Amazon has received plenty of criticism for not protecting its sellers. However, it probably doesn’t deserve that reputation. Many who say Amazon seller protection doesn’t exist just don’t understand how the rules work, as seen in forum threads like this.
So does Amazon actually do anything to protect its sellers? Let’s take a look:
Last updated 8/10/2018.
They Offer a Chance to Make Things Right
As we discussed in "How to Get a Great Amazon Seller Rating," nothing is worse than having a customer file an A-to-z Guarantee claim. Preventing these claims is even more important than getting good feedback.
Luckily, Amazon seller protection gives you a chance to make things right before your customers can file a claim. Customers are instructed to first contact you and give you at least two business days to reply. (However, they can sometimes bypass this requirement, especially if they never received their order.)
That means you usually have a chance to turn things around—but only if you’re religious about checking your support requests. We strongly recommend integrating Amazon with a helpdesk to more quickly see and answer buyers' messages.
They Have Requirements for Claims
If they didn't have requirements, we'd all be buried in paperwork.
A customer cannot file an A-to-z claim unless you really screw up. While a few abusive buyers will probably trick their way through on occasion, Amazon’s claim conditions prevent most people from unjustly hurting your seller metrics. For example:
You, the Manufacturer, or the Courier Must Screw Up
In addition to the above, the customer needs a good reason to file a claim. For merchants selling in the U.S., that reason can be any one of these five:
- You misrepresented the item, sent the wrong thing, or the item arrived damaged or broken.
- You didn’t deliver the product, or delivered it very late.
- You promised the customer a refund or replacement and then didn’t give them the amount/item promised.
- You charged the customer more than they were supposed to pay (even if it's for something like covering customs duties).
- You shipped from outside the U.S. and don't do any of the following for a U.S. return: provide a U.S. return address, pay for return shipping, or offer a refund and allow the buyer to keep the item.
These limitations on what qualifies customers for the A-to-z Guarantee help prevent the Amazon version of frivolous lawsuits. While they can always post negative feedback, that causes negligible damage compared to an A-to-z claim.
You Can Get Inappropriate Feedback Removed
Amazon will remove inappropriate or abusive feedback on request if any of the following happens:
- The customer uses inappropriate language.
- The comment includes some of your personally identifiable information.
- The customer doesn't know the difference between Amazon feedback and product reviews, and uses feedback strictly for a product review.
Both the star rating and the comment will be removed in these instances.
You Can Protect Yourself with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Selling with FBA is the best way to protect yourself. With Amazon fulfilling your sales for you and taking care of the shipping and handling, you only have to worry about two things:
- Creating honest and accurate listings, and
- Getting your products to a distribution center in one piece.
After that, the rest is up to Amazon.
Of course, those simplifications do come at a cost. See "Is Amazon FBA Worth It?" for our analysis.
FBA Protection from Negative Reviews
Amazon is willing to take the blame if you get a poor seller rating because they screwed up. Just let them know if you get bad feedback over an order Amazon was responsible for fulfilling. The review will be “struck through,” Amazon will add a note admitting they were responsible, and your seller rating will be unaffected.
FBA Protection from Losses and Damage
Every once in a while, Amazon or its couriers may lose or damage one of your products. You are protected if this happens. Amazon will either give you what it determines to be a fair reimbursement or replace the item for you.
Note that uncommon or extremely expensive items may not be completely covered. Consider getting insurance on such items before selling them through FBA.
While Amazon seller protection might not stack up to what eBay offers, it’s quite reasonable, particularly if you use FBA. Pay close attention to the rules and appeal to Amazon when they should protect you, and you should have little trouble keeping your online business afloat.