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  • Sahriar Shuvo - Tech Journalist

McAfee charges unfair subscription with auto-renewal: CMA alerts to change pricing module & refunds

McAfee is one of the oldest and successful antivirus software founded by John McAfee. John founded the company back in 1987, and since then, the company hasn't had to look back. There were some severe controversies against the founder, but the company is still breathing to date.

Cybersecurity issue has been with us since we dived into the world of tech and our presence became online. From then, a lot of antivirus/cybersecurity protection software been introduced. McAfee is one of them. But recent investigations show records that the company is charging a large amount from regular and extended subscribers than to new users.

The high price scheme is getting very controversial as regular users want price cuts because they are loyal to the company and it's due to them that the antivirus company is still thriving.

New users mostly enjoy free services like quick scan, network protection, browser add-ons. But it's the subscription holders that pay money and help the company for future developments. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigated the matter after customers repeatedly reported about the auto-renews scheme.

CMA said the users should not be tied to a contract if they don't want to. The auto-renew probe made many customers suffer from unsettling prices and many customers want their money back.

Improving Customer Experience

Citizens Advice watchdog revealed many customer reports to CMA and a proper ruling is due for approval. Even if customers buy a yearly subscription, there should be a way for them to get out of the deal any time they want and get a proper refund for the remaining months.

It's not only for McAfee but any subscription-based services. If a service degrades, charges more money than promised and it is hard to leave the subscription, there is a case. Malwarebytes, Avast, Kaspersky, Avira, AVG, ESET are a few popular options to chose from for total protection. But we've seen many users using a pirated version of the software for cybersecurity, which is not ideal. Customers using pirated versions don't fall under the legislation of protection.

CMA has been looking into antirust programs and online video gaming sectors for the past three years. According to CMA, they looked under five market highlight complaints, translated into super-complains. They are cash savings, household insurance, mortgages, phone and broadband contracts.

Harmful practices by IT firms are thoroughly investigated. It discovered the companies are scamming off unsuspecting customers for a long time, including buying yearly subscription plans. After a two-year-long waiting probe, CMA finally started taking matters into it own hands to stop the auto-renewal process. McAfee needs to change its ways and obtain appropriate options in their subscription module and leave options to get out any time a customer wants. The company will also have to reimburse past customers who were not compensated the previous year.

Alongside pricing, change is required, as it is still a question why the pricing of a digital service should be higher than the previous year when bought in a long-term package. A well-made construction has to be made and emailed to the customer's inbox directly. It should contain how a customer can get out plans quickly and correctly and know that the option has been created. CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said, "Subscription should be described clearly, easy to exit" He also added that "customers should not be tied into ongoing auto-renewals without adequate refund rights."

In response to the CMA charges, McAfee said, "Our work with the CMA aligned with our efforts." They also added, "to enable customers to maintain ongoing protection while retaining control over their McAfee subscription."

CMA also filed complaints against its rival company Norton. They said the matter would go to court as Norton refused to reveal information for auto-renewal contracts. The founder of McAfee is still sitting in a Spanish jail for fraud and tax evasion charges. It is unlikely of tech companies to fall under legislation issues as transparent ones are the only companies customers trust the most—several accessions filed against the founder in addition to crypto and social media inflation fraud.

The antivirus company agreed to provide a "regular user report" to CMA. Also the company has promised to improve service experience. Auto-renewals, refunds, clear statement on plan cancelling and a clear view before jumping on a subscript is the first step towards transparent business management and improved customer experience.





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