Chukar Cherries claims Amazon banned them with “no explanation”

PROSSER, Wash. — A local chocolate-covered fruit and nut company is claiming they were taken off one of the world’s largest online sales platforms with no explanation despite being on the site since 2003.

Chukar Cherries began selling their goods in 1988 in Prosser and quickly became a regional favorite. But “about 67 days ago” the company was abruptly dropped off of Amazon, according to founder and CEO Pam Montgomery.

“It’s very frustrating. We’re a farm-to-table company,” Montgomery said. “This hurts our brand because if you’re on Amazon, even if you don’t sell much or don’t want to sell much if you’re there it’s like having a billboard to the world.”

Montgomery said being sold on Amazon “bolsters your brand” and proves legitimacy to customers. So when her team started the lengthy appeal process for reinstatement, the lack of human interaction on a complicated site was challenging.

“We couldn’t get any feedback, we couldn’t get any reason, we had no idea,” Montgomery said.

This isn’t the first time Chukar Cherries has been banned from the platform either.

“In the past, we’ve been able to get back on within a few weeks but it’s never easy,” Montgomery said.

She blames their fraud-prevention algorithms.

“Amazon has all the information and linkage to our brand and our trademarks. In order to sell on Amazon you have to provide them with an awful lot of substantive information so all the information for them was there to either have someone look at it or use a better algorithm,” Montgomery said.

According to Amazon, in 2020 the company invested more than $700 million and employed over 10,000 people to protect both customers and sellers from fraud and abuse.

If sellers have concerns, Amazon suggests contacting their support team who is available 24/7 via email, phone, and/or chat.

Last year, their support team handled over 60 million contacts with 80% of all seller issues being fully resolved in under 24 hours, Amazon said.

But Montgomery said it’s not that easy, especially for smaller local businesses.

“I’m hoping they invest more in their algorithms to make them smarter and also develop some sort of human linkage so there’s a way to bring your case through a channel and find solutions where ultimately there are people involved,” Montgomery said.

An Amazon spokesperson sent KAPP-KVEW this statement:

“Sellers are incredibly important to Amazon and our customers and we work hard to protect and help them grow their business. One way we protect sellers and customers is to monitor for suspicious activity and take action on accounts related to known bad actors. In this case, the bad actor created a false relationship to this seller, which led us to take action on this account. We are sorry for the poor experience and have reinstated this account.”