eBay’s Defect Rate is too high: Not as described, bad comms & fails to deliver #ebaydown

By Dan Wilson September 15, 2014 - 1:06 am

First, an apology and a vote of thanks.

Due to eBay’s 5+ hour long full outage yesterday, Tamebay was overwhelmed with traffic. We’re sorry that some of you couldn’t access Tamebay at times yesterday and we apologise for that. We’ll see what we can do to improve our capacity for future eBay meltdowns. We’ll keep you posted.

And Thanks. Dozens of you emailed in to say eBay was down and we did our best to ensure people knew that: here on the site, using Twitter and via Facebook too. We also replied to dozens of emails. But your tip-offs were vital and we’re very grateful. You’re the stars.

And that’s kind of why eBay’s performance is put into such bleak relief. At Tamebay we were aware eBay wasn’t accessible at all for most of the time between 11am BST and 16:30BST in the UK. We also knew international friends could not access the site either: Germany, Philippines, US, Australia to name but a few.

eBay must have received emails too, and they have a vast army of employees. Even so: Tamebay managed to alert eBay users before eBay themselves that there was a problem using the marketplace. Certainly Chris and I both couldn’t access the site and we used external sites to ascertain there was a problem.

We feel strongly that eBay let buyers and sellers down by offering little in the way of information. We also believe that such a lack lustre performance shows a great deal of disrespect to eBay buyers and sellers – paying customers.

So, what next?

There should be. But remember that they haven’t emailed sellers as promised after the 3rd September meltdown yet. I think there needs to be something quite generous for all sellers affected by this long outage, auction sellers in partic, as well as Shop subscribers. Watch this space. We’ll be pressing eBay for clear info on what fee payers should expect after the second boo-boo this month. We don’t hold our breath, sadly.

Why has eBay proved itself to be so poor at telling sellers when something so serious is going on? Don’t forget that in the UK, Europe and US there are plenty of highly paid eBay executives employed in communications. It’s hard to see that they have done their job these past few days when there have been several serious customer impacting fecal fan interface incidents.

Come on Devin Wenig. Step forward Tanya Lawler. You get paid the big bucks, pocket the options and probably don’t weep when you see that bonus cheque. When things go wrong customers deserve a real apology. So far eBay has not addressed genuine seller annoyance. And people have faced genuine failure in the eBay service. Where is the explanation?

eBay needs to step up. Not least because they have asked sellers to do just that with new, tough, testing Defect Rates introduced in August with only minimal opportunity to appeal.

Dear eBay: you’ve lost your TRS. Your defect rate is too high. Since the start of September, the product you’re selling isn’t as described, you have failed to communicate and also failed to deliver on time. How will you be raising your game?

Edited to add: A senior eBay Exec has stepped up with an apology and explanation of what went wrong

A Message From Sri Shivananda, VP of eBay’s Global Platform & Infrastructure Group

As the person responsible for managing eBay’s technology team, I would like to take this opportunity to address the technical issues that occurred early Sunday morning Pacific Time.

First, on behalf of the company and our team, I apologize to the eBay customers affected by this incident. As a marketplace, we understand how important it is that we maintain a reliable platform for our buyers and sellers. We regret that today we didn’t meet the high expectations our customers have for us.

We are currently examining the details around today’s disruption. Based on our investigation so far, we believe it may have been the result of unexpected power issues with storage arrays linked to some of our databases. These issues caused a limited number of databases to go offline, interrupting site functionality for some users.

Over the years, eBay has enjoyed an excellent track record for system uptime and reliability. But we recognize that we’ve experienced multiple issues in recent months related to our infrastructure. As a technology company, we take these issues very seriously.

We are working now to put in place additional measures to keep disruptions to an absolute minimum. Also, in recent months, we have been working to implement additional layers of security and improvements to site performance to make our marketplace more robust than ever. We’re confident we are making the right changes to ensure we have the people, process and infrastructure in place to lead in commerce.

Nothing is more important than the trust of our customers. We are committed to making sure our infrastructure maintains that trust every day.

  • JD
    6 years ago

    Most large outfits have a ‘Duty Press Officer’ to deal with the media. Did they not answer their phone?

  • 6 years ago

    We published their comment on Tamebay this afternoon.

    • JD
      6 years ago

      Sorry Dan, I don’t see it! Do you mean the link to the eBay 1.38pm announcement posted by a contributor at 3.05pm?

  • Chris L
    6 years ago

    My suggestion is to push Ebay to compensate sellers but refunding 3 months of Shop Subscription fees back. This should not be too difficult.
    Maybe Tambay can help us here

  • Andy R
    6 years ago

    Maybe Google should take a share of Ebay. Maybe they can get this disfunctional site to work!

    • oldhand
      6 years ago

      No thanks, Google can suck their data elsewhere:

      eBay has the option, be another Amazon or be an auction site, can’t do both successfully.

      We’ve seen it before, B&M, department stores stock mainstream goods, specialists and independents carry full ranges and have the expertise to respond correctly to customer enquiries, auction houses have all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff.

      eBay for the last decade has been trying to leverage their customer base for niche, second-hand, antique etc products in to Wal-Mart where the Bain & Co alumni see the big bucks and profits for corps rather than a little income for real people.

      The merchants (cockney slang) have taken over, there’s no reclaiming the original eBay ethos, we need a new eBay and the only way I see is crowdsourcing because the bankers will always try to subvert and defraud real people.

  • radroach
    6 years ago

    I wouldn’t be surprised if eBay’s “compensation” to sellers turns out to be listing offers which would have happened anyway.

    • katakitty
      6 years ago

      50,000 free listings arrived this morning, what a surprise.

    • john
      6 years ago

      we hardly use these , most of the business free listings sux.
      Free auction listings would be much more usefull

    • 6 years ago

      Its all very well some sellers getting free listings but if you are below the new TRS not only will they not give you any, but they restrict the quantity of product you can sell anyway.

      Seeing as these outages are (as TameBay have already said) defects of eBays creation, I think a fair compensation is 1 Months of defects removed for every server down time.

    • oldhand
      6 years ago

      50K, pah. I’ve had 200K offers :). That’s with an account limited to 100 items due to eBay’s cock-up with business/personal accounts. (eBay UK thinks I’m personal, eBay US thinks I’m business, I haven’t risked putting it right because eBay usually gets its knickers in a twist if there’s not a checkbox on the call centre operative’s screen that addresses the issue).

      Maybe eBay spotted my website, with ~3000K unique items average value ~£100.

  • Gareth
    6 years ago

    An apology email this morning from one of the technical crew. Only skim read it, but I love the way they try to make out it only affected a few people. This problem spanned countries and must have affected tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of sellers and buyers.

    How long until the next outage? I give them 2 weeks.

  • john
    6 years ago

    Well done dan. Article is too the point and no messing around.

    BTW EBay’s FB page had loads of people moaning and ebay took a while to respond, but still managed to post links too charity auctions that no one could bid on / see.

    As for compensation I cannot remember on any occasion ebay has done this in a fair or competent manner.

  • 6 years ago

    There needs to be an alternative to eBay. Or at least a strong enough competitor to actually threaten them. That would force them to improve. Currently they seem to be able to do what they like. I know that there is Amazon but they are chalk to eBay’s cheese. We need another big strong cheese.

  • Lee Pearce
    6 years ago

    Sunday sales way down on normal.

    What does worry me though is how are ebay going to make up the shortfall in lost FVF’s and possibly (dont hold your breath) Compensation??

  • Chris
    6 years ago

    Sunday picked up as soon as eBay was back alive.
    So a fairly reasonable Sunday, but could have been a LOT better.
    Not to worry though as everybody else was in the same boat.

    I second that, eBay does not a good competitor, not an amazon style one. Amazon only works for certain categories IMO.
    Could do with some billionaire coming in and creating the ‘next eBay’ to rival it, so there is competition within the playing court, rather than eBay having the complete lion’s share.

    • oldhand
      6 years ago

      Not another from the billionaires club thank you, they’re all compromised. Real people working together is the most powerful force on the planet.

  • Martin
    6 years ago

    And wouldn’t this be a great time to launch an alternative. How many buyers and sellers would work immediately with such a competitor, with eBay’s reputation in tatters.

    • 6 years ago

      An alternative while brilliant would be a long time in coming. eBay have the money to out market any new comer to the market. Look at eBid, much better when it comes to fees, but no one knows it even exists.

      There are 2 19 Year olds at a University somewhere in the world who are working out a new algorithm to make online selling better, we need to wait and trust for them to get it right and get significant angel funding to take on ebay and amazon. I think the next generation of shopping will built around google glass. I was chatting to a developer the other day who is developing an app that when you wear it and see a product on a webpage it will take you straight to google shopping. Also, in the high street as you walk past a store adverts from the store are sent to the glass so you can see offeres before going in.

  • Dave
    6 years ago

    It’s the “interrupting site functionality for some users” that gets me. Who here got any sales or could buy anything Sunday afternoon and why am I always one of the “some users” that can’t get on eBay when it’s crashed?

    How many users COULD get on eBay? Or does “some users” just mean everyone else wasn’t affected because they didn’t try to use eBay that day?

  • jo
    6 years ago

    If ebay were to give out free months of shop subscription don’t count on atually getting it.

    I signedup to a ‘free month shop subscription’ promo in I think July it was. I reeved the promo invitation via email and ebay messages. I clicked the link in ebay messages to activate the promo and was told the fees for the shop would be re-credited to me. Well they weren;t taken till a month later but were never credited back. When I emailed ebay about it , it took SEVEN emails before I got a response and the response asked me to foward the promo email I received. I foward it then get a bounceback email that the email is no longer used!! So I telephone and am told by a rude unhelpful man that he ‘cant see the promo message on my ebay acount’ as it has mysteriously disappeared (maybe the message has an expiry time because i KNOW it was there becase I used it to ativate the promo!). He wasnt interested in the email evidence either and told me it was a ‘mistake’ and it was for selected sellers only who had never used a shop before. I explained that I had received an invitation via email and message inviting me and said well thats pretty misleading I never would have signed up if I thought I’d be charged and he said ‘yes it is’ and ended the conversation. What a douche! I tried emailing again explaining the situation, no response. So basially, thats what youre up against even if you DO get awarded a free subscription.

    • oldhand
      6 years ago

      US internet companies were seeded with many tens of thousands of US military intelligence personnel when Clinton downsized the military in the mid 1990s. Not coincidental, nothing on that level is unplanned, they will mess with your head until you give up.

      Learning how to be it for real people (including yourself) is the only way.

      The internet started out as arpanet (look it up, use duckduckgo or startpage not google), it is military intelligence, eventually controlled by the City of London (a private city similar to the Vatican in Rome, not under the jurisdiction of the UK government indeed it is vice versa).

    • Gerry007
      6 years ago

      It would not be the 1st time ebay problem emails have ‘disappeared’ from my messages on ebay (only the one’s they send to us,)

  • Mike
    6 years ago

    I am lost for words… my main auctions finish each week at 6pm on Sunday, I did get some sales but am hundreds of pounds down on a normal week.

    I am really unhappy, I pay these clowns over 20k a year for this appalling service… I am going to move some of my inventory this week to another collectables website and email my 5,000+ clients to let them know.

    And just to show what a bunch of of tw*ts they are, eBay now want me to list with three f*ing photographs in the stamps category… what back, front and side view?

    • The Cobbler
      6 years ago

      I couldn’t agree more ..I had this ‘experience’ back in August .. I was selling some of my Postcard collection and they wanted three pictures for each one.. Back & front and errrrrrrr .. another of the front!! they’ re just not in the real world.

  • Gary
    6 years ago

    Really wish there was an alternative auction marketplace for used collectables as Amazon don’t cover this and their listing process is not suited to these types of items. For the moment I am stuck with ebay and truthfully wish I was not and this after more than 10 years of ebay selling. Amazing that ebay seem extremely content to have large numbers of disillusioned small and medium sized sellers.

    ebay should offer every seller a 25% FVF discount between now and Xmas as compensation for all the recent grief they have caused and issues they have had. At least that would create some positivity and suggest that ebay do actually care.

  • Bunchy
    6 years ago

    I’ve got access to 50,000 free listings on all my selling accounts today. Co-incidence?

    Really, what’the point in flooding the site even more? It can’t cope as it is, obviously, or we wouldn’t keep seeing these outages etc.

    I miss the old eBay, the one that generated most of my revenue. Where has it gone? It’s been fiddled and tweeked into oblivion. Sad, very sad.

    • Chris L
      6 years ago

      Where are you seing the 50000 free listings? In selling Manager?

    • Bunchy
      6 years ago

      Yep, my friend called my attention to it.

      “£0 Insertion Fees for fixed-price listings. Start selling.
      For Business Sellers: 50,000 x £0 Insertion Fees for eligible listings. Learn More – opens in a new window or tab
      Start: 15/09/14 00:00:00 BST
      End: 19/09/14 23:59:59 BST
      Available at”

      Top right of my selling manager page, where it shows me how many free listings I have left. No email, just this expansion on my usual listing ability.

      It appears not everyone has been offered this, another friend has on one account but not on another.

    • Chris L
      6 years ago

      ok but 50000 listings in a 4 day period, who could ever use that all up?

    • Gerry007
      6 years ago

      All the Chinese sellers are busy preparing their 50k free listings. Just you wait for the massive influx…..

  • Dave from Trumpton
    6 years ago

    Listen to their stupid excuses.

    Of course if a small Ebay Seller has an unexpected situation in the family, or the printer or computer has broken down, it’s two fingers by Ebay, make sure you deliver the product on time, because these things should never happen in Ebay’s perfect world.

    But our Stats tell us if you let a buyer down, they won’t return !

    This stupid company, with it’s perfect selling system, has caused more damage in the past 12 months then any seller could.

  • Martin
    6 years ago

    Has any company had such an outpouring of negative vibes from their customers in such a few hours? What does it take for ebay to sit up and take note?

    If I was an institutional stockholder in ebay I’d be reviewing my holding right now.

    How long before the big players start telling ebay they are investing more in Amazon and their own websites and deprioritising ebay – maybe they already are.

    Do you remember that customer service slogan – The customer is always right?

    This seems a million miles from what ebay think about their customers.

    What action will ebay take that sellers actually can see and feel to restore trust and confidence in the ebay product?

  • LJ
    6 years ago

    Quite simply eBay don’t care!

    Their view on the matter (and I have been told this by an eBay advisor over the phone) is if you don’t like the way eBay operate, then don’t sell on eBay. No one is forcing to you.

    Sure a few sellers will start selling less on eBay, and list on other sites, many more will “Threaten” to leave eBay but wont as they know their is nothing better out their. No other website comes close to eBay in terms of their global audience and their range of products new and used.

    50,000 free listings today. Can you imagine how much extra revenue that will generate for eBay. It will certainly plug the gap that is left by a couple of sellers going elsewhere. And these sellers will be back soon enough when they realise they cant sell as much or reach as many people as they did on eBay. For most of the sellers that leave eBay, they soon realise that they have only shot themselves in the foot, and most return within a few months, I have seen it happen time and time again, and eBay know this.

    I have sold on eBay for the past 5 years and it is my only income and I hate it as much as the next person, but I have learnt to take their outages, accept all their bizarre and often stupid changes they make to the site, because I know that their is nothing better out their.

  • Steve
    6 years ago

    To answer your question to eBay:

    “you’ve lost your TRS. Your defect rate is too high. Since the start of September, the product you’re selling isn’t as described, you have failed to communicate and also failed to deliver on time. How will you be raising your game?”

    Simple answer is to impose a selling restriction or suspension – like what eBay apply in an all too ofton punitive or arbituary manner to some sellers.

    50,000 free listings? Big deal, all this does is flood the site with garbage. And besides, the real reason for offering this is because eBay have started enforcing picture standards and now loads of sellers can’t relist until their images comply with the minimum 500 pixal on one side requirement. Consequently there are less items being sold and now many sellers have to retake all their photos which is crazy. What was wrong with the old standard of 300 pixals? Even 300 is higher than what most websites use. Setting it at 500 simply creates work for many sellers, not that eBay ever give a toss about putting people out with their dumb ass “improvements”.

    Its all just more eBay madness.

    And compensation for outages? Are you nuts? There is no chance. Forget about it! 🙂

    • Lee Pearce
      6 years ago

      Whilst i am not overly happy with ebay at the moment, i do have to come to their defence reference your comment about picture standards.

      Ebay gave plenty of notice and did allow more than enough time for sellers to make the changes, as well provide tools to find the images that would fall under the specifications.

      We had just short of 6000 listings to check and we had more than enough time to do this around our normal daily routines.



    • oldhand
      6 years ago

      And I have more hassle chasing scammers using my images to sell their print-on-demand products.

      I had acceptable sized images in eBay’s system and better images with protection (but no watermark) in the body of the listing. I don’t watermark images because that detracts from the buying experience for real people.

      eBay are nickel and dime merchants, merchants (cockney) who don’t understand people. I suppose to some extent we should be thankful that they don’t because otherwise they’d be able to defraud even more honest people.

    • 6 years ago

      Irony that the outage was due to the storage servers falling over, probably because of the larger file sizes made up of the bigger pictures.

  • 6 years ago

    I am tired of ebay, we run into deep debts because of ebays new rules and this and that, but the advertisement is there to take out a quick business loan and boost your sales. Since we followed the ebays new rules since last year october our sales dropped with 60% and payments are there. And when we just hoped to have fair bit of sales the site is down.
    3days after the first outage we received the mail from compensation, then we received refund for a few items that sold, but nothing about the unsold items, and again the site is down and same sh….t is happening. Thats why I am building my own site and try start selling on it and stop selling on ebay eventually.
    They should delete selling limits from sellers account so at least we would all have good sales. Fed up with it.

  • John S
    6 years ago

    Maybe out on a limb but I don’t think there will ever be an ebay replacement or direct competitor, the days of third party selling sites (that charge fees) are numbered.
    If look at ebay in the most basic way, its somewhere you go to search for things to buy. So is Google, Bing, the many sites that collect B&M auction house lots together etc etc
    The argument that ebay drives masses of potential buyers to your listings doesn’t seem to be true any more (for me anyway) as receive same number of website visitors each month with no advertising spend at all.

    The pathetic unreliability and bugs on the site, possibly due to rubbish legacy software, pressure to continually add more ‘features’, and a constant drive to save money by downgrading redundancy and back-up, breaks the ebay ‘habit’ and buyers look elsewhere.

    In my mind ebay is now a shopping comparison /product clearance offload/ advertising site that is steadily becoming swamped with third party adverts – you pay for your listing, and ebay rams a pile of ads onto it efectively using your money to pay for the ad overhead costs.

    If the site falls over, outlets aren’t too bothered, they have a website. I read an interview with one of the new ebay fashion stores, and after the usual waffle, the punch line was that they were already seeing increased traffic to their website, looked at their ebay shop and they’d sold two or three items I think.

    Ebay was a good idea originally, but ecommerce has moved on and the idea of third party items for sale ringfenced on one site, probably wont be valid in a few years time – unless its free to sell there.

  • 6 years ago

    I call BS on the power issue. eBay is a tech company. They’re supposed to have alternate plans in place for all kinds of snafus, and that includes power outages. Lame, eBay. Really lame.

  • Imi
    6 years ago

    eBay new free P&P to hit TSR ratings is unfair on both buyers & sellers!

    Sorry slightly off subject but just to show how behind eBay really are!
    The new ‘free p&p’ option on eBay which is a must if you want to become a Top Rated Seller is a total flaw and actually costs customers more if they buy more then one item from the same seller. It also puts people off from buying an item if they wish to collect.

    SO why is this? Well pretty simple, if a buyer for example wants to buy say a DVD which is priced at £2.50 with free postage thats cool but if the buyer wanted to buy 10 DVD’s at £2.50 with free postage it will cost them £25. Now if the product was £1.50 plus postage the seller would then be able to offer the customer a discount on postage for further purchases. I know for a fact 10 DVD’s would only cost around £6 to post depending on courier etc so the customer in effect has had to pay £4 more. This in my experience only puts customers off from buying.

    As for people who would prefer to collect it can massively put them off from the price as obviously although the advet states free postage every seller adds the postage price into the buy it now price! So for example if i have a rather bulky item and advertised at say £350 with free delivery, something like a expensive and heavy set of speakers. For me to post this item it would cost me around £25 – £40 takjng into account the level of insurance required. And it would also cost an additional £10 for the correct packaging etc to make sure item was not to get damaged in transit. So thats an over charge of £35 to £50 for somebody who would prefer to collect and pay cash! That Extra £50 is exactly what will put customer off from purchasing the item.

    So eBay i seriously think you need to revise your strategy as sellers are being forced into offering free postage to meet the new TRS status which most sellers want to achieve due to the benefits involved (one of which being better search place higher up the list for your items).

    • janet
      6 years ago

      Your are quite right.
      I regularly buy supplies off Ebay & have my sellers that i use all the time. I NEVER buy off any seller that offers “free” P&P if im buying in multiples because as you say i know the P&P is included in the price and therefore i could end up paying in excess of 10 P&P charges.
      One of my regular sellers did fall for Ebays hype about offering free P&P and i noticed that the price for a single item had increased (to include P&P), I stopped buying from this seller and i assume others did also as not too long later the seller reverted back to charging for P&P, obviously her sales had dropped dramatically.
      What Ebay (& some sellers) failed to realise is that buyers are not stupid & they know that “free” P&P is not free at all. It may work for a single purchase but once multiple purchases of the same item come intp play then i think most buyers do realise that they are basically been ripped off.
      This is just another example of how Ebay actually have absolutely no idea about how “the real world” operates.

  • Rich
    6 years ago

    Still having technical problems. Crap site.

  • John
    6 years ago

    These things happen in life – there will always be disruptions. If there were no disruptions in life, the tube would work perfectly, there would be free flowing traffic on the motorway networks.

    My only comment is Amazon do have a useful news section when you log into seller central – maybe ebay should look at having this sort of comms process.

  • Rich
    6 years ago

    “These things happen”. They do if you work badly.
    I can’t log in to ebay at all today. Can’t even get the site up.

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