Amazon Seller Threats

Amazon Seller Threats

I’ve placed a lot of orders on Amazon. I’ve gotten pens, video games, batteries, tableware, books - at a certain point, I stopped keeping track. What I never expected to receive was a death threat.

When dishonest sellers seek to carve out a little corner of a market for themselves, they can sometimes become overzealous when it comes to retaining their position. It’s not uncommon to hear about certain sellers threatening other sellers over Amazon’s messaging system, email, and even phone calls. How did we get to the point where sellers are threatening one another over the sale of items as mundane as light bulbs, bulletin boards or appliance parts?

On the Amazon seller forums, you can find numerous posts about users being threatened on Amazon. Typically, the people being threatened are the offenders, with the account threatening them viewing their threats as warranted retaliation. For example, one Amazon forum user reported selling another user’s trademarked item and being asked to stop. When this Amazon forum user did not stop, they were sent a simple message, “Remove it or die.”

Amazon’s massive selection is comprised of a large number of smaller markets for different types of products. These smaller markets can get extremely specific and this is where a large part of the competition occurs. You won’t see high-profile, respected bands sending each other death threats over competition. But if you zoom in a little on a smaller market, something like rifle scopes or tabletop game pieces, things can start to get ugly.

There are multiple recorded cases of users being threatened with death by other sellers via emails. Death threats are certainly a gross overreaction to someone trying to sell your trademarked product but the most frightening of these cases are the ones where an honest seller is being antagonized by fraudulent sellers. It is easy for Amazon users to use the site’s tools to find information about sellers such as their email, phone number and shipping address.

Another user on the Amazon seller forums reported that a user intentionally bought a large number of their product and then requested returns, leaving poor reviews and affecting the seller’s Amazon rating. Eventually, this user was able to locate the seller’s phone number and, according to the seller, called their home phone number 30 times in one day, eventually leaving a voicemail with a death threat.

Death threats are, of course, illegal! Amazon typically frowns upon them as well. But there is a such a high volume of these types of cases occurring on Amazon at any given moment that their system for dealing with cases like these inefficient and often ineffective.

Snap Supply has experienced sellers calling us, emailing us, and attempting to sabotage our Amazon business. Multiple members of our staff have received threatening emails. Other companies attempting to have an honest presence on the Amazon marketplace have gone through similar experiences.

Fans of this blog are by now familiar with Amazon’s lax attitude when it comes to fraudulent foreign sellers. [link to foreign sellers blog]. We’re also up to date on how U.S. postal subsidies and shipping laws makes it cheaper to buy from a foreign seller than it is to purchase from a domestic one. We have covered the business consequences of these policies but something that we didn’t anticipate was the conflicts that can develop on the Amazon marketplace and how quickly they can escalate to threats of violence.
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