Amazon is cracking down on seller scams and has fired employees in the U.S. and India as a result.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, Amazon has been in the process of investigating data leaks and bribes of employees since September. As a result, the eCommerce company has fired several workers in the U.S. and India for accessing internal data that was used by merchants to move their products higher in the ranking system.
Amazon has also removed thousands of reviews that are suspected to be fake, restricted sellers’ access to customer data on its website and stopped some techniques that enable products to move higher in search results.
A spokeswoman for the eCommerce giant told the paper that the company is aggressively going after those who try to hurt sellers on its platform, relying on machine learning to block the behavior when Amazon is made privy to it. “If bad actors abuse our systems, we take swift action, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, taking legal action and working with law enforcement,” the spokeswoman said.
The crackdown hasn’t stopped all sellers from going after rivals. The WSJ noted that several merchants claim that competitors flag products as being fake or as infringing upon trademarks, which results in Amazon temporarily kicking legitimate products off of the site as it evaluates them.
The paper noted that sellers also purchase Amazon wholesaler accounts on the black market to get access to product listings. Some sellers use those accounts to alter rivals’ product pages by changing photos to items that are not related.
Ankit Jain, an Amazon seller in Boca Raton, Florida, told The WSJ that his best-selling mermaid sequined throw pillow was misclassified as an adult product out of nowhere in mid-November, which would prevent it from showing up in most Amazon searches. Jain said he was able to get Amazon to switch it back. He now has a team located in India that monitors each listing every three minutes so he can complain immediately if it happens again. Jain estimates that the mischaracterization of his products has cost him about 20 percent of early holiday season sales.