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Tue Aug 6 2013 20:02:05

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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What happened to Amazon Seller Central on Tuesday, August 6th? For several hours, sellers were posting on Amazon forums, Facebook, Twitter and EcommerceBytes's EKG report that the seller service area was down, but nobody seemed clear why. 

There was a message posted to the main dashboard of at least some Amazon sellers, including mine, which read, "We are currently experiencing an issue that is impacting the ability to access all or parts of Seller Central. Our engineers are actively engaged in resolving this issue. (08/6, 10:27 PST) ."

But oddly, other sellers seemed to be seeing a message that read the website was down while "we make some improvements" to it. Some others thought it was Amazon tweaking the API.

How could a major company like Amazon handle such an unexpected occurrence? Should more information have been given out? Or were sellers being too reactive? At this writing, Seller Central is back up, and there's a thread on "Ask Amazon Seller Services" titled, "Now that Seller Central is back up..."

One seller started, "Amazon Seller Central was down all day to fix problems and make system improvements. Where can I find the list of improvements made and problems fixed?"

But another felt the sellers were being too whiny: "What's wrong with some of you sellers?" he wrote. "You're not happy most of the time and when something goes wrong 14,000+ sellers get online and start posting threads concerning Amazon not working properly and complain. What it shows me is just how MANY of you rely on this venue and maybe you should cut them some slack." He went on to say that "Amazon bought me a 2013 MKZ Lincoln Hybrid and paid off my mortgage this year so, I count my blessings and wish them the best."

Not mollified, another rejoindered: "I know there will be times when the site is down, I just would like to see the way they handle this in a more open and respectful way. I'm not asking for a 2013 MKZ Lincoln Hybrid but a little information on any need to contact our credit card companies would be appreciated."

If you were the person in charge, how would you have handled the outage? Did it have a significant impact on your business day, or do you take it all in stride as part of selling online? Post a comment here!




Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 6 23:51:44 2013

Amazon was out for most of the day - its back online now.

There were many rumours floating around - none proven.

Odd though - and I doubt a connection - Fed Ex was down too - you couldnt print labels (so I hear - I dont use Fed Ex)

Theres nothing to do ... you do your eBay sales (if there are any)(thanx JD!) and then come here to see if Ming et al have uncovered anymore of JD & Co's illegal activities !

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Aug 7 02:53:49 2013

With regards to the API it was really bad.  eBay occasionally has a problem where they'll take longer than normal and that will cause some minor problems for me.  Or they'll just return an error but extremely quickly.  But Amazon was taking 2 - 3 minutes per API call and then just returning an internal error.  You can't make millions of calls per day and not have major issues if that happens.  Definitely worse than anything eBay has ever done in these regards.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: JordanMalik.com This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Aug 7 11:40:19 2013

Aweber.com (major player in the email marketing space) was down for roughly the same amount as well. Combine this with Fedex's outage (aforementioned on this page) and Amazon's outage, and it makes you wonder - was there a hack or hacks that simultaneously took all 3 down? If there truly was, I don't think any of the hacked companies would admit it (= the risk of losing trust/customers due to any announcement of being hacked, if they indeed were).

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: LaLaLa123 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 11:46:53 2013

Websites go down.  It happens.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: Miakko This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 11:56:38 2013

A little communication from Amazon about the expected length of the outage would have been nice.  They expect sellers to communicate.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 7 12:50:46 2013

They are still down / having issues

Technical Notification
Aug 7, 2013
We are currently experiencing an issue that is impacting the ability to access all or parts of Seller Central. (08/07 - 00:00 PST) Learn more

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: tmooreseller This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Aug 7 13:56:44 2013

This kind of thing happens every year around this time. This is one of the many reasons I closed my Amazon account and went elsewhere. Not regretting it.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Aug 7 14:36:04 2013

Once I checked to be sure other sellers were being affected and it wasn't just my computer, I went and did what I had to. I had a late Monday night sale that should have gone out yesterday but because Amazon was down for much longer than 'several hours', I couldn't ship anything from them yesterday. Since our sale notifications don't give us an address to ship to, if Amazon is down we can't do what we have promised, in my case one day shipping. I think a site going down during the day and for that long needed some sort of explanation or at least nobody complaining that we are whiners because we want to know what is going on and want to get our sales shipped. Most sites if they are doing routine maintenance do it at night when it affects less people.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Aug 7 15:22:38 2013

Could have been a large-scale DOS (Denial of Service) attack on these sites or on some backbone nodes/server farms. With these other large sites being down at the same time, it wouldn't surprise me. I noted some problems with other sites being slow yesterday, so it seems a strong possibility.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Aug 7 21:25:20 2013

It seems that when a company like Amazon or eBay (which are publicly traded companies) experience service or system issues, the goal of management is to obfuscate and downplay the issue by treating it as if nothing serious has happened out of fear of a negative reaction from Wall Street.

C-Level management receives significant parts of their compensation in gifted shares of stock. To have their systems down is bad enough, but to disclose the cause, extent, and anticipated duration of said outages is something management seems to fear worse than the issues themselves.

C-Level management would rather confuse buyers and sellers by disclosing zero details than to have the details made public and possibly have a negative effect on stock values.

Buyers and sellers should have zero expectations this situation will improve, that is unless or until Wall Street demands better transparency. As long as it serves C-Level management, buyers and sellers will be kept in the dark.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Thu Aug 8 09:03:45 2013

At roughly the same time, SABRE - the airline reservations system, went on a huge un-asked-for flight cancellation spree.

Other sites I used around that time were running very slow or were temporarily unavailable. And yes, the reasons are always either downplayed or left as a question mark.

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: sellerfish This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Aug 8 10:20:05 2013

The next day,after site was down I had notices that my shipments were late.
Amazon CS sucks. far worse than ebay

Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?   Amazon Sellers Speculate on Outage: What Would You Do?

by: paperdetective This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 11 05:25:33 2013

I agree that more openness and respect of the sellers should have been shown by Amazon. Makes me wonder if Amazon staff understand at all that a seller(just as Amazon itself) relies on predictability and continuity to be able to run his business and be profitable and he needs to have sufficient information to be able to act in cases like such an emergency even if he can't himself fix the issue of teh site's availability. He may have staff coming in for nothing which is quite costly, or customers asking question directly or shipments that need to be prepared, etc. Not knowing costs tons of money ad can even jeoparize entire businesses. Or are sellers now just considered cannon fodder?



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