back to article Norton dodges UK courts after telling Brit watchdog it will be nicer to consumers

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has inked a deal with Norton where it will refund customers whose antivirus software subscription was automatically renewed. Today's agreement comes after the regulator launched legal action against Norton in March – a first for a consumer protection case – when the company …

  1. Victor Ludorum

    Eh?

    We continually strive to put our customers first and remain confident that our practices are fair

    I'm surprised they managed to say that with a straight face.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Eh?

      Any company droid employed to make such public statements should first be wired up to a Bullshit meter. Any indication of a needle quivering should then result in several cattle prods worth of, um, excitement!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh?

        default start-up value of the abovementioned bullshittermeter should be at "100%", and then, the scales go up into infinity, while anything below should be marked in red as in "1ST EVER!!!"

    2. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Eh?

      I'm in favour of consumer devices being sold with pre-installed antimalware protection that just needs activation, plus autorenewals of subscriptions. We don't want home PCs to be easily compromised and end up in botnets, do we?

      - If a vendor feels an annual subscription of, say, £50 is a reasonable return for their R&D + costs, and it's competitive, good luck to them.

      - If a vendor is willing to give introductory offers to savvy consumers, even better. They've never tried to stop me re-using that trick each year. No "discounts only available to new subscribers" BS that insurance/mobile phone companies/ISPs use.

      Subscription renewals have to be clearly communicated, and can't set a new minimum term contract. But antivirus companies are far from the worst offenders over subscription renewals.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Eh?

        Windows Defender is a perfectly decent anti-virus solution, better than Norton or McAfee anyway.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Eh?

          Linux foar hte wins!

        2. CuChulainn

          Re: Eh?

          For many, many years I used AVG Free and it was fine. I can't remember what happened, now, to make me look elsewhere (AVG did something that pi**ed me off, I think).

          I switched to BitDefender as a deliberate and considered choice. I am completely happy with it, though that's just my opinion and I'm sure others might disagree. That's fine.

          But one thing I learned after the first year was absolutely do not sign up for auto-renewal with them.

          Cancelling auto renew is very easy. But it is the price they charge when it comes - it's over double what you can buy a licence for at any given time. Right now, a 5-device, 12 month licence - just a registration code - is £19.99 (sometimes it's cheaper still), but the auto-renewal cost would likely be between £40 and £60 (the price of a non-discounted retail boxed disk package).

          Any new licence period gets added to what you have left, so it is better just to order a new code when the the renewal warning comes through.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Eh?

            "For many, many years I used AVG Free and it was fine. I can't remember what happened"

            AVG was bought out by Avast, that's what happened,

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        "Subscription renewals have to be clearly communicated, and can't set a new minimum term contract. But antivirus companies are far from the worst offenders over subscription renewals."

        Agreed

        But this, from the article, "More generally, signing up for such contracts has tended to be considerably easier than getting out of them." is surely the poster-boy for unfair contracts. Clearly one side has far more power than the other, the very definition of an unfair contract. US companies in particular have been pulling stunts like this for years in jurisdictions where, unlike back home, contracts are required to have balance. They don't often fully enforce them because they don't want them tested in court, instead relying on individuals who feel powerless to simply give up without a fight.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: tended to be considerably easier than getting out of them

          May I present 'Amazon Prime' as an excellent example of that?

          Hard to avoid signing up and a dog's breakfast to get out of. Almost as if Bezos himself is offended that someone would not want to keep paying him $$$/££££ etc each and every month.

          If posting this makes it harder for me to accidentally join Prime then brilliant.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    regulator launched legal action against Norton in March

    this has only taken about... what, 20 years to resolve, way to go!

  3. IGotOut Silver badge

    So...

    .. they get to keep the money and only refund remaining months.

    Wow, that showed them.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Accused: "Yeah, fair cop, it's me that robbed those houses'

      Judge: "No worries. You've returned everything now. Don't be a naughty boy again. Toodle-pip"

  4. Miss Config
    WTF?

    Hot Deals With Your New Laptop.

    Are there STILL ads for laptops that get tagged :

    "For £50 You Also Get Norton Anti-virus" or somesuch ?

    And is it the sods who say "Yes" who end up with automatically renewed subscriptions ?

    When I see those ads my mental response is :

    "So how much do you charge NOT to have Norton added ?"

    1. Mike Lewis

      Re: Hot Deals With Your New Laptop.

      When I was doing volunteer work at the local community computer centre, there was a steady stream of people who had saved up what little money they had to buy an HP laptop then were quite upset that it was running so slowly. I replaced the pre-installed Norton Antivirus with the free version of Avira and they went away quite happy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hot Deals With Your New Laptop.

        When getting new laptops for some local charities, one of the first things I did in setting them up (after "upgrading" from Windows 10S) was to remove the pre-installed AV. A PITA but the native Defender works well and doesn't get in the way of actually using the laptop. I spend a bit of time training the users on good email practices (don't open documents you weren't expecting or are not confident are genuine, don't click on links, delete suspicious emails, ignore all marketing, etc). Backups are air-gapped and rotated.

        Not 100% but cutting the intrusions of extraneous software cuts frustration with the PC and lowers the chance of a click in frustration!

    2. CuChulainn

      Re: Hot Deals With Your New Laptop.

      When I worked in tech support, nearly all the computers sold by our high street retail arm (PC W**ld) had Norton on them.

      It was much, much worse when someone had actually triggered it and tried to use all its 'features'. At the time, Norton had this insidious mechanism which took over the boot process and it frequently went wrong, effectively bricking the machine as far as the user was concerned if it happened. I took quite a few such calls. Even if they'd only installed the basics, it slowed the machine down vastly.

      To make matters worse, you couldn't just 'uninstall it' if it was in deep - you had to use various uninstall utilities provided by Norton to get it off, often run from boot disks (as I remember). Having to get people who weren't computer literate to download utilities and create boot disks over the phone was the bane of my life. And even then, the recovered machine wasn't completely normal in many cases.

      At the time, if anyone phoned in and asked about Norton, I told them to uninstall it before activating it and download AVG Free instead.

  5. druck Silver badge

    NortonLifeLock

    The name of the produce gives a clear indication of how difficult it will be get out of a subscription, it could only have been more honest if they had named it:-

    Until you die, and then some...

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Until you die, and then some...

      ROFL.

      In some parts of the USA, dying does not get you out of subscriptions/contracts.

      USA... The land of the Free being strangled by an avalanche of stupid and inane laws.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the USA...

    I had been getting Norton licenses from Amazon for several years, and an expired credit card was on my Norton account last year when they autorenewed...by ACHing an old checking account I had never provided them. The old checking account was empty and the bank paid Norton and charged me an overdraft fee. Norton's phone agent stated that I had agreed to allow Norton to identify and use other accounts to satisfy the renewal when I asked how Norton was able to use a checking account I had never provided them. The agent did agree on that first call to refund my money and cancel the renewal though. The money did show back up in the bank, and the bank agreed to refund my overdraft fees after that. There will not be any more Norton products in my house again!

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Norton was able to use a checking account I had never provided them

      There will not be any more Norton products in my house again!

      +1 having read your post. That is disgraceful.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Back in the USA...

      "by ACHing an old checking account I had never provided them."

      Wait...what? I hope there are some incredibly tough safeguards at your bank to ensure they aren't grabbing money from other peoples accounts who happen to share a name and/or other details. I'm pretty sure that can't happen in the UK without a court order, and even then, it wouldn't be the likes of Norton raiding your other accounts. It'd more likely be a court appointed bailiff knocking on your door. Except I doubt any court would go that far for an unpaid auto-renewed subscription.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Wait...what?

        Not sure if I've related this story before, but...

        A client of mine wanted hosting space and a domain. He bought it on his credit card and I administered the domain and website. Come renewal I had all the details and offered to renew it for him. "Yes, go ahead". He said, so I did it on my Credit Card. Another year elapses, another reminder. "No, don't bother renewing", he said. Got lots of threats from the hosting company about losing features if not renewed, etc. etc.

        Thought no more about it.

        Got my credit card bill and it was there. The B*stards had charged me. Contacted the bank first to start the bounce process, then contacted them. No, no if we have a credit card on file we assume you want to continue. You have to explicitly cancel. B-b-but. No buts, read our T's&C's.

        Funny thing was, the bank rang me up and asked me the status of my request for revocation. I told them that I was at fault, silly error on my part. The bank replied, ok, up to you, but we will leave it open, in case you find a way to claim.

        It was that, somewhat intriguing response from the bank that made me read the T's&C's which the hosting company was hiding behind.

        The nugget I found was a condition which said (something like) "we will continue to renew your subscription using the original credit card that you used to originally order the service". That's it!

        Wrote to the bank with all the necessary paperwork, explaining: They are in breach of their own T's&C's because they were taking money from a credit card other than the one used when placing the original order.

        Transaction was revoked. Immediately.

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: that can't happen in the UK without a court order

        It's a garnishee order.

        IANAL.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Norton VPN ad fraud

    Norton's VPN app for Android is being "advertised" through scareware popunder ads to trick novice users into installing and handing over credit card details.

    I notified Norton of the fraudulent ads back in February but haven't heard anything back even though I was given a case number.

    Scammers gonna scam

  8. Tree
    Pirate

    Spamware

    I got a firewall on purpose to keep Norton and Avast from spamming me . Some newly bought computers have a trial version that wants to connect to a spam generating server in Croatia or Nigeria or somewhere. McAfee is even more annoying. Put the firewall on before activating the computer, because Microsoft and Google are also bound to help fill up your bandwidth with useless rubbish or worse.

    What is worse? Your box turns into a bot for viruses or sends out smut. I use a crapware cleaner on a new computer, too. Make sure that this cCleaner never connects to the internet, by blocking outbound connections otherwise it turns into a bot.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Additionally, the refund process has been simplified

    You just now have to follow the 29 required steps, provide the complete list of your ascendants over 43 generations, a blood sample, a fragment of a Moon rock and a propeller from Amelia Earhart's aeroplane.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Coming soon

      They'll add a requirement to prove that you have completed a round trip to Mars with photographic evidence. Going to the Moon is not enough.

  11. Ganton Scum

    Your computer is under attack? We have found tracking cookies! What would you like to do? Uninstall this bloated shit!!

  12. Russell Chapman Esq.

    Norton auto-renewed my contract in March

    Not something I wanted at all. I contacted them the same day and got a full refund. Windows Defender with the free version of Malwarebytes is a pretty good combination.

    Had Norton on this laptop since I bought it in 2013, with an I7 cpu and upraded to 16GB Ram and a 2TB EVO 860 SSD, converted the optical drive to HDD, runs perfectly for what I need. Removing Norton definitely improves performance.

    1. markr555
      Joke

      Re: Norton auto-renewed my contract in March

      "Had Norton on this laptop since I bought it in 2013, with an I7 cpu and upraded to 16GB Ram and a 2TB EVO 860 SSD, converted the optical drive to HDD, runs perfectly for what I need"

      That's the IT equivalent of putting your cock size at the end of a PM

      1. Russell Chapman Esq.

        Re: Norton auto-renewed my contract in March

        Shouldn't that be Coq? According to another El Reg article.

        The point I wanted to make is that after getting rid of Norton Lifelock, things noticably perked up. Shaved a few seconds off boot time and programs load more quickly. But not only that, I've managed to keep a 9, nearly 10 year old laptop running quite nicely, no need to throw away when you can upgrade. I was nervous about relying on Windows Defender for security but read up on it and with the addition of the freebie Malwarebytes, I feel reasonably protected.

        I only updated to Win 10 from Win 8.1 this year, had been using Windows Classic shell to get the start menu, I was put off by all the telemetry but found solutions to mitigate a lot of that so did the upgrade and Windows Classic Shell is great on Win 10.

        I don't work in any IT related field but I like to be aware of what is happening in the tech world as it effects our lives so much.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: I don't work in any IT related field

          Welcome!

          You've heard of Strowger?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almon_Brown_Strowger

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