We have taken the time to explain more on the 12/13 digit "1 character left" issue that is seen when creating a product listing as an Amazon seller. This was part of a series of UPC related updates that Amazon performed on Oct. 20th 2014. While this issue is not specific to the UPC codes that we sell, we feel that it's necessary to help further explain due to Amazon's negligence on this matter. This issue in particular affects ALL UPC codes sold by any reseller or GS1. When contacting Amazon seller support regarding this issue, the customer service rep response varies greatly. We have heard varied responses from Amazon seller support such as "the UPC codes are invalid" to "just add another number". Since this is an Amazon specific issue, they need to resolve this. Since months have passed without Amazon attending to this issue, we have decided to step in and explain exactly what is happening with this situation to help everyone understand. We hope that this article helps some of the customer service reps learn a thing or two regarding this Amazon issue. If you are a customer service rep and you come across this article, please make sure to pass this on to your upper management.
First, we want to explain exactly how this issue is triggered. The "1 character left" issue is triggered by entering 12 digits into the "EAN or UPC" field when creating a listing. It does not matter if you enter a valid/invalid UPC code into this field or not. You could enter 111111111111 or 999999999999 into this field and it would still say "1 character left" making you think that submitting the listing will cause an error. Using an example UPC number of 123456789012(which happens to be a valid UPC number) you would see the following error notification:
As you can see in the screenshot above, the system makes it appear that your UPC code is missing 1 character. It also makes you believe that submitting the listing will not work since the "1 character left" is in red text. Generally, red text is an indication of an error when being displayed next to an online text field.
How to fix the 1 character left issue
Fixing the 1 character issue is simple....you don't have to do anything at all. You can enter the 12 digit UPC code into the field and even with the "1 character left" warning message, submitting the listing will still work. It is not necessary to enter more than 12 digits as long as your UPC code is valid.
The reason why Amazon's system shows "1 character left" is to let you know that you can possibly enter 1 more character into this field. The reason for this is because Amazon combined the UPC and EAN fields into a single field sometime in 2014. Previously the UPC and EAN fields were separate. Since all UPC-A codes are 12 digits in length and all EAN-13 codes are all 13 digits in length, Amazon allows you to enter a maximum of 13 digits into this field. If you were to enter 11 or 14 digits into the "EAN or UPC" field, it would automatically be an invalid code. All UPC-A codes will always be 12 digits in length and this is something that Amazon does not have the authority to change. The same goes for EAN-13 codes, they will always be 13 digits in length.
Some customers of ours were converting their UPC codes to EAN codes by adding a 0 to the front of the 12 digit UPC code, but that's not necessary. You can enter the 12 digit UPC code number into this field and it will still work even with the red text of 1 character left being displayed.
Amazon seller support has recently started telling sellers that their UPC codes were invalid and they need to go to GS1 to resolve this issue. However, even if you leased a company prefix with GS1, you would still have the same problem since all UPC-A codes are always 12 digits in length. We hope this helps clear up any confusion over this matter.