Throwing other sellers under the bus?

A buyer messaged us asking when their funds would be returned. We have no return requests or order cancellations from this customer so we asked them for more information. They sent us a screenshot of an Amazon message from a competitor telling the buyer they don’t have the item in stock and instructing the buyer to open a cancellation request for the order.

We get messages for other sellers on listings where we compete all the time, especially when we have the BB and buyers think that means we are the only seller. Explaining that there are a number of sellers on a listing and they need to direct their inquiries to the correct seller is something we have to do often enough we have a template for it.

In this case, I am somewhat tempted to mention to the buyer that what this seller is asking them to do is a violation of Amazon’s policies, and they are under no obligation to do so. Obviously this is not a necessary component of a required response, but I guess I’m just feeling petty today.

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I get it, but in this case the Buyer already showed you a screenshot of the other Seller’s message, so I’m sure they won’t hesitate to do the same and share your message with that Seller.

Instead of mentioning the violation or policy, perhaps you can couch it in terms of what you usually do for your Buyers and/or that they might need to call Amazon Customer Service to “clarify the procedure”?

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I would mark this as “no response needed” since it seems like the message was meant for another seller.

I routinely get messages meant for another seller and do not respond, since it takes work and there’s no upside to responding, but there is potential downside to responding in a way that may be considered attacking another seller. They may interpret your message as trying to convince a buyer to report another seller and penalize you for doing so.

My rule is if it doesn’t affect me I don’t get involved.

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To be fair, they thought they were showing me my own message to them, but I get your point. On the other hand, I’m not ashamed of following the rules.

It takes me less than 10 seconds to pull up the “wrong seller” template, and some of those buyers have gone on to purchase from me instead of the competition because I was more helpful and responsive than other sellers.

Additionally, it often takes a message or 2 back and forth to establish whether or not these buyers are in the right place, meaning once we have established I am the wrong seller, I would be ghosting them in the middle of the exchange. That’s a level of rude I’m not willing to stoop to just because they shopped elsewhere.

In the case of my OP, the buyer did purchase from me in the past month, so it was perfectly reasonable to think they may have been referring to that order when inquiring about a refund. Now that it turns out their problem is with a different order I’m not going to just flip them the bird and walk away.

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I would direct them to open an a to z or file a chargeback

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Gotcha, my wrong messages are all without any communication from me. Usually it’s someone asking for a return/refund/reporting a wrong item received and there’s no order history from them so I know it’s not my problem right away.

I would still avoid doing anything that the bots might not like. You also don’t want keywords like “violation” in any of your messages.

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Their order is currently in “unshipped” status, and the other seller is hoping the buyer will open an order cancellation and bail them out. They can’t open an AtoZ yet, and a chargeback seems a little drastic.

I know I should stay out of it and just tell the buyer they are talking to the wrong seller. I’m just annoyed that my competition is flagrantly breaking the rules and I don’t get enough sleep.

This is true maybe 95% of the time, but every so often the buyer did purchase from me, and they were just clueless about how to message me from their order, or they forgot they ordered it on their wife’s account but they can give me the order number when I ask, that sort of thing.

I use the phrase “violation of Amazon’s policies” all the time, usually when buyers want me to do something I can’t or shouldn’t do. Changing their address, cash refunds, giving them a discount if they pick up the item in person and pay in cash… So far it has not caused me any issues.

I’m just going to tell them that the seller is responsible for cancelling their order when they don’t have stock and no further action is required.

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Slightly edited, though that is not what I (and I think you) wanted to say.

If the order hasn’t been shipped, then their card hasn’t been charged so there can be no chargeback claim.

Unfulfilled order left as unshipped will be cancelled by Amazon and go against the sellers ODR. We are not sure of how long Amazon waits (within seven days of ship-by-date so a week after ship-by-date), but the following can be found in the Seller Help pages …

The order was automatically canceled by Amazon because the seller did not confirm shipment within seven days of ship-by-date

So if this seller has his handle time / shipping templates set to create a 30 day ship-by-date, the customer is stuck for 37 days before Amazon would auto-cancel and their credit card is not charged during this time.

Since you know the ASIN, you could use the report a violation tool to find the sellers who are selling the ASIN. Then check their offers and determine which seller has an extreme ship-by-date (who is probably the culprit). It doesn’t help solve the issue but you will have a good idea of which competition is playing this game.

This appears to be a possible scam to us. If the seller does not have the product and can not ship, then the customer’s credit card has not been charged. At best (giving the customer a maybe)… the customer may be seeing a “pending” charge on their credit card account (which would really be a hold for the amount) but Amazon will not be completing the charge until the product has shipped. If the competitor’s name appears on the screenshot, then check to see if the seller still has an active listing for the item (in other words … are they still trying to sell the item or have they pulled their offer). If they still have it as active, then we would lean towards the screenshot at being “created” (scam).

After establishing the parameters before responding, we agree …

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No, but there is a hold on the card which looks like a charge to some buyers. I do not know if a buyer can initiate a chargeback with a bank for a hold on the card instead of a charge. A bad seller could potentially tie up a customer’s credit for months that way, so I assume the customer has some sort of recourse with their bank.

The other seller has a fairly short handling time. Usually just a day or 2. The seller is legitimate enough that I know they aren’t playing that sort of game on a regular basis. I firmly believe they just send these emails to buyers when they oversell to avoid the metrics hit, and not that they are trying to scam customers.

Again, I don’t think so. The buyer was asking about a refund because the seller told them they need to open a cancellation request in order to get their money back, and they wanted to know how long it would take. This is, of course, not true, but the seller is trying to strong-arm buyers into opening cancellation requests to save them the metrics hit. The only illegitimate feature of this whole story is the other seller trying to avoid a cancellation hit, which isn’t a scam per se, so much as a violation of Amazon’s policies.

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When buyers ask me anything regarding payments or refunds, I tell them sellers cannot answer such questions as we do not have access to any financial information for their order; we don’t know and can’t determine why. I direct them to contact Amazon.
Your suspicions are probably correct, but there is always the possibility of a glitch in play. I would in your case explain that you are the seller who filled the order and the question relates to a different seller. Another reason you can’t help solve it.

I tell them I’m sorry, sellers cannot answer such questions

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@Lost_My_Marbles @maintak,
Most credit cards have a 30 day max Authorization Hold, so the transaction will be automatically canceled if not completed before the authorization expires at 30 days.

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Exactly … and the pending status on a credit card account usually drops of after 7 to 10 days. The hold is only on the credit card’s available balance.

A lot of consumers do not understand these two principles when reading their credit card balances online.

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Do you know how many people have their credit cards maxed out? Not having the available balance is actually a problem for them.

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It would mean a denial of charge and no hold would be placed on account. The hold is only placed on the account if there is an available balance.

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Right, but if a pending order is holding up their available balance, then they can’t use that amount to put themselves into further debt by buying something else (until it’s released)

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The number of calls we get every week about pending charges absolutely blows my mind. As do the number of people that can’t understand/won’t believe the explanation. (for our own website, not Amazon sales). It’s really fun to explain that we have no control over how soon their CC company drops off the authorization/pending charge once it’s canceled on our end.

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Living paycheck to paycheck is outdated terminology. Nowadays it’s people living maxed credit card to maxed credit card.

Or the buyer is a fiscally conservative person who doesn’t use their credit card very much and therefore doesn’t have a very high credit limit, so when a bad seller locks up a significant portion of their available balance for a week or a month the buyer finds themselves in a tough spot and doesn’t have the credit limit to allow them to purchase the item elsewhere.

The buyer asking when their funds will be released is not the problem here. The problem is that the other seller lied to the buyer about the status of their funds and the process required to release them.

My question is what happens if a buyer calls their bank to contest a hold. I doubt it gets processed like a chargeback, but I don’t actually have any experience with such a case.

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They can’t process a chargeback until the charge actually goes through. I have had two different personal cards (one credit, one debit) where I caught fraud right away, while charges were still pending. I had to wait for them to go through before I could dispute them. There was nothing my bank could do to stop them from coming through.

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