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Amazon Suspends Sellers over Missed Shipping Deadlines

After Amazon sellers struggled to understand why the marketplace suspended their accounts over shipping dates in this discussion board thread, a spokesperson provided EcommerceBytes with some clarification.

A reader pointed us to the thread on the Amazon boards and asked, “Have you heard of this discussion on the Amazon seller forum, involving sellers being suspended for printing shipping labels before the actual shipping date, even though they were using the Amazon postage system which allows the specification of a shipping date in the future?”

He said Amazon was suspending the sellers with no concrete information on the exact reason why. “This has led to endless speculation on the forum as to the exact “violation” that is causing the suspensions. There is general agreement that it’s only happening to sellers who are using the Amazon postage system, and in a way that the system allows, at that.”

A seller who started the thread said, “Got my selling privileges removed today. Reason stated is that “we are confirming orders prior to shipping any portion of the orders to the buyers.” Only thing is that isn’t true,” and went on to explain his circumstances in more detail.

Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh said the confusion stemmed from a misunderstanding of the “ship date” versus “expected ship date” fields. He said it sounded as if the sellers were looking at the drop down menu for “ship date” (the field where they state when they actually shipped) vs “Expected Ship Date” (the value that tells them when they need to ship to be on time).

If the Ship Date is later than the Expected Ship Date, the shipment is late, he explained. “In the Shipper Central UI there is a screen that shows you your orders and their Expected Ship Date. On the next screen there is a dropdown that allows you to select the day you shipped. It defaults to the earliest available shipment date. (Which will usually be today and count as “on-time”). I am inferring that the sellers on the forum believed that changing this value changes the Expected Ship Date. It does not.”

The Expect Ship Date is based on the Ship-Option the customer selects; the Ship-Option the seller is configured; and the order date.

Sellers who are set up to provide premium shipping have a 0-day handling time, which means they must ship orders the day they are received. “I can ship it tomorrow and tell the system that I did so (through the dropdown),” Fairleigh said. “However, that will count as a late shipment because I did not achieve the Expected Ship Date. Other options have 1-day+ handling times; eg for a 2/24 order the Expected Ship Date would be 2/25.”

We asked Fairleigh what sellers should do for orders that come in on a Saturday afternoon after the post office is closed, for example, and if the “Expect Ship Date” takes time of day and day of week into account.

He confirmed that “Expected Ship Date” on orders received on Saturdays and Sundays automatically display the following Monday.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.