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Schoolboy technical error leads to e-commerce meltdown for car and bicycle accessories retailer

Halfords.com was down most of the day due to a temporary administrative issue in our domain name renewal process.

Visitors to the e-commerce sight this morning were met holding page for web hosting firm Network Solutions displaying an invitation to renew the site’s domain.

Halfords issued a statement apologising to customers for any inconvenience, adding it was in the process of resolving the issue and that the site would be available soon.

It did not, however, comment on how the issue came up in the first place.

Not an uncommon mistake

Owen Cole, UK and Ireland technical director for application delivery networking firm F5 Networks, said setting a domain registration lapse online is like putting up the shutters on your shop and taking down the sign.

“People know where you are but they can’t buy anything,” he said.” The good news is that re-registering should be fairly straightforward.”

Cole added that Halfords is not the first company to forget to reregister its domain name and is unlikely to be the last. In 2009 the toyshop Hamleys forgot, as did Microsoft with its Hotmail.co.uk address in 2003, which was then placed in a pool of available addresses. “The person who bought it gave it back to Microsoft, without charging any money,” he said.

“But, at a time when online spending is at its peak, every second counts in the retail business and the potential for loss of earnings is an unfortunate reality.”

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