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eBay Crashes Like It’s 1999

eBay sellers woke up to more bad news on Sunday morning when they discovered the latest outage hitting eBay’s global marketplaces. Buyers and sellers were unable to login to their accounts all morning, and many were unable to even access the eBay homepage. Those trying to reach eBay customer service for assistance found that was also down.

eBay had experienced a similar outage on September 3rd, and it experienced another outage in Europe last month. In early August, eBay denied there had been an outage in July after widespread accessibility issues, calling it a “minor technical issue.”

eBay’s first acknowledgement of Sunday’s issues came in the form of a tweet at 10:05 am EST, and later in the day it announced that “the vast majority of site functionality had been restored” as of 1:45 pm EST in a post on its Announcement Board.

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eBay confirmed its Customer Service system was impacted by the outage, though it’s not clear how the two were related.

On Sunday evening, eBay published another post on its Announcement Board, this one from Sri Shivananda, VP of eBay’s Global Platform & Infrastructure Group. He explained, “Based on our investigation so far, we believe it may have been the result of unexpected power issues with storage arrays linked to some of our databases. These issues caused a limited number of databases to go offline, interrupting site functionality for some users.” See the full post on the eBay board.

eBay is in crisis mode after one of the toughest years of its existence. eBay’s site was hacked in February and March, with sensitive customer data compromised; Google penalized eBay in search rankings; and eBay’s board had to deal with unwelcome attention from activist shareholder Carl Icahn pressuring it to spin off PayPal.

Those challenges were compounded by the departure of PayPal President David Marcus, followed by the resignation of eBay Inc.’s Chief Technology Officer Mark Carges just days ago.

Carges’ departure comes as the site experiences a rash of major technical issues that’s making some feel the platform is becoming as unstable as it was in 1999 when then CEO Meg Whitman faced regular outages culminating in a 22-hour outage that June, leading her to hire Maynard Webb (gone since 2006).

Amid the problems eBay’s John Donahoe is tackling this year, it was only when Icahn made noise in the financial press that the CEO emerged to talk to the media on a regular basis about that challenge.

Some sellers have expressed concern about the impact eBay’s technical issues may be having on buyers afraid to return to the site following the hacking incident. And indeed, there were reports that some users were being redirected to strange sites when they tried to visit eBay during the outage. eBay did not respond to our inquiries about those reports.

As for sellers impacted by low or zero traffic to the site on Sunday morning, eBay said, “In the next day or two, eBay teams will be in touch directly with affected sellers to provide them with additional information.”

Here’s how eBay promised to protect sellers from negative ramifications stemming from the last outage.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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