Amazon sellers who were swept up in a crackdown on pesticides were given the all-clear by the company last week. Such crackdowns are always nerve-wracking, but sellers reported
the products that Amazon had identified as pesticides were so far off in some cases that it was nonsensical, such as the seller who received the notice for a used book they had sold last year that was, surprise, not a pesticide.
In its initial notification email, Amazon said, "Pesticides and pesticide devices include a broad set of products, and it can be hard to identify which products qualify and why." But sellers reported getting notices for items including speakers, antivirus software, and a pillow that clearly had nothing to do with pesticides.
We recently reported on a similar problem
in which sellers said Amazon was removing "innocent" ASINs because they were being inaccurately labeled "Rhino Male Enhancement Supplements." Are such incidents the result of programming glitches, mistakes on the part of certain sellers who mis-classify ASINs, or has Amazon set machine learning and Artificial Intelligence loose on its catalog with no human supervision?
Sellers began reporting on the pesticides crackdown on April 8th - the notification informed sellers:
"To continue your current offers on affected products after June 7, 2019, you will need to complete a brief online training and pass the associated test. You will not be able to create new offers on any affected products until you receive approval. You are required to take the training and pass the test only once, even if you have offers on multiple products. This training will help you understand your obligations under EPA regulations as a seller of pesticides and pesticide devices."
On April 10, an Amazon moderator posted an apology
for the "inconvenience or confusion" the email had caused:
"You may have recently received an email from us regarding new requirements to list pesticides and pesticide devices in our stores. Our new requirements do not apply to listings of media products such as books, videogames, DVDs, music, magazines, software, and videos. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion caused to you by our email. If you have any further questions, please contact Selling Partner Support."
There were multiple posts started by sellers concerned about the pesticide notification, and under one titled, "How Many Different Threads Do We Need on the Pesticide Email," one seller responded, "it's really starting to "bug" me." At least some sellers have a sense of humor.
: Amazon entered into a settlement agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency - according to a press release
issued by the EPA last year (excerpt follows):
"Under the terms of today’s agreement, Amazon will develop an online training course on pesticide regulations and policies that EPA believes will significantly reduce the number of illegal pesticides available through the online marketplace. The training will be available to the public and online marketers in English, Spanish and Chinese. Successful completion of the training will be mandatory for all entities planning to sell pesticides on Amazon.com.
"Amazon will also pay an administrative penalty of $1,215,700 as part of the consent agreement and final order entered into by Amazon and EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle, Washington."