Internet browsers are often a great source of debate. In a bold move, one online retailer has introduced the world’s first ‘browser tax’ for customers using Internet Explorer 7.
Firstly, why have internet browsers become such a contentious issue? It’s largely down to the fact that it’s difficult for website developers to support the quirks of old browsers when they’re trying to take advantage of the features in modern ones.
But since a small proportion of the population still uses highly outdated browsers, many companies still have to spend money making their websites work with them.
Usually this isn’t your problem. However, one online retailer has decided to try and dissuade its customers from using outdated browsers by charging them extra.
World’s first browser tax
Electronics specialist Kogan will charge its Australian customers 6.8% per transaction if they try to buy something from its site using Internet Explorer 7 – a web browser launched over six years ago in 2006. So how does Kogan defend this huge levy?
Its chief executive Ruslan Kogan said ‘Internet Explorer 7 has long since passed its use-by date’, while a pop-up on Kogan’s website explains that the charge is ‘necessary due to the amount of time required to make web pages appear correctly in IE7’.
So, Kogan argues that the money and time involved in catering to what is a very small proportion of its customers, justifies these charges. The user can download a free upgrade to their browser and avoid the charge, but aren’t non-web savvy customers the most at risk here?
Unfair to the unsavvy?
I wonder how many people presented with Kogan’s pop-up message will know how to download and install a more up-to-date browser? While the majority of people could probably do this without issue, online companies can’t simply assume that all their web customers are au fait with computers.
On the other hand, I think many web professionals will think this tax is a brilliant idea, as out-of-date browsers can cause them considerable headaches. But to be honest, this whole thing strikes me as more of a gimmick to draw attention to Kogan – its ‘browser tax’ has resulted in quite a bit of press attention. The tax hasn’t been introduced to its UK site yet, and hopefully it’ll stay that way!
Do you think it’s fair for retailers to charge customers extra for using out-of-date browsers? Or is it the retailers’ responsibility to provide a smooth experience for all customers, regardless of their software?
Should online retailers 'tax' people who shop using an out-of-date web browser?
No - you shouldn't be penalised for using an old browser (58%, 177 Votes)
Maybe - as long as they are alerted and given the chance to download a new browser (32%, 98 Votes)
Yes - it costs companies more to support old browsers (9%, 28 Votes)
Total Voters: 304