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Sat Nov 21 2009 16:34:13

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay experienced search problems on Saturday morning, and now there appears to be a complete search outage. At 11:17 am PST, eBay posted an announcement stating it was experiencing "some issues with a delay in search being displayed," and by noon, users began posting that they could not search at all on the website.

When searching, shoppers either come up with an error message (see graphic), or a search results page with 0 items, but the ad listings showed up. 

There are several postings on Twitter from 8 and 9 hours ago complaining about eBay search, including this one from 9 hours ago: "eBay search engine is having issues this am."

Update: eBay posted a new message on its Announcement Board at 1:37PM PST:

Due to errors in some of our backend systems, members may be seeing different errors in Search. This could be that "We were unable to run the search results you entered. Please try again in a few minutes" or a blank page, or simply the browser being unable to display the page.

This is also affecting the ability to access eBay Stores through search directly, and sometimes from the store URL.

Please note that we are working as quickly as possible to get this resolved. Thank you for your patience as we continue to work to resolve this.

David reports that browse is not working either.

Update: 4:47 EST: I can get to the Daily Deals on the U.S. site.

I just tried searching UK site, same problem, no search! Ouch, international problem!

Update: 4:55 EST: I have inquiry in to eBay about what's going on and whether they will be issuing credits. Will update if/when I hear back.

eBay Outage Policy is found here, and only applies to listing scheduled to end during the outage or in the hour after the end of the outage. In the event of a hard outage of two hours or more, eBay automatically extends listings for 24 hours.

Given that it's impossible to find listings, I'd consider this a hard outage!

UPDATE: 6:12 pm EST - eBay replaced its previous Systems Announcement posts with one at 2:59 pm PST  that suggests a workaround:

If you use the Advanced Search option at the top of the page, and type in your search query and click the title and description box and then run the search, the results for the title and description search will be returned. Likewise, if you receive a 0 results page for title search and choose the title and description box and re-run the search, you'll see the appropriate results.
 
Does eBay think buyers are going to first of all, find this announcement, and second of all, follow these convoluted instructions? Surely eBay is not paving the way to get out of calling it an outage?

Update: 11 pm EST: eBay says it found the problem and that things will be fully functional tomorrow (Sunday). Will frustrated buyers return? What about sellers who lost money on this outage?

John Pluhowski sent me eBay's statement on the search outage:

eBay expects full search functionality to be restored to eBay.com on Sunday after a technical issue today resulted in searches returning either limited or no results throughout the day today. The identified technical issue has been fixed and is being implemented across the site. 

The unanticipated technical issue resulted from a surge in live listings as sellers ramp up for the holiday season. eBay currently has more than 200 million live listings, 33 percent more than at this time a year ago. The company said the technical issue, once identified, was easily fixed.

Interesting - apparently eBay can't handle a 33 percent increase in listings this month compared to last year. (Message to world: we're not scalable!?) It would appear to me that Diamond PowerSellers and LMS ("Operation Catalog" sellers) are to blame for today's search outage. See new AuctionBytes Newsflash article for details.

Update 11:20 pm EST: eBay spokesperson John Pluhowski said eBay will be issuing refunds to sellers, no details provided as of yet. 

Update: 11/22/09 7:45 am EST: eBay posted another announcement to the Systems Announcement Board on 11/21/09 at 10:55 pm PST in which it confirmed eBay would be crediting fees and would be compensating sellers appropriately.

Full search functionality expected to be restored to eBay.com on Sunday, Nov. 22 - Lorrie Norrington, President, eBay

We are really sorry about the technical issue that resulted in searches returning either limited or no results throughout the day on Saturday, Nov. 21. We know this search issue may have disrupted your business. Our No. 1 priority has been to identify and fix the issue as quickly as possible, and restore full search functionality. Our teams are working around the clock to do that. Search functionality is returning to eBay.com throughout Saturday evening, PST, and we expect full search functionality to be restored Sunday.

We know this is a really busy time for sellers as you are ramping up your businesses for the holiday season, and we regret any potential impact that this technical issue may have had. Please accept our sincere thanks for your patience as we work around the clock on your behalf to restore search functionality. We will continue to keep you informed of site performance. Our immediate priority is to resolve this issue. Once that is achieved, rest assured that we will assess the economic impact of this issue and will be compensating sellers appropriately. In the meantime, we will be issuing full fee credits for affected listings.

Update: 11/22/09 5:30 pm EST: eBay posted to the General Announcement Board about Saturday's search outage. eBay's Lorrie Norrington wrote on Sunday at 2:04 pm PST that "critical search functionality" was restored overnight on Saturday, while eBay kept some "secondary search features" temporarily offline. "We expect to bring these features online today as part of a phased approach to restore full functionality."

She apologized and wrote, "We will now be assessing the economic impact of this issue and will be compensating sellers appropriately.  In the meantime, we will be issuing full fee credits automatically for affected listings."

AuctionBytes continues to report on the outage and its aftermath. We are conducting a  survey to determine how sellers were impacted by the search outage. Please take a few moments to complete the survey, we'll publish the results in AuctionBytes.

Update: November 23 at 7:45 am EST: eBay posted on the Systems Announcement board on Sunday evening at 7:53 pm PST the following message:

Updated: Issues with Search results and eBay Stores - Resolved
We are pleased to report that we have restored the secondary search features of having Store Inventory Format appear in the main search results and refining certain item specifies, such as color or clothing size. All key search functionality is now fully restored. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this process.

However, eBay sellers are now looking for answers for what to do in the aftermath of the search outage. Auction sellers are looking for answers on what they should do about transactions that ended on Saturday at artificially low prices. If they cancel transactions affected by the outage, do they risk receiving negative feedback from buyers? We have a question in to eBay on this (and about why they had not extended auction listings on Saturday). 

Comments (273) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: pete

Sun Nov 22 02:13:37 2009

I find the lack of communication appalling.  There is still no link to the announcement page about the outage on member's My eBay page. If eBay desires to maintain seller confidence, they need to work on damage control, and do it quickly.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: JG

Sun Nov 22 03:39:12 2009

Poor Chester, you just don't get it.  You tuned in in the middle of a two- year gripeathon brought on by years of sellers suffering at the hands of eBay managment or should I say mismanagement. Take two aspirins and put a cold compress on your forehead, you'll be okay in the a.m.

Friends, it's enough.  We've had enough.  Run, don't walk to the nearest eBay alternative or two or three.  There is life after eBay.

Googling around to learn more about the outage, I came across an article from a previous outage that had occured after management made several changes. The programmers were actually putting back ''the old version of ebay''-as it was before the changes had been made in case the changes were the cause of the outage. What a simple, wonderful idea.  I say bring those guys back in and roll it back. Roll the whole darn thing back.

Forgive me, I was daydreaming there.  I'm afraid that all we can hope for is some token reimbursement from eBay for the hours of our auctions knocked out and the consequences of that. My cable TV was knocked out two weeks ago for 5 or 6 hours and the next day Cox Cable was on the TV saying they would give all subscribers a $6.99 credit on their account for the time missed AND a free movie rental. They also apologized for the outage. We should be so lucky.  


Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Nov 22 04:35:39 2009

A listing "surge" at 4 am?

ROTFLMAO!

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Sun Nov 22 04:46:14 2009

"The unanticipated technical issue resulted from a surge in live listings as sellers ramp up for the holiday season. eBay currently has more than 200 million live listings, 33 percent more than at this time a year ago. The company said the technical issue, once identified, was easily fixed."

And if it's so easily fixed, why is it that searches of US stuff still cannot be accessed from Australia?

Nice to know that the serial dissemblers are still hard at it ...

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Sun Nov 22 04:54:25 2009

Maybe it's all those oceans of "blood" in the "completed listings" search that are clogging up the system.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: time

Sun Nov 22 04:55:29 2009

A listing "surge" at 4 am?


4:00 am US is 7:00PM in CHINA. That could explain it.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: Withheld lest my listing plunge further (if that's

Sun Nov 22 05:06:05 2009

Really EBay!  How hard is it to just admit a technical error? One that is ALL yours, one that you OWN top to bottom, no ands ifs or buts.  

@Pete damage control – no kidding!

Would the CEO of EBay please step forward and reassure sellers, desperate for at least one good month this year, that you will not “violate” the site again until Jan 15/10?  We are terrified to list again and cannot afford to have auctions close at near opening bids.

Perhaps you might for the next few days, replace that idiotic comic - you know the video that grinds the site down to near dial up levels. Reassure visitors to the site  (that would be our buyers, not yours) that the site has been fixed and will remain operational for the rest of the holiday shopping season?

You may have been a good alter boy JD  (could you stoop any lower to sell yourself at EBay Live?) but you’ve sure learned to shovel the ****  with the best of them!  

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: Patrick

Sun Nov 22 05:12:33 2009

Looks like it's defaulted back to "time ending soonest" rather than "best match".

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: pink

Sun Nov 22 08:07:00 2009

Refunding of fees is nice. Ok so I get .15 may .35.
Is Ebay going to stand behind sellers that choose not to complete transactions?
Auctions that ended yesterday ended dismally low as vultures scoured the site with the work around.
Most buyers just moved on to other sites to buy.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: honeybunch

Sun Nov 22 08:34:44 2009

I thought someone mentioned here that eBay was planning to bring 50 more Diamonds onto the site in 2010?  If that's true, are we going to see more outages like this as they upload their catalogs?

As Ina noted, it makes you question eBay's scalability.  

I find it funny that a company with such grand visions of high-volume sales would be so unprepared for those volumes that a 33% increase in listings could bring it to its knees.  

And (for the people who support the rolling blackout theory) I wonder if the cycles of invisibility will become even greater for small- to mid-size sellers?

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: summer on the city

Sun Nov 22 09:00:07 2009


''The unanticipated technical issue resulted from a surge in live listings as sellers ramp up for the holiday season.''

HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
(rolling on floor clutching my own ribs)

And an unanticipated issue at that!




Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: Sbrown1038

Sun Nov 22 09:02:31 2009

I have read the 'Outage Policy' which states that listings would automatically be extended by 24 hours in the event of such outage.  It does not appear that my listings (I had over 100) have been extended.

While an extension would be somewhat helpful, a better remedy would be to run the listings a week later, on the same day of the *week* rather than a *day* later that might be on a less favorable selling day.  Also, an extension does not provide a remedy for items that were *sold* during the outage with winning bids much lower than they should have been.  For example, two rare items that I listed in particular, 290370308193 and 310181949506, should have sold for $100 to $200 each.  Instead, they sold for $69 and $73.55.

Does eBay plan on compensating sellers for such losses?  Can sellers cancel transactions that ended during the outage and relist them without risking negative feedback?  This is a total mess!!!

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: jeff hinds

Sun Nov 22 09:24:03 2009

I am an ebay seller who lost hundreds last night and when I called ebay, they hung up on me.  I am closing my site with over 600 items listed down today.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: David J

Sun Nov 22 09:28:48 2009

We need more people to echo the call for complaints and inquiries into and/or against ebay.

You folks who have blogs, repost Ming's list. Everywhere. You people making videos do likewise.

This company needs to be gone over with a fine toothed comb for so very many reasons.

Paypal also need to be regulated like a bank.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: Daisy

Sun Nov 22 09:29:08 2009

This is an unacceptable mistake. Ebay will be out of business or completely irrevelant slowly but surely. They're doofs. They take on more than they can handle, don't accept responsiblity and Donahoe has made himself into a laughingstock. He doesn't have a clue. None of them do. Small sellers know this and big sellers should know it.

Please Amazon, Google or another company, we need a viable site for used and collectibles sellers.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: seller

Sun Nov 22 09:30:12 2009

If ANY of you believe ONE WORD of this you are really stupid (no offense intended)

Here it is in black and white from a place that has no financial interest in LYING about it:

eBay view charts  36,053,768 -43726  -0.12% November 22, 2009 10:06 am


And yes I checked it yesterday, and it was about the same.

Watch closely all HAWKS, you will see -if you have saved some of them- thousands upon thousands of the fakey IDs showing useless listings start showing up within hours of now. This is early early Sunday. They won't necessarily all say San Jose but lots of them will. They will be for items that are overpriced by hundreds of dollars. Go look, I bet you'll find them.

This is the biggest lie they EVER told to date.

If sellers are listing so much and ramping up for the holidays, why are they desperately asking any seller who clicks off in the middle of the listing "Why are you leaving this page, what didn't happen so that you could finish your listing?" (try clicking off, just open a new page, you might get one!!)

Why did they just hire a "Seller Advocate" at 100K plus salary.

This is poor business, and they know it. Then to lie about it is even worse.

Time to diversify, or go job-hunting.

They have little kids running this site now.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: Hooray for ebay incompetence!

Sun Nov 22 09:34:44 2009

Thanks ebay! My sales at ecrater.com tripled yesterday! :D

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: jeff hinds

Sun Nov 22 09:35:54 2009

Am in live chat with ebay right now, and it is AMAZING how very mean, and sarcastic and....horrible to me!


That is a pre-written answer that DOES NOT address either of my two main contentions. ANSWER ME. Also know this entire chat is being saved to be printed in a much-read blog.
8:33:02 AM  Erika P.
Of course it is pre written, that is the announcement that was made yesterday by Lori Norington.
8:33:20 AM  disneypinsdisneypinsdisneypins
I rely on NOT losing money on ebay in order to take care of my mother who needs a double lung transplant due to a rare genetic disease
8:33:34 AM  Erika P.
And you are more than welcome to save the chat, as they are all saved on our end as well.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: Daniel

Sun Nov 22 09:37:24 2009

What about those of us who are out of work and rely on sales to pay our bills? The search and access to our items was knocked out but the sale of items already bid on continued. As you may know, the last seconds of an auction are when the money is made. I lost money because of ebays incompetence. They should have shut the whole site down including ending auctions until they fixed the problem.

More of heartless corporate ebay greed.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

by: jeff hinds

Sun Nov 22 09:42:10 2009

Erika P.
I am sorry you feel that way, as I have stated before if your items have ended within the hour or when the site was experiencing the issue they will be automatically credited. I know you have lost money in this issue, as a lot of our seller have. And any additional compensation that you are looking for will not be provided. It is clearly stated in the user agreement under limitation of liability.
8:38:14 AM  disneypinsdisneypinsdisneypins
How very proud your family must be. If ever terminated, you'd make a great politician or used car salesman. You've been a real jewel. A delight. Your care and concern verges on being pampered.

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