In this episode, Paul Rafelson is going to touch on a little bit about the legal side of Amazon, which a lot of us have gotten tangled up with. There were people in the actual mastermind who mentioned getting trapped with millions of dollars in their account. Truly, there's a lot of other instances where people have gotten tangled up with Amazon, and Paul is an expert at helping you untangle that or kind of having a voice back.
Topics Covered In this Episode
Professor's Pandemic Event Recap
The last one was a raging success. People were up in arms talking about how much fun they had and how much they learned.
lEARN MORE IN THE second PROFESSOR'S PANDEMIC EVENT
We want to go towards the new age of Amazon selling, using different techniques.
Introduce Paul Rafelson
Who is Paul Rafelson and what has he done? Know a little bit more about the man who can untangle legal knots on Amazon.
addressing the arbitration problem & Price gouging
We can get rid of these problems and stop Amazon to just walk over us.
Paul's Domain Expertise on Amazon
What would you consider yourself the foremost expert on regarding Amazon?
TOPICS THAT Paul WILL TALK ABOUT IN NEXT PROFESSOR'S PANDEMIC EVENT
How to be proactive in protecting your business. What are some asset protection strategies. What are some ways to protect yourself from the external threats that are out there now. Also learn more about the exit strategy in a legal perspective.
Getting a Seller's Bill of Rights in Congress
There's appetite for this. They're all scrutinizing Jeff Bezos and Amazon over their treatment of sellers.
Problems Amazon sellers have right now in 2020
Are there any other problems that you see that very are unique that is a coming up right now?
what opportunities do you see for the sellers?
What opportunity do you see as a result of this current pandemic and opportunities for sellers beyond this pandemic?
lEARN MORE IN THE second PROFESSOR'S PANDEMIC EVENT
We are going to be having our second ever online Professor's Pandemic event going to be the 9th and 10th of November.
The Second Professor's Pandemic EventAre You an Elite Seller Ready To $CALE from 7 or 8 to 9 Figures?
Watch on YouTube
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[00:00:00] Welcome to the Professor’s Podcast, where we discuss the best strategies to massively improve the reach and bottom line of your business in the current virtual and economic landscape. Your host, Howard Thai generates over $5 billion for his clientsannually using innovative tactics, both on and off Amazon.
[00:00:21] What is up everyone, Hurricane Liz here. You're back for another season of The Professor's Podcast. And I for one am really hyped up. I mean, we're still amid the whole pandemic thing. We're still not really on lock down and they've been kind of letting us out of the cage here in Miami. So I've gotten a little bit crazy as most of you noticed.
[00:00:37] I got a couple shades darker. It's like 50 shades of Liz because I'm like a whole different color now. But, Howie, how do you feel? How was the pandemic? And I know you're still, you still stuck in Hong Kong. I haven't even asked you that lately. So I'm yeah, I'm still in Hong Kong. I've been here for like six months now, been here so long that I started a company.
[00:01:00] And, and also, right here, it's kinda like they're getting about like 12 cases of corona each day, between 10 to 20 a day. Right. That's crazy. I know that in Miami, I kind of lost track of how many cases, because I know that's kind of irresponsible, but at the same time, there's been a lot of people saying that they're messing with the results and stuff like that.
[00:01:21] So try not to let it get in the way my daily life, but I will say this much, the part of my life that it has gotten in the way is educating myself, getting out there and learning more about Amazon as you guys know, Howie and I pretty much cover the entire globe. Howie himself jet sets. If you haven't seen one of his vlogs, take a look at that, but he's been sitting tight for quite a while.
[00:01:42] So he's kind of getting a little stir, crazy, ready to get out there, but amidst this pandemic, it's kind of difficult. And that's why one of the reasons that we came up with the Professor’s Pandemic live virtual events that we're about to have again in November. Now, Howie, the last one was a raging success.
[00:01:59] People were up in arms talking about how much fun they had, how much they learned and the other thing, which is surprising. We had a very different way of approaching the intimacy part of it and the networking part. Yeah. Where we had a very special, special source that people got to interact one-on-one and meet other people, make new friends and all that good stuff you want to talk about why you feel that it was such a huge success and what people have to look forward to in November.
[00:02:28] Well, I, I feel like a lot of people are kind of moving or like very isolated right nowadays so less events and stuff. So we'll want to make it fun, want to make it like it'll be different than any other podcast, like a virtual summit or something. We want to make it so that people could interact more. So we kind of had like a
[00:02:47] like groups and we have your own little sessions and rooms, and then people are jumping back and forth so that they could kinda like get, get, get accustomed to, going back into like a, um, a social environment, somewhat like, so we would prizes through these kinds of social interactions and stuff like that.
[00:03:07] So that was pretty cool. Absolutely. It was great. I learned myself learned so much. I took a lot of value for that. I heard from $50 million sellers, all the way on million dollar sellers. That taught me a heck of a lot. They've taught me a lot about giveaways, about ranking on Amazon. They were doing all sorts of crazy tactics.
[00:03:26] Howie, that I've never heard of. Things beyond chatbots, like we are in a generation where chatbots are somewhat being overused. I've heard of a lot of friends that have gotten four to five different actual emails from Amazon, warning them about their chatbot usage and warning them of suspensions looming.
[00:03:45] And so I'm kind of excited to hear from this gentleman that we have on today as a guest. He might be able to enlighten us on some of the things that Amazon pretty much brute forces us with. But Howie, the last one, there was a lot of tactics talked about that are the next generation of chatbots or what to do instead of chatbots.
[00:04:03] You want to kind of touch on that a little bit without giving away too much cause I know that during this next one, there's probably going to be a lot of knowledge bombs dropped. So, last one, we're talking about a lot of external traffic, things that I think Anthony, Anthony Lee were talking about. We had like a normal.
[00:04:24] We had like a bunch of people are talking about the next in 2020. What's the next thing you know? So, so it's not all. There, there is chatbot and, but we kind of want to go towards the new kind of age of Amazon selling, using different techniques. So we just kind of publish a new article on them on our blog, which is regarding.
[00:04:50] Google ranking, using Google ranking to increase your ranking on Amazon. If you guys haven't heard of it or seen it. Go onto our website and check it out, I signalytics.ai for that one. Amazing. Yeah. And our guest today is going to touch on a little bit about the legal side of Amazon, which I know a lot of us have gotten tangled up with.
[00:05:10] We've heard of people in the actual mastermind. Get trapped with millions of dollars in their account. We've heard of people get trapped with several thousand dollars in account. I personally have a lot of money tied up in accounts. So I've gotten tangled up with Amazon and I'm sure there's a lot of other instances where people have gotten tangled up with Amazon.
[00:05:27] So he's an expert at helping you untangle that or kind of having a voice back, right? Cause Amazon is like that giant elephant in the room and they constantly bully us around how we, I know I've been bullied a lot by Amazon. Can you tell us a little bit more about why you actually handpicked this gentleman and you thought what he had to say was so fascinating that you had to have him as a speaker?
[00:05:49] Well, I met Paul, like I believe like a year or two years ago. I believe in New York, we were at one of the event that I was speaking at. And then I, from there I've heard, been hearing him from places here and there talking about how to protect yourself from what Amazon does. So, I think, you know, I travel around the world all the time and I want to always look around for people that I would think that would add value to our community.
[00:06:20] And, so I just thought that was a great idea because I wanted to hear what Paul has to say as well. So that's why I want to pick Paul to come up with our, to come up to our podcast right here, as well as our mastermind as well. Right. Absolutely. And without further ado, I'm going to introduce this gentleman here.
[00:06:39] And I will say this much, Paul, I have been known now I've become known. Yeah. As, instead of Hurricane Liz, the butcher of Amazon, because I always tend to put your speaker's names, but correct me if I'm wrong. It's Paul Rafelson. Is that correct? You would be partially correct, because I've sort of adopted that as my name. But since I was a kid, so it is technically Rafelson, but everybody calls me Rafelson, since I was a kid.
[00:07:04] So I'm good with either. I, you wouldn't, I wouldn't call that butchering, you know, Rafelson might might've been a flipper, but I think that, you know, a minor Nick, then nothing, nothing major, you know, At least I learned how to pronounce that. Right. But like I said, Paul, I warned you ahead of time.
[00:07:22] That's why they call me the butcher. Let's first talk about you and kind of some of your background, Paul, and the way that I like to tell people is pretend you're on an elevator ride with Howie, and you have two minutes to pitch yourself to him as to why you are the man when it comes to untangling ourselves with Amazon.
[00:07:42] Sure. No pressure. Right. Okay. Elevator pitches are tough. So here's the deal, you know, I got into this whole thing sort of by accident, right? I'd never intended to be a lawyer in private practice. Any of those things I spend most of my life in corporate law and working, I worked at Microsoft, I worked for Walmart corporate and I worked for General Electric.
[00:08:03] Big corporations doing predominantly tax and corporate law and litigation. And, but I was an Amazon seller. I was an Amazon seller in law school, you know, 15 years ago before there was FBA. I was doing arbitrage. My wife works for seller performance back in, back when they weren't even called seller performance. Back then they were called some, I forget what it was at CRMs or something like that.
[00:08:25] You know, so I happened to know a lot on Amazon. And there was an issue that, that hit with back taxes and sellers being told they owe their life savings to Amazon, to California and other States. And just sort of what started with a blog post brought me into this world as a lawyer, serving Amazon sellers and quickly realizing that, you know, it's not just taxes, there's just tons of issues here that we need to address to get, you know, sellers some basically leveling of the playing field.
[00:08:52] So, so I've sort of taken the experience I've had in sort of big corporate. A world working for some large companies in the world and just sort of, you know, streamlining it and building a law practice, uh, around helping small businesses and, and adapting to that. And I think, you know, my partner, Jeff Schick, and I have done a great job of, of doing that.
[00:09:12] Now, the additional thing that I do. And in addition to having a lot of practices, I I'm trying to get Amazon sellers, small businesses to understand something that the big corporations have known for years. That when you want to change society and you want to try and change things, right. And you're trying to change the way things work in Amazon, it can be done, but it's gotta be done as a call or give effort.
[00:09:31] So, you know, there's all these sort of, there's this tribalism on Amazon. I'm a member of this group. I'm a member of that group and that's fine. But what I've been trying to do is I created an organization called the online merchant skill. And I volunteer my time to help run the efforts of that group.
[00:09:47] And that group is a trade association. It's a applying for nonprofit status, but what it is is basically saying, Hey, We may all be competitors on some front, but there are certain issues where we all have a common interest here, like making Amazon more fair, right. We should pool our resources together and form an organization.
[00:10:06] And that can actually fight and advocate for us. So somebody mentioned earlier arbitration, right? I there's an appetite in Congress to, to fix arbitration. Right. There's an absolute appetite, but there's, nobody's hearing from us, nobody in Congress. Understands who we are as a class of sellers, they're starting to see it and saw it with the testimony, but we really haven't done a great job putting ourselves out there so ends up happening is who leads the dialogue on how e-commerce law and policy has changed.
[00:10:36] Amazon eBay, these companies who have an interest in maintaining the status quo arbitration so that they can continually and perpetually screw us over for lack of a better word. I advocate on two fronts. So I have my, my law practice, which is geared towards Amazon sellers and focusing on the eCommerce community.
[00:10:53] But I also really had this strong passion project that I believe is so important where sellers need to get together. And we need to start having, building a lobbying presence, a fulltime lobbying presence in Washington, and really start changing things so that, you know, Amazon will, we can put ourselves on even keel with Amazon, which is very much possible we're voters, right?
[00:11:13] There's hundreds of pounds. How many? 800 a million I've got really Amazon's last count are just in the U S. That's a lot of voters. I mean, I'm not saying we can get all of them, but you get a lot of influential, small business owners together. You're going to get Congress to listen. It's going to be more powerful than what Amazon has to say in many ways.
[00:11:28] Right. So we need to really focus on, on getting together and that's, that's, that's, that's the key way we fight back. So that's my pitch. Yeah, that's really great. I actually enjoy that. The thought of trying to gather together, as opposed to, like you said, the tribalism that there is on Amazon.
[00:11:51] I'm sorry, just that I think a lot of people are worried and scared about doing that tribalism or trying to confront Amazon is because Amazon might get, come back to them. Amazon is known to be like a kind of a, somewhat like a. W like retaliatory palliating would tell eating two sellers, or at least, at least if you're like one or two sellers, but if you may be in a group of plan or sellers, and that will be a different story because that's going to be a wall street journal thing.
[00:12:21] Well, that's what online merchants Guild does. So we, you know, we, we rely on the support of our members. And all that money goes to fund lobbying. Like we, you know, we lobbied for some wall changes in California regarding, you know, the 72 hour rule. It came out of something we did, right. The 72 hours essential notice came out of a rule that because we were advocating for more fairness on Amazon and it's a starting point.
[00:12:42] We really need that to be a federal law and we really need to push from work fairness. But the beauty of having organization is that we don't have to say who's the members, right? It's online merchants skill. That's the organization. Right. That represents X number of sellers. We don't actually have to disclose who you are individually.
[00:13:00] And I will say that I do get that a lot. People are afraid of Amazon's retaliation. I do think to some extent, though, that is going to be limited. If you look at what's going on in Congress right now, Amazon is under such scrutiny. I don't think that they really, I mean, I think it's going to become obvious.
[00:13:16] You know, all of a sudden, you know, there's, there's, you know, a couple thousand sellers working together. Yeah. And all of a sudden they're all facing, you know, detrimental action by Amazon. It's going to get there. Right. That's going to be a big problem. And I don't think Amazon, even Amazon is that stupid to actually do that.
[00:13:33] But I understand that fear and I certainly get it, but like we always say, it's like, we don't tell people who our members are. We don't bring it out to public plight when we act on behalf of the community. We act as, as an organization. So they're not, they're not necessarily knowing that, you know, this person or that person is part of this or, or whatnot.
[00:13:51] And we've had some really great success. You know, we challenged the price gouging efforts. Um, a lot of state governments were going after our clients for price gouging. We proved that that was illegal. We proved that it was unconstitutional. You cannot go after an Amazon seller for price gouging on Amazon.
[00:14:07] Because of the nature of how Amazon works at violates, it violates our US constitutional law. And we prove that we want a court case in federal court, Kentucky, we're going to appeal it to the state of Kentucky is appealing it to this sixth circuit court of appeals, which is, which is what we want. We want it to have broader applicability, but, you know, we saw the as obvious, and these are the things that we can do.
[00:14:26] We've got another case in the works, but we should be out there lobbying and really, you know, sending a message to. Congress, there's an appetite. Like I said, to get rid of arbitration or to tone it, dial it back. So that we can really get rid of this arbitration problem. That's, that's it that's allowing Amazon does it usually just walk all over us and that, and that's the biggest issue.
[00:14:51] So, you know, like, I just saw like an article, like saying that even Amazon are doing price gouging during the pandemic times and stuff like that. And, do you, do you see, like, I've always feel like, you know, whatever Amazon does, they always try to push it to the sellers. All the responsibility would go to the sellers and never them.
[00:15:15] I wrote a letter I'll, I can share it with you. I wrote a letter to the attorney generals talking exactly about that. I called and said, they keep scapegoating us, right? When the pandemic was first happening, I mean, it was Amazon that was recommending prices of, of, of mass and saying, you know, you could sell this Purell for seven bucks.
[00:15:34] We're relying on Amazon's data. They're automatic repricers, right? They're statistical data that you can get from apps like Coupa to tell us what the pricing is. So get us. And so we kind of pushed back on the attorney general said, look, this is really Amazon the other day. They told us this is what it is.
[00:15:50] And they were in the best position. You know, if, if $10 for an eight ounce bottle of Purell shipped to somebody's house is price gouging. Then really Amazon is in the best position to actually not allow that to happen as opposed to allowing it to happen. And then blaming the sellers for allowing it, even though they're sort of encouraging it and playing a major part in this.
[00:16:09] Right. And, and you know, that was the message we sent. And then we talked about this and other examples, right? Amazon, you know, their whole business model is based on scapegoating sellers, right? Everything. We can, everything that a normal retail store wouldn't do, they get away with because they blame the seller and not themselves, but the law is changing and that's, that's coming to an end, like with a product liability.
[00:16:30] So somebody gets injured on a product sold by a third party seller, right? Amazon will we say, that's not our fault. We're not a store, but under us loss stores are liable. Even if the store is technically at fault, Stuart's are liable for the damage because they're usually the easiest to have. There was a case in California right now, the court of appeals just found Amazon.
[00:16:51] Liable for injury caused by a third party product. So we're seeing the law starting to catch up with Amazon sort of racket of, okay, it's not our fault and we'll just blame somebody else. And so, you know, it allows them to sell, you know, goods that are, you know, counterfeits, for example. I mean, the biggest problem with counterfeits is that Amazon does a police it in the right way because they try to say, we're not accountable for counterfeits.
[00:17:13] Whereas traditional store like best buy or Walmart would be in their physical store and that I think is starting to change. So we're starting to see that, but you're absolutely right. That is Amazon's model is to say never our fault, always the seller's fault, but, you know, that's sort of like Napster saying it wasn't our fault that people were sharing music on our website.
[00:17:32] Right. It's not a really great defense, but it's worked for them so far, but I think the world is changing. So, maybe, we did go to talk about this topic about but we just want to really know, like what, what, what would you consider yourself the foremost expert on, regarding Amazon? Like what's the domain expertise?
[00:17:55] That's a good question. So. I think my expertise is more the external. I have a partner in my firm who handles the internal. I have a partner in my firm who, he's the Schick in my law firm. You know, he's run Raffles and Schick and, and he is a seven figure Amazon seller he's much more alive. So he's kind of very much handling the internal of how to deal with Amazon.
[00:18:16] My expertise is sort of the external, what are the external risks out there, right? Where are you going to get hurt? Where are you going to get in trouble? And then what are the external threats? So is that, you know, could be 65 violation in California could be price gouging. It could be, somebody accusing you of counterfeit and freezing your assets on Amazon and seeking to freeze your funds.
[00:18:41] It's just whatever the flavor of the day is in terms of what, what Amazon is doing. My focus is always on the external risks and, and the legal, the legality issues. Right. Yeah, other things we do, it's like, I mean, just, we try to kind of help sellers also grow up a little bit. I find that a lot of sellers start their business when they're young or, or kind of naive about business, they don't know the real, you know, you form a LLC on the internet and that's how they're going about their life.
[00:19:10] Now, all of a sudden they've got these really valuable assets. They've got valuable rental property. They've got a thriving business and, we help them kind of, okay, you've got to adapt. You can't rely on that old LLC and be protected from external threats and work that way. They don't really work. And then the other thing I've been really busy with lately is helping sellers seller businesses.
[00:19:30] We've been actively representing. Uh, this has been the busiest year by far the pandemic for us helping sellers sell their business. You know, there's just been a lot of interest in buying from companies like, you know, Tarascio and a lot of sort of competitor companies that kind of do the same thing.
[00:19:48] We've been just constantly bombarded with people who are selling their businesses and just kind of helping people understand those risks there too, and walk, working them, working them through that. So, and then, like I said, my partner, Jeff, who handles everything on the Amazon platform, so suspensions any type of Amazon suspension or freezing of assets or holding back the inventory.
[00:20:10] Jeff handles those. And we actually launched a new program called seller basics to actually streamline and help sellers handle the costs of that because we saw, you know, some, some consultants are charging you $5,000 for account suspensions, and we just thought, you know, it's really not that mess. It's really not necessary.
[00:20:28] So, we actually launched a whole new program. That's designed to give sellers access to, a lot of these, um, to get the help they need when they need it to have an opportunity to talk to a lawyer before they make big decisions or things come up and it's very cheap and affordable. It's like a $99 a month program.
[00:20:46] And one of the coolest things is if your account gets suspended after a year of membership, we don't even charge you for those suspensions anymore because we just sort of, you know, it's not insurance, but we sort of. Yeah, look at the risk profile and say, you know, we're really confident. Like we can do this efficiently.
[00:21:01] And so after a year of membership, instead of, you know, when your account gets suspended, instead of like frantically calling, you know, every account suspension person out there and trying to figure out what to do. You know, and, and sometimes in your most vulnerable state, getting, getting told you have to fork over thousands and thousands of dollars, which we saw during the price gouging.
[00:21:17] And you know, when all these people get suspended, you know, you have this program in place where we're already ready to go and we're set to go. And it's included in the membership after a year prior. So there's a really cool program. So. Yeah, that sounds pretty cool, Jeff, for sure. I know that certainly would have helped me, especially when I was a newer seller.
[00:21:37] But you, you already talked about a lot of great topics. A lot of things that I found extremely useful that I wasn't even were happening. Like I had, I, even though I was actually got some warnings price gouging on some of my actual drops shipping stores during the whole pandemic thing, I wasn't victim to getting suspended, but I did have friends who had.
[00:22:00] $60,000 plus locked up in their account as a result of some of those prices. So a lot of the things that you already touched upon kind of really hit, hit home with me. But my question to you is, although you already talked about all that great stuff, what three to five topics could you talk about at this next pandemic event that you feel would really wow people or would potentially be life changing in their business?
[00:22:26] Yeah, the issues we said, and again, we're not a, you know, we're a law firm, so we're not, you know, we're not as strategic in the sense of, we're not going to tell you how to be, make more money on Amazon. Right. We're we're trying to teach you how to protect yourself, right? When you have, when you get to a point when you're a big boy seller or a big girl seller, right.
[00:22:44] It's a very different way of running your business. And we see that that's the biggest failure. So what we try to teach people to do is how to be proactive in protecting your business. Right? So what are some asset protection strategies? What are some ways to protect yourself from the external threats that are out there now.
[00:23:02] And that's always changing. Like, what I might be talking about today is not necessarily what I might be talking about by the time the event comes up, because there could be the new issue, right? Like price gouging was not something we ever talked about until March of 20, 2020. And then, you know, here we are going to court and winning cases and, you know, fighting off government ag.
[00:23:21] So. You know, our goal is to sort of teach people how to think about your business on Amazon, how to protect yourself, how to structure yourself, advantages, how to prepare for selling your business. I mean, we can talk about, you know, all the things that. That I think people are looking for, right?
[00:23:40] I mean, it's like, you want to make sure your assets are protected, make sure that your, you know, people are going to go after your house. If something goes wrong on Amazon, we're seeing an uptake in indemnification issues with Amazon people getting told that they owe money because, or the Mayo money, because Amazon is getting sued related to a product that they sold.
[00:23:57] Even an arbitrage we've seen this, how to prevent California from coming after you for government, for the environmental violations, how to make sure your product complies with US law, patent infringement, trademark infringement. I mean, it's stuff it's kinda, it's kind of, it's not sexy. It's not, it's not the most fun.
[00:24:17] It's not going to make you money, but the idea is work and prevent you from losing money. Right. That's our goal. So our goal is like, you're a serious seller now, how should you be structured? Right. You know, should you have a foreign entity? You know, sometimes it's, I tell people like it's sad, but sometimes, you know, maybe you should consider having a foreign entity in the mix in order to prevent being, you know, government scrutiny, even though if you're here in the U S you know, there's ways you can structure yourself.
[00:24:42] To do that, or just, how should you be structured for US purposes, you know, to protect yourself from those liabilities. What's the latest on trademark and counterfeit infringement tactics on Amazon what's going on and, you know, you know, just sort of strange legal issues that pop up. So whatever the flavor of the day is.
[00:25:05] And then obviously, like I said, I think, I think what most sellers want to hear from me lately is, is really discussion about how to sell out, like how to sell your business. Like what's, what does the exit look like for those who haven't been through the process. Right. You know, that's what they're in this war, right.
[00:25:19] They want to, and then what do you do when you exit, you know, what are the tax implications? What are some of the tax strategies? What should you consider? You know, so I think. You know, like I said, it's not going to be the most interesting, you know, that's always the case lawyers, like we're, we're just, I'm not here to tell you, like, what's what, what's the, what's the way you're going to make your next million.
[00:25:39] We're just going to tell ya, you know, here are the things you should do and should not do to protect yourself if you're a serious seller. Right? Like, I mean, it's just, and I think that that is the problem, you know, it's just, people don't really take this stuff seriously, which is fine. If you're, If you're, if you're just starting out, you're making $20,000 a year in sales and Amazon, you're not going to go and do some of the stuff we're talking about, but you know, if you're making five yeah.
[00:26:04] Million dollars a year selling hoverboards, like there's a lot of stuff you need to do. And I don't think our clients and our potential clients in the community larger really understands that the asset protection problem where they're putting everything at risk and the ways that they can mitigate that risk.
[00:26:20] So I'd probably say that's probably that along with you know, the exit strategy, you know, what is an exit like these days from a legal perspective, what do you have to worry about? You know, can they call back what they pay you? Right. What risks do you take? Right. Those are the topics I think that we probably offer.
[00:26:36] And then I would defer to my partner, Jeff, and I would invite you to reach out to my partner, Jeff, and have a conversation with him and have him talk to you about the latest going, you know, so like I said, he handles the internal dealing with Amazon. And then finally I would say, you know, I just really want to get
[00:26:52] a group of serious sellers together to really amplify the online merchant scale of effort to really put the money down. I don't take a dime from anything. I'm an emergency room. I like these issues. These are state of the art issues. I have no problem volunteering my time. I have a law practice and it's going great.
[00:27:06] We're happy. I don't, I'm happy to take on these global Amazon problem issues for the community. I, you know, I absolutely love them. I'm a law professor too. I'm a law professor. I'm a professor too. I'm a law professor. I did .These cases are absolutely state of the art. But we do need to raise money. And I think that is so important.
[00:27:26] I really want to get a group of sellers on the board of online merchants who really take this seriously and really understand the value of putting, putting a lot, being present in Congress that represents our interests and only our interest. Right. And I, I, you know, a good lobbying presence might be $20,000 a month, which is not a lot of money.
[00:27:46] Right. But it's hard to get the right sellers in the mindset that we need to do this. Get the law change, right? Let's get this arbitration provision gone, right? Let's get this arbitration taken out. Let's get a seller's bill of rights in Congress, right. Something that we started in California and we're successful, but let's make a better version.
[00:28:04] And e-commerce seller is bill of rights. There's appetite for this, you know, they're all scrutinizing Jeff Bezos and Amazon over their treatment of sellers. The whole world is we are in the best position right now to strike. But we need to build a professional auditing presence. And in order to do that, we need some serious sellers to back that and, and understand why we need to do that.
[00:28:25] Yeah. I, I do agree. We. You have to stand up for, you know, protect ourselves against Amazon. If we're like just one person or a set of, you know, a couple people Amazon can just crush you out of trying to like, bully you guys. But if we are all together, we would be able to, you know, unite and have more of a word and it's a lot more powerful.
[00:28:48] You were just talking about like hoverboards. I think I talked to you about the last, the, I also did hover boards back in 2015, 2016 that I actually went to, well, we went, we were, we did that ITC thing to battle. So, it was our, me and like we were talking about like Alibaba anyway.
[00:29:12] We got like all these big time Seller Plaza. We're all fighting against ITC and trying to keep on selling our products as well as some unfairness where they're just trying to bully people are bullying you through laws and courts and stuff so that you would back off from selling things so that they can actually be making profit off of that.
[00:29:37] Even though if they're not correct, correctly, it's not there, they're like laws or it's not their licenses or whatnot. So, ICC is, by the way, is it's something that I, I'm not one thing that many people and understand what ICC is and like, kind of, it's sort of like the cheapest and fastest way to get people from, block people from selling your products in the U S right.
[00:30:03] It's so it's a way you can, you know, someone's violating your patent or your trademark. Rather than going to court and having a formal court and going through a multiyear process, you can go through ITC and get a very similar ruling. You can't get damages, right. MITC, but you can basically block them from bringing you can block the product from being important.
[00:30:20] And that's the key. And so your product is now kept out. So, I think it's a matter of time where we start seeing more ITC cases, more companies starting to leverage ITC to protect their IP or fall asleep. Claim that they have IP rights that they really don't because yeah like, like a lot of sellers now need to know the rights.
[00:30:39] That's why I have you on actually. So people are actually doing these ITC claims saying that, Hey, this is my license and stuff. So if you want to go to court, then you then to just be able to sell this item, then do so, but I'm not gonna let you import anymore. You know, unless you go through ITC with me.
[00:30:57] So that's one of the things that people are blocking other people from importing goods to be able to sell on Amazon as well as there's a lot of fake, fake, IP claims on sellers. So we kind of know we're inundated with those inundated with us all day long and you of know how to protect yourself what to go through because you're going to be sitting around and being like don't know what to do.
[00:31:25] And then, Oh, I got, I got an IP claim on me and it's on there. Oh, I'm ignoring it. Yes. But then they later on to get more and more of it, you get your account suspended because of IP. Yeah. So what we have is some funny things are selling our baby, not even a dollar a month platform. One of the things we recognize a lot of our arbitrage sellers, especially get these fake IP claims.
[00:31:45] Like they get inundated because these brands are trying to say, you can't sell our products even though it's legal, it's legit. You know, I bought it at Walmart, I'm selling it on and you know, come be like, you know, the North face, they'll say, Oh, you can't sell this even though it's legitimate. And you know, I'm not saying the North face will do this, but some companies will file false counterfeit.
[00:32:05] False, infringement. And we actually, our service, it's $149 per complaint, not for ASIN, but for, you know, complaint ID on Amazon. And we will go after the brand. We will, we will seek her attraction using our sort of law firm approach to advocating for our clients. And if we can't get that, we'll go to Amazon.
[00:32:25] We'll do everything we can to get retractionsfor you. And it's a flat $149. See, and it speaks to the technology, you know, just used to be a very expensive proposition. We've made this efficient. So again, it's one of the seller basics. It's become such a problem. And we realized like we can't charge people.
[00:32:40] Much more than that for every IP complaint, because like an arbitrary seller, if they had to spend a thousand or $2,000 or some, some of these consultants charge for, you know, addressing them in the long argument, the lawyers are trying to, you know, challenge, you know, in house, lawyer, outside lawyers position. They would ever afford it.
[00:33:00] So we've created this very affordable version of how to address IP complaints, because your rights you've left unchecked, they can result in a suspension, which is what you don't want. So we do, we, we, we have my partner, Jeff leaves that practice. We actively go after brands. One of the things we see the most that's so noxious is when somebody claims.
[00:33:19] Counterfeit because they're selling an inauthentic, not in authentic in the sense of not real, like, I'm sorry. I shouldn't say not that they unauthorized, excuse me. I mixed my words. They sell you an unauthorized version of the product, which. It's not counterfeit. Right? I mean, just because I bought the product at Walmart and I'm reselling it.
[00:33:36] And then, so I'm not an authorized dealer. Doesn't mean it's counterfeit. So there they're already claiming basically they're already accusing me of crime so that, so we have ways to push back, alleging that the companies, when they file false counterfeit, have committed torturous interference that they've committed why I will per se, because they literally told Amazon I'm committing a crime.
[00:33:56] Like you're saying, I'm basically in these things in my basement, that's saying I'm a criminal. So there are ways to push back on those things. And we've actually really done a great job. I'm really proud of what we've done for solid basics to really streamline that so that sellers can get some help, but the bigger picture needs to be addressed.
[00:34:12] Like how this, there's still questions in the law that need to be addressed the first sale doctrine versus the right to quality control and all those things. And then obviously, like you said, just people using when it's not products that are arbitrage or wholesale, there's the, just the question of people trying to use those types of complaints that knock you off, even though they don't have a basis for like falsely claiming trademark or patent infringement or the stuff that you're really talking about.
[00:34:40] Hopefully you're, there's some really good stuff that, uh, that you can, uh, talk to her for during the. Mastermind on that. But, um, I just want to also, uh, since those are some of the problems you see right now, is there any other problems that you see that very unique? That is a coming up right now? Today's besides the stuff that you just said, talk about.
[00:35:00] I'm thinking I'm going to defer what I would suggest. I would suggest you invited by partner Jeff on two and have him talk because he does, he handles the internal Amazon. So he's got his finger on the pulse of like, what are they dealing with on Amazon? But I mean, for what I'm seeing right now, it's mostly, we're just seeing more obscure ways of, like, we're seeing a couple of things.
[00:35:24] Like I'm seeing a lot of indemnity issues, like am, like I said, Amazon coming after sellers for indemnity. So like, meaning somebody suing Amazon because does the product hurt them or threatening to sue, Amazon reaches out, wants to know that they're going to pay the court BSA. They want Amazon. Yeah. They want to make sure that you're responsible.
[00:35:40] So they want to know that you have insurance and they want to know that you have this and that you're responsible for whatever damages Amazon could be potentially held to. We're seeing more and more of these, I'm seeing them quirky claims and seeing competitors, competitors using more deceptive practices, act claims, trying to like say your product is, you know, your, your descriptions are, are misleading or, you know, you're, you're, you know, you're saying this is, you know, You know, a heavier version of that, but is it real, you know, there's a lot of like competitors using it, right.
[00:36:17] We call it Southern practicing, basically like saying false advertising that, you know, things you're saying in your listing, aren't entirely true, which. Isn't really that, that big a deal, except we're starting to see it more nitpicky in a way that, like, it almost seems ridiculous. And then I'll still send Amazon some letter saying, you know, this is a violation of the separate practices act or something and raises all sorts of issues.
[00:36:37] So we're seeing like, you know, things that like, like it's one thing if you're selling, like if you say selling, you know, 200 milligrams of vitamin. A, and, and really it's a hundred milligrams. Like that's, that's obvious. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about really nitpicky kind of questionable, uh, claims by competitors or just trying to get people knocked off.
[00:36:58] It's just, it's still very threatening out there. You know, I'm trying to think what else is going on. I mean, it's just more and more patent and trademark disputes and we're seeing, like I said, people getting their, People are getting their, their funds seized based on, you know, trademark getting court orders and default judgments against people.
[00:37:21] And, and trying to this is happening more of their foreign sellers, clients, you know, people in other countries who really can't respond to a court complaint, and then, you know, basically getting their assets seized. So whatever Amazon has on account, you know, whatever's, whatever ambulance holding Amazon will, they'll freeze those assets and eventually take them as, as, as sort of damages.
[00:37:43] But Liz, so is there a way that we can have like two people on the stream yard, at the same time during the event? Yeah. We'll, we'll have a, we can have them re prerecord that way. There's no interference with the in case the internet goes down or something like that. That's very possible. Okay.
[00:38:02] Well, actually, if you can have them come on that would be great because then we can have both sides of the, of the spectrum so that our members will go and ask as much questions and that they'll have all the, uh, the answers from you guys on that. Yeah. Where I have, where I can have Jeff be with me in the room.
[00:38:24] Like I can have him. He's in blatant. He's not far from you, Liz, if you ever want to meet with them, I'm sure you'd love to. He's a very, he's a social diet, you know, we, um, do you know Carlos? Not in Miami. I I've heard of Carlos, but I've never had the chance of meeting him. You should. Well, I guess, I don't know.
[00:38:40] There aren't beat up to the great guys. I used to run a meetup right into owl. I'm not too far from you. So, but what I was gonna say is, yeah, we can either be in the same room and just be on camera or however you want to do it. But I think. I think he would offer a lot of that insight and, and certainly whatever we talk about today that may not be the, like I said, Amazon's always changing.
[00:39:00] So whatever the flavor is by November could be totally different. So, you know, we're going to have, whatever's the latest at that time, you know, of course the most egregious things we're seeing. Do you, I want to ask a little more, one of the questions I have are, do you see any big opportunities right now in 2020 for Amazon sellers?
[00:39:22] I mean, I think right now God e-commerce is just insanely hot right now. So, I mean, I do think there's an opportunity to sell your business and the opportunity to grow your brands and there's considerations there, but my God institutes, so money is being poured in. So these funds like Thrasher is obviously the biggest, but there's a lot of like thoracic.
[00:39:43] Type companies out there that you've never heard of that are just dying to buy brands up right now, because Colbert has just created this notion that, you know, uh, there's unlimited upside potential in e-commerce. So, you know, it tells you a couple of things. One, the brand may be more valuable than you think it is.
[00:40:01] So, you know, if you can get the capital to invest in, growing it, because that's what these companies are gonna do, right? They're going to buy your company at three to three and a half earnings, you know, and, and then they're going to invest a ton of money into a ton of PPC and, and, uh, scale up your inventory.
[00:40:19] And they're going to sell a crazy now, obviously there's economies of scale when you're a large company running multiple brands under an umbrella, but it just tells you, I mean, that's a huge opportunity right now. So, you know, expanding your, your product offerings more SKUs is, is good. Um, It just seems like there's opportunity if you, if you're good at launching, I do think that one of the issues you guys mentioned at the beginning about like chatbots, that is a big problem right now.
[00:40:46] Like I've spoken to the FTC on that issue, right? This whole incentivize review problem is real like their government. The reason why Amazon is so harsh on us right now is because the government is pushing them. Right. The government is saying to them, You're allowing this to happen on your site. You got to do something about it.
[00:41:01] So how, how we launch products? It's going to be interesting in the future. I don't know how it's going to work. You know, it's going to be harder. I out of a feeling, but I don't, I do have something to say, like, I think there was something that read, okay. Guarding, incentivize reviews is you shouldn't be able to be, able to do the review side, but a lot of people was doing the rating side now, cause now we can do rate rating, right?
[00:41:28] Without putting any context and text in there and stuff, the rating will increase the review. Count a lot. So. What do you think about? Yeah. I want you do wonder where the government is going on this, because I also think there's a question about like, The way, the chatbots work, where they want you to organically search in the search bar.
[00:41:48] So as to increase the products placement in the search results and, and, and, and its velocity, organic velocity, I think the government is starting to wise up to that being an issue. So you know how they're going to tackle it. It's I don't know, but I think they're, they're looking to Amazon more and more about.
[00:42:09] You know, how people watch and I do worry about that. Like, I really think that there's a problem because at the end the same time, it's like, how do you launch? I mean, it's a sea of, it's a sea of so much nonsense on Amazon. How do you get your good product out there? You know? It's like, how do you do it?
[00:42:24] It's it's not easy. And, and, and, you know, it's sort of the opposite problem. Whereas when, you know, in the old days where you would pitch them Walmart, and if you're lucky enough to get picked, you'd be in a Walmart shelf. And so there was visibility to all their customers here. The problem is you've got the store of unlimited shelf space where anybody can live.
[00:42:41] So it's how do you, how do you stick out? Right? You're allowed in the store, but how do you stick out? I think that's going to be a big challenge forward and I'm not sure where the government is going on. Not sure where Amazon is going but I think that there's there's issues that are raised in this whole incentivized world and chatbot world that we have to be.
[00:43:01] We have to keep a close eye on. And again, if, if, if we don't like the way this is working, this is another example of where we, as a collection of sellers, if we have the lobbying voice, if we have, you know, we have the right people who were every day knocking on Congress, people's door in Washington, pushing our agenda, pushing what we want to say.
[00:43:22] We can shift it, we can change it and say, Hey, what? We need the ability to be able to make our product. We need the ability to. You know, we're not saying manipulate reviews, obviously that's, that's not what we're trying to do, but we need the ability to watch. Right. And we need to know how we can do this.
[00:43:35] We want clarity, right? We want to know what is it we're allowed to do. And there has to be some way for us to do this. There has to be some way for us to, you know, organically, but, you know, incentivize people well, to at least participate in the program, right. Participate in the checking out of our products, reviewing it, getting the word out.
[00:43:52] How do we do this? You know, uh, it's one of those issues that we could be tackling. So. Right. Absolutely. I just want to point out there was, it was actually some brilliant speeches given at the last event that kind of showed the next generation of. Reviews and launches and stuff like that. And none of them had to deal with chatbots.
[00:44:09] I was blown away by that. So I look forward to some of the geniuses that are going to be speaking to the next event and the things and strategies that they come up with to combat again, the whole giveaway thing, and what's going to happen. But in the future now I know we've covered a ton of Paul, but any last words from you or anything that we kind of left uncovered that you'd like to say before, we actually call it a day here.
[00:44:33] No. I mean, I, like I said, I can, I can go on forever about anything and then just about anything at all. I just, I think it's, I like what you're doing. I think, I think it's, you have an important audience and I think, you know, so much of your time is going to be spent teaching them how to grow and get big.
[00:44:52] I just think, you know, what our role is and what we want to do is we're trying to keep them safe. Right. We're trying to keep them out of trouble. But not until a way where again, it's not in a way where you're, you're, you're unable to do business because we recognize you guys have to make money. You have to do things, but there are certain things you can do that just, you know, you got to this point in life, now you got to sort of protect yourself, right.
[00:45:15] You've got to do the right things and just, you know, which, which is again, being in the now. So it's, it's, it's having the knowledge that you need to know being, you know, understanding the risks and exposure, taking the appropriate action. And then finally, like I said, again, working together, we've got to understand that there's this, we have to support this effort to work together on those certain issues that we all have an interest in.
[00:45:36] So, that, that's, that's the key. So I don't, you know, I think that's just the important message that we want to get out there. You know, it's, it's, it's just now is the time it's a very exciting time. So I'm just really excited about that message. I want to see more sellers working together and banding together and, um, you know, part of my margin, you know, we're looking for that leadership.
[00:45:59] We're open to the leadership. We have a board, you want more people on the board. We want more people to serve, to be leaders or, and, and help drop it. You know, where does, where do we, what issues do we take on as an organization? And how do we do that? And, uh, so, you know, it's, it's really an open invitation to everyone to, to get involved and the effort to make the overall marketplace better for everybody.
[00:46:22] Absolutely and great stuff. Like I said, Paul, amazing information that you gave. I was frantically taking notes. I know I even took notes on a couple of bots where Howie was kind of like, I hope you talk about this, so I will have to remind him about that. But as a people, well, I've become aware. We are going to be having our second ever online Professor's Pandemic event going to be the 9th and 10th of November.
[00:46:44] Again, you can attend live, virtually. Like I tell everybody it doesn't matter what you have on underneath. You can be in your underwear. You can be in all sorts of whatever you want, your lawn survey. If you want to, as long as you can, are fully clothed. It's usually every internet marketers dream, right, to be able to work in their underwear at their computer.
[00:47:04] We don't need to know, you can keep that a secret, but the real secrets will be flowing out of the actual speakers that are going to be talking at that event. As I said before, on the previous one, I learned all sorts of incredible techniques, like how to rank without chatbots, how to rank brilliantly a $50 million seller actually revealed this by the name of Travis Killian.
[00:47:24] Who will be on again, he's got an Encore. People wanted him on again, so you will get to hear his latest and his most brightest ideas. And you will also get to hear the man, the myth, the legend, how we, how we, how excited are you about this event before I give people the URL here, tell me on a scale of one to 10, how pumped you are and how you've been behind the scenes, working on what you're going to speak about.
[00:47:46] It's still under wraps, but we will reveal it very soon. How pumped are you Howie? So, yeah, I'm very excited. I always want to make it on all my events, the people that come in to get a lot of value. What's the point if you're like coming to an event and, or like listening to people would say, and if you can't take away from it.
[00:48:07] So we want to make sure that, like Paul and his partner and other people are on the, the speaker list that they will give us as a our, our people, our members, a lot of value. So, the last time, and we had like really crazy stuff, like what to do, how do we refresh your, your, honeymoon period? All these three, three things that, what to do with your listing is, is down, all these I think it was like bad keywords to not put on your listing, the whole set.
[00:48:39] And I think it was like given out to like, to our members too. Well, there was like so many, so many good stuff. I think there was like a somebody, URL, special URLs that Anthony was talking about. And, yeah. Like I talked about a lot of how do you rank without too giveaways? So, you know, things like that, like this, this time around, we're going to try to make it even more valuable and more, more informational.
[00:49:06] So, that's, that's what I would say that, I can think of right now, would you say, yeah. And you know, I want to say this much, how you were wrong about one thing. It was how to put bad keywords in your listing and revealed how to actually put whatever keyword you want in the back end of your listing and get away with it.
[00:49:27] So it's brilliant little hacks like that, that might not work for an extended period of time, but there were also several brilliant strategies that have worked and stood through the test of time on Amazon. And as Paul mentioned, things are constantly changing on Amazon. So I really look forward to what Paul and Jeff will do.
[00:49:43] I'll be speaking about at that event and in order to sign up and find out more information about that event, go to howardthai.com/ppe2. And that's because it's the second ever online pandemic events. So I'm fired up for those of you that did not get that URL again. It's howardthai.com/PPE2.
[00:50:02] that's just the number two, not spelled out, but just two. And that's pretty much a wrap for this one. I know we covered a ton of information. I know if you were like me, we're taking notes fast and furious. And other than that, Howie, how excited are you for the second season of the podcasts? And for that, we'll let everybody get to breakfast, lunch, dinner, wherever you are in the world.
[00:50:25] I I'm I'm, like I said, wholly excited to have the next event. I know I, I kinda stopped the podcast a little bit, for like a break and then bringing it back out right now for this coming event, but we'll try to make it, you know, continuously and make sure that we give as much value as awesome well to our audience as, um, as well.
[00:50:47] Really, oh yeah, well, there's, we're going to give you a glimpse that like there's, on the next speaker, one of the speakers actually Dirk, a three person team that makes [00:51:00] $35 million in sales. So 3% team. Yeah, that's amazing. And I personally know them, they've attended an actual event, so I'm psyched for that.
[00:51:09] But, other than that, thank you so much Paul, thank you Jeff, for us, for being here in spirit, we knew that his knowledge and information is somewhat passed on through you as well as your incredible knowledge and information and area of expertise and how we thank you for hosting this actual podcast. Finally let me leave off with the URL again.
[00:51:29] It's howardthai.com/ppe2. And that's a wrap. I look forward to see you guys on the next podcast and for this season. So without further ado, let's let you, you to get onto breakfast, lunch, and or dinner or drinks, or if you're like me living in Miami, you might be having drinks for breakfast.
[00:51:48] So signing off here, I'll see you guys very soon. Take care. Thank you. Take care. Welcome to the Professor’s Podcast, where we discuss the best strategies to massively improve the reach and bottom line of your business in the current virtual and economic landscape. Your host Howard Thai generates over $5 billion for his clients annually.
[00:52:10] Using innovative tactics, both on and off Amazon.