Know thy audience. Amazon case officers review dozens (if not hundreds) of suspensions each day, so they appreciate the art of “short and sweet.” Clear, crisp writing that effectively presents the root causes of, and solutions to, your suspension will go a long way in winning over your reviewer and therefore in writing a winning appeal. Use bullets and numbering rather than longwinded paragraphs. Use short, punchy sentences rather than unwieldy run-ons. Succinctly communicating your understanding of the root causes leading to your suspension – and the steps you will implement to remedy them – is crucial to a successful POA.
Stick to the Facts – YOUR Facts
While it may be tempting to vent your frustration with your suspension and Amazon policies more generally, your POA is not the proper forum for a manifesto. Do not get sidetracked by “fairness” or “frustration” concerns, despite how much you may want to tell Jeff Bezos where he can stick his stupid old suspension. Amazon needs to know that you (1) understand the root causes leading to your suspension and (2) will implement and maintain practices that avoid such problems in the future. Deviating from the core facts of your case can distract your reviewer, leading to negative outcomes. Remember – Amazon’s baseline viewpoint in reading your POA is that they want to reinstate you, so give them reasons to, and do not give them reasons not to.
Be Specific, Not General
A successful reinstatement requires that each “root cause” is specifically identified and addressed. Do not provide unclear, general solutions. Instead, clearly identify the root cause(s) of your suspension and then individually address each one. Repetition is OK, particularly if you are dealing with multiple ASIN suspensions, in which case it is typically better to address the ASINs one-by-one (and no need to reinvent the wheel each time). The better you demonstrate to Amazon your grasp of the underlying issues, the better your outcome, and the more specific you are in your POA, the better you demonstrate your thoughtfulness as a serious Amazon seller.
Be Complete, but Don’t Waste Space
A “viable” appeal addresses each suspension, but does so in a targeted manner. Herein lies the dilemma: you must provide concrete steps addressing what went wrong and how you will fix it, but you only have so much space to do so. It may sound obvious, but you will not be reinstated if you provide an incomplete POA or one that fails to address each root cause. On the flip side, the goal is not to defeat Amazon by amorphous solutions or defeat them by longwinded, generic content. Be thorough to the point of completeness (but not beyond) and be specific to the point of focusing your reader (but not so detail-oriented that you find yourself writing a treatise). Multiple page POAs are more likely to be ignored than successful; well-organized, strategic POAs that provide clear, prophylactic solutions will be well received.
Nothing can kill a POA faster than careless typos or grammatical errors. Amazon appeals officers are intelligent people looking for specific items on their “reinstatement checklist.” Needless typos or poorly worded POAs show a lack of thought and sincerity – the key attributes that Amazon wants in their sellers. Remember: your POA is your opportunity to present yourself as a model Amazon seller who they want to be using and representing their marketplace. Don’t blow up your case by making a bad first impression through easily avoidable mistakes.
Own Your Mistakes
Amazon is a subscriber to classical mea culpe philosophy. Think of Amazon as very stern, but very fair, relative who just wants you to admit what you’ve done wrong and commit to not doing it again. They do not care that this is your first suspension. They don’t care that you have 5 cats you won’t be able to feed if you’re not reinstated in the next hour. And they certainly don’t care about your performance metrics. Amazon wants you to identify your mistakes, own up to them, and move on by not making the same mistakes again. Avoid the temptation to delve into personal details and don’t try to pull at their heartstrings. Keep it simple by focusing on the facts. Keep it focused by identifying the issues and your big fixes. Show them you will put them into practice and move on.
Do NOT blame buyers!
A corollary to Tenet #6, never blame buyers for your suspension. “The customer is always right” applies at Amazon, and buyers are the customers. Passing the blame to the buyer indicates to Amazon that you misunderstand their policies and procedures. Amazon depends on providing reliable buyer experience. In fact, their entire model is built around ease of purchase and ease of recourse in the event of buyer dissatisfaction. Their corporate integrity therefore depends on buyer protection and buyer’s belief in such protection. “The buyer lied” will never be successful in a POA; instead, start from the buyer’s perspective that they thought they had a legitimate complaint that led to your suspension, then work backwards to dissect the situation and show Amazon why reinstatement is warranted.
Think Before you [Re]Act
An old adage holds that you should never send a letter that you wrote while you were angry. Instead, you should put it in a drawer for 24 hours then reread it and decide whether you still want to mail it. The crux of this adage holds true with the Amazon appeal process. Many suspended sellers, immediately upon receiving a suspension, write and submit an angry stream-of-consciousness appeal without thinking through a specific, strategic approach. The problem with this – apart from the inherent risks of writing when distracted and upset – is that these appeals often omit true POA content that Amazon needs in order to reinstate. You only get one shot at writing your first POA; writing one too quickly can set you back weeks or even months in the appeals process. Building a case – and clearly articulating it to Amazon – is essential to a successful reinstatement, so take the time to calm down and think it through before firing it off.
Summarize Up Front
Reader retention is highest during the first four sentences read. Include a punchy introductory paragraph that lays out the three basic parts of your appeal: introduction, root causes leading to suspension and solutions. Following this blueprint will show your case officer that you understand the Amazon processes and are committed to overcoming your setback. Avoid jokes or self-deprecation, and do not come across as defensive. Presenting yourself as a mature, considerate seller will set the tone for the rest of your POA and give your reader a roadmap they can hook onto for the rest of your appeal.