It doesn't matter if you're hit by Hurricane Irma, Jose or Harvey, if you're an Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Report  third-party seller, you better be on your toes or watch your ratings fall.

Krista Fabregas, who sold plastic drink ware under the brand Simply Smart Living for 17 years on Amazon, told TheStreet that if sellers, handling their own shipments, put on their pages that orders will be fulfilled in one to two days, "you darn well better do it." If you don't, Amazon downgrades sellers' ratings, in turn pushing their products down in search results.

Fabregas stopped selling products on Amazon in late 2015 to write for FitSmallBusiness.com, an information service provider for small businesses in the U.S., as an e-commerce and retail analyst. She spoke to TheStreet on Wednesday, Sept. 6, from her neighbor's house in Cypress, Texas, a town just outside of Houston.

Fabregas' house was uninhabitable due to flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey and she was searching for a mop on Amazon before taking TheStreet's call. Oddly, she said she was "really happy to see" that her mop shipment said "delayed." That meant that the seller was being pro-active about alerting buyers to possible effects from the natural disaster.

"Amazon can be quite the stickler," Fabregas said.

In 2008, when Hurricane Ike hit Texas - and Cuba, causing some $38 billion in damages - Fabregas said she lost power at the warehouse she owned, where she shipped products from, causing a delay to shipments. Naturally, updating her Amazon page to reflect the delay was not the first task on her to-do list, but being transparent with customers is a strict rule that sellers must abide by to continue working with the e-commerce titan.

Amazon had no mercy. "I immediately saw my seller rating go down," Fabregas said, which was the only time she said she was ever penalized by the company.

To protect yourself, Fabregas said, you must remember to update your expected time frame for making shipments because Amazon employees track every order and will send emails alerting sellers if they are even one day late. Being without power, Fabregas was not on top of checking emails.

"To combat our period of low-seller ratings following Ike, we lowered prices, offered free shipping and made sure we shipped every order on time and answered all queries same-day," Fabregas said.

Lowering prices helps raise products up in Amazon's search results, but, Fabregas said that move takes a toll on profits and customers still tend to gravitate towards items with the highest ratings.

"Best advice to Amazon sellers in times of disaster or trouble, set your account to vacation or extend your shipping times to cover any fulfillment downtime," she said.

The cryptic Amazon will not put an employee on the phone with a seller, either, to give them a chance to explain, unless they're really in hot water. The one time Fabregas said she recalled speaking to an actual person at Amazon was when she first joined as a seller.

Getting two bad reviews or not responding to customers within 24 hours can also knock your seller rating down. "If you have less than a four-star rating, you're in trouble," Fabregas said.

And, you don't want the dreaded to happen - having your products suspended. Fabregas said Amazon will suspend products if even one customer flags it as a "bogus product."

Amazon did not return a request for comment but lists its selling policies on its website. Rules include, "honor your commitment to buy or sell" and "if we have removed your selling privileges, you may not open a new selling account."

"You're guilty until proven innocent," Fabregas said. "I knew one seller whose product was suspended after a customer flagged it as counterfeit. It was crazy because she made the products herself. Sometimes [rival] sellers will go in and flag them, too."

Still, Fabregas praised Amazon for its strict reign, saying that's what makes it the biggest threat in retail. Also, ratings are renewed every 30 days, so sellers can recover after one month in the dog house, which luckily was the case for her after Ike.

"I was the seller. It was my bad. I should've known better," she said, blaming herself for the Ike incident.

In July, outside Amazon's 2017 Seller Summer Boost FBA event in New York, Limor Yron, founder of TIPFloatys which sells a deer-shaped inflatable pool raft on Amazon, told TheStreet that she finds contacting the company when she has a question frustrating, as the only means to access an employee is through email. The media was denied entry into the event.

Yron said it took more than 24 hours for an employee to respond. Perhaps Amazon should place the same high standards on its employees as it does its sellers.

Late in the morning on Friday, Sept. 8, Hurricane Irma was charging between Cuba and the Turks and Caicos islands as a category 4 storm, after devastating the Virgin Islands and knocking out power in bankrupt Puerto Rico on Thursday. The hurricane is expected to make landfall in southern Florida this weekend.

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Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 8.