EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3026 - March 21, 2013     1 of 3

eBay Suffers Meltdown as It Inadvertently Removes Thousands of Listings

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eBay acknowledged a glitch on Wednesday that caused it to remove sellers' listings in error. The exact number of sellers impacted is uncertain, but the problem is widespread, and many of the sellers who were impacted said most of their listing were pulled from the site. Sellers trying to reach eBay customer service were greeted with a message, "High phone volume leading to extended wait times." Clicking on a link for more information revealed the following message:

Status: We are aware that some listings have been removed in error. We are working urgently to fix this. Thank you for your patience.

Those sellers who were able to reach a customer service rep who knew of the problem were told it could take eBay 24 hours to fix the problem, but there's no reason to believe that's an official estimate.

An eBay Store seller who reached out to EcommerceBytes said she had listed 200 auction and fixed price listings. "Today, all of the items without bids were ended and I received a message saying that I exceeded my selling limits for the month." A check of her store on Wednesday evening showed only 6 items for sale.

eBay sellers reported the problem on EcommerceBytes EKG and on the eBay Technical Issues board. Those who were impacted received the following letter from eBay:

RMC999 NOTICE: eBay Listing(s)
Dear XXXX,
We've noticed you've exceeded your monthly selling limits. Because of this, your most recently listed unsold items have been removed and all associated fees have been credited to your account. Selling limits are put in place to help you establish a positive selling history and provide excellent service to your customers.

An EcommerceBytes reader told us, she had over 2600 BIN listings and about 250 auctions, all of which eBay pulled from its site. "This is scary stuff. To be put out of business for up to 48 hrs is mind boggling."

A seller on the eBay boards wrote, "We are a small seller, our current listings without bids AND scheduled items were pulled. Just got off the phone with eBay - it's a site wide technical problem - eBay tells me that they are in the process of fixing this problem, and they will restore active items and put scheduled items back in the scheduled list.. They do not know when."

A seller on the Ecommerce EKG board worried about the impact of the glitch on the sales history, which is a factor in getting higher placement in search results. "Hopefully when the roll back and re-list our items, the previous sales history is not lost," they wrote.

Some sellers who were impacted by the glitch said they relisted their items after discovering the glitch, but others fear what will happen if they relist and then eBay relists them as part of its fix to the glitch.

Wrote one seller on the eBay boards, "obtw it's also happening on the UK site. And you might want to check before you try to do any relists......because if they fix it and pop your listings back up you don't want to get caught up in a bunch of duplicate listing violations. What a mess and so sorry you guys/gals got snagged in it."

eBay has not informed sellers on its Announcement board, nor did it mention the problem on the Town Hall Meeting broadcast it held for sellers on Wednesday afternoon.

An eBay spokesperson reached by phone said he was looking into the issue and he followed up by email later Wednesday evening stating he was still gathering information.

Leave a comment on the EcommerceBytes EKG board.

Update 3/21/13: Very early this morning eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore provided the following statement in response to our questions:

"Due to a software issue which has been resolved, a small percentage of seller listings in global markets including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia were inadvertently removed from our platform, impacting approximately 10,000 sellers. We continue to make progress in restoring these listings, a process that is rolling out in stages and is expected to be completed for the majority of listings within 24 hours of the incident. Separately, we are reaching out to eBay sellers most impacted and assisting them directly in their recovery efforts. We will keep our sellers apprised of our progress and apologize for any inconvenience resulting from this issue."

Update: Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.


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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