eBay Search Function Breaks

Company issues apology, and says it will compensate affected sellers.

by Auctiva.com staff writer
- Nov 23, 2009

eBay will issue credits to listings affected by a search outage that lasted most of Saturday, the company announced.

"There is no need to contact us to receive a credit for your affected items," eBay tells sellers. "Credits for those items will take several days but should be completed within a week."

In an announcement that has since been pulled from eBay's site, the company reported that the technical glitch was brought on by a large increase in the number of listings. Currently there are more than 200 million live listings on the site, a 33-percent increase compared to the same time last year, eBay noted.

The glitch left buyers seeing few results when they shopped on the auction site Saturday, or unable to search for items altogether. The issue was first reported Saturday morning and was mostly resolved late that night. However, some secondary search features were kept offline until Sunday. These functions included refining search by specifics such as color and size.

"We know this is a really busy time for sellers ramping up for the holiday season," says Lorrie Norrington, president of eBay Marketplaces. "We're sorry that this technical issue occurred—and we regret any potential impact to your business. Our teams worked around the clock to restore functionality as quickly as possible. Please accept our sincere apologies, and thanks for your patience as we resolved this issue."

We understand how important this time of year is... and sincerely apologize

The outage is one of the worst eBay has suffered in recent years, notes the Financial Times. And it came at a "critical time" when buyers are beginning to get ready for the holidays, reports Larry Dignan of technology publication ZDNet. Online sales usually see a big increase during the second week of November, he says.

Geoffrey Holland, who sells CDs and DVDs in his eBay store, says his business took a substantial hit during the search outage.

"On a busy November shopping day, I would have normally expected to sell more than 100 items," he reports. On Saturday, Holland says he sold just 11.

Auction ending prices may also have been lower than usual, according to news reports, because shoppers were unable to bid on items they wanted.

eBay says it will assess the financial impact the outage in the coming days, and will compensate sellers appropriately. In the meantime, affected sellers will be credited, eBay notes on its System Announcements board.

"We understand how important this time of year is for your business and shopping experience and sincerely apologize," eBay says.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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