My Amazon Seller Account was Deactivated – Here’s my story, and what I did to get it back.

A few days ago, I got an email from Amazon with the subject line “Your Amazon.com Selling Account”. It informed me that my account had been deactivated. I was dumbstruck. Why did this happen? What could I do to get my account reinstated?

You’ll find that out in this article.

Selling print-on-demand products on Amazon is a business model I really like, and it’s been generating passive income for me for many years.

I have almost 100,000 products including coffee mugs, shot glasses, travel mugs, and tumblers in my Amazon account.

These products have been listed there over many years by my team.

On August 8th, I was about to go to bed. I checked my iPhone before going to sleep, but I opened my email app and found three emails titled “Notice: Policy Warning” from Amazon.

“Damn…what the…?” I thought.

I sat up and opened my MacBook to see what had happened.

Actually, I’d received this kind of email before. Each one involved Intellectual Property Complaints from other sellers.

I sell print-on -demand products, and most of my products have a design with a simple phrase. Sometimes, sellers had trademarked these phrases. They had the power to tell Amazon to remove any product that bore the phrase they owned.

Most of the time, these sellers were not a big brand, so simply removing the products was just fine.

But this time was different. It was not a complaint from a small seller.

This time, it was a complaint from a big-brand company. I won’t reveal the name. I’ll just say that it was a major retail company in the U.S.

When I saw the email of the person who’d reported the copyright infringement, I was realized that I had a big problem.

I logged in to my Amazon Seller account and searched for the problematic ASINs. I wanted to know how my products had violated the policy.

When I saw these three products, I was shocked.

These three products contained the name of the company that had sent me the complaint!

The company’s name was in the design of the products and in the product title.

SHOCKER!!

These products were created in 2017, but none of them had sold.  The designs sucked, and since they contained the company’s name, nobody purchased them.

Obviously, my VA hadn’t checked the phrase before creating the products.

But I hadn’t checked, either. Actually, I rarely did anything in this business. I just selected markets and let my two virtual assistants do 95% of the work.

So I removed the offending products from my account and sent an email to apologize to the company for the mistake and asked them to retract it.

I never got a reply.

I understood why. It’s difficult to get a reply from a big brand.

A few days passed. I didn’t get any notifications from Amazon or the seller who sent the complaint. So I thought the case had been closed. It was just the same as what had happened before. I just removed the listing, and problem solved.

A few days later, while I played Arena of Valor with my brother, I got another email: “Urgent: Your account is at risk of deactivation” from Amazon.

SHOCKER!!!!

“Damn…what’s happened now? Wait for me to finish this game first,” I thought.

But I couldn’t concentrate on playing. I couldn’t remember whether I’d was winning or losing. I just wanted to check that email.

After I finished the game, I checked that email.

Amazon said that I had to fix the issues where my products had violated the intellectual property rights of brands. I had to send them a plan of action within the next 72 hours or my account would be deactivated.

Amazon needed a plan of action that explained:

— Proof of authenticity (e.g., invoice, Order ID, letter of authorization, licensing agreement or court order) proving that the infringements had actually been okayed by the brand;

— The steps I’d taken to ensure that I was no longer infringing and would not infringe in the future;

— Other relevant information; and

— Supporting details if I believed the notice was submitted in error or that the notice was incorrect.

I still wasn’t sure what they wanted. I didn’t have any invoices or order IDs, because my products are all print-on- demand. They are made only when there is an order. These three products had never been sold, so I didn’t have what Amazon had asked for.

How about the letter of authorization or licensing agreement?

Damn…three of my products had violated intellectual property rights 100%, so I had no excuse.

So, in terms of the first thing Amazon had asked for, I had nothing to send.

For the second and the third ones, I told them I had removed these three products from my Amazon account and that, from now on, I would check the phrases for my team before they created the designs.

There was no response from Amazon in the next two days. Maybe because it was a weekend.  

Seventy two hours passed, and the next Monday I got another email from Amazon. This one was very scary.

“Your account has been temporarily deactivated. Your listings have been removed. Funds will not be transferred to you but will stay in your account while we work with you to address this issue.”

Temporarily deactivated?

I still had some hope. I thought I might have a chance to make it right and restore my account.

So I started Googling to see whether any other sellers had had the same problem. How they solved their IP case? Did they get their account back?

Most of them said that while the message said “temporarily deactivated”, an intellectual property violation would mean that you probably wouldn’t get your account back.

Damn!

I called Amazon seller support. I’m usually not the kind of person who wants to speak on the phone – especially in English, which is not my native language.

But I had nothing to lose. I had to do something. There were almost 100,000 products in my account, and I didn’t want to lose them. They earned me passive income that I (actually, my team) had taken years to build.

So I talked to the support person and she advised me to write a plan of action. She said that I had to write the plan of action in more detail. Show them how I would prevent this issue from happening again in the future, step by step.

This is what they wanted:

— Greater detail on the root cause(s) of the infringement.

— Greater detail on the actions I had taken to resolve {POLICY} issues.

— Greater detail on the steps I had taken to prevent infringement going forward.

— Greater detail on why I believed an error had occurred.

I tried to write my plan of action again. I added more detail on why this issue happened and the steps I would take to prevent a repeat of this issue.

My appeal was still rejected.

I almost gave up. The stress I felt at that time was hard to describe, because I didn’t know what more I could say. So I Googled again and browsed the Amazon Seller Forum.

Many people showed me the way to write a plan of action. They said that you needed to show them you wouldn’t repeat the same mistake and that you had closely studied their policy.

The Policy?

I checked the email I got from Amazon again.

— “Greater detail on the actions you have taken to resolve {POLICY} issues.”

It seemed that they had already guided me on what I needed to add to my plan of action. I had to read the policy and write what I understood from the policy.

So I read Amazon’s Intellectual Property Policy, wrote my plan of action again, and sent it to Amazon.

A day passed, I didn’t get a reply. I didn’t want to wait anymore. I couldn’t sleep well for days, because I checked email on my phone very often. So I called Amazon Seller support again to ask about my case.

They said that it seemed fine. They would contact me later.

In the next few hours, I got an email: “Thank you for submitting your appeal. We have reinstated your account.”.

YAYYYY!!!!!

I felt so relieved! My account was back and I saw a new sale immediately after my account was reinstated.

Apparently, this issue hadn’t affected my account’s score.

What I’ll do next

Well, after learning a lot from this issue, I decided not to list new products on Amazon anymore.

I already have almost 100,000 products in my account, and they’ve been generating a solid passive income for me. I think it’s enough, so I’ve decided not to take a risk to list more products.

If I let my team continue to work, I’d need to spend my time checking the phrases by myself, and that’s not what I want to do.

I’ll just try to optimize the keywords for my existing products and send some of the winning products to Amazon FBA to make more sales.

What I’ll focus on next will be uploading my products to other marketplaces to diversify the risk.

There are many other places where we can sell print-on- demand products, not just Amazon.

Okay, that’s all for this article. It’s time to get back to crushing this Q4! 🙂

—Bank “Reinstate!” K.

P.S. I’ started listing some of my products on Etsy a few weeks ago. Actually, my old Etsy account got suspended last year (without any reason from Etsy). I thought it might be because I’d listed many products too quickly, so they saw me as a spammer.

This time, I listed products more slowly, just one product a day. I’ve already made some sales (Etsy rocks!) and my account is still active, so I think I’ll do more.

Anyway, Etsy doesn’t like multiple users accessing the same account, so I can’t let my team do this for me.

I asked my programmer to create a system that can help me list products automatically – just like the 1-Hour System’s idea – but this time the work is handled by the robot.

This system is not open to the public yet. There are just a few people close to me who can access to it. (There are still some bugs, so we decided to use it internally only for the moment).

Anyway, we plan to open the beta to some of the people on my list soon (but not too soon). If you’re interested, you can join the waiting list here.

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