Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Mar 21 2013 15:47:27

Ten Thousand eBay Sellers Watch in Horror as Listings Disappear

By: Ina Steiner

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Ten thousand eBay sellers are living through a nightmare situation after receiving a letter on Wednesday telling them they'd reached their selling limits. The letter itself was not the greatest concern - it was when recipients of the letter discovered that eBay had removed all of their listings with the exception of listings with bids. (See today's Newsflash newsletter article.)

eBay said today the problem impacted approximately 10,000 sellers in global markets including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, and was caused by a software issue that was later resolved.

For 12 hours, sellers were left confused and uncertain as to what they should do. We pegged the earliest reports as coming in at midday on Wednesday (Pacific time), and in a rare occurrence, eBay used its General Announcement Board to notify users of the problem at 11:36 pm (PST) Wednesday evening.

Today some sellers have reported their listings have come back - one reader wrote at 11 am (PST) Thursday morning, to say, "My fixed price listings are back but not my auctions and no contact from eBay."

Remembering incidents of the past, some sellers were concerned for their colleagues who might have attempted to relist their items on Wednesday, telling me they worried that it could lead to duplicate listings that result in higher fees and policy violations.

eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff told me today that would not be an issue. "The issue yesterday caused some listings to be inadvertently ended, and some were temporarily hidden from search results. The hidden listings are now restored to view. The listings that were ended are in the process of being re-listed. This will not have any adverse impact on sellers' standing in Best Match search or seller feedback or standards, and it will not cause duplicate listings for sellers who have already re-listed any items on their own."

eBay has yet to disclose what compensation, if any, eBay would offer to sellers impacted by the "disappeared" listings.

Such incidents are a reminder of the importance of having backups for all your work, though it appears in this case, nothing was lost.

Thanks to all the readers who alerted me to this problem yesterday via email, Ecommerce EKG, and Twitter.

Comments (48) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Fri Mar 22 06:40:43 2013

The headline of this is a bit extreme and it DOES make me smile.

Horror is a condition typically associated with activities like exploring haunted, abandoned houses not Ecommerce related tasks.

If someone wrote about eBay, the screw-ups, the manipulation and the few hundred thousand Customer Charlie Browns, missing the footballs that John ''Lucy'' Donnaho snatches from their kicks... well,

Hollywood would say this is unbelievable.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 06:51:42 2013

For those who want to be sure they received eBay announcements, notifications, and promotions, go to your eBay account page, select communication preferences and review each option--you opt to receive or not. (At least, I think this is ''the question page''.)

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by: bri This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 08:43:41 2013

@Marie
Nice that you are apologizing for ebay but this is the 21st century.  There is no such thing as a "computer glitch".  It is simply a matter of shoddy workmanship. Ebay's problem is the use of poor or non-existent software development and testing methods, in a word a real SQM (Software Quality Management) System. Investing some of the excess compensation to executives in modern tools and technologies and trained humans to implement them would go a long way in making these sorts of issues non-existent.

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by: Donkey This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 09:06:16 2013

10,000 sellers according to ebay math.

That is like 160,000 sellers in the real world.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Mar 22 09:17:16 2013

Why not take that ENORMOUS increase in the CEO's compensation package and throw at least 1/2 of it at eBay's information technology department.

I am sorry, but NO MAN is worth what they are paying this CEO.  Bend over shareholders, the compensation committee at eBay is taking you for a ride.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Mar 22 09:24:16 2013

@BRI

Right on bro!

As having over 35 years of experience from when "computer room" workers wore lab coats to past the millenium, I've seen an IBM 360/65 literally start smoking (bad SCR) - now that was a computer glitch.

As for the mediocre at best programming staff, eBay has ALWAYS had programming problems since day one. That was when Yahoo almost grabbed the gold ring away (1996 or so?). I just have never seen such a plethora of poor roll-outs, updates, unannouncemets and shoddy craftsmanship.

I'm afraid that Silicon Valley is not as what it is cracked up to be. Either that or eBay is the dumping ground for poor programmers who can't hack it at Google/Intel/Sybase etc.
Even if the development staff is offshore, then the problem lies square with mid-management who is responsible for integration and testing.

 Even upper management should share the blame because they are not focused on this almost 20 year old problem. More concerned about saving kilowatts and acquiring the next Skype (doing very well now, thank you) than cleaning up their core business.

eBay programmers: The Bain of my existence.

Peace, love & Cherry Garcia.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Mar 22 09:44:42 2013

@bri

I did not apologize for Ebay or anyone else. Obviously you didn't read what I wrote or choose to overlook certain things because it didn't further a need to criticize.  Some will choose to use this subject as just another reason to slam Ebay.  Others will choose to see that many sellers are significantly affect and try to do what they can to help and support them. Offer support to one of those sellers by giving the advice and you are then somehow supporting / excusing Ebay.  And I might add, a seller that came here with a question because they had a problem.  

I choose to support the sellers that are affected by this issue.  And it is a serious issue.  But it is far more important for some to follow their own agenda and just ignor the fact that so many people where caught up in a very serious issue.  

That is your choice.  I have the right to make mine.  What makes your desire to criticize more important than my desire to support the sellers?  What makes what you say good and mine bad?  We just have different priorities.  Its nothing more than that or I should say it doesn't have to be more than that.  Supporting the sellers doesn't mean I'm supporting Ebay's actions.  What it means is I'm supporting the sellers.  Nothing more.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri Mar 22 10:30:59 2013

Received email from impacted seller: "They were all back up as of 5:00 am this morning.  I did manually relist my best sellers and now they are double listed. I'm sure that's some sort of eBay policy violation."

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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Fri Mar 22 10:41:17 2013

I will not be surprise if they were testing some posting limit or filter then everything fall.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Mar 22 11:00:45 2013

@ Ina

That is exactly what I was concerned about for some seller.  It made no sense to me that Ebay told them they could relist or wait for Ebay to fix the listings.  There is no logic in it.  What was Ebay going to do, look at each listing as an individual and see if the seller relisted it.  Then if they didn't Ebay would restore it or if they determined the seller relisted it, they would do nothing.

There was no way Ebay was going to do all that work.  And it just didn't make sense that they would even try.  I just don't understand why they don't think things through before announcing what to do and/or what not to do.  They have all these highly educated people and they can't figure out that this was some bad advice.  Makes no sense.

@epereles
They weren't testing any new limits.  They screwed up when updating the site with some of the Seller Spring Updates.  

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by: chestnutcreek This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 12:05:27 2013

This ''temporarily hiding'' of listings has been going on for almost a year but THIS TIME they got caught red handed and hid the listings from the sellers. The ''glitch'' was that the sellers got an email....that's the ONLY glitch here!! Many, many sellers who have been impacted by this practice of ''rolling blackouts'' have been posting about this on the discussion boards at eBay since April 2012. My sales and traffic went down 50% last April when they changed approx. half of my listings over to a different server, My sales stayed consistently and almost exactly at 50% of what my sales had been for years, no matter what I did and in Feb of this year they put the rest of my listings on this different server and now I'm down 75% in sales and TRAFFIC.      

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Mar 22 12:21:27 2013

@chestnutcreek

This is a different problem.  What many of us believes are rolling blackouts.  I too think Ebay does the rolling blackouts.  But this problem beind discussed is different.

They are completely different issues.  Rolling blockouts, block certain sellers in certain areas for some specific range of time.

This problem was the listings were gone everywhere, even the seller couldn't see them.  It was two different issues.  One was some sellers had their listings just be ghosts on the site.  They were still there, but unless you knew the specific item number you couldn't see them anywhere.  And the seller couldn't see them expect in the Selling Manager, they still showed as active.  

The other set of sellers actually had their listings ended.  They are all having to be relisted.

These sellers weren't down 75% in sales, they were down 100% and some are still waiting for listings to come back.

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 13:44:31 2013

ebay spokesman referred to the incidence as "some listings".

This is clearly a gross mis-statement and very dishonest.
Ten Thousands sellers x hundreds of items hardly was "some listings".  To sellers involved, they are 100% of their hundreds or thousands of listings.  

if ebay PR spokesmen could lie face to face, who could small American sellers trust in solving problems they deal with everyday.

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 13:54:53 2013

Humongous SuperNova Size Duplicate Listings Happening Now!

I told ebay months ago, ebay were responsible for dupe listings.  
The should not call me a VIOLATOR and make me fell like a CHEATER try to get the violation address.

They won't admit them.  Does it take Hundreds of Thousands Duplicates Error to convince them ebay programmers committing Grave Error for months now!

Beware, it would take average of 1 week and you will be promised many times... but nothing would be done...  From ebay's point of view, we are now on the same level VIOLATORS and CHEATERS.

From top to bottom ranks in ebay structure, ebay employees sucks.  Ebay culture definitely entirely opposite to Google.

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 14:45:21 2013

Again, ebay pinks and hired posters are on board to quell hurting small American sellers voices.  They would distract and type all non-sense opposite or random comments.  They would divide and conduct personal arguments.

ebay pinks and hired posters are well known to have power to pull your plugs.  

Be loud. Be heard. Say the Truth. No Fear.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Fri Mar 22 15:21:11 2013

@Al G: And here I thought I was an "old" internet geek :-)

I think part of the problem is that Ebay, like many companies, has adopted some of the latest fads in software development, such as agile, scrum, or extreme programming. These tend to focus on implementing many small changes at frequent intervals, rather than large ones that occur less often. There are many plusses to this approach, but I've found that the rapid development cycle time and tight deadlines can lead to less thorough testing and lack of initial planning. It's far easier for bugs to slip through when you're making many small changes under tight deadlines. Additionally, by focusing on these small bits, often the big picture is overlooked and changes don't properly interact with the whole system.

These methodologies can work, in theory, but I've noticed that in most cases, they aren't implemented or used properly and you end up with a big mess. Documentation and testing is ignored in favor of these frequent code releases, so often the left hand loses track of what the right hand is doing. These development methodologies are adored by management types, because they sound great and supposedly increase productivity, but like so many things, they often fail in real world implementation.

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Mar 22 15:28:19 2013

I just hope this latest "glitch" will convince more sellers to leave eBay and move to the alt sites.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Fri Mar 22 15:40:54 2013

So ebay is considered to be a techno corp. and all these issues arise? I am sure if other true IT tech companies knew what was going on they all would be laughing and shaking their heads at this poorly run company.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Mar 22 19:48:49 2013

@Tula

OK,OK - I'm really old & crusty. I've never gone through the extreme, agile, scrum programming methodology.

I've been involved with providing stock quotes from NASDAQ databases & you bet your bippy that you tested till your ass was dragging AND then you submitted your code to  your peer group for review.

There was a program called "egoless coding" which was more like a Mafia saying "its just business and leave your ego for your work at the entrance door". Did we run into bugs? Yes, but they never got out into the "wild".

Later on I worked as a consultant to a health care company. There I had to convince middle management that things better be tested properly, or else. Fortunately, that happened. But the pressures to get the product out is extreme. Maybe more so nowadays.

I'm sort of glad I've chosen this path & avoided the rat race. Then again, this is a different rat race.

Have fun and remember....

No one gets out of here alive!

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by: houseofmirth This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 22 22:25:22 2013

More than 48 hours later and my auctions are still missing.  I asked them to make sure that they are not relisted on a Saturday or in the middle of the night and they cannot promise that that won't happen.  So basically, I am losing a weeks pay and they don't care.  This just sucks.

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