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McAfee to change terms of auto-renewing consumer plans

Consumers who found their McAfee antivirus contracts auto-renewed will be able to get out of their contracts and get their money back

Consumer users of McAfee’s antivirus products who found their service contracts auto-renewed for another year will now be able to end their contracts and obtain a refund for the remaining months, following a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) judgment.

The right to a refund will also be backdated for those who were refused refunds in 2020, and McAfee has also agreed to make the process for turning off auto-renewal more straightforward, said the CMA. It will also have to provide clearer upfront information on service pricing, and make it very clear that the auto-renewal cost for the second year is higher than the purchase price.

This comes at the end of a major investigation into the antivirus software business, prompted by a so-called “super-complaint” brought by Citizens Advice, which found evidence of long-term customers overpaying for cyber security services amid concerns that many suppliers’ terms and conditions were unfair.

“People should not be tied into auto-renewing contracts for products they no longer want or need,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli. “Because of our investigation, it will be easier for McAfee’s customers to get money back if a contract renews when they didn’t want it to.

“Subscriptions should be clearly described, easy to exit and customers should not be tied into ongoing auto-renewals without adequate refund rights. Companies that use auto-renewals unfairly risk action from the CMA.”

McAfee is the first company to agree new undertakings with the CMA as part of the wider investigation, suggesting that other settlements in the case – which dates back to 2018 – could be made. The undertakings have been provided voluntarily on the part of McAfee Ireland Ltd, and without admission of wrongdoing or liability.

The new rights are available as of today, and going forward, McAfee has said it will make changes to its website and customer communications to improve clarity, as well as providing ongoing reporting back to the CMA.

“McAfee is pleased to have reached agreement with the CMA on our shared goal of improving the ease, fairness and transparency of business-to-consumer practices and policies,” a McAfee spokesperson told Computer Weekly. “Our work with the CMA aligned with our efforts to enable customers to maintain ongoing protection while retaining control over their McAfee subscription.

“We work tirelessly to identify, develop and implement improvements to our customers’ experiences. Putting our customers at the core of our business means instilling trust and delight in our products, policies and business decisions. We will continue to identify opportunities to enhance our practices and processes to deliver on these goals.”

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