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December 10, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: Scotia Bank rewards site

ScotiabankJamie Munro writes:

As a Mac user, I'm completely blocked from using the Scotia Bank rewards site to review my balance and view their catalogue.

This is their "new" site. The old site worked fine with Safari. It's hard to believe in 2005 that any major corporation would release an IE-only web site.



(and FIRST!)

Posted by: Dukerino at December 10, 2005 12:20 AM

my (windows) computer used to completely freeze whenever i visited

Posted by: gmangw at December 10, 2005 12:47 AM

I'm lucky to be a mac user : ) IE is just forced upon anyone who has windows, its even embedded into the file system, and I hate it when businesses comply with that. BTW, Jamie, activate Safari's debug menu and you can make safari 'pose' as IE6 for the website : )

Posted by: BlastYoBoots at December 10, 2005 01:32 AM

As to gmangw's former problems, Windows is full with those errors. In fact, there're websites dedicated to that kind of thing. comes to mind as just one of them, and almost all are worth reading for a laugh.

Posted by: Mussorgsky112 at December 10, 2005 06:26 AM

Best buy rewards also won't let you use macs to print its reward certificates.

Posted by: DaveZ at December 10, 2005 07:22 AM

As an escapee (retiree) from corporate IT management, I can tell you that both their IT management and the technical architecture wizard require IE for websites. Compatibility with other browsers would be looked upon with suspicion and derision. Programmers who insisted on making the site accessible to others would risk getting fired. This is all about ensuring technical standards and minimizing risk (to IT management). The marketing people on the other hand would tell you that they would accept almost any reasonable increase in IT programming costs to experience increased customer satisfaction, and buying. That actually doesn't matter to the IT department because the marketing people are known flakes, and customers are really incompetent "users."

And look at the site. God, it's gorgeous. Makes you proud, doesn't it. Even if you can't use it. As for Mac users, get a real computer, for pete's sake.

Posted by: dan at December 10, 2005 09:00 AM

Send your dollars and time elsewhere. Companies who have decided to ignore Web Standards and make sites that only work on some subset of browsers and operating systems are sending a clear message that they don't really care all that much about your experience. It takes no time or effort to be Standards compliant and, in the long run, saves money and headaches. It is just sloppy and lazy implementation.

To the tech guys who will debate this: imagine if you came to a highway on-ramp and were turned away because the highway had only been built to work with tires from Goodyear, and your car had Michelins. There's no justifiable reason why a highway would be built this way, and neither should the Internet.

Posted by: Michael McWatters at December 10, 2005 09:35 AM

I completely agree Michael McWatters.

Posted by: someone at December 10, 2005 09:42 AM

I'm not usualy like this, but don't you know that all new Macs come with IE (duh!)

Posted by: was I suppose to put my name here? at December 10, 2005 09:44 AM

I'd be willing to bet a small fortune (though probably not pay up) that they didn't even bother to test their site on Safari (or Firefox for that matter).

It's a lot cheaper in the end to pay a better programmer to follow web standards than to deny potential (and current!) customers online service.

Posted by: Josh Z. at December 10, 2005 10:03 AM

I do not belive that Macs come with IE anymore. And even Microsoft recomend Mac users don't use IE for Macs!

Posted by: Matt at December 10, 2005 11:36 AM

The most up-to-date version of IE for Mac is 5.2.3. Scotiabank here requires IE 5.5 or greater.

Posted by: Felix at December 10, 2005 01:39 PM

> "I'm not usualy like this, but don't you know that all new Macs come with IE (duh!)"

No, Macs do not come with IE, and IE for the Mac hasn't been updated for several years.

For the Mac, you have Safari or several flavors of Mozilla (Firefox, Camino, Netscape, etc.), Opera, etc., each of which is built to comply with the latest Web standards, and each of which does a good job of rendering html per the WC3 guidelines. Any functionality that is IE-only will probably have the same effect on a PC that is not running IE. I believe Firefox, for example, is around 19% market penetration, and that number is only increasing. This Web site is basically telling 1 out of 5 customers to go away because they didn't build their site to comply with Web Standards.

Posted by: Michael McWatters at December 10, 2005 02:30 PM

Let me clarify something: if you read the error text above, this is not only a Mac error, but the text also states the site, for a PC user, will only work on Internet Explorer. This is not a Mac issue, but a poorly coded site that is IE-centric. It may sound extreme, but I canceled a bank account because the bank would only support Internet Explorer...not Firefox, Netscape, Camino, Opera, Safari, etc. This is the free market at work.

Posted by: Michael McWatters at December 10, 2005 02:33 PM

Okay, one last post on this site: I just visited it in the latest version of Internet Explorer for the Mac, and got the same message. So, in short, ScotiaBank is telling its audience you must use a PC with Internet Explorer 5.5 or later only. No Macs, no Linux, and no other browsers allowed.

Now, contrast that with what they say on their Web site: "Although our reach is global, our energies are focused on individual customers, employees, and shareholders..." They should amend this to read, "...our energies are focused on individual customers who use the browser we say they must use..." :)

Posted by: Michael McWatters at December 10, 2005 02:38 PM

I'm not saying it's not broken because it is, very. but if you're not goinf to use IE atleast keep it around for deviant sites like this you got to plan for ineptitude.

Posted by: Banana Sam at December 10, 2005 03:07 PM

Macs at least USED to come with IE. We have all Macs in our labs at school (a year or 2 old, I'd guess), and they all have IE on them. I KNOW my instructor wouldn't have installed IE on them all because it's a photo print lab and web surfing is frowned upon there (space is limited). And for the record, Macs SUCK!!! I've never had so many lost and/or corrupted files as those stupid things create in all my life!! Not to mention the all the extra garbage files generated as well...

Posted by: a at December 10, 2005 03:19 PM

I've heard back from my local branch since I sent this in to ScotiaBank has received quite a bit of negative feedback over this and will be updating the Rewards site to include support for other browsers in the new year.

BlastYoBoots, I did get in at the time by setting the client string to IE 6, and it worked fine. I believe I had to enable it to get in to submit feedback to express my concerns. At the same time I had to point out that a tiny 3 line feedback box doesn't work well either. Either way, my point was that this is the web and any modern standards-based browser should be good enough.

Posted by: Jamie Munro at December 10, 2005 05:46 PM

WalMart will not allow me to shop or purchase anything if I am using my Netscape Browser. The INSTANT I get in IE, I can shop away. I HATE IE!!


Posted by: Lynnette at December 10, 2005 06:25 PM

They don't support Macs yet they are giving away iPods?

Posted by: Rob at December 10, 2005 11:57 PM

What's interesting is that it seems to work fine in Firefox 1.5 for Mac - I used this

to pretend I was using IE on windows.

I do this for a lot of IE-only websites who lock out users, and it turns out that most IE-only sites I've tried work fine this way.

I'd prefer a warning that lets me through to try than a complete lockout because someone didn't have time to test it on my browser.

Posted by: anon at December 11, 2005 03:17 AM

Dan says: "As for Mac users, get a real computer, for pete's sake."

Got one already, thanks. When will you Windows users catch up?

Posted by: Chuck Ritter at December 11, 2005 08:25 AM

Chuck Ritter says: "Got one already, thanks. When will you Windows users catch up?"

you're acting like all pc's run windows, which isnt true, theres other programs such as linux.

Posted by: Dragon at December 11, 2005 09:24 AM

Oh, come on Chuck, don't you recognize sarcasm?

Hey I had a boss once who said that very thing to me, get a real computer. He was a jerk.

A vp in a "creative" department (ads, promos, etc.) turn down my recommendation for Macs for his department because if his people were really committeed to their jobs they would learn to use the PC.

Posted by: dan at December 11, 2005 01:57 PM

Actually the error does say that it only supports WINDOWS-based Internet explorer 5.5 or greater

Posted by: infinity at December 11, 2005 07:11 PM

Actually, with all of the known security problems that IE has they may be exposing themselves to some serious legal liability by requiring it.

Posted by: Tom Wrona at December 11, 2005 10:15 PM

You know that also gives you that same error and doesn't let you in if you use Firefox / Konqueror / Dillo / Mozilla / Epiphany / etc.

Worst thing about that is...there's no 'Continue anyway option!

Posted by: Trent Chernecki at December 11, 2005 10:48 PM

I've found in many cases that the sites requiring specific browsers in fact work quite fine with any nmodern browser, with only the odd page here or there which fails. The problem is that somebody has decided ahead of time that cusotmers need to experience the entire site a certain way and place browser detection code up front.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at December 12, 2005 08:28 AM

Trent Chernecki wrote: "You know that also gives you that same error and doesn't let you in if you use Firefox / Konqueror / Dillo / Mozilla / Epiphany / etc."

I don't particularly like air canada, but that's an outright lie. I buy tickets in Konqueror or Firefox all the time. It tells you "Some features of this site won't work because your browser is not

compatible." but I've never had a problem with using any normal aspect of their website. Their site about browser compatibility ( specifically states "Although your browser may not be listed it may still work."

Posted by: anitsirK at December 12, 2005 09:47 AM

Requiring a user to have IE may impact 5% of your whole customer base, and that assumes that your customer base is truly representative of the whole population of internet users. Honestly ensuring a good customer experience not only requires good programing, but good testing as well. And testing requires time, talents and treasury.

My question then is this, what are you Mac users (firefox users, etc) willing to pay in order to continue to be catered to as a self imposed minority of web users?

As for the question of security, I am reminded of the joke where when asked why he robbed banks, the criminal replied, because that is where the money is. In IE terms, hackers are known to exploit the security holes within IE for that same reason. It would be in my opinion an incorrect assumption that because hackers haven't written to exploit holes within firefox that doesn't mean those holes don't exist.

Posted by: Todd at December 12, 2005 11:12 AM

Requiring IE usually does impact 5% of your customer base. Oddly enough, not requiring a specific browser impacts even less of your customer base. And the strange thing about that, is that you need only to build your pages so that they are compliant with the W3C HTML specs.

As an added bonus, this can also "future-proof" your pages as they will tend to work on browsers, and versions of browsers in the future.

And instead of asking what Mac users and Firefox users are willing to pay, it's probably best asked the other way around. Do businesses want to actively discourage customers from their websites, because that is exactly what is happening.

What will be the cost to the business as the number of Firefox users continue to increase. What will be the cost to businesses if the Linux desktop takes hold in the same way the Linux servers are gaining share? Those web pages built to be IE specific will need maintenance and replacement in order to be usable. Those that were built to be browser-neutral will continue to be usable as-is.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at December 12, 2005 11:25 AM

Sorry, I couldn't let this outright lie go unanswered, even if nobody reads this far, this long after the original post.

"Not to mention the all the extra garbage files generated as well..."

Macs do *not* create more "extra garbage files" than PCs do. The files are simply more visible on Macs than they are on PCs. Plus, if you're running video/image editting software, it's probably the software creating the extra files as much or more than the OS. PCs create *tons* of "extra garbage files," but they just hide them from the user unless you view hidden files (which obviously novice users such as "a" will not be doing)

Posted by: Jo-Pete Nelson at December 12, 2005 12:13 PM

To get into IT in most companies you have to be MS certified. To pass the tests for these certifications you actually have to have very little demonstrated technical knowledge. Instead you have to be able to repeate all of their sales material. You also ahve to remember that nobody by MS makes any software. I have even had MS certified professionals inform me that it is a "Federal Felony" to use any product not made by MS on the internet. When companies hire people like this they are gonig to get results that only work with MS products.

Posted by: Ray Stevens at December 12, 2005 12:23 PM

>Actually the error does say that it only supports WINDOWS-based Internet explorer 5.5 or greater

That's because IE is now a Windows-only product. Microsoft stopped developing it for the Mac a few years ago. From their website FAQ:

I hear that Microsoft will no longer develop Internet Explorer for Mac - is this true?

Yes. In our commitment to the Mac platform and our Mac customers we are focusing our development efforts on Mac Business Unit products like Office for Mac, Virtual PC for Mac, and Microsoft® Messenger for Mac.

Posted by: Alan at December 12, 2005 01:24 PM

Jo-Pete: I'm NOT a novice, and it IS the Mac creating the garbage files, not the software (Photoshop). Any time I open and save a file on the Macs at school in Photoshop, and then open the containing folder in my PC, there's always an extra file with it that if junked, the image still opens/runs perfectly without. I don't have this problem going the other way around. How is that not garbage? And yes, I DO have my computer set to show 'hidden' files, thank you very much.

Posted by: a at December 12, 2005 02:16 PM

Todd and Carlos you both have excellent points. While I hate Microsoft for the bullying monopolist that it is, I also use their products because I cannot afford to exclude myself from the world. Using them does not make me like them. Your points of view can be reconciled by using non-IE browsers when you can, and complaining loudly about being forced to use IE browsers when you must.

I worked in a Unix environment for about 5 years and found it liberating for the things I could do, not to mention less crash prone. Can't wait until Linux gains critical mass.

Posted by: Pat at December 12, 2005 02:17 PM

Alan, thanks for that additional glimpse into the MS message machine. "Yes. In our commitment to the Mac platform and our Mac customers ..." Translated: "In our commitment to making sure the bridge between the Mac and our crown jewels never gets built..."

That's as good as the recent cartoon where Cheney tells the guy torturing his prisoner to hurry up so he won't miss his "ethics class."

Posted by: Pat at December 12, 2005 02:27 PM

Requiring a user to have IE may impact 5% of your whole customer base, and that assumes that your customer base is truly representative of the whole population of internet users. Honestly ensuring a good customer experience not only requires good programing, but good testing as well. And testing requires time, talents and treasury.

I have heard this claim a lot of times, I wonder how accurate it is. Is this people who use IE as their primary browser, or who will use it if they need to to access a page they are motivated to use. A lot of people I know HAVE IE, and will use it if needed, but use opera/firefox (some netscape) first and as their primary browser. If you write for these you will find that IE will work pretty darned well and you probably don't even need to test for it. That is test with opera and firefox and you can assume that 99.9 percent of the time IE will work as fine as IE ever works with it. Of course then these browsers will work better, because about any time that you can make a choise they work better.

Maybe search engines should give you the option of prioritizing sites that work with your browser. Certainly this would be a large convience factor, and one that would cause me to chose a search engine if the results were otehrwise similar. This would probably make a big change in the decision processes of a lot of companies. If you only support IE your place in the listing was dropped from page 1 to page 100 for 5% of your potential customers you can bet that this would cause a lot of these companies to support multiple browsers.

Posted by: Ray Stevens at December 12, 2005 06:44 PM

Try viewing news video at You get: "This product requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, Microsoft Media Player 10, and Macromedia Flash 7."

Needless to say, the required browser doesn't--and will never--exist for the Mac, so MSN news video is permanently off limits to me.

Posted by: TechnoBob at December 12, 2005 06:51 PM

Todd says...

>>>> Requiring a user to have IE may impact 5% of your whole customer base

>>> My question then is this, what are you Mac users (firefox users, etc) willing to pay in order to continue to be catered to as a self imposed minority of web users?

Todd, your numbers are completely wrong. Far more than 5% of PC Web surfing is done on browsers other than IE (as much as 25-30% when you start to look at the increasing growth of Firefox), and yet this site will require you to close the browser you've chosen and go back on IE.

To your second point, why should we have to 'pay' anything to use a Web Standards compliant browser? How much will companies like yours pay to lose customers, 5% or 50%, who cannot view a site that, for no reason whatsoever, has chosen to sloppily build Web sites so users are forced to use only one browser? I, personally, hope quite a bit.

Posted by: Michael McWatters at December 12, 2005 07:07 PM

I agree that this is broken and these browser checking scripts are generally flawed. However, to say that it's easy to implement standards compliant code that works on all browsers does not reflect the state of the world. I don't know of any browser on the market that renders everything correctly according to standards. Things have gotten a lot better in recent years, but you still have to jump through a lot of hoops to make something work on all browsers. So it does make sense that most sites focus their attention on the platform/browser that is most popular. Also, there's nothing wrong with recommending a particular configuration, but locking people out is silly. So this is a bad solution to another problem, mainly that the browsers are broken.

Posted by: rockers at December 13, 2005 09:24 AM


thumbs.db- perfect example of Windows doing the exact same thing. You don't even have to *open* anything for windows to create the file. All you have to do is view the folder using thumbnails and Windows creates it. If you delete it, it will recreate itself. Fairly harmless, but annoying when you upload a folder of images and thumbs.db gets uploaded as well.

Posted by: Jo-Pete Nelson at December 13, 2005 01:45 PM

I agree--there should be a "continue anyway" option. Of course, I've done some HTML developing myself, and I can tell you that making a complex site completely standards-compliant is difficult and time-consuming unless you want to cut features. Those who use Mac/Linux/anything that's not Windows should realize that they're outside the standard and therefore won't be able to use a lot of software and websites. You can't blame a site for going with something that 70% of users will be able to view anyway--what you can blame them for is not letting others use the site at all by not providing a "continue anyway" option. That's broken.

Posted by: ACE91 at December 17, 2005 06:54 PM

I enjoy the fact apple's Ipod is advertised while the computer is blocked

Posted by: Bob at April 15, 2006 08:13 PM

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