The word “escalation” is thrown around a lot when it comes to the Amazon appeals process, but rarely is it used in an accurate and informed way.  Unlike a restaurant (where you can speak to the manager) or most companies (where you can usually get to the supervisor by phone), Amazon handles its entire appeals process exactly how you would expect the world’s largest ecommerce platform to handle it:  by email.  There is no “buck stops here” mantra when it comes to the faceless labyrinth that is the Amazon reinstatement machine.  Jeff Bezos (jeff@amazon.com) will not read your appeal, and like the rest of us earthly mortals, your only (and best) recourse is to stick to Amazon’s tried and true appeals framework.

That being said, there are steps to take in the event of being stonewalled (which we Gurus define as more than 5 business days without a response) or a bad/incomplete reply (which happens more rarely, but does occur).

 Beyond the Veil

Truth be told, there are ways to correctly (and politely) escalate your appeal.  Following our Dos and Don’ts will get you there.

  1. DON’T spam random Amazon Seller Performance/Relations specialists you find on LinkedIn.  They will throw out your appeal (and likely be creeped out).
  2. DON’T send chaser emails too quickly (as noted above, we recommend holding out at least 5 business days of silence before sending an unanswered follow-up).  Amazon will get annoyed, put your appeal on the bottom of the pile, and/or throw out your appeal.
  3. DON’T threaten escalation.  When has threatening someone whom you’re trying to impress ever worked?  Your case officer will get annoyed, put your appeal on the bottom of the pile, and or throw/out your appeal (noticing a theme here?).
  4. DON’T send an email barrage.  Your Amazon case reviewer gets hundreds of emails each day.  Prodding may be warranted in certain circumstances, but excessively spamming her with emails or documents will [see above]. 
  5. DON’T escalate prematurely.  Amazon has a very specific appeals process in place that they expect you to follow.  Remember that certain times of year are busier than others (e.g., December), and certain suspensions are more complex than others from a reinstatement standpoint.  Be patient with your appeal to the point of reasonableness, and don’t pull the escalation trigger too quickly since it’s an all-or-nothing, one-shot maneuver. 
  6. DON’T send an amended POA (they will throw it out) and DON’T criticize Amazon, your officer, or the appeals process when requesting escalation.  Your Amazon investigator has a strict policy not to accept or review addendums or amended/restated POAs.  Sending a follow-up appeal will waste both of your time, distract them, and give them a reason to dislike you before even sinking their teeth into your POA. 
  7. DO make sure you have a solid escalation case before requesting escalation.  Is your POA strong?  Have you already had several email exchanges with your current investigator?  Do you feel like you’re at a dead end and escalation will be helpful?  You should answer “yes” to each of these questions before requesting escalation.
  8. DO make sure it has been at least 10 days since you first submitted your appeal.  Even if you have had lively email traffic with your investigator, the Amazon internal reinstatement process can take time.  Don’t get impatient.  Escalation is a one-shot deal, and jumping to escalation before exhausting the regular appeals channel may actually delay your reinstatement in the long run.
  9. DO ask your investigator to submit your case to a “senior investigator” or “manager.”  Avoid vague requests like “someone who can be more helpful” which can be confusing or worse insulting.  Ask for a senior investigator who “specializes” in suspensions of your type or a manager who could “expedite review.”  Keep your escalation request simple and do not act annoyed or defensive.
  10. DO include an “escalation letter.”  Attach to your email requesting escalation a short one-paragraph overview that succinctly summarizes your suspension and your interactions with your investigator to date, provides dates for all such contact, and attaches your original POA.  In your cover email, refer to the attachment as an “optional” escalation letter, in case such letter is helpful in passing along your escalation request to the senior team member.
  11. DO follow-up.  Once you go down the “escalation” path, there is no turning back.  Follow-up with your investigator within 48 hours if you have not heard back from her, reiterating your request and re-attaching the escalation letter.

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