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eBay battles bugs

A technical glitch on the online auction giant leads to sellers being overcharged for re-listing their items when they don't sell.

    A technical glitch on eBay led to sellers being overcharged for re-listing their items when they don't sell.

    eBay's policy is to credit the listing fee sellers pay when they re-list an item if it sells the second time around. But a bug in the re-listing process has prevented sellers from receiving those credits for more than a week, company spokesman Kevin Pursglove said Friday.

    "We think we have the bug identified and will have it fixed within the next four or five days," Pursglove said.

    eBay charges a listing fee of between 30 cents and $3.30 on most of its auctions, depending on the initial bid price.

    Pursglove declined to say how many auctions or sellers the bug affected or the percentage of auctions that get re-listed, saying only that it appeared to affect sellers across the site. With sellers listing hundreds of thousands of auctions per day, the bug could potentially have affected thousands of auctions.

    eBay sellers have complained of the problem for the last several days, and many expressed frustration with the company for not officially acknowledging the problem on its announcements board. Some worried that sellers were being overcharged and would never know about it.

    "eBay knew about the problem and didn't do anything about it," said Rick Gagliano, an eBay seller and publisher of The Wednesday Report, which keeps track of auction listings. "All these people who don't know there was a problem don't know how to get their credits. Is eBay planning on keeping this money?"

    Acknowledging that the company could have done a better job of informing sellers about the problem, Pursglove said eBay plans to refund credits to sellers. However, affected sellers must contact eBay to request the refund since eBay has no way of automatically refunding the credits, he said.

    The bug happened at about the same time that eBay launched a promotion for its Billpoint online payment service. As part of the promotion, eBay will credit sellers their listing fees for items they sell on eBay using Billpoint. Pursglove said the re-listing glitch is unrelated to the Billpoint promotion.

    A second bug is also affecting the site, Pursglove said. In the last week, sellers who have set up 10-day auctions have been seeing charges of 20 cents for those auctions instead of eBay's quoted rate of 10 cents.

    Unlike the re-listing problem, the extra fee seems to be simply a display bug, Pursglove said. Sellers are not actually being charged an extra 10 cents for 10-day auctions, he said.

    "That is a bug in our internal system, and we're trying to nail it down and fix it," Pursglove said, adding that the company has no timeline for when it expects the bug to be fixed. "We think billing is not affected."

    eBay began charging a fee for 10-day auctions when it upped its listing fees in January. The auction giant does not charge extra for listings with shorter durations.