No more quickly suspended Amazon seller accounts.
Easier problem-solving when ASINs are deactivated.
These were the promises.
In Fall 2022, Amazon made an Earth-shattering announcement. The company swore its new mission was to be kinder and gentler with its “Selling Partners.” The centerpiece of its strategy? The Account Health Rating (AHR), a numeric score assigned to every Amazon seller account.
While the AHR can provide some reassurance for sellers, it creates a new and difficult reality. In the past, I recommended sellers not appeal every ASIN defect, depending on the particular circumstances around each case. But now, with the AHR, I urge sellers to appeal every single ASIN defect they possibly can.
What is the Amazon Account Health Rating (AHR)?
Amazon rolled out a new method for policing seller accounts last fall. It was supposed to make Amazon Seller Performance enforcement, such as suspensions, more transparent and understandable. This is allegedly in contrast to the black box that third-party Amazon sellers have found frustrating and indiscernible in the past.
The AHR score can range from 0 to 1,000. The stated purpose of the score is to let sellers know if their selling account is at risk of deactivation. There are three status levels:
- A score of 200 to 1,000 is considered “Healthy.” It is not at risk of deactivation.
- A score of 100 to 199 is considered “At Risk.” This means that Seller Performance believes the account is at risk of deactivation.
- A score of 99 or lower is considered “Unhealthy.” The account is either suspended or eligible for suspension at any time.
What makes an AHR score rise and fall? While the formula and exact number are hard to discern – much like Amazon’s other black-box algorithms – the causes are clear. When a seller has not been warned for policy violations, and they also do not have any ASINs with defects, their score will rise as sales volume increases. They will easily stay above the 200 mark.
The score begins to fall when policy violations and ASIN-level defects are received. These include ASINs suspended or questioned regarding these and more:
- Suspected intellectual property violations
- Received intellectual property violations
- Product condition complaints, sometimes known as “used sold as new”
- Restricted products issues
- Safety complaints
Amazon labels and scales each defect from “high impact” to “no impact.” Unfortunately, that impact rating does not always clearly correlate with the change of the AHR score. Even defects labeled as “no impact” have pushed some accounts’ AHR scores below the threshold of 200.
What happens when the AHR drops?
If a seller’s score falls below 200, Amazon typically reaches out and asks them to address the violations that have shown up on the Account Health scorecard. Allegedly, if the seller is actively working to fix the violations, they will not be suspended.
That isn’t quite the case. Even a perfect AHR score doesn’t protect a seller account from deactivation. Seller Performance can immediately suspend accounts suspected of nefarious activities such as fraud or other actions that harm buyers, other sellers, or Amazon itself.
To understand why I now recommend sellers appeal all ASIN defects, it helps to see an example of how the new AHR score can dramatically change. Here are a few examples:
- One seller had a healthy AHR score in the 300 range. Overnight, they received multiple IP complaints from a single brand covering about a dozen ASINs. This immediately pushed the seller’s AHR under the 200 threshold, resulting in an account suspension.
- Another seller had a catalog with approximately 1,200 products. Despite a nice volume of sales, just two “critical” defects for inauthentic pushed their AHR score from the 600s to a sub-200 number. They were threatened with immediate suspension.
- A third seller had dozens of safety complaints they left unaddressed over time. Their AHR score was, nonetheless, in the healthy range. Then a slew of suspected IP violations over the course of a week destroyed their AHR score and resulted in account deactivation.
What’s a seller to do?
“Needless to say, sellers must take steps to ensure they have invoices for every item listed on Amazon. But no invoices mean no appeal.”
Secrecy around the calculation of the AHR score, coupled with the uncertainty of selling on Amazon, makes any new defect a possible account killer. Sellers simply cannot stand by and watch their scores sink over time. Eventually, a defect or policy violation will put the account into “At Risk” or “Unhealthy” territory.
The remedy is an Amazon ASIN appeal. Examine every possible suspended ASIN and policy violation from the last 180 days – the time period that affects the account’s AHR score. In theory, every seller should be able to appeal every policy violation and suspended ASIN. There is, however, a glaring exception. The seller cannot appeal if they do not have invoices. Needless to say, sellers must take steps to ensure they have invoices for every item listed on Amazon. But no invoices mean no appeal.
Otherwise, it is worth the time and effort to appeal and thus maintain a high AHR Score. In addition to lowering the risk of account deactivation, successful ASIN appeals mean:
- Sellers can continue to offer that inventory
- Sellers will not have to remove, destroy, or fire-sale the items on another platform
- Sellers will not lose money on their previously suspended ASINs, which can be margin-killers
It’s true that a written appeal for every ASIN can be burdensome and overwhelming. Based on what Amazon is doing with the AHR, it remains critical to avoid ASIN and account suspensions.
I’ve often talked with sellers who don’t check Seller Central every day, especially the account health page. Our recommended best practice is to check daily, keep an eye on the AHR, even build or hire a quick-response team that checks these daily. Be on the lookout for problems, , “raise the flag,” then work quickly to create and submit appeals (with invoices).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lesley Hensell is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, which solves Amazon problems for third-party sellers and vendors. Lesley has personally helped hundreds of third-party sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running. She has been an Amazon seller for more than a decade, thanks to her boys (21 and 15) who do most of the heavy lifting.
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