ComputerWorld Uses RESCUECOM Comment on Antivirus Subscriptions

RESCUECOM Speaks on Antivirus Subscriptions

November 21, 2006
Computerworld:


Antivirus software now a subscription situation

Annual charges now a usual thing, but unsubscribing's a bear

-- It took Michael Kelly just minutes to buy McAfee Inc.'s software. But getting the antivirus vendor to stop charging his credit card was another matter altogether.

McAfee is on the vanguard of a new trend in the security software industry: selling software as a service that is automatically billed each year. McAfee began automatically renewing customers in 2001, but over the past year the practice has become much more common, as Symantec Corp. and Microsoft Corp., with its new Windows Live OneCare products, have adopted the automatic renewals.

The vendors say that these programs are good for consumers. As many as two-thirds of antivirus users postpone their subscription renewal, leaving PCs unprotected from the latest attacks, they say. But as Kelly discovered after spending more than half an hour trying to drop his McAfee antivirus subscription, the automatic renewals have a downside too.

"The best practice has turned into the one that's best for the company and not for the customer," said Kelly, who blogged about his problems in early October. Kelly is chief executive officer of Techtel Corp., a market research firm in Emeryville, Calif.

Complaints like Kelly's may start piling up as more PC users become enrolled in automatic update programs. In early November 2005, Symantec Corp. began enrolling North American customers in automatic renewal by default, and it has now expanded the practice into Europe. By next year the program, called Ongoing Protection, will be worldwide, said Javed Hasan, senior director of product marketing with Symantec.

The vendors have taken steps to prevent their customers from being surprised by automatic renewals. Like Microsoft and McAfee, Symantec's sign-up forms make it clear that online customers are entering an automatic renewal program, and the vendors send a notification e-mail to customers before they place the new charges on their credit cards.

So far "the large majority of customers" are allowing Symantec to auto-renew their subscriptions, Hasan said. "We are very happy with the results that we're seeing now."

While automatic renewals can be convenient, they will make software license management more complicated for small businesses that are not cutting volume license deals, said Josh Kaplan, national marketing director for Rescuecom Corp., a computer services company in Syracuse, N.Y.

Companies will need to keep tabs on subscriptions to make sure that they are not charged subscription fees for PCs that are no longer in use, and the automatic renewals will inject some complexity into any efforts to switch security software vendors, he said.

Kaplan says that many of his customers have been caught unprepared for the switch to automatic renewals, although this is not necessarily a bad thing. "I have had customers who tell me that their antivirus is expired, and who are actually renewed," he said. "I haven't had any angry customers yet regarding that, but I've had quite a few surprised ones."

Google Reviews

curtis hickey
curtis hickey
in the last week
GOD BLESS ROY for spending time on working on a old computer that needed to be cleaned up and update
...GOD BLESS ROY for spending time on working on a old computer that needed to be cleaned up and updated so that it work correctly again. I highly recommend him and rescuecom to others. less
Nicole Coleman
Nicole Coleman
in the last week
Anthony was very helpful and easy to talk to. Worth the price.
...Anthony was very helpful and easy to talk to. Worth the price. less
Christeena Winter
Christeena Winter
in the last week
I have been satisfied with my experience with your company. Technicians have been friendly and help
...I have been satisfied with my experience with your company. Technicians have been friendly and helpful with my problems. I feel my computer has been protected. less
Frank Ramirez
Frank Ramirez
a week ago
I would like to thank my computer tech Anthony for addressing and fixing my issue. As he troublesh
...I would like to thank my computer tech Anthony for addressing and fixing my issue. As he troubleshooted and resolved my computer issue he was friendly and knowledgeable which in this day and age is comforting. having rescuecom is having peace of mind and for that I am thankful for the service. less
View all Google reviews

Featured in:


Feature Inthe New York TimesFOX NEWSUSA TodayComputer WorldCNNForbes