back to article Symantec, McAfee cough up $750,000 on auto-renewals

Symantec and McAfee have agreed to pay $375,000 apiece to settle charges they charged fees against customer credit cards without authorization. Under a settlement announced Wednesday by New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo, the antivirus software makers also agreed to more clearly disclose any automatic renewal fees and …


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  1. David Wilkinson

    Good solution.

    Anything that auto renews ... you should get a prior warning and the ability to cancel within 30 days of receiving your credit card statement.

    Any company that won't agree to that is trying to exploit their customers. If the are selling a good product or service ... they don't need to trick their customers into paying for it.

    I'd go so far as to say the same for month to month services when they increase the price. The customer should have 60 days to cancel service and get a refund for the price increase.

    Actually I'd love it if it would be illegal to just recharge someone's credit card without their direct approval. If they wanted to get around that they'd have to have it processed as a special transaction type ... and your credit card statements would include lists of these recurring payments ... both the amount and the next time you will be billed.

    You can contact the credit card company to cancel a deauthorize a recurring payment.

    As an added bonus .. force companies to accept deauthorization as a valid method for ending an account. No more waiting on old to end a service!

  2. Owen Milton

    @David Wilkinson

    The only drawback to your suggestions is that I don't see any profit to the credit card companies to implement them. In fact just the opposite, I've had a credit card company come after me for an automatic charge I wasn't aware of that happened to a card number that had been closed for a year.

    The only way to make the kind of changes you are talking about is with serious legal changes, and who is a politician going to listen more to, the average consumer who is periodically annoyed but has an attention span of "Oooh! Shiny!" or the credit card company reps who freely offer a few hundred thousand to their reelection campaign fund?

    I am glad the AV companies got a slap on this one though, I've known too many largely computer illiterate relatives who got random bills for this kind of thing.

  3. SynnerCal
    Thumb Down

    Naughty folks

    I'm glad to see that someone is taking this on. I've personal experience of this when I used my license to extend my wife's copy of McAfee. Despite the 'my account' page on saying that my renewal was due in July, I got hit for a full price renewal in March (because my wife's original installation was due to run out then).

    This was a surprise because there was no 'we're going to charge your card' message, no invoice, nothing from McAfee. Heck, I thought originally that it was a fraudulent charge and intended to report it as such. Luckily McAfee support were not only able to quickly tell me what'd happen, but also put it right. And yes, I did point out that I was less than impressed with the lack of feedback.

    I've got little issue with the idea of auto-renewals - but if companies are going to use them then they _must_ make sure that the card holder is aware _ahead of time_ that this is what's going to happen!

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    To be fair to McAfee

    They were very prompt about refunding me and cancelling the account when the reminder for a now unnecessary renewal came through.

  5. Dapprman
    Thumb Up

    Finally !!!

    Now this is one (just one) of the reasons I ditched McAfee.

    Finding and auto-renewal had taken place was a very bad thing.

    Finding it had happened with over 2 months to go was even worse.

    Finding the only way you knew about it was almost the straw.

    Finding you could only disable this through a support call (you do not have the option) was taking the absolute piss.

  6. Dave Murray

    Always amazes me...

    why anyone would pay for crap like McAffee. There is no need to pay for bad av applications and bloated security packages when better free alternatives exist.

    Avast and AVG are both very good av and are free for home use. I've been using Avast for years, never had a virus in that time, rarely had a false positive and never had it delete valid Windows components or screw my system in the ways these bought av packages regularly do.

  7. Sooty

    @dave murry

    "Avast and AVG are both very good av and are free for home use. I've been using Avast for years, never had a virus in that time"

    I've also never been attacked by a tiger while carrying my tiger repelling rock, good isn't it! :)

    Although i agree they are both good , a lot better than Mcafee anyway, not getting a virus while using them isn't a very good indication of their quality, getting a virus ridden file and them catching it and cleaning it would be though.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    There is one good way....

    to avoid such things. Use a PRE PAY credit card ,then by time renewal is due then the Card is defunct and they cannot take the renewal unless you insert new card number. Alos much more secure as cannot lose shirt to hackers.

  9. Paul Corbett 2

    Auto Renewal - Bah

    My favourite method is to use one of my cards with a short expiry date !

  10. Chris 72 Silver badge


    I suspect what Dave meant by "never had a virus in that time" is that he's never been infected by a virus, not that Avast has never detected a virus... Like him, I've been an Avast user for many years, and whilst I've seen it warning me about plenty of virus-laden emails and files obtained from, let's just say, slightly less than 100% kosher sources, I've been given no reason to suspect that my PC may have been infected by something Avast missed.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    And another thing about renewals!

    Why is it more expensive to renew my AV product (in this case Symantec/Norton Internet Security) online than it is to walk into my local PC World and get it for half price? So much for customer loyalty - loyal customers get shafted whilst the vendor puts out expensive packaging and CD/DVD to attract new customers. The renewal has much less of an overhead and all the money goes to the vendor, whereas they must share some profit with the retailer!

  12. Chris 72 Silver badge

    @AC 13:39

    Paying double the price to renew might be worth it if it means avoiding a trip to PC World... Seriously though, it is an annoying practice, but not one restricted to purveyors of AV software - attractive deals for new users are commonplace in the world of mobile phones, internet access, satellite/cable TV etc... The only real difference here is that, unless Norton/McAfee etc have conjured up some particularly devious activation schemes, they don't prevent you from taking advantage of these "new user" deals every time your existing sub expires.

  13. James O'Brien
    Thumb Down

    Someone tell me

    Why do I have to keep typing in my handle each time I goto post a comment please?

    @Dave Murray

    And I havent had a virus in over 2 years running Vista without a firewall or AV package whats your point? Its called common sense

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