Crashes, Hiccups And Other Things That Go Bump In The Black Friday Night

Written by Evan Schuman
December 2nd, 2010

Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went quietly this year, with strong financials and traffic claims from quite a few chains. These key shopping days also brought brief outages at Victoria’s Secret, Kohl’s, Fry’s Electronics, JCPenney, American Eagle Outfitters, Office Max, Meijer, Rite Aid and Borders.

American Eagle Outfitters experienced a couple of major site slowdowns on Cyber Monday, according to AlertBot, a traffic monitoring firm. “American Eagle’s problems began around 6:36 PM EST when the Web site began loading very slowly. It seemed like the problem was resolved 30 minutes later, when the Web site starting loading within is usual time period only to have the problem occur again beginning at 7:30 PM EST,” said AlertBot’s Justin Noll. “The second failure was much worse, lasting over two and a half hours. The issue was finally resolved around 10:08 PM EST.”

AlertBot also reported an issue with the Office Max site.

“On November 25 starting around 9:10 PM,’s Web site started timing out. This was later combined with their site intermittently displaying a page stating their site was down due to routine maintenance. It’s very hard to believe that a retailer would have routine maintenance right before Black Friday,” Noll said. “Combined with the fact that the failure started with the page failing to load within 30 seconds and the maintenance page was only displayed for about 30 percent of total failure time, this was either unplanned downtime or poorly planned maintenance.”

Pingdom saw major problems with JCPenney’s site on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. “It looks like the site simply couldn’t handle the increased visitor numbers without significant slowdown,” said Pingdom’s Peter Alguacil. “Even when the site didn’t time out, it was slow during these periods, which becomes exceedingly clear when you look at the time it took to load the HTML code for the site.” (which did a superb job of tracking site problems, by the way) found a few non-outage problems on Black Friday, such as Toys R Us and, which “advertised sales starting online at midnight that didn’t start until well after,” and Staples, which offered a coupon for “$35 off everything on costing $35 or more. Not surprisingly, this wasn’t intended, and Staples canceled all orders ‘misusing’ the coupon.”


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.