Thursday, June 14, 2012

Surf Tax

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.

Hmm.

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.


Share

17 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

There's a simple answer to all this crap: Can't pay, won't pay. The only people who have the power to tax are governments and the Mafia. But don't let that dissuade you from dying your beard green in protest.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: I was hoping to start my own mini online riot... throw lots of inflammatory comments at the JD Sports web site and order a widescreen TV from Curry's without actually paying for it...

Kelloggs Ville said...

I'm not sure it's bullying but it seems like a typical Australian bloody minded attitude to 'customer service'. I agree with the 'if they don't want to make it compatible then don't bother' attitude. They can choose whether they want those customers or not and the visitors can choose to upgrade or not when presented with an incompatibility screen. Seems like a ridiculous response to a fairly trivial issue.

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: it is ridiculous. But it is also bullying (of a type). A web retailer does not have the right to dictate what software a customer chooses to have on their computer, reagrdless of whether that software is free or not. The retailer does, however, have the right not to cater for that customer if it so chooses. But, of course, at the root of all this is money...

Wanderlust said...

Sounds more like a bunch of Mac (or firefox, etc) diehards having a dig at Microsoft, rather than any well thought out business (or PR) plan.

Steve said...

Wanderlust: I wouldn't put it past a Microsoft user to tax other microsoft users!

Katriina said...

This guy probably thought his innovative approach was incredibly clever. Idiot. The message I get is: those with aged web browsers are not only unwelcome here, but we'll actively punish you for having the nerve to venture onto our site. I agree 100% that they could have just stopped at a quiet "sorry, no can do". What next - will we be required to answer a random question before entering the site to determine if we are smart enough to use his site? Maybe show evidence of bank balance to determine if we're wealthy enough?

Nota Bene said...

Henceforth I will be buying none of my electrical goods from Kogan.com

Hannah Denski said...

This beats my understanding of ‘TAX’ – mostly implied by government and / or ‘legislative authority’… and supposedly is NEVER voluntary…? So not only have they misused the word ‘TAX’, but make themselves look rather stupid… overcomplicating something that should be simple and easy (i.e. can’t view our site – upgrade your browser). Agh, I am a simpleton, and can’t stand unnecessary complications! x

Website Design said...

Outstanding job - very interesting study I will come across further hooked on this! Keep it up. I found very good and relevant blog and have bookmarked your spot for prospect suggestions.

the fly in the web said...

It works a bit like that already with cars and the MOT...they charge you an arm and a leg to get an old banger through an MOT

Steve said...

Katriina: my God, if they bring in intelligence means testing to use the internet I may as well cancel the contract I have with my ISP!

Nota Bene: they said they hated your browser anyway.

Hannah: the internet should be simple the way life should be simple. Unfortunately as soon as you bring money into the equation things get complicated very quickly.

Website Design: you don't work for Kogan.com, do you?

The fly in the web: they'll be taxing us on eyesight next. And for reading the text on their web sites. Skim reading will be no defence.

Löst Jimmy said...

It'll never catch on, people will go elsewhere, own goal by the retailer.
Bollocks to that...
next...

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: yup - marketing fail.

femminismo said...

Just logged on to say Happy Bloomsday to you, Steve. Sorry to have been slow on blogging. I did find an "M" item for every day of May! Yay, me!

femminismo said...

Happy Bloomsday, Steve.

Steve said...

Femminismo: many thanks - and well done you!