In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – David Miller – founding attorney of David Allen Miller – talks about how Amazon sellers can make sure to stay legally compliant and also more information about his life’s journey. #davidmiller #ecomlawyer
About David Miller of David Allen Miller law offices –
David Miller is an attorney licensed in New York and is highly experienced in helping Amazon and other e-commerce sellers with listing/account suspensions, intellectual property complaints, brand protection, and various business law issues including contract drafting, negotiations, and disputes. David has resolved hundreds of Amazon-related disputes and is able to provide strategic advice to protect businesses from the many challenges online business owners face.
Find the Full Episode Below
Yoni Mazor 0:05
Everybody welcome to another episode of prime talk today I’m having a really special guest. I’m having David Miller. David is the founder of Attorney at Law at the law office of David Allen Miller.
Yoni Mazor 0:17
The Law Office focuses on E-commerce, you know, sellers and Amazon sellers. They represent sellers, you know, with their all their legal challenges, you know, in the marketplace, it could be, you know, dispute suspensions, and, you know, other things that can happen. He’s going to we’re going to David’s going to share more about it during the episode. But in the meantime, David, welcome to the show.
David Miller 0:37
Thank you, Jonnie. Thanks so much for having me.
Yoni Mazor 0:39
Our pleasure. So today’s episode is going to focus all on you is going to be the story of David Miller, you’re going to share with us everything. You know, who are you? Where are you from? Where were you born? Where did you grow up, as you begin your professional career, and station to station until we’re here, we’re here today, especially with the world of E-commerce and all the legal issues going on over there? So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
David Miller 1:01
Perfect. Sounds good. So I was born in Manhasset, New York, on Long Island, and I grew up in Great Neck. So not too far away. I’m currently based in New York City. And I always want I wanted to be a lawyer from a pretty young age, I would say most kids don’t know what the hell they want to do, honestly, some not even till college or even after the fact. So for me, I wanted to be a lawyer, since I would say like late middle school, early high school, I just remember, any sort of like TV shows or movies that I’d watch. Anything with the law just fascinated me. I would say Law and Order was a big one.
David Miller 1:48
And then I’ll get to it later, I didn’t end up going the criminal route. But I always found it interesting. And shortly after high school, I declared a criminal justice degree at the University at Albany. So at first, I was political, political science. And it was just extremely boring. And I was in a criminal justice class. So I decided to make that my major instead. And that was pretty much it. From there. I was a criminal justice major throughout college. And I applied to law school at the beginning of my senior year. And I decided to go to Hofstra Law School, which is in Hempstead, New York, about 20 minutes from where I grew up. So it was a lot easier to commute and move home for three years. And that’s really where my legal career began. So it
Yoni Mazor 2:41
Sounds like I know from a young age are attracted to you know, you know, the industry or more on the criminal side of things, which usually is, you know, heavily dramatized and, and television and film. And it seems like until that point, we started the career that was you’re your trajectory. That was your mindset trajectory. And that was your trail. So as you start your career, it’ll take us to this station. Did you know that this is where you got to live? There, we got the beginning or there’s a plot twist, take us there.
David Miller 3:11
So in the beginning, I didn’t know what specific area of the law I wanted to go into. So when I got to law school, it made me take all different sorts of classes, a variety of different issues. And they try and scare you, you know, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Socratic method, but they could call on people whether you raise your hand or not. And it’s pretty. It’s pretty rough, especially that first year after that it’s not too bad. So they pretty much make everybody second guests going down that route altogether. So I decided to intern at different firms. I did a bit of real estate work, I did some medical malpractice, and personal injury, and just found all of them relatively boring and pretty dry, in all honesty,
Yoni Mazor 3:59
And why was that when he started working in the field?
David Miller 4:04
After so my first summer after my first year is when I got my first it was technically not a full-time gig because it was just seasonal, but it was summer and then I worked also during you know, those semesters after the fact
Yoni Mazor 4:17
Why was that? Let’s put a slop years on it. So we get to see the
David Miller 4:22
First that first summer after that first year, I worked at a personal injury and medical malpractice firm. And I don’t know if it was just because of like what they specifically hadn’t done. Or if I didn’t maybe it wasn’t challenging enough. It just didn’t feel I don’t know I wasn’t a fan of the material. And a lot of personal injury guys, they’re ambulance chasers is what they’re called constantly and it’s just a tough and competitive field.
David Miller 4:55
I mean every industry is competitive but in personal injury almost every attorney in every Office seems to do at least a bit of personal injury, if they do anything general practice, they’re doing personal injury. So it’s just not my speed, I would say. That into my second year, during the school year, I worked at a real estate firm, which I thought was going to be more my speed.
David Miller 5:19
But just extremely boring, extremely boring, dry. And I was just like, I can’t do this forever, either. So I was like, I don’t know what I’m going to end up doing. We’ll see wherever it takes us but work there for a bit. And even after I finished law school, I didn’t have like an exact idea of what I wanted to do, most of the interviews that I was getting were about real estate and personal injury.
David Miller 5:44
So I thought I was going to have to just, you know, bite the bullet and end up in one of those areas because those were just the most jobs are being offered. At least that was my experience. But I ended up applying for one so during my second year, I applied at a firm. While I was working, I was planning on working a summer internship, long story short, I was offered the position, but I couldn’t accept it, because I was already working for another firm and I was affiliated with the school for credit. So I ended up not being able to accept it. And then I got back in contact with that firm after I graduated. And they had grown tremendously over those few years. And that’s what opened my world to the e-Commerce Industry. So they focus also on income per seller. So say took a position there. So I took a position there post grads post-law school
Yoni Mazor 6:43
After I graduated, Wayne was that when he started there, start working there.
David Miller 6:47
I started there was about that was early 2018. Got over four years ago now or so. And he was there for over three years. I was there for over three years. And I learned just a lot about not, you know, the law, of course, I’m always learning more and more. And it’s always changing and expanding. I learned more about business than anything else, you can read the law and teach yourself. You know, almost everything that you would need to know. Of course, there’s certain training that goes into it with law school, but I learned a lot about business and just saw kind of how it started small and just marketing and you know, networking and all these other skills. I gave presentations all around the world.
David Miller 7:37
They sent me to Australia, they sent me to London to Amsterdam. So when I was going there, there were a few different areas. So I gave presentations. Sometimes I was more of a spectator and I attended conferences. Australia was unbelievable. I was there for about seven weeks, and I traveled to five different cities. So I was all over the place. Then, of course, while I was there, I had some fun getting to scuba dive and the Great Barrier Reef. So just a life experience. Honestly, it
Yoni Mazor 8:09
Was awesome. So once again, just to recap on this. So while you’re in school, you had the opportunity to work there, you’re declined because you have to kind of other entanglements. But once you know, finish everything, you had an open field, you took the position there, and really kind of puts you in a drift trajectory where you’re traveling the world, you’re, you know, you appearing in stages. You’re lecturing, you’re engaging, and you’re growing. But you mentioned injury, also in the E-commerce world. So what do you mean by that?
David Miller 8:35
So the firm’s niche was helping Amazon sellers and all of the different issues that Amazon sellers ran into. And a lot of them were learning as we went, sometimes we were hearing about it, just learning the Amazon game from scratch. So some people that weren’t there when the firm first started, I knew a bit more but as I’m sure you know, Amazon’s always changing, always changing policies and things like that.
David Miller 9:03
So it started where I assisted with Amazon suspensions. And from there it grew into brand enforcement where I was enforcing seller IP rights. I was also on the defense side. So if I represented a seller that received a counterfeit complaint, trademark copyright, or patent complaint, I was the one reaching out to the rights owner and either trying to demand a retraction and essentially get them back to business, whether it was their entire account that was suspended or specific listings that were just high profit for the sellers. But all different areas of E-commerce and intellectual properties are a big part of it.
Yoni Mazor 9:49
Guys, so you came in all green, and boom, the world of E-commerce kind of swallowed you into a domain, especially the Amazon selling side of things.
David Miller 9:56
Pretty much so once I got it. Once I got further and further into it, I started learning more about specific seller problems, and what sorts of issues they run into are some common ones. So it could have been nonlegal issues. Also, sometimes they had issues with shipments. Sometimes it was, you know, damaged products, expired goods. Sometimes it was issued with suppliers, specifically where they thought the supplier was reputable. And for whatever reason, the customer got their hands on a product that wasn’t legitimate.
David Miller 10:30
Maybe it didn’t work properly. So it wasn’t always legal. But that was one of the reasons why I enjoy that type of work because it wasn’t just like, Okay, well, you have a legal issue. And let’s build them for as much as we can. Do you know what I mean? Not that not that much. You know, a lot of lawyers don’t do that, of course. But it’s it felt like we were like, I always felt like I was helping people get back to business, not just driving them towards litigation.
Yoni Mazor 10:58
Yeah, it seems like if I can sense it correctly, in terms of other kinds of niches, and in the legal aspects of things where it’s more like cookie cutters, it’s just a numbers game, you just want to load it up. As I mentioned, the ambulance chamber chasers. And it’s pretty routine. It’s not so much routine in Amazon, because things like is it constantly change, or it’s a real component of challenge and untangle and things and trying to help this seller come out of the ditch out of the mud.
Yoni Mazor 11:24
And you know if you do a good job, you get rewarded and get paid. So it’s a real challenge, obviously, for the sellers, but also, I guess, for the Warriors, because there’s no handbook. There’s no routine. It’s all, you know, based on real-time and just figuring it out, and also decoding Amazon’s language as they reply and communicate with you. I’m sure there’s a component for you and a learning curve as well. No,
David Miller 11:46
Absolutely. And I didn’t like I’ve seen other firms with their dry, you know, driving, you know, companies to litigation when maybe it’s not necessary. It doesn’t necessarily make sense. It was expensive. It takes a lot of time. So I enjoyed being in the pre-litigation stage and just learning so much about Amazon, how many businesses thrive, just offered Amazon, even, you know, non-sellers, also just all the consulting services. And there are so many different types of industries that were opened up by Amazon.
David Miller 12:17
And yeah, it was just, it was just fascinating, honestly, and I learned so much day to day, week to week, just all about Amazon, and that ended up spilling a bit into other platforms as well. Amazon was still the main focus, but naturally, some sellers have sold on Amazon, they may have also had an eBay store, or they may have had a Walmart or a Shopify store also. So some of the issues were similar. But Amazon was always the number one. So I was always just looking for policy changes and just seeing trends of the madness that Amazon will cause sellers.
Yoni Mazor 12:56
Got it. So let’s try to maybe go fish out one or maybe two examples of I guess, the most dramatic cases that you saw or the most impact, you were able to help with assisting, you know, a legal challenge for the sellers.
David Miller 13:09
Wow. Yeah. So there’s there, there are a lot of them, I would say, a good example is Wang and account. So one time I had a high seller, highly ranked seller, like the top 100 Amazon sellers or so not only was their account suspended, but they had six figures of frozen funds on top of it along with the withheld inventory. And these specific details I don’t necessarily remember all I remember is that they receive counterfeit complaints, and they had invoices at everything to show that the products are not counterfeit.
David Miller 13:46
That’s another issue that sometimes comes up when someone shows an invoice where you know, the invoice is legitimate, but there are only five units on it. And maybe they sold 1000 or whatever, maybe wasn’t an issue here. That invoice is to show every product that was sold. So no problem there. Turned out and this is a classic one on Amazon from everything I’ve seen, that the counterfeit was filed, not because they had any proof that the product was counterfeit, but because of a pricing issue.
David Miller 14:16
They didn’t like how they were competing directly with them, the brand owner, and they were trying to figure out how they got their price points so low. And that was the main basis of the complaint. So what I did was I contacted them first. And basically, in layman’s terms told them that the complaint was BS because they have no proof and if they have proof, send it over. A lot of mumbo jumbo and response. But basically, they didn’t have anything other than the question about price. So after we had to be more aggressive and threaten them because they were losing, I don’t remember the figure but it was 10s of 1000s of dollars every day that they were down so a retraction from this brand was just vital. And very, very shortly after, we were able to get them to submit a retraction. And their account was reinstated within I believe, a day or two. So
Yoni Mazor 15:14
Salah was a suspension last.
David Miller 15:16
That’s especially I think only lasted a couple of days. So they were all so it didn’t end up being as bad as it could have been. The scary part about Amazon is even when you have all the evidence, sometimes they just drag their feet, and someone’s not reading it. Usually, a lot of those teams are in India.
David Miller 15:35
So they’re spending maybe 30 seconds to a minute on any appeal that you write or whatever correspondence you’re providing for them. So I was just thrilled that they were able to get everything back, the account was reinstated, and the funds were released, because this is a sizable company. It’s not a one-man show. So they have payroll to me, they have employees, and it’s a stressful time.
David Miller 16:01
I’ve seen it so many times where, you know, I’ve had I’ve had clients who we’ve had to tell me, you know if we’re not backed up by Friday, we’re not backed up in a week I when I started laying people off because where we have zero coming in right now. So it’s scary. You know, it’s I always think of it as like, imagine you’re a retail business owner someone walks in your door and says your clothes you’re shut down with zero warning, no reason for it, they just decide. They don’t like the way your hair looks that day and you’re done. Scary Thing and you know, before eCommerce that wasn’t real, but it is now.
Yoni Mazor 16:35
Yeah, definitely. In complicated reality, you have all your ducks in a row. But sometimes even that is not enough. So you have to kind of walk the extra mile and, you know, get legal support or legal assistance. So you can communicate to the other side that is kind of attacking you in a way with no, you know, no real wrongdoings on your side. So you got to become if you’re just a seller, you try to reach out to the other side.
Yoni Mazor 16:57
And, it might take a few days, a few weeks just to figure it out. But it seems that when you’re in this specific case, the fact that you had a lawyer on their side, legally, they had the legal muscle to just reach out, say the right thing with a cut through the BS, as you mentioned, right?
Yoni Mazor 17:13
So you get a resolution within a matter of few days, as opposed to a few weeks or a few months, which can be detrimental and an hour to business. So that’s kind of, I guess, the value that you’re able to solve it be you I would submit it probably in a very, very prompt, efficient way, which is very, very impactful, because everyday matters, especially when the volume is significant for the seller. Okay, so you did a few years with the law firm, and what was the next station for you?
David Miller 17:38
So the next station is actually where I am now. So I decided, at a certain point, it was my time to become my boss. And it was honestly always something I knew I wanted to do. But I didn’t feel like I was financially in a position where I could do that.
David Miller 17:55
Or, you know, I didn’t think I had the experience that’s, you know, right out of school, which some lawyers do that and all the power to them. I think it’s, it takes a lot. And it’s very difficult. So I applaud anyone who’s able to do what took me about four years to do or so. But I decided that it was just the time to do it. I felt like I had all the skills necessary. So I just decided to take my shot. And here we are today.
Yoni Mazor 18:24
You got it. So basically, you know, now you’re independent. Are you on your own? And what does the landscape look like today? Why what are the I guess major challenges or, or things that sellers should be aware of when it comes to knowing, selling on Amazon, and especially the league with where the law can play it and be on their side? Or at least your solutions?
David Miller 18:44
Right. So the exact example I use with the baseless counterfeit complaint, that’s such a common one, it’s not always doesn’t always cause as significant of an issue. But that’s one thing that I always tell sellers, I advise that just because someone files a counterfeit complaint or any type of complaint, doesn’t mean they can just do it without a basis. So it’s not a one-way street, which sometimes gets lost in the mix where it’s someone who thinks they hold all the cards, not how it works. If someone files a counterfeit complaint, and you could prove that it’s not, you can use legal muscle, you still have rights to it.
David Miller 19:21
So if your account is down, or even if it’s just one particular product, there are legal rights that you do have two common ones are defamation and tortious interference. So defamation is just when someone files a complaint against you, and it damages your reputation and it’s false. You have grounds you have legal grounds to stand on. And tortious interference is that they’re interfering with your contract with Amazon and they know they’re doing it especially when they’re another seller because they have to sign the same contract. So you can very easily get yourself into hot water.
David Miller 19:58
So that’s one thing and I always advise. Another thing amongst many others too, is just being prepared for the worst doesn’t mean you have to be paranoid or scared, I think you just always have to be, you know, you have to expect the best, but prepare for the worst. And what I mean by that is, you have to assume you have to always have your documents in order. So if you’re buying a product, you should first the first step you should always be doing is making sure that they’re reputable. You know, oftentimes, there are sellers or suppliers, rather that are offering products at great prices. And they’re really attractive because you can make, you know, a sizable amount of profit on it. But that’s great and all but you want to make sure that what you’re getting is what you believe you’re getting, and how can
Yoni Mazor 20:46
that what would you say whatever what’s by their side that they can use to authenticate or make sure that they’re dealing with the right people?
David Miller 20:54
Right. So that’s, that’s a great question. So the first thing, the most basic is making sure they have an online web presence if you’d be shocked how often they don’t. And if they don’t, it’s just been a huge red flag. You know, if they don’t even have the website, you can verify who they are, how is Amazon going to verify, and doesn’t even matter if they’re legitimate, but they don’t have an online web presence. Amazon is just not going to trust that because most reputable suppliers will have some sort of presence.
David Miller 21:24
Another is to see you can if anyone can recommend suppliers to you, sometimes people will be helpful. That’s another way. And also investigating invoices, I always recommend a sample invoice beforehand, seem just to make sure that they have that everything on there is needed. Sometimes they will put their name on it, which again, is baffling but I’ve seen it where I get I see an invoice and like this doesn’t show who you bought the product from. Another example is maybe the address doesn’t match, you know, it shows that they’re located in London. But the invoice I’m looking at says Greece, it’s like these things matter in terms of Amazon.
David Miller 22:04
And I’ve seen even really minor things matter like and just as a zip code is slightly different, you know, one number is off. As I mentioned, I touched on it earlier, but quantity, quantity versus sales is huge. Everything could be a great online presence, great, you know, great invoice. But the quantity is off, you sold 1000 products in the last month is invoice shows 50. So you have to account for the 1000 sales Amazon won’t accept. So those are just some general tips.
Yoni Mazor 22:36
But yeah, I like what you said about making sure you get English before you get a product before you buy any product, make sure the supplier can provide the invoice. You know that the robber you know, they’re also sourcing from revenue-wise places. But also if you’re on the private label side, and you’re dealing with factories, and you’re dealing with the production of things that require certifications, it can be with jewelry, that it’s real silver, it will go stuff like that stuff of that nature.
Yoni Mazor 22:57
So you get the product that you want to create an ad, right and you want to search from the supplier was, for example, a small example of you saying, oh, you’re selling this gold necklace from 18 karat gold. And you’re working with a supplier overseas somewhere. And the target, you know, 18 karat gold and somebody on Amazon, your customer buys it and buys from your brand and they take it to a little test and they find it’s not gold, it’s fake. You’re selling fake jewelry, even though it’s your brand with your trademark, and you’re good. You sign fake jewelry, because your supplier is other you know, to give a ride or even they do have gold. But if they did, they never had to bother with certification to prove that they’re giving you the goal, right? It looks like well, it feels like well, but it’s not gold, right?
Yoni Mazor 23:41
That’s another example where even when you source your product and your brands and labels, you know, you can be in a position where you’re potentially offering out to the market. A product that is not as advertised as they say, and can also have its issues. We can also meet with nutrition supplements overdosing, oh, there’s a lot of vitamin D, there’s an X amount of milligrams of vitamin D, guess what there’s not, that can also happen.
Yoni Mazor 24:07
And that doesn’t have to be overseas, that can be also domestically here in the US. So the message is when he sources, make sure that you source from reputable suppliers, who if involves asked us for as much documentation as you can to make sure that the products you’re getting are safe and reliable, is what you expect to sell. And you have all your ducks in a row in terms of documentation.
Yoni Mazor 24:29
So if you ever somebody is on the defensive on you, you’re good you know your fortress is, is settled. So at least you can have the law by your side. So you can counterattack and get your account reinstated or yes and reinstated. Another question I have for you is something that we were kind of in the past few years we saw that passing around is all these related accounts when Amazon suspended your account because they think they know where they’re right. Maybe it is related to another account. That guy had an issue and got suspended. So some insights about that. What what’s your take on this?
David Miller 24:59
So It’s been a big problem for Amazon for a long time it’s gotten easier in a lot of ways. And what I mean by that is Amazon used to request that you were authorized by them to create a second account. And they didn’t want anyone having a second account unless they approved it. Now, it’s not as strict where you can create a second account without approval, but they still want it a certain way. And the most important one is they want you to be in a different category of products that you’re selling. Okay. So, you know, if you’re selling, you know, you’re selling apparel in the first store, they want you selling something different, like electronics and store too.
David Miller 25:43
And if there’s a crossover, it can cause issues. I’ve also noticed this a lot with, with older accounts to say you create an account that never was fully active. And then several years later, you create another store, for whatever reason, Amazon flags those like crazy, couldn’t tell you why. But they take those very serious, and for some reason, they’re even more difficult to appeal to and too successfully reinstate sometimes than way more legitimate actual
Yoni Mazor 26:14
Issues. What do you tell him if somebody gets suspended that account phone or 10 years ago, so that account never had an issue already got suspended, and then you open a new account, what’s the premise?
David Miller 26:24
It will, it could be both, but the example I was using is they just opened it. And maybe they didn’t finish the information or just opened it but were never active. So that’s that situation is just total BS. The second one is if you were selling, and then there was some issue with the account, it’s more it’s it makes more sense by Amazon doesn’t just want you creating a second account, because of the fraud issues and you never resolved it. So you just keep doing that over and over again.
David Miller 26:50
And the fact of the matter is, Amazon doesn’t trust you. But to play off of our first example, what I tell sellers is they have the right plan of action, right, and three main components in those plans of action. So a root cause is just what caused the issue, what specifically caused it. And oftentimes, someone will try to just act like they have no idea what caused it, or they’ll just turn a blind eye because they’re scared to admit something wrong. Now, what else that is, generally you never want to admit to wrongdoing, because you don’t want to open yourself up to liability. But when you’re simply trying to get an account reinstated, you have to be forthcoming as to what because otherwise it’s not going to work.
David Miller 27:33
And the main goal is to get back in business, right? So if, for example, you create an account, that’s not you know, you’re not going to be liable for that. That’s just the truth of what happened. So you have to be a, you know, you have to be forthcoming about that. The second is corrective actions. So what how would you fix the issue for this, it would just be I closed the account, there’s not much else to do there. And the last is preventative measures. And that’s how you’re going to make sure you know, this doesn’t happen in the future, how you going to be a better seller. Now, this issue, there’s, there’s not a ton to work with. But those are the three main components for every plan of action, whether it’s related accounts, whether it’s, you know, shipping issues, safety concerns, IP, so whenever there’s an account suspension, those are the three components that you’re going to address.
Yoni Mazor 28:21
So we said the premise was the account, you just had an account and you open another one, you never completed it, and then they got suspended. You put it in three major components of the root cause, what do you do about it? And what how do you what are you going to do to prevent it? But let’s say you had an account where it’s related to a suspended account, and it was yours even now yours?
Yoni Mazor 28:38
How do you untangle from that? You said the root cause, let’s say you don’t even know what the account is. You don’t know what the account is, and Amazon suspended you. So what do you do there? You need to you can use the same three agreements, or there’s some other approach
David Miller 28:54
You still use the same greeting and it’s now that if you don’t know the account, it gets much trickier because how are you supposed to address an account? You have no idea what it is, normally, Amazon will tell you you’re going to have to reinstate the first account before even talking to us about the second account. So for obvious reasons, pretty difficult to find an appeal on the first account, and you have access to it and you never did. So sometimes that’s caused by let’s say, a seller selling that account. And then maybe he hid you know, the name has changed. I
Yoni Mazor 29:30
Got it. Okay. So we’re talking again, what were the situation is, there’s a suspended account that your account got related to you have no idea what the account is, you are saying that the issue is tricky because you need to Amazon expects that suspended account to be restated before you can do something about it. We have no idea who it is. So what’s your post there?
David Miller 29:50
So when you have no idea that that account exists in you and have anything to do with tha