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Anti-Virus Companies Short Changing Users

David Gilbert


Anti-Virus Companies Short Changing Users

It seems as if the very people you trust the security of your computers to, have been sneakily conning you out of months of security time you were entitled to, by offering you discounted deals which you would be ‘crazy’ not to sign up for.

We’ve all got the emails or seen the pop-ups in the corner of the screen reminding us that our computer is at risk of an alien takeover or something and offering us a discounted upgrade but only for a limited time. It appears now that some of the more reputable companies have been renewing your software months prior to the licence running out on the old software but not adding the remaining time onto your new subscription - meaning you miss out on months of security without anyone every telling you.

An investigation by consumer magazine Which? has resulted in Symantec, who produce the popular Norton AntiVirus, admitting: “If customers install and activate the upgrade prior to the expiration of the time remaining on their existing product subscriptions, any time remaining on their existing product will not be added to their upgrade.” And it seems as if Symantec are not the only ones at it.

AVG, another popular protection company, offer discounted deals to its subscribers but don’t seem to mind short-changing them as a result. “As is very common with the software industry, all our products have a specific time frame - one or two years from activation date – and we recommend that our customers renew their products as close to their expiration dates to ensure that they maximize this time.”

Other companies however offer their customers some better value for money when it comes to renewing subscriptions. Panda Security for example said: “When a customer buys an upgrade, the remaining time of services are added to the remaining time on their current contract.” McAfee said it only issued reminder emails to clients approximately 35 days prior to the renewal date and the renewal will only count on automatic renewals from the date of expiration. BitDefender said its procedure for the vast majority of its renewing customers is to extend existing licence keys and automatically add on any outstanding licence key validity, meaning no licence time is lost.

Which? computing editor, Sarah Kidner said: “‘Symantec and AVG are operating a confusing and arguably misleading anti-virus upgrade service. If consumers are given the opportunity to upgrade at a reduced price, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to expect their new licence to run on from the end of the existing licence.”

Source: Which?


December 3, 2010, 4:57 pm

There are free anti-virus products that don't need activation, do not expire and do not unduly slow down your hardware. Try them: Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, etc.


December 3, 2010, 5:03 pm

Stay free then you don't expect "change" short or otherwise!


December 3, 2010, 5:19 pm

Add BitDefender to the list


December 3, 2010, 5:35 pm

Urm, who pays for virus protection nowadays anyway?

David Gilbert

December 3, 2010, 5:44 pm

Obviously free antivirus software nowadays is widespread and pretty effective, there are a lot of people out there who think you need to pay for it because that's what they've been told. When it comes 'free' bundled with your new PC and you then get a email or pop-up telling you "Your computer is at risk", its easy t assume a lot of people will just do what they are told and renew their subscription. Its a case of preying on people who don't know any different I guess

Daniel Gerson

December 3, 2010, 6:42 pm

Was using free AVG... switched to Avast! recently. They seem to have better scores in the comparison and is pretty good, not too invasive... very vocal when then update, thankfully you can turn the "You have been updated" sound off... and is also FREE!


December 3, 2010, 6:44 pm

In the past I have used a fair few Free Anti-Virus product, like AVG/Avira etc.

But the best free one I've found now is Microsoft own Security Essentials.


At av-comparatives it gets the Advanced awards, same as AVG,Panda,Kaspersky etc, But Symantec does get Advanced+, looking at the results GData looks like the best.


December 3, 2010, 7:35 pm

Another way to "short change" people is that renewing an exisiting subscription in most cases costs significantly more than buying a new one as a new subscriber.


December 3, 2010, 7:38 pm

What gets me is that someone at Symantec actually sat down, dreamed up this policy of short-changing customers and thought "what the hell, they get ripped off but it's good for us so what do we care". No surprise there then.


December 3, 2010, 8:06 pm

I've been using AVG Free for longer than I can remember. It used to be a quick, no-fuss installation. However, AVG appear to have caught the "nag" bug of late, with lots of 'value added' extras that I don't want, are difficult to remove, and result in (as is typical these days) a software package bloated beyond its requirements. So I've reluctantly switched...


December 4, 2010, 1:46 am

@Nigel - It also leaves some Windows 7 machines unable to boot, if PC Pro are to be believed:


Me, I'm moving to either Avira Free or MSE once my Norton sub runs out. With Comodo as my firewall. I think most people don't need paid Anti-virus/firewall, especially if you use a bit of common sense when surfing.


December 4, 2010, 1:58 am

I have been getting 3 user Kaspersky anti-virus free for years just by having online banking at Barclays. I assumed most banks offered something similar for users who have online banking facilities.


December 4, 2010, 7:44 pm

@Ade2z: My banks both offer the Rapport utility which checks the password only goes into the correct web site. I use it but think it is probably not necessary so may get rid. I use MSE on all the family PCs (5!) and have found it just perfect .. and free :)

Paul Meiners

February 17, 2014, 4:28 pm

Symantec short changes license time upon renewal on the small business/corp editions also. Rather sleazy....are they so desperate for money? It not like their products could not be easily programs to look for the remain time on a previous license or even previous versions.

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