The Amazon FBA program is an excellent starting point for people new to the private label selling niche. Sure, Amazon grabs a percentage of each sale, though the benefits far outweigh the fees.
What are the important takeaways of Amazon’s seller terms? Let’s review four legal tips for FBA sellers — specifically focusing on accounts.
Legal Tips For FBA Sellers #1: Don’t Manipulate Reviews
“We have a zero tolerance policy for any review designed to mislead or manipulate customers.” ~Amazon.com Terms of Service Agreement
Why the hard line when it comes to review integrity?
User feedback is essential to Amazon’s marketing magic; reviews meaningfully engage consumers and serve as sales copy. In fact, Amazon is so concerned with review reliability that its algorithm doesn’t allow for multiple product reviews, from the same household, on any ASIN. That’s right, if your spouse loves the couch-2-fridge 3000 and you hate it, only one review can be posted from the home IP. Moreover, (and allegedly), some people purport that an Amazon algorithm can pinpoint parties tied to a particular seller or brand.
Amazon is so concerned with review reliability that its algorithm doesn’t allow for multiple product reviews, from the same household, on any ASIN.
The Big List of Amazon Review Dos and Don’ts
- Amazon doesn’t like it when people pay for praising product reviews. The company even has a history of suing fake review services and individual reviewers;
- Don’t buy fake reviews that trash competitors’ products;
- Do have reviewers disclose if they received free products in exchange for a fair review (we can draft an adequate disclosure for you);
- Do encourage buyers to leave reviews, but don’t direct them off Amazon.com.
Friend & Family Reviews
Does that mean friends and family, who genuinely like your product, can’t leave an honest review? Of course not. They can share opinions – good and bad. Technically, yes, the ultra-cautious could tell friends and family to disclose their relationships in reviews. But really, it’s unreasonable to disallow people from posting; after all, they have free speech rights, too. In fact, many peoples’ first reviews are solicited from people they know.
Just don’t pay people to write fake, glowing reviews — it could get you kicked off the site.
Legal Tips For FBA Sellers #2: Whiners Don’t Live Long and Prosper
The FBA space is growing by digital leaps and branding bounds; so is the number of complaints fielded by Amazon’s seller performance department. With that in mind, consider presenting questions and concerns in a concise, easily digestible way . And above all, provide evidence; doing so makes Amazon’s job easier — and may speed your case in the long run.
Don’t drone on — and on — about a personal beef or how something or someone is unfair. Instead, clearly delineate your issue and explain how it breaks Amazon’s rules. The less emotional your appeal, the better; stick to a “just the facts ma’am” approach.
Legal Tips For FBA Sellers #3: Don’t Bribe Customers For Good Reviews
Is it OK to offer deep discounts in exchange for reviews? In the past, yes. Now, no.
Updated in 2016, Amazon’s TOS says that account holders can’t offer free products or discounts in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. Full stop.
Legal Tips For FBA Sellers #4: Amazon Holds A Lot Of The Cards
Here’s a simple but essential reminder: clicking the “I agree” box, is the equivalent to signing a contract that says, “Yes! I agree to play by Amazon’s rules.”. So, if Amazon makes a decision related to your account, like not choosing to use all the supplied keywords, don’t complain to Amazon that it’s being “unfair” or “impinging on your rights.” You agreed.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t work with the company to resolve issues, but don’t go into negotiations with guns a-blaze.
What’s Your Plan If Amazon Suspends Your Account? Work With An FBA Fixer.
The best way to avoid account suspension is compliance – compliance with both FTC and FDA guidelines, in addition to Amazon’s rules. Are you 100% positive your operation is on the up-and-up, regulations-wise?
Who are “we”? Kelly / Warner Law. Our mission is simple: affordably support online entrepreneurs using legal, technological, and marketing tools.
We help private label online sellers and marketers:
- Navigate the account suspension process;
- Shake off hijackers and counterfeiters;
- E-commerce business formation;
- Review your account for compliance with Amazon’s rules;
- FTC / FDA / FCC / Shipping compliance;
If something goes awry with your Amazon account, you don’t have to go it alone. Protect your investment and work with one of our FBA fixers. Guidance from an ecommerce attorney probably costs less than you imagine – and it may ultimately put more money in your wallet.