Symantec and McAfee pay out US$375,000 for fee abuse

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Two of the world’s biggest security software vendors have settled a case brought by New York State over billing customers without their consent.

Symantec and McAfee have agreed to pay out US$375,000 ($461,879) each in fines after New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo brought a case against them for automatically renewing customer subscriptions to their security software applications.

The two companies were accused of resubscribing business and residential customers and charging the accounts to their services without the user’s consent.

While this was put in the terms and conditions of the software it was not made clear or prominent enough said Cuomo.

“Companies cannot play hide the ball when it comes to the fees consumers are being charged,” he 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. In other words, no more hide the ball with renewal fees.”

He found that the companies also made it difficult for customers to cancel their subscriptions and to obtain refunds where they had been resubscribed.

In addition to the fines the two companies will have to make renewal terms much clearer and will also refund subscribers if they cancel a subscription in 60 days or less.

They will also have to send out warnings before and after resubscription.

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