All posts by Amazon Sellers Attorney

Described by critics as "one of our strongest thriller writers on the scene," author Kenneth Eade, best known for his legal and political thrillers, practiced law for 30 years before publishing his first novel, "An Involuntary Spy." Eade, an award-winning, best-selling Top 100 thriller author, has been described by his peers as "one of the up-and-coming legal thriller writers of this generation." He is the 2015 winner of Best Legal Thriller from Beverly Hills Book Awards and the 2016 winner of a bronze medal in the category of Fiction, Mystery and Murder from the Reader's Favorite International Book Awards. Eade has authored three fiction series: The "Brent Marks Legal Thriller Series", the "Involuntary Spy Espionage Series" and the "Paladine Anti-Terrorism Series." He has written thirteen novels which have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. "I've been writing all my life, but began publishing my work out of a passion for the environment. My wife, Valentina, is a professional photographer, who worked for two years on an environmental exhibition called, "Bee Cause I Care" which was exhibited by the Prince Albert II Foundation and is now touring cities in France to bring awareness to the importance of pollinators and the dangers facing them. I penned a few articles on the subject for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and turned my research into my first book, "Bless the Bees." That passion continued with the publication of my novel, "An Involuntary Spy," which is an action thriller that also points to the dangers of genetically engineered food. Then I began publishing the "Brent Marks Legal Thriller Series," which, in part, is based on actual experiences during my long career in law. "The earth shattering moment came in mid-2014, when two of my largest clients were arrested for small cap securities fraud. There is a tendency now to go after the lawyers of whoever the government thinks are the "bad guys" which gave me quite a scare. My ninth novel, "The Spy Files," although fictionalized, is based on my real life experiences with the FBI. That, and the stories my late father told me about working for the CIA in the 60's helped coax me out of the law business after 34 years of practice, and I became a full time author. "Now I divide most of my time between France, where I have resided for the better part of 10 years, and Russia. I try to put as much realism in my novels as possible, and they all revolve around important social issues. I treasure all of my readers and love to hear from them, whether it's good or bad. Sometimes I make changes based on their suggestions and one reader has inspired a character that has appeared in my latest two novels. Everyone who signs up on my mailing list at www.kennetheade.com gets a free ebook and I give away a Kindle Fire every month to a lucky winner on the list. I love this new adventure and hope you enjoy taking it with me." Email: info@kennetheade.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KennethGEadeBestsellingauthor Twitter: https://twitter.com/KennethEade1

Welcome Amazon Seller, Now Watch Your Step!

Third-party sellers at the retail giant are subject to suspensions at alarmingly high rates

By Attorney Kenneth Eade

Amazon, the e-tailer behemoth, began by crushing the publishing industry and has become a dominant force in the retail arena which will soon be counting large department stores and grocery chains as its next victim.  But recently the company has become more aggressive with its third-party sellers, due largely to a failure to vet them.  Anyone can become a seller on Amazon, and, as a result, the site has become infamous as an outlet for counterfeit goods, intellectual property violation and unfair business competition.  Suspensions of third-party sellers have become so common now, a cottage industry has arisen to help sellers with appeals of seller account suspensions, made up of ex-Amazon employees and a small number of law firms.  It has become so complicated that it is almost impossible for the average seller to compose one of these plans themselves.  Amazon is aware that the plans of action, which are ghostwritten for sellers, are professionally done and has, accordingly, raised the bar as to what it considers a viable plan, entitling the seller to a second chance.

Amazon considers selling on their site a “privilege.”  This selling privilege can be taken away by them at will.  However, if they give you the opportunity to appeal, you may file a plan of action which identifies the policy violations, the root causes of the policy violations, your resolution of the violations, and a plan to prevent future violations.  If accepted, Amazon’s Seller Performance Team will reinstate a seller account.  Typically, the cases we see fit in several defined categories:

  1.  Inauthentic or counterfeit products: This can be selling knock offs, or the genuine product without sufficient authorization to resell.  Often sellers will buy products from eBay or close-out sales and then wonder why Amazon does not accept their invoices as provenance.  They must buy from a wholesaler authorized by the brand owner, with rights of resale.  And there is another scenario where competitors, trying to knock the competition out will make false counterfeit or inauthentic claims to eliminate their competition. There are two resolutions to these types of complaints:
  2.  Provide the invoices from an authorized wholesale distributor and a plan of action; or
  3.  Permanently delete the offending product, offer a refund to customers, and file a plan of action.

Amazon has formed a dragnet to try to eliminate counterfeiters which has trapped many third-party sellers who actually do have resale rights to genuine products.  These sellers are put through the listing or account suspension process along with the counterfeiters, and the result can put legitimate business out of business.  One client of mine, who holds the sole, exclusive rights to market a national sports brand in the United States, was recently suspended from selling authorized, genuine products on the erroneous grounds that it was selling counterfeits, and the matter had to be escalated to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, because the Seller Performance division did not accept a legitimate license agreement as proof.

  1.  Intellectual property infringement: These are typically copyright or trademark violations.  These complaints can often be settled by sending an attorney letter to the rights owner, offering to give written assurances not to sell their product and a deletion of the product from the seller’s inventory.
  2.  Poor seller performance: This consists of late shipping, order defects (damaged products either by poor inventory quality control or damaged during shipping), cancelling orders before they are fulfilled.  These matters are solved with quality control programs written in the plan of action that sellers can also follow as a business practice.  A lot of sellers are uneducated or don’t have a command of the English language and have difficulty communicating with customers.  This accounts for many poor selling practices.
  3.  Related accounts: It is against Amazon’s policies to have more than one account and sellers often get suspended because they open another account under a different name or company, with a different computer, or with a relative, etc.  The Amazon database is very good.  It coordinates many pieces of data to match one account to another, such as: ISP address, the same computer, same office or home address, same surname, same geographical location, same banking relationship and related products.

The solution in these cases is either to prove the accounts are not related, which is very difficult, or to admit the violation, promise not to do it again, and propose a plan of action to restore the former suspended account by addressing all the issues in that account.

  1. Listing errors: This occurs when a product does not match the detail page, variations of products are not classified correctly as parent and child products, or images or listings have information that encourages the customer to go off-site.  These can be solved with a listing review and plan of action.
  2.  Review manipulation: Since October 2016, it has been against Amazon’s policies to offer any type of incentive or discount in exchange for, or in the hopes of, a positive review.  Sometimes, sellers use an automatic feedback service which can be the culprit.
  3.  Listing hijacking: This occurs when a seller’s listing is taken over by someone who sells a knockoff product or product that doesn’t match the listing page.  If the client has a registered trademark, an attorney can send a cease and desist letter and file a takedown notice to Amazon and kick the offending competitor off the product listing.  If no trademark protection exists, but the competing product does not match the listed product in every way, including packaging, the offending competitor may often be eliminated from the product listing.

Attorney Kenneth Eade runs a legal practice concentrating on e-commerce and intellectual property issues.  He can be reached at: www.amazonsellers.attorney.