How to protect your Amazon listing from hijackers

How to protect your Amazon listing from hijackers

What are ‘hijackers’ and ‘leechers’?

A ‘hijacker’ is a scammer who jumps on your Amazon listing without your authorization and steals your Buybox. A ‘leecher’ is someone who is on your listing, but does not own the Buybox.

There are 2 types of hijackers:

  1. Sells an unbranded or a counterfeit version of your products on your listing – Typically a Chinese counterfeiter. These are relatively easy to deal with, but can also be very harmful.
  2. Sells your product without your authorization. Typically a local (e.g. US) scammer who received your product through a deal service, and then re-sells it on your listing. These are more difficult to deal with, but a lot less harmful.

Leechers are typically Chinese bots (automated programs) that list thousands of products, trying to get a little bit from every listing.

Hijackers and leechers are scammers, and they need to be dealt with swiftly without any delay. They can hurt your product’s reputation (in the case of counterfeits), or they can mess with your listing price history (in the case of re-sellers).

Amazon Transparency Program

Amazon knows about the hijacker problem, and it has been both damaging to the company’s reputation, as well as the customer experience.

Recently, Amazon has launched a program called Transparency. This was designed to protect brands against counterfeiters, scammers and any unauthorized re-sellers.

brandservices.amazon.com/transparency

You have to be on the ‘Amazon Brand Registry’ to be eligible for the Transparency program.

With Transparency, every single unit of the inventory requires a unique non-sequential 26 digit alpha-numeric code, which can be printed as a scannable barcode.

The sellers who use this program say that this is the ‘ultimate solution’ to the hijacker problem.

Note, if you have a trademark, you can always report a Trademark Infringement here: amazon.com/report/infringement

Strategies to Take Down Amazon Hijackers

If you are not on the Transparency program, and perhaps not even on the Brand Registry, here are a few steps you can follow in order to take down the hijackers:

  1. Send a Threatening Letter
  2. Send a Cease & Desist Letter
  3. Send an ‘Unauthorized Sellers’ Letter
  4. Report the hijacker to Amazon
  5. Test Buy an item from the hijacker

Send a Threatening Letter and/or a Cease and Desist letter

Find the hijacker’s store page: ‘Sold by …’ or ‘Other Sellers on Amazon’ and click on ‘Ask a question’ button.

Send your letter from your Amazon buyer account. Make sure you use a different account that is not related to your actual seller account. If sending both, a threatening letter and a C&D letter, send them from different buyer accounts.

Threatening Letter Example

(Effective against counterfeiters)

To whom it may concern:

Consider this your first and last warning to remove ASIN : {ASIN} from Amazon Selling account.

Your Amazon account WILL be suspended if you do not comply. Last month alone, we successfully and permanently closed down 12 other sellers like yourself, for doing exactly the same thing you are doing.

Let me ask you this: ‘Is it worth losing your entire Amazon selling account & business over just one product listing?’ – I’m sure the answer is ‘No’.

Do the right thing, and remove listing {TITLE} | {ASIN}, or face both legal action, and the permanent loss of your Amazon account.

Cease and Desist Letter Example

(Effective against counterfeiters)

To whom it may concern:

This office represents {STORENAME}, and it has come to our attention that your company has engaged in unlawful behavior intended to harm the brand and disrupt its business regarding its product(s) on Amazon: {TITLE} | {ASIN}

This letter constitutes your final warning to discontinue this conduct, and to remove your Amazon listing within 12 hours: furthermore, we demand that you respond to this writing with a statement affirming that you will refrain from continuing your illegal behavior. Should you choose to ignore this notice, we will have no choice but to pursue all legal remedies available via law or in equity, including seeking monetary damages.

In addition, your Amazon Seller Account and all of your products will be removed from the Amazon Marketplace, and we will ensure your account is suspended immediately.

Unauthorized Sellers Letter Example

(effective against resellers)

Dear Teams:

We are writing to you to inform your team that our intellectual property rights are being infringed upon. We are now making a formal request for Amazon Legal to take action by removing all unauthorized sellers from the ASIN:{ASIN} and require approval in the form of a written letter from our legal entity, {COMPANY NAME} if they wish to list on the ASIN in the future.

Our store name is {STORENAME} Our legal entity is {LEGAL ENTITY}

Reporting the Hijacker to Amazon

Effective against Leechers / BOTS

The letters are not efficient against automated bots, but we can report the bot to Amazon using this strategy.

  1. Go to Seller Central > HELP > Contact Us > Selling on Amazon > Other Issues > Report a Violation
  2. Mark ‘This is Urgent’ checkbox
  3. Under ‘Please describe your issue’, write the following:

Please investigate seller {SELLER} for suspicious listing activity. This seller is changing the seller name on a daily basis to avoid suspension, so here is a direct link to his/her storefront. {STOREFRONTLINK}
Thank you.

The Test Buy

If previous strategies did not provide any positive results, we can use the ‘Test Buy’ strategy. (Note, it is useless against Leechers/ BOTS)

The Test Buy Strategy

  1. Buy the product from the hijacker, and organize the fastest shipping possible. (Use an account not connected to your seller account)
  2. Take pictures showing that the product lacks any logo and/or branding. If the logos were counterfeited (it’s rare, but happens), either take an angle where the logo does not show, or even Photoshop the image to remove any logos.
  3. Call Amazon, and report the counterfeit. Demand that Amazon opens a case against the seller for selling fake goods. Ask for your money back.
  4. Email Amazon from a Buyer Account.

Use these email addresses to report the counterfeiter as a buyer:
seller-performance@amazon.com

seller-performance-policy@amazon.com

jeff@amazon.com

Include the Order ID and pictures with the proof.

Here is an example email:

This seller {SELLER NAME} {STOREFRONT URL} is selling product {ASIN}. I was instructed by Amazon to organize a test buy. I did this, and the order came in today. It was a knock-off / counterfeit product. It did not have the {BRAND NAME} packaging and did not have the {BRAND NAME} logo. It did not match the Amazon detail page.
Images are attached as proof.
Please take action against this seller, for selling counterfeit goods:
{STOREFRONT URL}

We can also perform a Test Buy with Unauthorized Re-sellers; however, it is a little more complicated, as they are selling the ‘real’ item. (Use an account not connected to your seller account) 

The goal is to tell Amazon that the hijacker sold a ‘used’ item, so that they get the ‘Used Item Sold as New’ warning, and hopefully an eventual ban of the seller account.

The Test Buy Strategy (Unauthorized Resellers)

  1. Buy the product. If the hijacker sells only a few of your items, then buy them all, in order to quickly remove him/her from the Buy box.
  2. Return the item(s). You can pick ‘Item Defective or Doesn’t Work’ or ‘Missing or Broken Parts’ reason, and explain that it was ‘used’. Make sure it actually appears to be used/damaged, and therefore cannot be re-sold by Amazon.

Note: if you do this too often from your account for different items, your buyer account may have problems

 

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