Friday, November 27, 2009

eBay's Search Outage

On Saturday, eBay suffered from what was apparently a major search account—at least from all of the reports that I have read. Oddly, I was able to search on eBay with few problems on Saturday. On days that I am off work, I tend to check eBay several times a day to see what has been listed. Saturday was no exception.

I do recall that early in the day, I ran a search, and it took unusually long to complete, probably around 30 seconds. In spite of the delay, I did get my search results. Later in the day, I viewed a listing and clicked on the link to see the seller's other items. The resulting page returned no items, which was a result of the outage.

At some point after that, I read of the outage on AuctionBytes, and I realized that many people were unable to use eBay on Saturday at all. I checked my searches again, and they were all fine. I then learned that the "Buy" section of eBay was broken in addition to search. I checked the categories and found that all of them were empty. I never use the "Buy" section of eBay to search.

Later, I read that eBay posted a workaround to the broken search, which was to go to eBay's Advanced Search page to search. This surprised me, since I always search through the Advanced Search page. Apparently most people search eBay through the "Buy" section of the site. Is that true for those of you reading this, or do you use the Advanced Search page? I use Advanced Search because that was the place to go back 12 to 13 years ago to search, and old habits die hard.

For me, this was the major outage that never was. I don't doubt that it was a major outage because of how eBay has reacted. According to AuctionBytes, eBay sent this letter to sellers who had auctions end during the outage.
"All auction-style listings completed during this time will be protected from negative and neutral feedback as well as DSRs below a five star rating. In addition, we will not expect you to fulfill Auction-style orders completed during this time if you feel the search outage prevented you from realizing the full expected price from your auction-style listings that closed during the outage or within an hour after the outage. It's up to you whether you want to fulfill the item in the interest of good relations with your buyer or cancel the transaction."
I won a couple of auctions during the outage. I was able to bid with no problems, and I feel that the ending prices were about what they would have been anyway. Fortunately, my sellers are honoring the transactions. I have never heard of eBay allowing sellers to refuse to complete transactions because of an outage. Protecting sellers from negative or neutral feedback is also unprecedented.

It gets even more interesting. Anyone who won an auction during the outage is to receive a 10% coupon as compensation. I assume that buyers are getting the coupons since it is possible that sellers may renege on transactions. Of course, this really interested me since I won a couple of auctions.

True to their word, eBay sent me a coupon. The message stated, "You may have experienced difficulty shopping on Saturday. We'd like to offer our apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced by offering a 10% off coupon, good until December 14, 2009."

This is a bit amusing since I really did not have any problems on eBay on Saturday. I will happily accept the coupon, however. I hope I can find something priced at around $100 or so to purchase by December 14. I'd like for my coupon to save me at least $10.

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