How To Prevent Your Amazon Listings From Getting Hijacked, Stolen Or Piggybacked

Share On Facebook

As more and more sellers flock to Amazon, the competition is becoming increasingly merciless, cutthroat and aggressive. And as I mentioned in my last post, if you aren’t differenting yourself from the competition, your ecommerce business will not survive in the long run.

To make matters worse, if you’re relying on Amazon as your primary sales channel, you need to be aware of the many dangers of selling on Amazon and what could potentially happen to your sellers account at any time.

To sum it up, Amazon doesn’t care about you as an individual seller. And since you’re just a commodity and easily replaceable, you really have to look out for yourself because no one else will.

Today, I’m going to address a common problem that almost every moderately successful Amazon seller has experienced.

How To Prevent Your Amazon Listings From Getting Hijacked, Stolen Or Piggybacked

Getting Hijacked!

Picture this scenario. You’ve listed your private label product on Amazon. It has your brand name on it and it’s selling extremely well.

Then one day you wake up to find that you no longer have the buy box.

WTH?!? How is this possible?

How can someone else be selling the exact same branded product as you are? And how are they able to hop on to “your” Amazon product listing when they don’t have access to your products?

Here’s the thing.

99% of the time, it’s not your exact same product. It’s not your exact same packaging. And more likely than not, it’s someone from Asia selling a counterfeit product at a ridiculously low price.

Here’s the worst part.

The product quality is likely not going to be as good. So when a customer buys a cheap knockoff product from China, they are probably going to be unhappy with it.

And unhappy customers will leave bad feedback on YOUR LISTING!

Unfortunately, it gets worse.

As the owner of the brand and SKU, you would think that you own the Amazon listing right? One simple email to Amazon and everything is cleared up right?

No. Amazon doesn’t care. Technically, you don’t own the listing and other sellers are free to sell on top of your products without any due diligence on Amazon’s part.

Fighting Hijackers

Fighting Hijackers

So what can you do in this situation?

The first thing that you should do is lower your price so you get the buy box back even if it means making less profit!

After all, the last thing you want to do is give the counterfeit seller any sales information regarding your product.

The next thing that you should do is send a polite letter to the punks requesting that they take down their listing.

Note: When an unscrupulous seller decided to copy and list all 450 of our products on Amazon without our permission, a simple letter did the trick for us.

If the seller doesn’t respond, the best way to get rid of a hijacker is to have a friend buy the counterfeit product and file an A To Z complaint to Amazon.

Here’s the exact procedure.

  • Have a friend (not a relative) purchase the product in question.
  • Wait until the item has been shipped and received
  • Have your friend complain to the seller that the item is fake through Amazon where you “Report a Problem”. Choose the option about the product “not being materially the same”.
  • Wait a day and then file an A to Z request against the counterfeit seller
  • Make sure you the use the terms “fake”, “not authentic” or “counterfeit” in your claim.
  • If all goes well, Amazon will take down their listing within a few days.

Preventing Yourself From Getting Hijacked

Shield

As you can see, dealing with a hijacker can be a major pain in the butt and getting a product hijacked will almost always result in the loss of revenue.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can really do to prevent someone from hijacking your products, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of it happening to you.

First things first, you absolutely need to register your brand in the Amazon registry. So click here and register your brand right now

After you’ve registered your brand, you should make the following adjustments to your listing.

Take Photos With Your Brand Name

Brand Photo

A hijacker is much less likely to steal a listing that has clear evidence of branding in the photography or verbiage. So here’s what you can do.

Retake your photos so that your branded tag or branded packaging is clearly visible in the photo.

For example if you sell silicon baking mats, make sure your brand and logo can be visibly seen in your top level picture.

If you offer any special sort of special packaging, take a photo that indicates how your item will arrive in the mail.

If you sell plastic items, make slight modifications to your mold so that your brand is part of the plastic itself.

In short, make sure that your company brand is a part of your entire listing. But do not list any urls or try to steer the customer away from Amazon.

Watermark Your Images

Technically, watermarking your images is against Amazon’s terms of service so beware. But if you find that your images are constantly getting stolen and used in other people’s fake listings, you may want to give this a try.

But be warned. Amazon may slap you on the wrist or request that you replace all watermarked images in your listings so it’s definitely a risk.

Ultimately, you have to weigh the tradeoffs.

Do you want to be constantly chasing down people stealing your photos and your listings? Or would you rather take a small risk and watermark your stuff?

It’s up to you.

Add Value To Your Listing Or Bundle Your Items

Bundle

Let’s face it. The majority of items found on Amazon can be easily copied by someone in China. Why? It’s because most of the goods sold in the US are produced there in the first place.

So even if you’ve followed all of the advice that I’ve given above, you can still get hijacked. Now the item might not be EXACTLY the same as yours. But more often than not, the product will be pretty close.

And since Amazon doesn’t really police these hijacked products very often, you will likely have to take the time to take down these unscrupulous sellers one by one and lose money in the process.

But that being said, there are a few ways to drastically reduce the chances of getting hijacked.

One, you can offer something completely unique in your listing that is not mass produced or readily found on Alibaba. For example if you sell yoga mats, you can have it come in a special personalized carrying case.

The second strategy is bundling.

If you can bundle 2 disparate products together, the chances of getting hijacked are greatly reduced because the copycat now has to source 2 completely different items to piggyback on your listing.

For example, let’s say that you sell silicone baking mats. Instead of listing silicone baking mats by themselves, you might choose to bundle them in with silicone oven mitts at a similar price.

From the point of the view of the customer, these 2 items go together which is great. But from the perspective of the copycat, they now have to find these pesky matching oven mitts to go along with the silicone baking mats in order to hijack you.

This tactic requires some extra work but will greatly reduce your hijackability. Once again, a little bit of extra work can save you time in the long run.

Overall though, the best way to prevent hijacking is to avoid selling unmodified, generic white label products that are readily available from China with no added value.

How I’ve Been Handling Hijackers Recently (Updated)

As selling on Amazon as gotten more popular, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the sheer number of hijackers.

So here’s what I do today.

First off, I use a service to alert me of hijackers as soon as it happens. This service is called Listing Eagle.

Basically, it sends me an email within 15 minutes of someone piggybacking on my listing. Then, as soon as I see the hijacker, I send the following note.

Dear “Insert Name of Hijacker”

I am the owner of Bumblebee Linens and you need to remove your listings off of my products immediately.

We sell branded products and you are in violation of Amazons terms by advertising and selling counterfeit products.

Our products are individually labelled with our company brand to which we have the exclusive rights.

Bumblebee Linens is a trademarked brand and if you do not remove your listing, we will file a trademark infringement claim with Amazon.

If you wish, you can view our trademark listing below.

http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=86938544&caseSearchType=US_APPLICATION&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

I will give you 48 hours to comply.

Sincerely,
Steve

Note: It greatly helps to have your company trademarked. I had Law Trades do mine and it costs about 450 dollars. If you are a serious seller, it’s in your best interests to invest the money.

Conclusion

Selling on Amazon can really suck at times. But as long as Amazon remains the largest marketplace in the United States, it simply can not be ignored.

The key to being successful is to understand what to expect and have contingency plans in place when something bad occurs. And believe me, if you sell on Amazon long enough, something bad will EVENTUALLY happen to you.

It’s just a matter of time. And as you grow your Amazon business, make sure that you branch out to your own branded website at some point and build your own loyal customer base.

Have you been hijacked before? If so, share your stories below!

photo credit: boxedits41609_39 Keep Calm

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

Share On Facebook

Similar Posts

Have you read these?

35 thoughts on “How To Prevent Your Amazon Listings From Getting Hijacked, Stolen Or Piggybacked”

  1. Paul says:

    Thanks – this was very helpful and informative.

    On a similar theme, I sometimes wonder if it is possible to post physical catalogs to previous amazon/ebay customers directing them to your own site, with a discount code or something…

    1. Technically, it’s against their terms of service.

  2. Hi Steve,

    I just had this happen to me last week. I have a registered brand (just got that done the week before the hijacking!) and I bundle my product.

    I watch my listings like a hawk and so I immediately noticed that one of my best-selling listings had another seller’s offer on it. Here’s what I did to get them off…it took about 48 hours:

    1. I added his product to my cart to determine how many he had in stock…he had only one unit…most likely the unit he purchased as a sample so he could make a copy. I removed the product from my cart.
    2. I went to their seller’s page as if I was a consumer and clicked the link to contact the seller. I said this:
    ———-1st Email——–
    Hello. I’m Ree Klein, owner of XXX. We’re a member of Amazon’s Brand
    Registry. I see that you are on one of our listings as being a seller of our product.
    We don’t sell wholesale to other sellers who sell on Amazon. Therefore, I’m asking that you remove your offer. I’ve attached a screen shot to help you identify the product. I’ll wait 24 hours before reporting you to Amazon.
    Thank you,
    Ree, Owner
    ———End Email——
    Within about eight hours I got this response from the other seller:
    ——-His Email Response——
    I apologize for that, I will take it down. The item is in reserve status right now so it
    may be a couple of days before I can shut it down and get my product returned to
    me.
    ———End Email——
    3. I waited until the end of the 24 hours and the listing was still active and now he had the buy box. So I sent this follow-up email:
    ———-2nd Email——–
    xxxxx,
    I see that your offer is still active AND that you have the buy box. You must remove your offer immediately. You can do that by changing the listing to “fulfill by merchant” and then setting your inventory to zero. You can work with Amazon for the return of your inventory separately from that. If I don’t see that you’ve removed your listing in the next two hours, I’ll ask Amazon to do it for you.

    I pursued a direct remedy with you because I believe you copied my brand’s
    product and put your inventory against my listing as a “newbie” and didn’t realize
    that it is not an acceptable nor honorable practice. I’d rather work it out with you
    and not risk Amazon shutting you down as a seller. But, I’m asking that you fix the problem right now…not when it’s convenient for you.
    Thank you,
    Ree, Owner
    ———End Email——
    4. His listing was still active at the end of the two hours so I filed an “Allegation of Infringement” against him. You can do that via this form on Amazon’s site:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports/infringement

    Here is the information I submitted in my report:
    Reference Case ID XXXXXXX
    While I opened the above-referenced case, I am not sure that was the proper channel so I’m also notifying you here and requesting prompt action.

    The basis of my concern is that Seller X has never purchased product from us for resale and therefore is clearly creating his own product by attempting to replicate the product offered by My Company (that is counterfeiting in my mind). While we may not have filed for a trademark, we own the company, have filed a fictitious business name with our state (CA), obtained a resale permit, have a website and have “first use” claims, which would prohibit someone else from trademarking the name. Effectively, we have the trademark but haven’t filed.

    I have no idea what material Seller X is using, nor do I know the manufacturing quality of his counterfeit. We use xxx, he may offer a cheaper xxx product. We quality control every single unit before it’s packaged and sent off to your warehouses. Our reject rate is very high. I have no idea if he even looks at his product before it reaches you.

    I’m very concerned that if Seller X is allowed to offer his counterfeit product under our brand, it could have a devastating effect on our reputation. A reputation we’ve worked hard to build.

    I’ll be happy to provide you with the email correspondence I’ve had with SellerX. He has apologized and stated that he would remove his offer from our listing, but as of this time he has not.

    Please call me if you need further information.

    Respectfully,
    Ree Klein
    Owner

    Seller X did remove his offer and Amazon replied back as such. I requested that they confirm that they would have taken action on my request had he not removed his offer, but I haven’t heard back. Nevertheless, this strategy was effective and my be of use to your readers.

    1. Ree. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Hope all is well for your business this holiday season!

    2. JT says:

      LOL… try that now, see how it goes.
      I was lmao ( even tho it’s not funny one bit )
      at all the demands you were giving to Amazon.

      glad it worked then, but to their disgraceful
      discredit ( amazon ) them days are over.
      they don’t do @#$%^&!!!!

    3. bora says:

      Very nice post,

      I have a problem with one of chinese seller.i have brand registry, my pictures are with logo on the product.And top of it i have a bundle that i source from India and China.

      so i am selling this product 25-30 a day around $39 .This chinese seller showed up and dropped the price to $14. Everytime i test order from him he cancels the order.

      I order from my friend again he cancels.

      i am lost, i opened cases with Amazon, they seem like they will not take action.they keep asking photos of test order.

      Any advice for me?

    4. Delan says:

      Thanks so much for this great info, Ree. I just went through your steps all the way through filing an “Allegation of Infringement.” I also included a link to my website with images of my product and the UPC code. Amazon removed the hijacker from my listing within a couple of hours without asking for further information. I’m amazed it worked so well because I never know what type of service I’ll get from Amazon seller support.

      1. @Delan, that’s awesome news! I’m glad to hear that the process still works. Thanks for sharing your success with the rest of us :)

        Ree

  3. Steve,

    Thank you for creating this post — I can forsee this as a potential issue as I move my offering over to Amazon.

    As soon as funds allow I’ll be going on a buying spree of your products haha.

    Cheers!
    Jared

  4. Wow, we don’t sell anything on Amazon so I never had considered this, but this is definitely a problem for sellers….and for buyers too! I wonder how many buyers have received disappointing products as a result of this. If it takes over too much, you’d have to figure that Amazon will eventually start to care, because in the end, their brand is still impacted in these types of transactions, and Amazon does not like their brand tarnished!

    1. Amazon is definitely starting to care. And I’ve received my fair share of junk on Amazon too so I tend to stick with brand names.

  5. I sell on Zazzle.com and have a steady stream of hijackers who take the images and sell them on Amazon. Like for instance with pillow covers, somehow they are able to extract the images and print knock-offs. I’ve filed over fifty DMCA take-down notices to have them removed from Amazon. I did try the suggestion to purchase the knock-off and wrote a scathing review. But the listing still remains active. So I will try your suggestion to file an A to Z complaint.

    I do have a question about registering a brand. Do I have to be a seller on Amazon to do that? Or can I just register my brand so that hijackers can’t list the knock-off?

    1. Yes. Registering your brand is an Amazon thing.

  6. Great post. Just discovered the downside of the ‘got one to sell?’ button. Very frustrating that we can spend hours creating a proper listing and then anyone else can just ‘tag’ along and undercut you.

    I’ve just done something very simple, which we shall see if it works, but that was to proclaim in my first bullet point that:

    ‘Only [my seller id] can guarantee authenticity. Beware of inferior copies’

    No idea if it’ll work, but it might make people think before purchasing from other sellers. Just need to be careful that buyers don’t get completely turned off an look for another product!

  7. Damary Fletcher says:

    My listing has never been hijacked… or at least I haven’t noticed? Can you explained how do you know when is been hijacked? What are the clues or scenarios… I have been looking in google and cannot find the answer… it will be a great article / podcast so we know what to look for ans stop this as soon as possible…

    1. When you’re listing is hijacked, you’ll notice that someone else has altered your listing. This can generally be resolved by registering your brand.

  8. rob says:

    hi,
    If the listing doesnt have brand, I dont see why can’t we ‘hijack’ it…
    Many listings sell standard chineese products that everybody can source via alibaba, so there are no onfringements here.

    BUT if the listing concerns a brand or trademark, then it’s ok you can’t hijack it.

    And by brand I mean a REAL brand, registered via the government administration services, not only on amazon.
    No brand = let’s have fun :)

  9. Great article! What I have encountered is sellers who hijack my entire product line, including my verbiage and images, list it and then buy the product via Amazon Prime and then ship to the people THEY sell to. I am baffled as why anyone would;d buy from them, as their prices are higher and they usually have few, if any reviews. So, they are NOT knocking the product off, but kinda drop shipping without my approval.

    I own trademarks and all that good stuff and went to Amazon who TOLD me they support trademarks, but in essence they blew me off. I email then 2-3x a week asking they remove my products and I have even gone and posted under questions and asked how they could be selling my products without my permission. Made me feel better, but did no good – hahaha!

    Looking forward to anything you have to share about selling to Amazon!

  10. I been hi jacked on ebay and amazon.. i got some guy storking me and he copys my listing and send out fake items to my customers. he even registered a verno with ebay and claimed the rights to my company how can this happen
    Ebay after i complained removed his listing and he reported it 3 times now and ebay still not banned the 0 feedback seller. then the guy followed me on amazon uk and decided he sell one like mine.. he is now under cutting me so i have had to drop the price so low i am at a lost.. ebay also took my listing down because he registered my company name with them which i am now in the middle of disputing.
    I have filed dozens of complaints to amazon stating this guy is selling fakes.
    and i have called them loads of times and they assure me they will take action but then i get email from them saying with the information i provided they will not remove this guy.. i did try to contact the guy buy email and he just told me to go do one.. nice chap.. i have now registered a brand application with amazon after the first one was rejected.
    i then got a customer to buy to one of his products and it arrived promptly totally fake no company name no part number or bar-code.. i called amazon and filed yet another complaint and sent them pics of the items this guy was sending out. clearly it was completely different from mine and they still done nothing.. i am at my wits end with this and wish i never listed my item on amazon. even if i remove my item he can still sell under my company name.. amazon are totally neglecting there responsibility and going against there own terms and condition’s by allowing this guy to continue to trade. i did try all the above methods but nothing is working this guy is dead set on stealing my business.. any advice i would be grateful thanks

    1. Maisam Othman says:

      I looked into it and I don’t believe that you can register a brand with eBay the way you can with Amazon, someone please correct me if I’m wrong as I want to make sure I’m taking all precautions possible to protect my products.

      1. If you have a real website with your products on them; the same as on ebay; then you can report the copycat; and send a message through vero; with pictures from your own website and description; and that is proof; so then they will take the copycats item down. Worked for me once.

    2. Same here. The same thing happens to me and has been happening with the same hijacker for 2-3 years. This hijacker is an x friend so it’s even worse. Amz does nothing. If your’e not big like Apple to sue them, you can basically forget it.

  11. Westernladh says:

    WOW. This is gonna be HUGE problem for sellers… I sayit is more for sellers than for BUYERS!!!!!!!!

  12. Maisam Othman says:

    Although it is easier to stop your brand registered products from being hijacked than your bundles, I recall hearing a comment on a podcast that would supposedly help stop your bundles from being hijacked.Their advice was to include a copy written add on with the product such as a recipe or training guide or any original piece of writing that is copy protected. This makes sense though I have not tried it out personally yet.
    One of my bundles recently got hijacked, luckily it wasn’t a best seller and I was running out of stock right around the time it got hijacked. I wrote to the other seller politely asking them to take down there listing and they responded saying this is harassment and they will report me to Amazon if I harass them again. Can you believe the NERVE of this seller?! Since I was out of stock anyway I just closed the listing so that will shut them down temporarily. When I reopen the listing I plan on including the copy written add on with my product but in case they try to hijack me again, how would I proceed to take action against them? any advice would be appreciated.
    By the way, I heard this advice on the Thrifting for Profit podcast, I can’t remember which episode and don’t have the patience to manually search for it but if anyone knows which episode please include that info for me as I’d like to re-listen to it. Thanks

  13. Hi Steve,

    This is a constant problem for me. I have thousands of listings, so I can’t monitor them all. Seems like a new pirate crops up every day. C & D letters sometimes work. Getting Amazon involved doesn’t work at all. These sites hijack anywhere from a few of my designs (I’m CarGeekTees.com), and I’ve found a site that pirated 2400!

    Here is an example:

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=me%3DA3BYYAE8OC7G0Y&field-keywords=1970+chevelle+t+shirt

    It’s a huge hassle.

    Thanks for your post.
    Laura

  14. Mich says:

    Good advice, I’ve dealt with this scum in the past and have sent them cease and desist by contacting them through their seller account.
    I’m not sure about doing this now, as technically this is against amazon’s terms, sellers cant contact sellers… but, so many things are against TOS and even more are not enforced.

    How do you contact these parasites?

  15. John says:

    You mention “Have a friend (not a relative) purchase the product in question” when performing a test buy. Why do you advise against a relative performing the test buy?

  16. Lucy says:

    About branding and trademarking – some sellers take items that are already branded (for example, Toy Story toys) and then register them under their own brand and then claim that the listing, and brand, is theirs and threaten to sue if another seller of the exact same set of toys lists it. It’s just like your napkins – they’re not yours, they’re linen napkins and anyone can copy them. Anyone can bundle the same product – it’s not yours to brand. This is simply capitalism. You are not a innovator or “creator.” You’re running a garage sale. I’m tired of sellers taking their own “brand” seriously when 99 percent of the time they’re simply something they bought from Disney or Nintendo or China and claiming ownership rights. Gross.

    1. Some of what you said is true. I agree with what you are saying when it comes to the items being already branded; but if it is not already branded and they spend their own money to get the items from China; so it is a no-name; but then they spend money to get their name put on it; and a trademark; now it is branded. Just like TVs that my look the same but with different brand names; now listing under it becomes infringement.

  17. Nina says:

    We registered our brand with amazon successfully and since then have been unable to list anything!! We can list the same product with ‘banana’ in the brand field and it accepts it successfully. However using our brand name as it should be means the listing fails. This has been going on for a month where we cannot list any problems. Seller support so NOTHING despite chasing them on a near daily basis. It’s turned in to a complete nightmare and we are losing money now. What on earth is the point of brand registry if it causes these many problems. Also it does nothing to stop people adding their crap to the listing even if the page cannot be altered. So you still have the same nightmare situation people have mentioned above. Can anyone shed any light on this issue with brand registry or are we literally the only unlucky ones?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Nina,

      I’m so sorry to hear that you are experiencing this problem. Oddly enough, I was just reading an article posted by Karon Thackston that might hold some insight for you. Here’s the link:

      http://www.marketingwords.com/blog/amazon-hijacks-listings-happens/

      You might also try asking the support rep to try moving your product to a different category. That might “unlock” the listing for you. It’s worth a try.

      Good luck…and don’t give up!

  18. Max says:

    Thank you so much for this info. I’m trying to have my friend file an A to Z claim on someone who is sending out a different product through my listing. The one issue I’m stuck is the step before filing the A to Z claim. The blog post states:

    “Have your friend complain to the seller that the item is fake through Amazon where you “Report a Problem”. Choose the option about the product “not being materially the same”.”

    Where is the “Report a Problem” section. I don’t see this option or the product “not being materially the same” option anywhere?

  19. How do you make money from Amazon? The few times I’ve tried out selling products there it seems like they charge more for the listing than the product? How long does it typically take to receive your payment?

    Piggybackers seem to be a pain. I will consider trademarking my brand, though. It seems like it would be the sensible thing to do. Especially once you begin making serious money.

  20. Hello Guys,
    I have a question. Can I register for an Amazon Brand Registry Program for my bundled products? Bundled products are fine to register for it? or Does it have to be a single product with my logo on it to be registered for the brand registry program?

    Thanks In Advance

    Alper

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *