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E-Stamp outages turning customers away

Some customers of the company's online postage service say they are returning to the post office because of outages experienced since early this week.

Customers who signed up for E-Stamp's online postage service are stuck back in line at the post office.

E-Stamp, a postage site for home customers and small businesses, has had spotty service and outages since early this week. Customers requesting stamps from the site have received messages that read: "Error Code 12007, the server name could not be resolved. Please contact technical support."

E-Stamp's help page states: "You currently may be unable to access some of our Web services, including purchasing postage and E-Service. We are working to correct this problem. Please try again at a later time."

"We have been experiencing some technical difficulties on our site. But we are totally on top of it, and the site should be up in the next couple of hours," said E-Stamp spokeswoman Gina Aumiller, who estimated the site's trouble began late Tuesday.

The site's hardships come just after the company's chief financial officer, Anthony Lewis, resigned, and as the company struggles to gain market share in a rapidly expanding industry.

"The inconvenience for us as a small business is that we simply had to go back to the old way of doing things, sending someone to the post office to stand in line to send out parcels and mail," said E-Stamp customer Bill Thomas.

"Its not the end of the world, but it is expensive in terms of time."

In recent months, Stamps.com has partnered with Hewlett-Packard to sell stamps to small businesses. Metering giant Pitney Bowes has also announced plans to expand online.

E-Stamp missed earnings expectations last month when it posted a first-quarter loss of 73 cents per share. According to First Call, the consensus estimate was 69 cents per share.

Shares in E-Stamp, like other e-commerce companies, have nose-dived in recent months, trading at $4 a share, down 91 percent from their 52-week high.

Although many customers can access the site, some graphics links are broken and many links result in "page not found" or "server unavailable" errors.

The problem doesn't affect all customers, according to Aumiller. Customers who already have a reserve of postage in their account can print stamps without connecting to the site. E-Stamp's service lets customers buy up to $500 of postage and download it to their "online vaults."

"All in all, E-Stamp is certainly not presenting a professional image to its customers," Thomas said.