Kogan to tax shoppers for using IE7


news Australian consumer electronics upstart Kogan Technologies has deployed a special “tax” on its popular website which will charge online shoppers an extra 6.8 percent on top of their purchases if they persist in using what the company described as Microsoft’s “antique” Internet Explorer web browser.

“The way we’ve been able to keep our prices so low is by using technology to make our business efficient and streamlined,” Kogan wrote on its company blog yesterday. “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.”

“It’s not only costing us a huge amount, it’s affecting any business with an online presence, and costing the Internet economy millions,” the company claimed. “Customers who enter our site using Internet Explorer 7 can avoid the impost by simply downloading an up-to-date browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera or even a more recent version of Internet Explorer.”
Kogan wrote that all “Internet citizens” had a responsibility to make the Internet a better place.

“By taking these measures, we are doing our bit,” the company added. “This will help us increase our efficiency, help keep prices for all smart shoppers down, and hopefully help eradicate the world of the pain in the rear that is IE7! So, what are you waiting for? Time to upgrade your browser!”

Internet Explorer 7 was first released in October 2006. It has shipped by default on operating systems such as Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, and is offered as a replacement for Internet Explorer 6 on previous operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Although the browser was seen as a major upgrade at the time, introducing major new features found in competitive browsers such as tabbed browsing, Microsoft currently considers the browser to be deprecated and is actively encouraging users to migrate to the latest platforms such as Internet Explorer 9. The company is much more focused on migrating users off Internet Explorer 6, however, than 7, with a major “Internet Explorer 6 Countdown” campaign having being launched over the past few years to “move the world off Internet Explorer 6.”

Kogan’s approach to Internet Explorer 7 has garnered it positive responses from readers of its blog. “Kogan you ROCK hahaha this is the best thing ever. Brilliant!” wrote one reader. “If anyone is still using Internet Explorer (let alone IE7) they should be taxed more than double this,” wrote another. “Well done Kogan.” And another wrote: “Best thing ever!!!! Love the initiative! Hopefully this is the start of a revolution for better technology and action to weed out ancient technology :)”

However, not everybody was as positive about Kogan’s move. One reader described it as “A waste of time that would have been better spent creating a mobile optimised site.” In addition, others highlighted the fact that not all shoppers could choose which browser they would use to access the Kogan site.

The Department of Defence and the Commonwealth Bank, for example, have only recently upgraded the browsers on tens of thousands of their desktop machines to IE7, from IE6. And many other organisations around Australia do not allow their users to install alternative browsers such as Firefox and Chrome.

Maverick Australian consumer electronics upstart Ruslan Kogan is no stranger to controversy, and indeed actively courts it. Remember the time Kogan applied — and was knocked back — for a job at McDonald’s? Or the “spams & scams” portal protector? Or the Kogan ads satirising Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey? Or the time Kogan claimed rival retailers like JB Hi-Fi were “Apple’s bitch”? Yup. When it comes to publicity stunts, Kogan has got them in spades.

The entrepreneur’s latest stunt this morning is another publicity stunt and should be viewed as such. Is it really costing Kogan — a tiny organisation with only a few dozen staff — much money to keep its small number of websites compatible with IE7? I don’t think so. IE7 isn’t exactly the most ancient of browsers, and I don’t think it would be a big deal for anyone to keep a couple of websites up to date for it. IE6 might be a different matter, but IE7 was a major leap forward in terms of web compatibility.

Kogan’s stunt this week is calculated to achieve his company press headlines around the world over the next week on this issue, and doubtless it will succeed. Another victory for public relations. Personally, I’d rather see Kogan concentrate on manufacturing some really innovative and quality products, rather than constantly focusing on getting his name in the media. But then, I’m not sure to what extent this will be an issue for the company.

Given its increasing third-party product range, I wonder whether Kogan is becoming more of an online retailer these days, rather than a company focused on its product creation and manufacturing operations. We’ve requested a review unit of Kogan’s new Ice Cream Sandwich tablet. It will be interesting to see how much progress the company has made.

Image credit: Kogan


  1. The layout engine between IE6 and IE7 barely changed. It’s still a piece of crap and should be treated as such.

    I say this out of pain of trying to migrate sites optimised for new browsers to even consider working on IE7. If it works on IE7, it basically works on IE6 in most cases.

  2. Of course the simplest way would be to shop elsewhere!! I am fed-up with Microsoft being unable to produce a stable OS and forcing people to have to upgrade to be able to use their updated browsers. I am a pensioner and unable to afford to upgrade from Windows XP (soon to be unsupported) in order to use IE9. I certainly will not attempt to shop here!!!!!

  3. It may be a publicity stunt but I know how much time my web developer has spent making things render in IE7 when he could be spending it implementing new features on our website.
    The only problem I have with Kogan doing this is now my web guy will want to do it as well. :)

  4. Instead of wasting their time (money) making their site compatible, why don’t they just block IE7 users, and redirect them to another page, prompting them to install another browser?

    Less hassle, and easier to understand, instead of users getting hit by some fee.

    And perhaps remind some people, that when you press the “Compatibility” button on the top of IE9, it sends information back to the server that makes it think it’s IE7.
    Perhaps if Kogan adopted some standards, they wouldn’t be creating waves, unless they like doing so.

    • Confirmed. Run IE9 with compatibility mode on whilst on the Kogan website, and you will be charged the “Internet Explorer 7 TAX (6.8%)”.

    • I get that IE7 is outdated, but given its still the industry standard and theres no way in hell Microsoft is ever going to let anything else take over, Id think those Admins at Kogan need to get a clue.

      Its really not that difficult to modify the website for a base of IE7 instead of IE6 – this is just lazy admins being lazy admins. I’ve got a room full of them infront of me to throw things at … Or shoot nerf darts at :D

      I’d be interested to see if they enforce it, I’d imagine actually charging the tax would be illegal – given its still the web standard browser much like IE6 was. Wonder if the ACCC are doing anything right now …

      • IE7 is in no way a standard. It hasn’t been for some number of years. I’d encourage you to review http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_explorer.asp if you’re still in a state of disbelief. IE7 usage comprises just around 2% of TOTAL usage.

        As for making applications work with IE7, your claim that isn’t difficult is absurd. Since IE7 has come out, the world of browsers and web applications has changed completely. IE7 has more in common with a copy of Netscape Navigator than it does a modern browser. Its handling of Javascript and CSS is way behind industry standards in modern browsers. Even Microsoft acknowledges this, which is why they’ve released TWO MORE BROWSERS SINCE IE7 CAME OUT. The third, IE10, will be out later this year.

        IE7 is only a standard if you don’t know what you’re doing.

  5. As a deployed ADF Member, I guess I wont be ordering that HD 3D LED TV that I was going to order 1 month before coming home. It’s not like we have a choice over here, but I can choose whether I want to pay an additional 6.8%, and the answer, funny enough, is NO!!!

    • Last year in the US, personnel of State Department had a meeting with the head of the department (one Hillary Clinton) to discuss their workplace issues. One staff member stood up and pleaded Hillary to allow them to install alternative browsers on their work computers (they were locked to IE6 due to some intranets that depended on it). The issue took Hillary by surprise, but she right away gave the responsibility to take care of it to one of her senior advisers. A few months later the State Department rolled out Chrome to all its computers, allowing users to use it if they want for external websites, while still maintaining the internal intranet as IE6-only.

      As as bureaucratic as the ADF might be, I’m sure it is nothing compared to the juggernaut that is the US State Department. I say this to all those people in organisations stuck with IE6 and IE7: perhaps if enough of you cared about the issue to voice your dissatisfaction to those in charge, things would change. The Web would be a better place if we could stop worrying about ancient browsers.

      • I am currently serving in the Middle East, we have more important things to worry about. I don’t care about using IE7, it works for us fine. I was simply stating how Kogan’s descision has affected me, and the effect it has had on my future purchasing descisions. Unless I am at home, I wont be purchasing from Kogan now!

        • Apparently data security isn’t one of those more important things – using any version of IE is contraindicated in secure environments.
          Did they roll out yesterdays critical patch there or are they simply hoping that nobody wants total control of ADF machines with internet?

          • Exactly, Stephen – I have always found it appalling that Govt, Defence and large business standardise around IE, the world’s most non-compliant-to-standards browser. It is simply bad policy (and in the case of potentially sensitive computers such as operated by Defence, it should be criminal) to standardise around a particular browser (regardless of its long history of security vulnerabilities) when standardising to actual web standards (you know, like HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0, although all new developments should be forward-looking to HTML and XHTML 5.0) provides greater stability, predictability and interoperability. It also provides greater choice, as standardising to a particular vendor’s (inferior) product is anticompetitive.

          • In my government department (which shall remain nameless) – Chrome is on the way to being banned because it leaks through the proxy by prefetching. Or so word on the street goes.

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