The View from England

Has Amazon altered A-Z claims process to help sellers?

I recently took a break from selling on Amazon whilst reorganizing my stock. When I returned I noticed a difference in the A-Z claim process.

First, I found that customers are more likely to create an A-Z claim. I don’t know what Amazon has done with its customer interface, but on the few times I have been a customer I have not found it easy to see my message dialog with sellers.

Indeed they are so well hidden that if I were not actively looking I would not know they existed. This is presumably due to Amazon designing the front-end to maximize sales and conversions. Anything that hinders communication is likely to increase the incidence of claims. But the difficulty of accessing these messages may prompt some customers to file A-Z claims unnecessarily.

Further, I likewise noticed as a seller that the first act of some customers is to raise a claim, even before any other communication. A cynic would say that these are customers who have learned to play the system.

Finally, I discovered some customers are simply impossible. One of my customers wanted a full refund for a minor imperfection in a hand-painted figure, plus a replacement, plus not returning the original figure. When I refused, the inevitable A-Z claim appeared.

Claim denied

This is where a significant new practice occurred. Amazon turned down the claim. Further, Amazon did not permanently count the claim against my order defect rate.

This is new. Until recently, A-Z claims have always counted against the order defect rate, regardless of the outcome. As soon as a claim was raised, you knew it would affect your performance statistics. This is still true. But now, if Amazon denies the claim, it removes the effect on seller’s statistics. This is a welcome change — even though an unfortunate seller can get the performance hit for a few days whilst Amazon customer service considers the case.

Until this change, customers could threaten a claim and blackmail retailers in the hope of getting free products or significant discounts. This is no longer the case. Retailers no longer need to give in to the one impossible customer to preserve their standing and income.

Nothing is certain. A retailer still has to rely on the Amazon customer service to be sane and sensible. Thus whenever a claim comes in, always reply with the facts as soon as possible. Remain polite and helpful. Never do or say anything that may upset the Amazon customer support staff.

Clearly we should strive for no A-Z claims. But it is good to know that Amazon, for once, has improved the system to be fair to sellers.

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