IF YOU BUY one of those nifty Linux preloaded notebooks from the likes of Dell, Asus, or Lenovo, the default web browser will always be Firefox.
So you use that web browser to fill the application for a credit card at Citibank, and finally receive it. But when you start using that credit card and want to check you card usage on-line, the system won't work when accessed with Linux. That's exactly what has got Linux users furious at the banking giant.
Jason Antman, a techie and IT major at Rutgers University in New Jersey, got furious last week after realising that getting a card from Citibank using a Firefox is as easy as a walk in the park, but then checking his card activity on CitiCards.com using the open sauce browser was, well, as hard as a stone.
Jason writes in his blog about this "unnerving experience": "Having just gotten a Citibank credit card, and made my first few purchases on it, I browsed to CitiCards.com to check my account summary. I happened to be using a just-purchased IBM T41 laptop, running OpenSuSE 11.0 and FireFox3, so when I saw the page display and then go completely blank, I suspected a problem with my Flash plugin. Little did I know, but I tried the same page on 3 other Linux/Firefox machines, with the same result."
Apparently, Citibank is well aware of the problem, but couldn't care less, and tells customers to go chase a tree.
Jason was "gruffly informed by the representative that Firefox was not supported, they were unable to support it, and, to paraphrase, I should get another browser or f*** off. She was very well-aware of the issue, and stated that Citi would not fix it. At this point, I stated that I thought I would cancel my card, and she told me to have a nice day and hung up."
He describes a Flash ad on the site as the likely cause of the problem, and he even tested a work-around, but also identified that the same ad is not served when accesing the page with an Apple computer, which got him suspicious that Citi is targeting Linux users: "I pulled up the same page on a Mac. Sure enough, that particular ad (set not to play and with an opaque full-screen background) didn't show up. Hmm... maybe there's something to the theory put forth by the guy who said CitiBank is blocking Linux users."
In the end, Mr. Antman phoned Citi a second time, and a company representative this time told him the firm was "working on the problem", and apologised for the inconvenience and the previous representative's attitude: " she stated that they are only unsupported so far as Tech Support won't walk a customer using Linux or FireFox through any issue resolution."
We INQuired on the Mozarella Foundation's Bugzilla bug tracking database and indeed there's an open bug sitting there detailing the inability to check credit card activity at the Citicards.com web page. The bug has been reported about eleven months ago. Which would give some credence to another blogger who says Citibank is blocking customers who use Linux.
What cannot be disputed is that techies are getting increasingly angry about the issue and the web pages against Citibank due to this mistreatment are growing. Blogger Scott Carpenter has been documenting Citibank's disregard for Firefox+Linux users on his blog for over a year.
There are thousa nds of questions about this problem which show up as the results for a simple Google web search on "Citicards.com" and "Linux". Yet the firm, judging by the reply given to Mr. Antman last week, seems to think customers have an eternal patience. µ
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