EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3080 - June 05, 2013     4 of 5

eBay Searches Come Up Empty Thanks to Abrupt Change

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eBay sellers who set up sophisticated searches to narrow down results to exactly what they are looking for were stopped in their tracks on Tuesday. When trying to access saved (or bookmarked) searches, they received a message stating, "Unfortunately, we only have room for around 100 characters, so we had to shorten your search."

Sellers say they were given no advance warning, and the move comes after eBay took away sellers' ability to do wildcard searching. As a result, sellers had to reformulate their search string, making them longer to account for the lack of wildcards.

(Wildcard searches enabled shoppers to broaden their search for an item by finding plural forms of nouns and alternative endings - a search for "base*" would find all listings whose titles contain the words "base," "bases" or "baseball," for example.)

"eBay representatives on this very forum TOLD us a few months ago that we should rewrite our searches in much more verbose terms to compensate for the removal of wildcard searches," wrote one seller on the eBay discussion boards.

Another wrote, "WTF - all of my searches are useless. I used to spend $10K per year on this site and have about had it. I am looking for very specific high value coins - I won't be able to find them now. Sellers - time to go to Heritage. Brilliant business model - raise fees for sellers and make it harder for the buyers to find the items."

An EcommerceBytes reader first brought the issue to our attention in a letter to the editor. " I have a longtail search saved in my browser which I had been using to search on eBay and eliminate many items I have no interest in viewing. Now, with the 100 character limit in the search box, my longtail search is rendered useless."

Another reader wrote, "I don't know what is going on but if this is a permanent change most of my bookmarked searches that I've spent 14 years editing and tweaking are kaput."

EcommerceBytes has sent an inquiry to eBay to learn more about this unannounced change impacting both buyers and sellers.

Update: eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore responded to our inquiry: "We're actively working to fix a technical issue that is limiting the number of characters available in Search under certain circumstances," he said, and added that it was unrelated to Cassini.

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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