back to article Software glitch WIPES OUT listings of 10,000 eBay sellers

eBay has confessed to The Register that a software bug destroyed the listings of 10,000 merchants in Britain, the US, Germany and Australia. The online tat bazaar said it was restoring the listings, but it was unable to tell us if traders would be able to recover their sales histories - an important component for eBay sellers …


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  1. Danny 14 Silver badge

    thats ok. Im sure they have backups.

    1. Graham 24

      Restore not so simple

      Depending on the nature of the backups, a simple restore may not be an option, since that would then wipe out all the stuff that's been changed since the backup. It's more of a "restore somewhere else, and merge the old with the new". Always much more tricky. Much like when there was the big RBS / Natwest cock-up, some (mainly non-IT) people said "just restore from the backups". It's not that simple with systems that (in theory) never go off-line and are always being updated. RBS *had* to put everything back as it was - eBay *should*, but I bet, given their Ts&Cs, they aren't in any way obliged to.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Restore not so simple

        "Depending on the nature of the backups, a simple restore may not be an option, since that would then wipe out all the stuff that's been changed since the backup. It's more of a "restore somewhere else, and merge the old with the new".

        I would say that the majority of restores work that way - unless you totally close down the system whilst doing the restore.

        In my last job, when we've had to restore due to broken disks etc,., the users still want to be able to write/read *new* email / documents etc. They don't want to be without access to the system for 5 hours or more.

        Yep, I think 'the goalposts' move in the majority of data restores

    2. BillG


      thats ok. Im sure they have backups.

      Yes but mentioning backups makes the article less dramatic

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      presumably the "14" in your username is your age ?

    4. Flywheel Silver badge

      That'll be ..

      tested backups. Oh wait..

  2. Fihart

    And do ebay give a toss ?

    Your call.

  3. Onid

    if true and these ebay accounts weren't dormant ebay sucks however

    is this related to the following announcement 30 days ago?

    were these accounts dormant?

    However if they weren't and ebay is not reinstating their history then the icon represents my feelings...

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: if true and these ebay accounts weren't dormant ebay sucks however

      I bet the software said they were dormant and it turns out they weren't...

    2. Sureo
      Big Brother

      Re: if true and these ebay accounts weren't dormant ebay sucks however


      If only they would. Ebay never forgets user information, even when deleted ages ago.

  4. JimmyPage

    Effectively another "cloud" failure.

    Anyone you *relies* on eBay to make money (as opposed to the odd hobbiest) really should factor "eBay goes titsup in someway" into their business plans.

    Men, boys, etc.

    Is there a *shrug* icon ?

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

      I agree. Ebay or Amazon or anything similar for that matter, should be treated as a "bit on the side" business opportunity. It's too much of a risk to rely upon some huge mega cloud corporation for your humble business selling second-hand china tea cups with Beatrix Potter animals painted on them! The days when ebay was the saviour of small mail order businesses are long gone if you ask me, Now its all about squeezing as much from sellers as possible and if it goes on the wonk for a bit - fuck ya!

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

        OK I agree with you guys to some extent, but you could apply your reasoning to any business. If the electricty company has a power failure then your bricks and mortar store wont be able to run the cash registers and bang you cant make any sales. The Power company isnt obliged to pay you compensation for this, just like Ebay isnt obliged to pay you if it drops your listing. Same could be said if you host your own sales website, if the council decides top rip up the pavement outside your shop or anything.

        So whilst you have to factor in these losses into your business plan, you still can feel mightily miffed when such failures occur. But there's probably not much you can do about them...

        1. JimmyPage

          Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

          Big boy businesses have backup generators, and disaster recovery plans.

          Part of being a "businessman" is that you actually know a bit about "business". Axiomatic really. This is why there are so many failed "businesses" in the world. I know it's fashionable to knock people who get high salaries, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater - some of them are worth every penny.

          I have known a few directors of "tech companies" who couldn't program a microwave, yet were very canny at managing sales, staff, and resources. They could spot flaws in plans and account for things that you just couldn't imagine.

          ISTR aircraft crash investigators don't have any concept of "accident". The same should go for businesses.

          Let's put it this way: our disaster recovery plan has an airliner hitting the office as a risk.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

            Upvoted for: our disaster recovery plan has an airliner hitting the office as a risk

            1. JimmyPage
              Thumb Up

              Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

              Actually, that was a lie. Sort of. What I *could* have said, is that our DR plan has a risk of the office being unavailable and a compensating control of some rented war rooms to be available within 2 hours for key staff, and systems being switched to 3rd party providers. So airliner hitting building, gas leak, flooding, fire. They are all things that could make the office physically inaccessible.

              And yes, it does get tested. The compliance guys have a secret pow wow with facilities, and when a fire drill is planned, key employees are stopped from going back into the building, and the DR plan is tested, so they have to make their way to the backup site. Quite a faff, but not quite as much as discovering your plan is flawed. Like one company that had a 300 page DR manual that was supposed to be issued to staff in the event of a disaster. Come the disaster, a murder in the estate their office was in, they discovered the only copies were kept in the office the police had sealed off and no one was allowed in.

              1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

                Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

                "Like one company that had a 300 page DR manual that was supposed to be issued to staff in the event of a disaster. Come the disaster, a murder in the estate their office was in, they discovered the only copies were kept in the office the police had sealed off and no one was allowed in.

                I knew of a company that did rigorous backups, and verifications/test restores of those backups, and housed them in a to-spec fire safe.

                The building (including their office) went up in a big bang following an IRA bomb. It turned out that the backup tapes were fine.... but it was about 3 weeks before police/forensics/safety officers would let anyone in to retrieve them!

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

                The problems with great plans, they still can go wrong.

                "so they have to make their way to the backup site" and what happens when there is 2ft of snow on the ground? Can they still get there?

                Is it at least 10 miles away from the primary (our DR plans include nuclear attack believe it or not, our clients insist on it).

                What happens if the DR site is also having issues?

                And then there is the one we had.

                Primary site out due to 2m of snow (yes not UK), which also prevented travel to DR site and at the same time the countries main telco went tits up, knocking out internet and voice traffic across the country.

                2 out of 3 of those we would of been ok, but all three really made it hurt.

                We routed many of the systems back to the UK, but in this country we are not well know for our multi-lingual skills.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

        That's like saying that depending on selling your brand of ketchup in major supermarkets, or relying on selling your beer in pubs, is too risky. It's how things work.

        Granted, ONLY using eBay or ONLY using Amazon is a bad idea, but not relying on 3rd-party portals in general. You can of course still sell direct, but expecting that to give the same sales is silly. Nearly anyone who manufactures anything is dependent on their reseller - lose them and you have to find another pronto.

    2. Blitterbug

      Re: Is there a *shrug* icon ? just used it...

    3. Fatman

      Re: Effectively another "cloud" failure.

      As someone who worked for a company that made a decent part of its sales from (fl)e(a)Bay, having them pull a listing, and more importantly, your account without any real means of redress; just shows how dangerous it is to trust them.

      They will fuck you over if the opportunity presents itself. Consider yourselves warned.

  5. hypernovasoftware

    There's no such thing as a software 'glitch'

    It's called a bug caused by humans.

    1. Stevie

      Re: There's no such thing as a software 'glitch'

      I'm pretty sure that *this* is more accurately described by the technical IT term "inadequate testing".

      It's not a bug if you never actually tried out the software in question in the conditions you were testing for. It's an ukfup.

      And since every single aspect of computers is - if you chase the evidence far enough - "caused by humans" the qualifier is redundant.

  6. Ross K

    eBay/Paypal's contempt for sellers...

    ...should be obvious to all but the most cerebrally-challenged Reg reader.

    This comes as someone who spent two months trying to get Paypal to release £2000 of my money

    Shower of CNUTS, to put it politely...

  7. Nigel Steward

    Journal based back-up

    Would eBay's problem not be solved if the entries were journalled - or am I a dinosaur ?

    1. Stevie

      Re: Journal based back-up

      Not really. The problem is that if the data as a whole is too homogenous the data that was removed needs to be identified *from* the journals and recovered but not any other stuff, which is one of those problems that make people resign and move to Canada.

      Of course, this is why data should not be deleted, but should be removed from a database in stages by first setting a flag to say "pretend this doesn't exist", then moving the data to a longer-term archive and deleting it for real. That way you can get everything back at the record/tuple level.

      Of course, that's how we used to do it on mainframes and everyone knows that when Unix was invented the whole nature of computing changed so much none of that old-school thinking was relevant.

      Young people. They are so cute when they fuck up on stuff that was well-sorted in 1978.

  8. Lennart Sorensen

    So what ebay should have done (and obviously did not), is to simply hide the dormant accounts, then wait and see if anything broke, and if it did, unhide them again and fix the bug that made it select the wrong accounts. Simply deleting data is not a good idea.

    1. Amorous Cowherder

      You, I and most of the proper backroom boys and girls on Reg know that, but management cut costs on the IT support and you get what you pay for!

      1. Fatman

        RE: management cut costs on the IT support and you get what you pay for!

        I wonder, did they hire the same fuckwits that RBS did???

  9. Snake Silver badge

    "Due to a software issue...

    the knowledge of how much we suck has now been broadcast across the entire world.

    All Your Sales Are Belong to Us. And, even if by some miracle they don't, we'll still suck you dry through our PayPal Transactional Fee Vacuum Magic©

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled droneage."

  10. Cliff

    Delete *...

    Delete * from tblImportantDetails; where bAccountActive = 1

    DAMMIT, keyboard cat typed a semi-colon whilst I wasn't looking. Hope nobody notices!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Delete *...

      You probably mean "not =" or "= 0" I would guess?

      1. Mister_C

        Re: Delete *... @AC

        if only you checked the code cliff@ebay wrote before it went live...

  11. mikemusky55

    Ebay User Affected By Glitch

    Unfortunately, I am one of the 10,000 plus ebay merchants who has been slammed by this problem. Around 2:00pm EST on Wednesday (3/20), I received an email stating that I had reached my monthly selling limits. All but three of my Ebay listings were removed in error. The three that remained were auction listings that already had bids. The majority of my listings are fixed price listings. The communication from ebay has been dreadful. They did not even acknowledge the problem on their website for a good 10 hours. I spoke with a CSR almost immediately and it was clear that they really did not know what happened. The first official email from ebay came at around 5:30pm EST on Thursday.

    As you mentioned in your article, we spend years building up our reputations and sales histories. I have already lost about $600-$800 in sales and am very concerned about losing future sales due to a lower placement in the ebay search results. Ebay said this will not happen yet they have still to get all the dropped items relisted. The ones that have been relisted will all expire on the same day, which will also affect sales as listings tend to show up higher in the results right before they expire. Also, many users sort by listings to show those ending soon and now all of my listings will be concentrated on one day.

    So far, ebay has restored single item listings but has not restored the multiple item ones or any of the auctions (with no bids) that were active during the crash. This is in direct contrast to the statement on their site that the majority of listings will be restored by 24 hours of the incident. As I carry most of my pieces in volume, only 15% of my listings have been restored. Although ebay said it is acceptable to relist items yourself, I am waiting for them in the hopes that sales history will be saved. I am also hopeful that my items will hold the same positions in the search results.

    I spoke with a CSR earlier today if there was a timeframe to have all of the listings restored and she said it could be a day or two. When I asked her to clarify, she stated that no one really knows and that they are being told it is still being worked on. We're now over 50 hours since this problem started and there is still no end in site. This is totally unacceptable.

  12. Fish in a hat

    Reaching out to sellers........but not on Saturdays and Sundays

    Ebay have reached out to those of us affected in the UK in the following ways: they have totally ignored their own discussion boards, on which several long threads appealing for help and information have been posted. Apparently some of them have posted on Facebook - but not on their own site. They have still not contacted many people affected (including myself) and have left many people with some listings not restored for the weekend. Conflicting information has been given about restoring listings, about whether stock levels could be restored or not - or sales history. Some people have been adivsed to relist themselves and then have been charged. AT least one person doing so has received a Duplicate Listing Violation notice when ebay did restore the listing later.

    To cap it all - another powerseller speaking to Customer Services this evening, was told that the IT department would not be working through the weekend, and anything unfixed now would remain so until Monday.

    It would also appear that all of these lost listings have been totally descored from Google - which could take up to 4 weeks to rectify.

    I would also say that 10,000 people is probably a conservative estimate. One person alone posting on the UK powerseller board has had that many listings removed. This is an epic crash - and so far no one from ebay UK has even appeared to apologise. Still - it shows what they think of us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reaching out to sellers........but not on Saturdays and Sundays

      > One person alone posting on the UK powerseller board has had that many listings removed.

      It was designed as a site for people selling junk from their attic. It still surprises me that "big vendors" use it as their main shop front. It should be pretty clear from their Ts'n'Cs that you pretty much have no recovery plan if it all goes tits up. Amazon seem to be more reliable, but also seem keen to recycle third party ideas which work as in-house products (both on cloudy software, but also physical products - now in the form of the Amazon basics range).

      Don't like it write and host your own I suppose, otherwise do what every other vendor does and diversity (i.e. use Ebay and Amazon, and your own site).

  13. orb8

    tat bazaar?

    I wouldn't call it a 'tat bazaar' because over the years i've gbought some serious electronics gear from eBay for a fraction of it's original cost.. In fact only last week I purchased a rather new looking, fully functional 400W laser power supply for £35 delivered... Same thing at Farnell today priced at £420.. WIN!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: tat bazaar?

      ... sure but I bet you can't get the shark to go with it ;)

  14. Mr Young

    If I could be bothered

    I might consider ebay and/or paypal for selling stuff? What are the fees like?

  15. Christopher Blackmore

    Tat bazaar?

    Every article you write that mentions eBay calls it a "tat bazaar". The items I sell are in first class condition, not "tat".

    Perhaps this is a "lazy hack news dump"?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    company's listings, bleat, bleat bleat

    should have diversified.

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