This holiday season, Amazon has been in the giving spirit… at least when it comes to announcements. Contrary to Amazon’s more foreboding message about raising fees for FBA sellers in 2023, this newest reveal will benefit many sellers’ account health by helping to manage policy violations and prevent account deactivations.
But what actually is this new Account Health Assurance (AHA) feature, and how does it work? Is it really going to be as helpful as the company promises? And is there a catch?
Amazon announced its new Account Health Assurance benefit on November 16, launching it first in Canada and the US before it expands into other markets in 2023.
The AHA is a free feature that helps sellers avoid automatic deactivation when the Account Health rating is below the healthy target and the account is flagged for policy violations. Until now, if Amazon identified a potential problem, it would shut down the offending account until the issue was addressed and resolved by the seller. The Account Health Assurance feature, however, takes what Amazon calls a more proactive approach.
Tied to the Account Health Rating (AHR) – which alerts sellers to any account risks that may lead to deactivation – the Account Health Assurance feature directly notifies sellers about a violation via email and assigns an “account health specialist” to each case. This advisor then helps the seller write and submit an official plan of action, which involves the following steps:
After this plan of action is submitted, a different officer will review the appeal and resolve the issue, hopefully preventing the account from being deactivated.
The idea behind AHA is a good one, and much of the community is celebrating it as a useful step forward for sellers. Not only is it a free service with a welcome human element, it also works to fundamentally provide sellers with more transparency, particularly with often unclear policy violations.
However, while many sellers are celebrating the progress of this announcement, others have expressed disappointment on Amazon’s Seller Forums, noting certain caveats, rules, and limitations that may exclude a number of the Amazon community.
Amazon is – and should be – proud of trying to help its sellers with a service that curtails undue account deactivations. Again, many business owners in the ecommerce community have been advocating for this level of transparency for some time. But some sellers have noted a few limitations with the benefit, and have voiced uncertainty about some of its rules.
To activate the AHA benefit, sellers should first register for free online, making sure their account information is accurate and up to date. This helps Amazon identify trusted accounts and remove fake ones.
Once the seller is signed up, and are alerted about a potential policy violation by the account health specialist, they must return the email or call them back within a 72-hour window. From there, the seller and support staff can work together to address the issue and resolve it.
Some sellers have questioned this 72-hour response window, noting it might not be enough time for sellers to get back in touch. Amazon has addressed this issue, however, noting that sellers will “receive both a phone call and an email with instructions on how to get in touch with us. If you can’t answer the phone the first time we call, we will try again.”
So, if the team can’t get in touch, it won’t be for lack of trying. Affected sellers can also reach Amazon using the “Call me Now” button on their account health page, or submit the plan of action directly themselves.
The most pressing problem many sellers seem to have, however, is the question of eligibility, and the cap Amazon has placed on who can receive the benefit in the first place.
A seller’s account health score depends on how many orders they fulfill efficiently – the higher the orders, the more points they accrue. Amazon considers any account with a score of 200 points or more to be “healthy.” However, according to the Account Health Assurance FAQ on Amazon’s Seller Central, only sellers who maintain an AHR score of 250 or higher in the last 6 months will have access to Account Health Assurance (with a few exceptions, like seasonal businesses).
This limitation has angered some smaller sellers, who believe they are being excluded from a feature that could actively help their businesses. After all, policy compliance violations are proportional to the size of the business, and so is their impact.
At least one vocal critic on the forums called this eligibility requirement, “another slap in the face of small business owners,” with others echoing the sentiment in not so many words.
That said, other sellers on the forums, and around the community, believe the 250 score cap is legitimate, noting Amazon’s need to account for the volume of cases it may have to address.
Given that the feature is free, and is also supported by a human staff, these sellers argue that some kind of filter is necessary. Some have also noted that the 250 figure is not prohibitive, even for smaller businesses.
Overall, AHA seems to be a welcome idea with sellers, though its limitations may draw ire from what some consider to be an underserved portion of Amazon’s community.
Whether your business will benefit from Amazon’s AHA program will largely rely on that all-important 250+ score, and whether you can maintain that pace going forward.
However, if you are eligible – which you can find out by going to Amazon Seller Central – it will undoubtedly give sellers peace of mind, allowing them to, as Amazon wrote in its announcement, “spend more time focused on growing your business.”
“An Amazon seller is constantly thinking that one day, they will wake up, and their account will be deactivated for any number of reasons,” noted Carbon6 Community Ambassador, Vanessa Hung. “So this is a step forward to having a much better selling experience.”
Time will tell just how successful the implementation of the benefit will be, but the seller community is clearly watching this one with a great amount of interest – and excitement.
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