For Schappert, who is one of millions of third-party sellers on Amazon, the email is potentially a fatal blow in a costly saga that's lasted the better part of the year. It has left her family business — Cheapskates Liquidators — in tatters.
Since mid-March, Cheapskates has been suspended from Amazon for a few vague complaints related to the sale of inauthentic items, all of which Schappert and her husband, George, say can be easily explained. Amazon has refused to readmit them, despite multiple appeals. The July 9 email came after the couple escalated their complaints all the way to the CEO. CNBC has viewed extensive documentation, which seems to back up the Schapperts' tale.
During the 36 hours of Prime Day, stretching across Monday and Tuesday, Coresight Research expects Amazon to reel in $3.4 billion, as consumers flock to deals on electronics, clothes, furniture and snacks (though that estimate was made prior to a glitch at the start of Prime Day on Monday). Third-party sellers account for more than half of all items sold on the site, and many of them are small family businesses like Cheapskates. Amazon said last week that on Prime Day 2017, thousands of smaller businesses generated more than $50,000 in sales, allowing them to "grow their businesses, create new jobs, and invest in their communities."
But for some small sellers, working with Amazon has become a complicated mess of infringement claims, confusing suspensions, fees and one-way correspondence.
A number of Facebook groups for Amazon sellers are loaded with complaints from people who were suspended for reasons that aren't entirely clear and have struggled to get anyone at Amazon to help. Merchants have filled up Amazon seller forums looking for advice about getting reinstated when they think they've been unfairly suspended or have had their products blocked.
In a statement to CNBC, Amazon said the Schapperts were suspended for selling counterfeits, among other infractions:
"The seller in question was found violating multiple Amazon policies, including our anti-counterfeiting policy. They were given multiple opportunities to address the situation but showed a repeated pattern of behavior that was not in our customers’ best interest, so we took actions to protect our customers and stop their illegal activity."
But the Schapperts say Amazon never gave them this explanation, and the couple's recent correspondence with Amazon, which they shared with CNBC, offers little detail.
Now, they're faced with two bad choices. The first option is to keep their $200,000 of inventory in Amazon's fulfillment centers and continue to try and get reinstated while racking up fees from Amazon for storage, which amounted to $367.37 in June, when they couldn't even sell anything.
Or, the Schapperts can pay 50 cents an item — several thousand dollars in total — to have it all shipped back so they can try to sell it elsewhere. If they don't decide soon, Amazon could destroy their inventory, according to emails they've received from the company.
"We thought this was what we were going to be doing for the rest of our lives," said George Schappert, 41, in an interview. "It was a real wake-up call to be kicked off like this."