Merchant Service Horror: Amazon Pay and the Disappearing $2300

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Merchant Service Horror: Amazon Pay and the Disappearing $2300

This is a horror story of a small e-commerce merchant who signed up for Amazon Pay: a payment processing service similar to PayPal that leverages customers’ existing Amazon accounts. It all seemed so promising. Amazon Pay would provide an easier checkout experience for my customers, with the shipping address and payment details already filled, and I’d save a small amount in transaction fees. What could go wrong? But six weeks later, Amazon has $2300 of my money with no way for me to access it, and their support has been worthless. I can only hope that a public shaming article will spur somebody at Amazon to take notice and intervene, otherwise that money is probably just gone.

I created the Amazon Pay account on November 29, and configured my business bank account info so I could receive electronic disbursements. This is a normal business checking account at a normal US bank, using US dollars, and that works fine with other payment processors like PayPal and Shopify Payments. I entered the bank’s ACH routing number and my account number, which ends with the digits 622. Soon I was able to receive payments in my store using Amazon Pay, and everything seemed good.

The problem started on December 8, when Amazon Pay attempted the first disbursement to my bank account. I received a failure notification by email:

“Your most recent transfer of funds in the amount of $XXX was not successfully deposited into your bank account on file (ending in 622). The funds were returned to us, and we have removed the current bank account information from your account.”

Amazon Pay’s merchant support was unable to explain what went wrong. They sent me some generic troubleshooting info that looked like it was written by a bot. It’s not clear why they couldn’t provide any specific details about why this transfer failed. The generic info suggested the routing or bank account numbers might be wrong, so I re-entered the numbers again, being extra careful to get them correct. Then I waited a week… and the exact same thing happened. This same dance played out five more times on December 16, 17, 18, 20, and 21. Each time Amazon Pay attempted a disbursement to my bank, then a few days later I got the same email saying the money wasn’t successfully deposited to my bank account ending in 622, and “we have removed the current bank account information from your account.”

On December 23 I contacted my bank and gave them the trace IDs for all the failed transfers. My bank determined that the account number was wrong on every transfer. All the failed ACH transfers used an account number ending in 62 instead of 622: the last digit of the account number was missing!

Armed with this information, I returned to Amazon Pay merchant support, and here’s where I really started to get frustrated. I discovered that my original support case had been unilaterally closed without resolution, because five days had passed since the last reply, and apparently that’s their support policy. It’s not possible to reopen or reply to a closed case, so I had to create a new case and explain the issue all over again. This did not go well. Imagine this support exchange happening slowly by email over a series of two days:

Me (paraphrasing): I’m still having trouble with disbursements. You closed my last case number XXXX about this issue, so I had to create this new case. My bank says the last digit of the bank account number is missing on all the ACH transfers from Amazon Pay, but the bank account number is correct in my Amazon Pay settings.

Amazon Pay: To receive disbursements, you need to set up your bank account info in your Amazon Pay settings. You do not have a bank account configured in your settings.

Me: Please see attached screenshot showing my bank account info is already set up correctly. I have already done this several times, but every time there’s a failed disbursement attempt, Amazon Pay removes my bank account information. The fundamental problem is that the last digit of the bank account number is missing in all of Amazon’s ACH transfers. Please look at the ACH transfers yourself to confirm.

Amazon Pay: To receive disbursements, you need to set up your bank account info in your Amazon Pay settings. You do not have a bank account configured in your settings. The screenshot you sent doesn’t show what account it’s associated with so we can’t tell anything from that.

Me: The bank account info has already been entered. I’ve attached a full-page screenshot showing this. The deposit method isn’t assigned, because every time there’s a failed disbursement attempt, Amazon Pay removes my bank account information. Please respond to the fundamental issue of the missing digit in the ACH transfers. Here are all the trace IDs again. You can verify them yourself.

Amazon Pay: Your bank account may not be compatible with our system. Your account needs to be ACH-ready. Please contact your bank.

Me: Yes it’s ACH-ready, it’s a standard business checking account at a USA bank, and I’m already receiving ACH transfers there from PayPal and Shopify. I mentioned all this already in the first case that I opened, that Amazon Pay closed without resolution. You still have not addressed or even mentioned the fundamental problem that I’ve asked about four times now, the missing digit in the ACH transfers. Kindly investigate why this digit is missing in all the ACH transfers from Amazon Pay.

Amazon Pay: I understand that you are having problems with your bank account. Thank you for your continued patience. At this time I am working with our internal team to reach a resolution on your case.

(five days later) Me: Has there been any progress on this? I’m still unable to access the funds in my Amazon Pay account.

Amazon Pay: I understand that you are having problems with your bank account. Thank you for your continued patience. At this time I am working with our internal team to reach a resolution on your case.

(five days later): Case closed with no further response from Amazon. Can’t reopen or reply.

Now I was really upset. Since I couldn’t reopen the old cases, I opened a third case to explain the issue with failed disbursements and the missing account number digit, all over again.

Amazon Pay: To receive disbursements, you need to set up your bank account info in your Amazon Pay settings. You do not have a bank account configured in your settings.

Me: Oh my God not again.

I was able to reach a phone support agent, and told him I just wanted to close my Amazon Pay account and get a final payout by paper check, since they seem unable to resolve the problem with electronic transfers to my bank. I was told they can’t do it. Basically the options were 1) electronic transfer to bank, or 2) electronic transfer to bank.

I asked the phone agent to review the previous case, and see what information the “internal team” had found before that case was closed. There was none. All the discussion from the previous case was essentially gone and worthless.

So I went through all the same conversation again with the phone agent, arguing about why my bank account info wasn’t set up in my Amazon Pay settings. I gamely played along while he had me delete my browser cookies and other irrelevant troubleshooting. Since closing the account didn’t appear to be a viable option, I tried once again to delete and re-enter all my bank account info. The phone agent insisted that everything would be OK now that I’d entered my bank account info, and I would receive a disbursement within the next few days. He didn’t seem to understand or care that I’d already been through this same loop several times before without success. Skeptical, I thanked him and hung up. I then received a follow-up email:

Amazon Pay: I understand that you would like to know how you can see the transaction and how disbursements work for the Amazon Pay platform. If you want to find your transactions coming from Amazon Pay just remember to switch from “Amazon.com” to “Amazon Pay (Production View)”. You would be able to see that next to your Seller name and the USA flag where there is a scroll down. etc…

What the actual fuck?! What is this and how is it relevant in any way? Is Amazon Pay’s merchant support even staffed by human beings, or is it all just chatbots and GPT-3-driven natural language text generation? Amazon needs to understand that merchants have many choices for payment processing, including PayPal and traditional credit card processors, who have professional support staffs to respond to account problems in a timely and constructive way. Many people complain about PayPal, but at least PayPal’s support team responds to me with useful and relevant information that answers my questions. After a month of trying, I’ve failed to get anyone at Amazon Pay to even acknowledge my problem with the missing account number digit, let alone give me any constructive help. Their merchant support seems designed to frustrate merchants into simply giving up and going away. I’ve lost $2300 thanks to Amazon Pay, with no further options for resolution. Meanwhile Amazon Pay has been removed from my store, and I will not be reactivating it. Good riddance.

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2 thoughts on “Merchant Service Horror: Amazon Pay and the Disappearing $2300

  1. Aditya avatar

    Wow!

    You are prohibited from making any statement about the service without Amazon's permission.

    "You must not issue any press release or make any public statement related to the Service, or except as expressly provided in this Agreement, use our or any of our Affiliates' names or Trademarks in any way without our prior written permission…."

    Disputes have to be settled in arbitration. Paragraph 11.3

    No liability for any "delays" in performance (which this might end up being)

    And lots more!

  2. Aditya avatar

    Small claims court all the way. The demand letter alone should get their attention. Takes a few hours of your time – no lawyers needed.

    Also contact any attorney general office in your state. Amazon pay is licensed as a money transmitter. Threaten their license to perform their business and they’ll start paying attention.

    There’s a phone number on this page: https://pay.amazon.com/help/82972 of 866-216-1075 along with their license number and appropriate licensing agency for each state. My experience with obscure state licensing agencies is that they are looking for something to do – you bring them a slam dunk case and they will be happy to help and go to bat for you.

    Edit- Amazon pay actually links to each state’s agency website here: https://pay.amazon.com/help/201310940

    If OP is out there I’ll be happy to help.