February 4, 2011, 10:54 AM

NeimanMarcus.com has a rocky week

System upgrades made the site unstable for several days, the e-retailer says.

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Neiman Marcus’ web store was up, down or running slowly this week as the company completed software upgrades. Some consumers say they received e-mail messages cancelling their orders.

The retailer noted on Twitter that it began having issues on Jan. 31. It says it believes the issues have been resolved.

“Over the past few days, we have been performing some upgrades to software systems and in the upgrade we experienced some instability with our sites,” a spokeswoman told Internet Retailer late yesterday. “We believe we have the issues resolved.”

Web site monitoring service Pingdom, however, reports the site was down again early today for more than 90 minutes. Pingdom says Neiman Marcus' site was down for a total of seven hours and 38 minutes from Jan. 31 through this morning.

Company communications during the week were vague on the cause of the problem. The retailer’s Twitter post Monday afternoon said: “We’re working on fixing some site issues right now. Sorry for the inconvenience. Sounds like Midday Dash was overwhelmed.” Midday Dash is a two-hour flash sale event in which the site sells selected items at deep discounts. The company then announced on Facebook that it would extend the sale hours until 4 p.m. The sale normally ends at 1:29 p.m.

A shopper who had her order cancelled says a customer service agent told her that the likely cause was that snow in Texas had knocked out the site’s servers. The customer wrote about her experience on ThePurseForum, an online shopping bulletin board. Other shoppers in the forum also complained of their orders being cancelled and that the site was unavailable or loaded slowly. Web site monitoring service AlertSite says it recorded that NeimanMarcus.com had 87.91% availability from Jan. 31 to today and that it took an average of 11.35 seconds to load the home page during the same period. The average load time for the homepage from June until December was seven seconds.

Neiman Marcus sent an e-mail to customers yesterday afternoon acknowledging the site’s problems. The subject line read, “Our Apologies: The site is up & FREE SHIPPING is on us!” The e-mail said that shoppers that applied the coupon code “sorry” to any size order through Friday would receive free shipping.

Neiman Marcus is No. 41 on Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. The company reported $139.0 million in web sales for Q1 2011. Internet Retailer calculates that e-commerce represented 15% of total sales during the quarter.

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