Another Feedback Friday has passed by, read along to stay in the loop!
On June 22nd, 2018 our own Andrew Maff sat down with CJ Rosenbaum, the founder of Amazon Sellers Lawyer, to talk about how it benefits the sellers and how it works.
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FOLLOW ALONG WITH CJ ROSENBAUM TO UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS OF AMAZON SELLERS LAWYER
Andrew Maff: CJ, really appreciate you joining me. Why don't you go ahead, introduce yourself for anyone who's listening now or listening in the future who may not know who you are?
CJ Rosenbaum: All right. First of all, I am an incredibly competent lawyer and incredibly incompetent Facebook [inaudible 00:00:24]. All right, so my name is CJ Rosenbaum. I founded a law firm with my partner Anthony Famularo who, if you are watching, you are the greatest partner on the planet. And our entire practice and now we're, like, almost 35 people strong. Our entire focus is on Amazon sellers. About 40% of the practice has nothing to do with the law, it has to do with writing plans of action for suspended sellers where they're suspended for a used sell that's new, inauthentic related accounts and all sorts of non-legal [inaudible 00:00:54].
40% has everything to do with the law, and that is intellectual property complaints where either a seller received a complaint from a brand and they're usually baseless, so we help them get back on by getting those complaints withdrawn. Or as sellers now move more and more and more into their own private label, we then protect their intellectual property rights. And in a way, we play the other side of the fence, but sellers now, you know, wave of the future is to develop your private label brands. And we ride along with those sellers protecting the intellectual property that they're developing. The remaining 20%, we do a lot of contracts with sellers. And we also, we take Amazon to arbitration, like, every day of the week.
If Amazon refuses to reinstate your account, refuses to give you back your inventory, they claim they destroyed it when they really didn't, your remedy is to take them to arbitration, and according to Amazon's lawyers, we have 75% of all the arbitration cases against Amazon. So that's what we do. Everything's done out of this office here in beautiful downtown Long Beach, New York. We also have full-time staff in two cities in China, and also we have full-time staff in Europe.
Andrew Maff: There you go. So is the majority of your time spent on dealing with suspensions?
CJ Rosenbaum: Yeah. Most. I'd say 75, 80% of the time is suspensions, absolutely.
Andrew Maff: How many times-
CJ Rosenbaum: [crosstalk 00:02:13]
Andrew Maff: How many times is it actually Amazon's fault and they just weren't paying attention or did something stupid?
CJ Rosenbaum: You know, that's a really good question. I would say that ... Let's look at this way, whether Amazon is right or wrong in terms of suspension. I'd probably say the majority of times, Amazon is wrong. Their accusations are incorrect. You know, they're saying you're inauthentic but they really just want to see your invoices, and to me, Amazon's wrong 'cause no one is selling or very few people are actually selling counterfeit goods. So I'd probably say 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time, the sellers are making errors or they unknowingly bought counterfeit products or they just got to get better up to speed and fine-tune their business operations. So about 75/25.
Andrew Maff: Okay. So over the past, like, I'd say over the past month, maybe two months, I've noticed a lot of sellers have started to complain about, like, just reviews going missing. Like Amazon starting to remove stuff, and then I've started to hear things here and there about sellers just getting suspended from having false reviews or some robot or a bunch of bought reviews or anything like that. Is that something that you guys are dealing with a lot now or is that just I just happen to hear a couple of people and now I think it's everyone?
CJ Rosenbaum: No, since the beginning, when [crosstalk 00:03:36] started about a year, year and a half ago on Amazon said you can't compensate anybody for reviews. And that sort of started this wave of making it harder and harder to get reviews. And much, much harder on keeping reviews. So you have the review manipulation suspensions which seem to come in waves since the beginning of the year. Like January, February we got a ton, and then it was down for a bit. And it sparked up again. And then, like, every two or three weeks, there'll be like a wave of review manipulation suspensions. And those are problematic depending on how you're getting your reviews. If you're using Facebook or you're offering something or friends and relatives are buying your products and leaving reviews or you have people leaving reviews that didn't buy the products, right? You're gonna get nailed. You'll get your accounts back, but it's difficult.
In terms of taking away reviews, we think that's ... A lot of things we think are actually people behind it, I think the taking away the reviews, that's algorithmic. But we've seen that also. There's not much that we have been able to do to help people get their reviews back once they've been knocked down. And a lot of times we're a little fearful that it may not be worth the fight. Let's say you lose 20% of your reviews. Do you really want to pick that battle and poke the bear to have Amazon sort of look at the other 80 reviews and then potentially risk your account? We're very risk-adverse for our sellers. We want to keep you selling like ... I don't want to chase 10% of your sales and lose 90% of your business. So we have seen it, but we're not really doing much about that.
Andrew Maff: Yeah. What's the number one reason you see people suspended for and then what is the usual turnaround on getting unsuspended if at all?
CJ Rosenbaum: All right. It's still the inauthentic. Amazon sends you, they knock out your ace and sometimes they'll knock down your account for inauthentic. They want to see where you're sourcing your products from. And the way you address it is really simple. You do a really short persuasive plan of action showing that your products are genuine and attach invoices that are either not altered or you did alter them, Amazon can't tell.
I've got about 20 different tips that I could provide to sellers that before they send their invoices into Amazon on an inauthentic, what they really need to look for and also I can teach sellers what to look for invoices going forward. But it's really important. We learn a lot of stuff from the arbitrations, we learn a lot of stuff by just handling hundreds of thousands of suspensions, so there are certain things you want to make sure you start getting on your invoices and to make sure you're not submitting invoices with problems.
Andrew Maff: Okay. So I don't know if you heard. Prime Day leaked, so July 16 and 17th, so we found that out today for anyone who doesn't know. Is there an inundation of all of a sudden people just reaching out to you trying to make sure they weren't in a buy blocked 'cause they have brand registry and I have hijackers and all that stuff? Or are you still pretty just, you're business as usual right now?
CJ Rosenbaum: We get a lot more phone calls in advance to Prime Day, but they're pretty quick 'cause they're not a problem. Our advice is almost the same across the board, all right? Keep exactly what you're doing. If you're not suspended, you're not having problems, keep what you're doing. Don't make any changes in advance of Prime Day. You may want to do some listing optimization which really isn't what we do, but in terms of like avoiding a suspension, just don't make any changes. Don't make any drastic changes.
What we also have in advance is the suspensions that come in 'cause everyone's in a rush when they call me. There's no one that calls me that is not in a rush to get their account back or listing back. Five days rushing. It's like Christmas. Get me back and I [inaudible 00:07:21] plan of action out the door today, so we turn it out. We promise a two-day turnaround on a plan of action, but when Prime Day's gearing up, we made the announcements for our whole team. "Listen, you guys need to get ready for extra hours, okay?" Because every seller's going to be online, so if they happen to get knocked off, we got to turn it around as quickly as possible. So that's what we get, but if you're not suspended, stay the course. You're doing well. Don't try and explode in advance of Prime Day. Keep your eye on the long-term and don't do anything drastic. I would suggest use a listing optimization if they want to drop their prices a bit, but other than that, no major changes. Just stay online.
Andrew Maff: Yeah. What do you mean by no major changes?
CJ Rosenbaum: I wouldn't start changing where you're sourcing your products from. I wouldn't start expanding your catalog into products you don't have. I wouldn't jump into drop shipping. We saw over the past, like, three months an incredible uptick in people getting inauthentic suspensions where they didn't have the product in inventory which means they couldn't provide the invoices. Right? So if you're chugging along and you're doing well, don't jump on listing where you don't have inventory. So don't make any changes to your account. You'll do well just by maintaining the course. So that's what we recommend.
Andrew Maff: Okay. So halfway through the year, we're at June, Q2's almost over. What have you seen over the first half of the year versus what you assume as we're about to get into over the second half of the year.
CJ Rosenbaum: We see a constant, constant wave towards private label sellers. If you're doing retail arbitrage, you've got just [inaudible 00:09:01] agreements, I think there are still lots and lots and lots of money to make,
but I wouldn't tell you to stop. But I think the future is developing your own private label.
I also think that this thing with the United States Supreme Court, the decision that every state collect sales tax from you, I think sellers have to be very careful right now. I think Amazon may use that as a weeding out process of the smaller sellers. I hope Amazon steps up to the plate and collects sales tax for every single seller around the entire country, but we don't know what's gonna happen yet. So I think there's gonna be more of a wedding out, and if you have your own private label, you're building an asset that you own. So I would suggest
sellers start, if they're not doing it already, look into it. If they are doing it you ramp it up faster 'cause we don't know what's gonna happen after this decision.
Andrew Maff: Yeah. So these Friday feedback things, always quick, short, to the point. Loved everything though, it was awesome. Definitely gonna have to share this one out to everyone who's thinking of making any serious changes two weeks before Prime Day which is ridiculous. But CJ, we'd love some closing words. How everyone can find you, how you can help out. This is going everywhere I can put it, so make sure that it stays.
CJ Rosenbaum: All right. Well, you can reach me. The website's AmazonSellersLawyer.com. Sellers is plural, lawyer is singular. You can email me directly, CJ@amazonsellerslawyer.com. But if I'm getting two seconds to plug something, I'm gonna plug something else, okay?
Everyone's doing business on Amazon is also shopping on Amazon. We all have sort of a love/hate relationship, right? Where your packages arrived and sellers are practically flawless. If you're shopping on Amazon, use Amazon Smiles and pick the Ty Lewis Campbell Foundation. T-Y, Ty Lewis Campbell Foundation. It's a charity started by a buddy of mine who lost his son to cancer. And it doesn't cost to buy or anything, and Amazon will do a small donation. So that's what I'd like to say.
Andrew Maff: Oh, it's awesome.
CJ Rosenbaum: Just shopping Amazon Smiles, Ty Lewis Campbell Foundation.
Andrew Maff: That's awesome. CJ-
CJ Rosenbaum: All right. Sorry if that was a bit wordy.
Andrew Maff: ... cool. No, it's totally good. Very much appreciated. Enjoy your weekend. Good talking. I'm sure we'll talk again. Have a good one, thanks.
CJ Rosenbaum: You, too, buddy. Take care. Bye.