GRACE ON THE CASE: Amazon hasn't verified me so I can't get £5,000


I am the owner of a small family business and in December 2020, I decided to sell my 3D pop-up greeting cards on Amazon.

Since then, I am still waiting for my account to be verified, and until it is, Amazon will not part with my money. Verification is said to take three weeks or so, and it has now been several months.

There is currently £4,804.09 in the account and we are absolutely desperate for the money, as we have no funding for our Christmas stock.

Amazon take fees off us on a regular basis, and we have the cost of the cards and postage to pay for, so we have had to take out a large overdraft facility. Why have we not been verified yet? B.K., via email

A business owner has still not been verified by Amazon meaning she cannot access her funds

A business owner has still not been verified by Amazon meaning she cannot access her funds

Grace Gausden, consumer expert at This is Money, replies: You may make pop-up cards but you wanted to pop off at Amazon after the firm held on to your money for months on end – with no indication of when you would have access to it.

During the pandemic, you decided to start selling your 3D greeting cards on Amazon, as you could no longer sell them on your usual market stall.

Fortunately, the business has been a success and you have received hundreds of orders.

However, despite racking up nearly £5,000 in sales since December, you have been unable to take the money out of your account as Amazon has not verified you – even though you requested when launching your business.

You went through the extensive verification process at the time, providing passport details, tax details and bank information.

You also had to complete an interview on Zoom with an Amazon employee, whose job it was to start the initial process, providing her with documentation such as driving licences and explaining your business model.  

GRACE ON THE CASE 

Our weekly column sees This is Money consumer expert Grace Gausden tackles reader problems and shines the light on companies doing both good and bad.

Want her to investigate a problem, or do you want to praise a firm for going that extra mile? Get in touch:

[email protected]

Every time you have tried to contact Amazon, you have been given a generic response saying someone would come back to you but they never have.

You said they will not give an estimation of the time scale involved which means you are left not knowing how to proceed – even though you were told months ago it would be roughly three weeks. 

As you are still paying Amazon’s fees as well as paying for suppliers, you are now finding yourself in a difficult financial situation, accruing debts of around £600 a month just to keep the account going.

The costs, according to Amazon’s website, are £25 excluding VAT each month for professional businesses, selling hundreds of items each month, as well as a referral fee for each item sold.

This usually ranges from 8 per cent to 15 per cent with a minimum referral fee of £0.25 per item. 

As such, the amount you are sending to Amazon is quite hefty each month – without getting your money back rightfully in return.  

Amazon are taking months to verify the accounts of businesses looking to sell on the site

Amazon are taking months to verify the accounts of businesses looking to sell on the site

This is especially worrying as you know that Christmas will be a busy time and you are looking to take advantage of being able to sell on Amazon, however, you are worried about paying for your stock.

I contacted the site to ask why it was taking so long for you to be verified, how long it should usually take and when you could expect to have access to your funds.

Luckily, it acted quickly and has now verified your account, releasing your funds immediately.

An Amazon spokesperson said: ‘The account has now be verified and Mrs K should now have full access.’

It apologised for the delay but wouldn’t comment on why it had happened and what the usual time scale for verification is. 

Whilst Amazon is keeping its cards close to its chest about the verification process, at least you now have access to your funds and can prepare for the Christmas rush.  

However, from looking online, it seems that many other businesses are in this dilemma with some having tens of thousands of pounds in locked payment accounts.

Others are struggling to sell any of their items before their account is fully verified by Amazon.

Many have taken to social media to report their problems.  

One user said she had been waiting four months to be verified on Amazon to sell her book

One user said she had been waiting four months to be verified on Amazon to sell her book

Another Amazon seller had also been waiting four months and said 'there is no end in sight'

Another Amazon seller had also been waiting four months and said ‘there is no end in sight’

Many users said they hadn't heard from Amazon as to when they could expect to get verified

Many users said they hadn’t heard from Amazon as to when they could expect to get verified

Hit and miss: This week’s naughty and nice list

Each week, I look at some of the companies that have fallen short of expected standards as well as those that have gone that extra mile for customers.

Miss: This week, reader Stephen, wrote in about his issues with car manufacturer, Mercedes Benz

He said: ‘Two years I treated myself to a Mercedes Benz and took out a three year service care plan which I paid for upfront.

‘At the beginning of June I sold the car and contacted Mercedes Benz to cancel the plan. They cancelled it and told me I was due a refund of £610.06.

‘They informed me that as the plan was taken out with the Norwich dealership they would contact them to arrange a refund direct.

‘A couple of weeks passed, and I had received no contact whatsoever and so I telephoned the Norwich dealership. They informed me they couldn’t do the refund and referred me back to Mercedes Benz customer assistance centre.

‘I’ve been going back and forth for weeks now and despite several emails and telephone calls I still haven’t been given a refund.

‘I have no confidence in either the customer service team nor the Norwich dealership resolving this at the moment.’

I contacted Mercedes Benz as you had been patiently waiting months for your refund with no sign of either firm taking responsibility for returning the funds. 

Fortunately, the Norwich garage phoned you shortly after and confirmed it has refunded you the funds directly, together with a goodwill payment of £50.

Even though this was beginning to drive you insane, the firm reversed its earlier hesitance and you now have the full payment – plus a bit extra.  

Hit: In better news, reader, Paul, wanted to mention the great service he received from BrewDog.

He said: ‘I ordered 4 x 12 packs of ale but they sent me 4 x 12 packs of lager in error. I raised a ticket via email and within two days they had delivered the correct ale.

‘They also let me keep the lager that was delivered in error which was worth £48. Great service that deserves recognition.’

Despite their recent run-ins with the ASA, it is good to know some customers are still happy with the service from the Scottish brewery.

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