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Amazon Shoppers Tweet in Despair over 3-Hour Checkout Outage

What happens when shoppers can’t complete their purchases on Amazon for several hours on a Tuesday night? They turn to social networking sites in despair. Thousands of Amazon customers visited sites like Twitter, DownDetector.com, and IsItDownRightNow to see if they were the only ones who couldn’t checkout after placing items in their shopping cart and to voice their disappointment.

Amazon suffered a 3-hour outage of its checkout system overnight Tuesday. The problem abated by 1:30 am EST on Wednesday morning. There were some reports that people had intermittent issues during the day on Tuesday, so the outage impacting checkout may have been part of a fix.

We blogged about the incident on Wednesday afternoon but could see no other reports of the incident. We later found a post from an ecommerce vendor: “Will Amazon make an official announcement about their outage last night?,” Nathan Grimm tweeted after reporting the incident on the DNA Response blog.

The answer: no, and Amazon declined to comment when we reached out to its PR department.

“Amazon surely missed out on tens of millions of dollars in revenue during three hours but how did the outage affect you,” Grimm wrote. “We saw $0 in sales for most of the three hours of the outage. The hour after service was restored, we saw a slightly better than normal hour of sales but nothing that would make up for three hours of outage.”

The Amazon system displayed the following message when users tried to checkout: “We’re sorry! An error occurred when we tried to process your request. Rest assured, we’re working to resolve the problem as soon as possible. If you were trying to make a purchase, please check Your Account to confirm that the order was placed. We apologize for the inconvenience.” In addition, shoppers could not cancel orders or request return labels.

Sellers also experienced problems in completing certain tasks, which you can read more about on the EcommerceBytes blog.

It’s not known how Amazon is handling complaints from shoppers who were unable to place their purchases on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning- some shoppers described urgent needs for certain items, and plenty said they were disappointed that they would have an extra day added to their delivery time due to the outage.

The number of and nature of the complaints show just how reliant consumers have become on the usually dependable Amazon marketplace.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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.