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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
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Readers Comments

Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: ebayseller
       
Sat Nov 21 18:12:59 2009
Representative did not answer if invoicing was still working or not.  I have several items that are going to be sold.  I am disappointed that the last few hours fight is not possible, and that there is no extension for the down time.  I found out about it indirectly because I wanted to look for something for myself.  
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: George
       
Sat Nov 21 18:15:03 2009
Chester "Do people really think a blue chip company of its size and stature doesn't have continuity in mind?"

Ebay is the most poorly run company of its size that has EVER existed. Customer Service isn't even in their Policy & Procedures Manual. No regard for their customers, nor do they know who the customer even is. Major glitches take months and years to be fixed or are completely ignored. John Donahoe is a moron that needs to go.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: fruity
       
Sat Nov 21 18:17:14 2009
OH GET THIS, the FASHION VAULT IS GONE from all the pages. How much you wanna bet those big retailers RUINED HOLIDAY WEEKEND. They probably brought this site to its knees
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: kw
       
Sat Nov 21 18:21:34 2009
There is no excuse except incompetence.  I'm truly sorry for the sellers, but shopping on Bonanzle and Etsy today has been fun.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: summer in the city
       
Sat Nov 21 18:24:22 2009

@ Chester

You obviously have more IT knowledge in your smallest toenail than most of us here, but, and I say this with the kindest intentions, you are experiencing tunnel vision. Most Ebay buyers and sellers will not be reading Slashdot or Computer Weekly...we're only interested in a product that works at least as well as its competitors. To understand Ebay's issues, you must experience it from our standpoint.

(If you're looking for press releases, Auctionbytes is crammed to the gills with them.)



Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Irene Stanopolous
       
Sat Nov 21 18:24:52 2009
Thank you Ina!! I knew I could count on AuctionBytes to be Johny-On-The-Spot!

Talk about a major #FAIL of the supposed news sources covering this industry.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Stephen Silverstein
       
Sat Nov 21 18:25:41 2009
In the UK we have the illusion that all is working ... but not so!

Firstly, the search facility is back but when I search for my own items by title, it returns nothing.

I have also discovered that thousands and I do mean thousands of listings have completely disappeared.

This is a complete shambles and I will try to alert the UK press to what is going on and eBay's apparently arogant response to us - the people who pay them!!
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Stephen Silverstein
       
Sat Nov 21 18:25:52 2009
In the UK we have the illusion that all is working ... but not so!

Firstly, the search facility is back but when I search for my own items by title, it returns nothing.

I have also discovered that thousands and I do mean thousands of listings have completely disappeared.

This is a complete shambles and I will try to alert the UK press to what is going on and eBay's apparently arogant response to us - the people who pay them!!
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Steve
       
Sat Nov 21 18:28:25 2009
Toscaredtosay saysFolks, this is a terrorist attack.

Toscaredtosay, none of us really like Donahoe, but I'd hardly call him a terrorist.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Chester
       
Sat Nov 21 18:37:45 2009
@summer in the city

Okay, I appreciate your comments and forgive me the tone - it was never my intention to put people's backs up.

I understand that end-users expect something to just work. Also, I understand (and agree!) that eBay is perhaps not the best run operation.

With that considered, does it not come as a surprise to people that - even if it was run better - sometimes, things just break.

My colleagues and I don't work for such a huge, behemoth of a company, which no doubt suffers at the hands of bureaucracy; but I do understand the temperament of most users who perhaps don't appreciate the hard work that goes into making sure services keep running, no matter how the politics stick an elbow in at every possible juncture.

I truly feel for all eBay users but where's the competition? For now, it must be accepted that sometimes, just sometimes, the shit will hit the fan and people can't expect to come up rosy.

However, what I would expect from eBay is any commission made from sales that were due to end in the outage be returned, at the very least. And I'm sure they'll issue a full and frank apology, for what it's worth.

Thanks for your response, I really appreciate it.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Ebay Has Gone Under
       
Sat Nov 21 18:39:20 2009
It's not just search.  You can't bid on anything either - either it comes back to the bid page blank (it wont take) or it asks you to sign in over and over.

I haven't been able to bid on 4 different auctions since 9:00 a.m. this morning and now all 4 closed - 2 without any bidders at all.

Everyone involving in IT should be fired on Monday.  This is beyond the pale.  How can Ebay expect to keep any buyers this way?

I'm off to Amazon.  I'm sure I can find what I want there.  Costco had the 3rd item and for a good price.  
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Stephen Silverstein
       
Sat Nov 21 18:39:43 2009
Here in the UK, search only produces "Buy It Now" results.

Better still, if you look in any category, you can only see the Buy It Now items.

Someone should fire their programmers and get some decent school kids in to fix the problems. I know one here who could probably to better than these idiots.

I have asked eBay what they intend to do to compensate me and I am confident that these greedy pigs will do nothing.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: Stephen Silverstein
       
Sat Nov 21 18:41:39 2009
I think you'll find that ebid is working ...
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: MELLOWDE
       
Sat Nov 21 18:42:36 2009
The pages of ebay's site haven't been functioning all that well even before this total outage.  For months while searching for items the back button after viewing a particular auction takes me back several pages rather than the previous.  Paypal's links are skewed making recent transactions unavailable for long periods of time.  I phoned ebay customer service about this and they apologized and said they were working on it.  FOR SEVERAL MONTHS!!!!???  No fellow sellers, this is just a continuation of the lack of proper system maintenance going on over at ebay inc.  How many sales have already been lost due to the search-back button problem for months now??? Don't know if others have noticed the gliches but I suspect the ever-increasing number of ''changes'' to ebay's site are responsible.  I don't believe writing code without conflict is all that easy.  Take a look at Windows problems.  And they're in the business of writing program.  Ebay has really screwed things up lately.  I've voiced my concerns to them properly each time I received a phone call to tell me about all the ''wonderful'' new changes they are making.  I don't need changes. I need a working system that is easy to use by BUYERS!!!!
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: STOP IT JOHN !
       
Sat Nov 21 18:45:20 2009
OUTAGE = PLANNED ???? Here is why I think so, you see in my opinion Johnny Donny knows the 4th quarter is going to be BAD !

So rather than be man and face up and say I all by my lonesome ruined eBay, and this 4th quarter was going to be the final proof, me thinks he decided to do this on purpose to cover his @ss again.

So he can say ''HEY BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AND ANALYSTS, WE HAD THAT OUTAGE, ON THE WEEKEND, IT HURT OUR EARNINGS BAD''

This can't be no coincidence, my watchers, and sell through rate is at the worst ever for this time a year, each year I say it worse than the previous year, and that is can't possibly be worse the next year and it is ! - Well any worse then after 2 years of JD, then I will be unemployed entirely.

So me thinks this is on purpose to blame this on poor 4th quarter !

C'mon Johnny Boy, stop this game playing to make excuses for you ruining eBay !
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: MELLOWDE
       
Sat Nov 21 18:48:08 2009
Chester, above.  Pleaser read my comments just above this post.  IT things over at ebay have been bad for months.  If they treat seller with such reckless abandon can you imagine how they must treat their own employees.  Leaves only poor moral and mishap and derision in it's wake.  
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: James
       
Sat Nov 21 18:53:25 2009
EBay incompetence is simply staggering.

What is their work around? Go to advanced search and search title and description. Totally worthless and buyers are not going to do that. They are going to go to a site that has a clue which is pretty much any other site out there.

EBay really needs to clean house from the top down. First start with that chowderhead Donahoe and keep going till we say whoa.
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: MELLOWDE
       
Sat Nov 21 18:59:26 2009
Remember that old campaign slogan, ''keep it simple, stupid''.  Well over at ebay, they misread that.   It seems to the corporate at ebay that the slogan was ''keep it stupid, simple''.  
'nough said.  
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: DaWhip
       
Sat Nov 21 19:06:14 2009
@Chester the Suggester
[SNIP]However, what I would expect from eBay is any commission made from sales that were due to end in the outage be returned, at the very least. And I'm sure they'll issue a full and frank apology, for what it's worth.[/SNIP]

BWHAAAHAAHAA Chester, you so funny!
Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed   Major Search Outage Leaves eBay Shoppers Empty-Handed
by: whatever.
       
Sat Nov 21 19:07:11 2009
Even more special is that if you luckily have an auction up on your screen and you click on the Seller's Other Items link: zero search results and no way to do their cutesy ''check item and description'' to have the search work.

And of course this lovely workaround isn't on the ebay home page or on a user's My eBay page. If a search wasn't able to be run why would a buyer think to try advanced search or to try the search w/ description ticked?

And that certainly is a great workaround: thousands of results when you normally would have less than fifty; or 110 results when normally I find 2-5 listings total.

Like Ina said, they are laying a foundation for a ''not a hard outage'' argument.
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