Andy Ayers was walking to his car in a Big Lots parking lot -- shopping cart brimming with cereal, dog treats and Always brand feminine hygiene products he planned to resell for a markup on Amazon.com Inc. -- when he got a phone alert that his account had been suspended.
“I thought, ‘Oh Crap. Perfect timing,”’ says Ayers, 32, of Athens, Georgia.
An Amazon shopper had complained that one of Ayers’s products wasn’t authentic. Ayers disputed the claim and provided receipts to back it up. But about two weeks had passed by the time his account was reinstated, and the downtime cost him sales.
“I wasn’t doing anything shady,” says Ayers, who estimates he’ll sell $500,000 worth of goods on Amazon this year. “It seems there are a lot of Amazon sellers who aren’t doing anything wrong and are getting punished. There’s an arbitrary nature to it.” He has plenty of company. Attendees at an annual gathering of online merchants in Seattle on Friday said merchants are “living in fear” that they’ll be kicked off the site.