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Symantec and McAfee who charged consumers for antivirus and security protection software without their permission have been hit with $930,000 fine.

Instead of highlighting the fact that they intended to charge renewal fees the two Companies hid the fact in the body text of a terms and conditions document said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

In Australia both the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the NSW Office of Fair Trading have said that that they will look at the issue and the implications for Australian consumers.  

In the New York case it was also revealed that the two Companies made it difficult for consumers to opt out of their contracts by not providing a service for consumers to call or an email opt out service.

The fine handed down in New York, comes as security Companies battle each other for market share.

Each Company was fined $US,375,000 following complaints by consumers that they hadn’t made it clear that customers would be charged to renew their subscriptions every 12 months.

 

 

In a statement, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said:

“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.”

Although automatic renewal has become the industry norm, the investigation in this case found information on renewal fees hidden in the agreement, and both companies made an opt-out or refund request difficult.

A Symantec Australia spoksperson said  “Symantec automatically renews subscriptions in Australia. Customers receive an auto-renewal notification email one month prior to the current subscription expiring and those customers who do not want to participate in  auto-renew can then either complete an online form, opt out from within their Norton account, or contact Customer Service.

While laws and regulations may vary with each country, Symantec is rolling out globally the same changes we made in the US to improve the auto-renewal process. Specifically Symantec is making the ability to opt out of the auto-renewal feature more clear, accessible and user friendly for our customers.”

 

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