Author - Matt Colvin

Fighting Back Against Bogus Claims with AFTA
Amazon Stranded Inventory At New Warehouses
Updated Approach To Customer Damaged Returns

Fighting Back Against Bogus Claims with AFTA

Over the past few months I’ve been working closely with a couple other Amazon sellers (Bver Vienneau and Ester Hacken) as part of an advisory board to an group called AFTA. The goal is to begin to form a coalition of third party sellers to push back against the baseless, fraudulent and/or legally shaky Intellectual Property/Copyright/Counterfeit claims that are being lodged against sellers on the Amazon marketplace.

AFTA has a long history of being advocates for people that source product from secondary markets. They were originally founded in response to the 1988 Kmart v. Cartier Supreme Court case by a group of third party distributors to support Kmart in challenging a Customs rule prohibiting import of legitimate goods from overseas into the US. The case was ultimately decided in Kmart’s favor and this ruling is what allows (with a few caveats) the import of parallel goods if the U.S. and foreign trademark owner are under “common control or ownership” effectively stopping the ability of a multi national company to control global distribution of genuine branded goods. AFTA was instrumental in ensuring that the customs rules that came out of this ruling were fair and still works very closely with customs to this day to advocate for the rights of sellers to import legitimate products.

In a more recent case that many of us may be familiar with a company named “Quality King” took a “First Sale Doctrine” case all the way to the Supreme Court and (Quality King Distributors v. L’anza Research International) – AFTA was also very involved in that case.

If the company name “Quality King” sounds familiar to you then it’s probably from this article about Pharmapacks, which talks about Quality King being one of the major distributors that provides them their products and drives them to be the juggernaut that they are on Amazon.

AFTA being willing to get involved with actively protecting third party sellers like us on the Amazon platform is a HUGE deal. I’d like to ask that all Amazon sellers consider getting involved in this as we attempt to come together to push back against bogus claims. There are a couple ways that you can do that.

1. Please “Like” the “AFTA Internet Sellers” page to keep up to date on what AFTA is doing.

2. We have a secret group where people share advice on how to respond to claims and we talk about this type of issue – if you would like to be added please shoot me a message on Facebook.

3. PLEASE consider becoming a paying member of AFTA.

In the short term, AFTA has created a letter of support essentially saying “Hey, this person is a member of our trade organization, here are the various legal reasons that they are allowed to sell your product” that they will send on your behalf to any company that files a claim against you.

Also, sometime in the near future all paid members of AFTA will be given access to a “legal library” of form letters to allow you to push back against bogus claims filed against you.

The long term (and most important, IMHO) goals of AFTA involve opening a dialogue directly with Amazon about the issues that sellers are facing to see if we can figure out a solution. They also plan on leveraging their relationships to potentially put legislative solutions in place to protect us.

For more information on joining AFTA please click on the image below. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out. I’m excited to see how things develop in regards to what they are able to help us do.

I want to be very clear that the members of the AFTA Internet Sellers Advisory Board (Bver Vienneau, Ester Hacken and I) do not financially benefit from any money going to AFTA. We are all volunteering our time and voice to try and help bring the community together under the banner of an existing trade organization that has the “juice” to help us bring our concerns in front of people that I believe can help us resolve them.


Amazon Stranded Inventory At New Warehouses

If you have a bunch of items showing up in your stranded inventory check and see if they are in the MDT2 warehouse.
Apparently Amazon has been sending inventory there prior to it opening later this week. I’ve got about 100 pairs of shoes sitting there collecting dust.
If you have stranded inventory that you want to check you can do so by using the “Daily Inventory History” report, accessible from seller central.
Reports -> Fulfillment -> Daily Inventory History
Based on conversations with some of the sellers in the Ninja mastermind group this appears to be pretty standard procedure when Amazon opens a new warehouse.
Do you have inventory that is affected? Have you run into this in the past?

Updated Approach To Customer Damaged Returns

Back in January I made a post talking about how to get reimbursed for items that buyers bought, used and returned damaged. Over the past couple months Amazon has really been cracking down on reimbursing for items that were damaged by customers. I have been getting a lot of “boilerplate” responses similar to the one quoted below.


“I strongly believe that all the units you send to our fulfillment center are perfectly fine. However, the unit disposition will be based on the return reason of the customer. And only our Customer Service team has the detailed information about the reasons for returns and refunds of the buyer. Information provided in the “FBA Customer Returns” report is what we can utilized of.

As you may know that in accordance with Amazon policy, sellers are requested to accept the return in the disposition which the buyer has returned the item in. Please be informed that Amazon does not take responsibility for the returned items that come in “customer damaged” or “defective” disposition.

A returned unit is considered unsellable when either of the following is true:

• It is not in the same condition as previously listed
• Product is defective, damaged, opened, lacking required labeling, prohibited by our policies, or is otherwise deemed unsuitable by Amazon, including units which may pose a health or safety risk to our associates or the next customer who purchases it (this may include, but is not restricted to consumables, personal care products and products with expiration dates).

In this case I request you to understand that amazon takes responsibility in all the cases/disposition/return reasons except the two given below:
• Customer damaged
• Defective

Disposition covered by amazon, (some of them are)
○ Damaged
○ Missing parts
○ Missed estimated delivery date
○ Carrier damaged
○ Carrier missorted

I understand your next question would be why we accept customer damaged and defective returns. We believe that making exceptions in instances like these are a small sacrifice keeping in mind the future. One of the most attractive selling points of our business is our returns policy and as returns are a general part of business, we believe that making exceptions in these instances is a crucial element in promoting growth for you and us in partnership.”

While I understand the reasoning behind Amazon’s liberal return policy as part of their quest to be the “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company” it is very frustrating to be responsible for refunding people who are obviously taking advantage of Amazon’s policies to “rent” things like running shoes.

When getting pushback from seller support quoting the terms that we agreed to as a Seller I’ve had some limited success quoting the terms that the BUYER agreed to and is supposed to be held to and arguing that if Amazon makes an “exception” that Amazon should be financially responsible for allowing a customer to return a damaged item.

Below is a copy of the message that I’ve been using to follow-up when my reimbursement requests are denied. I’m still not having the super high success rate of around 90% that I was getting before they got stricter but it is working about a third of the time for me so it’s still worth giving it a try.


Thank you for your response to my recent inquiry. Given the fact that the item was returned in damaged/no longer new condition the customer should have been charged a MINIMUM of a 50% restocking fee in accordance with Amazon’s return policies from which I quote below.

“Partial Refunds or Restocking Fees
If You Return:
Items that are damaged, missing parts, not in the original condition, or have obvious signs of use for reasons not due to an error.

You’ll Receive:
Up to 50% of the item’s price”

Given the fact that the item in question was returned in a condition that, per Amazon’s terms should have incurred at least a 50% restocking fee I request that you initiate reimbursement to my account for 50% of the sales price of the item in question.

Kind Regards,

Matt Colvin

Give this a try and let me know if it works for you!

Oh, and Go Ship Some Stuff!

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