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eBay to close doors for final Y2K check

The giant auctioneer is shutting its doors on New Year's Eve to perform a few last-minute tests for Y2K, but an informal poll of several other e-tailers shows that it's mostly business as usual.

Giant auctioneer eBay is shutting its doors on New Year's Eve to perform a few last-minute tests for Y2K, but an informal poll of several other e-tailers shows that it's mostly business as usual.

eBay's home page informs users that the site will close at two different times on Dec. 31. The first planned outage begins at 3:30 p.m. PT, when the site will close for an hour and a half and reopen at 5 p.m.

eBay will again shutter the site starting at 11 p.m. PT on New Year's eve and stay down until 3 a.m., Jan. 1. Auctioneers trying to log on during these times will receive an error message that reads: "Failed to connect."

In an informal poll of several e-commerce companies, including Amazon, Schwab and Gap.com, most executives said they had finished preparing for Y2K and were confident their sites were ready to perform.

"We have been preparing for months," said Sheri Arapov, spokeswoman for online brokerage E*Trade. "We have an experienced staff. We are well prepared for Y2K."

eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said that eBay is also confident in its preparedness, but executives there saw an opportunity to check the site one more time.

"You have to remember that a lot of sites don't have to deal with the amount of traffic that we do," Pursglove said. "We're still checking because we have a lot of server systems to oversee."

The company usually performs routine maintenance work early on Friday mornings but because New Year's falls on a Saturday this year, eBay executives decided to postpone its housecleaning chores until the holiday, when traffic was sure to be slow.

Besides eBay, retail powerhouse Wal-Mart is also shutting down its Web site as New Year's approaches, but a message on Walmart.com says that the outage is due to a planned redesign of its site. Walmart.com will reopen on Jan.1, 2000, the message read.