Discriminatory Lending Based on Your Browser Choice

Web applications that break depending on your browser are nothing new. When Microsoft’s browser was more dominant, the experience was based on an us-or-them mentality of web application development. Things have thankfully progressed where breakages are more a question of which browsers have adopted the latest whiz bang feature from the HTML4, CSS3 or related specifications. The hope is that eventually all the browsers will catch up yielding an unending flowering of rich web applications.

This Slashdot story discusses an entirely different sort of discrimination based on which browser you use: different loan rates.

I tried to use their little payment calculator but the flash based widget wouldn’t work properly in the Firefox Beta so I loaded up Safari to try and funny enough the rate offered was 2.7%. I checked in Chrome and Opera to see if it was maybe just something wrong with the Firefox beta and Chrome’s rate was 2.3% while Opera’s was 3.1%.

I have to wonder what the rate would be for an Internet Explorer user, if the reasoning here is based on some sense of financial risk as correlated to empirical security data. I also have to wonder at the wisdom of this practice given how trivial it is to spoof user agents and, failing that, to simply run multiple browsers. Granted, most users probably won’t bother but if more evidence emerges that this kind of discrimination is not uncommon, who knows? Maybe that will prompt discrimination on more ingrained technology choices like operating system. That would just make the religious wars over computer platforms that much more unbearable.

Do Firefox Users Pay More For Car Loans? Slashdot

3 Replies to “Discriminatory Lending Based on Your Browser Choice”

  1. Sounds like Apple MacIntosh users pay more, after all they have bought into the licensing BS and pay significantly more for both their software and hardware than they should. So we can be disgusted with the banks/financial institutions but should we honestly be surprised?

    My guess is the Internet Explorer users would have paid even more as the assumption would be that they would be to naive to look for better interest rate deals. After all they blindly automatic update as if that is the right thing to do, ever.

    1. What exactly the browser choice represents in terms of risk is interesting. I suspect you may be onto something in terms of user inertia except that Safari then would also suffer from a poorer rate, at least if the data is correlated to operating systems as it is just as much a default for Mac users as IE is for Windows.

      My initial though is that risk here might have been correlated to security risks of browsers but I don’t think that fits the observed rates very well. Firefox shouldn’t be getting the highest rate, I would think, though I’d have to imagine the rates would fluctuated considerably on news of new vulnerabilities and changes in speed of delivery on fixes over time.

  2. FYI: IE users were being offered 2.7% (lower than Firefox-stable, higher than Chrome) according to a comment on the article linked by Slashdot. Nothing else to add here, but I thought I’d mention it as I’d already done the research.

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