What happens when we totally rely on technology?
Over the last few years, there have been quite a few instances when Amazon let its platform function without adequate human supervision. Since January, there have been thousands of cases where seller’s listing has become stranded and blocked just because Amazon’s brainless algorithm thought that the item was a pesticide product or pesticide device when in reality it had no connection whatsoever with pesticides.
How Badly Does It Affect The Seller?
When Amazon bots block seller’s listing, while the product was not a pesticide, then it causes a whole world of hurt for sellers. What if that item was their best seller? What if it was ranking on Page 1? Seller will have to lose sales, money, and ranking at no mistake of his own. The scariest thing is that you can’t even edit the listing yourself. Amazon will lock your product detail edit page in the backend so you cannot remove the offending wording.
The inventory will just sit in the Amazon warehouses, costing money and liabilities. Sellers will have no option left but to wait for a reply from seller support which no one can actually predict when will it come.
My Listing Got Blocked. Now What?
If you want to get your listing selling again or list a new pesticide product, you will have to watch the pesticide course video and take a test. Amazon obviously needs to train their bots before giving sellers training for pesticide products. However, once you complete the test, you will be able to edit and fix the listing. Sellers will need to take the training and pass the test only once, even if you have offers on multiple products. According to Amazon, this test will help sellers understand their “obligation” under EPA regulation as a seller of pesticide and pesticide devices.
Note: Only US sellers are permitted to request
If sellers want to seek approval request for the affected pesticide products, they can follow the steps below:
1. Login to Seller Central, navigate towards inventory tab and click on Add a Product
2. Add one of your pesticide or pesticide device ASIN from the list provided
3. In the search results, click on the “Listing limitation apply” link next to the ASIN
4. Click on the Request Approval button to start the approval proces
But I Don’t Even Sell Pesticide Products!
If you are not selling pesticide or pesticide device product and still your product is blocked, then you can try and remove any of the words from your backend that triggers and claims that your product is a pesticide. If you are not able to access your Edit Details page, then you can create a ticket with Amazon claiming that your product is not a pesticide. However, there is no assurance that your listing will be live again anytime soon. So, the best thing you can do is to wait.
How Can All This Be Avoided?
To prevent such situation, check all of your listings thoroughly and make sure they do not have any of below-mentioned words:
● All natural
If you use any of these words then the little brainless Amazon bots will flag your listing as a pesticide product or pesticide device, even if it has NO relation to pesticides. We have got some cases where the seller was selling bedding and his listing was blocked just because the description and bullet points contained the word “Anti-bacterial” and “kill the mites”.
Amazon bots will consider your product as a pesticide if:
● It makes a claim to repel, destroy, kill, prevent or mitigate any pests
● It makes any antifungal, antimicrobial, antibacterial or pesticide claim such as sanitizes or disinfects
● Indirectly implies an action against pests
● Draw a comparison against pesticides
● Picture a pest on the label
So, if Amazon finds any wordings in your listing that implies any of above-mentioned things, then the bots will block your listing right away. If you are not selling pesticides, make sure your product description does not contain the words that appear like you are.
Why Is Amazon Doing All This?
Amazon did not make these new rules for no reason. All this has happened because EPA told Amazon to keep a check on the products that could potentially be a pesticide. It’s all a part of the massive settlement that happened last year between EPA and Amazon regarding the illegal selling, marketing and importing of products some of which were legally toxic. This issue fell under US Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The settlement for this issue included a $1.2 million civil penalty and company’s agreement to develop an online training program (in English, Spanish and Chinese) on pesticide regulations and policies that is now mandatory for all the sellers selling pesticides on Amazon. Amazon had also implemented a more aggressive program to put an end to selling of illegal pesticides which included a computer-based screening system supported by trained staff.
In announcing the Amazon settlement, EPA noted that “[n]on-English speaking members of the public are at increased risk from pesticides that are illegal in the U.S. but have long been used throughout Asia. These populations’ familiarity with these products make it more likely they will order them from online sources such as Amazon.” Since the non-US violators are untouchable, Amazon and other third-party sellers in the marketplace have to bear the consequences for the breach of rules. So from now on, only the US residents can sell pesticide on Amazon.com after completing the eLearning and passing the test with 80% or better score.
FAQs Related To This Update:
Question 1: Can I still be able to use FBA?
Answer: From June 7, 2019, only the sellers who have taken the training and passed the approval process can send shipments of those products to fulfillment centers.
Question 2: What about my existing FBA inventory?
Answer: For any remaining inventory that does not have qualifying, sellers can continue selling them till June 7, 2019. After June 7, sellers will either need to:
(a) Obtain approval to continue to sell the affected products
(b) Create a removal order for return or disposal of your remaining FBA inventory
Question 3: What is the approval process?
Answer: Basically there are two steps. Sellers will have to:
Step 1: Complete a brief online training
Step 2: Pass the associated test with 80% or more score
Note: This is the link to Amazon’s Seller Central page where you can give the text (login required).
Question 4: How can I know if my product falls under the pesticide or pesticide device category?
Answer: EPA regulations define pesticides and pesticide devices to include a wide range of products some of which you might even not expect such as:
● Ultraviolet Light Units
● Sound Generators
● Insect Traps
● Ground Vibrators
● Water Treatment Units
● Air Treatment Units
● Products that make any pesticidal claims
You can visit the below website to know about what a pesticide and pesticide device is. If your product does any of the things mentioned on the website then Amazon will consider your prod+uct as a pesticide.
You can also see Amazon’s Pesticides and Pesticide Devices for more information:
When Amazon bots block your listing claiming it to be a pesticide, it does no good to anyone. We really hope that Amazon trains its bots soon.
Tip from Our Experts:
Whether you are selling a pesticide product or not, just take the test. This will safeguard all of the products in your catalog from getting blocked. We recommend doing this instead of browsing through the individual listing and finding words that may potentially block the listing. If you cannot take the test, just contact us. We will do it for you. We have already taken the test for all of our clients and their listings are completely out of danger.
We are aware of the ever-changing Amazon rules and policies. So, we strategically try to avoid writing any such words in the listing copy. If at any time you need help with Amazon listing optimization, feel free to contact us. We have listing packages for all sorts of needs.