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Wednesday
Feb062008

McAfee automatic renewal policy...

...or why McAfee thinks it can take money from you without asking.

UPDATE NOV 2011:

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WEBSITE IS NOT ANYTHING TO DO WITH MCAFEE. SENDING ME MESSAGES WILL NOT GET YOUR MONEY BACK FROM MCAFEE.

Warning...this is a bit of a long rant...

Over the past decade or so I have switched between various security solutions for my PC, probably just following the popular trends but always trying to keep a good level of security without a performance hit.

I used McAfee VirusScan for many years, purchasing my renewal every year when prompted (for example, I paid £10.66 with VAT, about $20 US, in 2004 for the annual renewal of version 7).

I posted a follow up to this on 12 March 2008.

...

Until March 2006 that is. My records show that I purchased a new version of VirusScan for £29.99 ($60.00), which must have been on offer or something - I can't remember why I bought it.  I do know that I assumed that all would be the same as before - that is, each year my VirusScan software would annoy me with messages until I renewed.

At some point, a few months later, I got fed-up with the performance of the McAfee product, removed it (I actually ended up re-installing Windows to get rid of the Security centre thing), and carried on with an alternative product.

So imagine my surprise this morning, 1 year and 11 months later, when I get an email from subscriptions@mcafee.com with the subject "McAfee Subscription Renewal Confirmation".  It said:

"Dear Mark,    
Your McAfee® subscription has been successfully renewed using the payment information on file.
You can now enjoy another year of protection whenever you use your computer and go online.
Details of your subscription renewals:

--------------------------------------------------
CONFIRMATION RECEIPT
--------------------------------------------------
Name: ***************
Order #: ***************
Date: *************** 

--------------------------------------------------
McAfee VirusScan Plus : £ 39.99(GBP)
Total Tax      : - 
        Total Price     : £39.99 
McAfee is always working hard to keep you and your computer protected. We know your loyalty depends on our ability to continually provide you with the best and most innovative security products on the market. We are the only major security company that is 100% dedicated to security.

As always, we thank you for being a McAfee customer.

Sincerely,
McAfee Team

P.S. If for some reason you wish to cancel your subscription, McAfee can provide a full refund only if cancellation is within 60 days of this renewal notice.

To contact McAfee Customer Support, visit www.mcafeehelp.com and select your country or language.

This message is being sent from:  McAfee, Inc, McAfee Ireland Holdings Ltd (Europe), McAfee Co., Ltd. (Japan)."

* I blanked the order information from the quoted email above.

Firstly, I never allowed McAfee to retain my credit card information in the past because:

  1. I don't like the idea of McAfee (or most other companies) holding my card details and billing information on their servers.
  2. I am likely to change my PC security software at some point - why would I want to remember to cancel something?

Secondly, £39.99 for the renewal of virus definitions subscription?!? I can buy this here in the US for $39.99 - that is half the price!  I am not a believer in the Rip off Britain thing but come on, how can they justify that?

A call to McAfee UK support (it was 06:30 eastern US time, the local helpdesk didn't open until 08:00 central, and they still thought I was in the UK) - it appears I agreed to the automatic renewal...and yes, they charged me last year too.

I have no record of last year's email to tell me and missed it on my credit card statement...I think I was lucky I saw it this time round - I recently rebuilt my PC and hadn't added McAfee to my spam filter yet.

So, how did I agree to the automatic renewal?

Tick (or not tick) a box?

No

Fail to remove an option automatically added to the shopping cart?

Nope

Say to McAfee - please take some money from my credit card every year just for being such a great company?

Errrm, no

It seems I agreed to the automatic annual subscription by paying for the initial product with a valid credit card

That is what the McAfee EULA says.  I quote "If you have agreed to permit McAfee to automatically renew your subscription to the Software by charging a valid credit card number which you have provided to McAfee, your subscription will be automatically renewed thirty (30) days prior to the expiration of the term and each anniversary thereafter for a fee no greater than McAfee´s then-current price, excluding promotional and discount pricing."

For those interested, this is in paragraph 3.  It also says that you have to phone them to stop the automatic subscription.

There is no explicit statement, let alone question, option or tick box that lets you opt out during the check-out process.  Nothing in the blurb on the website warns you about this.  I tried the process again today, and notice a small bit of text in the cart that says "Note regarding subscriptions: At the end of your subscription, you'll be automatically renewed at the then-current renewal rate (billed to the credit card we have on file)."

I can't remember if that was there two years ago but based on reading other people's stories, I don't think it was.

Just to make it easy for you, the EULA is displayed in a small box making it unpleasant to read.

To be fair, they do have some info on this in the support section...but how does this tell a potential new customer what they are really buying?

I only found the information because I had already been caught out by the renewal.

What is worse, they do not explicitly say that they will store your billing and credit card information nor allow you to say "please don't risk my privacy and financial well-being by storing my credit card information on your servers".

I can only wait to see if they do refund me for this year (I can't face the pain of trying to get last years money back), but how can I know they have removed my personal information and credit card details?

To finish up, it appears that this has been a problem for a few years, here are just a few of the interesting stories I found...

Antivirus Vendors Shift to Automatic Fees

McAfee - Disputed Renewals

Microsoft, McAfee, Symantec charge cards repeatedly

Sneakwrap Files: McAfee Automatic Renewals

buyingdangerously:Bad McAfee on Automatic

 -!-

 

 

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Reader Comments (23)

I had the same renewal notice. Wrote the following to them, and CC'd McAfee's PR team at Red Bee Media:

===

This is an utter outrage!
How many people are being unwittingly charged by McAfee because of an annual renewal process buried in your terms and conditions small print? I would like my money refunded immediately, and my subscription cancelled at once.

What on earth made you think you could get away with theft hidden behind small print? Shame on you.

Ravi Vadgama
Senior Producer - GMTV

cc - McAfee media relations @ Red Consultancy
cc - GMTV Newsdesk

===

Complete refund and cancellation within 24 hours, despite being OUTSIDE the 60-day limit imposed by McAfee. It pays to argue your point, and threaten publicity.

r@v

February 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterr@v

I am really frustrated that no one is willing to do any thing on such related matter. Uhh.... where should we take this matter who would listen and do something!!!!!!!!!!!! I think it is up to us to protect each other from not ripped off unreasonably...

The interesting thing about the issue is in order to cancel the auto-renewal option you have to call them, but to turn it on you can do that by login into their web site :)

Here is the email I received from the McAfee after I called them to cancel the auto-renewal option:

Dear XXX,

This email confirms that your Always On Protection has been cancelled for XXX.

Always On Protection ensures that your computer security protection is always up-to-date by automatically renewing your license annually. Without the Always On Protection feature, your PC will not be up-to-date as soon as your subscription expires.

If you want to reactivate the Always On Protection feature so there's no lapse in your McAfee security, simply:

1. Log-in to "My Account" and you will see your product(s) and the expiration date(s).

==> https://home.mcafee.com/Secure/Protected/Login.aspx

2. Click on "My Profile" and ensure your billing information is current and complete.

3. On the left hand side, click on "Auto-Renewal-Setup," then "My Auto-Renewal Settings," enable the Always On Protection, and click "Done."


Please do not reply to this email. Thank you.

Sincerely,
The McAfee Team

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have sent mcfee 3e-mails and there has been no response I think it is theft last year I paid £29 it has jumped to £64 full protections I never asked for it so why should they take money from my account I am going to take this further if I do not receive my money and I want then to erase my details from there system.

June 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm glad (after a fashion) that it wasn't just me getting shafted by these guys. I only found out about this after seeing a £65.99 debit from my current account.

To give Mcafee credit it was refunded within 2 minutes of finding (after a 2 min search) live chat assistance option on their help section.

However what were they doing taking this money in the first place. Fair enough the information was in the EULA but they know damn well that all but the most anal of us do not read those damn things. As far as I am concerned they deliberately do this to charge a premium fee to their loyal customers. Well after 4 years of using their product I am going elsewhere for no other reason that their auto renewal feature that should only be added in a fashion that would require you to request it from your account options. It should not be the default option regardless of what their PR blurb states about wanting to ensure our continued security.

December 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hi, just found this excellent post whilst searching for 'McAfee Auto-Renewal'.

A warning for anyone else reading is that they'll stop at nothing to get their money. The credit card I used last year to renew my internet security expired mid-year. Despite their 2 emails requesting I update my card details (which I ignored), I suddenly received a PayPal receipt for £49.99 because they must have discovered that my PayPal is linked to the same e-mail address I used to register with McAfee.

Bad practice. Really bad.

December 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIndo

Just got caught out with this "automatic renewal" scam. Received an e-mail informing me £64 had just gone out of my account.

After calling their customer relations- and telling them what a bloody nerve they had- they had the temerity to offer the renewal at half price. Absolutely appalling company. Christ knows how they are able to get away with such unscrupulous behaviour.

Richard

January 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I agree with all the above, it is just appaling that they can just take our money without asking. The trouble is, being elderly and not all that computer litierate I don't know how to combat this. Can anyone help?

May 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHank

I have also been hit by a renewal using my credit card details. I thought I had cancelled my renewal on one of thier many renewal reminder emails. I mean what is the point of staying with mcafee when they didn't stop me being hit by a virus and loosing most of my files.
I can't make any sense out of how I stop this subscription renewal. I have Multiple Sclerosis and depend on my laptop. I certainly can do without being screwed out of money I can ill afford.
Can anbody help??

August 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob

I too have just found an email on my hotmail account for automatic renewal of £64.99. I am quite elderly and not very computer literate and despite going on the the website to cancel this within the 60 days I cant find out how to. Can anyone tell me how to or where to write a letter to. I would appreciate any help. Thank you in advanced

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrs F Green

I have had exactly the same experience as the writer. I am angry and shocked - I sent an email saying I did not wish to renew - I had not authorised a payment from my account and asking them to refund the amount immediately. (It was £41. something...)
I then got an email back saying my email had not been sent and that if I wished to cancel I could do so by going on the web site which was www.mcafeehelp.com. I did this and have got nowhere - because there is no bloody phone number on which to contact them! So what now?

September 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Kay

I also got slammed with auto renewal....the product sucks and would never buy again...while the product was in force my computer got 10 viruses and crashed. Mcafee will do nothing to help get it fixed so why would anyone want this procduct to protect any new computer. I will file complaint with state comsumer relations over this as they have cost me plenty out of pocket expense as yet to be determined if old computer can evern be saved which as of this posting I do not know. That is a lot of data and files/pics etc lost because of inferior product.

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrb

I just received the notice as well. I can tell you they will get a piece of my mind tomorrow and I WILL get my refund. I am also canceling my credit card to prevent them from any more charges. $84.39 out of an account this day and financial dispair is no laughing matter and this is done WITHOUT first telling me that it is going to be taken out.. just BAM done. I can't even get into the account as I have none of the information I used to get it started. Also I no longer have McAfee on my computer because of viruses that it neglected to catch.. My computer guy put on a mega anti-virus that is working to this day...Good Luck everyone.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJB

Same thing just happened to me. I got an email out of the blue yesterday telling me that £64.99 had been charged to my credit card. It took me about 30 minutes of searching their site to find out how to turn off the automatic renewal - it's buried in the menus. I have now raised a ticket with Customer Service which they have acknowledged. I'll let you know how I get on.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue

Update: I just had an email from McAfee advising me that they are refunding my money. I'll let everyone know when this actually happens. In fairness they have responded quickly to the ticket I raised.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue

To whom it may concern....I'm Jerome Carlowe would like you to know that I don't need McAfee to be renewed for A$59.95(AUD) cause I have already have one and I have renewed it last month so could you please put back the money that you have takenout from my bank card thanks....I have already told you last year not to take it out and please cancelled it thanks...Jerome..

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCancelled my McAfee

I've just received my credit card and have been charged $79.99 for next year's subscription even though I have deleted Mcafee from my computer. What to do next...............?? How do I email them? As far as I can see it is nigh impossible top get in touch other than by telephone.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjean

I looked at my e mails on saturday evening and found one from mcafee team dated friday to tell me that I have been automatically renewed at a cost of £49.99. NO WARNING! checked credit card and right enough money had been taken. I consider this to be THEFT and have threatened to go to police. I am definitely going to inform Watchdog, Rip off Britain, Radio 4 money programme and as many others as I can. I am 70 years old and not particularly computer competent. Also, when I logged on the McAfee site they are advertising full security for £29.99 so why charge me nearly twice that anyway! Email does say got 60 days to cancel but so far I haven't found any way to do it!

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersheila

i have also had money takern out of my account,could someone please tell me how to get in touch with them to get my money back,

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie kennedy

The same thing has happened to me this morning an E-mail was sent to me saying that my subscription had been renewed. I'm sure I didn't pay this amount $86.59 for one year the first time I used Mcafee. I can buy it in the local store cheaper than that. How convenient they sent me this E-mail a couple of days after a virus was suppose to attack computers nation wide. I am scrambling to figure out how to contact them to cancel this charge.

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShirley

Just call 020 79490107 for a refund. After looking at my bank statement, I called them because of the price they were charging and said I was shopping around still. They gave me renewal for half price. I still disagree with this scam but have made sure this "auto renewal" option has been removed for future.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterG

Just found out my daughter has paid for my renewal for mcafee and have not been useing it for two years can find no way of cancelling it other than her bank acc very unsatisfactory communication in this day of technology they just want our money cant even remeber what email i used when she paid for it out of her acc which was supposed to be a one off payment she cannot afford to loose that amount of money for nothing daylight robbery!

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDympna Cassidy

just got hit with automatic renewal for £64.99 which I cant afford and don't want as I changed my provide month ago. if you go to customer services and click on refunds you can then click on the icon of a telephone, then click next it will give you the number to phone to get a refund, I did this, phoned them and got a refund to go back into my account, mind you it takes up to 10 days for the money to go in. as I was able to log into my account I was able to turn automatic renewal off

July 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbarb

Je reçois un avis de paiement automatique, sans avertissement au préalable et maintenant impossible d'envoyer la fameuse note de non renouvellement

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJacinthe

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