Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Canceling a McAfee Subscription is HARD

McAfee, a provide of Software Antivirus and other security products, makes the process of cancelling a subscription far too onerous and difficult. In an increasingly competitive environment (the new free Microsoft Security Essentials has changed the anti-virus landscape) McAfee can not afford the bad press their ridiculously difficult subscription cancellation mechanism deserves.

I received a courtesy email in my inbox this morning letting me know that my McAfee Anti-virus license would be renewed shortly. This by itself is actually very welcome; annually renewed services and their renewal dates can be hard to remember and consider ahead of time. The email did not say when the actual renewal date was, which I found slightly odd. I had to log into the McAfee user website to see that the renewal date is actually in February. Their courtesy email certainly gives me enough time to make any changes...

... such as cancelling my subscription. I run a small business and I try to take security very seriously. I do not mind paying for my virus protection. The arrival of the free (and much lauded) antiviral solution from Microsoft, however, combined with the increasingly bloated, nagging, and recently technically challenged service from McAfee meant I have already been trialling the Microsoft alternative. And I am ready to leave McAfee behind. If only I can cancel their service.

After visiting the McAfee website, signing in, and having a good look around, there is no way to do this easily. To turn off the auto-renewal (and charging) of my subscription, I need to contact customer service. This is amazing considering the number of fast ways to purchase new products on the website, let alone the explicit advertising (including expensively produced videos) of the auto-renewal feature itself. Turning on automatic renewal is easy.

Do you want to know how to cancel your subscription with McAfee? After extensive searching of their service site I found an FAQ entry. The process, conducted over chat, email or phone is not easy.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that McAfee has intentionally made cancelling their subscription service difficult to protect their subscription revenues.

As a technically literate and competent user this makes me angry and I now think less of McAfee as a brand. However, the real victims of McAfee's approach are the less confident and less technically savvy users. This could be my mother, or your grandparents, or your mechanic friend Bob, who might not have the persistence or understanding to find and then follow the procedure. The other victim is McAfee itself. The decision to cripple their website like this for seemingly unscrupulous reasons can only create bad press and disrepute.

I have since sent off my email customer support request and I am waiting on a reply, which apparently may take 24 hours. I am disappointed (Can you tell?)

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