Comment from eBay’s Tanya Lawler about recent site problems

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Tanya Lawler 2014After Monday morning’s downtime on eBay, we asked eBay to comment on that and other site problem eBay has experienced this year. I’m pleased to say Tanya Lawler, Vice President of eBay in the UK has provided this comment:

“I want to be completely clear: eBay only succeeds when our sellers succeed. To do this you need to be able to trade without disruption.

You rightly expect a reliable platform and over many years eBay has enjoyed a strong track record of system uptime and reliability. Unfortunately in recent months we have experienced multiple issues relating to our infrastructure. Whenever this happens, we take steps to protect sellers but I understand the seriousness of these issues. Ensuring they do not happen at any time is critical, but never more important than right now as we enter the busy Christmas season.

Whenever there is an issue we thoroughly review what happened. Our technical team is putting in place measures to keep disruptions to an absolute minimum and to improve site performance to ensure our marketplace is more robust than ever.

We regret every moment where we do not live up to our customers’ expectations. Nothing is more important than providing a platform you can trust to trade on successfully. We are committed to ensuring our infrastructure maintains that trust every day.”

This is a strident statement and one of the strongest I’ve seen from eBay with relation to the recent site problems. That does suggest that the issue is being taken seriously at eBay HQ.

Needless to say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating so we’ll see if tough talk is matched by action which means we don’t see any inconvenient downtime between now and the end of the Christmas rush.

The one concern that remains unaddressed is that of compo. Obviously, measures are in place to compensate sellers who have auctions that ended during an outage but as eBay keep telling us: auctions really aren’t the core of their business these days. Some sort of recognition to other sellers is surely in order. That said, prevention really is better than cure though.

60 Responses

  1. I saw the recent interview with Tanya. She came across quite smug and wasted 45 mins of our time.

    Maybe she is part of the problem – she totally lacks an understanding of eBay’s problems with its sellers and if she can’t even fudge a reasonable attempt to placate the discontent it shows how out of touch she is.


  2. Things still aren’t working properly 48hrs later.

    Sales notifications are not coming through and many of our items are suddenly invisible in searches.

    Can’t help feeling this statement is empty words aimed at stopping a run on the share price.

    Nothing at all in there to actually help sellers experiencing these problems.

  3. The site is ridden with glitches arising out of rampant initiative indigestion. And so close to the so called ‘peak season’ too.

  4. we would be impressed with more detailed information of when why and what was the cause and who was responsible

  5. Sorry – only a short word but so difficult to say. As for blaming multi issue infrastructure problems, well ebay create the problems themselves. Sincere apology coupled with shop subscription fee discount as gesture of goodwill would be a start, action speaks louder than words. Till the next time soon…

  6. Resolution centre / respond case glitch this morning!! Open case INR from impatient buyer opened this morning, can’t respond, message stating “System not available”. Great

  7. Were you and I reading the same statement? ‘This is a strident statement and one of the strongest I’ve seen from eBay …’ To follow that you the decide to contribute a cliche ‘proof of the pudding’ to add to the vagueness! There is nothing in this statement but a change of adjectives. What exactly happened, what exact action was taken to correct things, was any ‘hacking involved? I don’t want exposure of ‘commercially sensitive information’ but in 2014 this simply won’t do. ‘Where is the detail or are we too dim to be able to get it?

  8. It’s all words. There have been 4 or 5 major issues with eBay in the last few months, yet they keep happening. It doesn’t matter how seriously someone says they take the issue, what matters is getting them fixed.

    Practically every time eBay make a change, it doesn’t work, and/or breaks something else. And we see constant pointless changes, like changing the wording and the colour of the flags on the item page (by flags I mean things like ‘100% feedback’ and ‘experienced seller’), changing the wording on item sold emails (which were AWOL most of yesterday) and other minor cosmetic changes.

    eBay need to put a freeze on ANY changes, especially at peak, and concentrate on fixing the many things that are broken on their unstable and unreliable platform.

  9. This is just standard corporate speak, typical of that constructed by PR departments the world over. Full of generalizations, non specific commitments, and a total lack of real information.

    Want I want is honesty, transparency, detailed actions both now and in the future.

    None of this is ever forthcoming from ebay.

  10. ebay needs to get a grip rather than the Lord Sugar apprentice board room blame shifting and denial of responsibilty

  11. This isn’t a strong statement or an apology – it’s akin to a serial adulterer telling his wife:

    “I admit it, I made 1 or 2 mistakes of judgement over in the last year- well, 66 actually, if you count Susan next door,, but that’s not really fair because she’s exceptionally pretty – but I want you to behave like a sensible little woman and rise above it. Now I’ve explained it was just an error on my part, let’s drop the whole thing, and you can continue trusting me for the future. Because I have proved myself an honourable and reliable husband, as you have a right to expect. Let’s not dwell on the past”.

    This statement is just a few placatory phrases shuffled together, and served up to businesses that eBay clearly considers beneath their contempt. It is neither an apology nor an explanation.

    They are constantly, constantly, fiddling with fripperies on the site – we’ve had 4 different “managed returns” systems in the past 3 months, PLUS the quasi-managed returns, introduced to get round the “promise” that nobody would be forced into managed returns without notice.

    If they continue to fiddle, they will continue to break things. That is why they promised NOT to fiddle in the run-up to Christmas. But they just couldn’t resist stretching the tinsel across the hallway like a trip-wire, wiring the Christmas tree lights into the mains, or adding another keg of brandy to the pudding. And they’ve overloaded a system that was already struggling, with inevitable and predictable results.

    Even as those weasel words are being applauded by the aptly named Tamebay, eBay is still fiddling with fripperies. We know this, we see them every day – changing the notifications, giving us a pretty little bell, stopping us accepting returns of part orders.

    The word of command that Ms Lawler needs to give , is “STOP!”

    And until that command is given and enforced across the site, the pre-Christmas trading will continue to be a complete stop-start, on-off, PNR mess.

  12. I have just put a message on eBay power sellers forums regarding the best time to shut my shop eBay’s response was a 24 hour ban for mentioning Amazon they are running scared Well if this is what they think of their customers its a disgrace. I found out the best time to close it from their response its now starting to close down just another 18k listing to end

    The site is now unworkable the only customers that seem to be left are the free loaders and scam artists Too many problems and everything is blamed on the seller regardless of the facts.

    Having to beg to get unfair defects removed is a joke eBay should hang their heads in shame for how they treat their customers

  13. Also no comment re the broken search engine which is ruining plenty of sellers business and must be affecting ebay’s business as well. Cassini doesn’t seem fit for purpose but ebay don’t seem to want to address this.

  14. Well if that’s a 24hr ban for dare mentioning Amazon, take all your business there for 24 months. I did and now I can actually earn a living.

  15. It is too late – the damage to eBay UK is already done – no apologies or fixes will help now. Hacking, downtime, glitches, and so many changes that neither buyer nor seller know what they are supposed to do. Both buyers and sellers are leaving in their droves. It is sad to see, but the show must go on, and go on it will, just not on eBay

  16. I too have changed my listing strategy, it always used to be eBay first before Amazon but I’m now going to put more of my time and energy into listing on Amazon because frankly, it doesn’t keep breaking like eBay does.

    Tanya et al can issue comments to third party sites and eBay can issue curt announcements on their own site, but they have to realise that the consequence of continued outages is that even long time loyal sellers will get fed up and take their business elsewhere.

    I’m not giving up on eBay but it’s most definitely not as high in my list of priorities. I made this decision on Monday as a direct result of the latest outage, when I couldn’t even see the basic information necessary to post my weekend’s orders.

    It’s no good to keep ‘apologising’ then letting it happen again, and I’m just fed up with it now.

  17. My absolute nightmare is just coming up to about a week before Last Posting Date and hopefully the orders are rolling in and something really serious happens with ebay. All the problems so far have just been the preparation.

    Now with customers all buying for Christmas and ebay is down, not just for a few hours but for days on end. Before anybody accuses me of wishing this. I should add that I have my fingers and everything else crossed that it does not happen and I have made offerings to the Gods. But with ebay anything is possible and a total disaster just at the very worst time would really be typical. And as others have said it will be the Sellers that get the blame.

  18. The real issue may be that ebay is trying to be all things to all men and it ain’t working. The focus appears to be mobile as this is considered to be the “exciting” growth opportunity meanwhile the nuts and bolts of the PC system is falling apart at the seams and probably has limited resources thrown at it. The two systems do not appear to be a match made in heaven. The more mobilcentric ebay get the more fragile the system and data becomes.

    Amazon meanwhile have been mobile with Kindle from virtually day one so have more experience in this area.

  19. Yet another powerseller totally exhausted with this defective site. Fortunately I too have taken much of my trade elsewhere and minimised my purchase of stock for an eBay chritstmas.
    They really don’t get it. There is a corporate arrogance often epitomised by a sarcastic and emotionally unintelligent response from ‘Pinks’ on the boards towards their customers, a regularly truly dismal customer service and a creaking chaotic and unreliable platform. It’s like watching the lingering demise of a much loved and valued family member….

  20. Talking to Customer Service is nearly always a frustrating waste of time these days.
    It’s actually quite insulting to just have the same old corporate platitudes trotted out all the time.
    And as for the constant outages never mind the apology, or lack there of, it would just be nice to know what caused them.
    Given the total lack of owning up to the massive security breach, until it was forced upon them by the media, it does not inspire either buyers or sellers with any confidence whatsoever.
    However, given the lack of any real competition in many categories, I don’t expect to see any change for the better any time soon.

  21. Unfortunately to me the statement has a massive emphasis on the infrastructure problems, and no acknowledgement that the infrastructure problems may be a result of business decisions to implement many, many changes to ‘improve sales’.
    If a decision is made to introduce a new business process such as C&C, or GSP, seems that the decision is made on basis that the infrastructure is just updated and changed and everything in the world will be rosy.
    Blaming any subsequent issues on the infrastructure alone ignores the systemic problem of not checking the entire system is suitable; including whether the infrastructure is robust enough to support the changes.
    Bit like me deciding to sell a new product, setting up the website, marketing, ordering, returns processes, warehouse space etc but ignoring the fact that the warehouse shelves may not be strong enough to support the new product when it arrives.

  22. I got bored and ticked off with the flannel at “eBay only succeeds when our sellers succeed.” point….Very early in the article lol

    BTW to be honest, does my head in that ebay attempt/make extra effort to protect or make a statement when they have downtime…why bother?

    They do not bother protecting me from undesirable buyers that they let on there site. Why not just penalise me like most other situations that occur that are not my fault or could be helped if they had decent CS/rules.

    As a seller I am not there customer that is blatantly obvious. Customers should be shown respect and consideration, that is not forthcoming from ebay. Sellers are just some mugs that give ebay easy money. Sellers will continue to be abused and used until it is no longer financially viable to do so and that’s the bottom line.

  23. @Dan Wilson

    Could I just say regarding your comment “This is a strident statement and one of the strongest I’ve seen from eBay with relation to the recent site problems. That does suggest that the issue is being taken seriously at eBay HQ. ”

    The downtime is not a major issue for me. (and I do not think its a major issue for other bigger sellers, these things happen). However the day to day issues on and around ebay/rules/CS are more of an issue.

    This is why so many threads on here go off-topic.

  24. I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t even know why Tanya, or any other Ebay Executive come on here or even make statements. It just simply winds up most decent and honest Sellers.

  25. it doesnt matter if its online chat, the fools on the phone, or tanya herself. whatever country, whatever reason you need them, every ebay employee sounds exactly the same.

    “we understand how important X is to you.
    we want you to know we care deeply about X too.
    we’re doing all we can to fix X, and ensure X is better in future.
    eBay is commited to you and X to ensure you’re happy future.
    No we will not fix X.”

    we need you, which is why we’re treating you like absolute filth, but being really superficially polite about it, instead of just actually telling you to F off.

    do you think we’re stupid enough to fall for the generic trotted-out-with-every breath, couldnt-be-less-sincere-if-you-tried, empty platitudes?

    once had an ever so apologetic mugger. he didnt want to stab me or take my wallet, but he was going to anyway. seems familiar to dealing with ebay.

  26. ……..take steps to protect us?

    What from? Their own fair-ground-ride defect system? That’s not hard – they put it there – they can play with it. What I am looking for is some explanation I can pass on to my bank manager – I don’t think he is too bothered by defects……

    This isn’t a game – it’s my livelihood – I don’t need “protecting” – I need to be in a place where my customers can buy from me.

    I have to say I agree with the people who say ebay is finished – not because it has passed the point of no return – but because there isn’t a person working for them who even realises they are approaching it.

  27. Listing Analytics RARELY works
    Lots of broken links
    Lots of old links to old pre 2004 pages
    Defects for nothing (numerous clients of mine continue to raise their game yet still punished )

  28. My problems are many and varied and worsening, to the point that sometimes there is no solution at all !!! I just view a poor site experience as the norm now, and have adjusted as best I can.

  29. I can only get sales by running auctions from 99p on my private account its that slow! Had a look at last Novembers figures. Was doing 7 sales some days. Depressing.

  30. I agree with all of you. My annual eBay turnover is 2 million. The customer services at eBay are getting worse month after month. The transcript posted by Andy is actually VERY representative of what most of us if not all will have experienced at some point. There is just so much wrong with ebay that it has really started to concern us now. There is one Spanish gentleman in Merchant Support whos initials are EE. This guy is the epitome of the world’s worst customer service and personifies modern day ebay. Sorry eBay but member since 2004, lifetime sales of almost 8 million sterling and never been so disgusted with your poor service and lack of cooperation.

  31. Hi Ian,

    Big business means the problems are even bigger. Small business owner, at least you get good rest at night. I have a staff of 20 to support and if the business suffers, people get axed unfortunately. Is it not so sad that i sit here during the early hours and have to vent my frustration here on Tamebay. I head up a company who pays ebay over £250,000 a year in ebay fees and i have an accout manager who has such a limited remit. All she is interested in is increasing our sales and meeting her targets so she gets her bonus. Talk about anything operational, problems, issues and they are genuinely not interested.

    The fact is that Tanya and all the other execs at eBay are living in wonderland. Their objective is to ensure the bar charts, scatter graphs and pie charts are all showing increases to satisfy shareholders. They will never see it from our point of view as sellers.

    I absolutely hate the whole anti-eBay bandwagon. Every little something goes wrong and sellers talk about leaving the platform etc. In reality they rarely do. However, for the first time ever i can seriously say that it is now such a pain to sell on eBay that we are starting to consider other options more seriously. No doubt, we cannot shut down or downscale operations over night, but we will now re look at our overall strategy and start to trade in a more stable environment.

    To take the the new returns flow as an example. In principle, i have no issues with it whatsoever as the customer now knows where he/she is with a return and it proves to be a more structured flow which makes sense. But the reality of the matter is that it has become so cumbersome and long winded that it has made life far more difficult for us. To get a final value fee you need to grant a 100% refund. Thats all well and good, but what if you provide the customer an optional prepaid returns label that costs £2 and is deducted from the value of the refund. Customers really value this inexpensive method of return. Well, overnight we learnt that this would no longer be possible and we have thousands upon thousands of preprinted labels as well as a defined internal flow. eBay dont give a monkeys about what matters to you as a business.

    Shipping in to Europe? Well, say hello to giving a full refund if someone decides to return something. Example, if you ship a 5kg package to Russia… item costs £50 and shipping is £40. Customer returns item as it does not fit. You will need to grant a full £90 refund if you want the FVF back.

    Try and talk to merchant support about anything and they are like the biggest barrier you will ever face. Almost like sworn enemies to your business at times. This is their slogan which appears at the end of every email they send to us: “Supporting our biggest and best Merchants tactically, to remove any operational barriers to a thriving eBay business.”. Sorry, but this is bull.

    Let me finish off by explaining a simple case that was brought to my attn today.

    Customer bought a shirt.
    Customer starts a return flow stating “does not fit”.
    Customer returns item with note inside package stating he wants “large”.
    Customer receives exchange.
    Customer escalates case to eBay stating he has not received his refund yet.
    eBay check tracking number and refund customer.

    Easy loophole!

    Had another customer two weeks ago stating he received an empty box. eBay asked us to prove that we actually sent an item to him and not an empty box. I am sorry but how exactly do you want us to prove that? Does our sea of good feedback not tell you enough about our business eBay? The classic eBay response followed which was to say we should pursue this through the courts as it was a civil matter.

    Frankly speaking Tanya et al, i am fed up with eBay’s constant shifting of the goal posts and forced adoption of new policy. The “real” increase in fees has been bad enough and now you guys are treating us like total idiots. The small sellers feel the same way as us bigger sellers. Yes, eBay constitutes a major income stream for us but clearly we no longer feel valued on your platform. We are just a number, albeit a bigger one than some of the others.

    I implore you to sit up and take notice. If your husband/wife/partner is constantly moaning about things, take it as a sign that a separation may be on the cards.

    If Tanya or any eBay senior executive wants to discuss this with me, feel free to email me. You can obtain my email address from Chris Dawson. Tar Zan is not my real name.

  32. ebays a tool to make money they dont listen,
    trying to change them is a waste of time and effort ,the only way is to adapt

  33. Have to say i totally agree with the above. I am a seller with 120,000 feedback and am equally annoyed with ebay.

  34. Yes, Tar Zan is indeed correct.

    As a case in point, I’m currently 1hour 50 minutes in on my 3rd live chat over 3 days, currently at #46 in the queue trying to reclaim less than £5 for return shipping costs that I’ve been charged because my buyer opened an ‘Item Defective’ return for an item that was actually bought in error as the buyer clearly stated in the return details.

    Why do I have to talk to someone after someone who can’t help day after day.

    I’m not as big as many, but have put £250k+ of sales through eBay so far this year.

    Why is there not a better way?

  35. And now I am getting a ‘new’ login page (sometimes). At first I thought that I was on a phishing site!!

    Why do eBay think that this is a good idea with absolutely ZERO, ZILCH, NADA announcements?

    Proper websites would only ever do this being totally mindful of the need to maintain customer confidence. Perhaps eBay think that confidence is so shot that they don’t need to bother. Sure looks like it.

    Others have reported it on the UK PSB.

  36. You’re very quiet today Tanya considering yet another glitch, are you taking your time thinking up more excuses for the rhetoric claptrap that i am sure will be forthcoming eventually?


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