American auction houses relying on eBay Live Auctions to bolster bidding via the internet, were left frustrated on Saturday, October 21 when a server supporting the live auction portion of the site failed.
The eBay Live Auctions technical system crashed shortly after 11am Pacific Standard Time and remained down for much of the day. The crash did not affect eBay’s regular internet auction listings but reportedly impacted as many as 40 live auctions.
Real time bidding over the internet is common in many American salerooms and – as many buyers have grown accustomed to the convenience and comfort of bidding from their home computer – floor attendance is often down.
Accordingly as auctioneers complained that they had lost significant revenue during the malfunction they were also fielding emails and calls from consignors unhappy at realized prices and hundreds of internet bidders angry that they were unsuccessful.
To compound the problem those at home in front of their computers believed they were playing an active part in the auction and were unaware that their bids were not being executed. Some customers have already threatened to bring legal action.
EBay Live Auctions provided no back-up support at a time of crisis and initially sent messages to bidders blaming the auction houses for terminating the sales. They later blamed the crash on “server issues” and apologised for the inconvenience. They promised to look at auction house complaints on a case-by-case basis and have said that, if appropriate, they will issue refunds.