Amazon patches auction problem, pays fees

Amazon.com has fixed a glitch on its auction site after sellers complained that the company wasn't providing a service they had paid for.

Amazon.com has fixed a glitch on its auction site after sellers complained that the company wasn't providing a service they had paid for.

Potentially dozens of sellers paid to have their auctions promoted on one of Amazon's most prominent auction pages, but the glitch prevented the promotions from appearing on the page. Amazon said it fixed the problem Wednesday afternoon.

Amazon spokeswoman Lizzie Allen said the site problem started May 3 and affected only a "small number" of sellers. The company didn't fix the glitch until this week because it never received a clear explanation of the problem from sellers, she said.

Amazon has notified sellers affected by the glitch of the problem via e-mail and has refunded the money they spent, she said. The credits will total less than US$2,500, she said.

"We have worked to resolve (this problem) as quickly as possible," Allen said.

Amazon seller Dan Kuschill, who first notified Amazon of the problem at the beginning of this month, said he received a credit from the company on Friday. However, Kuschill says the site problem has been lingering since mid-April. Since Amazon refunded only the promotional fees he's paid since the beginning of May, he's getting only half of his money back, he said.

"I guess I'm happy," Kuschill said. "They got the page fixed. That's good. And they gave us some money. That's good. But they're still not making it 100 percent right."

Amazon's auction site has been plagued by problems in recent months, including a series of outages in March that caused numerous auctions to disappear from the site. Earlier this month, a separate glitch prevented auction buyers from purchasing items using Amazon's proprietary online payment system. Amazon requires all sellers to accept payment through its proprietary system.

The latest glitch involved a page on Amazon Auctions that allows buyers to browse all of Amazon's auction categories. As with other pages on the auction site, such as the auction home page and individual category pages, sellers bid against each other to have their listings featured on the "browse categories" page.

For the last six weeks, according to Kuschill, sellers have bid and paid to have their auctions featured on the "browse categories" page, but Amazon has not promoted any auctions on the page. Kuschill and other sellers said they lost hundreds of dollars in promotional fees and lost sales because of the glitch.

That the company was able to fix the problem within hours of the article led Kuschill to believe that it might have been an easy problem to solve and could have been corrected weeks ago, he said.

"That's what I always suspected; that's why it was so frustrating," he said.