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Schwab suffers repeated online outages

The Net's largest brokerage suffered its third outage in three days with its online investing services this morning, a company spokesman says.

Charles Schwab, the largest Internet brokerage, suffered its third outage in three days with its online investing services this morning.

The site was down from about 6:30 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. PT today. Frustrated customers told CNET News.com that Schwab's site didn't let users access real-time quotes, check account information and margin balances, or make trades.

One angry client wrote in an email: "I can't take it anymore! 7:30 a.m. and I cannot even access my online account. I have $150,000 in the account and Schwab has another 'outage.' "

According to Schwab spokesman Dan Hubbard, the site was down for almost two-and-a-half hours Wednesday. On Thursday, it was down for about 50 minutes only to those who use the AOL Internet connection.

The site failure Wednesday marked the first such outage since August 30 for Schwab, which had began its after-hours trading services that day. Over the year, Schwab has had at least a dozen outages, according to Hubbard.

The company said that the cause of the outage wasn't immediately known, though the rest of the site was currently working and customers could place trades by telephone or in person for the same price as on the Web during the outage.

When asked if the company was taking measures to prevent further outages, Hubbard said that, right now, the company was focused on alerting its customers that they could trade by phone if the Web site wasn't working.

Users said they could also make trades by phone.

In a related problem today, financial portal Freerealtime.com went down after someone allegedly hacked the site.

When visiting the site, users can find a message that reads: "We apologize, we've been hacked! Our quote servers were maliciously hacked into last night, causing a disruption in your service. We are working furiously to be fully operational before the market closes today, but we guarantee we will be real-time and free for the market open on Monday. Please send condolences to support@corp.freerealtime.com."

Schwab customers made an average of 117,800 online stock trades a day in the third quarter, up 53 percent from a year earlier.

News.com's Sandeep Junnarkar and Bloomberg contributed to this report.