back to article UK competition watchdog unveils principles to make a kinder antivirus business

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has unveiled compliance principles to curb locally some of the sharper auto-renewal practices of antivirus software firms. The move follows the watchdog baring its teeth at McAfee and Norton over the issue of automatically renewing contracts. The CMA took exception to auto- …

  1. Woodnag Silver badge

    watchdog baring its teeth?

    It's dentures were out. I just saw gums.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Friends sometimes renew Norton at the "discounted" price - when they could get it legitimately much cheaper through Amazon.

    1. Mishak

      In my experience

      The "discounted" price is sometime as much as 4x the cost of a new license.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Coat

      The only 'Norton' I want anywhere near me

      is my Manx 500.

      coat, a genuine 1960's Barbour Jacket with a pair of aviator goggles in the pocket.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Model contracts

    Too many of these contracts are, deliberately, unreadable or obscure. The result is that people agree to things that they do not understand.

    We need a set of model contracts that companies can elect to use. These can be kite-marked or similar. We will then ask why they do not use a model contract.

    They need to be different ? It will only need a few model contracts to cover pizza delivery to anti-virus; each will have a short schedule that details: prices, delivery prices/times, & similar.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Model contracts

      That's a great idea. Even the cowboys in the construction industry use them. One benefit is that there is good case law now for many of the more tricky parts of them with advice for both parties in advance of them committing to anything or going down a litigation route.

    2. Richard Cranium

      Re: Model contracts

      Bring it on! Imagine the same for car and household insurance renewals?

      How that works now is each annual renewal is typically 10% more than last year (but a couple of years ago with a long claim free history my motor insurance jumped 27%).

      So it's time to do a tour of the comparison sites, fill in a lengthy questionnaire at each, wade through dozens of different options, find a cheaper quote, call current insurer. They may offer a small cut but seldom match the best offer because "it's not a like for like equivalent". You read the small print and there are minor detail differences like "no excess for windscreen damage" but the overall excess is £250 instead of £200. Sure it's not like for like but I'm not planning on making a claim anyway and have no idea which choice is the best value for money.

      Go for the cheaper quote. Those who don't will find that after 10 years they're paying £1000 p.a. for what was initially £400 p.a. By then a competitive quote might save £500 but in the intervening years the aggregate saving of a yearly switch would be many £hundreds.

      If there were some model motor insurance contracts I guess annual switchers like me would end up paying more but would benefit from a couple of hours time saved each year. That should be mitigated by the financial savings to the insurers of reduced call centre, sales, advertising and admin costs.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    compliance principles to curb locally some of the sharper auto-renewal practices

    Three phrases that mark it as 'big fail':

    1. 'compliance principles'

    2. curb

    3. some

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: compliance principles to curb locally some of the sharper auto-renewal practices

      I continually see emails notifying me that my McAfee and Norton automatic renewing contracts have been charged to my credit card ... normally only about $1200 each. Every email contains a link to follow from the sender(icon) if I want to cancel the payment - I wonder if the UK competition watchdog is getting these emails too?.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: mcAfee & Norton renewals

        At least it makes a change from 'your Amazon Prime subscription has been renewed'

        As I don't do business with Amazon, they are easy to tell the caller to effoff.

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    Auto renew without consent should be banned

    If websites require affirmative consent to use cookies then I don't see why subscriptions shouldn't require affirmative consent to set auto renew to true. i.e. somebody must explicitly check a box or say yes to auto renew before it can be turned on. And also a bunch of side rules about setting reminders before the auto renew happens to give someone a chance to cancel if they have forgotten.

  6. Omidia

    They're going to have a bird! This is half of their business model.

    Which I define as cheating customers. Sad state of affairs from companies that are supposed to protect our "security".

  7. ExampleOne

    The suggestion from the CMA is to check if software updates are being received rather than simply charging users year after year.

    This seems a remarkably sensible suggestion, given the updates are all hidden behind an authentication wall. Are we sure this is a UK authority paper?

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