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Yahoo's Cyber Monday mess finally fixed

Company takes all day to fix outage that left customers unable to make purchases from thousands of online merchants on one of year's biggest Internet sales days.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. PT with more detailed timing information and a Yahoo apology.

I feel bad for the thousands of small merchants who rely on Yahoo for their e-commerce services. They totally missed the anticipated sales spike on Cyber Monday, so dubbed because it is the first big day of online sales after Thanksgiving, which heralds in the holiday shopping season.

The problem with error messages coming up during checkout transactions, cutting off the checkout process, was first reported by Yahoo to its Merchant Solutions customers.

The problems started around 6 a.m. PT Monday with outages in Yahoo's systems that power the merchant stores, according to Yahoo's Yodel Anecdotal blog. The issues lasted until about 1 p.m. PT when transactions began going through at a much higher rate, albeit much slower. By 6 p.m. PT things were back to normal, the blog entry said.

That's at least seven hours with no service, and then another five hours with slow service, on what is believed to be a huge online-shopping day.

"We deeply regret the inconvenience this caused to both our merchants and their shoppers. Our customers' expectations were not met, nor were our own. And we are moving mountains inside Yahoo to find out why and how this happened, and to take steps to try to ensure it doesn't happen again," Rich Riley, senior vice president of Yahoo's online channel division, wrote in the entry, which also includes the words "mea culpa" in a purple box. "As for the future, rest assured that we are taking the necessary steps to prepare for the peak holiday selling season. We have technical and customer relations staff mobilized and ready to support our partners."

I don't think that will do much to pacify Yahoo customers who were livid and threatening to cancel their accounts.

"Absolute disaster for us...We were having a record weekend and now this...What a disgrace for Yahoo to have issues on one of the most important days of the year," a Webmaster with the alias "jwrunner" wrote in WebMasterWorld discussion group.

"Yeah, this is really unacceptable. Overall, Yahoo's servers are pretty slow, and this is just the nail in the coffin," someone named "gzlatin" wrote. "What is Yahoo going to give us back in exchange for losing thousands of dollars in sales? A free month? We had better at least see a VERY large PPC credit with Yahoo to try and make up for this."

The Yahoo representative did not immediately respond to an e-mail asking whether the Yahoo customers would be compensated for their lost sales. Yahoo also has declined to say exactly how many of its 40,000 Merchant Solutions customers were affected.

At least one Yahoo customer mentioned the "G" word.

"This is the perfect time for Google to introduce a merchant platform--we could then accept Google Checkout as well," wrote "Montpelerin." "...are you reading this Google (and Yahoo)?"