Saturday, November 11, 2017

AMAZON MAY BE MORE MESSED UP THAN THE GOVBER

After four years selling used records on Amazon and earning a 4.9 out of 5.0 star rating, I just closed my account.  In all honesty, my account was actually suspended for falling below Amazon's on-time delivery metric.  

I wanted to keep the account open since Amazon was an expensive platform to sell on, but provided a steady stream of sales to US customer.  Unfortunately my efforts to submit a remediation plan went nowhere and after two weeks of continual frustration, I just reached the point where it was not worth my time or effort to pursue it any longer,  

With that background I thought I'd highlight just how screwed up Amazon's seller support process is.

Submitting a remediation plan seemed like a pretty easy task.  Within an hour of getting my notice of suspension I'd forwarded a list of actions to get my account back up to par.

*******************************************************************************
1.). Yesterday (October 29th) my only outstanding order was shipped. 
2.). Yesterday (October 29th)  I updated my inventory listing to eliminate items that are no longer available.  

3.). In the future I will make use of the “vacation” account close down feature prior to embarking on business and personal travel. Combined all of these actions should result in a marked improvement to on-time deliveries. 
Greetings from Amazon Seller Support.

**************************************************************

Unfortunately Amazon did't like the plan.  After I called seller support I got the following email telling me how to submit a remediation plan.

Hi Scott,this is xxxx, the associate whom you've spoken with. Thank you for contacting us.
Here is my sample POA for Late Shipment Rate. You may get some ideas here or paraphrase and add additional information as well. Please send it to seller-performance@amazon.com


Plan of Action
Dear Amazon Seller Performance,
Thank you for allowing us to appeal the suspension of our selling privileges. We are aware about our Late Shipment Rate metric which is above the maximum target of 4% and I want to apologize for our poor Late Shipment Rate performance.
-The issues that caused the complaints:
Orders were not shipped on the stated handling time as I was "REASON OF LATE SHIPMENT" which cause unforeseen delays on shipping the orders. These issues were due to poor oversight by management and inefficient procedures.
To eliminate future problems, we will improve our current standards regarding:
• Order fulfillment practices. Our standard procedure is to check each orders handling time and make sure to ship it on time or on it's Delivery Date to
ensure there are no more late deliveries.
• We will also review the feedbacks from the customers about our Shipment Processes.
• Have a designated staff member to monitor orders and comply with Amazon's polices and the performance requirements.
• Take care to more closely monitor my performance to make sure I meet Amazon's selling standards and to read through the Amazon Item Availibity Guidelines to make sure we are properly handling our inventory.
• Keep the items that we list in stock
• Extend our lead time to ensure you can deliver within the timeframe
• Put account on vacation settings if we are unavailable to ship
• Hire more staff if necessary to manage shipping volume
• We will be implementing a policy to verify at the end of each day that the data was uploaded correctly and that all items that were shipped and to verify
this shows this on Amazon.com. We will again check this each morning to re-verify that the correct items were marked as shipped with the correct tracking
numbers.
• We will be checking our Amazon Seller Dashboard each day to look to make sure that we are in line with Amazon.com policies.
• Will also notify our customers if there will be delay on the shipping.
Please let us know if you require any further information.
Once again, we apologize for our lack of oversight and look forward to your consideration.

At first I thought the email had to be a joke. Their template was simultaneously, bizarre, appalling, insulting, and pathetic.  If a high schooler submitted something like this as an assignment, you'd fail them.  The template just reeks with "big brother" attitude, but I swallowed my pride and submitted another remediation package:

*****************************************************

I have a small business selling used records on Amazon under the name BadCatRecords.  My account was justifiably suspended at the end of October for poor delivery times.
When the account was suspended I contacted Amazon's customer seller group.  They provided me with a template for requesting my account be reactivated.  I filled the template out and returned it, but have been told it does not provide sufficient information for Amazon to make a decision on reactivating my account.  


The main drivers for the slow delivery times stem from three factors.  I've listed them and the corrective actions I have implemented and will continue to put in place.


FACTOR 1: I spend quite a bit of time on business travel. 
REMEDIATION PLAN: When on travel it is impossible to process, or ship orders.  To avoid this issue in the future I have familiarized myself with the Amazon "vacation" feature and will shut my catalog down several days prior to embarking on business travel.
FACTOR 2: In several cases I had difficulty locating items in my inventory. 
REMEDIATION PLAN: I sell used records and they are typically shelved by artist name and album title.  In several cases items were not where they should have been, requiring added time to locate them in the stacks.  I've gone through the inventory refiling inventory to make sure items are filed in the correct locations.  I will now shelve new additions on a weekly basis.
FACTOR 3: There have been instances where items listed on my inventory were simply not available. 
REMEDIATION: To avoid this scenario I have culled through my inventory twice, deleting all items that are no longer available.  I will also undertake a weekly inventory review and update.

Combined these actions should result in significant improvements to on-time deliveries, bringing BadCatRecords back to the 96% target rate.
Thanks for your time
Scott Blackerby
doing business as BadCatRecords

***********************************************************************

My remediation package resulted in the following email:

We received your information, but your plan is not complete. Our review of your account found the following problems. 
Your late shipment rate is higher than the goal of less than 4%. Explain how you will prevent late shipments in the future. 
To sell on Amazon.com, please reply to this message with your plan to address these issues. Once we receive your plan, we will review it and decide whether you may sell on Amazon.com again. 
For help creating your plan, search for "Appeal the Removal of Selling Privileges" in Seller Central Help. 
Have questions? We can help right away. Contact us (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/cu/contact-us/performance). 
We look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, 
Seller Performance Team 
Amazon.com 
https://www.amazon.com 



I sent several more emails asking for some information on what was required for a successful remediation package.  Each time Amazon barfed out an emails, each saying the same thing:

We received your information, but your plan is not complete. Our review of your account found the following problems. 
Your late shipment rate is higher than the goal of less than 4%. Explain how you will prevent late shipments in the future. 
To sell on Amazon.com, please reply to this message with your plan to address these issues. Once we receive your plan, we will review it and decide whether you may sell on Amazon.com again. 
For help creating your plan, search for "Appeal the Removal of Selling Privileges" in Seller Central Help. 
Have questions? We can help right away. Contact us (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/cu/contact-us/performance). 
We look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, 
Seller Performance Team 
Amazon.com 
https://www.amazon.com 


So, after two weeks and a couple of hours of effort, I've given up.  I apparently could have submitted a remediation plan that said I'd paiint my house red, dance naked in the street, and pay Amazon to let me sell records and I would have gotten the same canned email.   

What a screwed up process.

Goodbye Amazon.  Great place to buy stuff, but if you're a seller, you are going to get screwed in one way, or another.  At least I'm getting out before sellers start losing money to buyers who simply decide they don;t want to pay for an item.   LOL


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Trump's 'Extreme Vetting' Leaves Thousands Scrambling At Airports

I'm not particularly political, but this is not the America that I know and love.  For the first time in my life I wrote my Governor and my Senators asking them to fight against this action.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

SPHINX "JUDAS"




Artist: Spinx

Album; Judas
Year: 1977
Label: Raas
Catalog: 2933 105
Condition: VG+ cover / VG+ LP






I'll admit it - I'm addicted to buying interesting looking albums by bands I know nothing about.   Most of the time they turn out to be crap, but once in awhile I stumble across something that's good, or at least interesting in a bizarre fashion.


Well, this one certainly fits the latter category.


Alec R. Costandinos started out as a singer, but enjoyed his initial international successes working with the band Aphrodite's Child and Vangelis in his solo career.  By the mid''70s he was also dabbling in disco and with partner Don Ray made this bizarre album.  Released in 1977 at the zenith of disco madness, "Judas" featured two side-long songs - "Judas Iscariot" and "Simon Peter," basically setting the story of Judas' betrayal of Christ.to a disco beat. The disco arrangement's aren't anything you haven't heard before (okay the Gregorian chants are a little out of the ordinary), but the theme ... well hard for me to picture coked out dance patrons shaking their groove things to this one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

EVER HAD A SONG CREEP INTO YOUR HEAD?

My father died about 20 years ago.  He's buried in a small cemetery in Leesburg, Virginia.  His grave is in the cemetery's older section, surrounded my a mixture of older and newer graves.  Overlooking this section of the graveyard is a majestic, old Maple tree.

Anyhow, I had a physical this morning and after getting through it unscathed, I decided to take the day off.  After doing a couple of other chores I suddenly decided to drive out to Leesburg to say hello and make sure his plot was clean.  

It was one of those wonderful Fall  days.  Bright blue skies; warm sunshine; green, green grass, and that Maple tree just beginning to change colors.  Anyhow, as I was standing there trimming the grass around the grave James Taylor's 'September Grass' climbed into my head.  It was the perfect soundtrack for the afternoon.  Simply one of my favorite Taylor tunes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7vsh-YZxFw


Saturday, October 1, 2016

ROCK'S WORST VOICES

I writing this knowing full well I have no musical talents.  After all, how many folks do you know who have been kicked out of seventh grade recorder band? 

Against that backdrop I have zero credentials for criticizing other folks.  'Course that's not going to stop me from putting this list on the web.

# 10 - Tony Bird

Bird's a white African born in Malawi, living in New York.  He's recorded sporadically since the mid-'70s with a couple of obscure albums seeing an American release (1976's "Tony Bird", 1978's "Tony Bird of Paradise", and 1990's "Sorry Africa").   Imagine a mash-up of old Bob Dylan and "Graceland" era Paul Simon and you'll have a rough idea of what Bird sounds like.  His voice is something else.  Thin, dry, and nasally, he sings as if infected with a nasty lisp.  His accent (apparently a mix of English and Afrikaans) makes it even harder to figure out what he's singing about (though the themes are often activist in nature related to his home country).  

Admittedly the sound quality isn't particularly good and this is a live performance, but this clip from a 1983 performance at the Winnipeg Folk Festival will give you a taste of Mr. Bird:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyJRQ2JWkEg

Monday, September 26, 2016

WHEN YOU SEE THE UNFORTUNATE, WHAT'S THE ANSWER?

My wife will tell you I have the sensitivity and awareness of a brick.   Usually she's right.  I tend to be pretty oblivious to most things.

Anyhow, after seeing a photo reflecting how much weight I'd put on, for the last year I've made it a habit of trying to walk whenever I can. One of the places I'll walk is to my local library. It's about two miles each way so I'll put on my earbuds and listen to NPR, or a Pod episode while I make my pilgrimage.


Sunday I walked into a situation I'd never encountered before. I was a couple of blocks from the library and I saw a young woman sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of a side street. She looked bewildered and was in tears. Like a lot of people I tend to shy away from engaging with folks I don't know. In this case I was walking by her and stopped to ask what was happening and if there was anything I could do. The girl (her name was Haley), was probably in her early 20s. Long hair, pretty face, very quiet and demure. It turns out she and her boyfriend were staying in a Fairfax County shelter which happens to be located right next to the library. Her story was that she and the boyfriend had a massive fight and he stormed out of the shelter. She followed him in her wheelchair, but he started running and she couldn't keep up. When she finally stopped she discovered she didn't know where she was. That's when I crossed paths with her.

Even though she didn't realize it, Haley was only a block away from the shelter and so I told her I'd walk back with her. She was clearly upset by the episode so we didn't say a great deal during the walk. She wheeled herself along the sidewalk and I walked along with her and in five minutes we were back on familiar ground. As we were waiting to cross the street to get to the library and the shelter, I asked her what she was going to do. Her response was to text the boyfriend, but her phone had broken so she'd use one of the library computers. At that moment her chair was sitting in the middle of a busy library parking lot so I asked her to let me wheel her across the lot, up the handicap access ramp into the library. She agreed and that's what I did. Last I saw of her she was heading for the library computers. After I check out some new books I looked around, but she'd seemingly already left so I walked home.

So now I'm wondering if there's anything else I could have done, or should have done for Haley ...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

HONEY LET'S GO TO A HOME IMPROVEMENT SHOW - NEVER AGAIN

Not sure why, but a couple of weeks ago we got a couple of free tickets to a home improvement show here in Northern Virginia.  Given we've been thinking about undertaking some renovations we decided to check it out in the hopes of getting some good ideas and seeing some of the new materials and products available on the market.

This particular show is held at this gigantic old box store that's been converted into a site for all kinds of shows and conventions.  You walk into the gigantic open space and there are literally a couple of hundred displays lined up into about a dozen aisles.

What we didn't expect was to be accosted by dozens of vendors and contractors looking to sell us everything from new windows, to some new brand of power drink, and everything in between.  Insurance?  LED lit shoes?   Body massages?   Candy?   What in the world ?  As we wanted up and down the displays we were literally attacked by desperate vendors anxious to give us an opportunity to save money on this product, or that product, while getting a chance to win $10,000, $100,000, a new car, an old car, a vacation, etc.   And there was the sale material.  You could turn around without some stuffing a sales brochure in your hands.  As fast as people have me stuff I threw it into the garbage cans helpful placed at the end of each aisle.

The most common approach seemed to be "Sign up for a chance to win xxx ..." or "So what's your next renovation effort?"  We quickly discovered the way to disengage and move on was to tell them we were interested in tile.  Most of the vendors weren't selling tile so they had no interest in us.  On the couple of occasions we were confronted with tile dealers we said we were interested in pest control.  Between those responses, walking in the center of the aisle, preferably behind older people, and keeping our eyes on the ground, we managed to navigate the last half of the show/obstacle course without too much pain.

And here's where it got even stranger.   There was a guy selling tile that looks like wood flooring.  We're actually interested in putting it in our bathrooms.  We wanted to find out more about the product - styles, colors, costs.   The vendor had zero interest in us. Basically blew us off.   

Good news is we were in and out of the place (including a bathroom break) in less than 45 minutes.  Went to Old Town Alexandria for the rest of the day.   Much more fun.