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FreshDirect’s Website Suffers Outage

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) -- FreshDirect, the online grocer that serves New York City and surrounding areas, suffered a website outage after failing to renew its domain name, showing that even a dot-com company can lose track of its Web address.

FreshDirect said in an e-mailed statement that it experienced a “renewal issue” yesterday with its Web address, meaning its registration for the site was allowed to expire. While the company has now renewed the domain until 2024, the delay caused disruptions for many customers trying to connect to the site. FreshDirect’s Web page should be fully restored in the next few hours as Internet service providers refresh their servers, the company said.

Customers who can’t access FreshDirect.com have been greeted with a website from Network Solutions LLC, a seller of Internet domains. While declining to discuss FreshDirect specifically, Network Solutions spokeswoman Susan Edelman said her company offers several safeguards to prevent Web addresses from expiring unexpectedly. That includes sending multiple reminder e-mails and offering an auto-renew option.

A common reason why domain names accidentally expire is outdated contact information for the person in charge of renewing, Edelman said. The Herndon, Virginia-based company recognizes the importance of a Web address to its customers, she said.

“The most important thing is to hang onto it and not let it expire because it’s your brand at stake,” Edelman said.

Business Continues

FreshDirect, based in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, continues to make deliveries, the company said on its Twitter account. Customers also can place orders over the phone.

The company singled out customers of Time Warner Cable Inc. and Verizon Wireless as having trouble accessing the site. Even so, users of other Internet providers complained on FreshDirect’s Facebook page that they too couldn’t reach the grocer’s Web page.

The outage serves as a black eye for a company trying to use e-commerce to shake up the grocery business. FreshDirect trucks have become an increasingly common sight in New York City as the company seeks to succeed in a market that has stymied startups such as Webvan Group Inc. FreshDirect’s motto is, “Our food is fresh. Our customers are spoiled.”

FreshDirect, which has more than 2,000 employees, also serves Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. Jason Ackerman, FreshDirect’s chief executive officer, started the company in 1999 after working as an investment banker and analyst at firms such as Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette and Drexel Burnham Lambert.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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