EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2863 - August 06, 2012     2 of 3

Glitch Prompts eBay to Cancel Listings and Issue Refunds

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eBay cancelled what's thought to be thousands of listings over the weekend after a glitch wiped out critical data from the item descriptions. eBay sent an email to those affected promising to issue double refunds to sellers who paid insertion fees and must now edit the listings to add back in the data and then relist them.

eBay sellers were initially alarmed over the weekend when some of their listings were cancelled due to supposed "Duplicate Listing" policy violations. "It is my belief that a rogue ebay employee has hacked into my account and simply ended the listings from within," one reader wrote to EcommerceBytes on Sunday, but it turned out eBay cancelled the listings because of Friday's glitch, which was reported in the EcommerceBytes Blog.

Critical information missing from eBay listings beginning Friday morning included shipping and return policy information, as well as item specifics and item condition.

eBay terminated the listings affected by the glitch, but mislabeled the reason for cancelling listings as policy violations. By early Sunday morning, sellers received an email from eBay notifying them their listings had been ended due to eBay's glitch.

"I was watching my email getting filled with deleted listings one at a time," wrote one seller on the eBay discussion boards. "I thought my entire store was being removed one item at a time. it stopped at 371. It will be a long time before I list any new items on here!"

One seller emailed EcommerceBytes, "An eBay programming glitch started canceling listings today and stating the reason as "Violation of Duplicate Listing Policy,"" and he forwarded the letter from eBay Vice President of Merchant Development Michael Jones.

In the email, Jones warned sellers they might have to edit all of their listings to put back the information eBay had deleted. Jones also said eBay would be reaching out to buyers who had been bidding on auctions that ended early to let them know that the listing ended early through no fault of the seller.

But one seller who was impacted by the glitch said he received an angry email from a bidder. "I had a VERY ANGRY REPEAT buyer whose bid was cancelled and he sent me a SCATHING email," the seller wrote to EcommerceBytes. He said eBay sent an email to the buyer at his request explaining that eBay was at fault.

A copy of the email sent by eBay's Michael Jones follows:

Dear (redacted),
We want to let you know that for a few hours on August 3, we had a technical issue that caused some information (including item specifics, item condition, return policies and shipping) to be dropped from some seller listings on the site. The issue has been resolved; however, some of your listings were impacted. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.

Rather than have your items continue without all their original information, eBay has ended all of these listings. You can find your ended listings in your Unsold Item section of My eBay. Please review them to ensure that the item specifics, item condition, return policy and shipping information is as expected prior to relisting them using your usual listing tools.

We will credit your account for twice the insertion and features fees incurred on all the affected listings. You will receive at least $10 in total credits to offset any inconvenience caused by the need to relist your items. These credits can be viewed in the Account Summary section of My eBay within 7 days.

We will also be reaching out to the buyers who were bidding on any auction-style listings that ended early as a result of this issue. We will let them know that the listing ended early through no fault of yours and encourage them to check back to see if the item has been relisted.

As always, we want the experience on eBay to be problem-free for buyers and sellers. We'll continue to work hard to make that the case. Again, please accept our apologies for the disruption to your business. We appreciate your business and thank you for selling on eBay.
Michael Jones
Vice President, Merchant Development

eBay has yet to post any announcement on the Systems Announcement board that is set up to inform users of technical issues and glitches.

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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

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