An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveEbay Automated System Fail
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Ebay Automated System Fail
Saturday, 19 March 2011 6:30 PM MDT
I've had an Ebay account for over seven years, but never really used it. So this afternoon, I decided to try selling a DVD I don't need.
Their web interface let me create my listing and preview it. Then before allowing me to post the new listing as available for sale, their system decided it needed to verify my identity by calling my phone.
No problem... Except that my home phone system is a VoIP PBX (a Voice-over-IP system) that requires all callers to navigate a menu before my home telephone handsets will ring.
Ebay's automated callback system failed to make my home phone ring. On multiple attempts.
And their web page would not allow me to continue until their failed system somehow magically started working.
Oops! Can you say "design flaw" for an "edge case" Ebay programmers?
Of course on the page I was stuck at there was a handy link suggesting that if I was having any trouble at all, I should contact Ebay.
That's what I did. But sadly their contact system has ZERO option for sending a detailed technical explanation of the issue by email. Instead, the only contact option open was for me to call them.
That's what I did, from my phone, the very one their automated system was failing to ring.
After explaining that I was stuck at a web page asking for a PIN that would be provided to me by an automated calling system to the Ebay support rep, we explored options. Apparently NOBODY but ME has EVER had this problem. So no one has ever provided a phone to Ebay that was a PBX system with a menu before. Ever. (I find that very difficult to believe. There have to be users who have used business phone numbers on their accounts that connect via PBXs with front-end menus.)
Needless to say, I was bounced from department to department, forced to explain my situation again from scratch to each person. All-in-all, I was on the phone or on hold, talking to 4-5 different people, including one person in their account security department, for nearly an hour.
And still I am unable to list my DVD for sale. I'm now awaiting a call-back. Allegedly a human being is supposed to call my phone number to verify my identity for my account. But I have doubts. I suspect the Ebay customer rep is just going to click whatever button tells their automated call-back system to give me a call.
And it will fail. Again. After explaining to Ebay their system deficiency in considerable detail multiple times.
Anyone know someone technical at Ebay who actually can do something to remedy system bugs like this?
One potential work-around is the ability for a technically savvy Ebay customer support rep (perhaps the Ebay telephone contact system really ought to make an attempt to connect to the correct department with someone who can escalate these edge case issues to a technically savvy person with authority) to be able to include the equivalent of an old fashioned modem dial string where commas represent pauses. Then all that person would have to do for their automated system to reach me is append ",,1" to my phone number, just this one time.
Inevitably in order for me to use Ebay to sell stuff, I'll have to disconnect my PBX and program a VoIP ATA for temporary use just to work around Ebay's design flaw. It's not like a giant organization with a veritable army of programmers can be expected to fix customer support issues that only affect 0.01% of users, no?
I've actually kind of enjoyed laughing at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. Sooo easy to fix, were I an Ebay VoIP automated callback system programmer...