Tag Archives: Kaspersky Anti Virus

Autorenewal : Kaspersky and BitDefender Update

Yesterday, I received an email from BitDefender telling me that my ‘autorenewal’ would be refunded. Today, I received an email from Kaspersky saying that my ‘autorenewal’ was cancelled, and that I could renew manually when my anti virus expired in November 2022. Yay.

Kaspersky also provided information about how to change the account settings relating to renewals:

The Nexway customer account is not created automatically, instead, the Order Confirmation email contains a link to the account creation page. This link has a unique SSID built into it which links the order automatically.

Please ensure that you have clicked on the “access your customer area” in the Order Confirmation email. Once the “access your customer area” link is clicked, the homepage appears where both login and password are created. Then, you can configure your subscription’s settings.

Going back to the order confirmation email, I found this:

Clicking on the ‘access your customer account’ link took me to this page:

Two important things to note:

  1. the URL is for ‘shop.kaspersky.com.au’. There is NO mention of Nexway.
  2. the only instructions are to ‘Please sign in to access the features below’.

To me, those two things imply that the login is to an existing account, not that I should create a new account.

Nit picking?

No. Just another indication that the consumer is not meant to stop autorenewals easily. Remember how easy it was to stop the autorenewal of my Elder Scrolls Online subscription?

Moving on. Knowing that I had to create a new account, I clicked in the login box and tried to enter my email address. As you can see. It wasn’t accepted. Given that my email address is used to verify that I am who I say I am, this seems a little…odd.

Moving on. So then I typed in a new password, twice, and clicked ‘Initialize your credentials’. This is what happened next:

What in blue blazes is an ‘invalid token’?

And that was the point at which I could go no further. Without any instructions or explanations, the ONLY way to get into this separate account is blocked. There is no way for me to get in and opt out of this bogus autorenewal.

Now I ask you, is all this simply a case of terrible interface design? Or is it all part of a kind of passive resistance set up to make opting out as hard as possible while still being technically legal?

Points in favour of this hypothesis:

  • information about the subscription and autorenewal is covered in the confirmation email, almost as an after thought, but no mention is made of it on the website where you actually buy the product.
  • more importantly, this is the first time the word ‘autorenewal’ is used.
  • this is also the first time that the name of a third party is mentioned.
  • the link to ‘access your customer account’ comes after the link for ‘hassle free cancellation’.
  • there is no mention of the fact that you have to create a customer account before you can use it for ‘hassle free cancellation’.
  • assuming you work out what to do next, there is still no clear instruction that you have to create a new account with a company other than Kaspersky.
  • when you do try to create said new account…the process fails.

Quite frankly, if I were not as bloody-minded and stubborn as I am, I would have given up long ago, consoling myself with the thought that ‘ah well, I’ll just cancel when the licence expires’.

There are two problems with that expectation. The first is that my/your credit card details will remain with a third party – in this case Nexway – for the whole year. That leaves your bank account open to the potential of abuse.

The second problem is one that I experienced with BitDefender, or should I say, 2Checkout, the company outsourced to handle renewals. Without boring you to tears, I received two emails telling me that my BitDefender anti virus was about to expire. The first was on December 14, the second on December 29. Neither mentioned that my account was set for autorenewals.

This is a screenshot of the email from December 29 from Bitdefender 2checkout:

Now let’s zoom in to the bottom half:

At this point, I’m being urged to renew AND it’s suggested that I ‘consider enabling the automatic renewal option’. Clearly that means the automatic renewal option is NOT enabled.

Having decided not to use BitDefender over a month before, I ignored both emails. Then, on the one day of the year that I didn’t check my emails, I received this:

The email is dated January 1, 2022 but the first I knew about it was on January 2, 2022, when I discovered that my account had been debited $69.99 AUD. I can assure you that I did not ‘renew’ BitDefender! Why would I when I’d already bought and installed Kaspersky Anti Virus back in November, 2021?

I immediately asked for a refund, but the person who responded to my email only offered sweeteners to keep me from ‘leaving’. I said I wanted a full refund. I was told that refunds could only be approved by BitDefender.

Call me stupid, but this was the first time that it actually registered with me that I was not talking to a BitDefender representative.

When someone from BitDefender finally did contact me, he began by saying that I had received a notification on the 24th of December and should have cancelled then instead of waiting until the 2nd of January. I checked my inbox and my spam folder but there was no such email. As you have seen, the closest date was the email of the 29th which did NOT say anything about an autorenewal.

I do not know whether 2checkout stuffed up big time or whether this was always going to happen. All I know is that I’ve wasted a lot of my precious time trying to claw back $69 I could not afford to lose.

I’ll be getting a refund from BitDefender sometime in the next week, but it should not have been necessary in the first place.

I should not have had to fight so hard to extricate myself from a system that seems to be designed to fleece consumers of their money.

ANY autorenewal should be on an opt-in basis. Just because you call something a ‘subscription’ does not mean that the consumer has agreed to a direct debit of their account!

I hesitate to say that opt-out autorenewals are illegal because I don’t have the necessary knowledge or qualifications, but I’d love to hear from anyone who does.

Is it illegal?

And if it is, how do you go about prosecuting an international company?

cheers,
Meeks


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


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