Don’t mind me, I’ll just help myself!

When Amazon takes tens of thousands from your bank account.

Summary of the previous episodes. Amazon has kicked me out of a profitable market, a full pallet of goods (worth over 8K Euro) was lost at delivery and Amazon just dodged being even called to explain its side of the story, which made me lose about 3K Euro in legal fees to no avail, above the cost of the lost goods and my own lawyer fees, naturally. I feel I am doing great, really! Licking my wounds like that is doing great. If you have any doubt about what’s coming up next, spoilers ahead! Amazon likes it’s vendors real tamed! Fearful and tamed.

Fast forward a few short months trying to get things back on track when in February 2018, I suddenly notice some wild amounts of money about to be taken from my account. SellerCentral shows that I am in the Red by nearly 11,000 Euro (over 13,000 USD)! Heck! That’s no small change! What in the world could this be? Alert! 

Screen Capture from my SellerCentral Account

Naturally, Amazon did not send me any warning message! I just got lucky to spot them 24h after they are posted on SellerCentral. It proceeds as follow:

21st February, I get invoiced, 

22nd February, I frantically try to reach out to SellerSupport to ask for an explanation and to put an immediate halt to the incoming payment until this is resolved (I should probably explain that at risk was my personal bank account, since the credit card details I had entered when I had opened my initial account so long ago was my personal card, not linked to a company account), and I knew I did not have 11K Euro available on it. 

23rd February. Amazon says the money is correct and due. I explain that those amounts cannot make sense! They are issued from Spain and not France, the same reference can be repeated and yet show different amounts, and those totals just defy all logic.

Nope says Amazon, no error! We will not stop the payment process.

26th February, Amazon attempted to debit my credit card for the full amount, but the payment is blocked by my bank because it exceeds the maximum daily payment cap, plus I simply do not have that much cash on balance anyway.

24h later, Amazon tries again. Bank simply blocks my credit card. Amazon cannot make additional attempts at payments. It’s been one worrisome week, and I have some explaining to do with my bank!

28th Feb. Amazon finally acknowledges for the first time that there may indeed be an error. They ask me to wait. 

2nd March. Amazon says that due to an error on their platform, about a hundred vendors are being overcharged and that I will get 8.097.65 Euro refunded soon. I demand a full explanation into those numbers. 

Which also begs the question: how do you trust a company that makes such errors (with “hundred of vendors”), especially errors of this magnitude (in the 10K Euro range for me) and is seemingly incapable to spot it right away, and then, will not address it for weeks and months?

7th of March. My bank account is reinstated. Amazon immediately takes €3,145.31 from it (below my payment cap, so it gets processed and I did not learn about it right away).

8th March, Amazon tried to explain their 8.097.65 Euro amount, but their explanations do not make any sense. I show them by A+B that the agent is just telling me some bullshit story. I am completely lost. From there on, complete silence from Amazon.

Shall I repeat?! Complete silence from Amazon who a few days ago just acknowledged a major error allegedly affecting HUNDREDS of vendors, giving bullshit explanations and now playing the silent game! 

Meanwhile.

11th March, my account gets charged €360.00

13th March, my account gets charged €540.00

16th March, my account gets charged €324.00

18th March, my account gets charged €486.00

10th April, my account gets charged €87.48

11th April, my account gets charged €131.22

12th April, my account gets charged €262.44

13th April, my account gets charged €524.88

15th April, my account gets charged €1,049.76

17th April, my account gets charged €2,099.52

OK, I have received your message, folks. Time for desperate action and call upon a lawyer in Luxembourg (not falling for the same trick twice!) and I ask them to send an emergency injunction to Amazon.

Amazon will refund me of all dues a few days later. Zero explanation, zero excuses, and naturally, zero compensation of any kind. 

It’s a pleasure doing business with you!

Do I need to mention that by now I am more than mildly upset? I just forked a retainer to that Luxembourg lawyer to stop your abuse, guys, you asked for it! Lost goods of Germany are back on the agenda!

I guess I was thinking that Justice would be finally coming.

Such

an

Amateur!

So. Quick sum-up on the meaning beyond the anecdotes (I know it is fun to watch some noob being hammered but still, you want to recognize the Pro technique when they display good skills).

Anything a bit complex? SellerSupport will do its best to lead you nowhere. They will stop giving reliable information at the first sign of trouble (if they ever give you anything valuable in the first place). From there, should you abandon (for instance, like I did in the Travel Adaptor case), 100% win for Amazon who has gotten rid of you at zero cost whatsoever since you’ve just sucked it up yourself. Option 2, should you decide to insist, well, there aren’t many options, actually. Write to Jeff@amazon? Pointless. Forums? Most likely dead ends if from Amazon, as moderators are employees whose role is to promptly remove your post after you have stirred the initial outcry. I am actually really amazed that vendors still try to post about Amazon shortcomings’ on Amazon’s own forums. So many links that I have seen once simply disappeared soon afterwards, with deleted responses, and whatnot. Then again, I did it myself, so, I can hardly judge. Good move by Amazon who occupy the space so they also control it, identify troublemakers and potentially spot genuinely dangerous issues for themselves before they blow out of proportion. Legal? Well, think carefully as it can be an expensive and quite a bumpy road (read on to find out). Oh, and let’s not forget another funny move by Amazon. My vendor’s contract listed the CSSF – Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier in Luxembourg as a possible recourse for out-of-court arbitration. My lawyer did reach out to them. They had no clue as to what we were talking about and declared themselves incompetents! Really, an amazing move by Amazon who directs you to an organization that has no clue that it is supposed to have any role in your dispute. You just wasted another week or two, plus expenses.

Look at it again from Amazon’s perspective. You are careful to stay silent. You do not answer when a lawyer sends you requests over that German issue you so masterfully avoided a few months ago. You actually refund the money taken because that would just be too obvious, but otherwise just say nothing. The vendor has had to suffer the consequences, you blocked him at the bank. You engage no expenses to get involved with a phony arbitration that does not exists. You just stay put and you wait. Meanwhile, that silly vendor is spending like crazy, his time, stress and money. Let him simmer, let him slowly drown himself trying to achieve something. Soon he will be quite ready!

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