Symantec, McAfee fined over renewals

Symantec, McAfee fined over renewals

Both Symantec and McAfee must make it easier for users to cancel their subscriptions without penalties, and warn before any renewal is made.

Two of the biggest names in the world of anti-virus software, Symantec and McAfee, have agreed to pay $375,000 (£228,000) each after admitting to misleading customers.

As reported by, the fines come as a result of a case brought by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo who took umbrage with the companies' practice of automatically renewing subscriptions to software updates and virus definitions.

The pair stood accused of automatically resubscribing both corporate and retail users at the end of their initial term without their informed consent, and of unilaterally changing the terms and conditions of the contract between customer and company. Despite the companies claiming that the fact of the subscription renewing was spelled out in the terms and conditions supplied with the software, Cuomo claimed that this wasn't' made obvious enough.

Cuomo accused both companies of playing “hide the ball when it comes to the fees consumers are being charged,” and said that “consumers have a right to know what they are paying, especially when they are unwittingly agreeing to renewal fees that will not appear on their credit card bill for months.

Speaking of his victory, Cuomo stated that the ruling against McAfee and Symantec will force the companies “to be clear and upfront with customers when it comes to renewal fees,” along with enforcing a no-quibble sixty day refund policy should a subscription be cancelled. Both companies will also be made to send out written warnings both before a subscription renewal takes place, and after – within the 60 day cancellation perioid.

Do you hail this move as an end to the shady practices of auto-renewing subscriptions, or has Cuomo just made it harder for individuals to ensure they are adequately and continuously protected against the ravages of web-borne malware? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
Benihana 12th June 2009, 13:20 Quote
I had a similar problem with BitDefender, when my subscription ran out last year, I got an email from them asking if I wanted to continue, if not I should go to their site and cancel the renewal, which I did but they renewed anyway after numerous phone calls and un-returned emails I just gave up and let it run.

Still, not happy about it :(
Psytek 12th June 2009, 13:39 Quote
If you use one of these awful programs, what do you expect?
Gryphon 12th June 2009, 15:29 Quote
Why use a payed anti-virus anyway? Avast does the job, and it doesn't slow the computer down nearly as much as symantec. don't know about macafee tho - never used it.
Abhorsen 12th June 2009, 17:19 Quote
Free Anti Virus are ok for free, but the majority are just that. Anti Virus only. Alot of the Free ones also cannot compete with some of the paid products when it comes to True Virus detection. ESET for one is consistantly better performing than avg, Avast etc... Though i do believe Avira did well on independant tests recently.
fodder 12th June 2009, 18:09 Quote
Any support discs I used to write at work I labelled Norton, no one ever nicked them then :-)

Symantec AV is terrible, I have macafee installed as it came with my machine. It constantly pops up messages offering me deals to renew, even though I have over 6 months left on this subscription. Winds me up, for that reason alone I won't renew and go back to AVG. Besides, although nowhere near as bad as norton, it still hogs resources.
Aracos 12th June 2009, 20:18 Quote
I've never payed for computer security as I'm a safe user who knows what they're doing/downloading but I don't see why you should pay for security! I've never liked Norton it's always been crap and slow and PC World promote it so it's obviously a piece of trash (valuable lesson everyone should learn :P). Do you really have cancellation periods? That's so gay! I mean who do they think they are? They aren't this huge company with 10 billion customers and 5 million workers o_O
bogie170 13th June 2009, 00:44 Quote
Kaspersky and Eset Nod32 are pretty much the best IMHO.
Elton 13th June 2009, 03:11 Quote
Currently Using Avira and Avast.

With Comodo or ZoneAlarm, you're good to go.

No need to pay that much.
stuartpb 13th June 2009, 06:27 Quote
Originally Posted by storm20200
I've never payed for computer security as I'm a safe user who knows what they're doing/downloading but I don't see why you should pay for security!

Why should you expect free internet security? It isn't a right and it's only due to the goodwill of those who created freeware security apps that you do get any at all. There are some problems with free AV products too, which can make a paid for alternative more viable. For instance, the virus definitions databases on some free AV products aren't updated as often as the paid alternatives. Then there are features that the free AV products don't have, which some people may need or want.

Regards the subscriptions, it seems to be becoming the norm nowadays that companies expect you to opt out of renewal, whereas it used to be that you were asked to confirm that you wanted to renew at the end of the contract. I tried to cancel my contents insurance renewal the other day, as I found a better quote, but was told that I can't cancel the renewal until it's due??!! So I have to wait till the end of the month and then send a letter in. It has also happened with my website hosting packages, my business public liability insurance and quite a few other things too. I think that a letter should be sent out a month before the contract expires, asking whether or not a customer wishes to renew, then if the letter is not returned or the customer wants to cancel, then the renewal doesn't go through. That's how I deal with my clients and I wish the big companies would do it too.

I think that the companies who do automatic renewals are hoping that those clients who wanted to cancel may forget about the renewal, and in turn the companies will get another 12 months worth of cash from them.
r4tch3t 13th June 2009, 15:10 Quote
I have McAfee on both the laptops in this house, it keeps the laptops clean and if they do get a virus it cleans it out (My GF got a virus somehow and it used her MSN, but a scan got rid of it)
I got an e-mail saying my subscription is about to run out and since we got our laptops from Dell I have 2 subscriptions, I am just going to add my laptop and the desktop onto the other one for cheap :)
It is only using 75 meg for it to be running, which is perfectly fine, only slowdowns are due to the automated scans thrashing the HDD.
dicobalt 14th June 2009, 16:45 Quote
With the way that both Symantec and Mcafee totally ignore many viruses and the most common spyware. I imagine that they are in business with the criminals who control the botnets. I also say this because every time I find a virus on any machine it always gives a softball analysis like this:

* Wild Level: Low
* Number of Infections: 0 - 49
* Number of Sites: 0 - 2
* Geographical Distribution: Low
* Threat Containment: Easy
* Removal: Easy

Yet for some reason their antivirus didn't detect it. Symantec and Mcafee are both crooked.
leexgx 14th June 2009, 18:43 Quote
the new norton 2009 engine is far better then there older 2008-2004 products as they was getting blotted with every version
if your using norton 360 2.0 or lower make sure you get the 360 3.0 version now as it now using 2009 tech and its far lighter on the system load and only does things when your away from the pc {10mins default all norton 2009 products}

the new norton keeps use low system resources compared to the last ones that used alot

you do not need to Buy the new version any key that has time left can be used from 2006-2008 on 2009 protuct or 360 1.0 or 2.0 can be used on 3.0

just download the Type of norton product you are useing and install it over it and it auto remove and update to the new version (save the file to desktop)

mcafee is the most bloated only M$ onecare been worst then it for slow downs

if your willing to run an exe,com,mp3 from an unknown source no antivirus can protect you
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