Australian retailer Kogan.com has introduced the world’s first ever tax on a web browser.
Users of the site who surf with Internet Explorer 7 are set to be charged 6.8% - 0.1% for every month since the IE7 launch. Kogan.com’s reasoning is that since redeveloping their web site their IT boffins have spent more time trying to make it backwards compatible with IE7 than they ever did getting it to work with Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
They say they’re not expecting anyone to cough up but instead are expecting users to upgrade their browsers (which can be done for free via the Microsoft web site)... the tax is merely an incentive for them to do so.
Am I the only person to feel uncomfortable about this?
If you want to incentivize people to upgrade their browser why not just abandon any idea of backwards compatibility when you redevelop your site? Save yourself the time and effort. If people want to shop on your site they’ll upgrade of their own accord in order to be able to continue doing so. But hitting them with a tax bill just seems rather mercenary and fundamentally unsavoury.
It is also, I suspect, the thin end of the wedge.
Next we’ll have web sites who favour Firefox taxing other browser users; Microsoft taxing every browser on the market including their own IE users and a host of online retailers jumping on a bandwagon which is getting more fat and bloated every day with the increase in web capable gadgetry that is currently on the market. iPhones, Androids, WAP phones, iPads, tablets, Kindles... how all these devices display web pages must surely be a consideration of any web design team? Are we all going to have to be taxed to help pay for that extra creative input? For something that should be an automatic part of the brief in the first place?
And, excuse me, but when we buy products from these places doesn’t our money go towards the upkeep of the vendor’s retail portal? If I buy something from a shop I don’t expect to be hit with another bill on top to help pay for the large text display in the window just because they’ve noticed I wear glasses and therefore they’ve had to cater for short-sighted people. Sod that. If the text is too small I’ll shop somewhere else and they can make a financial saving with their sign maker.
Taxing people over their choice of web browser is bullying. It is denying people their freedom and their freedom of choice.
Sod backwards compatibility if it’s too irksome. You’ll soon prune away those who are too in love with Windows 98 to move on. But don’t cater for their custom when they haven’t actually requested it and then try and get them to pay through the nose for it. And worse, then try and make out that you’re trying to be fair and helpful!
Because, to use tax parlance, that’s just a big act of fraud.