Feeds

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

'Hide the ball' suspended

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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 provide a transparent and automated way for customers to opt out of them.

The agreement by the world's two biggest antivirus providers caps an investigation by New York's top law enforcer that found they failed to adequately disclose to consumers that they would be automatically charged to renew software subscriptions once they expired. A press release issued by Cuomo's office described the practice as "hide the ball."

"Customers 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," the release went on to say.

Automatic renewals are generally a good thing, since they ensure there are no gaps during which updates to virus definitions aren't available. But they're also good for the companies' bottom lines because fees are automatically charged months after a purchase was originally made. And it's all the better if the customer has a hard time opting out of the renewal, as Cuomo's office alleged.

Cuomo's office claimed the companies charged renewal fees to customers "without their knowledge or consent." This seems to be an exaggeration. Elsewhere in the release, it says notice of the fees was "hidden at the bottom of long webpages or in the fine print of license agreements."

In any event, both companies will notify customers before and after the renewal deadline and will provide refunds for those who request them within 60 days of being charged. The companies will also be clearer about the length of time they will continue to provide support and updates for their software. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.