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eBay outages enrage users

The latest blackouts may prove to be the last straw for some users of the popular online auction site.

    Outages at eBay have upset users before, but the latest may be the last straw for many of them.

    Scores of disgruntled eBay users today are posting rallying cries on online message boards, firing off email, and even planning a petition drive. Others are taking their anger a step further by listing their items with other auction sites.

    eBay's site went down Wednesday night and again last night. Although the company indicated the site would be up at about 11:30 a.m. PT today, the site was still experiencing problems at noon.

    "We've let our community [of eBay users] down, there's no question about it," said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove. "We recognize that our community depends on us, and we didn't deliver for them."

    "We're a pretty reliable system, but not in the last 24 hours," Pursglove added.

    The outages follow two hours-long outages in last month.

    Message boards at the AuctionWatch Web site were inundated with users posting complaints about the service. Many users also sent messages to CNET News.com, expressing their outrage.

    "A one-night crash is hard to take, but two nights in a row is/was nearly unbearable," wrote Richard Fulton, who sells Civil War collectibles on eBay and through his own Web site. He added that AuctionWatch provides a sort of "frustration chamber in space where we can vent, but venting alone cannot be the answer. Venting doesn't pay the bills."

    Calling for other users to shift some of their listings to other sites, he said, "Now is the time to act. eBay has simply become the auction site that tries men's souls (and patience)."

    Amy Harber of Colorado Springs, Colorado, started an e-petition to protest the outages and a lack of customer service. Harber said 30 people have already committed to signing the petition, even though she hasn't formally drafted it yet.

    "We want to get it published and get eBay to address it," Harber said. "This is just wrong."

    Harber, 21, said she started selling on eBay two months ago and lists some 40 items per week on the site, mostly used videos.

    "We can all piss and moan on AuctionWatch about eBay," she said. "But unless something's done and given to eBay, nothing's going to happen."

    Ronnie Rizzo, 25, a Fullerton, California, resident, listed his inventory of collectible sports cards and other sports-related merchandise exclusively on eBay until the February outage problems.

    Because selling on online auctions is now Rizzo's full-time job, he said he started shifting his items to other sites. Of the 50 to 65 items he lists per week, Rizzo said he has moved 30 to 40 of them to other sites, primarily Amazon's.

    "They gave me a wakeup call by going down," Rizzo said. "I don't feel comfortable relying exclusively on them."

    Like Rizzo, Scott Moran of Reno, Nevada, said he's already started to shift some of his listings off eBay to Yahoo and Amazon.com and VegasToday.com about a month ago.

    "I've never had a problem with them," said Moran, who lists some 300 computer software and hardware items a week on auction sites. He said he is considering canceling his eBay account and shifting all of his items onto other sites.

    "The amount of money eBay's charging me is not worth it," Moran said. "There's no longer any profit for me."

    Despite problems, other users say the sheer size of eBay's site is still a draw. Paul DeLeo, a software developer and certified public accountant in Sarasota, Florida, said he would continue to list on eBay.

    "I've used other sites in the past and they just don't have the market draw eBay has," said DeLeo, 29, who lists about five computer equipment and software items on eBay per week. "Other sites aren't even close."