Feedback Removal Change: What It Means for Sellers

Out of the blue, Amazon has “streamlined” (note the scare quotes) the process of feedback removal. They’ve dictated that all requests for removal of seller feedback go through the Feedback Manager.

Feedback Removal Policy Change

Previously, all requests for feedback removal had to go through Amazon Support; now, it seems as though if you try to do it the old way, you’ll hear nothing but crickets. You’ll have to go through the same door as everyone else: the Feedback Manager.

What Feedback Is Eligible to Get Removed?

Let’s very quickly review what types of seller feedback are eligible to be removed, and why it’s so important to act on these.

As per Amazon’s Terms of Service, feedback is eligible to be removed if:

  • It’s obscene or contains personally revealing information (standard fare for feedback removal).
  • It consists entirely of a product review.
    A product review in addition to a note on shipping speed or customer service experience does not qualify for removal.
  • It describes a problem with late/faulty shipping, and the item was shipped with FBA.
    Amazon will cross out the text and write a note saying that they take responsibility for the negative feedback.

See this Amazon help page for more details.

It’s important to get as much inappropriate feedback removed as you can, because it affects your overall Feedback Percentage. You need to receive less than 5% negative feedback, corresponding to a Positive Percentage of >95%. Ideally, you’d want to be closer to the 97–99% range, but dropping below 95% is your biggest concern. Dropping below this threshold for too long, especially if it’s accompanied by an increased ODR (Order Defect Rate), puts you at risk for suspension.

So, since removing inappropriate feedback is so important, what does this change mean for getting feedback removed?

What This Means

Basically, the change means that the process of requesting feedback removal is standardized. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, however, is a more complicated question.

Before, we all had to deal with individual support agents every time we wanted a piece of feedback removed. Sometimes, it would go relatively smoothly; other times, it could drag on forever

Now, the Feedback Manager system means that we’ll likely never talk directly to a real human any more. That means a mixed bag of effects.

On the one hand, it’s a sort of equalizer for sellers. Everyone has to go through the same portal, and trying to jump the queue by contacting Seller Support directly will result in your request getting ignored and, likely, pointed back to the Feedback Manager.

On the other hand, that equalization means that nuanced and sensitive cases might fall by the wayside as they butt up against canned, automated responses. Feedback removal is almost never cut-and-dried, and negotiating or discussing a case with a support agent was often the best way to make your case.

Obviously, many sellers disliked going through Amazon Support to get feedback removed, but think about why the process was frustrating. Besides the amount of time it took to get feedback removed, the most irritating part was fighting your way through scripted, robotic responses and actually start talking to the human being behind it.

Now, consider what a standardized form for feedback removal means. It means that there will be nothing but scripted and robotic responses. There won’t be a human at the end to hear you out any more. If your first request gets rejected, possibility of an appeal is very unlikely — you’ll likely end up running up against the same canned-response wall over and over if you try.

Yes, it will likely be faster, but that comes at a significant cost. The increased speed will likely come from the agent on the other end of the form eyeballing the feedback, running through a checklist, and stamping ‘Reject’ or ‘Approve’ before sending it back. That’s great if you have a fairly clear-cut case, but not so great if you’re looking for a small exception or have a more complicated case to make.

Conclusion

Overall, it seems like Amazon made this change in order to make the process of feedback removal less time-consuming for them, but at the expense of sellers’ ability to discuss and argue in more complex cases. We’ve basically been barred from human interaction as sellers, forced to deal with the (significantly less lenient) replies from a standardized point. It’s unfortunate, and Amazon’s immediate implementation of this policy without prior warning seems to have precluded any discussion or feedback.

It’s also irritating that Amazon is making it more difficult for sellers to remove inappropriate feedback, since part of the reason that so much inappropriate feedback appears is that Amazon’s messaging isn’t clear enough. Sellers know that seller feedback is for shipping and customer service issues, whereas product reviews are, well, product reviews. However, most Amazon shoppers don’t understand this (decidedly confusing) difference, and Amazon hasn’t done that much to remedy this misunderstanding.

At the end of the day, part of being an Amazon seller is rolling with the punches, so it seems that we’ll have to adapt to this new system.

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