Anti-virus offers shorten existing subscriptions

Anti-virus companies are cutting customers off from their anti-virus protection subscriptions without their knowledge, according to Which? Computing.

Consumers who upgrade their anti-virus protection through discounted offers from Symantec and AVG are in danger of being caught out. Discounted offers are sent via emails or appear as pop-up alerts on a user’s PC, urging them to upgrade their existing anti-virus protection to a more powerful version - usually at a reduced price.

If someone signs up to the offer, the new subscription starts immediately and they can lose months off their existing anti-virus subscription. Symantec Corporation, makers of Norton anti-virus software, and AVG both admitted that their discounted offers work in this way.

While the terms and conditions of these offers support such practices, the reality is that some consumers aren’t aware of the loss of remaining time on the security subscription they’ve already paid for.

The consumer watchdog is calling on the industry to either stop this practice or make it clear to consumers from the outset that, by upgrading in this way, they’re shortening the terms on their existing subscriptions.

AVG makes a perfectly adequate anti-virus software that it gives away for free, while Microsoft's similarly free Security Essentials is probably all the average consumer needs.

Matt Bath from Which? said: "Symantec and AVG are operating a confusing and arguably misleading anti-virus upgrade service. No one expects a discounted offer to cancel out the remaining time left on an existing subscription and we demand an end to this practice.”