More details on eBay’s search outage – buyer and seller compensation announced.

November 24, 2009

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Sellers had three concerns coming out of this weekend’s outage:

  • Is eBay going to be stable for Q4?
  • What about the buyers that were impacted?
  • What about the seller impact?

Is eBay going to be stable for Q4

According to AB posts and comments in the press, it looks like the outage was due to a software problem that eBay has found and fixed. Evidently a 30% surge in listings caused the problem to rear its ugly head.

What about buyers that were impacted?

eBay is giving all buyers (winners) of auction-style items a 10% off coupon – this is the first time I’ve ever seen eBay do anything like this and I imagine it will turn this negative to a positive as now we’ll have all of these buyers with unexpected 10% off coupons during a key purchase time.

eBay seller impact/compensation

eBay sent a letter to sellers Monday that detailed the compensation they are providing for the search outage. In addition to the normal listing/fvf fee reversals, it was great to see eBay not only give sellers the ability to cancel sales (auction-style listings) and be inoculated from any negative feedback reactions caused by that.  As you will see eBay even gave sellers some sample language should they want to cancel the sales.

Kudos to eBay for expediency and for acknowledging the severity of the outage.  Fingers crossed that we won’t have any issues in the next 30 days!

BEGIN eBay’s letter to sellers

Dear XXXX:

By now you might be aware that between 9:45am and midnight PST on Saturday,
November 21, eBay search was down with searches returning limited or no

We know this is a very serious disruption, especially as you are ramping up
your sales for the holiday season. Because you had listings ending during or
within an hour after the outage, I wanted to let you know, personally, what we
will be doing to support your business and protect your eBay reputation.

First of all, this outage will not negatively impact your feedback or detailed
seller ratings (DSRs) in any way. 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.

If you do plan to cancel a transaction, we ask that you contact your buyer
within the next 48 hours (by end of day Tuesday, Nov 24). For your convenience,
we’ve drafted some language below that you can use in your emails to inform the
buyer of your intention and let them know this cancellation was due entirely to
an eBay issue and not you as a seller.

If you had
Fixed Price listings completed during this time period, you
would of course be expected to fulfill sold items as usual.

Second, in keeping with eBay’s
outage policy
and doing what’s right for sellers and buyers, we are taking the following
actions for listings that ended during or within an hour after the outage
(9:45am Saturday – 1:00am Sunday PST):

  • We will refund all associated fees for Auction-style
    listings and refund pro-rated fees for all active Fixed Price listings
    during the outage. This refund should be reflected in your next eBay
  • We will remove negative/neutral Feedback and detailed
    seller ratings (DSRs) lower than 5 stars given by buyers for affected
    Auction-style listings.
  • We will alert the eBay and PayPal resolutions team in
    the event that a claim of item not received is filed for an affected
  • We will be sending a 10% coupon up to $100 off to
    buyers who won Auction-style listings during the outage for any

We fully understand the impact of an outage of this scope
on you, our valued partners. We sincerely apologize for the disruption to your
business. I want you to know that we are continuing to focus our teams and
resources to ensure a smooth and rewarding holiday selling season for you.


Lorrie Norrington
President, eBay
Suggested email for notifying your buyer of cancelled Auction-style

Dear Buyer:

As you may know, for a period of time from Saturday, November 21 to Sunday,
November 22, eBay search was returning limited or no results. See the
official eBay
. Unfortunately, the item you purchased from me on [date] was offered
through an auction-style listing affected by this technical disruption.

I wanted you to know that as a result of this issue, I am cancelling this
transaction and any payment you made will be fully refunded. In addition, eBay
will be sending you a 10% coupon up to $100 off for the inconvenience. Now that
eBay search is fully restored, I will be relisting this auction [today]. I
sincerely hope you will bid again-and win!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact eBay via the
“Contact us” link at the top of the eBay homepage. Thank you for your
understanding. I look forward to your future business.


END eBay’s letter to sellers

Seekingalpha disclosure – I am long Google and Amazon.  eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.