You’ve just seen an email with a line that made your blood run cold: “A reserve has been applied to your Amazon seller account.” What does that mean? Why did Amazon do it to you? How are you going to deal with it?
Take a deep breath. An Amazon reserve is far from the end of the world. As long as you play your cards right, it will only be a temporary problem.
What Does “A Reserve Has Been Applied to Your Amazon Seller Account” Mean?
When Amazon places a reserve on your seller account, it creates an unavailable balance. This is an amount you’ve earned but aren’t allowed to withdraw from Amazon just yet.
Will I Ever Get My Unavailable Balance?
Amazon will pay you eventually—as long as they don’t need your unavailable balance to cover an expense related to your sales. For example, they may use it to cover returns, chargebacks or A-to-z Guarantee claims.
Amazon will explain how long the reserve lasts in their email to you. For example, your funds may be unavailable until seven days after delivery for a 90-day period.
In that case, if you made a sale during those 90 days, the amount the customer paid you would appear as an unavailable balance until one week after the estimated delivery date. If the customer filed a chargeback against you during that week, Amazon would use your reserve to help cover the cost.
If the funds aren’t used to cover anything, then Amazon will pay them out according to your normal settlement schedule once the reserve period is over. That often means up to 14 days after the reserve period ends.
Why Was a Reserve Placed on My Account?
There are a number of reasons why Amazon might apply a reserve to your account. Here are some of the most common:
Customer Satisfaction Problems
A-to-z Guarantee claims and chargebacks will rapidly turn Amazon against you. Both of these claim types are expensive for them to process. Not only do they cost you and Amazon financially, they wreak havoc on your Amazon seller rating.
So, how do they happen, and how can you prevent them?
A-to-z claims are reserved for situations when the buyer and seller can’t come to an agreement on their own—or worse, when the seller doesn’t reply to the buyer. Take care to provide great customer service. If Amazon messages are getting out of control, you may want to integrate Amazon with a helpdesk to make customer service less labor-intensive.
Lack of Shipping Confirmation
Amazon requires you to confirm shipment of every order. If you don’t follow the required steps, Amazon will cancel the order and you won’t get paid (even if you shipped the item and just forgot to confirm). There are several varieties of seller software that automate this process to make it less of a hassle.
Payment Info Problems
Amazon will put a hold on your account if you’ve entered incorrect or incomplete banking details. In that case, just correct your banking info and they’ll lift the hold.
If you’ve changed your bank account, then Amazon may place a reserve or hold on your funds until a security period has passed.
Amazon will also place a reserve or hold on your account if there’s a problem with your credit card. Always make sure you provide accurate and up-to-date credit card information.
How Do I See the Reason for the Reserve Being Placed on My Account?
Log in to your Amazon seller account. Next, go to Reports –> Payments and find the unavailable balance amount. Click “View Reason” next to it.
Why Does Amazon Do This?
Amazon applies reserves to seller accounts when the seller puts them at risk of losing money. For example, if you’re triggering too many return requests, they have to consider the possibility that you’ll be unable or unwilling to pay for all of them. Reserves help cover their losses and let them catch scammers in the act.
What Should I Do Next?
Once you’ve found out why you’re dealing with a hold or reserve, do anything you can to correct it. This should be easy if it’s just something like incorrect credit card details.
If it’s a longer-term issue caused by things like customer service issues, tighten your belt. You could get your payments delayed by a week or more. You’ll get all the money you’ve earned eventually, so it’s nothing to worry about if you have savings, but you may need to borrow from friends and family to get by if you’ve been living check to check.
Don’t let this kind of thing happen to you again. Learn how to get a great Amazon seller rating and master the art of effective customer communication. Some customers are impossible to please, but if you focus on keeping everyone else happy, you should never end up with a reserve on your Amazon account again.