Tamebay comment. Seeing eBay through new eyes: why the silence?

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eBay experienced a significant glitch and downtime on Sunday and people couldn’t shop. Having known eBay, sometimes it feels intimately, since 1999, I know that these things happen from time to time. As a seasoned seller you know that too.

I first learnt about the glitch from my mum. She’s taken to selling on eBay in the past few months, just for fun. She’s clearing out the clutter and, on my behalf, selling my old Lego. She’s doing very well as a fledgling amateur seller but was keen to alert me on Sunday morning that eBay was down for her. Needless to say here at Tamebay we’d also received a flurry of incoming alerts from readers too along the same lines.

Chris wrote it up and we thought little more about it really. And eBay’s response this time was typical. Normal. Routine. Basically nothing. And since they have offered no explanation, apology or account. That’s normal for eBay.The company also didn’t even suggest that an ISP or provider was to blame this time.

And none of that is surprising. Despite the fact that the mainstream media was bloviating about this particular outage (or whatever you want to call it) the eBay sphinx has remained resolutely tight-lipped. No apology. No compo for damaged auctions or lost sales. Indeed, all that came out of eBay was a minor burp of acknowledgement to press (and we reported that).

Chris and I didn’t think much more about it either, if I’m honest. It was an eBay SNAFU. eBay collapses from time to time and they keep quiet. Situation normal.

But my mum (as mums often do) took a different view. She had 5 auctions ending on Sunday and, in her opinion, when comparing her end prices with similar from the week before, she felt her takings were a bit low. I offered her all sorts of suggestions: the demand wasn’t there, pay day was coming, the pictures weren’t perfect, the sun was out.

But she quite rightly persisted: “But eBay was broken for hours today and I lost out on bids. And they didn’t even explain why. I think that’s really rude.”

And, as mums usually are, she’s absolutely right. It is really rude that they haven’t said anything substantial about a major fallover and it took someone looking at eBay with new eyes to remind me of that. And I’m ashamed that we’re all so used to the shoddy communication that we forget to remember that they should do better.

None of this denigrates the individuals who work in Richmond for ebay or elsewhere. But it does make you wonder the degree to which such an incident actually registers within the eBay mothership. Has there been an investigation? Did someone lose a bonus or get ticked off? Or did business as usual continue on Monday with a shrug? When even we, as seasoned eBay watchers, let this pass, we let a company that takes a lot of money out of your pockets, off the hook. But there is no point in sounding off these days, it sometimes seems.

I promise to be more outraged in future. Although it has never been of any use in the past. eBay will be eBay. But if it happens again, when my mum has auctions ending, they should be prepared for her considerable wrath to be unleashed. She’s not happy!

24 Responses

  1. I agree with your comments, Dan.

    There are various issues here. I think Ebay briefly embraced keeping site users informed, but have given it up to protect the share price.

    Any announcement about service problems will hit shares, a sensitive issue at Ebay towers, who are aware of business media comments that they are not performing as well as hoped.

    I don’t think Ebay customer service reps get much more info than we do. But they have to front up and apologise for Ebay, whilst being unable to say specifically when the problems will be sorted.

    When it happened again on Wednesday morning, so soon after Sunday’s outage, I think Ebay should have commented and, yes, apologised.

    There should also be something done for sellers who’ve lost sales, maybe a small discount on next month’s shop fees. They’re quick enough to pursue any underpayments (as are Amazon).

    Maybe Ebay execs think saying sorry is a sign of weakness. But many would regard it as a sign that they have not lost complete touch with the people who generate the money that pays all their salaries and bonuses.

  2. we drive thousands of miles a year up and down the A1, M1 ,M6, M40 , often there are jams and hold ups, no one apologises, no one compensates, its something you need to endure ,
    we view ebay much the same, if we could find an alternative route we would

  3. Its not JUST the site was busted /broken down .
    It’s not just the auctions finishing were low ………
    Its not even that a lot of us might do the bulk of their ebaying on a Sunday , either buying or selling , or listing items for the following week , althought that brings up ANOTHER problem , aside from a drop in auctions finishing at your preferred time , in a weeks time – when the outage righted itself and ebay was back on an even keel (not that it seems all that even at the best of times now )
    What about all the auctions crammed into that time just after it was fixed ? Those auctions are going to attract lower and less bids too , its a normal phenomenon for people to bid last 30 seconds , I know I do .

    Its the knock on effect everywhere on the site , and all Ive seen was the y will give “people affected ” a cred it for the auction that was ruined

    What about the two million people who gave up trying to access the site and resolved never to use that glitchy bug ridden site ever again ?
    How do they give us a credit for that ?

  4. Sell at your own risk.” “No different to trading on the stock market.: you win some, you lose some.” However, I think that’s a whole different ball game. At the very least, Ebay, other businesses, should have a moral obligation to its customers; not forgetting ‘duty of care.’

  5. As with any delays, problems, or issues, all the user wants is information. What is the problem? What are you doing to fix it? An approximate time you will be back to normal.

  6. Most long time sellers have experienced the Ebay fix all solution to those that dein to complain about its shortcomings – Account suspended and then banned – and so keep quiet now and simply put up with their shoddy / non existent customer service. My fees this month are £1200, for which we receive zero meaningful support.

    I have for a long time believed a ‘class action’ for eBay’s ineptitude and complicit involvement in what often amounts to theft, will come one day, when someone with the time and money gets irritated enough to fight back properly, and that will I think be the end of the Ebay, I believe they know they are existing on borrowed time with regards business ethics and are simply milking it for all they can whilst it lasts, which is sad, given proper management and structure it could’ve easily been as big as amazon.

  7. There are many things that we dislike about the market places we use, but we make money from them so we keep going back.

    I sell 2x more on Amazon than I do on Ebay, but Ebay still makes me money and whilst they do, why would I stop using them?

    So they get away with it….

  8. Like none of this was happening until it happened to your mother? There are countless eBay issues that you continue to ignore….do we really have to wait until your mum gets upset before we get some support from Tamebay?

  9. This post is a contender the ” no sh*t Sherlock! ” award of the year.

    People couldn’t bid because the site was down? Wow! Who’d have thought of that?

  10. To be honest we never even noticed on Sunday their had been an issue we did yesterday however. Really eBay is so poor now it is not worth the effort we used to put in,,we just don’t pay the attention we used to there are more profitable channels
    Amazon are that far out in front of eBay now it may even become worrying for the “shareholders”. 10 units to every 1 Amazon V eBay right now for us. Dont get me wrong we do not exactly love Amazon they are just as bad in many respects and it is a battle to the bottom, but if UK customers are shopping their and not direct or with eBay and (happy to pay 20%) more it is where we must sell.

    It is not the prices, it is not the sellers , it is customers are leaving them in their droves, the Amazon proposition is simply better, eBay is “badly run” all about the next quarter, they have NO new ideas.
    The eBay site in the UK is “horrible” to use, so, clunky, glitchy.
    End of the day their service to the sellers is appalling. Like what happened to the broadband providers they need regulated and fined, this US corporate has far too much say and control over UK Business. They are simply charging and not providing the service, some Politician could make this their crusade and do something useful for UK business the bigger picture need taken into account.
    Personally I think it will be another US corporate that will take them out in Facebook.

  11. “Despite the fact that the mainstream media was bloviating about this particular outage… the eBay sphinx has remained resolutely tight-lipped.”

    loving yer work dan, best written ecommerce-related piece i’ve read in a while.

    more of this please, well written content with a personal opinion and reflection as well as the meat of the topic. not just copy/pasting whatever ebay newsletter fell on the doormat this morning.

  12. I am another who didn’t notice any more problems than there usually are, because sales have been so awful for a few weeks now.
    I’m not one of those who sell hundreds of items per day, but I have a couple of friends who do, and their sales have also been down with no apparent pattern to when or why.
    My recent experience has been of zero foreign sales for a few days when there are usually a dozen or so, and uk sales down by around 90% for a couple of days once a week.
    As others have said, we just accept bad service as being normal on ebay now.

  13. It’s clear that many sellers on Ebay are unhappy, but few leave due to lack of viable alternatives.

    Ebay know this as well and exploit it.

    Would be interesting to give Ebay execs $1000 dollars each and a month to make as much as possible by buying and selling on Ebay. How many would be in profit?

    That way they would get to see first hand the opportunities and the problems facing sellers.

    Most of them have probably never sold anything on Ebay. Why would they? After all, even the guy who chairs the British pork pie association is a vegetarian.

    Ebay’s focus is entirely on the share price, which values the company, is used in the city as a benchmark of Ebay success or failure and, by the way, is the yardstick for payment of their bonuses as well.

    Yes, they also rightly focus on buyers, without whom we all get nothing, but sellers continue to be frozen out in Ebay HQ. Ebay shares are growing more slowly than the market average, so expect more fee hikes in future.

  14. apparently ebay ended half my listings over the weekend, didnt even notify me, still dont know why, dont know how many are affected. but i know for a fact they couldnt care less about the loss of sales they’ve inflicted.
    there’s a valid point about the money to be made, but i cant help thinking if i invested this amount of time and effort into a stable platform, it shouldnt be that long before i recouped my losses from setting the ebay shop on fire and never looking back.
    i absolutely detest being treated this way, i didnt s**t on their doorstep, i hand them thousands of pounds in fees every month to be treated like some degenerate.

  15. I was playing with AdBlock to disable as many ads as possible to make eBay pages load quicker and noticed something very intriguing in the page code.

    Advertisement containers have interesting id’s:
    scandal100565″ and so on.

    Javascript contains more “scandalous” parameters: ”

    The code also links to a u002FScandalSupport.js file where the fun continues with parameters:

    In total 144 occurrences of the word “scandal” in the html and js code of each page.

    What do you think? Coincidence, unfortunate choice of words or something more sinister?

  16. eBay for business sellers turning into a subscription scam, on the other hand a 100 listings a day for private sellers is clogging up the system, did you notice the regular weekly maintanence seems to have stopped from mid April.


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