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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: vancamp

Sat Nov 21 17:20:50 2009

How many forums is Chester leaving that LEGAL "good faith" message? - a little too close to ebay home for me to swallow - he is probably on the official ebay moderation team that deletes comments that have the word "crap" in them.  I needed the $72 I lost today for rent - reading a book is not going to make me warm and fuzzy about it.

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

by: LOLz

Sat Nov 21 17:23:27 2009

This is great news!
Keep up the good work ebay!

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

by: STRYKER

Sat Nov 21 17:25:30 2009


Quite the co-incidnce that ebay just slammed in a Major change to the search just three days ago

I guess having their pampered pet sellers items show up on the ''sellers-who-actually-pay-ebays-bills'' live listings was so important, they speed -forced the code into the system without adequate testin.

 MY GUESS IS THEY tried to fix the PORN and adult  items POPPING IN  on the fly and KABLAMMO

 Oh well, the good news is the daily deals links work great and the sponsered links as well. Thesellers who actually exist in ebays eyes will be Ok


Good thing this didn't happen during the xmas shopping season !  

Thanks ebay for your predicictability, if nothing else

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

by: fruity

Sat Nov 21 17:29:42 2009

OOps I forgot to post it. hope y'all see this

Call-in Number if you are experiencing outage problems:  (347) 324-5765
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Fruity/2009/11/21/ebay-holida
y-buyers-cant-shop

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

by: Carl

Sat Nov 21 17:32:55 2009

You can still search eBay, but you have to use Google...

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

by: Wendy

Sat Nov 21 17:33:23 2009

I am not sure where you got the link to Ebay's policy on the outage. I just called them since I have quite a few auctions ending today (some have already ended during this outage). They said that they are NOT planning on extending the auctions or doing ANYTHING for the sellers!

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

by: 109523

Sat Nov 21 17:33:56 2009

Add listings and daily deal are fine everything else ---- not even error message just zero return.

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

by: MEbuyer

Sat Nov 21 17:34:17 2009

Buyers are frustrated also.

I cannot pay sellers, if I don't know if I have more of their items I have bid on.

No, looking at my buying list won't work, I have over 300 items on that list.

I have been searching for a few things today and got nowhere.

Too bad for the sellers though, us buyers can come back and find what we want, sellers have listings ending.

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

by: STRYKER

Sat Nov 21 17:34:58 2009


And to the professional ebay posters:

 Remeber to save those blocks of text to explain how ebays results for q4 '09 are due to the recesssion

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

by: Marilyn

Sat Nov 21 17:37:36 2009

Hugely relieved all my current auctions ended on Thursday. Sucks for my store listings tho. WHY do sites meddle with the back end DURING THE HOLIDAY SELLING SEASON? Both ebay and Amazon are guilty and should be beaten. Ebay used to know better, in the early days. Apparently their current programmers are too stupid to know the rule is HANDS OFF from Nov 1 to Jan 15.

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

by: STRYKER

Sat Nov 21 17:37:47 2009


Its just a shame that ebay was forced to make a major code change, putting the "better" sellers (cut price discounters) links onto the live listings of inferior sellers who insist on actually making a profit on their items

We selfish jerks brought this upon ourselves ! I am so ashamed

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

by: famdoc

Sat Nov 21 17:40:40 2009

This seems to me to be a hacking issue.
Doubt it was volume, as just the search function has failed.  Look for some hacker to take credit.  

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

by: ebay seller

Sat Nov 21 17:40:47 2009

this is what happens when you try to fix something that isn't broken , YOU BREAK IT !!!! GO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL SEARCH AND SCREW THE WORST MATCH!!!!

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

by: mysoapboxrant

Sat Nov 21 17:43:46 2009

I just contacted CTV, one of Canada's leading news stations about this outage.

I sent them links to all the comments here as well as the error messages and announcements board on ebay.

Hopefully they will do a story here as this is major financial news.

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

by: Chester

Sat Nov 21 17:54:16 2009

@vancamp

No, but I am an IT professional and I believe what I said was actually quite objective.

What never fails to surprise me is the level of demonstrative ill regard for a service that very rarely fails its users, be they buyers or sellers alike.

I was planning on using eBay this evening and do feel for the poor sellers whose auction items will be sold short, but how many buyers who benefit from this will have the moral inclination to reverse the inevitable outcome of receiving their goods at a much lower rate?

And I'm sure eBay technical support and customer services anticipate complaints in their droves for the downtime - and yet the tone on here seems to suggest that this was somehow done on purpose; that this was due to a poor upgrade strategy?

Do people really think a blue chip company of its size and stature doesn't have continuity in mind?

Forgive my tone, but I'm just defending fellow IT professionals who get a raw deal from users at the best of times.

And I am *So Glad* I'm not associated with eBay in a professional capacity at this moment in time, I truly do. Because the backlash hasn't yet properly begun. I bet the Sundays' Tech columns have already doubled in size.

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

by: summer in the city

Sat Nov 21 17:54:58 2009


Wow. Just wow.

So if Ebay search breaks down on Cyber Monday, will Donahoe still be talking about how great Ebay will be after his next Five-year Plan?

I'm not listing or buying anything until DONAHOE IS GONE-AHOE.



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

by: summer in the city

Sat Nov 21 17:58:21 2009


@ Chester, who wrote: ''Do people really think a blue chip company of its size and stature doesn't have continuity in mind?''

Chester, you're way out of the loop. Continuity is the thing Ebay CEO Donahoe most wants to destroy. Do some reading here on Auctionbytes. You're clueless.

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

by: Kelly

Sat Nov 21 17:58:52 2009


Read this, I agree what the author said:"Like a blinded big eared bat, a collision is inevitable (for ebay)."
http://arnoldit.com/wordpress/2009/04/22/ebay-another-yahoo
/

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

by: ebayseller

Sat Nov 21 18:04:17 2009

Spoke in chat with a representative that says that auctions are going to end at their regular time no extension for this issue.

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

by: Chester

Sat Nov 21 18:12:46 2009

@summer in the city

Point me to peer-reviewed paper, or at the very least, a press release and I'm more than willing to read it and formulate an opinion. However, I won't swallow conjecture, so please bear that in mind.

Regarding continuity, I was eluding to it being in the best interests of the IT Infrastructure Management (which will undoubtedly be huge in line with the size of its operation) to have continuity in place.

I won't be told by anyone that they don't have fail-over strategies in place, irrespective of the CEO's wishes to 'streamline' these in future.

Re the politics, I probably am, as you say 'out of the loop'; but I have enough of my own politics, thank you. Perhaps I missed the thread on Slashdot or column in Computer Weekly, so for this, please accept my apologies for being so blatantly ignorant on the matter.

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