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IE shuts some users out of Net bill-paying site

Microsoft Internet Explorer users could have a hard time paying their bills online for the next several days at PayMyBills.com.

    Microsoft Internet Explorer users could have a hard time paying their bills online for the next several days at PayMyBills.com.

    Because of a system glitch at PayMyBills, those who use certain versions of Internet Explorer have been unable to log into the Web site. Although PayMyBills has not posted any messages about the problem on its site, it has begun notifying customers of the problem via email.

    "We are currently experiencing compatibility problems with certain versions of Internet Explorer," the company said in the email. "A solution should be available for your browser version before the end of the week."

    PayMyBills spokeswoman Karsha Chang said the Idealab-backed company discovered the problem after updating its site over the weekend. Chang said the glitch is an "isolated" problem but said she did not know how many customers it affects.

    Chang said Pasadena, Calif.-based PayMyBills is working "around the clock" to fix the problem, but in the meantime, the company is advising customers to upgrade to a more recent version of Internet Explorer or to use Netscape Navigator.

    "We fully expect this to be resolved by the end of the week," Chang said. "We expect to resolve it much faster than that."

    The system glitch comes as the online bill payment market has been heating up. Launched last year, PayMyBills competes with similar offerings from Yahoo, Cyberbills' StatusFactory.com and Paytrust, which filed for--and later withdrew--an initial public offering this past spring.

    In addition to the online companies, offline institutions including Bank of America, Citibank, the U.S. Postal Service and United Parcel Service (UPS) have moved into the online bill payment market. Meanwhile, PayMyBills has branched out into the person-to-person payment sector, buying Idealab sibling PayMe.com in April.

    PayMyBills customers pay $8.95 a month to receive and pay bills online.

    PayMyBills' Chang said the system problem affects two versions of Internet Explorer: 5.00.2314.1003 and 5.00.2614.3500. However, at least one customer reported having problems logging in with Internet Explorer 4.0.

    Chris Balfe, who works for Andersen Consulting in Boston, was among those affected by the system glitch. Balfe, who said he has had "lots of problems" with his PayMyBills account since he opened it six months ago, said he has been unable to access his account since yesterday afternoon.

    "They definitely have some infrastructure issues," Balfe said.