Feeds

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

'Hide the ball' suspended

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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they're also good for the companies' bottom lines because fees are automatically charged months after a purchase was originally made.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

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.