Commerce Rev

My product is not a pesticide but got Banned Anyway

Any time that Amazon restricts a listing, Sellers can expect lost profits and a world of other issues. Lately, listings are being restricted at a never-before-seen pace. The issue revolves around Amazon’s use of bots to help regulate its massive marketplace. These bots play an important role in reducing the gargantuan level of monotonous work that comes from reviewing product listings to make sure they meet Amazon’s community guidelines. Unfortunately, these Amazon bots are running wild and unchecked by the Seller Support team, and seem to be doing more harm than good.
Here are a few tips that can help your listing avoid being removed. Keep reading to the end for a few next-level workarounds that can help get your product relisted ASAP.

Why are bots blocking listings?

Amazon has been having trouble with illegally imported legal toxins (that’s fun to say). This resulted in the FBA advising Amazon to keep better track of products that could be considered pesticides. In fact, Amazon recently settled a dispute with the FDA to the tune of $1.2 million dollars in penalties. The deal also included mandatory training for all sellers of pesticides, restricted sales of pesticides to US-based sellers, and led to the implementation of a more aggressive program to stop the sale of illegal pesticides. This development is what has led to Amazon’s shiny new pesticide bots.
A bot can’t make judgement calls. It can only be programmed to make a simple yes or no decision based on context clues. The pesticide bots work by searching for trigger words and then removing any listing that contains any of the words. The bots do not care if the product in question is a pesticide or not, and will ban any product without further investigation. If your product was affected, filing a complaint with the Seller Support team can take a long time to get resolved and may not end up in your favor.

Which words should I avoid?

Since the largest cause of being banned for pesticides is just using the wrong words, we have compiled a list here of words likely to cause issues for your listings. This list is not comprehensive, but includes words from our experience that can trigger a pesticide alert. (Updated 8-30-21)

  • All-natural
  • Eco-friendly
  • Earth-friendly
  • Green
  • Non-toxic
  • Microbe or Microbial
  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-fungal
  • Insecticide
  • Pesticide
  • Insect
  • Pest
  • Non-poisonous
  • Non-injurious
  • Harmless
  • Repellent
  • Repel
  • Antiseptic
  • Germ
  • CBD
  • Compliance
  • BPA Free
  • Virus
  • Bacteria or Bacterial
  • Fungus or Fungal
  • Any specific insect name, such as Tick, Fly, Wasp, Bee, Roach, Mosquito, Beetle, Grasshopper
  • Mold
  • Mildew
  • Growth
  • Recyclable
  • Kills viruses
If you use any of the above words, the Amazon bots will have reason to suspect that your product is a pesticide, and will restrict the listing, regardless of what context in which the word is used. For example, we have had fly-fishing products suspended for the use of the word “fly”, even though it is obviously necessary to describe the product.
Any of the following actions may also cause Amazon to incorrectly label your product a pesticide.
  • Make any claim to repel, destroy, kill, or prevent
  • Use the words sanitizes or disinfects
  • Indirectly imply an action against pests
  • Draw a comparison against pesticides
  • Picture a “pest” on the label (crazy, but yes)

How do I get my Product relisted?

Ensure your listing does not use any of the above words before you encounter this problem. However, if it is too late for that and your non-pesticide product is found by one of these clever bots, it will be removed and you will not be able to edit the product until you complete Amazon’s pesticide training course.
You may think, “I don’t sell pesticides, so why do I have to complete this training?”. The simple fact is that it is easier to complete the training than argue for days or weeks on end with an Amazon rep. You only need to answer 80% of the questions correctly to pass the training, and a single test will cover all products that you sell.
pesticide course
The course is located in Seller University, and can be found by searching “required training for selling pesticides” in the main search bar of Seller Central. The course might not be helpful for any Seller who doesn’t actually sell pesticides, but the answers are fairly easy if you pay attention to the material. Once you have finished the test, you will need to mark your product as not a pesticide.

Seller Central Workarounds

Here are some secrets to getting your products relisted ASAP, without going through the Seller Support team. Once you have completed the mandatory Seller Pesticide Training, this is what you can do.
If your affected ASIN is a parent, your path to reinstatement is short. Simply delete the ASIN from Seller Central, remove any problem words from the copy, and re-upload the parent. Make sure you wait at least 15 minutes after deleting the listing before creating the new parent ASIN. Deleting the ASIN will not have any long term negative effects; Amazon will keep your sale and review history and all other relevant product data. Reach out to our team if you need help with how to do this.
delete listing from amazon
If your listing is a child, there are two ways to make changes.

Option 1

Open Seller Central and go to manage inventory. Search for the affected ASIN or SKU. You may notice that you are unable to edit the product and are presented with a “fix issue” button instead. What you need to do is simply click on the actual SKU.
click the SKU
You will be taken to a new page, and on the left there will be a menu with “edit listing” at the top. Click that option and then navigate to compliance in the new window.
compliance edit tab
Once you are in the compliance section, scroll all the way down to the bottom and you will see an option called “pesticide marking”. You need to select “EPA registration number” from the drop down options. Underneath that option there is another selection box marked “pesticide registration status”. In this box, you need to select “This product is not a pesticide or pesticide device, as defined under the U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.”
pesticide marking
You do not need to enter the “Pesticide Certification Number”. If you encounter an error such as “a value is missing from this group”, set both values to neutral and save the listing. Wait 15 minutes and try again. Be sure to set the “Pesticide Marking” value first, and then the registration status.
pesticide error

Option 2

If Seller Central will not let you edit an item, you can still use an inventory file to make the listing changes. Go to the “inventory” menu and select “add a product via upload”.
upload new product
Navigate through the Amazon categories and select the category that your product is in. Click on “generate template” to download the file.
generate template
Once you open up the file using Microsoft Excel, you will need to navigate to the “template” tab at the bottom. Input your product’s essential data in the first section, which includes SKU, Product Name, External Product ID and type (a UPC works best, but you can use an ASIN), and Item Type keyword.
SKU-information

You don’t need to include any other information until we get to the compliance section, but you will need to select “PartialUpdate” in the drop down options under the “Update Delete” column in the “Basic” section.

partial update
Scroll all the way over to the “Compliance” section of the sheet. And locate the “Pesticide Marking” and “Pesticide Registration Status” columns. You only need to fill out the first column for each, which will be “pesticide_marking_type1” and “pesticide_marking_registration_status1”. In the drop down menus for the cells corresponding to your product, select “EPA Registration Number” in the marking_type1 cell, and “This product is not a pesticide or pesticide device, as defined under the U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.” in the marking_registration_status1 cell.
Save your spreadsheet, go back to the Add a Product page in Seller Central, and upload your listing changes. If you wish to change your copy to remove any potential pesticide words, just include the new listing copy in the same inventory file.
upload a product

Bots Run Wild, but Sellers Stay Ahead

Even if your listing has not yet been effected by pesticide bots, it may be important to check and make sure you don’t use any language that could potentially cause it to be restricted. Fishing and other outdoor categories, for example, seem to be at a very high risk for phony pesticide claims. Fishing listings may get banned for talking about insect-mimicking baits, or flies, or other similar seasons. If you sell in any outdoor gear category, it is worthwhile to go ahead and complete the pesticide class, and then mark your listings as “not pesticides” as a preemptive measure.
Please reach out to our team for help making changes to your listings, for help with suspensions, or any other account issues. We are here to provide the tools and knowledge to build your success on Amazon.
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