back to article McAfee offers cash for clunkers

Anti-virus firm McAfee is reimburse people who have spent money getting their computers fixed after they were damaged by last week's security update. An update of active viruses issued by McAfee last week falsely labelled part of the Windows operating system as a virus. This sent computers into a continuous reboot cycle and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Just the ticket

    The last thing people will want is two more years of McAfee after they have screwed you over!

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Let me be the first to point out

    "An update of active viruses issued by McAfee last week falsely labelled part of the Windows operating system as a virus."

    Easy mistake to make

    1. MadonnaC


      Viruses are updated regularly, respond to threats against them and are well supported by the people who write them. Sorry, Windows doesn't fall into that descrition

    2. Jimbo 6
      Gates Horns

      Falsely ?

      Viruses make your PC do things you don’t want it to - causing huge amounts of wasted time and frustration - or provide gaping security holes for malefactors to steal your personal data.

      Shurely *no* mishtake then ?

  3. multipharious

    Bit late...

    ...but a good response. I gave them a pretty good drubbing over their last response. Hats off to David Dewalt for the mea culpa (albeit late.)

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Dazed and Confused

    "McAfee also promised a two-year extension to subscribers whose PCs were knackered by the update"

    What - we caused you pain, here, have 2 years of additional pain free of charge ?

    I'm using Microsoft's free offering, it is lean, works fine, is free...

  5. CareTaker

    I had to fix about 100 of these

    Does that mean my company can claim back my wages as expenses to rectify the problem?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CareTaker

      Doubt it, by "reasonable expenses" they probably mean the amount you spent on coffee during the 10 hours overtime you had to do when they bricked all your machines.

  6. Gary F

    ha ha ha ha bonk!

    Serves people right for using McAfee, although I do feel sorry for them considering it's bundled as a trial with many new computers and Currys and PC World pester customers into buying it.

    I've always maintained this and Norton is bloatware but now it's incompetent bloatware. The free products are the best. I heartily recommend AVG Free Edition or the new Microsoft Security Essentials.

    1. Blitterbug

      Bloatware indeed

      As an independent contractor, I recommend all my clients remove this rubbish immediately before we undertake work on their system(s). Norton, too. In my experience, over 90% of serious computer slowdowns are cured in this manner with *no* further major intervention required.

      It's apparent to anyone with a background in software engineering how fundamentally broken these packages are and it disgusts me that the major PC and laptop manufacturers have such a cosy cartel going with the 'big two' AV vendors. Most of our clients simply don't believe their problems are mostly caused by their own (paid for) system protection. They often say, 'but this software is advertised on TV - why would PC World promote something that's bad for my computer?'


      1. C Yates
        Thumb Up

        RE: Bloatware indeed

        Well said! I agree 100%

        I keep getting brought no end of home machines with viruses on that: "couldn't possibly have a virus because it's got McAffee/Norton". The average person doesn't seem to get that an AV is only as good as its last update, and even then that's only if they've identified the virus properly. Paranoia is big business!

        Maybe I'm old fashioned, but it does seem as though they put more effort into their (process hogging) GUI than the actual meat of the software itself.

  7. Doug Glass

    Oh Yeah!

    As usual, the reimbursement is for money paid to others to get your computer repaired. What if your "expense" was your time only? And a lot of it most likely. Once again, a corporation refuses to recognize an individual's time as having any worth. "Here you go boy, here's $12.94 for the ten solid hours you spent rebuilding everything. Oh you had plans with your family ... well, they'll understand now won't they."

    People who continue to use the POS program get exactly what they deserve.

    1. ThaRobster
      Thumb Up


      Bill yourself for your time, write a nice looking receipt, argue with yourself a while, maybe haggle the overall price down, agree to absorb the VAT yourself, reach an agreement, stick said receipt to the fridge, delay paying it for a few days, call yourself up to see what happened about paying you, apologise and blame your bank and swear it'll be there in the next few days, put a cheque in the mail, but with instructions not to cash it till friday, receive the cheque in the mail on thursday and take straight to the bank, avoid the cashiers eye as she explains to you that you don't have the funds in your account to pay the funds in to your account that you're trying to so the payment has bounced, call yourself from outside the bank and have a shouting match about there not being enough money, complain you told yourself that already and now you'll get charged for the bank bouncing your cheque, explain you have to be paid today as you have a wife and kids to feed, call yourself a liar, ask how you know, say "I live in the same house as you", hang up, call police to report a suspected stalker / squatter, get arrested for wasting police time, pay your own bail and call it quits.

      Then submit the receipt to McAfee with a note saying "You have no idea the trouble this has caused me...."

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "Oh you had plans with your family ... well, they'll understand now won't they."

      If you put your PC above your family then thats your own fault.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      What does Point of Sale have to do with Mcafee Antivirus?

      1. John Parker


        POS == Piece Of S**t, not Point Of Sale :)

  8. JeffyPooh

    "The free products are the best."

    @Gary F - Hell yes. Amen. Absolutely correct.

    I suffered for several years after Norton went to hell in a handbasket starting in the mid-naughties (~2004-ish?). The worst rubbish EVER. My PCs basically sprung to life after I finally and painfully removed NIS-07 from them. Instant and massive improvement in reliability and useability. I now use AVG Free and (more recently) MS Security Essentials. By any reasonable measure, Symantec owes me many thousand of dollars damages for pain and suffering.

    Gary F is correct. Find a light-weight AV solution that is free. They're actually better.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Home users only!??

    Nice try. For the most part, home users were unaffected by this McAfee SNAFU. This 'announcement' looks more like smoke & mirrors than anything substantial.

    I have no doubts the product EULA for home users & corporate users is very similar (if not identical) in it verbiage about limits of responsibility for McAfee (ie: if the product breaks your computer, we are not responsible).

    Legal question.... If by making this offer on to home consumer users, does McAfee effectively negate this legal clause in corporate users EULA?

    And if so, who is going to be the first to take them to court? There has got to be a legal firm which will take this on pro bono.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Home users unaffected???

      Plenty of my customers (all home users) were affected. I will be recommending that they all contact McAfee and ask them to reimburse my £50 on-site charge for putting my customers' PCs right.

      Most of these people were novice users in a one-PC home. Not much chance to correct it without help. In this case my charge was a reasonable expense, and a direct result of McAfee's mistake.

  10. Andus McCoatover

    Bit amazing!

    A company that 'fesses up, then offers wedge for the inconvenience?

    Well, in spite of the detractors, is this a first?

    McCafee's gone up in my esteem. Honourable, which for a company on the other side of the Pond (I'm on the East bit), must be worthy of a mention in the BOFH's latest maulings.

    Nice, Folks. Nice. 10/10. Gets a vote from me.

  11. Tom Paine

    Deja vu

    The irony is that McAfee made exactly the same blunder (FP'ing on a Windows DLL) in the early 2000s; as a result they set up... a QA Dept for DAT releases, including extensive false positive tests.

  12. Stevie


    Oh good, I just signed for three computers pre-loaded with this Mission Impossible self-destruct AV software.

    You'd think there would be a template library of stuff marked "never delete stuff that goes like this..." that they'd run as some sort of regression test.

    It does sort of underline the rather disturbing deduction that clearly either McAfee doesn't run windows or doesn't use its own product in its own enterprise.

  13. Ralph B

    Risk Benefit Analysis Needed

    Are the risks of getting a computer virus really worse than the risks of running McAfee software?

    Can somebody clever do the maths?

  14. richard 7


    After the third C this morning to be missing SVCHOST.EXE this morning I was starting to smell a rat. Thank you for joining the dots El-reg, I'll be ointing all my customers back to McAffe, installing something else and double charging on the understanding they'll get it back.

  15. NemoWho

    Offers CASH ?

    Please, Mr. McAfee-

    Just send AVG/Avira/NOD32 discs out in the mail instead, at least show some respect to the final skull&%@# of your customers. We know you're not good for the cash anyway.

    Last time we could rely on your shit, it came on a 5.25" floppy. Good job on the Michaelangelo battle, and total downhill after that. Turds.

    Nothing to see here, we're done.

  16. I Like Heckling Silver badge

    AVG no better these days

    I too would have recommended AVG in the past... in fact I have installed the free edition on dozens on systems for friends and family.

    But the latest incarnation is nothing more than bloatware too... I upgraded from 8 to 9 and it was uninstalled within 48hrs. in excess of 12 background processes running constantly, not to mention the fact it disables parts of windows and supplants itself in it's place without permission.

    So I no longer recommend AVG to anyone at all, but I do recommend Microsoft security essentials... and I can't believe I'm promoting an MS product... but as far as free AV software goes, this is tough to beat. I am now upgrading everyone I can as 99% of them are getting sick and tired of the nearly full screen ADs from AVG trying to get them to pay for an upgrade... another reason to ditch it.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      There's always Avast

      I dumped AVG two years ago after too many false positives. One near enough choked my RISC OS emulator when it thought an ARM code executable was a "generic trojan". Yeah, right...

      I switched to Avast. It has, so far, warned of four compromised sites, trapped two infected USB keys (bloody terminal at work!) and my own occasional auditing shows the system to be clean. Oh, and there are no pop up adverts. Just a message when the virus database is updated. Otherwise it just sits there on the systray with its 'a' spinning every so often, quietly doing what it does and only involving me if there's an actual problem. That's kinda how it should be.

    2. Citizen Kaned

      custom install?

      did you do a custom install or the usual 'yeah still everything on here please'?

      no software should be let to install fully these days. always check the amount of bollocks it thinks is necessary. i will check the processes in a minute to see if custom can reduce them.

      i must admit its nowhere near as nice as the older versions. 1/2 the time it doesnt update (always does on my home machine). which is odd as i use the same custom install every time i install for someome

  17. Steen
    Thumb Down

    Happens far to often with McAfee

    In all the years its been an AV they have always peppered their updates with random faux pas.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ralph B asked for a 'Risk Benefit Analysis'

    This is an utterly true story: My Dad's PC has some sort of malware installed. It slows down his PC and makes a general nuisance of itself. Several annoyances per hour. After several months, it even started putting pop-up ads on his screen demanding payment. He had to call them and they settled on $60 that he paid by credit card. They gave him a secret code that he had to type in that made the pop-up ads less frequent, for the next year.

    It's McAfee. Seriously. I'd call that "virus-like behaviour".

  19. Colin Critch

    I recomend Avira over AVG

    Avira is very light weight, you can get a 3 pack for a very reasonable price, it integrates with Security Centre, it has it's own firewall and works on 7 with OPSWAT support.

  20. Lee T
    Thumb Up


    It works. It's free. It doesn't screw up your system.

    Not much more I can say, really.

  21. David Lawrence

    Don't they do any testing?

    I dunno - it's just a mad idea but let me float it past you and see what you think.... I've been in the software development biz for nearly 30 years and from experience it pays dividends to do something called testing. The idea is that you TRY your new software out before you put it LIVE.

    Furthermore, the testing you do needs to cover as many things called TEST CASES as possible, and these TEST CASES reflect something called REAL LIFE.

    Maybe it's a bad idea. Maybe it's cheaper just to lose all credibility as a vendor and to compensate thousands of people whose PCs you screw up.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    What about Norton?

    At least, McAfee offer compensation. With Norton, that kind of thing happened regularly when I worked there, not false-positives, but customers having pay Norton to fix Norton because Norton had screwed the computer up.

    You see, it was cheaper for the punters to get a guy in to reinstall windows than to pay Norton 69 euro + hours of telephone with a great chance of not solving the issue. Sadly, customers did not know that. I cannot say how testing was done over at Norton's (they would sue me into bankruptcy).

    The worst is, how do you justify ripping 69 euro of a punter for a bug YOUR software had and which caused havoc on the punters pc? How they get away with it, legally speaking, I dunno!

    Like, Toyota recalls cars, bills customers extortionate rates for replacement of faulty parts ... is that possible? I would not think so ... The software industry is really incredibly laid-back, the legal systems in the world have not caught up with the software industry as it was in 1970, yet, let alone 2010....

    For viri alone, get Solaris, Mac, Linux on that box!

  23. Danny 5
    Thumb Down

    what about me?

    i spent the latter part of last week helping to fix 5000 affected machines for a customer of mine. 2 12 hour+ days and half my weekend gone because our friends couldn't properly test their latest update.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    This was a deliberate

    Yes, just thinking that McAfee screwing up royally like this would be a great way to prevent HP from buying them.

    That said, whenever I've dealt with McAfee they've always been pretty helpful. Can't comment on the software itself, other than it seemed to be better than the Zonelabs one that it replaced, which in turn was a quantum leap over Norton.

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