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Sun Dec 6 2020 20:54:53

Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

By: Ina Steiner

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Many sellers voiced their dissatisfaction with Amazon's enforcement of pricing policies, including its Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy and the Featured Offer price. 

The topic arose in Amazon's November 27th post where the company stated, "When we identify these potential errors, we will notify you. In more serious cases, we might deactivate the affected listings to avoid a potentially negative customer experience."

It went on to say, "You can review your offers that have been deactivated because of potential pricing errors in Pricing Health. Reconsidering your price inputs in Pricing Health may resolve this pricing issue and reactivate your offer. We have also provided reference prices to help you identify any potential pricing errors."

But Amazon's pricing policy hampers repricing, a practice many sellers rely on to keep up with changing conditions on the marketplace, according to one seller.

Amazon automates the enforcement process, and some sellers said the "bots" were doing a poor job. "Amazon should only implement this kind of rule after explaining the criteria and being sure that their robots can do the job properly," wrote one.

One seller objected to having a bot determine a "fair price" and said they believed it would lead to unscrupulous actors figuring out how to weaponize the algorithm against competitors.

Prices were previously determined by supply and demand, one seller said - if a customer wants to get an item cheaper at Walmart, "then get your butt up and go to your local Walmart," they wrote.

One seller asked why they had been deactivated for having a too-high price when the featured offer was priced higher on an item that wouldn't ship for 1 to 2 months.

One seller said Amazon has deactivated their listings when their prices were *higher* than Amazon's ("when Amazon is selling the same item below my cost"), and other times when their prices were *lower* than Amazon's.

Many of those commenting appeared to be booksellers. "This should not apply to used books," wrote one such seller. "Each book is its own product - different conditions, different book. The market should decide the price not Amazon. If the seller has a higher price their book won't sell. The customer has a choice. This is good customer experience not bad. The customer can choose on other factors than price if they so choose."

You can read Amazon's full announcement and the ensuing discussion on Amazon.com Seller Central.



Comments (10) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Dec 7 02:13:38 2020

I personally don't think Amazon has any business doing this except when it is during a State of Emergencies on critical supplies / products.

Beyond that it seems like it is skirting the Price Fixing laws.  I've had them deactivate some of my listings before.  And I never got any emails telling me they deactivated them or why.  I just had to discover them for myself.

SURPRISE.  Most that got caught up in whatever they were doing I never could get fixed so they would activate again.  Even after weeks of trying to work with their service department.

Then in the past handful of months, they started changing the titles on some of my listings to a title that is completely meaningless and doesn't tell you what the product is.  I've sent in complaints about this and reported the listings time and time again.  I hear nothing from Amazon and they haven't fixed them either.  In fact they did a few more in just the past month.  

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 7 03:11:32 2020

One seller objected to having a bot determine a "fair price" and said they believed it would lead to unscrupulous actors figuring out how to weaponize the algorithm against competitors.
^^
AMZ has gotten ridiculous.  The bots are going nuts.  I've sent so many problems to Seller Support that I finally stopped and moved the item over to another platform where it sells almost immediately.  Seller Support is useless.
As for the "price alerts" and accused "price gouging" (Ebay started this nonsense too), the buyer should determine what they want to pay, not AMZ bots.  If the buyer thinks that prices on AMZ are too High (and they are, I've compared cross platforms) the buyer will go elsewhere.  Or the buyer won't go elsewhere and pay because of convenience.

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidonmine

Mon Dec 7 08:44:53 2020

Price alerts are fine. Hiding your item until you fix the price is Price-Fixing.

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

This user has validated their user name. by: MainelyVintage

Mon Dec 7 11:26:25 2020

I stopped selling on Amazon several years ago when they gated some of our categories, deactivating listings without notice or reason. Then the fee structure changed, making selling cheap books an expensive proposition.

It wasn't worth jumping through hoops for the minimal amount of selling we did there, and we moved on to other venues that were a better fit.

We still buy there (for now), but the prospect of selling there I find rather unappetizing and "Big Brother" [brief shiver] just no.

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

by: railady This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 7 15:08:02 2020

With all the scurrilous tactics it sounds like AMZ is the one doing the price fixing - determining what something "should" sell for, rather than listing it on an open, free market for buyers to decide if they want to pay the asking prices.  

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 7 17:14:19 2020

i have had this happen too.  seems to happen in waves, several then nothing, then several again.  the big problem i have is that if i have and "as new" book that is priced much higher than a "good" book it will deactivate for too high of a price.  only way i have found to get around it is to list the book as a collectible.

the bigger problem that i have with them as a bookseller is the selective gating of marvel books.  i can't list any star wars titles, and recently there were a few omnibuses that were gated.  recently i also got a notice that aspect (an imprint of warner) also now requires approval.

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Dec 7 17:30:04 2020

If Amazon feels prices are too high, they're free to lower their insane fees or bring that flat $4 shipping voucher out of the 1990s.  Oh, wait, that would reduce _Amazon's_ take...

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Dec 8 03:37:43 2020

To RKTOYS point unless you are selling feathers you are getting screwed. But hey, Bezos is a multi-billionaire.

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

by: ShortSeller This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 9 03:47:38 2020

Fine with this in many categories given how many marketplace sellers are abusing supply chain shortages to gouge customers. For categories like books where collectibles come into play or rare editions then fine, same with out of production goods. Otherwise the old scalping routine is turning marketplaces into a wasteland of overpriced garbage.

Perminate Link for Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices   Sellers Object to Amazon Policing of Prices

by: zeek6228 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 11:14:20 2020

No seller should be permitted to sell any item on Amazon for cheaper than Fulfilled by Amazon items. If you want a fair marketplace so and start your own Amazon.  



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