You are currently viewing Essential Strategies to Avoid Amazon Account Suspensions with Lesley Hensell

Essential Strategies to Avoid Amazon Account Suspensions with Lesley Hensell

Learn from Lesley Hensell, co-founder of Riverbend Consulting, as she shares critical insights on navigating Amazon’s complex ecosystem. Discover the best practices to avoid account suspensions, the importance of proper documentation, and how to handle various challenges that sellers encounter on Amazon.

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Key Insights on Amazon Account Suspensions

Lesley Hensell dives deep into the common reasons for Amazon account suspensions, offering practical advice on how to avoid pitfalls and ensure your account remains in good standing.

Navigating Amazon’s Escalation Culture

Understanding Amazon’s unique escalation culture is crucial for resolving issues effectively. Lesley explains how to escalate problems to Amazon executives and the importance of concise, professional communication.

Strategies for New Sellers to Avoid Common Mistakes

For those new to selling on Amazon, Lesley outlines essential steps to avoid costly mistakes, including the importance of proper documentation and understanding Amazon’s policies to prevent account suspensions.

Advanced Issues and Solutions for Experienced Sellers

Lesley discusses complex issues that seasoned sellers may face, such as linked accounts and the repercussions of using shared office spaces. Learn how to navigate these challenges and protect your business.

Resources From This Episode

In Conclusion

Lesley Hensell’s expert advice provides invaluable insights for Amazon sellers at all levels. By implementing her strategies, sellers can navigate Amazon’s complex system, avoid common pitfalls, and build a sustainable business. Explore the resources mentioned to further optimize your Amazon selling experience.

Transcript

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: [00:00:00] If you want to sell anything that is on the edge in any way, uh, it’s really important to go in and search through the help and find out if it’s something that you can actually sell and, you know, products with banned ingredients. So that’s a tough one, especially when they’re recently banned, because it’s not like you were.

Acting on old information. This was new information. That’s that can be super frustrating, but in many cases though, not yours, but in many cases you can go in and search the help and see specific ingredients, specific types of products that you do not want to list because it will take your account down.

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: All right, everybody. Welcome to another episode here today. We’ve got Leslie Hensel with us.

She’s the co founder of Riverbend Consulting and they are. The masters of suspensions or fixing suspensions or issues that you run into on Amazon. So whether you’re [00:01:00] brand new or you’ve been in here, this game for a while, you’re going to run into issues on Amazon, either your account getting suspended, ASINs getting suspended, whatever the case may be, things happen on Amazon.

And if you’re not able to figure them out yourselves. People like Leslie do amazing work to help get those issues fixed. I’ve used them personally myself on some issues that we had and they worked miracles for us. So this is going to be really good because it’s a topic that scares a lot of people. So in, in your experience for like, say the online arbitrage, retail arbitrage, people that are listening, does Amazon majority of the time accept receipts from retail stores, or do you run into a lot of issues there?

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: So we all know why you’re doing retail arbitrage at a discount store because you’re getting a great deal and you can have a great [00:02:00] margin when you flip that on Amazon, but a lot of the discount stores like TJ Maxx and other similar stores, if you look at the receipt, they use an internal stock number.

On that item. They don’t actually use the UPC on that item. And so Amazon will not accept the receipt because it’s an internal stock number. So they have no idea what that product is. You’ll see other stores that will do the thing where it just says grocery or clothing or toys. They’re not going to accept that receipt.

That could mean absolutely anything. So those are a big no go. Um, I have had clients that have had success. Where they have something with an internal stock number from HomeGoods or TJ Maxx where they’ve actually gone to the store, found the same item, taken a photo of the item with the sticker, with the internal stock number, but that’s really gambling.

It’s very dangerous. So the receipts most likely to win with Amazon are the ones with an actual [00:03:00] UPC, the number on the receipt. So Walmart is a perfect example. But then I’ve had them not accept Walmart receipts before. It’s very frustrating. There’s not a whole lot of absolutes I can give on 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: that. Yeah, I think there was a period too that they were getting really strict about those receipts from like Walmart, Target, places like that and not accepting them.

But then they kind of swung back the other way. I think they got some heat on that because Technically you’re supposed to be able to resell that 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: stuff. I would agree. And clearly it’s valid product that was purchased at a store. We have gotten many of those issues solved by escalating. So something, since we’re talking about things for new sellers, something to know about Amazon is they have an escalation culture, which I had never heard of until I started working on Amazon issues, but an escalation culture is a company that’s trying to stay very entrepreneurial.

They are [00:04:00] trying to innovate and move very fast, and all of their departments are really siloed. You’re working on project A or project B, you’re not working across projects. Well, why that matters is They don’t necessarily look internally to try and proactively solve problems they have. They actually depend on sellers, buyers, vendors to tell them about problems.

Which blows my mind because at my business we spend a lot of time trying to fix problems before they impact our clients. But, but I’m not Amazon. So, as a result. Let’s say that they aren’t accepting receipts from Walmart all of a sudden. And we’re like, Oh my goodness, we can show that this is a Walmart receipt.

It’s one of the biggest companies in the world. What’s your problem? And but, but seller performance, those are the folks who make these decisions, keep turning it down. So we help our clients escalate to departments and even individual [00:05:00] executives. at Amazon who have teams of people who read emails from buyers and sellers and look for problems.

And they will solve one offs that they actually enjoy and want to hear about problems that are systemic. Uh, and then they will direct that seller performance department or another department to fix it for you. Unfortunately, this is very time consuming for the seller. You’re ending up waiting and waiting while we’re hitting all these executives, trying to get them to pay attention.

But it is a way to solve things when seller performance lets you 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: down. Yeah. And it can be extremely frustrating for the seller as well, right? Because you’re sitting there bashing your head against the wall. And if you don’t know about this escalation process, uh, they’re just. Keep closing your ticket with the same reply 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: over and over.

Well, and I’ll tell you just this week, I’ve had, I think three or four different clients that we’ve actually had an [00:06:00] executive instruct a lower level department. I want you to work on this. Um, and then we’ve gotten nothing, but, uh, I’ve, I’ve forwarded this to, to the concern team, just letting you know, we’re still working on it.

The, the concern team is still working on it. And after three or four weeks, I have to go back to that executive and say, so really, it’s okay with you that this team you told them to fix this problem. It’s been a month and it’s still not fixed. So it’s a huge company. It’s a big bureaucracy. Certain times of year are particularly painful.

Tell you, January, February is really painful because people at Amazon change jobs. They do not leave people in the same department. They move them out of their department. And so all their institutional knowledge goes with them and they train new people. Uh, that’s a really frustrating time around prime day is a very frustrating time when you can’t get answers around September, October is catalog cleanup, and then there’s peak.

So there’s, there’s [00:07:00] delay, delay, delay, but that’s, it’s the nature of the beast. Uh, I think a lot of sellers. Have a preconceived notion that because it’s an e commerce business that is agile, that they’re going to get responses to their issues in 24 hours and have them fixed. But reality, Amazon’s more like a government agency at this point.

It’s bloated. And people aren’t trained well enough, and it’s all very slow, 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: definitely takes time. But at least they have support, right? I mean, there’s so many companies now you try to get a hold of support from them. It’s it’ll never happen. You’ll be waiting for ever. So at least they have something, but it’s definitely can be very frustrating.

Um, you know, I, I think we could sit here and talk for hours and hours going through all the different processes to try to fix issues. But What are some things that people should pay attention to or avoid doing [00:08:00] so they don’t hurt their situation more than what they’re already in? Let’s say if an ASIN was taken down, or maybe their account was taken down, something like that.

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: That’s a great question. So number one thing, when whatever it is happens, you got to give yourself time to cool off. If you’re upset, you’re emotional, you’re sad, uh, you’re freaked out. You’ve got to calm down before you respond. The worst thing you can do is pop off back at Amazon and say, either, tell me why you did this because their response is it’s your business.

Why don’t you know, they expect you to know what went wrong and to understand it. Even if it’s, even if that’s a ridiculous ask, which sometimes it is, you cannot attack anyone at Amazon. You cannot blame Amazon. I’ve seen people write horrible, curse filled emails to seller performance. That ain’t gonna help you because they don’t want their employees being abused.

And so they’ll just put you in the blocked forever box. It happens. Feels good [00:09:00] when you’re right. Yeah, I mean, and, and I get it. And I always tell clients, you know, direct that at me, um, direct that at my team. We don’t want to be abused either, but direct your frustration. You know, tell us how awful they are, but don’t, don’t tell Amazon.

That’s one thing. Another thing is you’ve got to make sure that when you write back to them, so they ask you for a plan of action, they want your invoices, whatever it is. That it’s understandable, and it’s as brief as you can make it while still explaining. So, my best advice is, you need another person who is not in your business to read your plan of action, to look at your invoices, and to question you about them.

Uh, the investigators at Amazon have three minutes. They have three minutes. to open your ticket, understand why they did whatever they did, taking down your ASIN, your account, giving you a warning, and read your plan of action. That’s totally unrealistic, but that is [00:10:00] reality. I’m sure sometimes they take more and sometimes they can immediately say no and send it back to you and ask for more information or shut you down or just reject you.

But in general, they have three minutes. So you need someone like, you know, if your spouse doesn’t work in your business or you’re. Your roommate or your friend, you need them to read it for you and tell you if your plan of action even makes sense, because we talk to ourselves in life, right? In our business, we talk to ourselves.

You’ve got to talk to these investigators who know nothing about you. 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Yeah, for sure. And one thing that I have actually found helpful, and it’s not, uh, You know, it’d be all end all solution or anything, but I like to use chat GPT now. So if you’re writing an email to a seller support and then take it and dump it into chat GPT, and at least just say, make this sound more professional, concise.

And it will fix a lot of it. So that way you can [00:11:00] write the angry, angry email, the chat GPT, and then tell it to make it more professional and concise for you. And that could be helpful, but chat GPT doesn’t know everything or even very much about seller support, obviously, but it can help you write more professional 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: communication, right?

It’s definitely a great tool for improving on what you’ve created, but I would warn against people using chat GPT to write plans of action. I have tested it and said, you know, here’s the problem. Write me a plan of action in these parts and even tried refining it. And there is so much bad information about Amazon policy out there, as well as what ChatGPT has fed into it is older.

So a lot of it is actually outdated. There’s a lot of really bad stuff. And so you can end up with a plan of action that tells them you’re going to do something that is going to break a rule. Got to be really careful about. 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Yeah, yeah, you might get a little better results from Bard, but [00:12:00] perhaps not because Bard has a really hard time remembering what you told it previously, like it’ll forget the previous message that you sent it sometimes, so you got to be careful.

I like to use it mainly just, you know, make this sound more professional, you know, and then it makes it writes it in a very business tone, so it’s pretty good at doing that 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: at least. Yeah, refinement for sure is excellent. It’s like your extra check, just like having some other person, uh, read through your plan and say, you know, you know, you told them the root cause up here, but you never addressed it.

That’s really the number 1 problem with plans of action is someone will say the root cause is that I didn’t have seals on the box. Uh, so they were opening. At Amazon FBA, because they, the seals were bad or there weren’t seals on the box. And then in the remedies, you don’t say I’m going to add seals to the box.

That’s it’s funny when you’re in. [00:13:00] The thick of it. It’s so easy to make mistakes like that. Yeah, for 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: sure. And it’s, it’s easy to just assume someone knows something because it’s so common knowledge to you, but someone else it’s not. So yeah, having someone else read it that maybe doesn’t know much about your business and see if they understand.

What it’s saying can be a helpful as well. 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: Yeah, absolutely. Um, we do the same thing internally at Riverbend, especially a lot of the, I only work on very novel issues at this point, because I spend a lot of time managing the business and training consultants. And and so when there’s something that’s brand new or super hard or very long term, that gets assigned to me.

And that is my number one strategy. I, our director of operations was an investigator at Amazon for 10 years. She was a manager there in seller performance. And so I will, without her knowing about the case, send her my plan of action and say, tell me what you think so that she can tear it apart [00:14:00] for me.

Because on novel issues and we have, you know, I don’t want to say making it up because we have a lot of background and experience, but we’re throwing stuff at the wall strategies that we know have worked in other situations to see if it’ll work in this one. And, uh, it’s great to have her just tear it apart and tell me, you know, this part works, but this part made no sense at all for this.

What do you think? 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Yep, for sure. We had our account taken down 1 time. Only thankfully, and it was only for like four or five hours where we were, we were going to start selling this energy drink and we were going to sell it in a three pack. It already existed as a single and like a six pack and 12 packs.

So we were like, well, let’s make a three pack. So we created the three pack. Our listing got taken down and they shut down our entire account because come to find out the energy drink had an ingredient that had just recently been banned by the FDA. Uh, and what was kind of frustrating or very frustrating is they took [00:15:00] down our three pack, but the single and the six pack and the 12 pack were still live.

I haven’t checked recently, so I don’t know if they are, but months afterwards I checked and they were still selling. Under those ones, but I wrote the plan of action, uh, and it was able to get it back up and running by the next morning, thankfully, but it can be a pain and very frustrating. I really wanted to, you know, just yell at Amazon, uh, but you gotta be calm, stay focused.

And write it like a professional 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: and you bring up such a great point for, um, new folks to know just on that as well. Um, Amazon is really bad at equal enforcement and it drives, especially those of us who live in the United States. It drives us crazy. Because our entire system of justice in the United States is like equal opportunity and like equal enforcement under the law.

Nobody’s above the law and we’re all supposed to be treated equally. Well, it’s not that Amazon doesn’t want to [00:16:00] treat people equally. It’s that the catalog is massive. And sometimes the bots that they use to crawl the catalog find certain listings and don’t find other listings. And so you’ll see people selling prohibited products.

Amazon and so then other folks think I can sell a charger for a vaping device because there are other chargers for vaping devices on Amazon. Well, if you read through the help, you’ll see that a prohibited product is anything related to vaping. It cannot be sold on Amazon. None of it. Even a charger, even though it has nothing to do with the vaping device itself.

It’s not a, it’s not something you use to vape, but you can’t even sell the chargers. So newbies will think, Oh, I can sell that. Or another great example right now is grinders and other things related to marijuana. Um, there are tons of grinders on Amazon. They’ve actually recently gotten better. [00:17:00] At finding and taking down grinders and stash jars and related products, but there’s still a few so some newbie will say, look, there’s all this opportunity for grinders because there’s only 5 not realizing there used to be thousands.

And they’ve all been taken down and they’re prohibited. So if you want to sell anything that is on the edge in any way, uh, it’s really important to go in and search through the help and find out if it’s something that you can actually sell and, you know, products with banned ingredients. So that’s a tough one, especially when they’re recently banned, because it’s not like you were.

acting on old information. This was new information. That’s, that can be super frustrating. But in many cases though, not yours, but in many cases, you can go in and search the help and see specific ingredients, specific types of products that you do not want to list because it will take your 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: account down.

Especially when you’re new, when your count is young, [00:18:00] you’re at much greater risk of having your account taken down with one or two issues 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: that pop up. And permanently, um, especially for restricted products, because there are a lot of black hat folks out there who will, for example, list a Substance that isn’t, you know, street drugs, uh, they will list street drugs.

They will create a listing that has these keywords that people search for, for street drugs. And then if they get caught, it’s one time and you’re out. Amazon’s not letting them back. There are other people who have less scary restricted products, like say, The charger for a vape that will list it and it doesn’t look like that.

And there’s trying to circumvent the rules and that one gets taken down. And then they listed it another way. Uh, if you circumvent Amazon’s rules that way, because you’ve got inventory, you’re freaked out, you got to sell it. When you circumvent, you’re asking to be permanently gone from Amazon. So when you [00:19:00] have a young account.

You’ve got to be so much more careful an account like mine. That’s from 2010. If I list a restricted product They’re going to give me a warning and tell me to take it down unless it’s something horrible Then they might they might suspend me and then let me back on when I give a plan of action But if you’ve got a brand new account, you can’t afford that.

They don’t know 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: you. Yeah Yeah, definitely try to stay away from that line as much as possible, especially when you’re When you’re new, stay in the white, don’t go into the group. What are your biggest issues you see with people that are maybe just opening their seller central account and they’re not allowing them to open the account?

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: There is so much of that going on right now. And I know it’s frustrating for new folks. It is super important that you have all your business documentation buttoned up before you even apply to sell on Amazon, because now they are doing calls, they’re video calls where they can see you, they can see the [00:20:00] documents.

They want you to hold up your passport or your driver’s license that they can zoom in on and see it and see that it matches your pretty face. They want business formation documents. Uh, they need bank account information. And this is not Amazon. This is mandated by the government. They have no choice.

They also have to be stricter than they have been in the past because It is the government. There are things that before they might’ve been like, ah, close enough. And now that’s not going to happen because it’s the government mandating it. They’re trying to stop money laundering and other financial crimes, which y’all it’s real money laundering on Amazon is real.

I’ve seen it myself many times. I’ve seen extortion on Amazon. I’ve seen things really bad things that y’all don’t even want to know about on Amazon There’s a lot of stolen goods. So they really do have to crack down on these things So you’ve got to have all your documents ready to go You need some invoices from a supplier that have that match [00:21:00] What it says in the back end of your amazon account So when you set it up and you put in that LLC, or even if it’s under your own name, your invoices need to match and then they will ask to see emails between you and your supplier.

They want to know that these are legit relationships. You’re not buying stuff that fell off the back of a truck. And then last thing to know is. There’s this horrible thing happening where Amazon will say they’re setting up a verification call with you and they gave you three times to choose from or they give you a bunch of times and you choose three and then they never send you the call information and so then you reach out to them again and say no one showed up.

Uh, no one gave me an email, no one gave me a time. And so they give you, you know, another set of times and say choose three. And this goes on for months and months. If that happens to you, you’ve got to escalate it to executive seller relations. Okay. So you’re ready for my, my amazing, valuable freebie tip that I’m [00:22:00] going to give everyone.

You ready? Absolutely. So the frontline escalation group that we like to send problems to is called executive seller relations, and they’ve been at Amazon a long time, but now they answer the email address, Jeff at amazon. com. So that used to be Jeff Bezos’s. In house email address. But as y’all know, he does not run day to day at Amazon anymore.

So now Jeff at redirects to executive seller relations and executive buyer relations. So it’s important that when you send this email, from the primary email address that you use to log into your account. It’s gotta be that email. Don’t address it, Dear Jeff. Address it, Dear Executive Seller Relations.

Because that way, they know that you know. So, they know that you know that you’re not writing Jeff, you’re writing them. And then you have to be really brief and say, Here’s my problem. You know, I’m trying to get [00:23:00] verified. And no one has shown up. Or sent me the email to attend these calls. And I’ve been stood up now six times.

Help me. You have to be really brief. You say what you’ve already done and then ask for help. You need to include your token. So everyone has an A number. That is your storefront number. You can find it under your merchant token in settings. You want to include that token somewhere in the email as well so they can look you up.

And again, they know that you know that they’re the people who are supposed to help you. So you can use that for any problem that you’re having as a seller. Just don’t waste it. They don’t want frequent flyers. This needs to be for serious business impacting issues. Yeah, 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: because you can get on an ignore list, right?

Yes. Where they just don’t reply to you anymore if you abuse the communication 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: channels. Absolutely. And you only want to send to that email when it is something that you cannot fix and that it’s been dragging out. [00:24:00] So they miss one call. They don’t give you the link one time. You don’t go to ESR for that.

It happens three times. Do it. Or another example, I’ve got someone that Amazon owes them 100, 000 and they keep, they have a case open and we already went through other channels to get them their 100, 000, um, but it hasn’t been paid. And so we waited until that case had been sitting for 30 days and that’s outside of SLA and then we go to executive seller relations and say, okay.

Where’s my hundred grand? No one is actually working on this case. They’re just every three days saying the concern team is working on it to keep it open. So sometimes it takes that kick in the pants from an executive group to make the thing happen, but you just can’t. I know you’re impatient. You want your money.

Can’t jump. Yeah. Yeah, that’ll make you sweat a little bit 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: having 100, 000 held up. 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: Well, I think the [00:25:00] largest amount we’ve ever gotten released Was somewhere close to a million dollars. Yeah. 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Ouch. Yeah. I mean, that’ll, that’ll can destroy your business having that much cash flow held up. I mean, if you’re brand new and you got a couple thousand held up, that can ruin you.

You know, so I can’t imagine the sleepless nights having a million dollars. Held up that would not be good and 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: it is important to understand your Amazon ledger. So back to the newbie question, there is an area in seller central where it has all your transactions listed. It’s super important to understand what’s going on in there and to make sure that you are actually being paid.

You’re being paid the right amount. You’re not being overcharged for fees. When you look in your Amazon inventory, you can see sometimes dimensions are wrong on a product. There’s all kinds of ways that Amazon makes errors and they’re usually not in your favor as the seller. They’re usually in Amazon’s favor.

It’s not [00:26:00] that they’re dishonest. It’s that they’re not trying very hard for you. You’re not their priority. So you really do have to keep an eye on these things. And if they say you’re going to reimburse you. You have to watch it like a hawk, because a lot of times they just won’t until you scream and holler, jump up and down.

Yeah, 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: that’s where a good, uh, you know, reimbursement company comes into play, which is something you guys do as well. 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: Right? Absolutely. We work on a reimbursement. So that’s when you send shipments to Amazon. The biggest money. Is where you send a shipment to Amazon FBA and they say they never received it or they short you.

The, that’s really where the, the big refunds come in. But then there’s small stuff too. They tranship inventory between warehouses and they lose it. Things literally roll under shelves and get lost. They get returns and they don’t credit you for the inventory that’s returned. So we have team members who go through essentially the ledgers on your account and on your inventory and make sure that when Amazon loses your [00:27:00] inventory, you’re reimbursed.

It can actually be the difference between making a profit and not for the year, depending on how bad it is. Uh, we’ve had clients who’ve had 10 percent of their inventory or more impacted for the year. Think about those numbers. Uh, it’s, it’s money on products that you purchased or manufactured that you will never get the revenue.

And sometimes have paid fees on, you’ve paid storage fees or like for an item that was returned, you know, you paid fees for them to ship that item out. And then it came back, they took away your commission or took away what you should have earned, kept part of the commission. No, they refund the commission, but they eat the other, they keep make you eat the other fees.

And then, then I was gone. So you really have to keep an eye on all of these things so that they don’t end up eating your, your profit at the end of the year. Yeah, yeah, 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: for that kind of stuff, I definitely recommend people sign up for a refund service. You know, you guys, or I use my refund guy, get it does really good as well, but sign up for something [00:28:00] and let them be hammering that out for you because it, uh, the cost that it takes and the benefit that you receive is, is 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: definitely worth it.

Oh, and I tell people that all the time. No seller should be spending their time doing this. I would love your business, but if you don’t want to use me, go check out Katita, go check out someone else. I will give you their phone number, but don’t do it yourself. It is too hard. It takes too much time. You have to do follow up after follow up.

It’s just not worth your pay grade as a business owner or manager. And also that’s not your skillset. Uh, if you’re an entrepreneur, I promise you, this is not your skillset. I have never once done reimbursements on my account. I’ve always used a VA to do it. I get to use someone on my own team, but if I didn’t use my team, I would use somebody else.

Yeah. 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Yeah. It’s kind of like you doing your, your books and accounting. Just don’t do it yourself. Get somebody to do it for you that specializes in it as [00:29:00] soon as possible. Amen. So we’ve touched a lot of the, like the newbie stuff. What are some of the more advanced things that you see more frequently than 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: others?

Right now, Amazon is still on a tear with linked accounts, and that can affect new, new sellers, but it actually affects longer held accounts and more established sellers more often. So, a linked account is where Amazon believes that your account is somehow related to another account that has been banned from selling on the platform.

It was suspended for some reason, some bad behavior, and sometimes The, the client or the seller, sometimes they’re guilty. There are people who they get shut down for some reason. They set up another account. They try and use VPN and all these other strategies. So Amazon doesn’t see it and catch it. And then eventually Amazon catches them.

They make a mistake. They, they load the same [00:30:00] credit card and they were using on the old account or, you know, some kind of laziness, something dumb that they do. They get caught, but so many of our clients who come in. Have no idea who this related account is. Amazon will now tell you either the full name of the related account or the first three letters of the account.

And they will swear up and down. They’ve never heard of these people. So I’ll tell you the most bizarre story I’ve ever had with related accounts. So people can know how nuts this gets. There was a woman from Canada. Who had a very valuable brand that she built and it was purchased by a large aggregator you have all heard of.

And this aggregator was super excited because the brand was so great. And they, uh, she maintained a very small ownership in the account, but she transferred it over to the aggregator and they, they have to log in. Everything’s good. Out of the blue, she gets code of conduct and she was taken down for related accounts.

Turned out some guy she had lived with. Several years [00:31:00] prior had been banned from all Amazon marketplaces for being a black hat seller. And he didn’t even sell on Amazon at the time they were living together. He, he had never had anything to do with Amazon. They broke up. She hadn’t even spoken to him for years.

And somehow, because they had shared a past address, probably, um, Amazon, when they banned his accounts, then they looked for any related accounts he had and took her down. So here’s the nightmare part. Then, at the aggregator, like, it was one every week, like, clockwork. Their new acquisitions started going down.

One a week. One at a time, we had to appeal each one separately. There was no way to tell Amazon, hey, this is all one aggregator and it’s all because of this one incident. And they’re like, cool. And they make it go away. No, every single account we had to start over and do the reinstatement again. So it was a false positive, but it was based on realistic data.

And [00:32:00] that’s where most of these come from. It’s, it’s a false positive because this lady didn’t do anything wrong. She hadn’t even spoken to the guy for more than a year, but the data, since they thought he was such a bad actor, cause he was banned worldwide, which is kind of rare, what he did was so awful that they were airing on the side of safety.

So. So these are the things that can happen. Some roommate that you had years ago, they get their account suspended. A business that you worked at and you logged in with your buyer account when you were at that business and their account is taken down and then you from home set up a seller account and you still use that login that you used to use when you were at the business for the same account.

And so then they think you’re a bad guy. There’s so many ways it can happen. The reason it happens to older sellers is the longer you sell, the more relationships you’ve had, people you’ve lived with, people you’ve known, companies you’ve worked, and eventually, uh, you can get taken out. Another, [00:33:00] another one is, uh, shared office spaces.

So, you know how there’s like the, the office spaces where it’s an, there’s offices in their shared warehouse. That can do it. If someone in a shared warehouse, uh, is taken down and you have the same address on everything and it’s, it’s bad. It’s really bad. I understand a lot of times why Amazon does it, but coming back from it is hard because proving a negative is not an easy thing.

You know, when you say, mommy, I didn’t eat that cookie. My brother ate the cookie. How do you prove that unless he’s got crumbs all over his face? 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Yeah, yeah, have you ever seen it where the connection is because of maybe a shared Ups store post box or something like that. Is that a 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: thing? So it’s not supposed to happen Anytime that there’s an address or an internet connection that is public so like You and I and a bunch of other people go into an Amazon conference and we’re all on the same internet connection because it’s the hotel [00:34:00] that is not supposed to link accounts.

Neither is like a UPS or a USPS post office is not supposed to. But it happens. It’s very rare that it happens, but it does, unfortunately. And there’s nothing you can do but, but fight back. And then there’s the things where, okay, so let’s say I had an Amazon account when I was in college. Okay, Amazon wasn’t open when I was in college.

But let’s say that I was younger and I had an Amazon account when I was in college. And I sold my textbooks on Amazon at the end of the semester. Then I decided to party a lot and had a great time and I never shipped them. They sold. I never shipped them. So they closed my seller account. And then 20 years later I decided to start my own brand of something.

And so I sign up for an account. Amazon shuts me down. Well, I did the bad thing, right? In college, I was too busy having fun and didn’t ship those textbooks. [00:35:00] So in those situations, and this is crazy, you have to actually appeal. The old account. So we’ve appealed closed accounts from 15 years ago, 17 years ago, that with this exact scenario, college kid didn’t ship books multiple times.

I think there’s a whole world full of people who have had this problem and had to appeal that account. And then once we get it back up, then the current account comes back 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: up. Interesting. So Amazon never forgets. 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: They don’t, but there are some things that make sense, you know, that story makes sense, um, or I was working at a business.

They asked me to set up the Amazon account. Then I left. It got suspended after I left, I’m doing my own thing now. That’s a story that makes sense. They’ll accept that. Um, but you have to tell a really good tale and on almost all these, you have to escalate. Frontline seller performance does not feel empowered to fix 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: it.

Yeah, for sure. So [00:36:00] like 40, 50 years from now, we’ll be like your great grandmother’s account was shut down. So we got to appeal that first. 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: I wouldn’t be surprised. You know if you had told me when I started doing this kind of work that I was going to be appealing accounts that were 13, 15 years old and had been shut down and winning, I would have told you that’s crazy talk.

Those are actually easier to get back up a lot of times than new account suspensions, which is nutso. Yeah, 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: for sure. All right. Well, cool. So this has been really great. I think a lot of really good information. You’ve got a book that’s coming out as well. Pretty soon, right? The Amazon incubator. You want to tell us a little bit about 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: that?

Yes, thank you. It’s the Amazon Incubator, grow your business or hatch a new one, and it’s available at all the major bookstores, including, of course, amazon. com. And so this book is kind [00:37:00] of an antidote, I would say, to some of the get rich quick Transcribed Schemes and scams out there about Amazon saying invest in this awesome drop shipping thing.

That’s going to get you suspended or I’m going to build your business for you. And you don’t ever have to touch it. Um, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Uh, so I wrote this book to provide kind of an old school guide on how to set up. A business the right way on Amazon, so it’s safe, it is sustainable, it is long term, and that you cover all the basics, but most importantly, that it’s built around your personal goals and what you want to do.

There’s a lot of people in our industry who have the whole Lamborghinis and Beaches theory of business. That’s their goal. There’s nothing wrong with those goals. If that’s what you want, I want it for you. But I think the average person out there Looking for a side hustle, looking for an extra way to make money, or if they want to test the waters on Amazon, they want to see if they can [00:38:00] have just a little bit better lifestyle, or if they can take their family on a great vacation or pay for their kids college, uh, or pay off their own student loan.

They have very. Average goals that will help make their lives really better. Um, and, and that’s, that’s what I want is to have this book be, this is how you set goals for you. Let’s do it instead of someone else’s dreams and goals. So I hope people check it out. If you go to theamazonincubator. com, it has links to all the bookstores and there’s some free stuff you can get too and download from my site.

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Awesome. So, so I take it you don’t think that it’s too late to be successful on Amazon if you’re just starting now. See, that’s 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: a great question, especially right now, because there are some. Amazon service businesses and some aggregators and some large businesses that have, you know, they’re going bankrupt in e commerce right now.

And so I think [00:39:00] that scares a lot of people off, but the reasons for a lot of that are very complex. A lot of it has to do with things like high interest rates that they didn’t bake into their business plan. Um, if you are a hustler, an entrepreneur, someone who already has a product and you’re not selling on Amazon.

There’s absolutely opportunity. I would argue, and people think this is crazy cause they call me the suspension lady. I’m the one who fights Amazon every day. That is my reason for getting up in the morning is to fight Amazon. I still believe Amazon is the greatest business opportunity in history. You can be very small, have very little startup capital.

And test a product, test a business model, try something new. There is still room. There’s riches in the niches. There’s products that haven’t been introduced. There’s great new exciting ways to market like on Tik Tok and on Google ads and all kinds of fun ways to try and get out through through [00:40:00] social media.

It can still be done. And especially if you’re someone trying to keep up with cost of living and you want to hustle with some arbitrage, you can easily make money flipping products. I know it’s not popular to say anymore because arbitrage can be a little dangerous with intellectual property problems.

But, uh, you know, if you read in the book, I talk about the safer things to do that with, like, you don’t want to sell Disney. You want to sell things that the companies don’t come after you. I still think there’s room to make money. And especially for people like me, I’m, I was a mommy printer. I started Amazon as a, as a hustle because I had to quit my traditional consulting job and homeschool a special needs kid.

That’s why I started on Amazon and I was old school. Retail arbitrage, online arbitrage, uh, packing the shipments with the family on the weekend and sending them off to FBA. And so for folks who were like, I was then where my goal [00:41:00] was to pay for my kid’s physical therapy and his neurological biofeedback that wasn’t covered by insurance, that was what I had to do.

And then special needs school, I didn’t need to make. 20, 000 a month. I needed 3, 000 a month to pay for that. And I made that and more that can still be done on Amazon right now. And I want to really encourage people who have the challenges that I had. Uh, this is a way to do it without having to take an extra full 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: time job.

Yep. I would agree a hundred percent. So yeah, definitely if you’re just thinking about getting started. Get started. Do it. Definitely not too late. I think you have to be a little more professional about it. Maybe now, especially if you want to go big, you have to be really good at what you do or get good.

You don’t start good. You work your way up. Um, but there’s a lot of opportunity out there 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: for sure. Yeah. And that’s a lot of what’s in the book is the foundations. Setting up your books properly, [00:42:00] document management. So that when Amazon asks for their, those invoices, you have them choosing between FBA where Amazon ships for you and fulfilled by merchants where you’re shipping the items yourself, how to choose those, a lot of those basic decisions.

You have to be a lot more strategic now and really understand the expenses and the impact to your bottom line. So yeah, it used to be Amazon was a hustle that you kind of treated like a hustle and you didn’t have good documents or how did you file your taxes, you know, that kind of thing. Now you’ve got to really be buttoned up.

But if you’re buttoned up, you can win and you watch your numbers. Uh, you can have that income that you need for your family. 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Yep. Absolutely. Well, I already pre ordered the book on Amazon. So after it comes out and I read it, I’ll have to have you back on the show and we’ll do an episode about the contents of the 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: book.

Well, thank you so much. I would love that. And I really appreciate you buying the book. That’s, that’s so exciting to [00:43:00] me. One copy down. 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Yeah, I’ll put a link in the show notes as well. So anybody else that wants to check it out, get it. It’s always a good thing to learn from the people who are teaching and not standing in front of the Lamborghinis all the time.

Not that there’s anything necessarily bad about that, but a lot of times those guys are not all that wholesome necessarily. 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: Well, and they’re not about being sustainable. A lot of those. And the other, like get rich quick models, it’s trying to get that quick hit of cash, but then what happens? And, and I’m a lot more about, let’s set some long term goals and build to that gradually.

It’s really the old fashioned kind of boring way, but I think what we’re seeing with some of the problems with people going out of business is they weren’t doing some of the old fashioned boring stuff that you need to do to make sure you’re still around in two, three years or 10 years, if that’s what you want.

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: Exactly. All right. Well, Leslie [00:44:00] is great to have you on the show. I really appreciate 

Lesley Hensell | Co-founder of Riverbend Consulting: it. Thank you so much. It’s been fun. You have 

Todd Welch | CEO & Founder of Welch Products LCC: a great one. You too.