September 16, 2010, 2:33 PM

Sears blocks visitors who have disabled cookies

The retailer says less than 2% of its online shoppers experienced the problem.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Consumers who disabled cookies on their browsers recently have found themselves in a tangle of redirects when visiting the e-commerce sites operated by Sears Holdings Corp., which runs such sites as Sears.com and Kmart.com The retailer says it is working to fix the problem, which Sears estimates affects less than 2% of visitors to its site.

Peter Alguacil, an analyst for web monitoring firm Pingdom, says the problem started around Aug. 19 and reached its peak on Aug. 26.  Sears, No. 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, did not say when the problem started, but the retailer says it is working to improve the site experience for consumers who have disabled cookies.

The problem started after Sears upgraded its web site to allow for more shopper customization and personalization, Pingdom says. Sears would not confirm that.

Alguacil says that when a shopper visited the site, it tried to set a cookie and then send the visitor to another page that expected the non-existent cookie to work. When that page could not find the cookie, the visitor was sent back to the initial page, presumably to obtain the needed cookie, he says. “Therefore visitors with cookies disabled were caught in an infinite loop of redirects back and forth so their browser couldn't load the web site at all,” he says.

The site experience varied by browser, he adds. Shoppers using Internet Explorer 8 found that the site would not load, for instance, without any reason given to the Sears visitor. Google Chrome displayed a message saying “This webpage has a redirect loop.” Safari simply informed the shopper that the page would not load.

As of Friday, visitors with disabled cookies saw this message: “Oops!! Your cookies have been disabled,” along with smaller type explaining that cookies help provide a more feature-rich experience on the site by enabling consumers to save preferences and store items in shopping carts.

Such a problem is not common, Alguacil says. “Some functionality may need cookies, but needless to say, it's considered poor practice to completely block users this way. So this was most likely an unintentional side effect of their site implementation,” he says.

Comments | 1 Response

  • It is November 21st 2012 and I am still unable to "Log In" to Kmart and Sears and I do receive the OOPS!! YOUR COOKIES HAVE BEEN DISABLED when I try to. I am using the most recent Firefox and my "cookies" have been set to accept cookies since I first encountered this problem. I was able to shop and make purchases on their Website and In Fact Did Make Purchases. Around August sounds about right for the time that I first encountered this problem. Kmart keeps sending me messages on how to set my "cookies" that already are set correctly. No matter what I do I cannot log in to Kmart or Sears. I have also been sent what I think is a short video but since it will not run it is of no help. I am tired of beating my head against the wall. Does Anyone Know of a Problem with Firefox that may be or is the cause of this Never Ending Problem?

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