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Sun Nov 22 2009 11:49:06

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

By: Ina Steiner

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On Saturday, November 21, 2009, eBay experienced an outage of the search feature on their site. We would like to know how sellers were impacted by the outage, and how sellers feel eBay handled the situation. Please take a few moments to complete the survey posted on SurveyMonkey.

Once you've completed the survey, you will be redirected back here, where you can leave comments. We'll report the results in AuctionBytes.

Please take the survey now.

11/24/09: Please note, the survey is now closed. We will publish the results in the AuctionBytes Newsflash newsletter shortly. Thank you.




Comments (63) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Nancy Schaut

Sun Nov 22 11:57:45 2009

Thanks for the chance to express my opinion.  It is so lame for ebay to blame the outage on increased listings. Bidding on my auctions ending Sunday November 22 is very slow, even today (Sunday). By the way, I think you misspelled your title...shouldn't that be eBay search outRage? Thanks for all you do! Nancy

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Cindy Hamilton

Sun Nov 22 12:12:28 2009

I was trying to update and create new listings on the 21st, and there were many of my listings not appearing in search or in my eBay Store.  The lack of stability on the eBay site is very concerning!  I came across comments on FaceBook from one of our customers and from another eBay shopper who were having trouble shopping on eBay on the 21st.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: anonymous

Sun Nov 22 12:21:58 2009

NOBODY knows the impact yet.

If this shakes consumer confidence in the site (duh) sales may slow down for the entire season.

And it also remains to be seen how many sellers will (rightfully) refuse to sell a  Honus Wagner card for 10 bucks, and get negative feedback. Which will further impact the site.

I hope it doesn't, but only time will tell.

BTW, don't open your Turbo Lister, kids. There's a virus in the update. And don't go open it just to "see"

I ain't a-kiddin'

If it took them this long to fix a search outage, how long will it take to delete the current update?

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Jeff Stannard

Sun Nov 22 12:22:58 2009

This will not be the last time we see the words postmortem and eBay in the same subject title.

Nice simple survey.

I converted to all BIN listings in September, so no auction issues for me this time around.  My weekend sales have been so soft for months that it was difficult to determine the level of negative impact.  Customer inquiries were down, so no doubt frustrated shoppers went elsewhere yesterday any way.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: fruity

Sun Nov 22 12:25:18 2009

I think the only thing I believe is that they're going to put us on rusty clunky equipment and give the big high rises nice new office equipment. I feel like we're all toast. there's no way they'll give us our money back and there's no way we'll all meet the criteria they set up, they'll word it so it doesn't work. i'm just going to call the FTC and BBB. I'm pretty amazed ebay was still accepting money and not promptly ppl. and think about those newbies who probably kept editing this listings trying to figure out why its not showing up. sound familiar eh?

I couldnt find to buy but I went to Amazon and Google shopping search, so that was easy!

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: fromus2u

Sun Nov 22 12:27:24 2009

I wonder if eBay will admit just how early on search functionality ceased to operate normally.

On Friday night at 11 pm EST my store items were not all visible.

Crediting sellers for a few extra hours could actually be huge for eBay.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Down with the HO!

Sun Nov 22 12:53:48 2009

What a load of BS.  This was staged or they were hacked.  I know one thing, eBay is a Unix shop, those servers don't go down.  What about their code?  Who knows, keep tinkering on something non-stop and it bound to break eventually.

I doubt they will compensate, they definitely will not give you your money back.  You would have to pry it out of theur cold, dead hands before you see that.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: RicRoe

Sun Nov 22 13:05:45 2009

IMO the Saturday outage will have long term negative implications.

The outage occurs at the start of the holiday shopping season.

Buyer confidence will be at an all time low due to the fact that eBay failed to adequately inform buyers that search was down.

eBay should have simply put up a pardon our dust notice instead of having buyers searching and wasting their time.

Sellers will not be adequately compensated.

eBay might refund some or all of the fees associated with effected listings, but that does nothing to compensate sellers for lost sales on items that closed during the outage.

Sellers with auctions saw items close at significantly lower prices than they would have normally ended at.

eBay needs to allow sellers to cancel all low bids without the consequence of negative feedback and DSR scores.

eBay needs to get in front of the issue and inform bidders of the effected items that the bids have been canceled due to the system failure at eBay, not due to any problem on the part of the seller.

eBay should allow sellers to relist those effected items at no cost as well in an gesture of goodwill.

The excuse eBay has offered thus far for the cause of the outage hardly seems credible.

The spin department at eBay is trying to make it look as though an alleged surge in listings caused search to crash.

In other words, damage control to protect eBay's public image and stock price is in full swing.

The attempt here is to say that ''unexpected success of eBay caused our entire search structure to fail''.

Bull ship.

The alleged listing surge, is at best only part of the story.

Had eBay stuck to their promise to sellers not to make major system changes more than twice a year, and if they had not been tinkering with search mechanics over the past few weeks, there would have likely been no reason a surge in listings (yeah, right) would have crashed the system.

John Donahoe and his team of buffoons are wholly and completely responsible for the failures of eBay, including the events leading up to and including the system wide failure.

The damage caused by the system wide failure will likely have long term negative consequences for eBay.

Buyers and sellers no longer have any reason to be confident in eBay's day to day technical operations.

Management credibility has taken an even greater hit as the excuse offered for the system wide failure simply is not credible.

eBay is in it's death throws, existing management is to blame.

After this system wide failure, the only thing that will restore buyer and seller confidence in eBay will be a complete change in management starting with the CEO.

Anything less, and eBay will linger in it's current coma - on life support just waiting for someone to pull the plug and pronounce a time of death.









eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: bookbatches

Sun Nov 22 13:09:50 2009

Zero.

Prurient interest only. Like watching a car wreck on the freeway. Hopeful that no one innocent got hurt, but the authorities and medics are there already so the situation is in good hands. Welllll...

''Move along,'' an officer is telling me. ''There is nothing to see here.''

Gotta go...

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Hooray!

Sun Nov 22 13:10:30 2009

I looooved the ebay FAILURE! My sales at ECRATER.COM soared because of it! THANK YOU EBAY! hahahahaha!

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Niles

Sun Nov 22 13:40:45 2009

Ebay could care less. They Just got over 2 BILLION in cash from the sale of SKYPE. They know shareholders and the public have a short memory span. I will be biz as usual in less than a week.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: On Lies and Secrets

Sun Nov 22 13:56:33 2009

I am inclined to agree with Ric Roe, that the root fault of the systemic catastrophic failure of the site lies with ebay management.  

If you carefully dissect the statements released by the ebay corporation, it does not appear that they are blaming the failure directly on a surge in listings, per se.  The exact wording they used is: ''technical issue today resulted in searches returning either limited or no results throughout the day today. ... The unanticipated technical issue resulted from a surge in live listings''.  From my reading, they are blaming the systemic failure to an undisclosed ''technical issue'' that occurred as a *result* of a listing surge.  In my reading, this is *not* the same as stating direct causality - a surge in listings caused search to fail. They could have used active voice in the explanation, but they chose not to do so.  They chose to use passive voice and to displace and obscure cause and effect relationships.  The way I read this, the ''surge'' may be a contributing factor to the catastrophic failure, but it may not be the only factor or even a major factor.  I don't see much clarity in the disclosure provided by the ebay corporation.

The other big issue has to do with how they are framing this event through the use of language.   The ebay corporation refers to this as a ''technical issue''.  From my perspective, that minimizes the severity of the event.  This appears to me to be a systemic catastrophic failure of the site's basic functioning.  Search was/is broken!!!! This is not merely a technicality or a mere ''issue.'' This is failure.  And I think ebay management should acknowledge this fact and accept full  responsibility for what has happened.

In terms of long-term impact, I am now very concerned about the integrity of paypal.  Paypal is an ebay company.  If ebay can have a colossal failure and the same minds who run ebay also run paypal, then is paypal next?  How ''safe'' can paypal be if ebay is having these troubles on a more basic platform?  

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: unknown

Sun Nov 22 13:58:50 2009

@Down with the HO!

ebay is in no way a UNIX shop. They mostly run windows server 2003 and use IIS and apache to run the web servers. The closest thing on ebay to 'nix is forums.ebay.com which is liveworld running mac's and handling the boards. They're purely a windows shop.

If I hadn't gotten a 30 day sanction from ebay kicking me off the boards, I'd have prolly had some auctions listed. As it was, I only have a few FP up.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: fruity

Sun Nov 22 13:59:58 2009

I'm going to go order some stickers after the holidays and stick them on all my packages about how you can find bargains by shopping google.

I think the only way to get things to change is to show buyers new ways to finding bargains and real person interaction. Who wants to buy from a big retailer on ebay who is using another company to fulfill and basically create this sterile environment? Not me. I think shopping direct is much more attractive to me

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Eric

Sun Nov 22 14:06:05 2009

I would hope eBay compensates us seller very well. One of the used laptop I had that typically sells in the $150 to $200 was sold for a measly $25.  Very low visit counter too, it seemed a lot of buyer never saw my auction. eBay owes me at least $125, and this is just one of many auctions that ended up much lower than it normally goes for. I figure I lost about $1,000 total due to eBay trying to sweep the problem under the rug.

If eBay doesn't compensates us well enough, many sellers may leave because they are losing too much money to broken searches.  Then where would eBay get revues? Oops, less seller = CEO would have to stop smoking $10 cigars and start smoking $8 cigars.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: snipenekkid

Sun Nov 22 14:09:20 2009

I intentionally listed items early Saturday AM to take advantage of early AM Saturday BIN shoppers we have been having of late.  I am talking about $400-$700 items all of which should have attracted anywhere from 100-200 views on Saturday alone.  The highest hit total for the most popular item has a total of 18 hits...I do not feel buyers are even looking today, Sunday at all.  I suspect we lost significant buyer confidence with many just saying "screw it" I'll buy in a store or other site.  I sell antiques & collectibles but of a very popular nature, where I should have had 2-3 BINS I has one for the cheapest item I had up to get rid of for $25.  So instead of a $1200-$2000 weekend I am looking at a $25 weekend.  I had to over extend because of my mom's final expenses and needed this weekend so I pulled out a lot of items I knew would sell in order to achieve just an average weekend...especially given my sales always drop off Thanksgiving week so I usually do not list, well this week I have no choice.

I am so numbed I really cannot even feel angry anymore.  This was like the site crashes of old.

I also held off listing a good 25 items yesterday since there would be no folks looking to snap up better pieces.  Or make early Best Offers, which also stop dead in their tracks.

BTW, the ONLY reason eBay mentions compensating sellers for lost sales is for the BIG SELLERS, the Diamonds/Titanium and such.  No small guy like me will see a dime.  

Last it is Sunday and I am still not getting consistent results from searches.  And yes, I understand it takes time for new code and indexing to propagate across the eBay server farms.  My real losses are the lower prices I will get over the next week for the items I would have sold this weekend.  

I will end, people MUST BE FIRED over this level of screw up.  And I would never count on eBay properly compensating sellers.  No seller should accept ANY compensation which requires a signed agreement that forces them to surrender legal rights.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: beanstalkenterprises

Sun Nov 22 14:13:23 2009

This is incredibly bad for eBay.  They are down again.  I can't even get to their home page.  

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Jim S.

Sun Nov 22 14:46:26 2009

If JD and his illustrious management staff would freeze program changes and updates during Nov-Dec, like the real retail IT world, then these problems wouldn't happen (unless it was a hardware malfunction). This is nothing new. We seem to experience similar problems every year at this time. And it always seems to happen after a Thursday maintenance.

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: whatever.

Sun Nov 22 15:01:42 2009

@RicRoe

''eBay needs to get in front of the issue and inform bidders of the effected items that the bids have been canceled due to the system failure at eBay, not due to any problem on the part of the seller.''

Absolutely a brilliant statement in a brilliant post.

That idea: informing the buyers that the transactions are being cancelled due to EBAY'S failure I think would actually be the fairest in execution to all parties affected: seller, buyer, ebay itself. But it would require ebay to be responsible and proactive. And this solution would be only step 1 because step 2 would be the monetary compensation to the sellers: and not just listing fee ''credits.''

eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey   eBay Search Outage - Postmortem Survey

by: Patricia

Sun Nov 22 15:26:54 2009

If they are blaming the outage on the increase in listings - then why are they courting the chinese to come list too???  If it weren't for smoke and mirrors Ebay would have no substance at all!

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