Browser user agent checks

One of my main complains of Safari since its release is that my bank, Citibank, does not work with it. At the beginning, I’ve tried turning on Safari’s debug menu and changed the user agent string to something more ‘normal’ like ‘Windows MSIE 6’. It did not work then and I was under the impression that it is still not working.

This morning, on a whim, I try again with the Safari’s debug menu. Low and behold, Citibank online now works with Safari with the user agent string set to ‘Windows MSIE 6’! Just think of all these months when I had to use another browser (mainly Camino) to do my online banking when the solution was right under my nose! I hate it when it happens.

The more relevant question in my mind is, why does Citibank checks the browser user agent string to ‘disable’ features when it is blatantly obviously that Safari is capable of working with their system? From my own online banking project experience, this approach is never a good one as one can never know the user demographics solely by judging their use of browsers. Just because there are only ~3% of Mac users that does not mean they are irrelevant. It can be that those 3% are the high earners and applying any assumption to their customers is never good when money is involved.

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2 comments

  1. Daniel reznicek

    I have had a lot of issues with Mac browsers hitting our IIS6 website because they don’t support compression very well. I have had to detect that a Mac browser is accessing the site and then send them an uncompressed page. If not, I would get data corruption!

  2. Alex

    That would indeed explains the problem. Though Citibank has recently updated their site and now Safari works perfectly with it without resorting to changing the UA.

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