Feeds

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

'Hide the ball' suspended

Boost IT visibility and business value

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they're also good for the companies' bottom lines because fees are automatically charged months after a purchase was originally made.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. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?