Charging customers for using an older browser

IE7 tax

I saw this article on Kogen’s blog today tweeted about by Andy Clarke. Kogan is a manufacturer of cheap electronics and this week they announced on their website:

Today at Kogan we’ve implemented the world’s first “Internet Explorer 7 Tax”. The new 6.8% tax comes into effect today on all products purchased from by anyone still insistent on using the antique browser.

I hate Internet Explorer as much as the next web developer, especially older versions, and IE7 has become the new IE6 in that it’s clunky, and doesn’t do half of the really cool HTML5 & CSS3 things I want to use, which is really holding back what you can do in websites and make sure everyone has the same experience. Kogan explain this too:

The way we’ve been able to keep our prices so low is by using technology to make our business efficient and streamlined. One of the things stopping that is our web team having to spend a lot of time making our new website look normal on IE7. This is an extremely old browser, so from today, anyone buying from the site who uses IE7 will be lumped with a 6.8% surcharge – that’s 0.1% for each month IE7 has been on the market

Sticking an extra surcharge on for customers using IE7 though, is that going too far? Getting around the extra charge is easy, just download and use any other browser for free. But it still just seems a bit cruel.

Some of the comments on the article are funny, lots of web developers agreeing and saluting them. Although this one has a very good point:

I like the idea, *but* how many people using IE7 (or IE6 for that matter) have actually *no choice about it* because they work in a lazy/stupid/miserly/paranoid/all of the above company?

One of the reasons that IE7 is still around is that it takes large organisations a long time to upgrade, and they remain with browsers for a long time. Back when we were a web agency we realised this a lot when creating funky cool websites for some of the council-owned organisations who call us up saying “this doesn’t look like the design in my browser”, and the sense of dread when they tell you they’re using IE6 which didn’t even support transparent PNGs as background images.

Lots of web users can’t actually upgrade their browsers, which is why we should at least use progressive enhancement, which at least makes the website usable even if it doesn’t have all the modern bells and whistles. This does however add additional time to the development which is why Kogan want this additional time paid for.

What do you think about Kogan’s tactic of charging IE7 users to cover the cost of IE7 development? Is it unfair? Or are they just reaping back some money for the extra time they have to put in? If you’re a web developer have you ever charged a client for IE7 compatibility? Reply in our comments below!

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  • Jason Sackey

    Funny idea, and good for publicity. But doesn’t the act of charging IE7 users imply a commitment to keep spending the necessary resources on supporting the browser? Presumably they want to drop it and forget about it.

    • David Ball

      That’s very true! But if they’re having to do it anyway, why not get some extra $$ for it?

  • Matt Dolan

    I think it’s a good way to communicate the additional cost of supporting IE7, and might just get some “don’t understand or care about browsers, just want to use the web” users upgrading.

    I’ve never implemented it, but can’t Chrome Frame be used in many instances, for locked-down IE users? Anyone got any experience with Chrome Frame?

    • David Ball

      It is a good way yeah, one of my main worries is that users with these old browsers see your site and assume it’s “broken” just because their browser can’t run it. They don’t realise it takes additional effort to make the site backwards compatible. 

      I’ve never installed Chromeframe, as I’ve always used a good browser. But I know that the HTML5boilerplate that many people use as a starting point for their project ( by default shows a message encouraging visitors to upgrade or get chromeframe. 

  • Oli Mortimer

    Yes, it might cost Kogan $X for developing the site to work in IE7, but it costs companies a much greater amount of money to upgrade all their systems from IE6 / IE7.  It’s not down to companies being lazy/stupid/miserly/paranoid, it’s down to having the time and money to upgrade internal legacy systems, testing roll-outs, rolling out updates, testing again etc etc.

    • Fred Isaacs

      So to paraphrase:  its not about being lazy/stupid/miserly/paranoid,  its just down to being lazy/stupid/miserly?

  • Scampifish

    Buy the stuff you want at home instead of at work? This is all just a massive publicity stunt anyway, I doubt they’ll make any money from it.

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