The following shows how Amazon encourages unscrupulous buyers to obtain free merchandise at the expense of their reseller community. The Amazon reseller can expect to provide merchandise for buyers, ship the merchandise, issue a refund, and not receive the merchandise back from the buyer. The reseller may also be rewarded by not being allowed to sell on Amazon when the buyer scam is complete. I was a victim of these buyer scams. After 8 years of above 98% positive results in all measured categories, I was terminated as a seller due to a bogus claim or claims that I suddenly sold recopied media. Amazon refused to verify the claims or offer any response to requests for information. Monies were withheld for 90 days and the termination is now permanent. Further details may be found at the website I created at http://www.amazonresellers.info. Here is how the scams work: Feedback blackmail
Amazon encourages customers to rate their transactions with the Amazon Resellers. The buyers are also encouraged to communicate with the sellers prior to the writing of any negative feedback so that the seller can respond and correct any problem with the item. Unfortunately, over the past year more and more buyers use this contact to demand a full refund of the item without returning the item. They threaten to write a negative feedback unless their demands are met. Other sites provide a method of informing the site management when a buyer threatens the seller with this action. Amazon offers no such methodology and in fact does not encourage or provide a method to show resellers which buyers repeat this activity or constantly try to cheat resellers.
No buyer rating systems is encouraged.
Resellers have noted a sharp increase in attempts by buyers to claim that merchandise is damaged, in poor condition, or did not arrive. Savvy resellers find that when they ask the buyer to return the merchandise or threaten to have the post office investigate that the buyer drops the claim. Some buyers will place a bogus bad feedback without sending an email in advance so that the seller can correct any problem. They assume that the seller will refund the sale and let them keep the merchandise if they remove the feedback. They probably do not realize that Amazon gives resellers a negative rating for any and all refunds. Refunding the buyer at this point would merely substitute one negative rating for another.
Buyer manipulation is not the most serious buyer scam method. Experienced buyers quickly learn that other methods to receive free merchandise have become nearly 100% guaranteed: Amazons A-to-Z Guarantee
When customers have a problem with a transaction made through Marketplace Payments by Amazon
they may request that Amazon arbitrate the situation. They are asked to first contact the seller to give them a chance to address the issue at hand. The prior contact request is only a suggestion and is not required by Amazon. Many buyers now go directly to the A-to-Z Guarantee page to submit their claims.
Several years ago, claims appeared to be researched by Amazon and obviously bogus buyer claims were handled by Amazon. Amazon either refunded the buyers money or denied the claim. Legitimate claims seemed to be mostly handled directly by the sellers prior to any A-to-Z submission. At least that was the experience of the author of this site, an Amazon Reseller since 2001.
For the past few years, nearly 100% of all Amazon A-to-Z Claims have been automatically decided in favor of the buyers, regardless of any evidence presented by Amazon Resellers. The refunds now are deducted from reseller funds held by Amazon. The buyer keeps the merchandise and has no obligation to return the item. The buyers are not required to return the merchandise to Amazon or the seller. They are not required to show the damaged, copied media, or wrong merchandise to Amazon or the reseller. The reseller is not allowed to see whether the so-called suspect item was what was actually shipped.
The author of this notice was a victim of the above scam. The buyer claimed that a DVD was recopied media. This seller explained to Amazon that the item was a factory-sealed DVD. It was a standard Amazon listing item that happened to be in the public domain and is available from several manufacturers. No copyright infringement was possible. Since it was sealed and there was no way of determining the actual quality of the item, this reseller told Amazon to refund the full cost of the item. Amazon issued an automated warning to the seller about selling recopied media apparently based on the buyers unsubstantiated claim. This bogus claim was used as a prior warning to terminate this Amazon Reseller when a second bogus claim under the following scam method was submitted by a buyer. The Amazon Reseller Community Rules Scam
Amazon has an extensive list of rules that the resellers must adhere to in order to sell merchandise on the site.
Prohibited Content is listed:http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200414300
Buyers are instructed by Amazon to report any violations:Report a Community Rules Violation
If you receive an item from a third-party Marketplace seller that may be in violation of our Community Rules, report it to us via our Contact Us form. Select "Report a Community Rules Violation" from the drop-down menu, and include all relevant information. All reports are investigated thoroughly, though for privacy reasons we do not share the results of our investigations.
Amazon states for the buyer that they do not share any results [or information] of any investigation. That includes informing the buyer so they may know what sale was being investigated and whether the item the buyer is complaining about was what was actually sent. Even if a buyer was required to send the item to Amazon, Amazon would not be able to verify that that was what the seller sent to the buyer. The seller has no way of knowing what item was in question and is not allowed to defend themselves against a scammer.
Thus the buyer receives free merchandise and the cost is refunded. If, as happened to the author of this site and many other resellers, the buyer claims that the item was recopied media,
the reseller is suspended permanently by Amazon. Amazon uses this no tolerance, no verification policy to destroy legitimate long-standing, highly rated resellers and award these scammers merchandise stolen from these resellers.
Amazon provides a form so that scammers may easily obtain their free merchandise that resellers have no recourse to prevent. They merely click on the contact us in the Report a Community Rules Violation
as shown above on the Amazon.com website to obtain the following form: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports/contact-us To:
Amazon Reports From:Subject:
Report a violation of our rules Comments:
Please visit Your account
to check on the status of your orders. Order #:Comments:
Thank you for reporting a community rules violation.
Please provide as much information as possible. Seller Nickname:Order #:Listing ID (0000-Z-000000):Comments:
During the several weeks in October 2009 surrounding the period of the reseller destruction event described in the letter to Jeff Bezos on the main page at amazonresellers.info, the following was observed. A search on the subject recopied media produced the Amazon prohibited contents list which at the time included the above form and instructions on the same page. Amazon has since moved the form to a separate page. It is no longer the top search result. The scammers may now be well educated and do not require the search information in order to continue the scam,
A large number of those surveyed regarding these policies of Amazon and how they are being utilized to eliminate Amazon Resellers suspect that many of the scammers are other Amazon Resellers. If this is true, these resellers could order merchandise, obtain a refund for the merchandise, resell the merchandise, and eliminate a competitor reseller in one swoop. Amazon claims to provide extensive tracking procedures to insure that a suspended reseller cannot rejoin the Amazon Marketplace using a different name. They check credit cards, ISPs, zip codes, and any other relationships to suspended accounts to prevent the resellers return. If Amazon were interested in eliminating scams or protecting their legitimate resellers, they would be implementing these same procedures to try and identify buyers and resellers who are behind some of these scams. Refunds are bad!
During 2009 Amazon initiated an additional evaluation criteria for resellers. They began tracking this negative rating methodology for resellers on the basis of the number of refunds they issued to buyers. These rating are not compared with the actual orders but rather they were like other rating criteria were judged only against positive ratings by the buyers who chose to submit a positive feedback.
These ratings are utilized as one evaluation criteria to suspend or stop Amazon Resellers from continue to sell on Amazon. This has proved especially detrimental to newer resellers who have yet to establish enough positive feedback to offset a few refunds. Amazon does not discriminate as to what may have caused the refund. Any refund for any reason is considered to be negative. This includes buyer remorse when the buyer cancels the order before it is shipped or before or after it arrives. Once Amazon has collected their fees, any refund is bad for the reseller. If the buyer also submits a poor feedback rating, the reseller will receive a negative report in two different lists for the same transaction.
Amazon Resellers are becoming more and more reluctant to give buyer refunds, even when they are deemed to be legitimate. The negative Amazon refund evaluation has to be weighed each time against a potential negative feedback.
Amazon provides no discount on the shipping and handling costs to the buyer for multiple items from the same seller on the same order. The author of this site began offering buyers a rebate for a portion of the shipping and handling costs for additional items ordered. It was stopped as soon as it was noted that even these rebates of a few dollars were treated as being full refunds on the refund negative rating list.
Amazon encourages their buyers to return any merchandise for a refund as part of their Buyer-Centric mantra. They then turn around and punish the resellers who actually implement this policy. Catch 22? Amazon hypocrisy?