Security software giant McAfee could face a raft of refund requests after the firm agreed to overhaul auto-renewals for customers who were charged but no longer want their services.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it has secured extended refund rights from the company, which will be backdated for people who were previously refused money back in 2020.
As part of the move, McAfee has pledged to make turning off auto-renewal more straightforward for customers, with clearer details about pricing – such as being more upfront that the second year may cost more than the first.
Customers will also be emailed to make them aware of their refund rights.
McAfee, which has made the changes voluntarily, said it was “pleased” to have reached an agreement with the CMA.
The move comes amid a wider investigation into the antivirus software sector launched in 2018, over concerns that some companies may be breaching consumer law.
Earlier this year, the CMA said it was taking another leader in antivirus software, Norton, to court over claims it refused to provide certain information on auto-renewals and pricing.
“People should not be tied into auto-renewing contracts for products they no longer want or need,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
“Because of our investigation, it will be easier for McAfee’s customers to get money back if a contract renews when they didn’t want it to.
“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.”
Following our investigation, McAfee has extended its refund rights for all customers whose contracts for anti-virus software have auto renewed.
— Competition & Markets Authority (@CMAgovUK) May 25, 2021
Until now, McAfee only offered a full refund of the auto-renewal fee 60 days from the date money is taken.
Under the new terms, if a person requests a refund after the 60-day period, consumers can get a partial refund based on the remaining months left of the contract.
“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,” a spokesperson for the firm said.
“Our work with the CMA aligned with our efforts to enable customers to maintain ongoing protection while retaining control over their McAfee subscription.
“McAfee is customer-obsessed. We work tirelessly to identify, develop and implement improvements to our customers’ experiences.
“Putting our customers at the core of our business means instilling trust and delight in our products, policies and business decisions.
“We will continue to identify opportunities to enhance our practices and processes to deliver on these goals.”
McAfee is the first company in the antivirus sector to make such changes as a result of regulatory action, which were undertaken without any admission of wrongdoing or liability.