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Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Sat Nov 21 2009 16:34:13

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
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). 
Reading AuctionBytes Blog: Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
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Readers Comments

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: jeff hinds
       
Sun Nov 22 09:42:37 2009
Erika P.
Thank you, at this point we are done with this topic. If you have any other concerns I am happy to address those. On this subject it is clear no matter what I say you are going to fight. I am sorry you have experienced a monetary loss but this topic of conversation is ended. Is there any other questions on anything else regarding your eBay account?
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Melissa
       
Sun Nov 22 09:56:34 2009
''The unanticipated technical issue resulted from a surge in live listings as sellers ramp up for the holiday season.''

PLEASE DO NOT BELIEVE THIS! Ebay is lying..You can bet on that. The Medved charts show a steady rise in listings over the course of the year. There is no surge.

EBAY did something to cause this. They were Jacking with the search AGAIN and something went wrong.

Why cant they LEAVE the search alone? Geeez I am so sick of Ebay messing with the search. I am a long time seller and I have trouble finding what I want on Ebay. How the he** is a buyer suppose to? Huh Ebay? Are you reading these replies? Stupid worthless company!

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: anonymous
       
Sun Nov 22 09:57:30 2009
Electronics (961018)


I looked at all categories with item counts to see if the number above: 36,053,768 was accurate, and sadly it is.

I show the total amt for electronics, which is WRONG WRONG WRONG so that all of you who have electronics listed can search out your items.

There is no way that sporting goods has more listings now than electronics, including all X-boxes, i-pods, stereos, alarm clocks, every gadget that should be flying off the racks right now.

You better go search out your stuff, electronics sellers.

And they better stop being rude to people (the customer service lines were shut OFF last night) because this is a monetary loss. Things are bad enough without them shutting the site down for 20 hours.

Betcha Go Daddy would

a) admit their mistake
b) compensate you for your loss
c) treat you like a valued customer

All for 5-100 bucks per month.

What does this tell you?
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: On Lies and Secrets
       
Sun Nov 22 10:06:02 2009
Still not working as it should? I am not surprised.  They have not resolved this issue yet.  They may not know what is really wrong.  

According to the latest installment, they ''regret any potential impact'' that this disaster has for sellers and that they will issue **fee credits** for impacted listings (not actual cash refunds; you have to list on ebay again in order to redeem a fee credit.  A fee credit for this mess will **not** make sellers whole.) This is really bad.  Sellers don't deserve this.   There is no guarantee that the ebay corporation will invalidate all auctions that were running when this ongoing outage happened or that they would insulate sellers from low scores from buyers even though their businesses has been disrupted.  And they still have not fixed the problem.

This is what happens when they don't stick to their stated plan to only implement two cycles of changes a year. They apparently lied about that and now this happens. I am led to speculate as to whether this was truly an accident or whether this is a backhanded attempt to mess over a diamond level powerseller by claiming to be a victim of a problem beyond their ability to anticipate. As others have suggested, this is a way to 'explain' Q4 results to shareholders - by casting themselves in the role of victims of their own success (''we had sooooo many new listings and so much new business that our servers just couldn't handle the load.'')  Others may differ, but I personally can't put anything past ebay senior management. There is something wrong with those people.

The fee credit issue is problematic, IMO. It is like they are holding sellers hostage to keep listings on the site as the only way to get their money back. IMO, this isn't fair and doesn't make sellers whole.  Sellers should NOT be held hostage to list again on the site if they don't want to do so.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: stryker
       
Sun Nov 22 10:06:46 2009

So............

  four days ago a Major unannounced site change bursts upon the scenes. Parasiting  prefereed sellers items leeching onto the live listings of other sellers !  Note:  this was of course a ''search within a search'' meaning when an item is pulled up, affilliated items must be searched for and slammed in.

 Three days ago, as some users have reported, there were apparent problems noted in the search functionality

Two days ago a major problem was noted as this new search within a search was bringing in sparodically embarassing results , such as fetish items on hardware listings, and adult magazines on listings for childrens items..

Yesterday the search ,  the newly adjusted item search mind you goes Kerflooey, fortunately , leaving the deal of the day and sponsered links unaffected.

An early trial baloon tried to place the blame on hacking , however the ebay explanation turned out to be quite brilliant !

''Our site was so popular , the listings were flooding in so fast , it actuALLY OVERWHELMED US'' WOW !!!!!!!!! I am impressed!  WHATEVER THEY ARE PAYING THE SPIINERS   THEY'RE WORTH IT!


The sad irony is; that if the management were to apply that same level and expertise and professionilism to dealing with their sellers, the site might ACTUALLY  be overwhelmed with new postings..

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: anonymous
       
Sun Nov 22 10:15:22 2009
Search of term "TEST" brings 898,330 (incl. title and description)

"DO NOT BID" brings 6,078,786

BTW they changed TEST to pregnancy test, twice, so you have to be determined to get the answer.

Watch for these numbers to rise significantly by tonight.

This will justify the "surge" claim

All DO NOT BID auctions are either scammers or eBay.

What person would put up an auction and say do not bid?

Scammers or eBay, padding the numbers.

They need to investigate this company.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: ebay who?
       
Sun Nov 22 10:23:14 2009
You know ebay's days are short when what was once a talk o' the town, huge corporation, household name, WORLDWIDE OUTAGE can't even trend on twitter. No matter how many people tried, it just wouldn't happen. That says a lot.

ebay has finally murdered ebay.

ebay who? what's an ebay? lol :D
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: stryker
       
Sun Nov 22 10:24:32 2009


I'm not sure what adding all those listings will accomplish

 If as you say  millions of listings made not to sell are being added ,  won't that absolutely destroy the sell through rating, thereby creating a whole new set of problems?
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: On Lies and Secrets
       
Sun Nov 22 10:24:46 2009
@stryker

The trial balloon of being ''so successful'' was sent up at about the same time as the hacking explanation.  A speculative post by ''me'' appears on the first page of comments:

''by: me
Sat Nov 21 17:19:40 2009
Ebay should have been ready for major holiday shoppers. I bet it was just too many shoppers looking and crashed the system. Poor planning''

This speculation suggests that there were too many shoppers, rather than too many listings.  I am not suggesting that this was necessarily a planted post, but I do suspect that reactions to this were being monitored.  

The fee credit issue is a big problem from my perspective.  If they don't invalidate the listings that have been ending or shield sellers from low ratings by buyers for listings running during the outage, then some sellers may have their accounts suspended because of low DSRs. A seller can't redeem a listing credit if they can't list.   Moreover, some sellers may not want to list here again after problems like this.  The listing credit scheme seems like a way to keep sellers on the hook and to force them into listings as the only means of recouping losses.  IMO, this is unfair. IMO, sellers should be made whole.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: william
       
Sun Nov 22 10:33:54 2009
I have received emails from buyers who were unable to find my items to bid on them last night. I am explaining to them that this was a massive EBAY FAILURE and am referring them to stores on other sites where I have relisted the items. I also told them I would not be re-listing the items on eBay.

Please use this last in never ending string of eBay failures to your advantage and to punish eBay as severely as you can. Direct buyers AWAY from eBay to other auction sites or online stores to purchase your items.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: ebayunplugged
       
Sun Nov 22 10:43:39 2009
This just in: Ebay techs purchase new servers on amazon.com after they discover that they run out of server space due to 33% increase in "diamond seller" listings. New servers delivered overnight and being installed Sunday morning.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: inside john donahoe's head
       
Sun Nov 22 10:47:45 2009
"jeezus! we've made inumerable, ridiculous changes that were impossible for any mere mortal to adhere to, much less a bit of 'noise' like you peon sellers, yet we can't get rid of you! we screw with your livlihood, we screw with your ratings, we raise your fees, we give you ulcers, we make your life miserable and charge you money for this, but we still can't get rid of you! so now we finally resorted to unplugging the ebay search DO YOU GET IT NOW?! WE DON'T WANT YOU HERE ANYMORE, MOVE OVER AND MAKE ROOM FOR OUR 'DIAMOND' SELLERS!"

"I've got my golden parachute. You fools act like I care what the BofD does to me!"
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: KaliMarcum
       
Sun Nov 22 11:14:40 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.''

The large print giveth and the small print taketh away...LOL

No doubt it was stupid answers like this from eBay reps that caused ebay to shut down their ''contact'' ability last night.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: You've got to be kidding me.
       
Sun Nov 22 11:53:29 2009
@jeff hinds.  Thanks for taking the time to post eBay's scripted cold and callous response to this issue.  I hope more sellers take on board the type of uncaring arrogant company they are dealing with.  
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Kim
       
Sun Nov 22 12:29:10 2009
Who in there right mind would make any (including this type of maintenence)  changes to a website in the midst of the busiest time of year.

Who consults for them, the guy who changed the CocaCola Recipe ?
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: William
       
Sun Nov 22 12:53:32 2009
Again...
Please use this last in never ending string of eBay failures to your advantage and to punish eBay as severely as you can. Direct buyers AWAY from eBay because of its unreliability to other auction sites or online stores to purchase your items.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: You've got to be kidding me.
       
Sun Nov 22 13:06:30 2009
People please post more of any arrogant live chat responses regarding this issue so that when the media get directed to this blog the can see the utter contempt ebay has for its customers - the sellers.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Phil
       
Sun Nov 22 13:07:32 2009
eBay's main search problems happened when they removed the opt out of this fundamentally flawed search system.
They reap what they sow.......
Everyone told them to keep the old search system no no they know best......
As a ex eBay user how I laugh at them now........
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: fruity
       
Sun Nov 22 13:21:02 2009
You know what's really sad. Lorrie Norrington actually sounds like this is the first time this has happened. I think her flunkies have been just outright not keeping her informed
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Patricia
       
Sun Nov 22 13:43:19 2009
LOL  The greedy 800 lb gorilla ate so much it weighed 3,000 lbs - then it exploded and all the shoppers went elsewhere.  Great business plan Ebay!.....NOT!
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