EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1481 - February 23, 2007     2 of 4

eBay Seller Joins Chorus of Complaints over Search

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Sam Mindel has 5,000 items sitting in a warehouse in Los Angeles, but something is keeping him from listing them on eBay: Mindel said no one can find his eBay listings. He joined other sellers who have been complaining since May 2006 that something is seriously wrong with eBay's search feature.

The only way to see any of Mindel's listings is by knowing the item number - something potential buyers would not have access to when shopping the site. Searching by keywords - and even searching by Mindel's eBay User ID - shows zero results.

eBay sellers have failed to figure out a pattern or explanation that would explain why some or all of their listings sometime fail to show up in search results. Discussions on eBay's Technical Issues and Search boards resound with frustration along with theories and speculation.

One theory centered around the new, longer Item numbers introduced back in May 2006. And that was about the time a thread first appeared discussing the problem, a thread that is still going strong today (http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=1000275679). When asked late last year what the longer item numbers meant, eBay executives in a Town Hall meeting joked about conspiracy theories regarding the numbers. One manager explained that eBay used to assign the number based on the category that the item was listed in, and with the change to longer numbers, it was assigned based on the seller's account and where the seller's account is stored in the eBay servers (http://pics.ebay.com/aw/pics/commdev/Nov_30_Town_Hall_Transcript_Final.pdf).

Mindel has contacted eBay customer service through Live Chat and PowerSeller support, and found someone from "the Office of the President" to help him. But three weeks later, the problem continued.

In fact, news of search problems came as a surprise to eBay's technology staff when Mindel called in to the eBay Town Hall meeting on Thursday evening. After describing his problem to top eBay executives, including the Chief Technology Officer and seven of his staff dedicated to technology issues, they told Mindel, "no one in the room is aware of this problem."

A second caller named Debbie called in later to report the same problem. She said many sellers may be unaware of the problem since the items do appear in sellers' My eBay accounts.

After several inquiries to eBay, a spokesperson told AuctionBytes Thursday evening that they were looking into the matter.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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