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:
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. They aren’t eligible for A-to-z until at least three days after the maximum estimated delivery date or 30 days after the order, whichever comes first.
How does this help?
- It gives you a chance to resend an item if you sent the wrong one or otherwise messed up.
- It allows some extra time for the item to get there if the courier falls behind schedule.
- Most importantly, it lets you offer a refund before the customer can file a claim.
In short, having this window of protection lets you win back an unhappy customer’s trust before it’s too late.
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 score. For example:
The Customer Must Contact You
A customer must first contact you and give you at least two business days to reply. That means you have another 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 make it easier to quickly see and answer buyers' messages.
You, the Manufacturer, or the Courier Must Screw up
In addition to the above, the customer needs a good reason to file a claim. It can be any one of these three:
- You misrepresented the item or it arrived damaged or broken.
- You didn’t deliver the product, or delivered it very late.
- You promised the customer a refund and then didn’t give it to them.
Other conditions may apply for service providers or international sellers, but these three cover most situations.
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 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.
Protection from Negative Reviews
Amazon will take the blame if you get a negative review because they screwed up. The review will be “struck through,” Amazon will add a note saying that they were to blame, and your seller rating will be unaffected.
If they don’t do this automatically, you can request that they review negative feedback that you’ve received.
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. (You can learn more about whether FBA is right for you in "How to Sell on Amazon for Beginners.") 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.