Several Amazon sellers said foreign rivals are trying to intimidate them, and two sellers have even reported receiving death threats.
Why? According to the sellers, the threats come from merchants who are trying to stop them from selling the same item.
Amazon represents significant revenue for many merchants. Nevertheless, it's shocking to hear accounts of such behavior, and some sellers said they were disappointed by Amazon's response to their reports, though others said Amazon took action.
In a recent discussion board thread, sellers described how rivals followed up on their threats by sabotaging their business. They do this by using accounts under their control to buy items from the targeted sellers and then leave them negative feedback and file A to Z complaints against them. Amazon takes swift action against sellers with negative metrics, which benefits remaining merchants.
One seller posted an example of the message they received from a rival merchant:
"Hello! ASIN: (redacted), found you r selling products through our listing. The sellers who sell through our listings, firstly we will send warnings; if it doesn't work, then we will place orders, make A-to-Z and return, or just make a complaint that you are selling fake products. We believe you have a clear idea about what will amazon do for u after that. We also insist creating our own listing and close those created by others. Please close or delete your listing (ASIN: (redacted)), Thank u!"
Another seller said Amazon had done nothing to help him 2 weeks after a recent incident in which a merchant, whom he named, threatened to use its 30 other accounts to make purchases from his store in order to open A to Z claims and "destroy" his store. He said such threats from rivals have been going on for the 2 years he's been a seller on Amazon.
Another seller said when they reported a similar case of intimidation, Amazon helped them and "was never bothered again."
We asked Amazon what sellers could do if they received threats and what actions Amazon takes, if any, when it receives such reports. It pulled the discussion thread and provided EcommerceBytes with the following statement:
"Amazon does not tolerate abusive behavior. If a seller suspects bad actors are violating our policies, we encourage them to contact us directly so we can investigate and take appropriate action."
Here's one example of a post from a seller who described their experience:
"I had a Chinese seller threaten me over an unwanted gift I was selling as used (actually still am, it hasn't sold yet). It is their brand and bought from them on Amazon by my grandmother who thought I would like it (at that point it was a new product and did not yet have the many negative reviews it does now).
"I decided to sell as "used-like new" rather than tell my grandmother it seems to be a piece of junk based on most of the reviews.
"After their threats to order and leave negative feedback and vague threats of violence didn't work, he sent a message saying "You think because I am in China that I can't hurt you? I have friends who will gladly slit your throat".
"He is still selling on Amazon, despite me reporting the threats. I am not sure if the buyer account he uses to send the threats is not connected to his seller account or if Amazon simply doesn't care if he threatens other sellers. Even if the buyer account is not connected, he identified himself in the messages."
Another seller said she received no resolution when she opened a support case last year complete with screenshots showing death threats sent to her by the seller through the Amazon messaging system, but when she posted about it in the UK seller forum, the threatening rival merchant was banned 3 days later. "It was a big seller and he's still suspended. He even sent me a screenshot of the suspension message, which he got and started spamming my e-mail with angry insults, but he's gone from Amazon."
How common is intimidation from rival sellers? And for those who have experienced it, how do marketplaces handle such reports?