Hijackers on Amazon: How to Handle Them
Today I am going to share with you few of the secrets, few of the ways I deal with hijackers on Amazon. I’m sure, some of this is not new to you, but some of it may be! Over the years, I have observed what worked for other people and have created my own version of it. It’s not some proprietary system that is unique, or special, but it is definitely effective. However, it’s not a one size, fits all approach, you need to find something that works for you.
So, from my previous article, you already know that there are 3 common types of hijackers:
- Someone who bought your product with a discount and is reselling it against your listing
- Someone who has not yet bought your product, but is offering your product at a higher price on your listing, hoping to order from you when someone buys from them
- Imposters: someone who has not purchased your product and has no intention to purchase it.They are waiting for sale, offering on your listing, and will send an inferior, generic version of your product to the customer
So, the first thing to do is to identify a hijacker and try to figure out, which one of the three categories they fit in, because that will determine how we will handle them.
If they are the first category, I will want to determine how many units they have. Often times, 99% of times, they only have one unit. Occasionally they will have two, three or four units, but that is very rare. It’s almost unheard of that they have more than that. For their business model to work, they have to get your product at a discount, and if you are being responsible with your giveaways, promotions and such, you will use one time coupon codes, which means that they can only get one product for every coupon code. So they will have to be signing for multiple coupon codes to get more than one unit. Most of them are not that savvy, so usually you will find out that they only have one unit.
Next you will determine how you want to go about that. Is this something that you just want to buy out, or you want to fight them and try to have them take down their offer from your listing. Usually, I will start by sending a cease and desist letter to a hijacker. This is the most effective method if you want to have them take down their offer. Use big words in the letter and aim to catch them off guard, make it sound like they don’t want to mess with it. Identify that you are an exclusive distributor and owner of the brand, and you have never granted them permission to sell your brand, nor have you sold them inventory for re-sale. Make point that you and only you have manufacturer’s warranty, and that is something that will give you a high hand if this goes to debate with Amazon. Legitimately, you are the only one who can offer a manufacturer’s warranty, because you are a manufacturer. So hijacker can’t offer a manufacturer’s warranty, because the item they are selling is not new. And something that is not new, something that is re-sold can’t have a manufacturer’s warranty.
Thus, if you state on your listing that you have a manufacturer’s warranty, then only you can sell this product. This makes a hijacker that is offering against your listing a violator of Amazon’t Truth and Advertising provision. This is something that Amazon takes very seriously. Amazon usually doesn’t care about you or me, or our brands. They only care about their customers. So your cease and desist letter didn’t not take effect, and you want to go to Amazon and cry wolf, then you want to say to them: Hey, they are in violation of your Truth and Advertising provision, that has the ability to do harm to your customers and my customers, please take a look at that case.
About 50% of times, my cease and desist letter gets hijackers to kick off. Well, sometimes you will get some nasty responses back. I will usually reply that they cannot offer a product new, thus they are in violation of Amazon’s Truth and Advertising provision, since they are not offering a warranty described in listing. I will ask them to stop any selling activity and take down an offer, otherwise you will take action.
If I don’t have success in communication with a hijacker, if they refuse to take down their offer on your listing, I usually but out my own product. Why? I want to protect my customer. Any time that i don’t know someone selling my product, I lose control over that process, and thus I lose control over the experience my customers are going to have. Keep in mind that when someone buys from Amazon and they buy your product, even if they have a negative experience, that was not caused by you, they still may hold you responsible. It means that they can leave a negative review, they might tell their family or friends about that negative experience, it means they can complain to Amazon, and it’s not a good risk to take.
However, if you do choose to fight this situation with Amazon either by sending the product back as damaged or not new, getting into it with Amazon and proving that this seller manipulated the terms by selling under the truth and advertising clause, then one of the things that will happen is that these people will stop hijacking you. Because what they are going to learn by getting cease and desist letters or returns and chargebacks to their account that it’s just not worth their time, and will move on to someone who is not willing to fight them as hard as you are. It’s really about conditioning them and showing them that you are not going to be the victim, and that you are going to stand up and take action to protect your brand.
They other two types of hijackers are a little bit more complex and difficult to deal with, but the good news is – they are much less common. You can try cease and desist letters with those sellers, and it may work well on the second type of hijackers, but it will almost never work on the third type Typically third type of hijacker is overseas and they just don’t care.
To fight the third type you will have to have Amazon involved. I recommend starting with seller support and opening a ticket and call to follow up. Try to escalate to Seller Performance department or the Catalogue team at Amazon, and the rule of thumb here is to be persistent. So, when I am battling something like this, I typically call 2-3 times a day to check on progress and I just keep hammering them until I get results. It’s important to note that just because you are calling multiple times a day it doesn’t mean that you have to be ugly with them, these are people too, regardless of whether they are just outside the street from you, or at the other side of the world, treat them with respect. So be firm and persistent without being ugly.
Be prepared to take action. Don’t just report this type of violation to Amazon and expect them to go bending over backwards to gather the data and the evidence needed to take action on your behalf. Keep in mind, they have hundreds of millions of different listings, and they probably get tens of thousands of complaints like yours every day. So, any type of evidence that you can provide to them is helpful. Whether that’s a test buy and your ordered a product from hijacker and taking video of you unboxing it, showing them that it’s an inferior or knock-off product. Document, take screenshots of your manufacturer’s warranty on your listing. Point out the fact that your brand is registered. Point out the fact that they are violating Truth and Advertising clause in Amazon’s terms by not being able to offer manufacturer’s warranty as specified on listing they are selling against, and their product is not new. Provide all that documentation in written form and you will see them take action sooner, trust me.
At the end of the day, it’s your job to protect your brand, not Amazon’s. And that means taking action when necessary, that means being diligent, and, yes, sometimes it means taking slight loss and move on. At some point you have to decide whether it’s worth your time and effort to spend hours and hours a day fighting hijackers, or focus your energy on things that make more positive impact on your business.