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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

E*Trade suffers a.m. outage

The online trading service inadvertently cut off investors this morning as it experienced a software application error.

E*Trade (EGRP) inadvertently cut off investors this morning as it experienced a software application error.

Investors could not access the company's Web site from about 7:15 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. PT, or log on to trade stocks through their E*Trade account, said Kim Shepherd, a company spokeswoman.

An isolated software application error prohibited access to the site, and Shepherd said as soon as the problem was discovered, it was corrected. Investors, in the meantime, could trade by making phone calls to E*Trade's brokers.

However, that does not soften the blow to investors trying to make trades in this volatile market, when timing is everything. Some angry investors wrote into CNET's NEWS.COM, while others took their beef to newsgroups, complaining of rampant problems with online trading systems.

One investor vented his frustration with E*Trade in a stock investing newsgroup: "I'm having trouble accessing E*Trade again this morning. If I can get in at all, the server is very slow?.Had several time-outs. This is the third time since May this has happened to me."

Others complain of E*Trade requests not going though, and a lack of response from customer service.

But the real debate among investors on newsgroups is which online trading service offers the best, most reliable trading with inexpensive trading commissions. And, sometimes, misconceptions arise about the speed of online trading.

"Users often think that because they are doing it online, [transactions] will be quicker, but the issue of the quality of your connection comes up and that is a viable issue that can affect your trading," Ken Michal, assistant editor of Computerized Investing told NEWS.COM in an earlier interview.

John Bajkowski, senior financial analyst at the American Association of Independent Investors, said the biggest risk is relying on technology that may or may not be there when you need it. Users should have back-up plan, such as an optional telephone number to contact their broker, he advised.