Here at Jungle Scout, we get a lot of questions about the Amazon terms of service and prohibited seller activities and actions agreements. That’s why we decided to post it all here and break down what each and every part of it means.
Notes on formatting: I’ve broken each element of the “prohibited seller activities and actions” agreement and simplified it with a proceeding heading, then followed it with the actual content from Amazon’s prohibited seller agreement. For anything else that gets a lot of questions, I’ve included additional details as a ‘Notes from Dave’.
Amazon Terms of Service: Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions (TL:DR version)
- Amazon wants to protect both you and the buyers.
- Amazon can and will ban your product or your business for breaking the rules.
- Amazon can hold your payments if you break the rules.
- The prohibited activities and actions portion of the Amazon terms of service is in addition to all other parts of the Amazon terms of service.
- The seller prohibited activities and actions is for most products and services. Some products and services may have additional guidelines.
- Don’t try to send buyers away from Amazon.
- Don’t use business names that try to trick shoppers, are trademarked, or are URLs.
- Don’t send marketing emails to your customers
- Don’t misuse customer phone numbers.
- You can only send emails through Amazon’s messaging system.
- Don’t try to break Amazon’s system.
- Don’t cheat for good reviews.
- Don’t cheat for sales rank or brag about it in your listing.
- Don’t abuse the A-to-Z guarantee.
- Don’t abuse the search engine.
- Two day shipping confirmations on all media products.
- Don’t raise prices after the transaction is complete.
- Don’t create duplicate listings with the intent to trick buyers.
- Don’t list or match against pre-orderable media products.
Additional Service Guidelines
- Don’t upsell additional products during service.
- Don’t send an unregistered technician in your place.
Part 1 – Introduction
Amazon wants to protect both you and the buyers.
“These prohibited seller activities and actions are established to maintain a selling program that is safe for buyers and fair for sellers of both products and services.”
Amazon can and will ban you or your product for breaking the rules.
“Failure to comply with the terms of this policy can result in cancellation of listings, suspension from use of Amazon tools and reports, and the removal of selling privileges.”
Amazon can hold your payments if they suspend your account.
“In addition, we do not pay sellers until we are confident that customers have received the products they ordered, and if we determine that a seller account has been used to engage in fraud or other illegal activity, remittances and payments may be withheld or forfeited.”
This portion of the Amazon terms of service is in addition to all other Amazon terms of service agreements.
“Note: This policy is in addition to, and in no way limits, your other obligations pursuant to your seller agreement or otherwise.”
Part 2 – General Guidelines
The prohibited seller actions and activities are for most products and services. Some products may have specific guidelines.
“The following guidelines apply to both sellers of products and services. For guidelines specific to products see the information following this section. For guidelines specific to services, see Selling Services on Amazon policies.”
Don’t try to send buyers away from Amazon.
“Any attempt to circumvent the established Amazon sales process or to divert Amazon users to another website or sales process is prohibited. Specifically, any advertisements, marketing messages (special offers) or “calls to action” that lead, prompt, or encourage Amazon users to leave the Amazon website are prohibited. This may include the use of email or the inclusion of hyperlinks, URLs, or web addresses within any seller-generated confirmation email messages or any product/listing description fields.”
Notes from Dave: Does this include links or marketing material on or inthe product’s packaging?
There’s some debate to this question, and while I’ve heard rumors of people getting in trouble for this, for the most part Amazon doesn’t penalize for it. After all, nearly all major brands and labels do it. We recommend that you don’t go overboard. And if anything, put it inside the packaging, where it’s not as obvious.
Don’t use business names that try to trick shoppers, are trademarked, or have a url.
“Your business name (identifying your business entity on Amazon) must be a name that: accurately identifies you; is not misleading; and that you have the right to use (that is, the name cannot include the trademark of, or otherwise infringe on, any trademark or other intellectual property right of any person). Furthermore, you can’t use a business name that contains an email suffix such as .com, .net, .biz, and so on.”
Don’t send marketing emails to your customers.
“Unsolicited emails to Amazon customers (other than as necessary for order fulfillment and related customer service) and emails related to marketing communications of any kind are prohibited.”
Don’t misuse customer phone numbers.
“Amazon provides Professional sellers who fulfill their own orders access to customer phone numbers so that they can comply with carrier label requirements. If you receive this customer information, you are required to adhere to Amazon’s customer personal information policy, which can be found in our Seller Agreement.
Please review the policy there and the guidance below to make sure that you are using customers’ phone numbers correctly.
- Proper treatment of customer phone numbers:
- Print on labels to comply with carrier requirements.
- Dispose of any customer phone number data that you retain after you have processed the customers’ orders.
- Monitor who in your organization has access to customer phone numbers—protecting this data is your responsibility.
- Improper treatment of customer phone numbers:
- Never contact a customer using their phone number. To contact a customer about their order, only use Buyer-Seller Messaging. Please see our Buyer-Seller Messaging FAQ for more information.
- Never share customer phone information with an external party.
- Never pass along customer information of any kind, including phone numbers, outside of Buyer-Seller Messaging.”
You can only send emails through Amazon’s message system.
“Buyers and sellers may communicate with one another via the Buyer-Seller Messaging Service.”
You can only have one seller account (but there are rare exceptions).
“Operating and maintaining multiple Seller Central accounts is prohibited. If you have a legitimate business need for a second account, you can apply for an exception to this policy:
- Go to Contact us.
- Click Selling on Amazon, then select Your account, and then select Other account issues.
In your request, please provide an explanation of the legitimate business need for a second account. To be considered for approval:
- You must have a separate bank account for each Seller Central account. We will not approve multiple Seller Central accounts that use the same bank account within the same region. If you sell across regions (for example in North America and Europe), you may use the same bank account for your Seller Central accounts as long as your accounts are linked though.
Don’t try to break Amazon’s system.
“If you upload excessive amounts of data repeatedly, or otherwise use the service in an excessive or unreasonable way, Amazon may in its sole discretion restrict or block your access to product feeds or any other functions that are being misused until you stop its misuse.”
Don’t cheat for good reviews.
- Ratings and feedback: The rating and feedback features allow buyers to evaluate the overall performance of a seller, which helps sellers to develop a reputation within the Amazon Marketplace. You may not post abusive or inappropriate feedback or include personal information about a transaction partner. This also includes posting ratings or feedback to your own account. You may request feedback from a buyer, however you may not pay or offer any incentive to a buyer for either providing or removing feedback.
- Reviews: Reviews are important to the Amazon Marketplace, providing a forum for feedback about product and service details and reviewers’ experiences with products and services – positive or negative. To ensure that reviews remain helpful, sellers must comply with our Community Guidelines. For example, you may not offer compensation for a review, and you may not review your own products or your competitors’ products. You may ask buyers to write a review in a neutral manner, but you may not ask for positive reviews, ask for reviews only from buyers who had a positive experience, or ask a reviewer to change or remove their review. If you think a review does not comply with our Community Guidelines, click on the Report Abuse link next to the review. For more examples of prohibited actions, click here.”
Notes from Dave: What about promos for reviews?
Pay very close attention to where it says:
- You may not offer compensation for review. This includes free or discounted products.
- You may ask buyers to write a review in a neutral manner, but you can’t ask for positive reviews. So you can ask for a review through an email message follow up or inside your packaging, but it has to be totally neutral.
- Nor can you ask for reviews from only the buyers that had a positive experience. You’ve got to ask everyone.
The way we interpret this is that you can give away promos. And you can ask for reviews. But you can’t give away a promo for a review. No incentivizing!
This is one area that Amazon doesn’t mess around with. Your best solution for getting reviews is using a system like Jump Send to automatically follow up with each and every one of your Amazon customers.
You can’t cheat for sales rank or brag about it on your listing.
“The best seller rank feature allows buyers to evaluate the popularity of a product. Any attempt to manipulate sales rank is prohibited. You may not solicit or knowingly accept fake or fraudulent orders, including placing orders for your own products. You may not provide compensation to buyers for purchasing your products or provide claim codes to buyers for the purpose of inflating sales rank. In addition, you may not make claims regarding a product’s best seller rank in the product detail page information, including the title and description.”
Notes from Dave: Can I give away promos to rank?
This is another area where we get a lot of questions. It’s a bit of a gray area for sites that use promotions to boost sales rank, and as we understand it, it complies with the restrictions seen here. However, some of our competitors use methods called “super URLs” to cheat the system, which does, in fact, violate the Amazon terms of service agreement and can potentially put your product and Amazon business in jeopardy.
Don’t abuse the A-to-z guarantee.
“Any misuse of the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee claims process is prohibited. Sellers who have an excessive number or monetary amount of A-to-z Guarantee claims are subject to termination. In cases where a buyer is dissatisfied with a product or service, they can contact the seller to make arrangements for a refund, return, or exchange, as appropriate. Amazon reserves the right to seek reimbursement from the seller if we reimburse a buyer under the terms of the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee.”
Don’t abuse the search engine.
“When customers use Amazon’s search engine and browse structure, they expect to see relevant and accurate results. Any attempt to manipulate the Search and Browse experience is prohibited. Prohibited behaviors include, but are not limited to:
- Artificially simulating customer traffic (through Internet bots, paying for clicks on organic search results, and so on).
- Providing misleading or irrelevant catalog information (title, bullet points, description, variations, keywords, and so on).
- Adding product identifiers (brand names, product names, ASINs, and so on), even if they are your own, to hidden keyword attributes.
For more context and guidelines, see Optimize listings for Search and Browse.”
Notes from Dave: What about promos for ranking?
Again, this goes back to my notes about cheating to get your ranking up. As far as we’ve seen, the promotional method is okay, like the one used by Jump Send, but jacks such as using “super URLs” is a big no-no.
Part 3 – Additional Guidelines for Sellers
Two-day shipping on media products.
“Shipping BMVD Products: Books, Music, Video, and DVD products offered through Amazon must be shipped within 2 business days of the date the order confirmation is made available to you.”
Don’t raise prices after the transaction is complete.
“Post-transaction price manipulation and excessive shipping fees: Any attempt to increase the sale price of an product after a transaction has been completed is prohibited. Additionally, sellers cannot set excessive order fulfillment and shipping costs.”
Don’t create duplicate listings with the intent to trick buyers.
“Matching product offerings inaccurately: When you list a product for sale using an existing product detail page, the product being offered must be listed on a product detail page that accurately describes the product in all respects, including (but not limited to) the following attributes: manufacturer, edition, binding, version, format, or player compatibility. Sellers may not match their item to a detail page with a different ISBN, UPC, EAN, or other external identifier. Sellers may not match their item to a detail page with a different ISBN, UPC, EAN, or other external identifier.
- Exception: Club editions of audio CDs and rental editions of DVD or Blu-ray discs should be listed against the detail page for the standard edition of the CD, DVD, or Blu-ray, even if the UPCs of the two editions are different, if the following criteria are met:
- The club or rental edition is listed in Used condition;
- The content on both editions is identical; and
- A page with the UPC for the club or rental edition does not already exist in our catalog. Use the listing comments to indicate that the product is a club edition. Format of the products (CD, DVD, Blu-ray) must be identical.
- Use the listing comments to indicate that the product is a club or rental edition.
Duplicate product detail pages: Creating a product detail page for a product already in the Amazon catalog is prohibited.
Separate listings: Sellers may not create separate listings for identical copies of the same product.”
Don’t list or match against pre-orderable media products.
Pre-sells of BMVD Products: Sellers should not list or match against Books, Music, Video, or DVD products that Amazon designates as pre-orderable. BMVD Products offered through Amazon must be shipped within 2 business days of the date the order confirmation is made available to you.
Part 4 – Additional Guidelines for Service Providers
Don’t upsell additional products during the service.
“Upselling: The service provider must perform the service as outlined in the scope of work on the service detail page on the date the service was purchased. The service provider may not solicit additional products, parts, or service orders before, during, or after the service call.
If the buyer requests services, parts, or products outside of the defined scope of work, then the service provider may fulfill that request and charge the buyer directly.”
Don’t send unapproved technicians in your stead.
“Unapproved technicians: For in-home services, if you send a non-approved technician to fulfill a service order, your selling privileges may be removed.”
And that’s it. Of course, this agreement is always subject to change, so keep posted for updates. The basic rule of thumb should be “if it seems like a bad idea, it’s probably a bad idea.” Always err on the side of caution.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments below.