’re just building a hobby/side hustle, it’s not so critical. 

When you’re building a serious business, even lifestyle business (ie: one for your own income that you don’t intend to build into a sellable asset), it’s much more important.  

How does that work?

Eg: Getting into men’s T-shirts–you can only see the data if you offer a product.

  • Offer against popular products. 
  • Get a couple in stock – cancel or refund them. 
  • In a way, it’s a good idea, but you can run into a lot of trouble. 
  • Disappointing the customer is always a bad idea! 

What sort of business model is safer?

If done correctly, Private Label is the safest option. 

Assuming your product is good – although Joshua had a case of the same product which 2 people branded – owner infringing on a patent. 

There isn’t a formal protection on a lot of products – but you’re running the risk that you’ll run into issues.  But this is less frequent than other models – it’s hard to infringe on a trademark if you have your own trademark. 

A lot of the time, it just comes down to a piece of paper with a few signatures. 

There was a period of suspensions for people using “velcro” which has to be called a hook and loop system – velcro is actually a trademarked name!

Tupperware is another one! 

Professionalisation is a big trend in Amazon

That’s a big trend Joshua sees with suspensions and Amazon suspension risks. 

Those who don’t do the business model in the way Amz want get a rougher time – even if it’s not an explicit violation. 

Seller performance is as vague and uncommunicative as ever – but the way they behave  – responses are so much more muted.

If it’s a private labeller who had an IP complaint, they are more communicative and more receptive – you get through the layers of the template letters Amazon uses. 

They have 6-7 letters – number 7 means you are reinstated; 7B means you’re not!

Joshua doesn’t KNOW this but it seems if business model is something Amazon is not a fan of and you’ve revealed that, and not fixing it, Amazon just leaves you looping on letter 3. 

Biggest learnings from suspensions

You’ve got to take it seriously however large you are. 

Customer service – it goes against the grain because it can decrease margins and we often feel the customers are wrong. But we are aligning ourselves. 

Professionalism: You expect people to have paperwork, lawyers, accountants, to  answer the phone. 

Having contracts makes it clear. 

Same with staff – get paperwork in place, if paperwork is not in place, then your business is at stake and at an Amazon suspension risk.

Communication from Amazon to 3rd party sellers about suspensions

Joshua doesn’t do secret decoding, if you’ve seen the same template 100 times, you know what the order of events will be. 

In Amazon suspension risks, the emails do tell you what to do. Not very explicitly – but you can go back to the policies. 

They have started phoning sellers more regularly prior to suspensions especially on Account health – if you miss the call, they’ll suspend you. So you get the chance to do appeals. 

There was new EU legislation passed in February that particularly targeted how marketplaces deal with 3rd party terminations

This had come out of the issues people had. It’s important that  businesses can grow and rely on marketplaces. 

They set out a bunch of legislative practices. 

The issue is that Amazon is so large that they sort of comply. 

In almost every case, they follow process:

  • Inform sellers of why – with a letter and link to policy. 
  • Allowing for appeal.
  • Allow an unbiased/independent.

Issue is: 

  • The details are very vague.
  • Seller performance teams act very independently anyway – impossible to communicate with them as a seller and also for Amazon. 

You can make so much money on amazon in such a short time with no talent or experience. 

Joshua got a call from someone who made decent money after 6 months on Amazon. Who was unemployed before. 

Didn’t understand what he was doing!

It’s weird that that’s how a business can work. In most other situations. 

If you get suspended, what are the do’s and don’ts?

Action 1: Go to bed and sleep on it!

Don’t rush into action!

Amazon sometimes asks for a response within 72 hours. Often 17 days. 

You shouldn’t do ANYTHING to start with. Don’t panic and write a load of rubbish. 

Don’t admit to anything they don’t know about!

Don’t try to game the system and say what they want to hear. 

It’s about real systems to deal with the “root cause”. If your POA will sort out the root cause, it can work. 

When do people go to a suspension expert?

The struggle and the reason people hire someone like Joshua is:

  • They have no idea what the root cause is.
  • It’s too complex to fix.
  • They don’t feel that they actually did that thing. 

You don’t have to hire an expert – but if you’re not good at handling it, be realistic about it. 

Preventing suspension

It’s hard to say what you CAN do. 

The metrics are generally quite obvious – you can see that all the time. 

If you get complacent and don’t take it seriously enough, that can be a danger. 

It’s normally not a lack of will. 

Two cases spring to mind where they felt outside risk: 

Suspension Case 1 – selling electronics product – put multiple parts together to build it to help with stock. 

On black Friday, they sold more that week than they have sold that year. They had to build 1 in an hour – no way they can dispatch those in a short amount of time. 

They hadn’t planned for this – whereas they could have planned for demand. 

Having a contingency plan – often issues come up if things are out of the ordinary:  

For example, if you’re on holiday, ill, internet is down; Royal Mail. 

It’s when the normal pattern breaks that they are at risk. 

Suspension Case 2 – biggest ever client – top 10 bestsellers in the world. 

They provide fulfilment services for others. Total about 35 accounts suspended – at once!

They had their custom stock management software – 35 warehouses worldwide. 

Developers had released an update that destroyed the numbers! 

But didn’t have a process for releasing updates one warehouse at a time for example – sandbox. 

Nobody seemed to notice for a few days. Every warehouse just thought sales were down for 2 days. 

 Amazingly they had hundreds of staff.

This was a loss of tens of millions of dollars.

Professionalism

It comes down to treating Amazon suspension risk seriously with your income at stake. 

Amazon does really have an obsession with customer experience. 

It’s not easy to do – being a business person is hard!

How Joshua’s service works

Joshua P. has been doing suspensions work for nearly 5 years from before others started charging.

Traditionally you would pay when you get a suspension. 

Recently a lot of people have come into the space. 

Providing the service is what Joshua is good at and not great at selling; The reverse is the case for the opposites. 

Template Letters don’t work

It’s the identical template letters – which TOTALLY don’t work. Amazon is using plagiarism software. 

So now everyone else pretends to create bespoke letters. 

That also implies more care and more time. 

So Joshua decided to change the entire market and do a subscription model which is better for sellers. 

For £15/$20 a month subscription per market per account. You get: 

  • A call one hour every 3 months and email access. Unless there’s something that needs an extra review. 
  • Unlimited support

That works well for Joshua – he can build better relationships

  • Prevent suspensions more.
  • Don’t have to have that odd relationship when they are suspended. 

For those suspended now – he has a calculator on his site – can work out the percentage on the  chances of reinstatement. 

If >70% they can become a member without extra charge!

What every client asks

  • How much does it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • Will it work? 

Joshua can tell you the cost; Amazon’s response time, however, is in their court. As to will it work – depends so much on who comes through the door! 

Joshua takes cases of Amazon suspension risks where the chance of success is very low. If someone has been suspended once a year for 5 years, and done the wrong thing 4 times, they are very unlikely to have their Amazon seller account reinstated. 

Some people, he tells them, they have just a 20% chance of reinstatement!

Because it’s a subscription. – there’s no incentive for Joshua to tell them a lie to make money out of them.  £15 is obviously not worth the time and money to Joshua. 

If the chance is under 70%, the usual full price is £400. 

How to get in touch with Joshua

Joshua@suspensionexperts.com

 

Advice on simple steps you could take

If you think you might be suspended, you could use the “Suspension calculator” on Joshua’s site

We have other interviews about Amazon Account Suspension with Joshua Price.


Transcript

Michael Veazey 0:56
We talked about the downside, we talked about the ways you can get support bandits? What’s about the ways of staying out of that? What’s the best way to minimize the risk of suspension?

Joshua Price 1:07
Well, if I had all the answers,

yeah, there’s a bunch of things you could do, I think the thing I’d recommend doing, first and foremost, is actually to have a read of Amazon’s policies. It’s not very entertaining, and there’s quite a lot of them. But people just don’t know the stuff that they’re meant to be complying with. It’s not part of initiation as you sign up to be a seller, and people have been selling for a long time. And policies have changed quite a lot over the last sort of 10 years since Amazon was a bit of a baby. And so if you’ve not made yourself, you know, used to seeing this stuff, especially some of the language which you’ll then see in your performance notifications, you know, it’s going to be hard for you to comply with something you don’t know about. And I hear this time and time again, people, you know, phoned me up, tell me that suspended, and oh, yeah, I’ve not heard of this, or I don’t, didn’t know I was doing it. I didn’t know what the goal was. If you’re doing something, you don’t know what the rule is, you need to check before you go and do it. Because just go, you know, run yourself into some trouble. And I know, it sounds like I’m really pushing the rules all the time. But they’re not that difficult, most of the time to follow, especially if you’re not running some crazy weird business model. And as a result, you’re just going to be able to know what to do know where to draw the line with some of these risks about Black Hat things, that’s going to help a lot. So that’ll be my, if you’re going to do one thing from this podcast, have a have a look at some of the policies, you can go in Seller Central, click on the right hand side, and you can see any policy you fancy, and especially anything that’s specific for your category, or if you’re using variations, parent child relationships, look at the policy understand how it is that you’re not to do it. If you’re doing product bundling, you’re putting multiple items together, look at the bundling policy, it seems a bit basic, but it it really makes a big difference when you’re never going to play these games and

do these things. You want to make sure you’re staying inside the lines.

Michael Veazey 2:57
Yeah, I guess it’s like anything else, right? If you’re going to go in near the lines, you need to be very, very clear about where they are. And I guess one of the things that is intrinsically risky with the idea of grey hat is almost in a way a less sensible business policy in the black hat only in the sense that if you do black hat, you’re very clear about what the downside potential is, you don’t necessarily know what the percentage. So the downside possibility is you’re going to get suspended if you get found out. So I don’t know what the percentage chance of getting found out is, but at least you get the benefits of black hat was a gray hat, you really are dicing with death, but you don’t really know how close your eyes for line. It’s a bit like playing tennis with your eyes a bit bloodshot. If you’re not sure where the line is, it just strikes me that that’s just if you’re going to do that you might as well be white hat, if you’re going to do black hat, you might as well do black hat, and if you get suspended, then you know, kind of deserve it. But yeah, it totally makes sense to me. So given that there are 100 pages of policy, could you I’m expecting you to summarize all the pace of policy, even if you summarize, like 10 pages that would take hours. But could you point us towards the most common pages where you think that people a the most risk and be the most likely to be ignorant? So you mentioned variations, you mentioned bundling policy, what else is there that we should think about?

Joshua Price 4:07
The there’s some some broader policies, which I’d suggest taking a look at, at because they are the sort of the fundamental basics on Amazon, and then they build upon them. So there’s one called selling policies and seller code of conduct. And it’s got a little stuff that seems pretty basic in it. Let me just read you a few of the bits and pieces actually, that it says because they’ve got some bullet points. And essentially, every other policies generally actually expanding on these in one way or another. And Amazon are using this is the the spirit of the law, if that makes sense. Often, especially with say intellectual property, it’s about what was what was intended, not maybe what was actually written. And if you understand what Amazon are intending for their platform and intending for sellers and buyers, then you can interpret what they want to do a bit easier. So they say things like never misrepresent yourself, always acted upon ensures a trustworthy experience for Amazon customers, never lyst products that may cause harm to Amazon customers never engage in any misleading, inappropriate or offensive behavior. That seems quite obvious. But if you think about all the stuff we’ve just discussed, actually, the things that sellers could be doing that could get him suspended. It just boils down to some of those points.

Michael Veazey 5:19
Yeah. So never had never put a product out there could I mean, I guess, putting a product out that could harm an amazon customer is is probably not something most people would consciously do. I know one person who I think, is consciously doing that. He’s a bit of a sort of used car salesman, and you know, he’s doing quite well. I mean, you know, it’s on his head. It’s a my business. But I mean, most of the time, I don’t think most people knowingly put stuff out that is going to cause harm. It’s just more a question of ignorance and incompetence, rather than, you know, willful neglect. But that’s still you know, an offense, isn’t it really. And the other thing to say is a basic principle is that it’s a legal principle that ignorance is no defense in the eyes of the law. And as we’ve already said, was it doesn’t work like a legal system anyway, it shoots first and ask questions answered to afterwards to some degree. But I do think that it’s not a it’s not an unfair point that if you can’t bother to read their policies as regards your particular product, then I guess you haven’t really armed yourself with the necessary proof against them in the first place. Right. So it’s a fair point selling policies and seller Code of Conduct you said about what are the other sort of main issues that you think people could save themselves from? If they read those pages? which pages would you recommend?

Joshua Price 6:33
It always going to vary on how you run your business at the moment and type of product you’re into? I’ll highlight a few that probably important for some people this think there’s a drop shipping policy, something at Amazon added more recently than you know, the stuff that’s been there since the beginning. And if you’re a drop shipper, you need to read that stuff, because it’s literally the rules that you are meant to be complying with a sin creation policy is important. If you make your own listings, as is then like product detail page rules, and stuff about variations. And there’s something about duplicate listing somewhere as well. So all those type of things, if you’re making listings, thing, you need to be learning what you can do what you can’t do, because you don’t know your homework to get a waste when you’ve made something.

Michael Veazey 7:18
No, that’s true. And yes, I just reflecting with some embarrassment that having created many, many Asians, and product details pages, I don’t think I’ve actually ever read the policy on that. I mean, I think if they’d been an issue with the client, and they’d really had to, you know, come to me with a problem, then I would have said, Okay, well, let’s look at the rules. But I didn’t actually sort of proactively do that up front. So yeah, that’s a very good thing. That Yeah, a lot of us park that.

Joshua Price 7:44
And I think when you when you start out selling, it can be quite helpful. Because Amazon in these rules have tried to factor in every possible way that you could be breaking that policies, everything that every other sellers could conceivably do on their platform. And therefore it if you’re new to the platform, they’re trying to learn what is it that people do what, what can I do, I’m creating Listen, like, they’re a bunch of functionality to creating listings and detail pages that you might not have even uncovered functionality you don’t currently understand, as you were reading the policies, you’re going to come into contact with it and understand what it is, what it does, and how it could be used correctly, and how it can be misused. And so not only is it all let me make sure I’m not breaking the rules. It’s also going to teach you stuff to help you be a better seller. And understand Actually, I didn’t think about doing things in this way. And I’m allowed to, maybe I can try it like that.

Michael Veazey 8:32
It says important. I mean, that’s that’s kind of knowing I suppose that the flip side of kind of being very white hat is that you might be playing so far inside the lines that you’re giving yourself a competitive disadvantage because you what you could be doing a lot of things you are allowed to do by Amazon but the you’re not doing but out of fear and ignorance rather than sort of fear of the the actual thing that’s going to cause you harm, right? So it’s, it’s good point, I’m going to suppose most people don’t think of going to the Amazon seller policy pages is a great edgy compared to getting a course at least most people seem to prefer to buy a course. But it’s a very, very good point. I guess there’s a lot of education to be had in the detail pages of these things. So you mentioned drop shipping. Now obviously, this isn’t that isn’t something that this podcast particularly gets you there might be the odd person listening. But that brings in that the question of business model you’ve mentioned, I know, we’ve had chats about this before that the business model quite quite a big difference to suspension risk. So tell us a bit more about that. How does that interact?

Joshua Price 9:27
Yeah, so the the business model that you choose the essentially the way that you’re going to source your products and deliver them is going to affect which of these issues you might run into and how likely you are to run into any problems at all. And if you are a drop shipper, then you’re more likely to encounter some issues than somebody who has their own brand manufacturing product and fulfills them themselves. In that position, you’re in control. And so you are able to control the fact that you are complying with all these policies, or is any hand control of somebody else, whether that’s because they are doing the fulfillment through drop shipping, or you are sourcing products from someone else using a different brand, you know, going on holiday Express and ordering some some items, and not rebranding them as your own or using someone spend all those sort of things, you don’t have control over every aspect of it. And so then you’re going to you could potentially run into, you know, some sort of conflict there.

Michael Veazey 10:20
Yeah, so I guess, the more concrete supply, supply chain control you have, the better you’re going to be able to deal with keeping the quality that Amazon really demands. And as you say, 1% defect rate, we’ve got to bear that in mind, whenever I’m sourcing from China. And for them the highest quality rate that you can get a QL three, I think it is that the 1% major defects, 2.5% minor defects, that’s still going to count for a lot of Amazon sellers as a really major defects in their spot lives. And I’m probably one of those people, you know, we get very, very spoiled by Amazon as consumers and you know, so to get the the match between what consumers in the rest of the world will put up with what the producers is therefore think is really good quality and obviously thinks good quality is bad enough. And that’s without, you know, having somebody very random at the other end like the drop shipping. So I would say drop shipping sounds like a very risky model to use in the Amazon space. I mean, have you had experience with quite a few suspensions or drop ship as an Amazon, you get the impression is highly risky, or is it sort of moderate. So

Joshua Price 11:22
I’d say it’s highly risky, more the, there’s two ways you could do it, you could do it the correct way, the proper way, which would be to get a company that drop ships is their business, they have products, they source and you can select to buy them and sell them somewhere else. And you should have a formal written agreement with them. And therefore you have proof that you are, you know, you have sourcing these items that they’re authentic, you’re able to prove how you’re fulfilling them, the company is bound to a contract to me Amazon standards. And so you’re in a pretty safe position. If you’re doing something like online arbitrage, which you could classes drop shipping, because the products are being fulfilled by someone else, you don’t hold the stock with them, then you don’t actually have any of that right relationship with that supplier. And you don’t have any evidence a lot of the time that the products are authentic, even though you’re buying something from a very large retailer, you have still not got the evidence of a supply chain and evidence that you are allowed to sell that product to evidence that the item is genuine and authentic.

Michael Veazey 12:17
It says in point actually seem to have evidence of the two crucial things that struck me being allowed to sell the products and having an authentic products as well. So a lot of this stuff, which I think is I can understand why people avoid it because it’s very kind of dry as dust and it seems pointless and most of the time it is but it comes down to having a a documentation of everything you do. And having proof of everything you do that proof that you’ve got something from somewhere proof, you have the right solid proof that it is what it says it’s that sort of stuff. A lot of the time is stuff that if troubles don’t arise, isn’t going to be a problem. And but the trouble with that is if you start looking at account suspension in the face, because you got slack on some five product that starts to look pretty bad. I mean, is that actually what we’re looking at? Or is that too extreme? I mean, how, how much is there a correlation between the amount of offense and the likelihood of getting an actual account suspension?

Joshua Price 13:13
Yeah, it is as close as you described, I’ve got a client at the moment who had an issue with one product, customer complaints about the authenticity of it, Amazon investigated that a drop shipper, they struggled to provide the evidence, Amazon added more reasons to the complaints to request more information. And this is one with thousands of products, yet only one product initially has kicked them up. And we’re at a point now where they’ve they’re having to get rid of a large amount of the inventory. And, you know, find new inventory sources with which to provide sort of evidence of future authenticity. So it becomes a real issue very quickly. And yeah, one product can throw you up.

Michael Veazey 13:50
But technically, they’re not actually it’s not really it’s funny, because it’s like one product that kind of kicks off a deluge of other product complaints. And then what it comes down to is not so much about one product, taking down your your your account as one product, keep pointing up a systemic floor in your business, which is another way that you don’t keep any records, or you have maybe no means of keeping any form of authenticity or any agreements, or allowances for you know, being allowed to sell things. So I guess it just comes down to the fact that if you don’t have formal agreements and formal processes in your supply chain and your whole business, sooner or later, it makes you very vulnerable. Really, I’m just seeing a more general pattern that’s emerging from what you’re saying is just having a lack of documentation and lack of contracts, means you’re vulnerable, just more generally, is that an accurate summary?

Joshua Price 14:37
I think so. And also, you know, you’ve got to decide what you’re building, what is it that you want to happen in your business, because if you’re just looking for a hobby, you want to click around and play Amazon, like it’s a game, and you know, work with extremely low margins. And if you’re fulfilling in that way, you’re going to be, you know, struggle to scale, because you’re not going to be able to get the supply of the items, then it’s fine, because the risk isn’t really as bad if you get suspended, it’s it’s just like, game, it is part of the part of, you know, the process was if you do want to build a large and profitable and successful business, then you need to be, you know, choosing methods that are going to adhere to allow you to get to that scale and allow you to operate in that way. So, you know, it’s up to everyone to decide how I do things, I’d recommend doing the latter. And, you know, trying to build something, even if you don’t want to run a humongous business, you’d rather have a lifestyle business, which is totally fine. still do it in a sustainable manner and one that doesn’t, you know, run into some of these issues.

Absolutely, let’s talk

Michael Veazey 15:31
about better quality business models out there was established the risks of sort of drop shipping in the sense that you don’t have a real agreement with anyone or retail arbitrage where by definition, you’re kind of trying to fly under the radar of Tesco or whoever rather than have an agreement with them. So what sort of business model is safe for them, which in fact, is the safest option?

Joshua Price 15:51
I think that having a private label is probably will safest. Assuming that you are doing your homework, like we spoke about earlier to do with intellectual property law and policies, because because if you’re selling your product, and it’s painted by someone else, you’re going to run into the same problems. But like I said, it allows you the most control. And that’s always a good place to be in these type of things. Also, if you have an agreement with a large company to be the distributor of the item in a particular territory, that’s, you know, another really good business model, because your suppliers really legitimate and you have contracts and evidence and all those type of things. A lot of it does come down to us just a few sheets of paper with some signatures. Surprisingly, because big businesses are used to that it’s been the norm for years and years and years. And so if you’re dealing with proper people, that’s how they process it. And if you’re not falling off, there’s no paper trail.

Michael Veazey 16:39
Yeah, it’s like a lot of things in life, that it seems that having a written agreement, however simple is absolutely critical. I think it’s true with business partnerships. This is outside the account suspension kind of arena, but it’s the same thing, which is that if something’s critical to your business, you want to have a written documentation, you wanna make sure everyone’s agreed on a process. And you want to make sure you got some kind of proof. Those two things, right. It’s kind of basic, but I think again, it comes down to professionalization. We talked about this before. So tell me a little bit more about becoming a more professional seller and and how that links with suspension. Because obviously, you’ve seen over four years of suspensions, I work in getting people reinstated or working to do that, you must have seen a lot of the things that people can do, which after the fact you realize, Oh, actually, as a professional seller, that’s something I need to be doing. So what would you say your big learnings from that?

Joshua Price 17:31
I think,

you know, you got to take it seriously. Regardless of your current size, you’ve got to not neglect of Amazon’s an important thing. Prioritizing customer service often seems to be something that doesn’t happen. And that doesn’t just mean the emails you send to customers, it’s actually like actually putting the customer first. It’s not a very popular way of doing things in business, because it generally means decrease the margins, more work. And customers seem to feel wrong a lot of the time to small business owners when we’re meant to treat them like they’re right. But it’s Muslims mentality and Amazon’s way of doing things. And so if we align ourselves with it, we’re going to have a much easier time. I think being a more professional seller is all the things you expect when you look at a big company, you expect trustworthiness, you’re expected to answer the phone, you expect them to know what they’re doing have paperwork have lawyers have accountants, and when you’re starting off at seems quite daunting. But actually for, you know, I’ve made those mistakes and not had those things in the past. And having put things in place where you know, you have a system, you know, you have contracts and processes, it really removes the ambiguity and a lot of the risk and allows you to make decisions more confidently as a business owner, to know, if we do this, this is going to happen. And if this goes wrong, this is how it ends. Because it’s dictated in contracts, it’s dictated in ways that things happen. And that’s the same with staff, if you’re going to need some help over Christmas to ship some products. Don’t just ask your mate to give you a hand, actually, you need to get some people I can play some contracts. Because if things go wrong, it’s your business that’s going to be completely on the line, if they neglected to send those orders on that week, you’re on holiday, you know who’s responsible, you don’t want to be in this weird, um, you know, ambiguous state where your friend covering you for holiday calls your suspension, and so now, he feels awful because of it. It’s your responsibilities, your business, you need to be taking these things properly.

Michael Veazey 19:11
Yeah, I think that that goes along with everything we’ve been hearing really from, from a lot of things, it’s just comes down to doing the right things. As you say, when you’re really small business, you don’t want to add overhead to create a degree. But yeah, customer service. And as you said, we often feel the customers are wrong, I think you’re absolutely right, we either decide that we align ourselves with Amazon’s basic philosophy and everything about what they do, or we’re not. But I don’t think you have much choice of if you’re on Amazon’s platform, try not to be customer centric, then you’re really fighting against the tide, as you say. And yet having paperwork, lawyers, accountants, you have to have spend your life doing up massive, complicated agreements with lawyers, because I can get very expensive, but some things need lawyers, and they just need to, you know, bite the bullet, if something’s a valuable part of your business to spend a few hundred quid on the lawyer and by the thousands. I mean, okay, patrons are 10s of thousands. That’s not very viable for smaller businesses, but that there are limits to these things. So tell me a bit more. But I’ve heard that there’s some new legislation coming on about the way that Amazon communicates about suspension. So let’s, let’s talk a bit more about the communication from Amazon. Because obviously, famously, Amazon is is just, you know, seen by most third party sellers, and that certainly my experience has been pretty terrible at communication at times. But I guess there’s two sides to communication on there. There’s the sort of creator of the message, and there’s a receiver of it. What have you seen in their communication from Amazon? Do you think there’s any moves afoot to make it clearer? Or do we always have to just go and hire an expert like yourself to kind of read between the lines,

Joshua Price 20:43
I don’t know if they’re making anything clearer to talk about Amazon’s communications almost an oxymoron. The lack of it is very surprising. But doesn’t you always need to have someone like me to decode it, I don’t really decode things. There’s no, you know, secret numbers at the bottom of messages that mean anything, it simply, you’ve seen the same message 100 times, and you see what happens next. And so you can predict the future in a way, if that makes any sense. Amazon have a process and steps and standard templates. And so you get used to seeing them in a certain order. And when something jumps out of line, it means something important, and it’s gonna be difficult for the average seller to be able to spot those type of things. But their emails do tell you what to do. Not very helpfully. But it does have the information that especially if you go back to the policies, and look at what it is they’re talking about, that always linked them in their notifications, normally, they’re certainly not getting better at communication, they have started phoning sellers more regularly, prior to suspension, this is sort of more common thing to do with, if it’s something to do with your account health, the performance suspension, they will send you a notification saying we’re going to call you in 24 hours to discuss this problem. If you missed the call, they’ll suspend you. I’ve never had all those phone calls. Because obviously people come to me afterwards. I don’t know exactly what happens on. But you can get the opportunity essentially, to explain what’s going on, not get suspended, but he’s through the appeals. So that’s a slight change in the process. But ultimately, just be back to the old system, which is you have to send a bunch of emails, and you get back a blank face.

Michael Veazey 22:12
Yeah, it’s interesting point. So it’s not so much about reading between the lines is they have a process and you’ve seen the process. So you say after you’ve seen the price of 100 times, you’ll know, okay, email one in the chain of five, and you know where it goes. So what are the basics, if you’re writing, I think that the word is a plan of action might appear. If you’re writing if you get suspended? What are the basic do’s and don’ts in terms of the actions you should take?

Joshua Price 22:36
Action number one is to go to bed and have dinner and sleep on it. Don’t do anything straight away, Amazon occasionally give us a response in 2872 hours. And normally, they say 17 days, the 72 hour thing you do have to respond by them something days thing is a long time and lots of stuff happens between then and now. But you shouldn’t do anything to start with that the number one thing is to not panic and write a load of crap. Because it’s never going to work. You need to work out what you’ve done wrong, or what Amazon thinks you’ve done wrong, is the first step because there’s no point telling them a bunch of stuff about something they’re not concerned about, or even worse admitting to something which you have done, which they didn’t know about. So you need to work out what they think you’ve done wrong. And then you’ve got to find out how you going to fix it. And the best way to think about it is to not try and gain the system or say What does Amazon want to see there’s no amazing keywords that instantly get your account open. It’s about good processes, good procedures, and putting in place actual things that are going to stop the complaint, the reason that you’ve been suspended was and called the root cause, if you can have a plan of action that stops the root cause from happening again, you know that that issue reoccurring, then you’re, you know, going to be able to get your account back, the struggle. And one of the reasons that people hire people like myself is because they either can’t identify the root cause in their business. It’s something they have no idea how they’re going to fix, because Amazon has made it up and they don’t think that’s actually an issue, or it’s one of those things that so complex that I will, I would just say I don’t want to do it again. But that’s not enough. So those are the sort of steps I’d suggest taking, it’s not impossible to appeal successfully on your own. You know, I’d love to sit here and say you have to hire me, it’s not the truth. But it’s pretty challenging. If you aren’t used to dealing with those type of things, you’re not strong at writing, you’re not strong in written English, or if you aren’t good at dealing with the pressure, and being able to remove the personal element of your account being suspended as well.

Michael Veazey 24:38
I think there’s an element of self awareness there, there’s no that often entrepreneurs kind of lack and I think we’re on the one hand, you know, sellers need to be able to look the truth of the numbers in the face. But looking at the truth of their own emotional state can be a bit challenging, because we kind of want to feel like we’re bulletproof and can do anything we want as entrepreneurs, the truth is, they’re like, see, when your own money as it is being held by Amazon, possibly 10s, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, understand the be your first reaction is going to be a mixture of panic and extreme anger probably, which is just called being human right. But as you said, if you’re a person that’s able to then back off that and, and be fairly objective about it, then you can handle it yourself. But some people aren’t very objective. And actually, that’s what makes them strong as entrepreneurs, but it can be a weakness in a situation like this, right. So if you had expansive sellers, who got themselves into hot water through taking sort of headstrong action about this,

Joshua Price 25:31
oh, completely, it happens all the time. And people were, you know, people were so passionately involved. And they should be, you know, you can only want a good business, if you really care about it. But these things do become our babies. And so when something bad happens, or accused of something that didn’t happen, especially when the system feels like it’s against us, and we feel a bit oppressed by it, or you’ve got the pressure of bills, you can’t pay because of your cash flow issues, or, you know, your your new cielo, and, you know, six months ago, you have no money, and now you’re making 10 grand a month, and Amazon suddenly hold the cash and you know, am I going to pay for my kids school fees, or pay my mortgage, or whatever it is, you know, there’s there’s nothing quite like that pressure, especially when it came from nowhere. And you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong. So I hear this all the time, you know, it’s a regular thing. And it’s really quite unpleasant to deal with yourself, if you’re going to face that and not have anyone supporting you, who understands business is pretty lonely. So, you know, it’s, if this is gonna imagine this is going to go on for a few weeks, actually, can you just even handle that pressure? If you know, affects everything, including sort of mental health if you’re dealing with these type of suspension? So part I’m the I’m, you know, solving the policy issues and writing pills. And in a way, I’m sort of counseling people through the, through the process at the same time, I suppose. Yeah.

Michael Veazey 26:41
Yeah. I mean, you you want to feel that someone’s fighting in your corner and understand your situation and that kind of thing. So absolutely. I mean, I guess you’re not in the role of a counselor, but there is something of having somebody to share the burden. But also, I think there is a point where I realized a while ago that I just stopped phoning amazon seller support, because they made me so angry or wrong, I chose to get angry in response to their rather poor level of training, understanding of English. And you know, in my experience, understanding what the hell I was talking about. Now, I probably talk fast, I use long words. I mean, that’s probably my bad for not communicating clearer. But, you know, in the end, I made this movie like policy decision for me personally, that I was not going to phone Seller Central ever, I would send them emails or messages. And then if they wrote back something stupid, it was less kind of infuriating than having a conversation with somebody where I’d asked them a direct question, they just read what was in front of them on a screen on the script. And it had nothing to do with that I’d ask because I personally just find a lack of communication verbally. Just really kind of offensive. I don’t know why that is. Because I’m a very verbal person, like, you know, it’s why I’m interviewing people for a job in in the Amazon, podcast space anyway. So yeah, you got to know yourself, right. And I just think sometimes having some buffer between you and that sort of front line can be really psychologically important. And I think also, if you have other things that you should be focusing on to deal with a problem like juggling cats, talking to your suppliers, dealing with your family, if you’re having to tighten belts for a few months, or, you know, calming down business partners or investors, you know, I think there’s plenty that you should be doing. And maybe it’s better off, giving somebody who’s an expert, because I’ve seen it 100 times before, as you said, the chance to do their job, I’m lucky enough that haven’t been suspended.

Joshua Price 28:20
Yeah, and I don’t think the size saves you either. Even if you’ve got a lot of money in the bank, you know, your future suddenly becomes jeopardized. In a way, if you’re a smaller seller, and you maybe even haven’t taken the jump to be full time and you’ve got another job on the side, to lose out on something like this isn’t that significant of a thing, actually, your lifestyle can remain the same, you might go back to full time work, you might go get a different job, maybe a new Amazon experience will help you get hired by someone else was actually if if you’re taking home high six figures, millions of pounds a year, you know, you’re going to probably build a lifestyle that’s going to look like that. And so when suddenly that stops, it’s a pretty scary moment to realize what am I going to do? But how am I going to maintain all this? What am I going to do in the future? And the benefit of once you have money, it’s easy to make money, and you’ve probably got a bunch of connections now, actually, it’s a pretty weird space to suddenly essentially have closed and ended your business when you didn’t plan on doing it.

Michael Veazey 29:22
Yeah. And syncing Yeah. So really, it’s it comes down to the more you got to risk in a way the stronger business person you are, but then the harder it is going to be to handle the pressure of the suspension. So again, you know, if you’ve got a serious business, I mean, I don’t know what your exact charges are. But I mean, if it’s going to be, you know, a modest amount of money to hire an expert, he can increase the probability of this working and equally buffer you from, you know, losing your stuff and admitting to things you haven’t done or just completely losing it with Amazon reps, who are badly paid people with a lot of power of your account. At that point, I think it’s going to be totally worth it. I mean, I’m quite biased in the sense that I’m interviewing is basically, I’m lucky enough, I haven’t experienced against suspension. If it ever did happen, I’d be you know, on the phone to straight away because I know that I would just get emotional about it, because I’m just about smart enough to know where I’m dumb. And that’s one of the places I know that I would probably get emotional about it. Although I would, you know, try to stay objective, I think it’s a bit unrealistic to expect that of yourself. So speaking of which, we’ll just talk a little bit about how your service works. Because obviously, we you’ve given us a lot of very useful information that will help people prevent themselves from getting suspended and understand it, which is very useful. And of course, it’s something that anyone can deal with themselves if they feel confident. But if they did want to work with you tell us a little bit more about how your how you work with people.

Joshua Price 30:41
Yeah, so like I said, I’ve been doing this for for nearly five years. And I was pretty early in the space and the traditional way of building and working with clients was you’d wait till you have an issue. And then I charge you somewhere from a couple of hundred pounds to maybe a few thousand, if for some people to visit the issue and you pay me doesn’t matter what happens after that, on keeping that cash, and, you know, you’d be helped, as well as possible. And this is, you know, been what’s what it was for a while. And actually it worked quite well, because it it weeded out people who weren’t taking selling seriously. And it meant that, you know, my customers will be very committed to my work and helping resolve issues. But more recently, the space that I’m in the industry, I’m in where people write letters for money, become quite messy, and a lot of people are trying to get into it. Because like I said, you can make a decent amount of cash flow, just writing some letters, it doesn’t matter if it works or not. And so off the back of that I’ve seen this problem of people who have written seven appeals for their own account signing, they’re going to start this company, and it just, you know, not helping sellers. And, you know, when, you know, it’s poignant to come off the back of talking about the emotional side of it, because there is an emotional side of it. And actually, for me to operate a business where I took people’s money while they’re down and didn’t help them would be a really difficult and on mobile thing for me to do. And so I’ve moved to this subscription model, because I think it’s better for sellers, and it’s smart business for me as well. So whether you’re suspended right now or not, you can come and pay, it’s about to be $20 a month, per account. And you get unlimited suspension support, unlimited block product support, you get access to me to ask me questions, if you’re going to launch a new product, or move into some new business line to make sure you’re compliant with policy. And what that does is it totally strips out any risk of me lying to you selling to you and providing a bad service, because there’s no hiding, that makes sense when you get suspended. It is what it is, we’ve already got this going on. I know your account, I know your business. And I’m incentivized to provide you the best service possible, because then you’ll stay subscribed. And if you were to be suspended, and you aren’t a subscriber of mine, again, you can come along, I’ve got a calculator to work out if you’re eligible for and you can, you can join the subscription for you know, as such a fraction of the price compared to going and paying a full fee somewhere else. And that allows you to get an honest upfront service and get the best thing that can be done without any of this sort of pretending and hiding.

Michael Veazey 33:12
That does sound like good value. When if you look at this thing, from a very objective point of view, and nobody wants to think about the downsides of any business. And because there is so much invested and you don’t want to think about your family’s income being suspended suddenly, but the fact is, as you say that the chances of getting suspended at some point are pretty high. But that doesn’t have to be a disaster if you have a plan and you have a person or a you know a person and or a plan in place, ready to deal with it. So for me that that comes down to you know, $20 or whatever, it’s 15 pounds, I guess, isn’t it? So what does that equate to about 150 pounds a year or something like that, just for sort of peace of mind, I think the chances that you’re going to use it within a three year period, if you’re a serious Elora, probably slightly, quite high compared to what you’d want. Right? We talked about that. At the beginning. We don’t have accurate stats about suspending like everything else in the Amazon space because they don’t communicate. But I know anecdotally out of say 30 serious sellers, I know about three who’ve had accounts expenses within the last two years. So that’s why that 10% very roughly. So if that’s so 10% chance to get suspended once every three years, you can do the math, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than paying people we won’t name $5,000 for a template letter, it’s just strike me as outrageous. I mean, there are some people out there that do offer just outrageous things and occasionally get in touch. And as you said, there is a bit of a moral question. How would I feel about handing somebody over? And when I when I’m going to do affiliate deals with some who’s going to be in it? I guess the podcast always asked the question, how would I feel about having my best mates, you know, best clients in the mastermind who become pretty good friends in some cases, and have been very helpful to me. And I’ve tried to help them as well outside the mastermind, how would I feel about handing them over? And and some cases like if they’re going to get charged $5,000? For a template, few emails? I’m like, I don’t think I could do that to them. They’re not gonna let me in face again. So that is a moral question, as you say so. So tell us a little bit more. So you if you’ve got this clever calculator on your site, haven’t you tell us a bit more about that? Because I noticed that the other day is having to play with that suspension calculator, but the strangest calculator ever?

Joshua Price 35:16
Yes, it’s the people who are suspended, whether you’ve got, you know, just got an account suspension, or you’ve had some historic count. For everyone, it seems to be Amazon, Spain, because that just Hey, everyone. If you want to work out, basically, what’s the chance that I can get my account reinstated? With my help. And so using all the data from all the different suspensions that I’ve dealt with, I have kept records, I’ve got huge amount of information about the people I’ve worked with, and the outcomes of their cases, as well as doing some other independent research so that I could put together essentially a formula, you want to these questions, it assigns each answer some different value, and then it does some math to work out what the percentage chance you can get reinstated. So rather than, you know, it’s the questions people always asked me when they get in touch is how long is it going to take? What’s your success rate? And how much it cost? Well, the success rate is such a such a weird thing, right? Like, your case is different, every single situation is different. And so it’s never going to be representative of my average for your situation. But also, like a lot of people say, oh, our success rate is 97% or 99%. Well, the either they’re lying, or they’re turning away, all the people who they aren’t dead, certain they can get reinstated. And I never tell anyone that there’s a 99% or 100% success rate, because that just isn’t a thing. I’m never going to guarantee that I can do something I’ve seen people who I was 100% certain would get reinstated internally, although wouldn’t have told them. And it went completely wrong. And it turns out that there’s some back end thing that Amazon knew about, and they’ve done this, and that, you know, four years ago, so you can never be certain. And the hope with this calculator is to give people the reality you have a situation, tell them an actual percentage, it doesn’t shy away from the truth at all. So they can make a decision, right? If it’s, if it comes back, and you’ve got 12% chance, probably time to go get a job. Right? Yeah, if it comes back, and it’s, it’s, you know, 85%, then sign up for the subscription. And you’ll be back on the following week, most likely, and you can crack on with selling. And so I’d rather people were informed, and sort of set the expectation as well, because it’s not very nice for me when people think it’s going to work first time after, you know, one hour of sending a letter and it doesn’t, you know, I don’t want disappointed customers, I want to know the reality of the situation that we’re dealing with.

Michael Veazey 37:34
Okay, that’s very interesting. And so you’re basically rather than sort of cherry picking people and not telling anybody about it, and then claiming crazy success success rate, because you only pick the people almost guaranteed to get reinstated. You’re kind of sharing that evaluation with the clients and your world via your your your sort of approximate valuation via the quick suspension calculation thing, and I’ve just you used it myself is pretty quick to go through. So that’s pretty easy.

Joshua Price 38:04
And you can just pop through naturally. So you’ve got you’ve got 83% as a result, yeah.

Michael Veazey 38:11
Okay, well, that sensing because I was just going to I was working with a client on their account management. And it was really bad because I was working with a client, and then he got their account suspended. To be fair, they just had hideous amounts of defect rates. And when they told me after a while that there’s one one major learning if you’re going to run accounts with somebody is to make sure that they’re honest with you up front about the different rate because it was it was really hideously high. And I thought, If I’d known this time, I would have said to you do not go on Amazon, and TD of sorts of your product issues out because you’re going to get candy. And sure enough, defect rate was just crazy high. And eventually I said to him, Look, we should pull these products. So you’re going to get your account suspended. And then they suspended the listings, I think and then they just suspended a couple of accounts, which I’d already flagged that was going to happen because it didn’t take a rocket scientist I’m going to do every was crazy. So yeah, but on the other hand, I think it was a first defense. It was a shortish account so that, you know, it wasn’t something that I thought was going to be a problem to get reinstated. So that wasn’t a big, big, you know, sweaty moment. But I see. And I think they suspended the listing sorry, not the account, if I think back was quite a while ago now at least two years ago. But the point is that he was cruising for a bruising. So it was one of those things where it would have been a no brainer to say, look, it’s obvious what the problem is. And it’s obvious what you can do about, you know, getting it back on track. So we had had an actual account suspension, rather than listing suspension, I would have said, Okay, go sorts, Joshua, because you’ll sort you out. But the fact is, a lot of the time is kind of obvious, right? It’s just when we don’t even know what we don’t know that we’re really in trouble. Right. As you said, I think the last thing I’m sort of trying to wrap up on because we’re going to have to head off and talk to a client talking, which is that it’s just, as you just said in you pointed this really to a few very, very essential pages is knowing the policies of the platform you’re on and being professional. But there any other sort of Final Thoughts you’ve got around? Well, before we do that, two things, we’re going to ask your final thoughts, final bits of advice to prevent suspension. But for those who do need help, how do people get in touch with you? I should ask that basic question first.

Joshua Price 40:13
Yeah, well, please go to my website, suspension experts. com or send me an email Joshua at suspension experts. com. Happy to hear from people. And I suppose, Walden, this isn’t what the calculator was intended for. If you suspect you’re about to be suspended, or you think you’re doing something, you know, that we need to we’ve brought up during this conversation that you think are no, am I going to get suspended for that isn’t likely,

actually maybe,

maybe log onto our website, use this calculator to find out if I was to be suspended for this? You know, what are the chances? how risky is this? You know, that may work well, in your favor, I’m sorry, you’ll end up in a marketing campaign.

Feel free to quit.

I just want to people to not be suspended. To be honest, I just be a full film consultant for other things if people weren’t getting suspended. But however much I try and stop doing this type of work, it seems to be that people seek me out. And so you know, if you think there’s something useful with having this conversation, then please get in touch. Talk to me happy to answer any questions and give consultations and things.

Michael Veazey 41:13
Thanks, Jesse. That’s great. And it’s very good to get a bit of clear minded guidance as somebody who’s been the market for a long time. And as you said, I really liked your your subscription model is basically like health insurance, right. And it is basically, health insurance for your products for your business, rather your product based business, that most of us don’t want to ever have to go to hospital, we don’t ever want to have an account suspension. We don’t want to be in car accident, but you just kind of pay your insurance policy, and then get on with your life. But you have that reassurance, knowing that if something bad does happen, that you’ve got yourself covered. And I think that’s a very, very smart and very honest way of doing it because you’re not incentivized to actually want to work with anyone who doesn’t need it. And it just a very smart way of doing things. So a great model. Thank you very much for setting that up. Because I think it’s an area which needed some cleaning up as as an you have services to Amazon sellers. And thanks very much for sharing your wisdom with us as well. Pleasure pleasure. Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai