If you are a self-published author, you may have recently received an email from amazon fining you for a shipment of books. Amazon refers to it as a “chargeback” but it amounts to a fine if your order was not fulfilled exactly as they want it to be.


Typical charges include:


Not acknowledging an order promptly. Amazon requires all vendors to acknowledge an order within 12 hours, and Saturdays and Sundays count as regular business days.


Shipping non-compliance. In the order request, amazon will provide a start and end ship date. If you ship prior to the start date or after the end date, you can be fined.


Unit discrepancies. If the number of books you shipped does not match the number ordered (either more or less than), you can be fined.


Bagging/Taping/Boxing issues. If your bag or box is inappropriate for the shipment, they may fine you. This includes not using enough tape to secure it properly, or even too much tape, which slows down the warehouse personnel. It can also include merchandise that is not secured properly and is damaged upon delivery due to internal shifting.


ASN issues. ASN stands for Advance Shipment Notification, and it means that not only do you have to acknowledge that you’ve received the order and agree to ship it within the specified window, but you must also provide a tracking number once it has shipped. They want vendors to provide the number the day it ships, so failure to do so promptly—or at all—will result in a fine.


Missing labels. When you receive an order, you have the ability to print out the shipping label and the packing slip. If the shipping label is missing or damaged or if the packing slip is not located within the box or bag, you can be fined.


Unfilled order. If the books do not ship within the specified window, amazon could receive the order after the cancel date. If this occurs, you risk getting the shipment returned plus a fine. And if you ignore the order and don’t ship it at all–or it is lost–they may also fine you.


The fines—or chargebacks as amazon refers to them—are deducted from the money owed to you for book sales. This means that non-compliance for any of these issues can easily leave you with little or no profit. For more information, logon to your amazon vendor account and look for “Operational Performance” under Reports or the Help menu.


The fines are levied because amazon is constantly improving their supply chain management (SCM) to make it more efficient—even if it means the author or publisher is performing additional steps.