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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: Lawrence A Dickerson

Sun Nov 22 20:24:12 2009

Interesting enough,the outage was supposedly createdby a hugeinflux of listings.Quoting from eBay's own User Agreement,

"Additionally, you agree that you will not:

take any action that imposes or may impose (in our sole discretion) an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our infrastructure;

It appears that somebody violated the rules and deseves to be NARUd like the,"Little people".

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

by: fruity

Sun Nov 22 20:24:36 2009

Hey Jeff how does someone reach you?

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

by: Daisy

Sun Nov 22 20:27:27 2009

If Ebay doesn't cancel auctions that occurred during their mistake outage (at the seller's request), then we need to take our outrage to the press. We are in a serious recession and inept, greedy John Donahoe is raking in tens of millions of dollars for ruining the people's venue.

I will shout it from the rooftops and write endless emails detailing Ebay's callousness and greed.

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

by: fruity

Sun Nov 22 20:27:40 2009

By the way,here's a nifty program, you can quickly save an entire page of the message board into a pdf file. literally save everything in minutes. lol http://www.cutepdf.com/products/cutepdf/Writer.asp

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

by: fruity

Sun Nov 22 20:41:10 2009

I think maybe a dozen people are really upset on this entire thread and about half of them know how this is all going down. The rest of you I think you dont really get it and in some ways maybe ebay should continue to bilk you out of money

The only thing that surprises me is how so many people sit there and take it. I bet if ebay came over there to whoop you, you'd break off a branch and hand it to them. You can't see the benefit of standing together can you.

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

by: jeff

Sun Nov 22 20:45:04 2009

to poster wanting to contact me

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 21:44:57 2009

@ Jeff Hinds - I'm sorry it came to this, Jeff.  All the best for the future.  You've got to have faith and believe you will prosper and that KARMA will bring to the ebay corp what it deserves.

@ Fruity, heck, I know damn well what's going on: ebay want to oust small/medium sellers, but they want to be able to fool them into paying more and more fees (by failing TSR & DSR thresholds) until they don't need the money anymore.  That time will be when diamond seller sales start bringing home the bacon.  The rumour is that the largest diamond retailers pay NOTHING for a year.  The small and medium sellers are funding this transition until they are KICKED OUT (ostensibly because they are "failing").  There is 'noise' about this all over the web.

I believe that they have been experimenting this weekend to make diamond/TSR sellers' listings more prominent (it's no coincidence that for the most part daily deals and TSR selection was still accessible) and something got busted  in the process.

I moved most of my selling off ebay a couple of months ago, though I still run the odd auction to get rid of excess stock.  

You are right though, fruity; if we continue to fund this corrupt and devious organistion then we deserve to get ripped off.

As my mother used to say, "Fool me once shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."

Don't buy from ebay!  If you see something you like from a diamond retailer, email them and tell them you don't have an ebay account and ask to be redirected to their own website, or ask them for a Paypal invoice for the item.  In fact, do the same with all sellers - try and find their off ebay website or ask to be sent a Paypal invoice to buy the item directly.  

Take action, people!

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

by: fruity

Sun Nov 22 21:49:44 2009

I think the whole way ebay mishandled this is going to blow up in their face. No support on the message boards, no email delivery. still taking sellers money and no response from John Donahoe. I guess he was too busy spending his loot to say anything.

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

by: Ebay credits do not need our families

Sun Nov 22 22:27:07 2009

Ebay compensation?

Though the site may be up, half our listings are still not showing up; billing is not working and mail seems slower than ever or nonexistent.

We have lost thousands of dollars this weekend, at least 4 – 5 k and we needed this revenue as much as every other seller on the site.  How will eBay compensate us? Ebay credits do not pay bills or feed our families.

We work two weeks of each month to pay our Ebay and Ad Commerce fees, and another week for the tax man. Only one week is really ours. With the loss in revenue this weekend, how are we suppose to pay Ebay? Is eBay going to extend billing because of this? I suggest they should.  

Who needed this now, as if things weren't dismal enough on the site! Bad enough we work half the month for this unscrupulous firm, be damned if we’re going to work a whole month for them now!

Sellers should be granted at least a two week reprieve / extension from Ebay billing. I am not paying our Ebay fees on my homeowener's line of credit - sorry Ebay!

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

by: @ Jeff Hinds

Sun Nov 22 23:15:19 2009

Heh!
I'd love to see you stick it to them and see if death and hell don't rain down on them.

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

by: @ Jeff Hinds

Sun Nov 22 23:26:01 2009

me again

ebay better mind their p's and q's.
learn to take their own lumps.

That user agreement does NOT trump the first amendment.

let them shut you down, Then we will shine a big light on the situation.

I doubt that ebay needs the negative publicity.

Come to think of it... you never know what else may happen either

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

by: What do we do?

Sun Nov 22 23:46:14 2009

I can't believe I'm coming to Auction Bytes for information and suggestions on how to run my eBay business! What kind of a statement is that? And no offence is meant to Auction Bytes  - if not for AB I’d be in the dark completely. It is incomprehensible to me that JD has not made a front page, system wide announcement, followed-up by a mass email to clients (sellers)apologizing and advising what they can and cannot expect from this company over the next 24 – 48 hours.  Does eBay not have a contingency plan for things like this? Do they not have back ups? I remember gaming online years ago; of course systems crash, that is the nature of this beast. But there were always alternate servers to switch to. Are we seriously meant to believe a company the size of eBay does not have a back up system  - like three or four at least?

My TSAM is MIA, her cell phone has been off all weekend. The PS lines are jammed and those people are so rude and useless anyway (as other members have noted). The whole thing is just a nightmare and the ramifications here, so far reaching. I don’t think eBay has a clue how many of us are just struggling to stay afloat these days, to have this happen, amidst a holiday season, with no one at the helm directing traffic, is completely unacceptable. What are we suppose to do with our buyers?

I am in the middle of drafting a form letter as there is no way in he** I am shipping out goods at 50% less than cost. What are we suppose to tell our buyers? Does anyone here have suggestions on what we should say? I don’t want negatives, nor do I have the time to fight with T&S to remove them. Been there done that. Another useless department. Someone suggested their buyers they call eBay Customer Service. Is there a number buyers can call?  Anyone willing to share a letter they've sent to their buyers? Any assistance here would be greatly appreciated. Again, that I am having to turn to Auction Bytes for help is just.... insane!

My heartfelt thanks to Auction Bytes for being a life raft this weekend. I’m not sure what I would have done without AB,  and,Ming, Phil, Hariett, Herb, @lies and secrets, Fruity and everyone else I've missed,et al.

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

by: fruity

Mon Nov 23 00:33:20 2009

Hi What Do We,
I love you and I want you to thrive!

I'm calling my Senators as well as the Senate Small Business committee tomorrow morning. I'm going to tell them that ebay just LOOOTED THE MOM & POPs by using sly language that does not confirm we will get  compensated. I dont care what that agreement says I want all my money back, they need to be taught a lesson. You too should call u know, Congress seems to be really angry at people who bilk SMALL BUSINESS. and we're the smallest of them all! I dont even think its totally fixed, I think we have no dialogue from them to be assured that we are not,because we are small, reverted to the ghetto servers for itty bitty small biz!

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

by: fruity

Mon Nov 23 00:34:54 2009

Oops I'm sorry I should add, I'm going to ASK my SENATORS to intervene on my behalf as a constituent. That means send ebay a letter from their office because ebay is not communicating with me
That should make their arses tighten up!

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

by: L

Mon Nov 23 00:40:53 2009

I had 5 auction style items ended during the serach outage.  I discovered the outage about and hour or two before my listings ended on Saturday afternoon and I called ebay to request ebay to extend my listings, because the last minute bidders are the ones really make the final sale price to an acceptable level.  

After about 2 hours run around with different reps and fianlly a manager, I was clearly told my listings would not be extended.  The reps I talked with were very rude, told me to be "professional" and told me there is nothing they can do, and told me to hang up the phone.  I told them I want to have the problem solved, I don't want to hang up the phone until I get a clear answer on how to handle the problem ebay caused me.  Then the rep (name Chrysler) told me she is not authorized to hang up the phone, because if she hangs up the phone, she would not be "professional", and told me to just hang up.  Because I didn't want to hang up the phone, I was then put on mute for about 20 minutes or longer without any sound or anything (I didn't care to hang up, it is ebay's 800 number and ebay is being charged).  Finally a manager came on the line and told me the procedure to handle this.  By the way, at the time the manager came on the line, seveal of my listings already ended.  The manager confirmed with me that they were sold at much lower than usual final prices because buyers could not find my listings.  These items ended with final prices even below my costs.

Here is the procedure the manager told me to do for the items ended with unusual low prices that I cannot accept the sale:
1) Communicate with the buyer and tell the buyer I will cancel the transaction becuase the ebay problem;
2) Tell the buyer to call ebay to confirm what I tell the buyer is true;
3) Go to ebay resolution center to cancel the transaction;
4) Refund the payment to buyer;
5) Communicate with the buyer again and let the buyer accept the cancellation;
6) If buyer doesn't want to cancel, then there will be a problem (and she didn't tell me what to do);
7) If the buyer leaves negative feedback, contact ebay resolution center and feedback department, request ebay to investiage the negative feedback, and request the feedback to be removed (and don't know how long that will take);
8) Then, relist the item (and wish when the new listing ends, there is no outage again).

This is a new ebay ID I am using to sell these auction style items.  How can I take these steps to risk getting negative feedbacks?  How many more hours and days and weeks I will have to spend and waste to go through these steps in order to recover my lost?  

I fianlly decided to just bite the bullet and ship these items out tomorrow (Monday, 11/23).  I cannot waste more time and resource on these items.  They would have to be recorded as lost on my booking, and due to ebay's problem!  And, ebay doesn't care, which is not anything new ...

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

by: What do we do?

Mon Nov 23 01:24:37 2009

@Fruity

Thank you for caring about the small seller. For being a voice.

I have, and will continue to be, "noise" in someone's ear!

I started a letter to my buyers tonight and have sent it on to my TSAM. I will insist she approves it - I am not getting negged because of eBay's failure to run their business properly.  

Was it serendipitous that shortly before eBay went *poof*, members here and elsewhere were posting search results, with and without caches cleared, sharing screen shots to support the belief that eBay is funnelling traffic to the diamonds? I know this reads like a conspiracy theory, but I’m really beginning to wonder if Ming and some of the others here are more in the know… than I know!

It's just all too much - wayyy too much for those of us who want to run our bizz in a fair and level playing field.



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

by: The Truth

Mon Nov 23 01:52:14 2009

Let this outage be a wake-up call to all ebay sellers.

You pay ebay an absolute fortune in fees only to be treated horribly by ebay and their reps and, plain and simple, ebay does not care if you live or die. They do not care if you lose your home or if you and your family starves to death. All they want is your money for fees.

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

by: dumb but clever

Mon Nov 23 05:24:09 2009

The more i think about it, i bet it was INTENTIONAL. ebay hates their sellers and are screwing around again.

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

by: Pixel Pimps

Mon Nov 23 09:04:24 2009

What happened, did eBay count their pennies this morning and realize that after refunding sellers for the recent outage, they'll be in the red for all of one day?

Lets get serious. eBay is not refunding anything tangible - we're talking pixels!

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

by: Bruce Hershenson

Mon Nov 23 09:13:50 2009

I sold over 300,000 items on eBay for over 12 million dollars, and they kept making anti-seller rules, and raising the rates exponentially.

I complained to them, and they said "Love us or leave us", so I did! Since leaving their site 18 months ago, I have had record sales of over $3.1 million in 2008, and will likely beat that in 2009, even in the midst of the Great Recession.

How? Unlike eBay, I care about my customers. I added time-extended bidding, which is loved by a large majority of buyers AND consignors alike. I give great bonuses for multiple purchases. eBay does not allow either of these.

I give great customer service before, during and after EVERY sale. eBay could learn a lot from my business model.

They should make ALL the sellers who lost ANY money due to this outage "whole" (including items that sold for less than they should) and they should allow sellers to cancel sales that occurred during this outage.

Of course, they should have extended all the closing auctions until after the search was back working.

I am SO glad I no longer sell on eBay!

Bruce Hershenson
President
eMoviePoster.com

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