Amazon is banning some third-party merchants from selling Nerf Blasters, marshmallow shooters, super soakers, and other toys. The company sent an email yesterday to sellers to inform them that certain products they were selling on its platform had been identified as a toy gun or "imitation weapon" that is prohibited by Amazon's Restricted Products policy.
The move comes after Amazon entered into an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in August, along with Kmart, Sears, Walmart, and California-based ACTA, over the issue of toy guns. (We first wrote about the AG investigation last year
The AG's office said in its August 3rd 2015 press release
that its investigation found that "from 2012 through 2014, these retailers - and third-party sellers operating through Amazon.com and Sears.com - sold more than 6,400 prohibited toy guns in New York without the legally-required distinguishing color markings."
And the NY AG said third-party sales through Amazon made up the bulk of the sales, totaling 5,017 prohibited toy guns sold in New York.
The email notification clearly came as a surprise to the toy sellers who discussed the issue on the Amazon discussion boards
on Thursday. Sellers were trying to determine why some items were still available, and why some 3P merchants were allowed to sell certain items but they themselves were prohibited from doing so.
Some sellers seemed unsure of what to do with their offending inventory. And one seller pointed out that a book was the unwitting victim of the ban. ASIN: 188676896X, "Black Powder Long Arms & Pistols - Reproductions & Replicas" by Dennis Adler, was pulled from the site yesterday.
On another thread, a seller wrote, "What bothers me is the catalog is full of prohibited weapons yet many innocent sellers get blocked listings and/or account suspensions."
We asked Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh several questions relating to the issue, and he responded with the following statement along with a link to this page
"Toys that do not violate our restricted items policy are permissible for sale on Amazon. Sellers should contact us if they believe their items were incorrectly removed in our attempt to apply our existing policies. We are happy to work with sellers on a quick resolution if they believe we've made an error. For more information, sellers can review our restricted items policy on our posted help page."
Here's a copy of the email Amazon sent to sellers:
Hello from Amazon.
We are writing to let you know that the following detail pages have been removed from our catalog:
This product has been identified as a toy gun or "imitation weapon" that is prohibited by Amazon's Restricted Products policy. State laws, including New York General Business Law Section 873, prohibit the sale of certain imitation weapons that can reasonably be perceived to be an actual gun. Amazon policy requires that third party sellers comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws. To help ensure that sellers comply with New York law and Amazon policies, we have suspended the ability of third party sellers to offer this product.
If you believe a product has been removed in error, please contact Seller Support, and we will review the product and make any appropriate adjustments.
For more information on our policies, search on "Restricted Products" and "Listing Restrictions" in Seller Help.
**Action Required: Within 48 hours of this notice, please review your remaining listings and make any changes necessary to ensure compliance with our policies.
Failure to comply with this request may result in the removal of your selling privileges.
We appreciate your cooperation and thank you for selling on Amazon.com.
While sellers posting on Amazon were surprised about the ban, this thread
from September discussed a similar notification.