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    Monday, January 12, 2009

    One-a These Days, Norton...

    POW! To the MOON!

    You're a riot, Norton. I hope they like those jokes on the moon, cuz that's where ya' goin'....

    I am, of course, talking about Symantec's Norton, not Ralph Kramden's (and he said that to Alice, not Norton, but whatever). It's a play on words, people, a catchy intro...don't get hung up on the details. The story itself will give you a headache as it is.

    I have Norton. It's what came on the PC my dad gave me for Christmas in 2007. So when the free trial expired in January 2008, I renewed it for a year. Fine, whatever, VPS is VPS, right? When the new year rolled around, I knew the time was coming to renew at the end of the month but hadn't thought much about it yet. Frankly I was thinking of switching to one of their competitors, for a number of reasons, but hadn't 100% made up my mind yet.

    They went ahead and made my mind up FOR me today. But not in the way they'd hoped for.

    This afternoon I pulled up my online bank statement. What do I see? A pre-authorization for nearly $54 for "Norton Annual Renewal" along with their 800 number. Except I have not authorized any renewal of my subscription for Norton. I still have two weeks left, and if I renew now, it resets my subscription date to when I renew - I'm not gypping myself out of 2 weeks. And, more importantly, I don't auto-pay ANYTHING. It's just not how things are set up in our personal finances. I NEVER would agree to ANY auto payment of that amount. And I didn't. But there it was.

    So first, I went to my online Norton account. I found their special section called "Automatic Renewal", and I un-checked where I needed to un-check (as in "no-I-do-not-want-your-stupid-system-taking-money-out-of-my-checking-account-whenever-the-mood-strikes-you").

    Then, I called their 800 number. I explained my dissatisfaction with their new handy-dandy "auto-renewal" program, (which I NEVER knowingly signed up for, no matter WHAT their website says), and said that while I had already disabled the auto-renew feature, I was concerned that the order was already processed because the pre-auth was already on my bank account. After much clicking and typing, he assured me that he had disabled the auto-renewal. I said that yes, I had done that online before I called, but I wanted to be SURE the charge would not go through. Was he CERTAIN that the pre-authorization would come OFF of my account and NO charge would occur?

    Yes, yes, he assured me, three times, we went over it. 'I have cancelled the order,' he told me each time. 'No charge will occur, and the pre-authorization will come off in a day or two.'

    You're sure? Yep, he's sure. Sure, sure, sure. Everybody is sure.

    Sure. He gave me a case ID number, assured me I wouldn't need to use it, and we said our good-byes.


    At 9:17 tonight I received this email from good ole' Norton, titled

    "Your Norton Internet Security subscription has been renewed Thanks"

    ...which went on to tell me that they had charged my debit card and thankyouverymuch and wasn't I thrilled to be protected automatically.

    WHAT!?!?!? The order that I was assured had been cancelled, clearly was NOT cancelled.

    Look. I've worked in customer service, for many years. It's not that hard. Well, that's not true. Some days it's damn hard. But you know what - that doesn't make it OK to do your job half-assed and lie to customers. And that's what happened.

    So I called again. This time I talked to someone named Sam. I gave my fabulous case ID # to Sam. I explained my now SIGNIFICANT DISSATISFACTION, and explained the day I'd had in dealing with Norton as a whole (or an a-hole, in this case) as if it wasn't in front of him in the nine paragraphs that Mr Liar had typed this afternoon.

    Sam apologized (for what I'm not exactly sure, "my inconvenience" I suppose). He said he showed that the auto-renewal was already cancelled. I said yes, I know that, and explained my dilemma again. He then seemed to grasp my issue, and asked if I could hold while he involved his supervisor to resolve the issue. I held.

    When he came back on the line, he assured me the charge had been refunded and that if it came through as a charge there should also be a credit along with it. I then asked him to advise which one of two things had happened when I spoke to Mr. Liar on the phone: was there some malfunction in their system, or did he LIE to me on the phone. He assured me that no, Mr Liar would NOT have lied to me (certainly, no), but that what must have happened was that the auto-renewal was cancelled just as the order went through, so it was just a crossed-wires type deal.

    Uh, I don't think so, I replied. That is not the problem. I told him again, that Mr Liar had said to me, more than once, "I cancelled the order." ORDER. O-R-D-E-R. Three times he assured me that NO CHARGE would take place. Sam had NO explanation for that. I honestly wasn't expecting one.

    So now I'm going to wait around to see if the pre-auth comes off my account, and if the charge actually never goes through, and if (read: when) it does, if the credit follows it.

    And if it doesn't, I will be calling ole' Norton again. And they will KNOW my name in Customer Service. And then, when the year I paid for is up, I will be CANCELLING them. Period.

    And all of you, my faithful readers, be "assured" - if you have Norton, they may be blessing you with their fabulous "auto-renewal" when the time comes (or two weeks early, you know - whichever), whether you like it or not. And even if they TELL you they aren't doing it, they may do it anyway.

    Cuz' based on my day, that's how Norton rolls.


    The charge that was 'cancelled', did in fact post to my bank account. Fortunately for the scrotum of the man who assured me it was taken care of, it was also subsequently refunded. Then they sent me a survey, asking for my opinions on my Norton Support experience. They got blessed with some pretty specific suggestions of what they can do with their auto-renewal plan AND their "support team".

    So yes, they fixed it. It still grinds my gears that I had to go through the pain of spending that much time on the phone with people who, frankly, I couldn't understand very well, and who first lied to me, and then offered NO explanation of WHY I was lied to, AFTER they attempted to filch the money out of my bank account without my authorization. Dirty buggars.


    Dave said...

    If you buy the CD every year rather than renewing mcafee is way cheaper too.

    Carrie said...

    I love Norton. I love how we had the free trial come pre-loaded on our new laptop. I love how we could choose NOT to renew once the free trial expired. And then I especially love how it automatically pops up - at random moments - and does a courtesy scan. And I love how it tells us that there's a virus detected, which it can not clean, because we haven't renewed, but we can BUY their program for $60 to clean that bugger up. {{sigh}}

    Lola Goetz said...

    I would call the bank to dispute it if it does go through. Let them deal with a chargeback.

    I hate preauths like that - they tie up your money. So irritating.

    Jon Myers said...

    I just had the same problem. Only I bought the product from their web site and downloaded it. I, being the geek of all computer geeks, made sure that there was NO information in my order that showed an auto renewal. But, guess what? Yup, the pre-auth showed up yesterday!!

    If we had not have lost power due to the snow I would have reamed them a good one. They would have had to have prostheses to walk again!

    However, at least I have something to look forward to tonight!!

    And, I bank with Wachovia so they will be no help...

    I am glad you got yours resolved.

    Boris said...

    Paying for antivirus is a waste of money. There are plenty of free ones that do the job just as well, being less annoying and smaller at the same time. Try AVG or Avast.

    Cathy said...

    Update and info for my commentors: We did cancel our Norton (or let it expire, rather) and now have the McAfee Security Suite that our ISP provides at no cost, on both of our PCS. It seems to be fine so far. Certainly cheaper, lol!

    Jon, sorry they got you, too - call and give 'em hell. They should be ashamed of themselves for pulling this crap.