Seeing red over autorenewals

This is going to be a very angry post, so be warned.

Some time ago I posted about being caught out by an autorenewal from a pet supply site [online]. Well, it seems that the latest money making scam is to make a lot of online purchases ‘subscriptions’. Then, those subscriptions are set to autorenew…BY DEFAULT. You are forced to opt-in whether you want to or not, and the information is often hidden way down in the fine-fine-fine print.

The reason I’m frothing at the mouth today is because I’ve been stung, again.

Until November, 2021, I was using BitDefender Antivirus. I thought I’d bought a standalone product the same as I’d done for many years. I thought I’d paid for a one year licence, and that if I wanted updates after that, I would have to buy the product again after it expired.

Nope. Apparently BitDefender is now a subscription ‘service’ that’s set to renew automatically. To renew manually, you have to consciously opt-out.

Despite being a literate computer/internet user, I had no idea I’d ‘agreed’ to an autorenewal, and I had absolute not idea the product I’d bought was being administered by a company called 2Checkout. In fact, I switched to Kaspersky Anti Virus about a month before the BitDefender licence was due to expire… -hollow laughter-

When I demanded a refund I was offered sweeteners I did not want. I’m still waiting for a full refund.

Then today I thought I’d do a post on how renewals should be done. I thought I’d take some screenshots of how Kaspersky does it. Imagine my horror when I discovered that Kaspersky is now doing exactly the same thing. But at least it’s being more upfront about it….

The link circled in red above says ‘Subscription 321 days remaining’. Clicking on the link took me to:

Ah hah! Manage subscription. Just what I wanted…

Or not. Hmm… what the heck does ‘Initialize your credentials’ mean?

I tried using the id and password I had for kaspersky.com but it didn’t work. What followed was a LOT of frustration as I tried to work out how to cancel my autorenewal. In the end I found this:

When I clicked on the blue ‘How to disable license auto-renewal for Kaspersky solutions for home’ I was taken to this screen:

What the? Where did I buy it? Why, I bought it from Kaspersky…didn’t I?

The following is a close-up:

Dear god…had I kept the confirmation email??? Panic!

I did find the confirmation email, and this is what the ‘bottom’ looks like:

To get to the bottom, I had to scroll quite a long way down, way past the point you see when you open an email normally. Apparently, a company called Nexway handled my purchase. News to me:

Excuse me? Method of payment??? What the bloody fuck? How can buying something online with a credit card constitute an acceptance of autorenewal????? But, of course, it’s all there in black and white at the bottom of a very long email where NO ONE ever looks….

By this stage I have to tell you that I was getting very anxious, but at least there was a ‘hassle free cancellation’ link to use…

<<cue screaming and rending of hair>>

The ‘hassle free’ link took me to a page that seemed to require a login…but the only login I had did not work. That left me searching for technical support from Kaspersky… This is what I wrote in the online contact form that took forever to find:

I still have almost a year to go before my Kaspersky Anti Virus autorenews, and I may choose to stay with Kaspersky, but I will not be forced into doing so.

More importantly, I will not allow my credit card details to remain with a company I know nothing about [Nexway]. Those credit card details are an open door to my bank account, and I have no idea whether Nexway will be the next global company to be hacked. Fear of hacking is one reason I’m so very careful with direct debits.

Oh? You didn’t realise that autorenewals were direct debits? They are, but direct debits require a formal acceptance. Funny how a name can change things…

And just for the record, I am very familiar with the subscription model and the concept of autorenewal:

  • I have a domain name with Godaddy, and I choose to autorenew every year. Despite that, Godaddy sends me an email notification well ahead of time. It does not send the notification and take my money on the same day, the way the company out-sourced by BitDefender did. Yup, 2Checkout, another company I know nothing about has my credit card details.
  • Elder Scrolls Online has a subscription option that I use once or twice a year. It autorenews as well, but cancelling the subscription is so easy you could do it in your sleep:

After clicking ‘Manage Membership’ I get:

And that’s it. Easy. Maybe it has to be easy because by and large, gamers are very computer savvy. If Elder Scrolls Online tried to make it hard for gamers to cancel their subscriptions, they’d lose gamers by the thousands. Plus gamers are a very vocal lot.

Getting back to anti virus autorenewals, I have no idea yet how Kaspersky handles notifications when a subscription is getting close to autorenewal. I hope they do it better than BitDefender, but given how much time I’ve already wasted trying to opt-OUT of this bloody autorenewal, I’m not feeling very sanguine.

Autorenewals can be very convenient. They can also be a very expensive trap. As for this new thing of making customers accept autorenewal by default – without any formal acceptance! – and then forcing them to jump through hoops to opt-out, that is just a fraud.

Let me repeat that. Autorenewal by default, often without the customer being aware of it should not be legal. Why companies are allowed to get away with it I do not know.

Why is no one complaining?

Why are consumer rights groups not jumping up and down like me?

We have always lived in a buyer beware world, but when the corporates keep changing the goal posts to hoodwink us out of our money, that skirts right on the edge of the criminal. If you have subscriptions, check them now, otherwise you could find yourself out of pocket.

Whatever you do, do not chalk any losses up to experience. We are Davids in a world full of Goliaths. Get angry. Fight back, if not for yourself, then do it for all those people who are more vulnerable than you…the elderly, young kids, teens who never read the small print…

The abuse we ignore is the abuse we condone.

Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

44 responses to “Seeing red over autorenewals

  • Widdershins

    I’m back! 😀 … I have a shiny new CURVED 32″ (my old one was 27″) monitor and it’s wonderfully overwhelming! 😀 … on to your post. Do the TV stations, news or current affairs’ shows have a segment where consumers can contact them about such dastardly doings? … other than that, have some hugs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Congratulations! That screen is almost bigger than my tv. 😉 And I don’t know. I really don’t watch much tv at all and haven’t watched the commercial channels in years. Hugs gratefully accepted. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Candy+Korman

    Just imagine NOT being a tech-savvy gamer type. Yup… ME. I’ve had crazy times trying to disconnect, unsubscribe, etc. The “convenience” of auto renewals (also known as “passive renewals”) is NOT convenient for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      -hugs- It appears the convenience is all for the company on the receiving end of those ‘passive renewals’. I seriously cannot understand how this can be legal. I am starting to understand how said companies get away with it though. Will be posting about this later today.

      Like

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    We’ve been caught by those in the past. I seem to recall the Canadian government making it illegal but some of the U.S. sites still do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Damn…I wonder if it’s illegal here in Australia too? As neither Bitdefender nor Kaspersky are Australian companies any local protections may be moot. Thanks for the info, Yvonne. Will look into it here.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Jacqui Murray

    I don my body armor daily, preparing for whatever fight I must face. I haven’t had problems with auto-renewals but I can see I should. Like you say, GoDaddy is upfront. I use Defender which is built into Windows so no anti-virus. I used to have other anti-spam programs, but mostly stopped downloading so got rid of them. Adobe is famous for attaching everything in the world to a download in small print, but I’m ready (body armor primed).

    Keep up the good fight!

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      lol – my armour itches, which is why I don’t wear it more often. 😀 Jokes aside, I’ve always used third party anti virus software because I haven’t trusted Microsoft since the early ’80s. Curiously, I’ve been receiving almost daily updates for Defender recently. I have manual updates so get to check everything before I install it, and the number of security updates has been quite astonishing. This makes me wonder if there’s a ‘leak’ somewhere that Microsoft is trying to seal.
      BitDefender and Kaspersky are supposed to be the two best anti virus software around, but if they’re playing these kinds of games, I’m going to have to look further afield.
      Stay well and keep that armour well oiled. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  • cagedunn

    I absolutely hate the subscription economy. It’s another form of taking money while not earning the satisfaction of the customer. If they had to work to keep us, we’d sign up again, time after time, without feeling cheated. I wonder if it’s going to end up being part of how they pay us …

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Me too, Cage. In the past, I’d alternate between BitDefender and Kaspersky, depending on how the latest software stacked up. Choice. Now they’ve made it sooooo hard for customers to leave. I’m going to post about that ‘hassle free cancellation’ process later today. -makes very rude noise-

      Liked by 1 person

  • DawnGillDesigns

    So how are you going to be able to report it? is it something you can raise as an issue with your trading standards / MP equivalent?

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      I have absolutely no idea. I guess that’s half the reason they get away with it. I wish the EU would kickstart a stink about it, the way they did with the privacy issues. I’ve noticed that even US based companies are now starting to display a ‘confirm your cookie choices’ type screen which allows you to turn off [supposedly] all the spying/marketing shyte that used to be hidden behind a mountain of legalese.
      This needs to be regulated as well. 😦

      Like

  • Books & Bonsai

    This is when I wish I wasn’t a frequent internet flyer. So many times I get caught out by not fully understanding all the gobbledegook, and worse still, when they throw a curveball I never knew existed in the first place. Why is there never a simple uncomplicated option?

    Liked by 1 person

  • MELewis

    I feel your pain. This happened to me a couple of times this year. Once with a magazine renewal (I had noted down to cancel before the renewal came up but they sent me a ‘your account has been debited’ email way before I expected). Another time with an online service. But never with physical products! In fact, I’m pretty sure that would be illegal in Switzerland. But the global companies that charge us for online services seem to operate by their own rules. A couple of times I’ve received bills and not been able to trace them to a payment, then contacted the company for details on what I signed up for and with which payment method. Often the answers are so sketchy as to be useless. How can the ‘buyer beware’ if we’re not able to access the information in order to check and compare services? Anyway, the only solution I have found is to delete or change the payment information from the account so that they can’t renew it without asking me for further details. It worked with the magazine — although they had sent me a message that my card had been debited, in the end it had not and by the time they tried to do so the card had expired. Sorry not sorry!

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Gah…the cockroaches are crawling out of the skirting boards. I’m sorry to hear that it’s happened to you too, Mel, and it’s not as if we’re internet virgins. I shudder to think how those new to this whole thing are being fleeced.
      Okay, to be brutally honest, I’m pissed off that I didn’t see this coming. I should have realised the first one wasn’t a one-off.
      Not sure how I’m going to handle this. I don’t buy a lot of things online, but I do buy software. I’m going to have to read the finest print /before/ I buy from now on. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • MELewis

        Don’t get mad — get even!! 😉 But seriously, they make it very hard to catch so don’t beat yourself up!

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          I know, I know…I’m not egotistical enough to believe I’m some kind of techie genius – far, far from it – but I’ve always been super focused on online safety which makes this such a slap in the face: the weapon I used against hacking could, potentially, be used to get me hacked. grrrr….

          Liked by 1 person

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    I don’t have the energy to be angry and persistent. It’s that simple.

    I have to face a couple of these – and I know I may be waiting on a phone line for hours.

    This kind of thing is indeed fraud.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Matthew Wright

    That sucks. Big time. Hope it all works out OK for you. It’s becoming all too common for these companies to conduct themselves in a manner that, while technically within the law, has the effect of giving them to power to take your money and making it very difficult for you to stop them doing so. It may well be technically legal, but it’s morally reprehensible. Here in NZ we do have consumer protection in regard to the way companies present information – I assume same in Australia? But of course these international corporates can be based elsewhere and it’s hard to enforce things. Grrrrr.

    Liked by 3 people

    • acflory

      There is a kaspersky.com.au so if all else fails I can go to the Ombudsman or something, but I don’t think BitDefender has an Australia presence. And of course, both companies can keep consumer watchdogs at arms length because they outsource this admin stuff to a third party.
      Fingers crossed it works out.

      Like

  • CarolCooks2

    Oh, I feel your pain…I am super careful with auto-renewals and people wanting my credit card details…the only one I do is WP and they inform me way in front…Tweeted to spread the word… us David’s need to stand up to the goliaths…sigh x

    Liked by 4 people

    • acflory

      Thanks, Carol. I admit I was kicking myself for having left Twitter today. Really appreciate you doing it for me.
      I’m super careful too, but clearly not careful enough. Even now I find it unbelievable that such huge companies can pull something like this. :/

      Liked by 1 person

      • CarolCooks2

        Have you left Twitter literally like gone for ever? I have left linked in but Twitter I don’t mind 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          Yes. 😦 It was a combination of what I saw as the unfairness of the ‘ban’ plus my own growing need to disconnect from the anger. It’s better for me to stay away. Blowing off steam every now and then on my blog is ok, but when I was on Twitter, I was almost constantly angry. Not good. 😦

          Like

          • CarolCooks2

            I see your point but I stay away from any online spats or comments I confine it to blogs.. I learnt the hard way and I know people have differing opinions but its too inflammatory on social media so I don’t engage in that you can’t have a civil conversation with stupid people who listen to unqualified others instead of doing their own research and making an informed decision based on facts.. Just saying.. smile x

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            -grin- That’s what I /should/ have done. Unfortunately, Twitter brought out the aggro little woman in me and I simply could not stay away. I tried restricting my visits to just one or two days a week but…I couldn’t help myself. Cold turkey ended up the only way I could keep my sanity. 😦

            Like

          • CarolCooks2

            -grin- at least you recognised that.. 😂

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            lol – true, but I had a lot of steam coming from my ears before I did. 😉

            Like

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