eBay search broken – buyers offered off site ads

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eBay’s search has been intermittently broken at times during today and totally broken for part of this evening.

A seller contacted me this morning and their items were invisible on eBay UK. Logging into their account they could see items for sale but a search of sellers other items stated they had nothing listed for sale. Even when searching for specific individual items by title they failed to appear in search results.

Some time later the items re-appeared on the site, but they had the newly listed icon next to them – including the item shown above which is a ten day listing with just over 24 hours left to run. A nine day old listing should not be designated as newly listed with the newly listed icon.

This evening things got progressively worse. First came the messages that eBay were unable to run the search entered, although eBay’s off site adverts seemed to function perfectly. Send buyers off eBay while it’s broken and they may never return.

Then the situation deteriated further with searches returning messages simply saying “Sorry, that’s not working right now”. Title and description searches are known to be broken with an estimate of about a week to fix. This evening not even title searches were working, sellers with listings finishing this evening may not have had great success. The problem appears to have affected both the eBay UK and eBay.com sites.

With the busiest time of the year fast approaching buyers, sellers and especially eBay themselves need to have a reliable site. Searches not working is simply not acceptable for an ecommerce site the size of eBay.

20 Responses

  1. I wonder if they have just made “best match” too complicated and it keeps breaking the site?


  2. Hi, I have been complaining about the search since mid June – when Best Match first appeared (I think) as it isn’t quite as clever as the eBay boffins would have us believe. The new search has reduced the number of daily unique visitors by about 33% overall. Our spend/visitor (footfall revenue in rela world speak) has risen in line with seasonal expectations showing that the lisitngs are efffective when people can actually find them.

    I agree with the above post; to categorise, parse and sort every conceivable product that is legally available within the time it takes to load a web-page totally accurately (which is what best match is trying to do) would need processing power that the military could only dream about!! I honestly think they have bitten off more than they can chew.

    For example, one product we sell is Femme by Rochas. Try entering that phrase into the standard search box on the home page…. boy oh boy what a variety of products it brings up with only a couple or so of them actually being Femme by Rochas.

    Now, just in case you are thingking that there may only be a couple of this item for sale on eBay, do the same search but this time enclose the phrase in quotes ie “Femme by Rochas” – now that’s more like it. The default sort order is still pants under Best match but at least a buyer can see what available.

    So the long and the short of it for me is, the old search worked and the new one has been nothing but problematic – and it has cost me money – the stats prove it

    If I could wave a magic wand I would turn the clock back to late spring and return things to the way they were. If it ain’t broke…..

    Let’s hope eventually it gets sorted once and for all.

    Simon Hornby

    ps I’ll get off my soap box just in case I get started on “popularity”. What a con…..

  3. eBay is so unreliable these days which is no good for those of us who want to buy and sell which obviously is what most people go on there to do.

    How can one possibly expect to make money if half the time something is not working. Not good enough IMO

  4. #4 You are not the first person to say or think that Mark, I also believe its entirely possible, the whole site appears very unstable.

    From the 28th Sept – 13th Oct we had a ridiculous amount of business come in, then from the 14th up to now absolutley bugger all, phone not ringing,sales nose dived, enquiries vanished, best offers non existent, I fail to, nor will anyone convince me otherwise that the buying public suddenly stop buying on set days then take up buying on a certain, businesses and particulary my business has never traded like that before, Websites,Amazon, Showrooms are all steady, eBay has been a mystery to me for the best part of this year I have to addmit.

    Thankfully eBay has become financially less important to us but I still like to know when I am paying ยฃ39.99 a listing I am going to get what I paid for.

    BTW has anyone made a succesful claim yet under the Search Outage policy?

  5. they just need to get the site settled down,

    30 day buy it nows at low cost (insertion fee wise) is great and we have had a good October so far however the site is still too up and down

  6. 5p ( or 1p) spent on a listing that doesn’t show is money wasted. ยฃ1 spent on a lisitng that works is money well spent. This is why we are using lots of auctions with BINs as oposed to just Fixed Price and guess what? Our costs are up and our sales down – It really makes me wonder where eBay found their definition of “improvement”.

    We have really studied in detail our sales/visitor stats very closely to be able to try to make some sense of it all. We have also been terapeaking like mad and have only seen real improvement for one of our competitors who has very poor DSRs and, in my opinion, very inflated prices – where’s the added value for the buyers there???

    Insisting on multiple listings give the impression that there are loads of products and it doesn’t matter if the buyer doesn’t buy now becasue the items won’t run out. This removes the pressure to buy created if the customer feels if the don’t buy now they will lose the item (Dan Wilsons “perception of scarcity” principle). This way everybody loses. All that is needed is to set up your inventory and have automatic re-listing. One item sells and it is immediately replaced. But the “scarcity” value remains.

    Popularity does not matter one jot – if Tesco has sold a million cans of beans I will still buy from the Co-op if I want to. I don’t need to be bullied into buying choices.
    And finally… whatever happened to “grab a bargain”. Producing confusing results will not help to promote this idea.

  7. I think best match is pants. If I type in “green earrings” out of over 4000 listings the top one yesterday was a pony tail holder (no mention of earrings). And today one of the top items is “LARGE 6×9 inch Green Christmas Organza Favour Gift Bags” (From Hong Kong). No mention of earrings there either, and on the first page there are plenty of items from Thailand, USA, China, Hong Kong – and yet UK sellers don’t get any international visibility.
    No wonder sales are down.

  8. Our sales have nosedived this week. I have spoken to competitors and they are saying the same.

    We are now relying on auction sales. BIN’s are just not selling. If this is to carry on for much longer this will have a serious impact on my business.

    Before the changes our monthly turnover was growing at a very healthy 30% on the same period in the previous year. Now it is going into reverse.

    IMO eBay should dump best match and go back to the old system. It least that worked!

  9. In my opinion listing as GTC with inventory is the only way to go (if you a selling a stocked product). I’m not listing any auctions & I’m happy with how it’s going (except for the glitches like that mentioned in the original topic).

  10. I’m so fed up with ebay search being screwed up. So instead of fretting over lost business I’m going to use the buy it now on some of ebay’s test listings and leave them neg feedback and low dsrs.
    Just search for “Test Item – Do not bid” and have some fun

  11. #11 hit the nail on the noggin. GTC may work for items that can be readily obtained and hence kept in stock. But, in our case, products come and go from the market very rapidly and it simply is not possible to predict exactly what will be available next week let alone in the long run. Therefore Popularity/Best Match is not effective for me. (even if it worked!!!)

    As I have said time and agian to our PAM one size does not fit all – every seller has their own preferences and marketing strategies based on their particular needs.

    Ebay have effectively removed control of this from the seller to support their own agenda.

    We as sellers are debating theses changes ’til we are blue in the face. But what about the poor-old buyers. All they are getting is a psuedo random search result when iot used to be so easy!! I

  12. I have a fix for this problem that a lot of eBay sellers have already implemented.
    Start listing on eBid: fees are much less, the site admins.actually pay attention to input from sellers, they have a real deal right now on a lifetime membership that will give you access to FREE LISTING and the benefits roll on.
    eBay seems bent on a course of self destruction of its’ foundational business.
    It appears from my perspective that eBay has figured out that it can make more money from the financial facility of PayPal with a much smaller resource base than what is required to operate the auction website. Looked at from that perspective the increasing instability and unreliability of the auction site can be viewed as a deliberate attempt to shed load and reduce site traffic.
    In other words drive away customers and make it harder for sellers to earn a reasonable return on their efforts.

  13. Move to ebid.co.uk
    far simpler…far cheaper…no HUGE fees at the end of the month…No scrolling through millions of idential listings from the same seller…and LOADS of bargains…it makes sense that it the sellers listing fees are cheaper…then you get your product cheaper…i make huge savings and get lots of bargains…

  14. #15 & 16, although I have far more jewellery listings on ebid than on ebay, the sales are extremely low. At least I get steady sales from ebay. I keep my stuff on ebid because it’s free to list and I do get the odd sale, but one or two sales a month isn’t good enough to warrant a complete move away from ebay.

  15. Move to ebid.co.uk
    No Sales

    Dave is right, I listed 7 PS2 games on ebid that I would normally sell quickly on eBay. I had to re-list 3 times before I got one sold and didn’t even get paid for that single item!

    However it is free to list so it’s no great loss.

  16. There’s a lot of things about ebay that are broken. I want to know why when you sell to Russia, it defaults to “Rest of World” postage instead of European. For some reason I’ve had quite a few sales to Russia this year (including some repeat business) and it annoys me that I have to chage the postage charge every time. You would think that they would get something basic like that right.


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