Deluge delays online traders

Many sites, including Commonwealth Securities, the Commonwealth Bank's share trading arm; E*Trade Australia Securities; Fairfax's Trading Room; Quicken.com.au's trading site, Quick.Broker; and OzEmail Stockwatch have all been experiencing delays due to increases in volume.

ComSec, with around 45 per cent market share in the online trading sector, appears to be worst hit by the frenzy, with some members experiencing login difficulties as well as access problems. Many customers have been unable to access their personal portfolios, known as watchlists, and others have been forced to trade via phone. Delays are also being experienced by customers phoning the customer service line.

Customer service officers from ComSec have admitted to the delays and are helping customers trade, but IDG understands the standard minimum telephone brokering fee of $50 still applies.

Officials from the online trader were not available for comment, and an estimated time for the service to resume to normal was unknown. ComSec is believed to have more than 500,000 members, while the number of internet subscribers was unobtainable.

Rival online trader E*Trade has also experienced delays, but according to John Bowden, E*Trade client representative, customers can still trade online and gain information. He said traffic to E*Trade was around 50 per cent higher than previous trading days. E*Trade claims to have around 30 per cent of the online market and currently has around 52,000 subscribers.

While few customer complaints had been received, Bowden said the website had been "a bit slower". "Because the net has been a bit slow, customers are getting quotes over the phone," he said. "There's no dramas . . . people are waiting on the line for only three seconds."

Fairfax's online share information service, Trading Room, was also experiencing difficulties. "We have obviously been affected by it," a customer service operator said. An abnormal volume of traffic was leading to intermittent delays of information from the website, she said.

While Quicken.com.au's corporate communications manager, Catherine Drewe, was unable to comment on the performance of Quick.Broker, she said Quicken's financial information service, MarketMonitor, had experienced increased traffic.

"Compared with Monday last week, as of 1:00pm today, page impressions (to MarketMonitor) had reached 87 per cent of the total (for the previous Monday)," she said.

Exact details on how the site held up throughout the day will be clearer tomorrow, she said.

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Luisa Bustos

PC World

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