How many returns do you get before Amazon bans your account? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
This is a great question that sheds light on such a pressing issue that most are yet to truly understand. To begin with, I would like to answer the question at hand.
How many returns do you get before Amazon bans your account?
...nobody who is willing to tell you, that is. As sure as I am that the sun will rise tomorrow, I am certain that you will not receive an accurate, consistent, and truly measurable answer to your question. I have done the research. Every stone has been turned over. There are no definitive standards that are set and there are no clear guidelines laid out that enable buyers to ensure they comply with Amazon's policies. Amazon buyer accounts are simply flagged by a complex algorithm that Amazon's computer geniuses have developed and are continuously developing, then quickly reviewed by some mysterious department of Amazon that will give the final yay or nay.
Just like that - you're gone. You are now at Amazon's mercy and have the choice of two routes to take: Never buy/sell on their platform again, or explain your failures, make substantive changes to your operation, and then explain how your changes will make the customers' experience better. If you choose the latter, be prepared to write a concise and persuasive email because the members of this mysterious Amazon department do not generally speak with any Amazon seller. You will then either receive a reinstatement email, warning you of the consequences of future actions or a generic "sorry, not good enough" email where you have the ability to continue to plead for reinstatement for a limited amount of time.
Here is an excerpt from The Guardian that I believe further elaborates well:
"Computer programmer Greg Nelson is a self-confessed Amazon addict, buying hundreds of items on its site. But after sending back 37 items of 343 purchased, the online giant has blocked his account with immediate effect - and told him he would lose a gift card balance that he had on the account.
He insists there was a genuine reason for all his returns over the past two years - the goods were either faulty, damaged, or not as described. However, Amazon has refused to let him continue buying from the site without giving him, in his words, a "proper explanation."
Amazon told Nelson that the money held on his account as a gift card balance is lost to him, as gift vouchers can only be used on the site and have no transferable value."
Now, what is the significance of the question at hand? Please understand people, this issue is much more pressing than an average Joe losing his ability to buy sneakers on Amazon and get his free 2-day shipping because he subscribed to Amazon Prime.
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At this current point in time, Amazon accounts for over 50% of all e-commerce sales made daily. Look at the statistics ladies and gentlemen. 107 billion dollars in net sales last year - 304 million customer accounts - 192 million unique monthly visitors - and most frightening, 20% growth.
These numbers are alarming to say the least. What they tell us is that we have an e-commerce empire that makes their own rules, does not disclose the rules, suspends sellers without notice, bans people for life, and continues to grow at an astonishing rate.
Amazon has well surpassed the point of being a successful company and into the very small handful of organizations that have a direct influence on the global economy and our American government. 1.5 billion in outbound shipping cost last year - one can suppose that lends a helping hand to the suffering USPS. Amazon is a tremendously powerful organization.
"With great power comes great responsibility."
Now, take all of the above, and apply it to a scenario of a third party Amazon seller who has been forced to utilize Amazon's platform/pay Amazon's fees because they simply cannot compete with this empire. This could be John Smith from rural Idaho who supports his family selling auto accessories or the multi-million dollar company based in the heart of Manhattan. In both cases, Amazon holds great power over these people. One man needs to feed his family. One company needs to pay their employees. With no other marketplace to turn to, no exact guidelines laid out to follow and not even a human being to get on the phone with - it was checkmate before the first pawn was even moved. 20% growth in 2015.
How many lives will lie in the hands of Amazon in the year 2016?
C. J. Rosenbaum is the founder of , a law firm focused on Amazon sellers.