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eBay online again after 14-hour outage

eBay's latest embarrassment is caused by hardware failure and "growing pains."

Online auctioneer eBay is back but limping after being out of service for 14 hours today.

eBay took its system down for scheduled maintenance from midnight to 3:30 a.m. PT, but the site went out again at 4:20 a.m. and didn't come up until 3:02 p.m. Spokesman Kevin Pursglove said earlier today there are no indications the maintenance was related to the outage.

Several users reported the auction features were performing poorly late yesterday, but eBay could not confirm that report.

A company posting at 10:31 a.m. PT blamed the outage on a hardware failure. When that was corrected and the system rebooted, the site experienced "network anomalies" that kept the site out of service.

This latest glitch threatens to tarnish eBay's reputation with users and Wall Street. The popular person-to-person auction service has had repeated problems keeping its site running this year, including a 22-hour outage on June 10-11 that cost eBay $3 million to $5 million in revenue.

eBay extended all auctions due to expire during the outage and will refund seller fees, under the company's extension policy. Auctions due to close from 4:20 a.m. PT and 3 p.m. have been extended for 24 hours. Under a new element of the policy, all fees for auctions scheduled to end during this period will be refunded.

Steve Westly, eBay's vice president of marketing, blamed the problems on "growing pains."

"eBay is a very large, complex system. We're a young company, and successful companies like ours will have growing pains," Westly said. "We're charting new territory because we're one of the largest systems of dynamically generated pages on the Internet."

eBay's stock fluctuated wildly on news of the outage. It closed at 83.25, down 9.63. The stock traded between 98 and 82.50 today, but it was volatile yesterday too, like much of the Internet sector.

Last month, eBay executives posted a letter to users that detailed measures the company has taken to improve the reliability of its site, including a back-up system, new hardware, more testing, additional engineers, and new senior management talent.

Since the almost day-long outage in June, eBay has had at least four other unscheduled interruptions of service.