The Stuff Amazon Won’t Sell

By: George Hancock Jr.  |  June 25, 2015

It’s now widely known that Amazon and Ebay won’t sell you confederate flags. Amazon decided the flag is too offensive. Nazi flags and symbols such as the Swastika and the “SS” logo are banned for the same reason. On the other hand, some items are banned for obscure reasons.

If you end up selling a prohibited Amazon item, intentionally or not, Amazon’s policies give it the power to suspend or terminate your selling privileges and destroy inventory in its fulfillment centers. That’s right, they will burn your goods! (maybe) In addition, if Amazon determines that a seller’s account has been used to engage in illegal activity, remittances and payments may be withheld or forfeited.

Though Amazon’s enforcement policies are strict and resolute, it’s not always easy to determine if an item is prohibited or not. On the restricted products page under “related topics,” there are 31 categories of goods, including “other.” Click on one and you’ll see “examples of permitted products” and “examples of Prohibited Products” in that category. There is one broad category named “Offensive Products,” where you’ll find no “examples of permitted products.” That’s the category in which the Confederate Flag falls.

Most of the prohibited products should be prohibited. Some of them shouldn’t even exist. For example, certain types of “incense” that are sometimes used for smoking by less-than-cautious folks out there. Yes, some people smoke incense containing unknown chemicals to get high. That stuff is banned on Amazon, rightly. Interestingly, you can buy at least one of those incenses on Alibaba. Jack Ma, really?

Sometimes it’s unclear why things are prohibited. Some specific brands of nuts that contain crystallized ginger are prohibited in the grocery category. After a quick Google search, I was not able to find any information about why they were banned. That could be troublesome for sellers who are not vigilant enough. There are also many types of artwork that sellers cannot list on Amazon. Clearly listed at the top of the list are “three dimensional artwork, such as sculptures” and “textile or anthropological or archaeological-based art (for example, Navajo blankets or Arts and Crafts textiles).” To a nonexpert, those things appear to be harmless. Nonetheless, they are banned.

I think we’ve all learned that there is a wide range of opinions on what should be banned and what shouldn’t, in a general sense. America is a country where freedoms are not taken for granted, but Amazon has freedoms, too. Regardless of your reason for obtaining a Confederate flag, you’ll have to obtain it without Amazon’s help.

 

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