This Website Only Open During Business Hours

If you happen to manage a Limited Liability Corp (LLC) in New York State and need to file your Biennial Statement, you might follow the directions sent to you in the mail and go to the state’s website for conducting such business: www.ebiennial.dos.ny.gov.

But if you try this on, say, a weekend, here is the message you’ll see:

I can’t recall the last time (or even the first time) I saw a website that was only open during business hours. Have you? I guess it is a mark of how the web has changed our daily lives that we are disappointed to find a virtual office that isn’t open 24/7. Furthermore: can anyone — perhaps you work in New York’s Department of State — explain the reasoning behind this?

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  1. Jeff says:

    B&H Photo Video is closed from sundown Friday to Saturday evening for Shabbat. The current website says they do not process web orders during this time, but for some reason I remember the site not taking orders at all in the past. But maybe I’m imagining things.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/HelpCenter/HoursOfOperation.jsp

    I can’t imagine why a government office wouldn’t accept something on the weekend, unless there’s some timeline/SLA regarding when they have to respond to things, but then wouldn’t that stipulate it’s only relevant to business hours anyway?

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    • Seminymous Coward says:

      I don’t believe you were imagining, though it’s been automated acceptance with delayed fulfillment for quite a while now. The same is true for the full week of Passover and some other holidays.

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    • Joel Upchurch says:

      Since some Orthodox sects forbid the use of electricity on the Shabbat, it isn’t surprising that their web servers would be down.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_on_Shabbat

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    • Adam says:

      That’s because Orthodox Jews refrain from conducting business on Shabbos and holidays. I believe you can still browse the site, but you cannot place orders as that would mean entering into a business transaction with the Orthodox Jewish owners on Shabbos.

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      • Jeff says:

        Yeah, I know why it was, I just find it interesting how seriously different businesses take it. J&R, which is also orthodox-owned has been open on Saturdays as long as I’ve been in the city, presumably staffed with Gentile or non-orthodox employees. I always found it interesting that B&H was so conservative with regards to doing business on Shabbat while others try to find a defensible (to whom I don’t know) workaround.

        I grew up in a Mormon family in an area with almost no Mormon population to speak of, so I know about some of the games me parents would play to try to exist in a world that lived by different rules. (There was also a provision against doing business on a Sunday, though electricity is okay.)

        Dating a Jewish person for the last decade, I’ve seen products like the “Shabbos Switch” that keeps the light from going on when you open the fridge. But the fridge is still running to keep your food cold…

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  2. H says:

    I hate my local cadastre office. They shut down their servers every night and weekend.

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  3. Eduard says:

    In the Netherlands, the site of a Christian political party, the SGP, is closed on Sundays (i.e. when you should be in Church, and not surfing the web): “Go visit their website when it is Sunday in the Netherlands (SGP.nl). You’ll find a blank page. Sunday is the day of rest, so no shopping or working, or politics either.”
    (via http://dutchpoliticsinenglish.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/christian-parties)

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  4. Chris says:

    I was having a related discussion this weekend. I believe it is necessary to drop the traditional sense that most job hours should be between 9 AM – 5 PM. There needs to be a new standard that companies should adopt that matches with their customer’s time frames. (This isn’t to specific specific time frames for open/close, just a more accurate time frame for customers. If they want to be open beyond their time frame, by all means)

    If you’re a business that traditionally does business with other businesses, your time frame should remain 9AM – 5PM. (If you’re a company with national business, you should adopt roughly to the biggest customer at least)

    If you’re a business that traditionally does business with customers (not businesses), your time frame should be either 2 hours before or 2 hours after the business to business time frame.

    There is no real reason why these businesses should have considerably inflexible hours: Doctors, Dentists, DMV, Post Office (not all are 24 hours), Rental Offices for Apts/Condos, and Banks.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      As shift workers know, your employees will not be able to find childcare during these odd hours. There are advantages to having everyone on the same schedule.

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      • Tim says:

        This is because there isn’t demand enough to support them, not because it’s somehow impossible to provide child care for shfit workers.

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      • pawnman says:

        But as he points out…if everyone is at work from 9-5, who is not at work to frequent places staffed by 9-5ers?

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      • Chris says:

        But if the system would change; child care would be more adaptive towards the needs of the community. And if you say; child care providers would have potentially 3 different main shifts; between say 7-3, 9-5 and 11-7; if there are that many more opportunities; there is ample need for the community to have either 3 child care providers or a child care provider that adapts to the market demand.

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      • Joseph says:

        Day care for shift workers, especially 3rd shift, is a profoundly faulty concept. Does anyone really think it is appropriate for the children, parents, or caregivers for children to woken up(assuming a bedtime of 8:00 say) to be driven from their homes to a night care facility to sleep during the 11-7 shift rather than sleeping in their own beds?

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    • Adam says:

      I agree. I remember when I first left college and started working. It was a 9 to 5 job. I was shocked how hard it is to make a doctor’s appointment, go shopping, wash a car, etc. as a regular working man. You’d think that there’d be tons of busnisses catering to us. Alas.

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      • Lassie says:

        How long ago was that, and where do you live? I agree it’s a bit difficult if you work from 9-5, but our suburban medical center certainly has after-5 hours, and is open a limited time on weekends. You have to call the minute they’re open for business to try to make an appointment, but it can be done. Stores and malls are generally open till 9 or sometimes 10 p.m. and car washes (do-it-yourself) are 24/7.

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    • Felix says:

      But if half the customer businesses are open 7-3, and half are open 11-7, and you also work in a customer business, half your dealings still have the same hours. You’d need to make hours variable, and randomly so, and publish that random schedule in advance so people could figure out when the schedules did not match.

      It also makes life much worse for couples or friends who work in the different timeframes.

      Better to disrupt a half day when necessary than disrupt every working day.

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  5. Sam Gross says:

    Many university sites are only open during business hours, including the registrar at University of Maryland, College Park. If you attempt to obtain your transcript or change classes outside of a limited time period, you’re met with a similar error message to that shown in the post.

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    • RicardoB says:

      no university website in Canada is only open during business hours, though there are notices when things that require human interaction will occur during the following business hours.

      That must be particularly infuriating for night owls at school–students at UBC go nuts when a UBC website needed for classes is down for maintenance like 3-5am.

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    • James says:

      Similar here (University of Nevada). Though it’s not strictly limited to business hours, some functions (like paying fees with a credit card!) are only available in limited time frames; IIRC 7AM-7PM.

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  6. Dan says:

    I noticed this about the Social Security Offices a while ago. Someone on reddit told me it was because they literally turn off the internet in the building to secure machines when no one is around.

    http://imgur.com/ll7Jr

    http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/vxfna/apparently_the_internet_only_works_during/

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    • Bob says:

      That’s the most reasonable explanation I’ve heard.

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    • Seminymous Coward says:

      If it’s the kind of secure that needs that, it should never be connected to the internet at all. Nothing says that every service has to be on one server.

      Regarding physical security, most data centers are vastly more secure than a closed government office. The one I’ve been to had armed guards, multiple independent telecommunications connections for summoning the police, bulletproof glass, reinforced perimeter walls, airlock-style secuity doors with human verification and vein-scanning biometric locks, power backup, fire suppression, and probably other stuff I didn’t notice. That’s in a city that doesn’t crack the top 80 in the USA by population.

      Most importantly and obviously, a person in the building does nothing to secure a computer that can give up a secret in milliseconds.

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      • IT Viking says:

        >Most importantly and obviously, a person in the building does nothing to secure a computer that can give up a secret in milliseconds.

        Shutting down the servers during off-business hours means they don’t have to have people on-call to resolve service or security issues. Government offices don’t tend to have the same type of customer-centric business models that many web-based companies have to in order to survive, in large part because they are not supported by customer transactions, they’re supported by government grants. Considering that many government agencies are down to giving furlough days to employees to shore up budget deficiencies, not having to have people on the clock 24×7 monitoring their website probably sounded like a smart cost-cutting measure.

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      • Seminymous Coward says:

        IT Viking, that sounds like a decent argument for a disclaimer and no off-hours support. The disclaimer could be something like “Availability of this site outside of normal business hours (Mon-Fri…) is provided on a best-effort basis only. Our office would be happy to assist with any technical difficulties during normal business hours.”

        I’ll reiterate that remote security threats are in absolutely no way mitigated by on-site support staff. Very few threats progress slowly and detectably enough to be hindered by anything operating with a human-scale reaction time.

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  7. Brito says:

    Must be to lower bandwidth as a cost cutting measure.

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    • RicardoB says:

      But all those people will just be using the website during business hours, shifting when it’s accessed rather than how much (if anything it’d result in more bandwidth as people load the front page multiple times). And I can’t imagine it’s cheaper to bottleneck the bandwidth and require servers that can handle higher loads.

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    • Seminymous Coward says:

      Bandwidth is generally billed by 95th percentile of 5-minute averages. As such, concentrating traffic is counterproductive. You’d prefer to spread it out to get the peak down.

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  8. Adam W says:

    This same thing occurs for the state of Florida unemployment web site.

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    • Dave says:

      I guess they figure if you’re unemployed you shouldn’t have a problem using it during normal business hours.

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