Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of
Tue Nov 13 2012 22:38:05

Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

By: Ina Steiner

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An Amazon seller located in an area impacted by Hurricane Sandy said his performance metrics were negatively impacted by the storm. He was unable to ship some new orders that came in just as the storm hit, but he was able to inform customers and he then shut down his listings.

Each year, Amazon restricts sellers from selling in the Toys & Games category during the holiday shopping season. This year, the restriction runs from November 13, 2012, through the first week in January, 2013.

Because this seller did not meet the required shipping metrics, Amazon informed him that he would be unable to sell in the Toys and Games category during the holiday season. (Sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon are not be subject to the holiday season restrictions provided their accounts are in good standing.)

It was interesting to read the response to this seller's post. Everyone was sympathetic to his plight, but not all agreed with him that Amazon should give him a break.

"I deeply sympathize with everything you have had to deal with because of the storm," wrote one colleague. "I sympathize a little less with your amazon situation. Most of us in the area at risk turned off our listings well before the storm hit. It is not as if we didn't know it was coming, and we knew taking a gamble could cost us dearly. And as for Amazon's "unfairness," they really bent over backwards in the days preceding the storm, reminding us all to prepare, which really is not their job."

The seller took the criticism calmly, but firmly replied that Amazon should judge him for his entire year's shipping performance, not 30 days before November 1st, arguing that was not a proper measure to see if a seller actually has a good shipment record or not.

However, another seller wrote, "Giving you a pass because, while you still had services, you chose to continue to sale during the storm, would also be unfair to those who chose to suspend their business. You made money while you didn't have any service while those who shut down their business did not."

But they went on to give advise to the original poster:

"There is a chance you can have Amazon review your metrics and make some adjustment but when contacting Amazon don't play the victim role. Come to them with a plan on how this will be prevented in the future. Present a short and professional business plan and maybe Amazon will make some adjustments to your score.. It is worth a try. It is not like people don't feel for the situation you are in, but this is business and buyers are less likely to purchase from Amazon again, based on the service they received."

The seller also had advice for Amazon: "Amazon could come up with a better business plan themselves. They know our address. They know where we ship from (or at least most of us). They could send a notice and ask if the listing should be made inactive before any expected disruption in services. But, it is not our platform, we are just invited guests."

What do you think? And will the havoc of Hurricane Sandy change the way you approach impending storms?

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Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Nov 14 00:23:06 2012

Amazon seller when they went to manage their orders got notices continually about Hurricane Sandy and to think aobut whether they could fill orders (paraphrasing here). We still have notices on our home page concerning this. A seller can gamble that everything will be okay (sort of like mind over hurricane same as those that won't evacuate and then others have to risk their lives to rescue them) or shut down just in case and this seller choose not to.  You need to think about what you are doing and how it will impact you and your fellow sellers.

Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 14 00:38:41 2012

Don’t you just love these should have known better responses; these are the real problem with many on-line know it all’s.

Yes people can make plans regarding natural disasters, but what if you live in an area that is not directly affected and you continue to sell and ship only to find out 10 days later that all your mail reached the main International mail hub and no further due to massive flooding of the mail centre its self.

This is exactly what happen to us last year, we received 12 Amazon negative feedback within days, our post office never informed us of any problem and just kept accepting the daily mail which apparently was all going into a holding centre until the main hub was dry…..we knew nothing of this until the negatives started and we contacted the mail centre (over 500 miles away)

Amazon did NOTHING to assist us , so as you can imagine that account was suspended & gone, We were totally stunned shocked and in disbelief as this was out of our control or knowledge.

Ebay and Amazon are the same …use them but never depend on them and don’t expect ANY help from them, they only want your money nothing else.

We treat Amazon very differently now & realize We are nothing to them, so We now treat them just the same and take NOTHING for granted that includes ebay too

Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Wed Nov 14 00:40:52 2012

First I want to say I am not a seller on Amazon. However, even though Sandy was described as the storm of the century, it is hard to predict or even imagine the aftermath. Most people were thinking of saving their homes and their lives and not whether the post offices would be open to ship. Had we known the destruction of Katrina beforehand, everyone would have been better prepared (instead of flying over the destruction in air force one and being totally disconnected, sorry I digress). So should everyone close their stores just in case of impending doom?  Maybe California should evacuate now since San Andreas fault is going to break and has been predicted for some time now. Always live in fear, cover all bases because one misjudgment or mistake could affect you financially or cost you in some other way dearly.

It would be nice to know that an error in judgement or a miscalculation on a seller's part could be rectified by Amazon, ebay etc. After all a seller's good past history and the fact they are the customer paying the fees should account for something.  

Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Nov 14 08:27:03 2012

I have to agree with the remarks that the seller should have prepared and shut down ahead of the storm. Sorry, but it's not like you had no warning of the storm and the potential for loss of power and other services. The storm wasn't in the seller's control, but buyers simply don't care. By offering your goods for sale, a seller is agreeing to the terms they have with the venue. If the seller cannot comply with those terms, it's up to them to take action.

I'm certainly sympathetic, but it's not the venue's role to hold a seller's hand or make excuses to their customers. I do agree that Amazon should use more than just that 30-day period as a determining factor. Unfortunately, it's their platform and they make the rules.

Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 14 09:52:21 2012

The only way to get the attention with Amazon is to have a lawyer send a letter, then file up with a court action. Only then will an actual person look at what has happened.  Otherwise, it just go through the auto system where no one cares. Like opening junk mail and throwing it out without even looking at it. You just grumble and say more junk.
If you win an A-Z claim - it is still held against you in the metrics, which can eliminate you from ''toys'' etc and even get kicked off. Same applies for a negative and neutral that has to do with product review. Now that is what I call fair play. Amazon and ebay play by the golden rule. Whoever has the most gold makes the rules.

Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

by: ebayseller_2011 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 14 10:22:52 2012

I'm located in NJ where Sandy had it's hardest impact.  I went without power for 6 days both at home and at my office.  In preparation, just like I did last year for Irene, I turned off my listings the Friday before the storm hit anticipating that I wouldn't be able to ship on Monday, the post office would have to close and not move any packages, or any other circumstances that could have arose from such a storm which we were warned about ahead of time. I also emailed Amazon and eBay that same day alerting them that I was turning off my listings during that time and the reason why. They responded back saying they appreciate me being proactive about the situation and that it was good that I was taking measures to protect my account and reputation as well as Amazon's customer's satisfaction and expectations.  They noted my accounts accordingly incase anything went wrong.  I turned everything back on the following weekend after my power came back on and have been good to go since then.  There were some of my competitors I did see who left their listings up all the way until the power really went out and I'm sure they had a lot of orders they couldn't ship and emails/refunds that they had to send to their customers letting them know why.  I'd rather be responsible and look at the long term status of my business than worry about losing a few days of business and being greedy.  

Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Nov 14 12:54:25 2012

We are in New Jersey as well and placed our listings on vacation for a full week after the storm in case something happened.

We do not live in a flood prone area, however our concern was losing power. We were extremely fortunate that we did not lose power even though 75% of our town did. Many areas did not get power back for 7 to 10 days.

After the storm passed, our problem was the fact that the Postal Service in our area was hit hard. Our Post Office was closed for 2 days. The regional distribution center that processes and distributes our mail was knocked out and closed until yesterday.

We had packages that were shipped before the storm which were stuck in that facility and did not get moving again until yesterday.

Packages that we shipped after the storm were sent to out of state distribution centers which added days to delivery times.

Fortunately since we had power, we could communicate with buyers and explain the issue. We set up USPS emails notifying buyers of the tracking status so they could see for themselves the items were stuck in the USPS system. We updated effected buyers by personal emails on a daily basis.

We have been fortunate that without exception, every buyer has been extremely understanding of the problem.

As to the OP, they chose to roll the dice and keep their listings live. Their choice did not end up playing out all that well for them so, Amazon took action.

The OP could have prevented any problems by placing their listings on vacation. The failure to do so put Amazon into the position of having to make a decision and they did.

Amazon could review the sellers history and make an exception for their particular case, however, I believe Amazon is trying to educate the seller to make better decisions in the future and is using the ruling to emphatically make their point.

Perminate Link for Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?   Play the Marketplace: What Should Amazon Do?

by: JoyfulA This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 16 00:33:57 2012

I'm in Pennsylvania, where heavy rain and high winds were predicted. The power company said it was bringing in 1,500 utility workers from Utah for repairing outages. So I closed on Amazon the day before Sandy's expected arrival.

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