Thought the days of having to use a particualr web browser client in order to use a specific site were over? Think again if this conversation between a user and eBay support is anything to go by.
As a journalist who has spent the largest part of the last 20 years online, not a great deal makes me sit up and my jaw drop with disbelief anymore. However, when a chap called Mike Hall copied me in on a support conversation he had with eBay, I have to admit I was rather in danger of spitting my coffee all over the keyboard.
The part of the support chat transcript that stood out and grabbed me by the manly bits simply stated: "I suggest that you kindly use Firefox 3.6 (not IE 9.0, Safari or Google Chrome as they aren't compatible)". Yes, you read that right, eBay told a user that three out of the four major web browser clients are not compatible with the eBay site. That, dear reader, is quite simply astonishing.
I might have had less trouble getting my head around this incredible web design FAIL were it 1999, or were the site in question produced and operated by the local corner shop on a budget of 10 dollars and a lot of finger crossing. However, this is 2012 and we are talking about one of the iconic brands of the Internet age, one of the biggest online commerce sites there is.
Yet this is seemingly the situation if we are to believe the information that was given to Mike by an ebay support representative called Andy Richardson. I have copied the entire support chart session below so you can make up your own minds. eBay, meanwhile, has yet to respond to my request for comment over this matter. In fact, the silence from the eBay press team has been quite deafening. Which is bizarre as you might have thought it would want to clarify the matter when a support representative is admitting that only Firefox 3.6 is compatible with the eBay site whilst the eBay support pages themselves recommend Chrome, IE and Safari - the three browsers which the support chap says you should not use!
Welcome to eBay Live Help, my name is Andy. How may I assist you today?
Morning Andy, In 'Myebay' summary page there is a section called "CASES". It shows that I have "1 case is still open", but when I click on that link, then there are no open cases shown.
Sorry, that is in the MyEbay | All Selling page.
Please give me a moment to check on this for you.
Thank you for your patience. Please give me few more moments as I am reviewing your account.
I reviewed our database and assure you that there is no case opened in your resolution centre.
Ok, then there is a bug in that the MYEBAY | ALL SELLING | CASES section shows that "1 case is still open"
I think maybe there is another bug, because in the SOLD section, it says that "You do not have any sold items for the time period you selected" (14 days). This is also not true, as I have sold two items in the last week.
Michael, the issue that you are facing is because of the Chrome browser that you are using. We do hear similar issues from other eBay members using Chrome browser. This browser does not support all features on eBay site.
I suggest that you kindly use Firefox 3.6 (not IE 9.0, Safari or Google Chrome as they aren't compatible) and certainly you won't face any issues. You may simply type in "Firefox 3.6" in Google and follow the steps to download the browser.
Wow - that's one hell of an admission.... the biggest auction site in the world is only compatable with one of the four main browsers !
I understand your concern in this matter. However, please be rest assure that our technical team is working hard on it and will forward your suggestion to the appropriate department.
I really appreciate your efforts and understanding in this matter.
Thanks for chatting.... perhaps you could relay to your management that maybe it might be a good idea to ensure a little wider compatability!
Chat Session Ended, Goodbye. (5010)
I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .
interesting to say the least! haha, I'm here developing a site for a small buisness with a userbase of like 600 members, and I am testing every change I do in Chrome IE9 FF and Opera...
while ebay isn't bothered to develop for more than one single browser.
Good thing I did not have any coffee while reading this !
ps : "...told a user that it three out of the four ..." that it probably doesn't belong there ;)
It actually doesn't surprise me. The number of "big" sites I have been to that are only compatible with IE is a constant point of contention as I specifically avoid using IE due to its history of security related and efficiency issues.
And here is the response from an eBay spokesperson:
"Here is the answer for you. It seems Chrome is supported as you’d expect." and pointing me to the eBay support FAQ
Not sure what question that was answering, but it certainly wasn't the one I had asked ("Could someone get back to me with a comment/clarification regarding the attached chat conversation which suggests that eBay is saying it does not support using three out of the four major web browsers and suggests users download Firefox?"). So I tried again with "Erm, well, I'd got that far. I was rather hoping that one one at eBay might want to clarify/comment as to why their support staff are telling users something very, very different..." to which the response was:
"I can only assume it was a mistake. Sorry for any inconvenience."
Version, after version after version makes me understand that it is only a small miracle that the bugs don't run deeper. I'm sure that it will be fixed but with so many browers versions and updates and millions of users these types of issues are bound to crop up for many companies.
That's interesting for two reasons. One, he didn't say just say Firefox--he specified a particular version of Firefox. Two, the version he specified is old. I wonder if this was an old conversation or if he really meant 3.6.
"Only Firefox 3.6 is fully compatible with our site, says eBay"
I think that what (thee amateur) coder really meant to say is:
- I've managed to write a site that fully works only on a single browser...,
- that is: only about "20%" of visitors will be able to decode my coding dialect.