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Amway site remains under fire

Customers and distributors report continued trouble in accessing Quixtar, although Amway says its newly launched e-commerce site has done well.

Users reported continued troubles in accessing the much-anticipated Quixtar, although Amway says its newly launched e-commerce site has done well.

One Quixtar distributor, Dennis Halsey of Kingsport, Tennessee, said he had not been able to access the site despite trying repeatedly throughout the day. Other would-be customers told of significant delays.

Upon launch of the Amway's direct-sales Web site, yesterday, users immediately reported problems in reaching interior pages or even the site at all. CNET was unable to access the direct-sales shopping site until late today.

But Ken McDonald, Quixtar's senior vice president and managing director, said the company had done well despite intense demand. "We expected problems," he said. "Right now we're pretty darn pleased with how it's running."

Quixtar's seeming problems echo difficulties faced by other real-world retailers as they have prepared to offer online services. Last month, for example, Home Depot delayed plans to launch its e-commerce site until after the New Year, and Toys "R" Us has canceled plans to create a "" subsidiary.

Halsey and other Quixtar distributors are "really upset" by problems with the site, Halsey said, because Quixtar representatives had hyped its technology. "I feel really betrayed here," he said. "It's very discouraging."

McDonald denied the company's computers were at fault, saying that they were even running below capacity. McDonald suggested that problems people experienced yesterday in accessing Quixtar were related to congestion across the Internet.

Feedback from Quixtar users had been overwhelmingly positive, McDonald said, adding he didn't know how many users were unable to access the site. According to McDonald, the company's home page had some 20 million hits between midnight and noon yesterday.

Today's reports of access problems follow yesterday's apparently delayed launch. Although the site launched as expected, it didn't debut until 1:30 p.m. PT. Most companies tend to launch Web sites or unveil redesigns in the early morning, and many Quixtar users expected the same of Quixtar.

A company representative yesterday blamed the launch's timing on "last-minute fixes."

Halsey said that he wants Quixtar to refund the $155 he said he paid to join four months ago.

Quixtar offers different plans for consumers, members, and business owners. Consumers can shop for products on the site at retail prices, while members pay $19.95 to get a discount on those same products. Business owners can order products through Quixtar, but must choose whether to be a part of Quixtar or a part of Amway, McDonald said.