Product Listings: The Assumption of Ownership

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Glenn is one of Tamebay’s regular commenters and has been contributing to the site for many years. Today he looks at the issue of who owns a product listing on Amazon and what to do if it’s got inaccurate or promotional information within a product title or description.

For the purpose of this discussion I will disregard ownership of server space and concentrate on who has the rights of ownership on a product listing. On eBay the ownership of any particular product listing clearly belongs to the person who created the listings and provided there are no policy breaches they and only they can alter, add or amend the listing. Once that product has ended either by selling out of stock or by the intervention of the owner that listing is finished.

This is not the case with Amazon. All Amazon products have a unique ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) and any seller authorized to list against the ASIN within which the category the ASIN is placed can list against that ASIN. Some categories are gated, such as clothing and prior authority is required before a seller can list against that particular ASIN. Once authorized to list within a gated category the authorization extends to creating products within that category.

Unfortunately many sellers are listing gated category products in non gated categories resulting in numerous products being listed within inappropriate categories, poor quality listing and destabilization of the category structure.

The ownership of gated category status is being devalued with clothing items being listed on inappropriate categories.
The problem of poor listing isn’t restricted to gated categories. There are numerous Amazon products offered for sale which include the text “Free Postage” but in reality different sellers are charging different postage rates. It appears that the individual who created the ASIN intended to sell their product with free postage and never gave any thought to other sellers listing against the same ASIN.

The original ASIN creator ‘Assumed they owed the listing’ (as per the eBay model) and as such any additional seller listing against the ASIN risks the wrath of customers who select a product in the belief that Postage is Free only to discover a postage cost.

Unfortunately the problem is bigger than just poor titles. Many of those ASIN creators have included personal promotional information within the product description with text such as “We are the cheapest sellers of this product” and even links to websites, in the belief that they owned the listing.

So what can you do if you want list against an ASIN which includes the text FREE POSTAGE or other inappropriate text within the title? Personally I suggest that you contact Amazon either via links on the product page or via seller central. I have needed to contact Seller Support numerous times and on every occasion they have successfully resolved the problems.

Any channel with inaccurate or misleading listing is damaging to both buyers and sellers and perhaps Amazon should review if and when ownership of a product can be transferred or shared.

12 Responses

  1. Worth also mentioning that in the screen shot above the light bulb is a Supalite/lyvia branded light bulb and only a matching brand item should be listed against this. Trademark infringement is now rife on Amazon. Enforcing trademark is also not always straight forward as you may fall foul of the dreaded “seller performance”. You really need a specilist legal firm to act on your behalf and this doesn’t come cheap.

    It also seem like acceptence into gated cats is now fairly easy. There number of poor quality titles and images seem to be mushrooming.

  2. Im surprised Amazon don’t pick up on this, they did when i first started using Amazon a few years back and were happy to let me know. Is it like ebay were users have to inform them?

    But a problem I find now is other sellers listing under my own branded products, either stating it is their own ‘branded’ product. Last time I complained to Amazon they gave ME a 30 day suspension (they re-activated after 2 weeks after about 50 emails explaining how to were wrong). Im not even going to risk reporting anyone now in fear they just block my account instead.

  3. The quality of the Amazon catalog is getting worse and worse at an alarming rate. Multiple ASINs for the same product being the main culprit.

    trying to get Amazon to merge ASINs is very time consuming and a lot of the time they simply wont if the pictures aren’t identical.

    In ungated categories this is a massive headache for stock levels etc, a prime example being this:

  4. What ends up happening now on Amazon for some products – For an example a mobile phone cover. Product brought to market place by seller A. Product bought by buyer A, buyer A very happy. Seller B sources compatible product from different factory half the price, inferior product. Buyer B buys it it snaps after one week, writes bad review. Market for seller A’s product destroyed or buyer A wants to get another for his mum, receives product diferent to the first one bought $”*!. That is why we have trademark.


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