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Fleet Website Bans Free OS

By nogin in Internet
Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 08:53:27 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

Apparently, Fleet has a company policy not to allow Linux and BSD users to access their "Account Online" website. However, they will try telling you almost anything before admitting to that.

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comments (24)
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I got a credit card from Fleet recently and on September 14 I tried to access their "Account Online" website (http://www.fleetcso.com/). When I went to their enrollment page, I was told "Your browser is not compatible with Cardmember Access" (I am using Netscape 4.75 on RedHat 6.2).

I decided to call their Account Online support line. The amount of BS that I've got from them was unbelievable. First, they were trying to convince me that it's Netscape's fault and I ought to be calling Netscape and not them. After I told them that I am sure it's their problem, I was told that Netscape 4.75 is not good enough and I need and least Netscape 5! Obviously, I responded by saying that there is no such thing as Netscape 5 and that there never will be a Netscape 5.

After that I was asked whether I was using Netscape on Linux or SBD (yes, she didn't know how to pronounce BSD). Now I knew I was getting somewhere - from the beginning I suspected that it was Linux related. After admiting that I am using Linux, I was told that's it's their company policy not to support Linux. Additionally, I was told that their system only checks OS on the enrollment page and that if I enroll over the phone, I would be able to use it anyway. Well, that turned out to be another lie - I still got the same "error" message and I am still getting it today...

Needless to say, their FAQ does not say anything about the OS you need, only what kind of browser you need to access it.


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Fleet Website Bans Free OS | 27 comments (26 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Good old mom (3.64 / 14) (#1)
by Defect on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:46:16 PM EST

This kind of reminds me about something my mother used to tell me; that i only remember the bad things about my childhood. Being made to eat fried peppers, not getting a certain video game and such.

In this post, the person doesn't know what bsd is, knows little about netscape, and doesn't know the inner workings of the site, but you still believe them when it is company policy not to support linux.

I once worked at an inn and i lied about a bunch of things to get the complete morons off the phone (i'm not saying you're a moron), and this may have been a case. The person found something unique-ish about your system and then tells you that it's not supported.

But hey, it could be very well that their site pisses on linux users, i don't know.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
Supervisor confirmed it. (4.25 / 4) (#16)
by nogin on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:09:48 PM EST

I insisted on talking with the tech support supervisor, she confirmed the "no Linux" policy :-(

[ Parent ]
wow, that is ridiculous. (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by Defect on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 09:39:04 AM EST

I was just being a little hopeful with my comment but this is absurd, especially with the coverage linux has been getting.

but even still, coverage or not, denying an entire OS use of a national corporate website is completely unreasonable.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
it's a conspiracy! (1.66 / 9) (#2)
by The_Dude on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:49:48 PM EST

man, I love the good old days when the world was out to get us linux users. Now all these companies are just stupid for thinking they have to impose limits like that on web-based apps! I remember when fox had some sort of javascript browser check in place that was keeping out linux users. It only took a couple days to get it fixed once the news got public. Who knows, maybe the same thing will happen here...

Fox problem was not javascript (4.00 / 4) (#18)
by Andrew Dvorak on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 11:17:58 PM EST

The Fox situation:

  • Fox verified that your browser was being run on the "supported" Operating Systems.
  • Not aware that Linux's Netscape had a Flash plugin, access was not permitted on the condition that they had believed nothing would support their site.
  • An error message was displayed on the Fox page to the user telling them that they could not access the site because there was no Flash plugin for their browser.

This was an obvious error on their part and it was fixed soonafter.

To get around this checking mechanism required the user to forge the User-Agent http header to match that of a supported browser/os combination. For example, I used wwwoffled as a http proxy, which I told to modify the http headers. Fox's site recognized these forged headers as though I were operating a supported browser/os combination. The page was fed to me. I was then able to view the site -- assuming I was using the appropriate flash plugin.

[ Parent ]
Fleet HomeLink electronic banking works for me (2.57 / 7) (#3)
by recursive on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 04:52:45 PM EST

I have no trouble with Linux/Netscape 4.72 to access their HomeLink online banking system. One editorial comment: since World!=US you should have mentioned that Fleet is a US bank.

-- My other car is a cdr.

Stop whining! (3.20 / 15) (#4)
by Luke Scharf on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:00:28 PM EST

Stop whining and move your account to a bank who wants your business!

Warning postential customers is NOT whining (4.00 / 9) (#5)
by maynard on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:18:05 PM EST

First of all, I consider this rant completely appropriate and I voted +1 section. Online forums exist so that members may exchange information, ideas, biases, and sometimes even warnings about problems they've experienced with other organizations (public or private). I WANT this knowledge passed around on member boards because for certain no company is about to tell me in their brochure before I sign up.

Also, I'd like to note that my local bank, Cambridgeport Bank supports online banking through mids.com, or M&I Data services according to a NSI whois lookup (they're the guys who provide the web access to my account). I'm running NS-4.75 with RH-6.2 and get in just fine. I'd dump fleet right away and find yourself a friendly bank. Frankly, Fleet is such a large bank that without tens of thousands of dollars in your personal account you'll probably get rotten service anyway. I always bank with small local banks and/or credit unions because the personal service is so much better than with a huge monolithic bank like Fleet. However, if you're looking for a business account, Fleet might be the appropriate choice. YMMV...


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Citizens is evil, but... (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by jovlinger on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 12:56:47 PM EST

They actually have decent Online Customer Support (NB that I am not praising their customer support in general which seems alternately staffed by geniuses or morons). I tried accessing their online system from abroad, and failed. Instead of hitting on this fact as why it failed (their nebulous and illogical security policy history would have made this a plausible excuse for failure) they quickly cottoned on to the fact that intl. versions of most browsers are crippled to 40 bits, and that their https wanted 128.

Fair enough, and a welcome anomaly in quagmire of banking "security" (hint: using SSNs or other easily obtainable personal info as a basis of authentication is not good enough).

So while Citizen's bank has the most unreliable voice customer support that I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with, their on-line staff are good enough so that I stay with them.

[ Parent ]
Amen... (4.16 / 12) (#7)
by evilquaker on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:23:58 PM EST

Call them up and tell them that you'd like your account cancelled, but make sure that you tell them why you're cancelling your account. If you get a relatively clueful person on the other end, you might be surprised how much they're willing to bend over backward for you. (Then again, it is Fleet we're talking about...) If they aren't willing to make things right for you, make sure you actually do cancel your account, and then follow up with an actual letter (i.e. not e-mail) explaining why you cancelled your account. Businesses don't give a crap about freedom or ethics, but they sure (should (this is Fleet we're talking about)) care about business that they're not getting.

"Die, spork user! And burn in fiery torment!" -- Handy, the Handpuppet of Doom
[ Parent ]

Lots of considerations, tough to always do right. (none / 0) (#27)
by GrueZ on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 01:59:31 PM EST

I use a minority mac browser, and hit this situation a lot, with my broker, with my bank, and various vendors. To be fair, my browser doesn't support 128-bit secure http. I'd love to always do the right thing, and support privacy-respecting, technology aware organizations, but there's a lot of considerations. Price of services, convenience of services, and sometimes a lack of other options in a market. How much is it worth to me to stick to my principles?--that's the question. If I ended up fighting every battle of principle over principal, I'd be in an asylum by now.

So sometimes I give in, fire up IE for a while. When I've got time, I'll fire off a rant to the deficient organization--but there's a lot of considerations.

What bothers me the most though, is not situations like banks, where you can opt for another. It's mandatory-participation organizations (like the FCC with their lack of mac support, or the IRS bug with their forms a while back) that are particularly regrettable, since these are supposedly publicly accountable, but which further support a known monopolist.

Heheh...see? Now I'm all riled up, and haven't gotten any work done...sigh.

[ Parent ]

some practical advice (3.28 / 7) (#6)
by tom0 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:20:11 PM EST

You have a point that Fleet is displaying an ignorance of what the web is about (wasn't one of the "groundbreaking" aspects of the web that it would be platform independant?), but why not just set up a little junkbuster proxy or similar thing to mis-identify your "User-Agent"?

That said, embarassing companies that do things like this is worthwhile, so I'll give this a +1.

Possible solution... (3.75 / 12) (#8)
by B'Trey on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:27:39 PM EST

You might want to look at junkbuster. It's primarily designed to block ad servers and such, but it allows you to report your browser type as anything you want. You can use your Netscape and tell the web page server that you're using IE5 if you like.

Spoof (2.50 / 6) (#9)
by simmons75 on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:40:40 PM EST

I don't recall how to do it, but you can spoof Netscape so that it will report anything you want. You can have Netscape state that it's running on an Atari 2600, for example. As I say, though, I don't remember how. Good luck; this sort of idiocy is inexcusable. Companies seem to think that people using Linux and FreeBSD are just a bunch of hackers wanting to rip them off (what about the skript kiddiez running Windows and MacOS?)
So there.

They don't tell anyone what their rules are? (3.50 / 8) (#10)
by aphrael on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:09:49 PM EST

Cancel your account and get a different credit card.

It's one thing to ban connections from a particular OS --- it's *stupid*, but is not, in and of itself, offensive. But to ban connections from a particular OS and not tell anyone is incredibly rude.

Yes, I woudn't use it. (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by nogin on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:08:05 PM EST

I do not want to cancel the card, but I am not going to use it. My guess is that this way they'll keep waisting money sending me letters about their promotons :-)

[ Parent ]
Solution (3.66 / 9) (#11)
by Dolgan on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:19:49 PM EST

This doesn't solve the company's idiocy, but I recommend Junkbuster (I believe that's the right link - if not, google should do the job) to take care of this. This way you not only block ads, but can modify your user agent. There's other ways to modify your user agent, of course, but Junkbuster kills two birds in one stone. :)

I run FreeBSD 4.1.1-STABLE with Mozilla M18, but IIRC my user agent reports Netscape 4.75 on Windows 95.

Even better one: stop using the card. (3.50 / 4) (#17)
by nogin on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:12:29 PM EST

Yes, I know that I can try to "trick" their site into letting me in. But if they do not want my business, why should I insist on giving it to them?

[ Parent ]
Sometimes Junkbuster CAUSES these problems... (2.00 / 2) (#24)
by meldroc on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 04:51:06 PM EST

Don't get me wrong, I love Junkbuster and use it all the time. The user agent feature that has been mentioned can be used to trick the web server into thinking you're using a legit browser. However, many Junkbuster installations set the user agent to report as Netscape 3.0 by default, which will cause many banking sites to reject you. Netscape 3.0 is an old browser with many known security holes.

[ Parent ]

What? (2.00 / 1) (#25)
by Dolgan on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 08:16:40 PM EST

What makes you think that you can't change the default? (???)

The whole point is to change it. AFAIK, the default is actually something like Netscape 3.0 Gold on a Macintosh. I was meaning to recommend using it to not only block ads, but also to change your user-agent to something like IE5 on Windows 98 (which is very standard for sites like the one described).

I also do realize the author's point, however: it's the principle. I don't think businesses should get away with this, but I think the problem will solve itself when either they become more clued in, want more customers, or Linux becomes more popular as a desktop OS.

[ Parent ]

Fleet + Linux works for me (3.40 / 10) (#12)
by acestus on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 06:49:17 PM EST

I've got a fleet account, and I can access it fine at:

Many corps will say they don't "support" linux/bsd, but this generally means that they don't provide tech support, not that they will not allow you to use the software.

This is not an exit.
I believe this is different. (3.66 / 3) (#14)
by nogin on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 09:05:08 PM EST

I believe you are talking about "banking online" (e.g. accessing your bank account online). The one that does not work for me is the credit card account online, which is a different beast.

[ Parent ]
but but but... (3.33 / 3) (#19)
by acb on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 01:17:00 AM EST

really, that's pretty stupid.

I have a copy of BSD here, it's called BSD/OS, and it's certainly not free.

But either way, what if I don't want them to support me with my Operating System, what if I just wanted to use the damned product, and if something breaks, who cares.

A browser is a browser is a browser until someone turns it into something bloated :P

--- acb #kuro5hin
Yes, but... (3.00 / 4) (#21)
by squigly on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 09:45:57 AM EST

Why did you use this company at all? They obviously feel that alienating the small percentage of customers that don't use Windows makes them look good.

Anyone who assumes that users should change their web browser or OS is forgetting that they should be trying to benefit the customer not the other way around.

People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
sounds like time to switch (3.00 / 3) (#22)
by TuxNugget on Mon Oct 16, 2000 at 10:09:24 AM EST

There are a number of credit cards that provide online access to bills. If you run a balance, though, your first concern should be the interest rate.

A large income is not necessary to get the rate down to 10-12% from 15-18%, you just need to research your choices a bit before applying.

Three I've had OK experiences with are AT&T, USAA (especially if you are a veteran or related to one), and SunTrust.

Are Netscape bugs the real issue? (2.00 / 1) (#26)
by AndrewH on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 08:27:38 AM EST

Given the reference to Netscape 5 (I assume Fleet mean what AOL marketroids call Netscape 6, ie Mozilla), I wonder if the real problem lies with the antithesis of Linux and BSD standards that users of the operating systems have until recently been saddled with for web browsing.

Browsers are now being developed (one has reached release candidate status) that avoid these bugs; whether you can persuade Fleet of this is of course another matter.

John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr — where are you now that we need you?
Fleet Website Bans Free OS | 27 comments (26 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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