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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: seller

Sat Nov 21 21:51:09 2009

@harriet thanks for the reply. one more thing i want to ask how ecrater charge the seller???? and is there any phone number of theirs i can contact?

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

by: Jon

Sat Nov 21 21:52:00 2009

It's not fixed yet!

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

by: Sandy

Sat Nov 21 21:53:09 2009

guess  I finally broke ebay. teehee...

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

by: nancy

Sat Nov 21 21:54:01 2009

eCRATER IS FREE (for the 18,294th time for everybody ELSE)

F-R-E-E.

Free, I tell ya.

Whaddayagot to lose?

Lord knows we all have the day off today (without warning) so list your stuff there?

Just remember to go check them or end them if need be if search ever comes back up.

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

This user has validated their user name. by: Doc

Sat Nov 21 21:54:48 2009

Go to google shopping and search for your eBay items. It is bringing up eBay listings.

Looks like DonaHoe can't get his best match up.. LOL!

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

by: This started before today

Sat Nov 21 21:59:08 2009

I cancelled my adcommerce campaigns a few days ago because the links retuned  0 results.

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

by: Ex-Titanium PowerSeller

Sat Nov 21 21:59:39 2009

So now the spin begins. WSJ eBay-apologist Geoff Fowler using a an eBay-paid stooge in Scot Wingo to paint this outage as "sporadic".  

Talk to some REAL sellers who have been IMPACTED by this outage!!

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

by: Goodbye Ebay .. Fire Donahoe!!

Sat Nov 21 22:00:17 2009

In Los Angeles Chanel 9 news is saying that Ebay was brought down by hackers who penetrated the Ebay site and that Ebay is no longer functional for holiday shopping.

The reporters were talking about it and said the Ebay was no longer a shopping destination since Amazon and major retailers had their own site.

One reporter said it sounded like Ebay is no longer open for business and had closed!

I hope CNN picks up on this.

Ebay seems to have gone out of business.   So I guess they don't need a CEO anymore, do they?  

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

by: Goodbye Ebay .. Fire Donahoe!!

Sat Nov 21 22:03:34 2009

Oh, and for those that don't recognize "Chester" -- he's been here before.

He claimed in the past to have been an Ebay employee, and then a paid consultant.

It's not appropriate, IMO to post here and give excuses for Ebay and false information and not disclose that you've been paid by Ebay.


And Scott Wingo is, and has been, about as credible as John Donahoe.  Someone should tell the WSJ to talk to someone who is honest.  Wingo is a paid for pawn that has no clue.  Never did.  Just pay him and he'll read the script.

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

by: mkweise

Sat Nov 21 22:05:09 2009

Interesting side effect: I'm getting a flurry of feedback from buyers who couldn't be bothered to do so when I sent them friendly reminders. Being unable to buy stuff today, I guess they had to find something else to do on eBay...

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

by: The one who knows

Sat Nov 21 22:05:37 2009

EBAY'S ENTIRE WEBSITE IS BROKE -JUST LIKE MEG WHITMAN'S HEAD! :)

EBAY SITE IS COOKED, IT'S GOOD, IT'S ALLLLL GOOD! :)

Ebay says:

"Due to errors in **some** of our backend systems"

ANOTHER EBAY LIE. "SOME" SERVERS BEING DOWN DOESN'T SHUT THE WHOLE WEBSITE DOWN LIKE IT IS NOW FOR THE ENTIRE DAY!

YOU ARE BEING LIED TO YET AGAIN BY EBAY!!!!!!

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

by: Fruity

Sat Nov 21 22:14:09 2009

To make them fix it faster, lets all post on how you can access ebay listings by searching Google Stores shopping, that'll really tear ebay up. lol

Here's a tinyurl you can share!
http://tinyurl.com/yd64tk3

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

by: whatever.

Sat Nov 21 22:14:45 2009

''Come to think of it, . . .is ebay still down?''

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

by: pete

Sat Nov 21 22:16:16 2009

Still getting sales on my website and Amazon, thank goodness.

Gee, for a company that DEMANDS perfection from it's sellers (TRS program) they certainly do a great job of leading by example, don't ya think ?

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

by: WindsorBear

Sat Nov 21 22:16:26 2009

Looks like it's slowly coming back.  I'm able to search now.  Some searches are only producing a few results, but each time I refresh, the count gets larger.

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

by: seller

Sat Nov 21 22:17:19 2009

Still down.  10:17 EST

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

by: whatever.

Sat Nov 21 22:20:21 2009

Brought down by hackers. Yeah right. And hackers are always so careful to keep the sponsored links and banner ads on the sites they "bring down."

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

by: DOWN WITH EBAY!

Sat Nov 21 22:22:23 2009

CONFIRMED -ENTIRE EBAY WEBSITE HAS BEEN DOWN ALL DAY AND STILL IS!

TIME FOR EBAY TO SHUT IT'S DOORS. NO EXCUSE FOR BEING DOWN ALL DAY DURING PRIME HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON. NONE WHATSOEVER.

I WOULD ADVISE EBAY SELLERS TO LEAVE AND GO TO http://www.ecrater.com LIKE THE REST OF US. NO FEES!

I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE EBAY STOCK ON MON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

This user has validated their user name. by: Doc

Sat Nov 21 22:25:48 2009

Here is a video showing eBay search returning no results, but Google Shopping accessing eBay items just fine!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlGi7c4Yp-Y&hd=1

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

by: honeybunch

Sat Nov 21 22:26:25 2009

"In Los Angeles Chanel 9 news is saying that Ebay was brought down by hackers who penetrated the Ebay site"

I don't believe this.  I suspect it's just that the last two years of incompetent, slap-dash change implementation finally built to a critical state.  One more move toppled it all.  Jenga, anyone?

But, it's an interesting idea.  I wonder what would be worse for eBay's image...that security is so bad the site could be taken out of commission like this by hackers?  Or that the technical infrastructure is so unstable that "scheduled maintenance" (AKA desperate, last-minute changes to search, and adding advertising to active listings) could bring it down like this?  Which would Wallstreet find more forgivable?

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