Security firms "renewed subs without permission"

10 Jun 2009

Firms forced to pay $350,000 for automatically renewing customers' software subscriptions

Security firms Symantec and McAfee have both agreed to pay $375,000 to US authorities after they automatically renewed consumers' subscriptions without their consent.

The firms have agreed to settle the case with the New York Attorney General, who says the companies must be more up front about subscription renewals in the future.

"Companies cannot play hide the ball when it comes to the fees consumers are being charged," Attorney General Andrew M Cuomo claims.

"Consumers 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.

"Symantec and McAfee - two of the nation's largest vendors of computer security software - will now have to be clear and up-front with their customers when it comes to renewal fees. In other words, no more hide the ball with renewal fees."

The Attorney General's office began an investigation into the two companies after receiving complaints that customers were being charged for renewal subscriptions without their consent.

The investigators found that "information about automatic renewal charges was not clearly disclosed, but was instead hidden at the bottom of long web pages or in the fine print of license agreements".

The companies have now agreed to provide electronic notification both before and after the renewal of subscriptions. Customers will also be allowed to apply for refunds for up to 60 days after being charged.

It's not immediately clear if the companies will be governed by the same rules in the UK.

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