eBay Saved Search Alerts Go Bonkers

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, chances are you search for certain items frequently. A long time ago, eBay created a feature called Saved Searches to make it easier to keep track of them and also to allow users to set up automatic email alerts when there is a match.

But last week, Saved Search email alerts went wild. Instead of showing results for items that matched search terms people had saved, eBay showed results for other items.

For example, one customer said they saved a search for the word fruity, the name of a unique figurine. Last week, they started receiving daily emails showing hundreds of results that didn’t match – instead of Fruititty figurines, the email contained lists of clothes, shoes and canned fruit. “The actual search returns 0 items, which makes these emails useless and annoying,” the eBay user explained.

Searching eBay.com for fruity brings up “over 23,000 results for fruity”. Included is a note before the results which reads: “Displaying results for fruity. Search fruity instead.” That in itself is a questionable feature for guessing what people are looking for when searching. But extending that to saved search email alerts doesn’t make sense.

Here are some of the reports on how eBay changed saved search terms causing irrelevant results to appear in emails (snippets):

“For example, if I search for “lindows” which is old software, I get 39,303 results for anything that contains the term “indows”. I didn’t search for “indows”, I searched for “lindows” .not ruin the saved search function by giving me nearly 40,000 false positives.”

“The emails I get now are outrageous, searching for similar strings and phrases but not matching my saved search. For example, searching for ‘solarus’ will bring up hundreds of items containing ‘solaris’ etc. . “

“I saved searches for ‘Worden’ which is a brand name, but now all my ‘newly added’ emails assume I wanted to search for the word ‘wooden’! Extremely annoying!”

It’s a testament to eBay that people not only save searches for unusual or obscure items, but in some cases spend a lot of time creating complex searches to make sure they don’t miss something. they are looking for. It’s hard to imagine how anything happened to render the feature useless and actually aggravating (who needs a daily email reminder of the things they don’t want).

This goes back to a complaint we frequently hear from vendors, no matter what platform they’re selling: make sure core features are working before developing and rolling out new features.

Amanda J. Marsh