Angry Web users complained on Monday that downtime on the Eurotunnel Web site coincided with the launch of a special promotional offer from The Telegraph newspaper.
Telegraph readers were offered the chance to buy day-trip tickets to France for just £1. However, it appears massive demand for the bargain rail fares may have brought down the Eurotunnel site. Similar demand on the phone lines meant the company was largely uncontactable for much of the day.
One silicon.com reader, who branded the downtime a "fiasco", said a member of Eurotunnel's call centre staff had told him "calls were backing up and the servers couldn't cope".
The site, www.eurotunnel.com/dt, which went down before lunchtime on Monday, was back up by 3:30 p.m., though it was still proving sluggish at best -- returning a "Cannot find server" error message each time a user tried to enter the password provided by The Telegraph.
An updated message on the Eurotunnel telephone booking line warns customers they may experience problems as a result of the popularity of the offer.
A spokesman for Eurotunnel said: "We apologise to all the people who didn't get through. The offer generated a huge response and we did experience some problems with the site, but we were still able to sell all 5,000 tickets."
In light of the problems the spokesman said an extra 2,500 tickets were made available for £1 as a goodwill gesture to customers. However, he added that these too have now sold out.
The Telegraph was not immediately available for comment.