Amazon Seller Horror Story: The Phantom Related Account
Crippling dread. Fear gripped our client Innocent Company when they received the infamous email from Amazon.
Your Amazon.com Seller account has been deactivated in accordance with section 3 of Amazon’s Business Solutions Agreement. Your listings have been disabled. Funds will not be transferred to you but will be held in your account while we work with you to address this issue. This may take up to 90 days, but funds may be held longer. Please ship any open orders to avoid further impact to your account.
Why is this happening?
You have a separate account [Phantom Company] which was enforced for violating one of our policies. As a result, you may no longer use the [Innocent Company] Selling account to sell on Amazon.com.
Each year thousands of Amazon Sellers receive performance notices like the one quoted above due to false positive connections detected by Amazon’s algorithm. Unfortunately, when you are flagged for this reason, Amazon does not provide you with information on why or how they determined that your account is related to a suspended account.
To make matters worse, even when you do not recognize the seller account allegedly linked to your account, Amazon expects you to explain this “phantom relationship”. In other words, Amazon wants you to explain why their algorithm detected an apparent relationship between you and the alleged related account. If your explanation does not match their records, your account will not be reinstated.
Finding the Haunting Phantom
In this case, Innocent Company had never opened, operated, or maintained another selling account. Moreover, they did not know Phantom Company nor its owners so you can imagine how scary and frustrating this situation was for them.
Prior to engaging our firm, Innocent Company submitted multiple appeals to Amazon explaining how they do not recognize Phantom Company and why they believe their account deactivation is an error. However, all their appeals were consistently rejected.
Fortunately, Innocent Company stumbled upon one of our blog posts and decided to schedule a free consultation with us. Upon realizing that we were a good fit for their case, they hired us to reinstate their seller account.
After engaging us Innocent Company was still understandably anxious, but we were able to immediately determine how Amazon connected them with Phantom Company. Our investigation revealed that Innocent Company contracted the services of a third-party company which we will call Haunted Manor Automation.
Haunted Manor Automation provided “100% done for you Amazon services” to their clients. In order to perform such services, Haunted Manor Automation needed admin-level permissions to Seller Central and their contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and warehouse addresses were registered on Innocent Company’s seller account. With that said, it can also be reasonably presumed then that the same would be true for all their other clients. Therefore, Haunted Manor Automation’s clients effectively shared common account indicators in Seller Central on account of contracting their services. Of course, Amazon’s algorithm detected these connections and when one of Haunted Manor Automation’s clients gets suspended for violating Amazon’s policies, their other clients are suspended or at risk of getting suspended due to this “phantom relationship”.
With this information, we reached out Amazon’s Legal Department and provided them with documents to prove that the alleged connection was caused by a third-party service provider and not any real or substantial relationship. Further, we explained why we believed Innocent Company did not violate Amazon’s policies and demanded that Amazon reinstate their selling privileges immediately.
The relevant policy in this case is found in Amazon’s Selling Policies and Seller Code of Conduct which provides:
You may only maintain one Seller Central account for each region in which you sell unless you have a legitimate business need to open a second account and all of your accounts are in good standing. If any of your accounts are not in good standing, we may deactivate all of your selling accounts until all accounts are in good standing.
Reviewing the facts closely, the owners of Innocent Company do not own or operate Phantom Company. Therefore, the enforcement against Innocent Company is clearly a mistake.
Within two weeks, Amazon reactivated Innocent Company’s seller account and released all sales proceeds withheld while their account was suspended.
Speak With An Amazon Seller Attorney at ESQgo®
Like Innocent Company, if this happens to you, seek professional legal assistance immediately. These cases can be very difficult and by no means do we recommend handling them without help. Learn how an Amazon Seller Attorney at ESQgo® can help get your selling privileges back. Contact us today by calling 866-254-6503 or via our contact page. We offer a free initial 30-minute consultation.