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Let's talk about Amazon listing hijackers...

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by Valor, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. Valor
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    Valor Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hopefully some of you can chime in and help out, as this has been driving me absolutely insane.

    Let's start from the beginning...

    I've personally been selling my business's products on Amazon for several years now (as well as my own site and others). My brand's products, reputation, and sales have all improved over this entire timespan.

    *Enter hijackers*

    Actually, hijackers is being way too nice - for the rest of this thread, I'm going to refer to them as thieves.

    Long story short here - I've had problems with thieves before, but they always seemed to disappear very quickly, usually after a quick message to them.

    This time, I've had 3 different thieves on my listing, all of them dead-set on sticking around at all costs, even after several very direct emails and cease-and-desists.

    I've managed to get rid of 2 of them, but 1 still remains and I've had to constantly lower my price to fight for the buy box to the point where I'm at my break even price now, 57% off my normal selling price.

    Here's the catch though (as if it wasn't bad enough already). My product is not easily replicated, and while this thief is selling an item that looks like mine, they are 100% selling a counterfeit version that is of inferior quality, and I've had a hell of a time getting Amazon to do a damn thing about it! Despite providing clear evidence and photo proof of the differences.

    As a result of this whole mess, the product that's been hijacked (my best selling product) has received at least 20 1-star reviews at this point with people complaining of the problem. You'd think this would be enough evidence for Amazon if my photo proof wasn't already, right? Wrong. They still haven't done anything.

    Disclaimer: I am not enrolled in Amazon's brand registry 2.0, as I am waiting to receive my registered trademark still, which will still take several more months. This is not just a matter of brand rights though; this is a matter of a counterfeit product, and Amazon seems like they couldn't give 2 shits that their customers (and mine) are being blatantly ripped off.

    Where I'm at now:

    I've lowered my price to win the buy box to avoid any more people leaving 1-star reviews, but am pretty much at break-even. Even though the thief is selling a counterfeit, I'm pretty sure I have larger margins and much more inventory than them which allows me to fight back for the buy box, even though I really hate to drop my price this much (for several obvious reasons).

    I'm continuing to reach out to seller support almost everyday, filing the same report about a counterfeit product (providing more detail each time), hoping that eventually I'll reach someone who is at least half competent. Apparently most of them think that because a product looks the same, it is the same.

    I'm already taking steps to make sure this 100% doesn't happen in the future, but I need something to be done for the time-being.

    Any advice? I'm ready to talk to an IP attorney, and take any actions necessary to make sure this thief gets the biggest dose of karma that I can manage. More importantly though, I need to get my sales, margins, listing, and reviews back to where they should rightfully be.

    If you've had great success removing hijackers in a similar situation or know a good IP attorney you can refer to me, please reach out.
     
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  2. George Appiah
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    George Appiah Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    This must suck big time, @Valor.

    And a little bit of Googling seems to show this is a fairly common fraud, but Amazon doesn't seem to care to do jack about it.

    This is not my alley, so I don't have any advice for you.

    Here's one guerilla strategy I found googling, which shows the extent of the problem and how far sellers are going... just to fight back:

     
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  3. RazorCut
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    RazorCut Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Been there and had exactly the same situation. Complained to Amazon, no useful response. Purchased the product from the hi-jacker and took photo's and a video opening the package and showing the product (which was an entirely different item bearing no resemblance to the one sold).

    Amazon still did squat. We lost the listing in the end because their item (which they were selling on a dozen other different listings as well) was so cheap we couldn't undercut them without losing money on every sale.

    Unless things have changed Amazon is like an onion and you are only allowed so many layers deep. The outer layers are an army of people who seem to have little to no influence and you are not allowed to speak to anyone further in who does have any authority. I've had an Amazon employee (several layers deep) do his upmost to get the issue sorted but all he got was stonewalled. Amazon don't seem to give two hoots as they get their commission regardless of who owns the buy box.

    This is why I think it is total folly to build a business that relies on Amazon and am astounded at the number of Fastlaners who build their entire business on the strength of Amazon marketplace. No matter how you rap it up you do not have the commandment of Control. Yes you can make yourself less vulnerable by selling across multiple platforms but Amazon are likely to dominate your sales so when something goes wrong you are severely exposed. I've had a friend lose a multi million pound business due directly to Amazon.

    It makes me smile when I get bombarded on YouTube with 'Guru's' trying to sell me their system for freedom which basically amounts to finding high selling products on Amazon, getting a copy from China and competing. Now if they are making so much money, and so easily selling on amazon why are they trying to sell me their formula so I can compete with them? More likely they got burned, seen how competitive Amazon has got as everyone and their dog is now a 'seller' and have ditched their business for an easier model.
     
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  4. mikey3times
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    mikey3times Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Valor likes this.
  5. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Are the hijackers an American company?
     
  6. G-Man
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    G-Man Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Buy all of their inventory with a rathole account, complain to Amazon that it's counterfeit, deface the packaging, and return it.

    Good idea, bad idea? That's just my knee jerk reaction.
     
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  7. Valor
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    Valor Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I'm fairly certain they were Chinese as they only updated their prices at night.

    I was going to buy all their inventory, but apparently they knew this was coming. Upon trying to max the quantity in my cart, I was told "this seller limits purchases to 1 per customer". So that was a no-go.

    I did manage to have the very last hijacker removed yesterday morning though, so for anyone else who has the same problem and stumbles upon this thread, here is how I removed the most persistent hijackers I've ever had...

    First, I followed the advice of these 3 detailed guides:

    How To Report A Seller On Amazon And Fight Hijackers Who Steal Or Piggyback On Your Listing - MyWifeQuitHerJob.com
    https://www.junglescout.com/blog/amazon-product-listing-hijacked/
    The Ultimate Guide on How to Remove Hijackers or Piggybackers from Your Amazon Listings

    Of course Amazon doesn't tell you when they take action or why, so I can only guess based on what I did the day before the final hijacker was removed. So here is what I did that I think finally got results:

    1. I created a very detailed, professional email based on my test-buy with a list of differences and side-by-side pictures to back them up and sent it to seller-performance@amazon.com, seller-performance-policy@amazon.com, and jeff@amazon.com. I had done this before, but I didn't have as many details and only submitted it through Amazon's Seller Support System.

    2. I also called Amazon customer service through this link:
    Amazon Sign In

    I entered the case as "Problem with order -> Wrong item or not as expected -> Item Doesn't Match Website Description". I was connected to a very helpful U.S. based Amazon rep thankfully (I guess unicorns do exist), and I requested a full refund for the test-buy and asked her to please file a report that the product is a counterfeit. She told me this report starts an internal investigation to the matter.

    So at this point, I basically had a detailed report filed through both Seller Support and also through their Customer Support.

    3. I had a few customers who bought the counterfeit message me with their problem. Between these customers and the people who left 1-star reviews, I reach out to almost all of them, providing them step-by-step instructions to do exactly as I did in step 2 above.

    So at this point, I had filed reports from both the buyer's and seller's side of things, and I also had at least a couple customers hopefully file reports as well.

    The next morning, I checked my listing and the very last hijacker/thief was gone. Now, all I'm left with are 25-30 1-star reviews which I'm going to be requesting to be removed.

    Moving forward, here is how I plan to make my defense against hijackers bulletproof:

    1. Register my trademark through the USPTO
    2. Register for Amazon brand registry 2.0
    3. Redesign both packaging and my product to clearly incorporate my brands logo
    4. In the near future, I am going to be creating molds for several new products. I am going to look into having my logo built into the mold so it is engraved onto my product.
    5. Use software to notify me immediately of hijackers so I can take action immediately
     
  8. Filippos
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    Filippos Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    If it's that easy for a hijacker/thief to create this mess, maybe selling this product in Amazon is not the best business to be in...
    It's pretty clear from your description that you have no control over the whole situation, since you have to ask Amazon to do sth about.
    Let go and re-direct your focus on sth you can control my friend ;)
     
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  9. Valor
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    Valor Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I don't know where you (or anyone) get these crazy ideas that if you're selling on Amazon, you can't focus on other areas as well. Or if something is able to be knocked-off, that you should find another product.

    I can easily go on Alibaba right now and find a knock off of some ray-bans and sell them on Amazon or somewhere else on the internet. Does that mean Ray Ban should quit selling sunglasses and quit selling on Amazon?

    Let me be very clear: I agree that Amazon is huge pain the a$$ and you don't have complete control over some things sometimes, and it can be infuriating. That is not a very good reason to ignore the single largest retailer on the planet though. There are ways to maximize your control on Amazon like I mentioned.

    And of course, I am still working on growing my other sales channels as well.
     
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  10. Filippos
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    Filippos Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    cool man, I'm just saying that there's also the alternative to just let go of the whole thing, even if it's the largest retailer on the planet, if it's gonna be creating so much stress all the time
    it's all a matter of priorities - if I were you, I would choose to avoid the drama or I would just withstand with the drama for a short period of time, if there's a chance that this won't be happening again and again for the rest of your life in this business
    another alternative that sounds more scalable and more stress-free would be to think of a business that solves this issue for everyone else. your post and the comments below show that this could be a potential problem a lot of people would rather pay someone else to solve it for them
     
    Valor likes this.
  11. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Admin Post
    I actually like this idea. It's fighting dicks with dick moves. Give 'em a taste of their own medicine.
     
  12. MoreVolume
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    MoreVolume Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    He's supposed to just give up because there is an obstacle? You sound crazy
     
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  13. Filippos
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    Filippos Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    things are not either black or white
    saying no to something is not always giving up... it's a matter of priorities and goals... if you want to be in a business that you know it will bring you stress consistently, isn't that the same as going to a job that you hate?
    if you don't get what I mean, there's no need to argument back and forth, you just have another opinion, it doesn't mean that other opinions are crazy
     
  14. Laughingman21
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    Laughingman21 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Within business there are always going to be problems that lead to stress. You can't just move on each time you face one.

    If he follows your advice and give up on the product, what do you suggest as a next step?
    • Launch another product on Amazon, put lots of time and effort in making it successful, then when another hijacker appears, give up on that one too?
    • Quit using Amazon and accept that all the time he's spent building knowledge and experience on the Amazon platform is wasted?
     
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  15. Filippos
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    Filippos Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    Of course there are always problems in business, but they're not all of the same nature... Having to deal with hijackers to be able to make profit sounds like a situation where you have to invest time again and again, every time a new hijacker comes in, which means that eventually you're getting married to time to make profit with this business. Plus you have no control over your business, since you cannot control Amazon to stop the hijackers and discriminate your product from the copy-products of the hijackers... Plus it's a low entry business... The whole situation sounds like there are a lot of NO-GOs in terms of staying on this business...

    If you judge your business in terms of the 5 laws from M.J.'s books (Need, Entry, Control, Scale, Time), it will become very clear which problems mean that you should GTFO of a business and which problems are just obstacles.

    The next steps I suggested are here:
    but they're just my opinion. It's your choice to consider or reject it, my intention here was to provide another opinion based on M.J.'s books.

    The fact that you put a lot of time and effort on a business is not a reason to stay in the business. If the business is profitable and if it doesn't put you in marriage with time (having to constantly deal with hijackers to be able to make profit doesn't sound like a situation that can be dealt with once, you would have to invest time again and again) IS a reason to stay in business.

    But as I wrote above, an even better possibility would be to develop a solution that deals with hijackers without taking a lot of your time and sell it as a service to everyone on the Amazon business having the same problem.
     
  16. Valor
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    Valor Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    It's called an IP attorney and securing legal rights. The frustration was Amazon's lack of action regarding the clear counterfeit. The solution to maximize control and minimize time is described above in my other post.

    Nothing against you, but please stop trying to be right when you don't know near enough details about the business or Amazon to give advice in this regard. It's very clear that you don't sell on Amazon (or likely anywhere), and it's not helping anyone here.

    If you will read my last post, there are ways to permanently deal with hijackers and minimize time put into it; otherwise, large brands who deal with the same exact issue wouldn't be on Amazon.

    Don't get me wrong, selling on Amazon does lack control. If Amazon disappeared, I would still have a business - it would just be much smaller right now. If you're in retail, it pays to work with the largest retailer in the world, wouldn't you think? You're trying, but you're giving bad advice about something you don't know near enough about (Amazon and my business), plain and simple. I could go on, but I'm done wasting time on this. Let's move on.

    Anyway, I'm in the process of removing the reviews now - I'll post updates in the future on how this goes.
     
    Bora.s, MoreVolume and Filippos like this.

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