Why does Amazon put ‘Free Shipping’ label without consent, ask sellers

Editor | Sep 10, 2020

Sellers are facing a very unusual issue at Amazon India. According to few sellers, their product listing reflects ‘Free Shipping/Delivery’ when it isn’t; without their permission. When the product is added to the shopping cart, delivery charges are added. But while browsing and comparing, the product page shows free delivery.

Online seller Amit Makhija wrote on seller forum AIOVA,

“On our seller panel, buybox price is showing with free delivery, but when we checked on product page there is no one offering free delivery. Infact we saw that for few sellers its showing free delivery on comparison page (where customer sees all the offers). When we tried to purchase it delivery is applied to the cart (sic).”

Amazon’s ‘Free Delivery’ error

Indian Online Seller (IOS) got in touch with another seller who confirmed that the free shipping error is indeed happening at Amazon. He had faced the same issue a few weeks back.

“This was a serious issue, where before approximately 2-3 weeks, all our products were showing as free shipping although we charge shipping for all our products separately,” says seller KM (name withheld on request) while speaking to IOS.

While the error increased the seller’s visibility on the online marketplace, but KM reported the issue because he felt it was wrong.

“In disguise this was helpful to us for increasing our sales as only my products were showing as free shipping and not of my competitors/other sellers of same product, so automatically my product was coming up even if my price was high but anyways, that was not ethically correct, so I had also opened a case log at Amazon and highlighted it to them.”

Seller support can’t see to find the source of the error

Just like in the case of any other seller issue, the vendors contacted Amazon’s seller support team. But they were unable to provide a satisfactory reply, according to sellers.

Makhija added,

“I have complaint to amazon regarding the same but they are not able to make out why this is happening. We saw in many products this thing is happening where there is no free delivery but its showing as free delivery and we are losing the buybox because of this. Instead on seller panel it is showing wrong competetive pricing (sic).”

KM shares with IOS that Amazon did not take any action and instead, asked him to upload shipping overrides files, which he could not do. In his case, the issue got resolved on its own after a while. But looks like, the problem hasn’t disappeared entirely from Amazon as sellers like Amit Makhija are facing it now.

Who is Amazon misleading – Sellers or Buyers?

Listing products under ‘free shipping’ when it is not, is unfair to both buyers and sellers. It is deception that could lead to heavy returns and negative ratings for sellers. Customers would think that the seller is trying to deceive them by advertising ‘free delivery’ but adding it later in the cart.

For instance, Makhija is worried about losing the Amazon Buy Box placement.

IOS asked seller KM that does he think it was a technical glitch or Amazon’s deliberate attempt to mislead buyers.

He reasons,

“Deliberate attempt I suppose. If it would have been a technical glitch, then they should have started working on it, as soon as we highlighted it to Amazon. Probably it took more than 3 weeks for them to overcome this, which I believe was intentional. A company like Amazon does not take 3 weeks to solve issues, if they intent to actually do it.”

During our research we also discovered that Amazon received a stern warning from the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for misleading ‘free delivery’ ads in August 2016.

“We concluded the ads did not make sufficiently clear which items were eligible for free delivery, and under what terms, and that they were therefore misleading,” ASA stated.

Amazon India didn’t broadcast any misleading ads, but the ‘free shipping’ tag plastered over the product listing page is surely misleading.

IOS contacted Amazon to know the reason behind this peculiar issue. We are yet to receive any reply from the online marketplace.

Amazon’s degrading seller support service

There was a time when Amazon’s service was comparatively better than the other etailers such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and eBay. While their focus on customer service increased with time, the quality of seller support degraded with time.

“I think Amazon over a period of year has gone from best to worst and from worst to pathetic when it comes to seller, they are for some reasons digging their own grave because there is a simple fact they do not understand as much as buyers are important they need sellers so that buyer can buy… As of not 90% of seller cases are either unresolved or solved through copy paste reply. In the effort to grow Amazon has somewhere forgotten the fundamentals which ensured they grew so fast (sic),” wrote online seller Techtail India in IOS’ comments box.

No amount of coaxing or proofs works in sellers’ favour, as far as getting the issues resolved is concerned. A majority of sellers fear account suspension, which appears to be Amazon’s favourite solution to resolve issues. As a result, vendors don’t report issues, accept their losses as part of the game and don’t talk about it. Does that sound fair?

Online sellers, are you too facing this unusual issue on Amazon India? If so, then how is it affecting your business? Please let us know your views in the comments box.


About Author

Editor

Editor

Editor team is specialized in introducing the marketplace content targeting the Indian online sellers. They plan and coordinate to bring the appealing content for the small businesses on how to partner with the e-commerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart and strategies for improving their online business. 




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