Would-be auctioneers on eBay's signature Web site ran into difficulties yesterday as the company dealt with a series of technical glitch.

Just before noon, company officials posted a message on eBay's announcement board, saying the site went down and that help was on its way.

"We are working as quickly as possible to address the issues and will update you when we have more information," eBay said in the original message.

The problems hampering the site, however, continued for over two hours, causing eBay to activate its long-term outage policy.

After two hours it is company policy to push back all auctions due to end on a certain date by 24 hours. In addition, eBay vows to provide refunds on any items affected by the temporary stoppage in auctions.

eBay calls unscheduled downtime lasting more than two hours a "hard outage" and looks to make remedies for any auction set to end during the downtime or those due to finish one hour after the end of the downtime.

The company did get its site up and running over three hours after the initial problems; however, the uptime only lasted for a brief period. As of 11:37pm (our time) eBay officials issued another notice, saying the site had again become unavailable.

"We are still in the process of figuring out what exactly is happening here," said Chris Donlay, an eBay spokesman. "We had hardware issues earlier today, and, as we were recovering from that, we developed a software problem."

eBay contacted a number of vendors, which provide it with services, including Sun Microsystems but has yet to determine the definitive cause of the problems. Donlay said the company remains unsure as to how long the site's auction functions would remain down.

Wednesday's outage stands as one of the most significant disruptions in terms of downtime eBay has suffered over the past year, according to Donlay.