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Amazon account deactivated due to related account? This is the guide for you!
Amazon’s “Selling policies and seller code of conduct” states “you may only maintain one Seller Central account for each region in which you sell unless you have a legitimate business need to open a second account and all of your accounts are in good standing” (note: Amazon views several accounts in the same household as connected, requiring a legitimate business need).
Crucially, Amazon goes on to say that “if any of your accounts are not in good standing, we may deactivate all of your selling accounts until all accounts are in good standing”.
Amazon collects a wide range of data that may be used to connect separate accounts. If any (or a combination) of these data points cause Amazon to suspect that you are connected to an account they have suspended for violating policy (or for being inactive and/or not completing verification), Amazon may suspend your account for being related.
What is a “legitimate business need”?
Amazon is vague regarding what they consider to be a “legitimate business need” but they do provide a few examples, such as “you own multiple brands and maintain separate businesses for each”, or “you manufacture products for two distinct and separate companies”.
In the past, sellers were required to obtain permission from Amazon before opening a second account and were asked to prove that the new account would be selling products in a different category (supported by a business plan). We can therefore assume that this is also a good example of a “legitimate business need”. Ultimately, Amazon does not list all the acceptable scenarios, so the decision to open a second account should always be taken with care.
Why Does Amazon Take Related Accounts So Seriously?
Overall, Amazon does not want sellers to open multiple accounts just to reduce the risk associated with having all your eggs in the same basket. Preventing sellers from opening a new account after the original account was suspended for violating policy, is seen as an important way to protect buyers. Amazon understandably wants to ensure that enforcement decisions are effective and permanent.
How Does Amazon Connect Separate Seller Accounts?
To police the Amazon-related account policy, Amazon actively and aggressively works to discover potential relationships between different accounts and uses advanced methods to detect such relationships. The most common causes of accounts being connected include: opening (or trying to open) a new account to get around the suspension of your original account, an ex-business partner or ex-spouse opens a new account and logs in with the main log-in details on the same network, an employee has worked with another account, and now works on your account (or vice versa), or an employee logs into their personal account from the same network and computer as they use for managing your account via the main log-in, rather than secondary user permissions.
Amazon compares a huge number of data points to detect connections, and the easiest way for Amazon to link accounts is from the numbers associated with these accounts. Such as, telephone numbers, credit card information, bank account numbers, IP addresses, etc… Amazon considers this kind of data to be the strongest indication that two separate accounts are related.
Of course, many sellers do operate multiple accounts without any issues for years, however, problems usually arise when suspensions occur. Amazon may not enforce the multiple account policy unless one of the related accounts is suspended for violating other Amazon policies.
What Happens When Amazon Suspends Your Account for Being Related to Another Account?
Amazon’s suspension notice will usually provide the full or partial name of the account you are connected to, as well as instructions on how to reinstate your account:
Essentially, if the first account is reopened, all related accounts should be automatically reopened.
However, if you have no contact with or knowledge of the account you are related to, or the account can’t be reopened, an appeal will be needed to show Amazon that your account should not be considered to be related to the first account.
Amazon’s suspension notice goes on to say that if you “once owned the account/were a rights owner but no longer own it/no longer have account rights”, or “if you do not recognize the above account and believe this de-activation was in error”, then you should provide an appeal.
If you are selling the same products or private label brand as another account and Amazon believes there is a connection, you will receive a notification stating that you have “multiple selling accounts” or have breached the multiple accounts policy. This requires a different appeal approach to a related accounts suspension.
How to Appeal a Related Accounts Suspension:
The general approach of Amazon related account appeal will depend heavily on the specific situation and what caused the accounts to be considered related.
As mentioned above, if an account is suspended for any reason, Amazon may suspend all accounts they believe are related to that account, until the original account is successfully reopened. Therefore, the most practical way to reopen your account will often be to reopen the originally suspended account first.
In the past, Amazon would not provide any information regarding the account it claimed you are related to, however currently, Amazon will likely give you the other account’s name, or the last 3 or 4 letters of the account’s name. It is sometimes possible to obtain additional information regarding the connection, but usually only after a detailed appeal and polite requests on calls with Account Health. For example, sometimes Amazon may tell you the date that the account was related (so you can check who had access that day, or from which Wi-Fi network you accessed the account), or the general cause of connection (addresses, financial information, etc…).
If reopening the other account is not possible, because you do not currently own, or have never owned the original account, do not recognize the account, or the issue is not realistically solvable, then you will need to prove that the accounts are not related and the suspension was the result of a false positive.
A comprehensive investigation and review of all account information should be done first, and then a detailed appeal prepared and sent to Amazon, including solid supporting documentation.
It is important to understand that if you are actually related to the account that was suspended, you will not be able to reinstate the second account without providing a “legitimate business need”. If Amazon are mistaken and you are not (or at least no longer) related to the suspended account, you can certainly fight the related account suspension by providing solid documentation and evidence.
For example, if you are an agency and handle accounts for multiple sellers but have been related to a client’s account, you can show documents such as a signed contract, proving that the client retained you, and proof of your identity. If the suspended account belongs to an ex-employee, you can show an employment contract and termination letter.
It is also important to show Amazon in your appeal that all connecting information has now been identified and completely removed from your account (including your buyer account).
Ultimately, it is your responsibility to prove to Amazon that the accounts are not connected, and to support the “facts” with documentation.
How to Avoid Related Account Issues:
Resolving related account issues after your account has been closed can be extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive, not to mention frustrating. As with most things on Amazon, awareness, careful planning, and prevention is the best way to avoid these problems.
- The first thing to do is make sure that all information added when you open your account is new and has never been used before on another Amazon account – even in a previous failed or abandoned registration attempt. All information added to the account should be vetted as far as possible, to be sure that it is not being used on another account. For example, make sure you use a telephone number that belongs to you and has not been resold.
- It is very important to carefully control how your employees or third-party assistants log into the account. Anyone who requires access to the account should log in as a “permitted user” with their own user permissions, and not via the main login. The main login or admin user details should never be provided to third parties.
- Care should be taken regarding which IP addresses and computers are used to access the account, by all users, and you should avoid logging in from public Wi-Fi or from networks that cover shared office space. For example, if another seller has used the same public network to log in to their account, this can be used as a point of connection for two accounts that otherwise have no connection to each other, making a successful appeal very difficult.
- If you will be using the Amazon buyer account associated with your seller account, be sure that the information you add has not been used on another account before. While data buried in buyer accounts can be easily forgotten, Amazon retains all this information.
- If you buy or take over an existing account, you should keep the previous owner’s information, in case you need to contact them in the future. An official sale/purchase contract should be signed and proof of transactions kept, as this constitutes solid documentary evidence that can be used to appeal. In the same way, you should keep written confirmation regarding the commencement of employment and termination for any employees who have worked on the account, so that you can document their involvement, if required. This includes virtual assistants, marketers, and anyone with access or user permissions.
- Keeping screenshots and a solid paper trail can sound like overkill, but can be the difference between resolving a related accounts issue quickly, or losing months of sales, or even your account completely. Without evidence of an account transfer, or employee history, etc… your fate may be in the hands of a third party, and you can never be sure that they won’t break Amazon’s rules to the extent that their account is suspended, leading in turn to the suspension of your account.
- Though relatively rare, Amazon may also relate your UK/EU marketplaces to your US account. Make sure to follow Amazon’s “Global Selling – Expand to Europe” guide to create your UK/EU marketplace accounts so that the process is done correctly to avoid “related accounts” issues between your US and UK/EU accounts.
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Only operate multiple accounts if you have a “legitimate business need”.
The best protection is prevention. Be extremely careful when opening a new account or changing information already in your account and take great care when providing access to your employees or third-party services, virtual assistants, etc… Make sure login access to the account is carefully regulated and monitored, consider using VPNs, and only allow access to others via secondary user permissions.
Keep solid documentation regarding employment and termination of staff/third parties, or when an account is bought or sold, as these can be crucial when appealing a related accounts issue.
If you are creating a first/new account that is not being approved/verified, do not abandon it and try starting again. The incomplete registration will remain in Amazon’s systems as a suspended or dormant account and can be related to any future accounts. Amazon support may even tell you to open a new account – do not do this, as this information is usually incorrect.
If you are suspended for being related to another account, it is often quicker and easier to reopen the suspended account, which should automatically reopen your second account.
If this is not possible, you must provide a comprehensive appeal which is supported by solid documentation.
Though related account suspensions are often frustrating, time consuming, and difficult to resolve, successfully reopening your account is absolutely possible if the reasons for the issue are correctly identified and your appeal is detailed, precise and comprehensive.