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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
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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). 
Reading AuctionBytes Blog: Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
Comments (273) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: William
       
Sun Nov 22 14:33:51 2009
A little ray of sunshine for all you sellers who hate eBay as much as I do.

The eBay buyer who was unable to purchase my item on eBay last night has purchased it from my store on Ruby Lane. Now, if he will only pay for it by Google checkout vs PayPal it will be a sweet victory indeed.

Only a couple of hundred dollars but right up pretty boy Donahoe's A$$.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: whatever.
       
Sun Nov 22 14:35:30 2009
If search is working then I will convert to Brother Donohoe's church:

I just tried a number of my typical searches including a holiday specific one ''Nicholas Square'' and the results, the numbers, comparing the different tabs: All, Auctions only, Buy It Now, no Stores items, no international items (as opposed to how I had my preferences set); having only one spot to edit preferences, finding out that they weren't what they were, changing to expand to worldwide for example, bought NO results (using another search) with a message that I should search with less options and giving me suggested ''1 item found in Auctions,'' 1 item found in Buy It Now, those items: 1 had shown up when my preferences were more limited, 1 hadn't shown up at all and was a UK listing; sorry I'm rambling: I'll post the coherent results in a moment.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: whatever.
       
Sun Nov 22 14:40:28 2009
Is search defined as working when I do a popular for this time of year search for:

Nicholas Square

All: 555 results
Auctions only: 423 results
Buy It Now only: 565 results

Oh wait. NOW when I clicked again on the tabs to get the exact numbers for this post I suddenly see:

''Preferences: Include Store inventory, Buy It Now''

I swear I've never seen that before. And I certainly didn't see it initially with the All results and then clicking on Auctions only and then Buy It Now only......only when I clicked on Buy It Now a second time did that appear.

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: whatever.
       
Sun Nov 22 14:42:11 2009
(Continuation of my previous post about sample searches:)

Okay now I can't find my search results view preferences or whatever they're called. Only when the ''Include Store Inventory, Buy It Now'' appeared did it say I could ''Edit preferences'' but when that javascript marvel shimmers in front of me it says my preferences are for buy it now only!! I don't think so!

Include Stores Inventory not only is checked it's greyed out so I can't uncheck if I wanted to!

AND ''my'' preference for location is ''ebay.com only'' NOT worldwide and I KNOW I never set it like that.

Is it supposed to mean that my ''default search result view'' is Buy It Now only? well even if that's what it means (and that's not what I want) it's not even working that way when I do searches.

I changed my preferences: checking off Auctions in addition to Buy It Now and changing to Worldwide.

Now I did a search for ''gillette sensor handle'' (I had done this search before changing the preferences and came up with one result.)

''0 results found for gillette sensor handle [ Save this search ]
Preferences: Include Store inventory, Auction, Buy It Now, Worldwide ''

But a little bit lower I see:

''Retry your search with fewer search options.

* 1 item found for Auction
* 1 item found for Buy It Now''

And if I click on on Auction the 1 item is the original search result and if I click on the Buy It Now it's a result I never saw before and it's from the UK!

So instead of expanding the field of search, by enabling those preferences I'm restricting it!!!!!

So just how much functionality is this site, right now, offering to sellers who have listings running (and ending)?
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: jeff hinds
       
Sun Nov 22 15:08:32 2009
Ebay told me if I reproduced the live chat on a blog or talked to the media they would shut me down permanently.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: long ex-ebay seller
       
Sun Nov 22 15:13:48 2009
@ Jeff Hinds

I hope they threatened you with that in writing, so you'll have a doozie to go to the media with!
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: @jeff hinds
       
Sun Nov 22 15:14:16 2009
What you need to do is release everything you have to the media, and to your State's Attorney General, perhaps private lawyer too, including the statement you refer to if it was via email or perhaps you recorded ph conversation.

These sorts of things are why they earned the name sleazebay
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: @jeff hinds
       
Sun Nov 22 15:17:19 2009
Fireshot is a great free imaging capture program. Works with IE and FF. Takes full page images, has editor.

The world wants to see. Strike that, the world DESERVES, and NEEDS to see.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: disgusted
       
Sun Nov 22 15:26:26 2009
Ever since the outage the antique children's books section changed into "Miscellaneous."
Stuff on there now includes various catalogues.  What a Mess!
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Julie
       
Sun Nov 22 15:29:34 2009
"Ebay became a victim of its own success at the weekend after a surge in the number of items for sale caused the world’s largest online auction site to crash."

Victim of its own success? LOL
A good read, for those that have not seen it yet....

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/905f1d70-d766-11de-b578-00144
feabdc0.html?referrer_id=yahoofinance&ft_ref=yahoo1&segid=03058&nclick_check=1




Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Julie
       
Sun Nov 22 15:32:49 2009
Ina, can you make it so the links are clickable in the comments sections?
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: oopsie
       
Sun Nov 22 15:40:48 2009
that url says "you've read your 2 free articles" and wants you to sign up... maybe try this one?
-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/905f1d70-d766-11de-b578-001
44feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Harriet
       
Sun Nov 22 15:48:23 2009
Re: searches

When you search on eBay, you should also go to Google Shopping and do the same search there. Then you will have a good selection to choose from, not only eBay, but many, many other sites as well.

I think it is time that we stop thinking of eBay as the only place to shop. Many of your favorite sellers have branched out to other venues, and so should the buyers. Times are changing, and this is just what eBay wished for.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: moonmouse
       
Sun Nov 22 17:44:15 2009
Way to go ebay yipee! 16 sales (so far) on the moon today. Keep up the good work Mr D. LOL
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Lawrence A Dickerson
       
Sun Nov 22 19:01:54 2009
I was just preparing to purchase around $2000.00 worth of goods yesterday on eBay when this,"surge" went down town.

Everything that I wanted to purchase disappeared to search.Then I started reading about this fiasco thanks to Ms Steiner and all you sellers who participated.I hate to admit it but my anger overtook my sensibilities and I went to Amazon.com and did my Christmas shopping not thinking about my hurting the sellers first and eBay,not a bit.

I just returned to eBay after an absence of seven months due to being NARUd for following the User Agreement.Idiotic eBay chose to listen to a few with their own agenda to follow and violate their own written policies.There is a catchall in the User Agreement that basically says that eBay can do whatever they choose regardless of what the policy states.With that attitude,it is no wonder they the eBay platform is fraught with problems and weaknesses.

EBay's growth reminds me of the  past British expansionism worldwide,"The sun never sets on the British empire".They like Rome and eBay were spread too thin without insuring that they could govern/operate effectively before they moved on/acquired new territories.

You can bet your bottom dollar that there will be many more major setbacks because eBay has never established a Standard Operating Procedure that was enforced and reevaluated to accomodate future expansion.

It won't be until the stock holders research the truth about how their investments are being ripped to shreds worldwide in spite of the financial spin.

Venting is a good thing to relive pressure but it never solved anything.Perhaps it is time to set up a system wide boycott that is well researched with established goals.The power actually rests not with each individual but with a collective voice and actions.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: interesting
       
Sun Nov 22 19:27:16 2009
interesting I would imagine after a thorough investigation eBay will disclose what precisely caused this to happen and it's impact. Such as software vendor or planning and the loss of revenue by the issuance of refund credits to merchants. Disclosure meaning securities & exchange filings. A spokesperson who is not accountable to shareholders isn't exactly a boost of confidence.

Better detail regarding total number of listings & whether there are material changes in how they calculate these counts would also seem to merit review.
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 19:32:07 2009
@jeff hinds I find it outrageous that ebay have threatened to close you down permanently if you speak to the press or post the live chat conversation you had with the callous Erica P. I'm glad you posted here. I'm sure Ina would be most interested if they carry out their threat seeing as you've already posted some of the convo and we have gotten the jist of ebay's arrogant attitude.  I myself will be keeping an eye on your user id.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: jeff hinds
       
Sun Nov 22 20:18:57 2009
Ebay has gone too far this time and I have taken down 600+ listings and informed my customers I have permanently gone out of business due to these latest business-killing antics.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Peter Leeflang (CEO of Leeflang Archives Corp)
       
Sun Nov 22 20:21:54 2009
What beats everything else is Ebay's reaction (their Mr Plutowsky) saying:...... 'resulted from a surge in live listings as sellers ramp up for the holiday season'.

Translated: It was the seller's fault not our fault for being unprepared, for not having teh right infrastructure available.

How rude not to take immediately responsibility and instead blame one's customers!

This sounds awfully familiar. Does anyone remember a similar case how Liveauctioneers (Ebay's company at the time), went down for 40 auction houses and that cost the auctioneers a fortune in lost revenue?


Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: g
       
Sun Nov 22 20:22:07 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 best ''limitation of liability'' that Sellers can undertake is to use NON-eBay venues!  That way we ''limit our liability'' of relying on one dismal, deteriorating  site like eBay.
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