Amazon Prohibited Seller Activities
At Awesome Dynamic, our clients often ask about Amazon’s seller terms of service and what kinds of activities they can and cannot partake in. It’s a fair question, and one all sellers should seek to answer as active members of the Amazon Marketplace.
Within this blog, we’ve broken down four primary policies, agreements, requirements and codes of conduct Amazon has put in place for its sellers. We’ll dive into each agreement, explaining why Amazon has enacted the policy and what sellers need to do to abide by the established rules and restrictions.
While Amazon has almost countless documents and web pages outlining its rules and regulations, the key policies we’ve identified for sellers include:
Amazon Terms of Service Explained
In an effort to create a safe and fair selling environment for both buyers and sellers, Amazon has very clearly outlined its prohibited seller activities and actions. Below is a brief overview of the outlined policies. For a more in-depth look at prohibited seller activities, visit Amazon Seller Central.
According to Amazon, sellers should never:
- Work around the established Amazon sales process by directing shoppers to make a purchase outside of Amazon.
- Use business names that are inaccurate, misleading, infringe on another person or company’s trademark or contain an email suffix like .com, .net, .biz, etc.
- Send unsolicited emails to Amazon customers.
- Misuse customer phone numbers. Additional information is provided below.
- Operate and maintain multiple seller accounts. There are exceptions to this rule which we will touch on later in this blog.
- Post abusive or inappropriate feedback or include personal information about a transaction partner.
- Pay or offer any incentive to a buyer for either providing or removing feedback.
- Offer compensation for a review.
- Review their own products or a competitor’s products.
- Attempt to manipulate sales rank by accepting fraudulent orders, compensating buyers for purchases or making sales rank claims within the product detail page.
- Fail to abide by the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee claims process.
- Attempt to manipulate the Search and Browse experience by artificially simulating customer traffic, providing misleading or irrelevant catalog information or adding product identifiers to hidden keyword attributes.
- Attempt to manipulate product customization. All items utilizing Custom must be able to be personalized, customized or configured by the buyer.
Sellers caught violating the above policies may be subject to:
- Cancellation of product listings
- Suspended use of Amazon reports and tools
- Revoked selling privileges
- Withheld or forfeited remittances and payments
Appropriate Use of Customer Phone Numbers
Amazon gives sellers access to customer phone numbers to comply with carrier label requirements. Any use of customer phone numbers by sellers outside of these requirements is considered a violation of Amazon terms of service.
Proper treatment of customer phone numbers by sellers includes:
- Printing numbers on labels to comply with carrier requirements.
- Disposal of customer phone number data that is retained after processing the customer’s order.
- Monitoring who in the seller’s organization has access to customer phone numbers.
Improper treatment of customer phone numbers by sellers includes:
- Contacting a customer using their phone number. A seller should only contact a customer about their order using Buyer-Seller Messaging.
- Sharing customer phone information with an external party.
- Passing along customer phone numbers, or any customer information, outside of Buyer-Seller Messaging.
Exceptions to the Restriction on Multiple Seller Accounts
As mentioned above, maintaining multiple Seller Central accounts is generally prohibited by Amazon. Sellers can, however, apply for an exception to this policy if:
- They have a separate bank account for each Seller Central account.
- They have a separate email address for each Seller Central account.
- All the products and services sold in each Seller Central account are different.
- The seller’s Performance Metrics are in good standing.
If you meet the above guidelines, you can apply for a policy exception by visiting Amazon’s Contact Us page and clicking “Selling on Amazon,” “Your account” and “Other account issues.” Within your request, provide an explanation as to why you need a second account and expect a response within 2-3 business days.
Additional Guidelines for Product Sellers and Service Providers
While the above restrictions apply to all Amazon sellers, separate and additional guidelines have been put in place for product sellers and service providers.
Product Seller Guidelines
- Books, Music, Videos and DVDs must be shipped within 2 business days of the date the order confirmation is made available to the seller.
- Sellers cannot increase the sale price after a transaction has been completed or set excessive order fulfillment and shipping costs.
- When listing a product for sale using an existing product detail page, the listing must match the offered product exactly.
- It is prohibited to create a product detail page for a product already in the Amazon catalog.
- Sellers cannot create separate listings for identical copies of the same product.
- Sellers should not list or match against Books, Music, Video or DVD products that Amazon designates as pre-orderable.
Service Provider Guidelines
- Service providers must perform the service as outlined in the scope of work on the service detail page on the date the service was purchased.
- Service providers may not solicit additional products, parts or service orders before, during or after the service call.
- For in-home services, if a service provider sends a non-approved technician to fulfill a service order, their selling privileges may be removed.
Amazon not only has clear guidelines and restrictions for seller behavior, but also for the products offered by sellers. Sellers found in violation of the platform’s product policies and restrictions may have their selling privileges suspended, or even removed.
While some categories, brands, and products require Amazon’s pre-approval (Category and Product Restrictions can be found here), other products are entirely prohibited from being sold by any sellers. These include:
- Items found on Amazon’s Restricted Products page.
- Any products Amazon deems unsafe.
- Products that violate any applicable domestic or international laws, including trade of endangered species.
- Products that violate a third party’s intellectual property rights.
- Offensive and Controversial Products, such as crime scene photographs, human body parts or products that promote hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance.
- Products recalled by the manufacturer, CPSC, NHTSA, FDA, USDA-FSIS, EPA or other government agency.
Selling Policies and Seller Code of Conduct
While prohibited seller activities and products are in place to create a fair and honest Marketplace for all sellers and buyers, Amazon’s seller code of conduct takes further steps to help build and maintain trust between the buyer, seller and, by extension, Amazon itself. The Amazon seller code of conduct requires that all sellers:
- Adhere to all applicable laws and abide by all Amazon policies.
- Maintain current account information.
- Never misrepresent themselves.
- Always act in a manner that ensures a trustworthy experience for Amazon customers.
- Never list products that may cause harm to Amazon customers.
- Never engage in any misleading, inappropriate or offensive behavior through account information, product detail page content or communication between buyers and sellers.
- Act fairly at all times and never attempt to manipulate any of Amazon’s selling tools or services.
FBA Policies and Requirements
In addition to generally prohibited seller activities and codes of conduct, Amazon has separate guidelines and restrictions in place for sellers utilizing Fulfillment By Amazon. These include:
- Customers can leave feedback for sellers on orders fulfilled by Amazon. However, negative reviews regarding Amazon’s fulfillment or customer service may be removed.
- Customer returns and reimbursements are subject to Amazon’s return policy.
- Sellers are responsible for customer service regarding replacements, refunds and returns for multi-channel fulfillment orders.
- Sellers may be eligible for a full or partial reimbursement for inventory that’s lost or damaged on Amazon’s watch.
- Labeling, packaging and shipping inventory requirements must be met for products to be shipped to Amazon fulfillment centers.
FBA Prohibited Products
Some products must meet certain criteria or require approval before they can be sold using FBA. Other products cannot be sold using FBA at all. FBA product restrictions include:
- Any product that cannot be lawfully sold and distributed in all US jurisdictions.
- Alcoholic beverages (including non-alcoholic beer).
- Sky lanterns or floating lanterns.
- Vehicle tires.
- Gift cards, gift certificates and other stored value instruments.
- Products with unauthorized marketing materials (e.g., pamphlets, price-tags or other non-Amazon stickers).
- Products that require preparation that have not been prepared according to FBA Packaging and Prep Requirements.
- Loose packaged batteries.
- Damaged or defective units.
- Products with labels that were not properly registered with Amazon before shipment or that do not match the product that was registered.
- Products that do not comply with any agreement between Amazon and the seller.
- Products that have been illegally replicated, reproduced, or manufactured.
- Products that Amazon otherwise determines are unsuitable.
While this blog offers a vast and in-depth look at Amazon’s current seller guidelines and restrictions, we realize that Amazon’s policies are always changing.