Common Countermeasures for Malicious Competition among Amazon Sellers (2nd Half)

6.Return with Counterfeit

These malicious sellers will buy the products from their competitors and then purchase cheaper ones or counterfeits from other places. When the authentic products arrive, they will replace them with the cheaper ones and claim that the products they received are not authentic. Then, the cheaper versions or counterfeits are returned for a refund while the authentic products are kept for resale.

Later, these scammers will comment on the listing that the product they received were not matching the description or counterfeits, or report directly to Amazon, any of which may lead Amazon to suspend the seller’s account because Amazon always takes counterfeit issues seriously.

According to Steven Thompson, Thompson and Holt’s consultant of Amazon account freezing, he handled nearly 50-60 similar cases this year alone where counterfeit disputes arose because of malicious false claims filed by competitors.

Countermeasures:

This scam is easy to identify, for the seller will find that the product is not what he sent out when he receives the returned goods (FBM).

While the seller may not be aware that it’s a trick played by the competitor in the first place, because the buyer may just look like any one of those grumpy buyers. Therefore, the seller needs some skills to identify whether the buyer is one of his competitors.

Even the seller finds out that it is his competitor making the trouble; he still cannot use this as a reason to ask Amazon to unsuspend the account. The best way for a seller to recovery the account is to just take the responsibility even it’s not his mistakes.

How to recovery your seller accounts:

If your Amazon seller account is suspended because of such scam, it’s better to submit the Plan of Action (POA), summarizing how will you improve, most importantly, illustrating the products were indeed from authorized distributors.

While it’s hard to completely prevent such scams, yet sellers can take some measures to reduce the impact. They can keep the all the purchasing receipts, which can eventually prove that all you products were from authorized distributors.

Retail arbitrage sellers are more vulnerable to such scams, for they purchased products from other retailers, but not from authorized distributors instead. Amazon does not approve legitimacy of such receipts, so it is difficult for arbitrage sellers to prove the authenticity of their products.

7.Abuse of Brand Registry by Registering Competitor’s Trademarks

Brand Registry is a powerful tool for Amazon to crack down on counterfeited goods, while some sellers may use this to crush all the competitors with a well-designed process.

If you are a seller on Amazon US selling your own private labeled products and use an all-purpose trademark, you need to register your trademark with US Patent and Trademark Office. Some malicious competitors will find all ways to take over your listing and your brand while registering your trademark as theirs is the easiest way.

8.Price Manipulation

These sellers like to push competitors out of the first page of search results with several seller accounts posting multiple listings, or directly take down the competitors with a price war.

The stories about malicious behaviors such as the abuse of the brand registry, the preemptive registration of competitor’s trademarks and the manipulation on product price and so on are endless. To deal with such matters, most sellers can appeal to Amazon to protect their own accounts if there are no wrongdoings in their operations.

Illegal practices may occur when a market becomes profitable. Some companies even use software to spy on their competitors’ stores and such behaviors should be blamed. They’d better spend more time in developing more products, optimizing account performance and building their own brands.

Common Countermeasures for Malicious Competition among Amazon Sellers (1st Half)

It is normal for Amazon sellers to compete aggressively against each other, and sometimes they achieve self-improvements by learning from opponents. However, some sellers knock down their opponents by various malicious acts, and these acts all comply with Amazon’s policy. What should we do in this case? Let’s take a look!

Common Malicious Acts of Vicious Sellers

 1.Piggybacking

Allowing different sellers compete on the same listing is a unique thing of Amazon. Many private label sellers have been confused that most often their accounts got suspended due to selling on other’s listing, but Amazon still encourages you to do that, which is a very contradictory thing. The intention of Amazon’s selling same products on one listing policy is to encourage price competition among different sellers of the same brand, to benefit consumers and increase the attractiveness of the Amazon platform.

To fundamentally prevent piggybacking or hijacking, Amazon sellers should start from their own products, do a good job in differentiated product selection, develop their own designs instead of following what everyone is producing, and eventually establish the brand awareness. This is the only way to keep the piggybackers away from your listing!

If you see someone is piggbacking on your listing, the first thing to do is to contact that seller and request him to remove his inventory off your listing by sending a cease and desist letter; You will let the seller know the possible consequences of this unauthorized selling act. You can use the following email template as a reference.

 

Dear “ B”,

 

It has come to our attention that “ B ” is using the ” A ” trade mark without license or prior written authorization from ” A “.

 

“A ” holds federal trademark registrations in the United States. So“ B ” listings violate ” A ” trademark and intellectual property rights. You are also in breach of Amazon’s Participation Agreement.

 

Therefore, we demand that you immediately remove all listings on Amazon.com in which“ B ”utilizes our trademarks and images protected by copyright.

 

“ B ”currently has at least one listing onAmazon.com for products that utilize“ A’s” trademarks and/or copyrights without authorization. See the following ASIN: ××××××××××。

 

“A ” is the only entity authorized to provide authorization to sell its products on Amazon.com. Your listing constitutes a violation of ” A’s” trademark rights, copyrights, and Amazon’s Participation Agreement.

 

“ B ”’s infringing listings must be removed immediately to prevent damage to ” A ” brand and lost sales.

 

While” A ” has many options available under this state. But we would prefer to resolve this matter amicably. Please confirm to us in writing within24 hours, that you have:

 

(1)Removed all of ” A’s ” trademarks and copyright material from your Amazon.com listings and any other website or public display you operate;

 

(2)Removed all of ” A’s ” listings of products it claims to be associated with “A’s “, including but not limited to the ASINs listed above

 

Failure to take action within 24 hours will force us to report this serious violation to the Amazon seller performance team. This is licensed products to Amazon.com as well, Amazon seller performance team will take such violations very seriously, possibly resulting in removal of your selling privileges on Amazon.com.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please contact us if you have any questions.

 

Legal on behalf of “A”

If that seller ignores the warning, you can proceed to test buy their product. Buying their products is for you to have proof to report that the piggybacker’s product has problems or involves infringements. Contact Amazon’s Seller Performance Team by clicking the URL link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports/contact-us, and select “Report a violation of our rules”.

Some sellers have been piggybacking on other’s listings for a long time that they are experienced enough to realize that this is a test buy and may change their store names immediately, so that the your complaint may be useless if you referred this infringer by their store name only. However, although the store name can be changed anytime, the Seller ID can’t be changed.

 

At the same time, you should start writing reports that the products sold by the piggybacker does not match your product description and attach photos as evidence. You need to describe in detail the differences between the products sold by the other sellers and your genuine products. Your complaint in email must be reasonably stated. To quickly resolve the problem, you should promptly provide the following information to Amazon Customer Service:

 

1、The ASIN/ISBN of the item’s detail page and the product title

2、The store or business name of the seller you are reporting

3、Your test buy order ID

4、A concise explanation of the violation

Ps: Do not mention “Trademark” or “Copyright” in the complaint email, otherwise it will be forwarded to Amazon’s Legal Department and your complaint will never be looked at. As for test buy order, you can request a return for refund and ask the seller to pay for the return shipping.

If Amazon agrees with you after the investigation, the piggy backer will be required to remove products off your listing immediately.

Amazon may also give you a reply saying sorry, we can’t help you. In this case, you can make a another complaint as the rights owner. Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports/infringement

If you have registered a trademark, the success rate of complaints through this portal is about 90%. If the complaint fails, you can turn to another Amazon customer service representative and reopen a complaint case.

2.Malicious infringement complaint

Some people buy your products, find flaws and report against you or even blackmail you.

These are unruly sellers who pretend to be brand owners who target at your products. They use Amazon’s infringement claim to report your products, claiming your products have infringed their rights. Amazon usually takes action quickly by suspending your ASIN until the real brand owner contacts Amazon that you were actually authorized to sell the products.

How to deal with that?

There are some methods for you to judge whether you are the target of such trick and the complaint is false. First, if there is no response from the “brand owner” e-mail address provided by Amazon, you should be suspicious, as a real brand owner is definitely trying to solve the problem.

It is better to contact the brand owners directly since they will tell you whether they made the complaint against you or not. Then you only need to have the brand owner contact Amazon to clarify that they are the legitimate right owner and they have never filed the complaint. This will help your ASIN return to normal.

In another situation, that as a seller, you are also the brand owner. It is not uncommon for a competitor to file an infringement claim against the seller who actually owns the product. The effect of such cases is as same as what we have mentioned above, and you need to make Amazon believe you are the real brand owner.

  1. At first, you need to self-assess whether you have infringed copyrights of others or now. If not, or there is a letter of authorization from the rights owner, you can communicate with Amazon directly and provide all evidence to support yourself.
  1. Check the other party’s trademark application. If the other party provides patent details, confirmed that your product did infringe their copyright or patent, in which case your product will be removed from the listing directly. At this time, you should actively communicate with the complaining party to see if they can withdraw their lawsuit by you signing a guarantee not to sell or accepting a compensation. If the other party requires large compensation, you should assess whether your account is worth saving or you can ask the intellectual property lawyer to communicate on your behalf. If you can afford the cost of the account being suspended, you can wait until the rights owner resolves the matter and then write a specific Plan of Action (POA), including property owners agreeing to withdraw complaints; If the complaint is not revoked, submit a detailed list of steps to Amazon to indicate what measures you and your lawyers are taking to avoid future infringements or to prove the irrationality of the complaint.
  1. If your listing was directly removed and the other party refuses to provide the patent details when contacting them, you can contact Amazon to inform that the other party may be maliciously harassing and refuse to provide any proof of infringement and require Amazon to resume your selling privilege.

3.Post Reviews on Competitor’s Listing

Some sellers give themselves good reviews and give their competitor critical reviews. Some give their competitors good reviews, and they do it in a very obvious way, that Amazon will notice and step in.

Malicious sellers will create multiple new buyer accounts that are not associated with the seller’s account in any way and begin to leave critical reviews to competitors. The critical review may be about the quality of the product or function issues.

Once reviews have been posted, these sellers often use other buyer accounts, even their friends, and family members, to vote helpfulness of critical reviews, to make the critical reviews look real. Such reviews will lead other buyers to choose your competitors because of the concerns around the product, causing your sales to fall.

Countermeasures: It is already difficult for sellers to judge whether the review is true or not, and it is even more difficult to prove the review is from the competitor. The seller must raise doubts if the negative review did not request a refund or provide contact information. Generally speaking, if the product is meeting expectation, consumers will always want a refund first.

If the seller sees such reviews or notices an unusual number of reviews and votes, then the case can be submitted to the Amazon Product Review Abuse team using the “report abuse” button.

People have been always complaining about review abuse, but in general, Amazon focuses more on combating fake orders and brushing scheme and pays less attention to critical reviews.

4.Malicious ad click

Some time ago Amazon refunded the click fees of many invalid ad clicks to sellers. What should you do if your competitors keep clicking your ads viciously?

Ads can drive traffics and increase sales, but competitors’ malicious clicks may lead to a high click-through rate with a low conversion rate, thus reducing the listing relevancy and leading to the ranking drop.

Solutions:

Determine the following aspects if the ads clicks are from malicious competitors:

(1) Spike of ad clicks at some period

(2) Vicious click through software scripts

(3) invalid clicks

(4) A large number of repeated clicks at some period

If you find your ads are maliciously clicked, you can immediately appeal to Amazon Seller Support.

Steps: Get support->Contact us->Sponsored Products-> Basic Settings or Account Issues; send an email.

Note: Amazon doesn’t reply sellers’ complain in time, so you’d better file complains actively and be sincere. This is an important step to draw Amazon’s attention!

5.Listing hijacking

There are many ways to hijack and control non-branded listings.

  1. Send products that are slightly different to customers when selling on competitor’s listing to increase the probability of customers’ giving critical reviews and decrease the rank of listings.
  1. Send a listing modification request to Amazon against competitor’s listing; as a result, the other sellers’ products become inconsistent with the description. Or add brand words by modifying product titles, causing the listing to be reported.

Whether you are the original creator of the listing, you must check constantly whether the pictures, titles or descriptions are been modified, for any other seller can request Amazon to modify the listing and it is Amazon’s robot algorithm that reviews the these requests. Any marketplace platform is a double-edged sword, yet the opportunities and risks of Amazon are more polarized. Third-party sellers should have control of the FBA inventory, and operate with multiple accounts and on multiple platforms so the eggs are not in the same basket.

To be continued…