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Amazon crumples for an afternoon from 'technical problems'

Did you notice anything strange about Amazon yesterday? Like, say, an inability to browse or buy at a site that exists only for those purposes?

It wasn't just you. The Web retailer's site had some sort of bad-hair day, or at least afternoon. The problems stretched from its home page, which showed up mostly blank, to such individual listings as this week's allotment of free MP3 downloads, of which only a third or so were available.

Would-be buyers deprived of their usual way of avoiding work took to another popular work-avoidance tool, Twitter, to gripe. One friend wrote in mock indignation: still hosed. Am I seriously going to have to get dressed and drive to Target for a Kindle sleeve? Shopping in clothes is so '80s.

The outage ended within hours and wasn't as bad as a June 2008 meltdown that briefly wiped clean the entire Amazon home page. But it still made for some embarrassing stories.

So what happened? Amazon has yet to mention yesterday's hiccup in any of its Twitter feeds or on its press page. A query to a publicist this morning drew this response from Drew Herdener, the Seattle firm's director of communications:

Yesterday we encountered technical problems on our U.S. website. The site is now back online.

Oooh-kay. That explains everything, doesn't it?

Or not. If you have a theory of your own, please post it in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 30, 2010; 11:12 AM ET
Categories:  Shopping  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: No, not another 'Verizon iPhone' story!
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So that explains it! I had something in my cart and was attempting to purchase it, but then I received a message that they had no such item. That seemed strange to me. The site turned weird and I just left the site bought the item from a different vendor for the same price. Sorry Amazon, but you lost my business yesterday.

Posted by: rjrjj | June 30, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

My entire shopping cart has been wiped clean - after years of saving items in my shopping cart for future purchases and for reference, it's all gone. sigh.

Posted by: portici | June 30, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's talk about some new technology -

Posted by: chylton | June 30, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

portici, has it been restored? I do the same thing (save lots of stuff in my cart), so I had a minor panic when I saw your post. But all of my items are still there. (I wasn't aware of the meltdown, so I didn't check earlier.)

Posted by: Janine1 | June 30, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Ha! I'm glad someone appreciated my Tweet. ;) I didn't get my sleeve last night (from Amazon or Target) and instead had to pay for overnight delivery when I ordered this AM. So the outage cost me a few bucks... but didn't cost them a lost sale.

Posted by: Dave-Z | June 30, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I was trying to leave a review yesterday afternoon and the product page kept fouling up and sometimes disappearing. The item would show up in a search, but going to the item would show a page of "buy this also" deals. It was weird and I just gave up early -- no big deal.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | June 30, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

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