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eBay Technical Problems & Outages 2005 - March 2006

February 6: CUSTOMERS OF EBAY-OWNED PayPal are again reporting problems when attempting to login to PayPal, or send PayPal payments for eBay purchases. PayPal users are greeted with the classic: PayPal Error Message 3005. In related news, those using PayPal ATM/debit cards are reporting another spate of duplicate transactions - leaving affected customers over their credit limit or having purchases declined due to insufficent funds.

January 25: COMPLAINTS FROM PAYPAL customers in Australia who have become unverified even though they were previously verified echo those of North American users who have become unconfirmed. eBay Australia pinks report (see: Why am I suddenly Unverified) that PayPal is aware of the problem, but were unable to give any assurance on when (or if) it might be fixed. See related earlier news below.

January 23: PROMOTE YOUR COMPETITORS when customers find your eBay store via any search engine (see: Working for your competitors... and eBay to Steal Search Engine Customers). You probably work hard on promoting your eBay stores via search engine optimization or Google AdWords. Well, you'll be happy to know that someone appreciates the increased traffic and potential customers you bring to eBay — your competitors. eBay’s newest enhancements places your competitor’s stores at the very top of your listings, when a buyer finds your eBay item directly from an external search engine. Note: you cannot opt out or disable this "feature".

January 21: DISAPPEARS LIKE MAGIC: PayPal admitted that some confirmed addresses in the USA have suddenly become unconfirmed. Many experienced sellers block payments from PayPal buyers with unconfirmed shipping addresses (to reduce "PayPal chargeback/reversal scams") since they don’t qualify under PayPal’s Seller Protection Policy (SPP). PayPal said unconfirmed shipping address will now qualify for SPP from January 21 until this issue is fixed.

December 20, 2005: REPORTS ARE FILTERING in of the usual problems with disappearing eBay search results, slow emails from eBay and PayPal, etc. Fortunately no major eBay outages to report this year. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2006!

December 13 - 19: AFTER CHANGES TO the eBay Sign In procedure code base at the peak of the holiday sales, eBay users are complaining that when signing in to their accounts, another user's ID appeared on the eBay Sign In page. This problem which points towards a mismatch between browser cookies on a user's PC and the eBay Sign In database was first reported Dec. 13, with eBay's confirming it on Dec. 16.

Numerous eBay users report having inadvertently had their listings posted under somebody else's eBay ID. We recommended eBay users check to make sure they don't have items listed for sale, or bids on items that aren't theirs. A quick and easy solution is to clear your eBay cookies in your browser, quit then restart your browser and login afresh.

November 13 - 17, 2005: is experiencing problems when searching for items on the United Kingdom ebay site. Users are repeatedly asked to login to view Completed Items Search even though they are trying to search Current Items. The problem seems to affect most browsers agents except Internet Explorer so it would seem to be an inadvertent software configuration rather than sloppy programming or inadequate pre-release testing (as in past cases). eBay always seems to be playing around with it’s software close to the major sales season - almost every year. Not a great omen as the Christmas and New Year sales season approaches...

November 7 - 12: United Kingdom PayPal customers that were previously “Verified” are no longer verified. The response from PayPal was that the “status change was because of a 'system overhaul' that caused a change in quite a few accounts”. More info on this PayPal “Verified” glitch.

November 7: PayPal customers are having repeated problems when trying to log-in or send payments to eBay sellers. PayPal customers are greeted with this helpful website message: “We are sorry, we are experiencing temporary difficulties. Please try again later. If this error occurred while making a payment, avoid duplicate payments by checking your Account Overview before resending a payment. Message 3005”. PayPal ATM/debit card holders are reporting the unwelcome return of duplicate transactions - leaving some PayPal customers over their credit limit or having purchases declined by US retailers. In other news, European bidders unable to make PayPal payments.

November 2 - 4: eBay US, Canadian, and UK users are reporting widespread problems when trying to access, log-in, bid, and list items on the different eBay sites. Reports are also coming in of eBay Search problems and long delays in seller email notices arriving in inboxes. We will bring you more updates over coming days as these problems unfold.

Late Oct 2005: SELLER’S UNABLE TO LIST ITEMS - a well documented bug has struck yet again with eBay sellers being unable to list items - the latest outbreak was on eBay Australia. It has been confirmed by Australian eBay Customer Support that A$40 account balance limits are caused by faulty handling of the seller invoicing database - a problem that randomly affected US, Canadian, and UK sellers (2001 - 04). Initially thought a move towards forcing Sellers to prepay listing and final value fees in advance, further digging revealed to be simply a fundamental database design error. If this eBay database glitch continues unfixed (as it has for several years) it has the potential to affect eBay seller’s revenue over the busiest sales months of the year.

Oct 3: EBAY SELLERS USING Mac OS 9 are experiencing Javascript problems when attempting to list items with the SYI form in both MS Internet Explorer 5 and Netscape 7 browsers. User are unable to complete listing an item for sale and are redirected to the entry page. Sellers using the popular browser FireFox are reporting similar problems with the SYI form. Rich R in eBay Technical Support reports that the problem may be resolved by the next tech fix roll-out later that week.

Sept 21 - Oct 3: My eBay DISPLAY PROBLEMS were reported within the My eBay and Selling Manager sections on several eBay sites. The problems have been ongoing from Monday 19 Sept. Some eBay users have reportedly fixing it by toggling Javascript on/off so it appears to be “bloatware” related. Bloatware - the practise of adding unnecessary code to a website; side effects include reduced web traffic, lower sell through rates and upset customers.

Sept 15: EBAY ACCOUNT IS NARU’d and users are listed as “Not a registered user” even though their account is in good standing. Numerous reports are coming in from sellers and buyers - both worried about whether to continue in transactions with the other party in case they lose out. Despite the uncertainty created, eBay has yet to confirm the problem or announce a fix.

Sept 12, 2005: PayPal customers are reporting problems in which PayPal deposited extra money into their accounts, while others said their balances were showing negative balances when they should have been positive. This appears to be a repeat of the earlier problems with their processing partner screwing up deposits and withdrawals of PayPal debit cards.

Between August 31 and Sept 4, 2005 (US Labor Day holiday weekend) PayPal has been double and triple charging customer’s PayPal debit cards cash withdrawals from ATMs. A thread on eBay’s PayPal forum reveals affected customers have spent hours on hold when phoning PayPal to resolve discrepancies in their accounts. According to PayPal customer service this “glitch” was fixed, and ANY pin-based (i.e. debit) transactions you make with a PayPal debit card will not likely result in a double/treble debit. Others say it affects all types of PayPal transactions. If you are going to use your PayPal debit cards, use it as a credit card, and not as a debit card, until the problem is fixed. We would also remind everyone to never use your PayPal cards to pay your eBay seller’s account fees. By using a regular bank-issued credit card you are covered in the event of a payment error; you are not with a PayPal issued card. Also many banks are more customer friendly and responsive than PayPal.

Numerous reports of slow or partial eBay page loading since early June 2005 following “upgrades” to make pages load faster. eBay says the fix is to upgrade your web browser (if possible). Here is eBay’s response in full: “eBay works best with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, Mozilla Firefox 1.0, and Netscape Navigator 7.0. Be sure JavaScript is enabled while using eBay. This allows certain functions to work properly. For more information on enabling JavaScript, see the options sections of your browser’s Help. If you use a pop-up blocker, you may want to allow pop-ups for the eBay site to ensure complete display of information and interactive eBay functionality including eBay’s Live Help.”

For approx. one hour from 6:25 PDT on May 27th 2005 eBay users experienced sluggish performance and intermittent errors when attempting to sign-in.

From 7:30 to 9:10 pm PDT on May 9th 2005 eBay’s bid and item servers were offline. We have been seeing “Page Not Responding” errors when browsing eBay’s various sites manually. We are continuing to monitor their site but there have been several posting on eBay’s System Announcement Board and a later situation update. Apparently the soft underbelly of the beast (i.e. eBay) was exposed for all to see after a simple power outage at a principle Qwest-operated hosting facility in the S.F. Bay Area. eBay said it will issue credits and listing extensions for affected auctions. eBay’s online payment service PayPal was also down for around 30 minutes the same evening due to a unrelated hardware failure in their Denver data center.

On 22 Mar 2005 eBay users started receiving errors from eBay’s login servers. Over the past 24 hours there have been a few other cases were this has happened as well. Currently around ten percent of bids are being missed due to this problem. Users bidding manually on eBay might notice either page errors or random pages when trying to place a bid. This problem might be impacting new sign ups as well. At this time, almost all bidding is failing, even if you are trying to bid manually.

NOTE: eBay announced that users might be having problems browsing their website. For more information, please see eBay’s System Announcement Board.

LATE FEB 2005 saw major eBay server problems resulting in bidders and sniper services being unable to place bids, resulting in lower ending prices for affected sellers, who were not notified of this problem.

eBay Technical Problems 2003 - 2004

The next section chronicles eBay Problems 2003-4 some of which reoccur from time to time...