AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Sun Mar 10 2019 20:08:26

Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

Amazon's robust product catalog and customer product reviews were major factors in its meteoric rise, but both systems remain under attack by sellers trying to game the system. There have been many articles about the vulnerability of Amazon product reviews to manipulation by unscrupulous actors trying to get a competitive edge, but less attention is being paid to the problem of hijacked ASINs that impact the quality of the catalog.

ASINs are Amazon's version of UPC codes and ISBNs that identify products. A new ASIN is created when an item is uploaded to Amazon's catalog. An existing ASIN can be modified by the brand/seller, but should never be changed to represent a different product.

Sellers have complained about hijacked products pages for a long time, and a recent discussion on the Amazon boards shows the problem remains a serious challenge to sellers.

The original poster (OP) titled the thread, "Unscrupulous sellers hijacking old listings and changing the listing to their brand." The seller explained they had listed a generic USB cable for sale in 2013, but that recently, a brand was able to successfully alter the listing with its own brand name, and then file infringement complaints against all of the offers by other sellers - including the OP who had created the ASIN as a generic.

According to sellers posting on the thread, the problem is not limited to generic items or old ASINs. And in some cases, sellers say hijackers change a listing to make it become a completely unrelated item, and as a result, product reviews no longer match the product described.

Not only does such behavior threaten the integrity of Amazon's product catalog, but as the OP described, hijackers can turn around and file Intellectual Property infringement complaints against legitimate sellers. One seller even said a hijacker changed their old ASIN for a sold-out product to a product that was restricted by the FDA, and as a result, Amazon issued them a violation for having such a product in their inventory.

The challenge for sellers doesn't necessarily end there - last year, we wrote about complaints that some sellers were using intimidation to protect ASINs. (Amazon told EcommerceBytes at the time that it does not tolerate abusive behavior.)

This post from 2015 serves as a reminder that hijacked ASINs is not a new problem. But since there are only anecdotal reports from sellers, it's difficult to know the scale of the problem and if it's getting better or worse over time.

But since a search for "amazon hijacked asins" on Google shows ads for services to "stop listing hijack" and "remove hijackers from listings," we suspect it remains a significant problem for Amazon and its sellers.

Comments (6) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?   Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?

by: Joschik This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Mar 11 00:20:24 2019

I read this with interest (we are creating hobbyDB, a database-driven marketplace for collectibles and licensed products). How do the offender benefit from changing these ASIN numbers?

Perminate Link for Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?   Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 02:12:04 2019

Reprint publishers have already hijacked most of the catalog listings for old first editions.

Perminate Link for Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?   Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?

by: G-and-A This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 10:47:03 2019

"Reprint publishers have already hijacked most of the catalog listings for old first editions."
True.  Switched to Biblio.com long ago.

Perminate Link for Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?   Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 12:00:13 2019

You would think a gabillion dollar company could solve a few problems, but they truly cannot. No matter how hard they try, their system is easy to manipulate and their marketplace is ripe with fakes and knockoffs.

Perminate Link for Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?   Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 13:28:38 2019

The problem is widespread in my experience. The tools and resources Amazon provides sellers to correct, or report these problems are cumbersome and ineffective in many cases. Resolution of problems are very slow to never happens.  

Perminate Link for Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?   Can Amazon Catalog Withstand ASIN Hijackers?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Mar 11 22:58:14 2019

What I see happening is for those that can't change the ASIN, they buy or make up new UPC numbers to list under and before you know it there is anywhere from 2-7+  for an identical item. I think they figure if they have their own listing the buyers will find them only and but from them, many times at horribly inflated prices, such as the real listing with the real ASIN is selling for between $5-$15, these jokers come in with a listing for $50+ for the item and if that is the only one they can find and they really want it is to go ahead and pay $50.

The only way to deal with these is for already busy sellers, to ask Amazon to merge all the listings and do so you need to track down the ASIN for each listing, etc. so you can give the rep all the information and then usually it has to go to the 'concerned' team to decide if they can fix it. It takes time to do this and for many of my listings that need it done, it can take anywhere from 20 to 30+ minutes for each listing when you are talking about merging up to 7 or more listings. It is ridiculous, especially when so many times when you try to fix something and they want us to procure a letter from the manufacturer, etc. to prove that two things really are the same two things. Frustrating and a waste of time.

Amazon should be able to fix these things themselves or hire the people to do so if they want a catalog that is workable.



Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.