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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: P. Weismann

Sun Nov 22 00:00:13 2009

Ina, you probably don't hear this very often, but THANK YOU for providing sellers a great service!! I spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with support, and couldn't get straight answers. I checked the eBay corporate blog and nothing. Thanks for always being on top of the issues that are important to sellers.

Peter

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

by: a

Sun Nov 22 00:06:58 2009

Outage and fraud,

how many 10s of millions will ebay NOT MAKE today???? Ha Ha Ville

2 great youtube items,

see youtube user name  cappnonymous  

ebay Site Crash Fail! Major Search Outage Live News  

ebaY Still Hacked Cracked and Hijacked for the Holiday


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_W0n2CYsmk&feature=channel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUjFTtjdiyY&feature=channel

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

by: KaliMarcum

Sun Nov 22 00:09:14 2009

To quote ebay seller ''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!!!!''

Yep...to much going on in the best match (best match to what???) And too many things to go wrong. Nice job ebay! I say FIRE all these fresh outta college snot nosed know it all's that think they know how to make the site better and spend some $$$ on good old fashioned advertising!!!

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

by: wow!!!

Sun Nov 22 00:15:26 2009

for this to happen on a weekend is horrible.  ebay get it together!!!!

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

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sun Nov 22 00:15:28 2009

LMAO!! Now they're blaming it on the sellers! Like...what else is new? The sellers are listing to fast! they broke our servers!

OK, so..lets expect to see a GIGANTIC surge in listing numbers by tomorrow, and they better be HUGE to explain this kind of breakdown! No lies or coverups are accepted!

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

by: unusual1

Sun Nov 22 00:16:06 2009

THANK YOU VERY MUCH EBAY!! My Bonanzle sales have picked up noticeably since your latest screw up. My website is getting a lot of hits as well. Now is the time for a massive ebay exodus. Bonanzle, ecrater, etsy and others (maybe too many others for buyers to sort through). But staying with ebay at this point - is pointless unless you like being abused, there is no other logical reason for still selling on ebay.

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

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sun Nov 22 00:25:56 2009

Another place you can report corporate corruption if you lose money because of this outage: http://www.nlpc.org/report-corruption
this is an excellent site, they will do the reasearch behind anything fishy!

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

by: Tony P.

Sun Nov 22 00:38:36 2009

It's not surprising that ebay would blame a "technical issue"  that was caused by a sudden increase in listings.

BUT..

PSU shows the listing count as DOWN from yesterday, with over 25K LESS listings.

Of course the mysterious "added" listings may be store listings, which aren't being shown in search results (including <30 core results), have no impact on the search function and are generally benign as far as search and browse goes. Yeah, that's the ticket - it's store items.

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

by: e-Typical

Sun Nov 22 00:41:56 2009

Gotta luv it!  

It's the seller's fault!

I don't believe for one minute this had anything to do with sellers uploading 33% more stock, and anyone that does, is foolish. This is just eBay passing the buck and blaming as they have always done. This has more to do with crappo code layered on more crappo code, on a bug-ridden site.

Ebay breaks all the time – today is just crashed. However only eBay would take something like this and try and spin it around. Most large corps just take it on the chin and are big enough to admit a technical error, apologize and move on. Enough said. They don’t need to blame on their customers for gosh sakes!

I am sure, knowing eBay, sellers will not only be blamed for the crash today, they’ll be blamed for the loss in Q   (do I smell a plot here?).

eBay will talk about all the money THEY lost today, and you can bet your green back we won’t hear much about what those pesky sellers lost because after all, it was their damn fault!

Kids. Forget kids. Infants. We’ve got infants at the helm folks. Unable to own anything.

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

by: RicRoe

Sun Nov 22 00:45:29 2009

I agree, the site outage will be a convenient excuse JD will use to slough off what will surely be poor performance in the 4th Quarter.

Of course, the outage was likely caused by eBay's constant tinkering with the site.

If this does not lead to the dismissal of JD & the rest of his Gang That Could Not Shoot Straight, then surely eBay is finished as a marketplace.

If JD and his team of buffoons were not so busy making system changes during the build up to the busiest season of the year.... If JD and his team of buffoons had stuck to the policy of no major changes during the holidays, then this likely would not have happened.

Unfortunately, JD and his buffoons can not stop tinkering with the site regardless of the time of year.

This is what happens when incompetent CEO's are allowed to continue in their roll despite demonstrating they are obviously under qualified to lead.

If this does not lead to a complete housecleaning, then it is obvious that the plan is to let eBay marketplace slowly wither and die from gross mismanagement.

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

by: Thanks Ina

Sun Nov 22 01:01:42 2009


I would like to second or third the bouquets to Ina for keeping us on top of the events (or non events even!) throughout today.

If not for Auction Bytes, I would have been scheduling my listings without a clue the site was down – I don’t do a search everyday, I have my favs and just assume the site is functioning (as much as it ever does!).

Someone said it in a post the other day, that Auction Bytes was the first and last part of their day. That’s the case for me too, though today, it was my lunch and dinner read too!

THANKS INA and anyoe behind the scenes at AB too.

This is where the real news is!


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

by: The blame game

Sun Nov 22 01:05:40 2009


@RicRoe

I couldn't agree more. What does it take for shareholders to demand a thorough housecleaning here?

The blame game, cover ups, I though Michael Moore was on this already? I heard rumors he was speaking to Plat and Tit sellers early fall?

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

by: On Lies and Secrets

Sun Nov 22 01:24:30 2009

This is a terrible situation.  There is something wrong with ebay management. This is an unacceptable way to conduct a business.  **Every** ecommerce site of any size or significance is subject to hacking and malicious behavior of this sort - ebay is not special in this regard.  

According to the update, the problem has been ''identified'' and ''fixed'' but the ''fix'' hasn't been completely ''implemented.''  I am sorry, but an unimplemented fix is the same as being broken in terms of the user experience.  Why hasn't the site been ''fixed'' yet?

Also according to the update, sellers will be issued refunds. I hope that these are real, complete, immediate refunds and not credits towards future listings.

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

by: kw

Sun Nov 22 01:24:56 2009

OMG! Just read the update and ebay managed once again to blame the sellers.  It was a 'listing surge.'  And I would like to see evidence of this 'surge' since listing counts were down the previous 2 days according to medved.  Well, whatever.  It is the sellers who screwed it up AGAIN.  That's the official ebay stand for everything.

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

by: Wold in Sheep's e-Clothing

Sun Nov 22 01:28:12 2009

@Chester

To quote you:

And I'm sure (eBay) they'll issue a full and frank apology, for what it's worth.

Ummm, yep. That was eBay's idea of an full and frank apology:

It's the sellers fault! They loaded too many listings!

And if you believe that, then I believe you don't work for eBay ;-)

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

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Sun Nov 22 01:30:03 2009

There should be a full refund of all fees and we should be looking at a class action law suit against the company for negligence and for fraud. We and many other sellers lost a lot of money today because of auctions that had bids with dozens of people putting it on their watch list who could not get on and put a bid on the items.

This is a last straw with many buyers and sellers and as you can see from the response that you have received to this blog thousands of buyers and sellers are affected.

Bill

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

by: On Lies and Secrets

Sun Nov 22 01:37:44 2009

The excuse of being hacked is plausible, though probably not the complete story of what went wrong.  Hacking may have been a contributing factor, but I suspect that there are systemic problems with the platform that caused this failure.

In the past, an experienced ebayer (buyer or seller) used to be able to reliably predict the behavior of the site and could generally distinguish between when the site was working properly and when there was a site problem of some kind.  When something unusual happened, experienced users could notify customer service and make the corporation aware of the problem so they could fix it.  Since disruptive innovation was implemented, experienced users have had an increasingly more difficult time distinguishing between normal site behavior and errors/problems.  Ebay support has increasingly dodged acknowledging the presence of problems, has failed to make announcements about known issues and has dissembled as to the root causes of problems creating confusion and mayhem.  A situation where users can't tell when the site is operating normally or not leaves the site more vulnerable to attack because few people really know when the site is working as designed or when there is a problem.  If ebay was hacked, the site's management was as much a contributing issue as the hackers.

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

by: Spinning heads

Sun Nov 22 01:45:15 2009

@ On Lies and Secrets

If the site was hijacked, or the site was flooded with too many listings, will someone please tell me why the daily deal was still operational?

I don't know about about coding, my programming skills are pretty Atari basic  , but something just doesn't add up here? Only a part of the site is broke? Perhaps someone with more IT expertise can explain how and why the banner ads were working just fine and the daily deal was selling just fine?

Did eBay want consumers to hear about this? To hear about the number of listings on the site yesterday and how many more there will tomorrow? Somethings not right here... par normal!

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

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Nov 22 01:59:46 2009

If only The Ho would follow the Japanese tradition of committing hari-kari with the sword of Damocles.

Remember, whatever ebafia SAYS is the reason for the outage is a LIE.

Ebafia is institutionally incapable of telling the truth. The people who work for ebay are also truth challenged.

Further, the public release of false and deliberately misleading information designed to deceive Caball Street and investor is a violation of SEC regulations.

Securities and Exchange Commission
SEC Complaint Center
100 F Street NE
Washington, D.C. 20549-0213
   http://www.sec.gov/divisions/enforce.shtml

Tips and Complaints: http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml

Online complaint forms: http://www.sec.gov/complaint/selectconduct.shtml

Yo, Caball Street analysts!

What do you think of Your Ho now? What I think is anyone who lost money on ebay stock in the last few years on your advice ought to call that law firm that's advertising on the cable channels and join their class action suit against incompetent analysts and brokerages who gave bad investment advice to their clients.

DEATH to ebay corp. in 2009. Closer than ever.

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

by: On Lies and Secrets

Sun Nov 22 02:04:38 2009

It is hard to know what went wrong. Given how long the site has been down (some blogs have reported problems since 5 a.m.), I suspect the ebay corporation itself didn't know what was wrong for a long time and they still may not know with certainty.

It appears that there is a problem with search.  The ebay corporation claims that there were ''unanticipated technical issues'' that resulted from a ''surge'' in live listings on the site.  If the ''surge'' of live listings was a part of the problem, then either one of diamond level powersellers uploading a significant amount of inventory caused this to happen or possibly a problem was introduced by a third party developer (the change of allowing third party developers onto the site was mentioned in the Auctionbytes Newslfash about the outage).

The root problem seems to be an undisclosed ***''unanticipated technical issue.''***  This technical issue could be nearly anything.  

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