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Egg.com's been down due to hardware problem

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Online bank Egg.com has been down all week but until five minutes ago couldn't be bothered to tell anyone, even customers, why.

The basic information pages have been accessible the whole time but anything on its secure servers is still out of reach - meaning that customers have no access at all to their accounts. Despite this there has not been any explanation on the company's Web site and Egg customers have had to track down phone numbers as email messages are not receiving replies.

Earlier in the week, online news site vnunet.com got lucky and spoke to an Egg representative, who claimed that accounts had been suspended while the site is upgraded to include interactive television. This sounded a little disingenuous to us but it is a good PR line. However, it wasn't adopted as a mantra and neither Egg nor its PR agency came up with an explanation.

Until five o'clock on Friday. The official line is that it wasn't a software problem - it was a hardware problem. The fact that the Web site was recently redeveloped and upgraded is simply coincidence. The spokeswoman said she knew very little more than this but apparently the press office will have a conference call with the techies very soon.

The problem appeared out of nowhere, we're told. But fortunately, it's now solved and completely fixed. The reason why you still won't be able to get into it though is "pent-up demand". This will all be cleared within 48 hours.

Egg must forgive us if we are a touch sceptical about this explanation. For six days the company has stonewalled customers and the press with vague explanations or, worse, no explanation at all. When the Egg spokeswoman contacted us, it was only through a message we left on the main technical man's voicemail. He and his team have been on the problem solid all week.

Egg has had plenty of practice in crisis management since it launched in October 1998, but it obviously hasn't learnt many lessons. It will certainly lose some customers from this cock-up (as soon as they able to shut the accounts down). If it has any sense if will give the full low-down on the problem as soon as possible. ®

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