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:
- the URL is for ‘shop.kaspersky.com.au’. There is NO mention of Nexway.
- 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.
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?