Getting access to Amazon’s Restricted Categories

Amazon is defiantly the new hot place for sellers to take their merchandise. While many sellers have relied on ebay in the past for all of their income, recent changes in the market, along with policy changes and increase fees have left sellers searching for the next best thing. Amazon.com can prove to be a solid format for sellers to tap into but what happens when you want to sell in one of Amazon’s restricted categories?

For starters, Amazon.com restricts sales categories of high risk such as cell phones, console systems, DVD’s and CD’s and jewelry. A big reason they do this is the potential fraud around these categories that sites such as Ebay.com experience the most fraudulent activity. I really don’t blame them for doing so because there are tons of sellers out there selling fake or Not-As-Described merchandise.

With ebays current format, anyone can be up and selling hundreds of items in these categories with a bank account and a mailing address. While most people are good, it only takes a few rotten apples to spoil hundreds if not thousands of users from wanting to purchase from their site. And while you are theoretically buying from a seller on ebay users who are frustrated with a purchase sting the site and place blame on Ebay.com’s experience instead of the actual user who made the purchase.

So while the theory seems correct, I still have some unanswered questions to Amazon.com’s approval status in “restricted” categories with my current experience.

For starters, we are not a mom and pop ebay company. The user name has been active since 1997 and has had 3 different business models on it. Currently, we reached titanium status on ebay in 6 months with a 99.8% feedback rating, 4.75 or higher on DSR stars and offer live customer service for 10 hours a day. I noticed the other sellers on Amazon selling the products we wished to sell. They seems to have limited product and if they had ebay users names, had below 5K feedbacks and no where near the reputation that we had.  All indications told me that Amazon would have to approve us if they were letting these other guys in.

Several months ago, we applied for approval status in a restricted category. We filled out the online information and actually received a phone call back the next business day from a representaive from Amazon services in Seattle Washington.  The application is basic company information as well as basic sales stats on # of Sku’s , volume and return policies. We even included a company video of our internal processes to show we didn’t work out of a basement and that we would truly be an assest to their reputation.

I was shocked when she called and told us she was unable to process the application because we were missing our return policy. I politely told here that it was in the main email and was the first 3 paragraphs. She noticed our return policy and laughed a bit (because obviously she didnt even read the email if she was looking for the right information) and said she would pass the info onto the category manager and we should hear back within 10 business days.

Three weeks passed so I sent over an email and called her direct line and left a message. Two weeks later and no response back. Then I emailed her with a read and delivery reciept with outlook and she responded that she was sorry for the delay and she would give me a call within a week with the decesion.

She finally did call …two months after initially applying (and at least a dozen attempts to contact their department).  She apologized again and told me the category managers had been busy working on another project and had put approvals on hold for the time being. Are you kidding me? I could smell the BS from the other line so I figured she was just behind on some work.  She promised a response back within 48 hours.

After 48 hours I received an email from her and attached in the FWD comments was the category managers response.

This is the 4th time submitting the application and we have not heard a response back. Please look at the attached information and politely get back with me

Right above her comments were the category managers response

And for the 4th time. You did not include a copy of their return policy.  Please have them send the correct information so I can review

He had additional sentences showing his frustration with our (which was really Amazon’s “secretary” who passes the information along) inability to submit the correct information.

Amazon.com wants you return policy to be steller. They offer all products 30 day money back so they want to make sure that sellers stand behind their products with a solid customer service department. We exceeded these expectation by offering 90 day no questions asked policy. I then took word for word our return policy, privacy policy, term, conditions and the whole nine yards in a PDF format.

Twenty Four Hours later, we received a response back. “Unfortunately, you have been denied access to sell on Amazon.com. Thanks for your time”.

I was OUTRAGED. When all was said and done it had been a total of 4 months. What I was really frustrated with was our liaison who passed the manager our information incorrectly a hand-full of times when all the information was in front of her.

We have been talking with Multi-Sales Channel software providers and one passed us some useful information on trying to get approved to restricted categories. He even claimed that even the average user had a 60% chance of being granted access if the followed the following guidelines:

Thanks for your time today.

Try the following.  We’ve had over a 50% success rate with this:

Following are some points to discuss with Amazon in getting them to open up access for you to list and fulfill from the closed / restricted category on Amazon Seller Central:


· Reliable Source of inventory statement.

· Annual Total Revenue Data for the last 5 years as it relates to your e-commerce business results

· How long you’ve been in business.

· Do you have a brick & mortar location?

· How long you’ve been running your eBay ID and relate data to your feedback and the number of successful transactions & revenue figures you’ve done on eBay

· About Us inclusion (See Below)

· Price point range of the items you carry

· Type of items/product types you carry

· Shipping turnaround times to the customer

· Discuss the use of a Customer Service Department so customer can call and talk to a real life person instead of simple email communications

· Your goals and business strategy as to why you think you can bring value in listing your items to Amazon


USE YOUR ABOUT US SECTION FROM MY EBAY:


If you are able to compose a letter to them addressing the above topics and any further add on topics which you think will lend more credibility to your claim; then use the below contact phone numbers and emails to send the same letter/message to these contacts so you’re attacking Amazon on all fronts so they hear your message thus hopefully they’ll grant access to this restricted category.

To resolve this matter; we recommend you contact Amazon via all options presented below:

1. http://www.amazonservices.com/contactus/index.html (Use this URL to fill out the generic form; then use the “COMPANY DESCRIPTION” field to thoroughly explain who you are, what you do, what revenue you produce, etc…as it relates to the bullet points above regarding items to discuss and inform Amazon on about YOUR COMPANY LLC.)

° Please use the below telephone numbers, contacts, and emails to send the exact message your are inputting on the COMPANY DESCRIPTION field so your message on all fronts will be the same thus enhancing your ability to possibly get access to the CLOSED/RESTRICTED category.

2. 1-800-201-7575 (Amazon Customer Service Line)

3. 1-866-226-2966 (ASC Tech Support Line)

4. ecr@amazon.com (executive customer relations = ecr)

5. https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us/call-me.html Use this link to have Amazon CALL YOU about your situation

6. Julia Backholm Channel Sales Business Development Amazon Services LLC – An Amazon.com Company Phone: 206.266.6488 Email: backholm@amazon.com

I will keep everyone updated as we attempt to get reapproved. I think we have a good case for approval looking at our competitors and just need another shining moment with the right individual with Amazon. I wish I had these tips before I submitted or we might already be approved. Dont push them either. Follow up, but act like a pro and like you simply expect to be approved as our rep said many are basically begging! Good luck to all!

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2 comments

  1. Playtime Boutique

    it took quite a while to get approved but I thought it all went quite smooth. I’m not sure what the qualifications are to be approved but we have several retail stores in NJ, NY and PA…along with two e-commerce websites. No request of a return policy or anything of the sorts. Sorry you had such a hard time!

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