Norton Sued for Withholding Potentially Shady Subscription Renewal Practices

  • UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has submitted a lawsuit against Norton for denial to share key information.
  • The authority was investigating user reports about shady subscription and contract renewal practices.
  • These allegations haven’t been confirmed, but the investigation will only continue with the help of the court.

UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), is suing Norton, the popular anti-virus product developer, for failure to share the requested details about how its subscription renewal system works.

According to a press release by the CMA, the agency has received multiple reports from consumers that blame Norton for automatically renewing contracts and forcing them to cover the costs even though they no longer needed or wanted to continue using the firm’s software products.

To investigate these reports, the CMA requested Norton to hand over key information about how the renewal system works, but the software developer has failed to comply with the request. The CMA considers this to be a breach of Norton’s legal obligations, so the only way to obtain the requested information is to drag the firm in court.

As Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive at CMA stated:

It is completely unacceptable that a leading anti-virus software firm has refused to supply all the information we asked for, which is why we’re taking the firm to court. Our unprecedented decision in this case reflects the serious impact of Norton’s refusal, which is delaying a CMA investigation intended to protect UK consumers.

It is indeed surprising to see Norton refusing to take a transparent approach and instead chooses a path that will result in great amounts of negative publicity, yet here we are. For history, CMA asked for the following information:

  • How the automatic contract renewal system works exactly.
  • What cancellation options and tools are given to the customer.
  • Whether or not the price promotions presented as introductory costs are applicable in the renewals.
  • Whether or not Norton uses unfair contract terms to increase the prices when the automatic renewal happens.

Norton hasn’t made any official announcements or comments on the legal action that CMA has taken against them, so we don’t know where they stand on the matter right now. We will update this piece once the security software maker shares a comment with us.

Update on March 24, 2021

A Norton spokesperson has shared the following statement:

NORTONLIFELOCK IS COOPERATING WITH THIS ONGOING INVESTIGATION BY THE COMPETITION AND MARKETS AUTHORITY (CMA). WE TAKE THESE CLAIMS SERIOUSLY AND REMAIN CONFIDENT THAT OUR BUSINESS PRACTICES AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS ARE FAIR AND COMPLIANT WITH UK CONSUMER LAW. WE LOOK FORWARD TO RESOLVING THIS MATTER.

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