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Issue #747: November 14-20, 2021

Q: I am having a problem accessing my Target Red Card over the last 4-5 months. For several years Target has sent me an email when my bill is due and within this email is a link to log into my red card account: This takes me to the log in page and from there I can access activity on my account. Now when I click on this link, all I get is a blank page. This also occurs on my cell phone as well. I have tried everything: using different search engines other than my default Chrome, using a previous email to see if that link will work, typing in the actual website address, going through the main Target website and clicking on manage my red card, allowing pop ups on the site, etc. A call to Target resulted in their saying everything is ok at their end. I have Windows 10 and Microsoft Professional Outlook for my email. I am using McAfee Total Protection and have for years but am wondering if my problem lies within this. Coincidentally, a friend in Houston is having the same issue. Any suggestions? Thank you for your help.

 – Sue W.
Destin, Florida

A:  Gee, Sue, you sure haven’t left me with much to work with.  I’m not saying that you didn’t supply enough information in your question, because you did a great job.  But you have exhausted just about all of the suggestions that I would normally give to you to try and figure out the problem.  You’ve even contacted the site owner to make sure they’re aware of the issue.  So, I will admit, I don’t have a direct, absolute answer for you.  Nevertheless, let’s break this down, in hopes that we can shake something loose.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s ignore the particular website you mentioned.  I don’t believe the issue is specific to that one web site.  If the site itself was the problem, you wouldn’t be the only customer calling them to complain.  Besides, one of the first things that I did after reading your question was to try the site myself.  I successfully accessed it using two different PC-based browsers, and on my smart phone, and on a tablet.  I even attempted the access using two different Internet Service Providers (ISP) and I had no problems.

I think people who regularly and successfully use websites begin to take for granted that they will always be available and will always work the way they expect.  Truth is, most sites have up-time ratios well above 90%, but far more steps go into accessing a website than simply putting a URL into a browser, or clicking a link on a page.  Behind the scenes there are dozens of points along the way that data must pass through, and any one of these being down can cause a failure.  We don’t usually think about it because it doesn’t usually happen.  It’s also important to understand that a web page is not monolithic, that is, it’s not one single large component.  What we call “a page” can be made up of HTML code from one server, CSS from another server, JavaScript code from a different server, and images and videos from yet another source.  And there’s other content, such as fonts, frames, ad windows etc.  Some of these items depend on other items, so if one fails to load, it might cause a cascade of problems, and you might or might not see an error message, because the browser might or might not consider it to be a problem. 

I too experience occasional issues accessing websites.  But yours seems to be persistent and confined to this one site.  From what you said about accessing search engines and the main website of this company (and presumably other sites), it sounds like overall, your web surfing ability is working.  You might try flushing your browser’s cache and clearing your cookies to be sure something’s not stuck, but since you say the issue is happening on multiple devices that probably isn’t the problem.  There are some network tools like Ping and TraceRt (Trace Route) that will tell you if a site is accessible and if not, where along the line a problem might be occurring.  But in general, if your browser is working for most sites you try to access, but one particular site is not working, there is very little you can do to force a fix.

2 Responses to “Issue #747: November 14-20, 2021”

  • says:

    I have found that if you are using a VPN, some websites will not allow access to some parts, especially if you are attempting to use a credit card. It sees you are physically not where you’re supposed to be.

    • The Geek says:

      Excellent point – thanks for sharing. I suppose the reason for that is using a VPN is a common method of going anonymous online (arguably the ONLY method). It masks your IP address, and (depending on the VPN provider, and account configuration) might not properly pass information that a site requires before allowing access to the “some parts” that you mentioned.

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