EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2668 - November 07, 2011     1 of 6

eBay Disappoints Bidders Thanks to Auction Glitch

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While over the past several years eBay has been appealing to mainstream shoppers who want to "buy it new, buy it now," auctions are what keep many visitors returning to the site. So glitches like the one impacting eBay bidders that began on Sunday should not be taken lightly.

After eBay rolled out daylight savings time in the U.S., eBay listings began randomly displaying incorrect ending times that were off by an hour. Auction sniping services, which allow shoppers to place last-second bids on eBay auctions automatically, were the first to notice the problem, and Gixen reported the issue on its own announcement board on Gixen.com and on the EcommerceEKG Systems Board.

AuctionStealer explained the depth of the problem, and AutionSniper also alerted its users.

AuctionStealer explained to users how to see the problem by going into an auction listing and hitting the refresh page. "What you will often see (not every time) is that the ending time displayed suddenly changes by one hour (see figure 1.1 below, taken only moments after the shot in figure 1.0). If you continue to refresh that page, it may go back and forth, or it may not, but if you can't see it happening on one item, pick a different one and within one or two item pages like that, you should eventually find one where this happens. Also, because there is no way to know when this started, it has affected some bids from the point of the time change onwards while others are fine."

The problem also appears to be impacting sellers who are using eBay's scheduled listing feature, for which they pay an extra fee. A seller wrote on eBay's discussion board in a thread entitled Scheduled Start Time Wrong, "I couldn't find anywhere to report a bug on ebay, so I thought I would mention this here. I set up two auctions with a scheduled start time of 7:15 PST or as ebay says, 19:15 PST. It is currently about 2 hours before that. I am now looking the listings page that says "Your listing is scheduled and is not yet live." And the "start time" listed here keeps switching back and forth between 19:15 and 20:15. Everytime I refresh the page, it switches back and forth. I am going to be rather annoyed if ebay starts my listing an hour later than I want, especially since I am paying extra for scheduled start."

On the Gixen board, buyers expressed their disappointment upon losing auctions due to eBay's glitch, despite having placed bids for higher amounts than the winning bidders'. "I really wanted this suit. Very upset...," and "Must be so many angry people because of this... Totally ruined my day," wrote one buyer.

The problem also impacts sellers, since any of their auctions impacted by the glitch could have ended with higher selling prices. It also isn't clear if disappointed bidders will blame sellers for the lost bids.

eBay has not acknowledged the issue on its Systems Announcement board; you can indicate whether you've experienced this problem via EcommerceBytes' EcommerceEKG Systems Board.


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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