Tuesday 25 May 2021 11:52 am

McAfee forced to refund customers following auto-renew probe

Antivirus software giant McAfee will be forced to refund some customers whose contracts were automatically renewed following an investigation by the competition watchdog.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened an investigation into the anti-virus software market in 2018 amid concerns about unfair practices.

A super-complaint filed by Citizens Advice warned that UK customers could be paying for services they no longer want or need.

Under new changes agreed by McAfee today, customers whose contract auto-renews for another year will be able to end their contract and seek a refund for the remaining months.

This new refund right will be backdated for people who were previously refused a refund in 2020.

McAfee, which was founded by controversial tech millionaire John McAfee and is now publicly listed, also pledged to make it easier for customers to turn off auto-renewal.

Other commitments include providing clearer information upfront on pricing, for example making it clear that the price will increase in the second year of the contract.

“People should not be tied into auto-renewing contracts for products they no longer want or need,” said Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive.

“Subscriptions should be clearly described, easy to exit and customers should not be tied into ongoing auto-renewals without adequate refund rights. Companies who use auto-renewals unfairly risk action from the CMA.”

McAfee is the first company to agree to changes as part of the watchdog’s investigation into subscription contacts in the anti-virus software and online gaming sectors.

“McAfee is pleased to have reached agreement with the CMA on our shared goal of improving the ease, fairness and transparency of business-to-consumer practices and policies,” the company said in a statement.

“Our work with the CMA aligned with our efforts to enable customers to maintain ongoing protection while retaining control over their McAfee subscription.”

In March the CMA announced it was taking rival firm Norton to court after it refused to provide information relating to its practices for automatically renewing contracts.

It comes amid a torrid time for software mogul John McAfee, who is in jail in Spain on charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The incarcerated computer tycoon is facing extradition to the US over accusations he promoted various cryptocurrencies on social media to inflate their price before selling them off at a profit.