Inside Information from Amazon’s Staff in India

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CJ Rosenbaum started off in Hyderabad, found Amazon’s offices, and went up to people during their smoking breaks to grill them for information.

This entire series of videos is solely and exclusively about inside information that he obtained from Amazon staff in India.

He had to be a bit careful because there’s certain ethical rules, since Amazon is represented by attorneys that we deal with every day in our arbitration against Amazon. But under Washington law, New York law, and the American Bar Association’s model rules, he was entirely allowed to speak with lower-level staff who were not involved in our cases. So that’s what he did, over and over and over again, he approached different people working for Amazon during their smoke breaks to get sellers inside information.

CJ Rosenbaum

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Introduction

I started in Hyderabad, I found Amazon’s offices, and I went up to people during their smoking breaks and just grilled them for information. So this entire series of videos, I have 14 different topics to discuss with you, the entire series of videos is solely and exclusively about inside information that I obtained from Amazon staff in India. Now, I had to be a bit careful because there are certain ethical rules since Amazon is represented by attorneys that we deal with every single day in our arbitration against Amazon. But under Washington law, New York law and the American Bar Association’s model rules, I was entirely allowed to speak with lower-level staff who were not involved in our cases. So that’s what I did, over and over and over again I approached different people working for Amazon during their smoke breaks to get you inside information. That’s what this entire series of videos is about – inside information directly from Amazon staff in Hyderabad, India.

If you’ve been suspended on Amazon, contact us for a free consultation: 1-877-9-SELLER.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Brand Registry

One of the first people I spoke with was a young man. He called himself a “fresher”, meaning fresh out of college. He was probably about 22 to 24 years old, and he worked on the brand registry team. I met him at night, it was roughly 11:00 PM, and it was outside one of Amazon’s offices where there was no signage at all. There was nothing there to indicate that Amazon was working out of the building, but according to this young guy, there were approximately a thousand people working in this building for Amazon. He told me that Amazon tends not to identify their buildings, other than their main campus, which is about another mile away from where I was.

The sellers who are selling in India are deemed to be the most difficult. The Chinese sellers, the sellers located in China, are the second most difficult, followed by third, the American sellers. What they complained about is that American sellers, while they’re more business savvy, tend to be a lot less patient, which means they deny your request more than they do for other sellers. Sellers located in the UK for example, are known to be more polite and more patient. While they pride themselves on not treating sellers differently based upon where they’re located, these people are only human, and when American sellers come across as rude or impolite, they tend to get less help from Amazon staff.

He also confirmed to me that almost everything that they do in brand registry is based upon scripts that they have, but when an Amazon staff member from brand registry has an issue with the script or he/she thinks there’s a better way of solving a problem or dealing with sellers or customers in other teams, they can submit proposed changes to their auditing team and those processes get reviewed by higher-ups and different teams for changing the script-based system. Also, there is almost always (at least according to this person) the opportunity for the Amazon staff member of the brand registry to decide whether or not that particular seller is qualifying for the brand registry. Factors when it comes to brand registry: how long it’s going to take for brand registry to be approved is entirely in the hands of the individual reviewing your emails or speaking with you by phone.

So what are the takeaway points here? Number one, Amazon staff are script-based. Number two, they do have some ability to figure out whether you do or do not fulfill their qualifications. Number three, you have to deal with these people with courtesy and respect because if you don’t, they’re certainly slowing down your application.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Amazon Delivery People

It seemed like it was solely the outside contractors. What he talked about, when the delivery drivers are running late or there’s a problem, they send emails to Amazon. Amazon uses that data to track traffic conditions and to also deal, almost simultaneously, with consumer complaints that their packages are either late or damaged.

We talked about the number of people working in this department, in this building. He said there were 1,000 different people working with the last mile delivery teams. He thought that there were approximately 5,000 people in India working on this, and he didn’t know the other locations. Now what struck me as odd, is that he didn’t know where the rest of his team members worked. The reason for that is that Amazon tends to keep their locations secret, which I also found odd. When I looked at the building twice, there were no signs, there was no Amazon smile, there was nothing there at all to indicate that is where Amazon staff was working.

He described the system as being almost entirely automated, but that it still needed 5,000 people to deal with the emails that were coming in. The real issue that he talked about, the thing that was really fascinating, was how Amazon deals with delivery drivers claiming to have been shortchanged by Amazon.

That’s how it was described. Drivers claiming to be shortchanged. When we talked about it more, the reason why it was described that way is Amazon doesn’t seem to recognize its own errors when it pays drivers or when it pays for deliveries. He said that maybe one in a thousand times, Amazon will agree with the driver. All the other times, they’ll make that driver jump through hoop after hoop, send repetitive emails to Amazon, just to get paid.

Here’s what I took away from this meeting with this young man:

Amazon staff is very Amazon-centric and opposed to third parties. To me, it meant third-party sellers and third-party service providers, like the delivery people that he works with. I think this is a theme that runs throughout Amazon’s organizations in India, where it’s Amazon-centric first, consumer-centric second, and vendors / sellers way down the list. Now, I know a lot of Amazon sellers already feel this way. I want to let you know that after speaking with Amazon staff in India, it seems to be entirely true. It doesn’t mean that Amazon doesn’t provide incredible opportunities for sellers all over the world, because it does. It certainly confirms that you need to be able to document every dollar that Amazon owes to you. You have to watch the FBA fees that you’re paying. Make sure you’re not being overcharged. Make sure that you can document exactly what you’re owed so that if you do have a dispute with Amazon, you can get your money paid to you.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Bezos Team for Consumer Complaints in the UK

In this video, I talk to you about the Bezos teams for consumer complaints in the UK. I would have preferred to spend my time speaking with seller support, seller performance, and the NPA teams that analyze intellectual property rights complaints. But as I was approaching Amazon staff, I followed whatever path was put in front of me to get as much information about Amazon as possible. So this was a conversation I had with two guys who were working together taking a cigarette break.

There are two teams for escalations of consumer complaints in the UK – a lower team and a higher team based upon the seriousness of the complaint.

Both teams are entirely consumer-centric. I couldn’t get these people to ever admit, not even one time, to agree with a third-party seller. They always bent over backward to agree with the consumer. I couldn’t get them to admit to even identifying one consumer pulling a scam, which if you’re a third-party seller, you know happens all the time. These two people from the Bezos team for consumer complaints in the UK were 100% unreceptive to the fact that there are many consumers all over the world that make baseless complaints just to get their products for free.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Delivery Driver SPS Team

I want to talk to you about four different people that worked for Amazon that I approached. They were all taking cigarette breaks. It was three young men and a young woman. The three young men were all at the basic level, what they call freshers, meaning fresh out of college, and the woman who was just slightly older, maybe she was 24 years old, and what she did is she supervised a team of freshers. All lower level Amazon staff. What I want to tell you about is the young woman. After we talked and gave me just a ton of information, she came back out a little bit later on with a guy in his thirties who came over and talked to me and very, very politely asked me to stop speaking with his Amazon team. He couldn’t actually bring himself to ask me to leave, but it was clear that’s what he wanted. He was so incredibly polite that after 5 or 10 minutes I just simply said, “Sir, would you like me to leave?” He said, “Yes,” and he made the hand signal that was very common in India and I left for the night. It didn’t hurt that it was about 2:00 o’clock in the morning and I was tired. But back to the SPS team..

The delivery driver SPS team deals with delivery disputes by drivers delivering products to Amazon’s consumers.

They worked in an environment that was apolitical, where they were able to obtain advancement in their careers based upon tests and not recommendations. Each one of the four were just entirely happy working with Amazon. They all were required to have college degrees in order to have this job and they told me that there were 600 applicants for 30 positions on this team. They also talked to me about the leadership principles and how the leadership principles were ingrained in every aspect of their job, every aspect of their day, beginning with their initial interviews to get the jobs at Amazon. They talked about Amazon collecting data from them and from other teams. Only they weren’t exactly sure how the data was used, but every email was logged, and every interaction was logged. When it came specifically to delivery drivers, when a delivery driver complained about traffic, even that information was maintained.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Procedures for Editing Amazon’s Staff Scripts

There are teams for seller support, seller performance, for dealing with Amazon vendors, for dealing with last-mile delivery for independent contractors, intellectual property rights are the MPA team. There’s just tons and tons of teams in India that deal with a plethora of issues for Amazon sellers. Each one of those teams has a script that they have to follow and they’re also allowed to use their independent judgment to see whether or not the seller, the vendor, the driver, fulfilled the requirements under the script.

There’s always a subjective component and there are also objective components. Now, what I learned from speaking with three different people, on a certain team, is how their scripts get changed and updated.

What happens is the people, the boots on the ground for any particular team, if they realize there’s a better way of doing something, or another question that should be asked, or another document that should be requested, they then give that information to their auditing team. Each team, seller support, seller performance, MPA, DP, whatever the teams are, have their own auditing team and those suggestions go to the auditing team. I don’t know how often but every once in awhile the auditing team then submits a report to a higher level auditing team that’s responsible for looking at all of the audits from the various teams. If they approve, then Amazon’s staff scripts get changed. They then get passed right back down through the chain of command.

This is how Amazon continuously updates the scripts and what makes your jobs and my job that much more difficult since Amazon does not update sellers as to how their scripts have changed. So this is how Amazon updates what it’s looking for in plans of action, intellectual property rights issues, and delivery issues. That the teams pass ideas up, those auditing teams pass them up to another level, who then decides whether or not to update the scripts.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Business Requirement Documents

This info. comes directly from Amazon’s boots on the ground in Hyderabad, India.

In this video I’m going to talk to you about the Business Requirement Documents (BRD) team. The BRD team works out of Hyderabad and these are the people that are torturing sellers all over the world with business verifications.

The gentleman that I spoke to told me that the 14 leadership principles are drilled into every single employee at Amazon. He agrees with the principles and sees the effect the principles have on both morale and the quality of work.

What he talked to me about in terms of business verifications is how to address the dreaded requirement of providing Amazon with a utility bill. The reason why Amazon is asking for utility bills in its verifications is that they’re trying to have a uniform system around the world. Amazon has the mindset that sellers are all paying electric, water, or other utilities. That doesn’t fit sellers in the United States who are often renting office space or warehouse space where utilities are paid by the landlords.

We talked about this at length. What we came to is that if you are an Amazon seller and Amazon is asking you for a utility bill, a document you can give in its place is a lease where utilities are addressed. You need to submit the entire lease, but you can also point out to Amazon staff the portion where utilities are addressed. This is just one tidbit of information that I was able to get by going to India and I think it was worth the entire trip.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Amz Seller Services

What I want to talk to you about is the seller services team, which right now, is operating almost exclusively in the UK.

It’s on beta testing, and the theory is that sellers will be able to approach Amazon and provide methods for Amazon to improve. We talked extensively about how sellers all over the world are extremely fearful of speaking or writing to Amazon unsolicited because they don’t want anyone looking at their accounts. This employee (who is in his 40’s) recognized that this was a major, major problem for Amazon.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Selling Partner Support

Selling Partner Support (SPS) was very hard to get information out of, except that they do follow intense scripts.

They have the ability to update the scripts, but there is an approval process. Seller support claims to treat all sellers alike. From what I learned from the brand registry, they do find sellers from different parts of the world to be harder to deal with.

Chinese sellers are very difficult to deal with. Sellers in India, even though I was speaking with people from India, are very, very difficult. And last but not least, in the top three difficult sellers to work with are the American sellers.

What seller support said, which was the same as what the brand registry people said, is that American sellers tend to be more knowledgeable about Amazon but they also tend to be curt, impolite and abrupt. If you want Amazon staff to work with you, you need to tone it down a bit because they take things very personally.

I tried to get information from seller support regarding why they approve some plans of action and why they reject others. I was certainly informed that they have quotas, although I couldn’t identify what the quotas were, and that their time is very tight. I was told specifically that it is much faster for Amazon seller support people to ask for more information or to turn down your plan of action rather than approve it because to approve it, they have to check certain boxes in their script. Towards the end of the shift, it only makes sense that these staff members are more inclined to simply ask for more information or to reject your plan of action.

I tried to figure out how we could get our plans of action in front of seller support when they are starting their shift rather than towards the end, but I couldn’t get a straight answer. Also, it seems like a very difficult thing to do since seller support, just like there are other teams in India, work multiple shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now, while there is a script that they follow and there are canned responses, your plans of action are clearly being reviewed by people, not by robots.

What I learned by traveling to India and speaking with dozens of people that work for Amazon is that your emails are being read by real people, not by bots.

Also, the Amazon people reading your plans of action and your Amazon appeals have the ability to decide whether you did or did not fulfill the script in what they’re looking for. There are both subjective analyses being done as well as objective analyses being done. As a result of speaking with Amazon staff in India, I added some stories to our breaking news. As a result of adding that information, I received a phone call from a person in the United States that worked for Amazon, also in seller support, and what he did was really cool… He confirmed that the information in our book on suspensions and that our methodology for writing plans of action (which I share with sellers all over the world) was dead-on accurate. He also confirmed exactly what the staff in India was saying – script based, but also the ability to decide whether or not what you submit fulfills the boxes they need to check.

Inside Information From Amazon's Staff In India:

Inside Information From Amazon’s Staff In India: Selling Partner Support Teams

In this video, I talk about Amazon’s selling partner support teams, SPS.

These are the teams that work with Amazon vendors. The team’s jobs are to handle vendors claiming shortages of inventory that were delivered, where an Amazon vendor sent Amazon 1,000 units and Amazon only logged in 900, or where an Amazon vendor sent their goods to Amazon, and Amazon shortchanged the payments to the Amazon vendor.

For those of you who don’t know or those of you who don’t have Amazon vendor accounts, Amazon takes discounts based upon how quickly they pay their bills. But what will often happen is Amazon will pay after the deadline and still take the discount as if they’d paid earlier. The perspective from this SPS team member was clearly in Amazon’s favor, and what he tries to do every single day of the week, is poke holes in Amazon vendor’s requests for full payment.

Even the verbiage used by this young man was clearly something that demonstrated that he was against Amazon vendors and perceived Amazon vendors who are doing nothing but asking to be paid as absolutely negative. He said that there was absolutely zero effort for Amazon to confirm the number of units that came in from its warehouses, that he did not look at the data from the size, from the weight, the number of units that were logged in from Amazon. They didn’t check with their own warehouse people at all, their own internal systems, and they put the entire burden on the Amazon vendors to show how much they shipped in.

To me, it seemed ludicrous since we learned a lot about Amazon vendors and the logging in of inventory from our arbitration against Amazon on behalf of vendors, but this is how the SPS team worked in India. The takeaway is if you’re an Amazon vendor, you need to maintain great documents, and if you can, great photographs to document exactly how much inventory you’re selling to Amazon and how it’s being delivered. To use Amazon’s approved couriers, make sure your labeling is dead-on, and always be prepared to fight Amazon for your money. The last takeaway is that if you are an Amazon vendor, you should never allow Amazon to owe you so much money that you cannot survive a late payment or nonpayment.

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