Friday, February 27, 2009

Beware of Norton's Automatic Renewal Feature

If you use Norton Software, you probably have a Norton Account (which is usually created the first time you install Norton software). Having the account is nice because it keeps tracks of your product keys (which many of tend to lose) and other important information about our subscription.

However, Norton has recently started incorporated an "automatic renewal" feature in these accounts - which has a tendency to charge your credit about a month before your subscription ends. By default, this feature is enabled.

Norton will gladly disable this feature in your account if you ask them too - but YOU HAVE TO ASK! There's no way for you to change turn off automatic renewal yourself.

The easiest way to contact Norton is to use their online chat support. The link is listed below.

I love Norton products, but I'm not a fan of the auto-renew feature since it's not something I can turn off myself by logging into my account.

By the way, if you have noticed that your credit card was charged by the auto-renew feature, you can request a refund using the online chat support.

Updated 19 September 2009: It appears that Norton has once again changed how they handle the auto-renew feature.  You used to be able to turn off auto-renew in your Norton account, but this is no longer the case.  Now if you want to stop Symantec (or Norton) from automatically renewing your subscription, you need to fill out an online form and submit it. You can also get the feature disabled by chatting online with one of the support reps.

To disable Norton's Automatic Renewal Feature, click here.

To chat with a Norton rep, click here.

To read what Norton has to say about it's auto-renewal feature, click here.

Updated 13 April 2010:

Symantec has made it easy to enable and disable the Auto-Renewal feature now.  Below are detailed instructions.

  1. Log into your Norton Account.  If you don't know how to get to this web page, go to Google and type in "My norton account" and search.
  1.  Click the link that reads, "Automatic Renewal"

  1. By default, the box is checked.  Click in the box again to uncheck it.  If the box is checked, auto-renewal is enabled.  If it's uncheck, auto-renewal is disabled.   Click the Update button when finished.  

    1. Be sure to click the "Turn Off" link on the yellow window that pops up next.


    1. Its worse than that. The renewal takes place without the promised email 30 days before hand telling you the price and giving the option to cancel the automatic renewal, your Norton screen will still carry on telling you that you have x days until you you need to renew, and when you credit card is charged they will charge you almost twice the fee that they offer to manual renewals.

      I thought the role of Norton was to protect us from criminals rather than trying to join their ranks.

    2. The good news is that it's easy to have the automatic renew feature turned off and get a refund. All you need to do is contact Norton support (using their online chat support is the quickest and easiest way to do this) ... and give give them the order number on the emailed receipt they sent at the time of renewal.

      I agree that the Norton should give folks the ability to turn off the auto-renew feature in their accounts - but since they don't .. folks should be aware of it so they can take the necessary steps to have Norton disable it in their accounts.

      Maybe if enough folks complain to Norton, they will change this feature! The squeaky wheel gets the oil...

    3. The same thing has happened to me. It is worth noting that their own website see link below says that you shoudl receive an email in advance informing you of the price and giveing the option to cancel see

      In my case this did not happen. They also promised that the renewal would be at the normal rate - which in my case was $49.99 - but for some reason they think that this equates to nearly UK £80.

      Norton at present is ignoring my emails - unfortunately for them taking money in the UK to which you are not entitled is theft - and not covered by the contract law of which ever tax haven they have decided to use.

    4. Same here. Tried to buy something with my debit card and was denied. I called my bank and they told me my balance and then told me that I had a charge of $69.99 from Norton, but that there was a 888 phone number to call attached to the charge. I called it, got nice fellow from India, and he refunded my money for me without any hassle. The funny thing about this though is that the telephone message when you call that 888 number starts immediately with the auto-renewal message. So they know it's coming.

      I really, really don't like the fact that they just dipped into my checking account, but at least I noticed. If I had bought that on my charge card, it might have taken longer.

    5. I agree automatic renewal is underhand at best, but you don't have to contact their support to turn it off, there is an option in your Norton Account to do it.

    6. I've paid up because of a reminder, having forgotten that "auto-renewal" was set up. Didn't notice until doing my annual accounts and now Norton tell me it's "too late" to give a refund....

    7. The auto renewal is a flim flam tactic to see who won't notice and hope they increase profits. When given the option I never let anyone keep my card information on file, especially on the web. I expected more. Might try McAfee.

    8. When I still used Norton, I would have loved this feature - one less thing for me to remember! But, likewise, I never got an email this time around, and I don't use Norton anymore. I was a bit annoyed of the surprise charge on a credit card I hardly use anymore. But, I have to admit, when I called in for the refund, the customer support was excellent.

    9. Dear Mr Norton and the rest of the world who reads this. It seems Norton’s have employed a marketing person or accountant who thinks it’s OK to sneak around and automatically take money from people’s accounts without giving any advance notice of timing, no advance notice of amount, no clear warning of ongoing stealing and no option to ask for the auto stealing to be cancelled at the time of purchase. As of August 2009 they are still doing it. Norton’s, do not lose your honour for this executive idiot who dreamed up this dishonest way to obtain funds. You need to cancel the feature and sack the executive who invented this unique way of stealing. If you want the auto charge, make it a feature you have to opt into not opt out of. It makes me wonder if a company such as Norton’s has clearly lowered themselves to this level, could they also lower themselves to creating viruses, malicious cookies or the like just to stay in business. I only deal with honest companies and you are now not one of them. (Key words for Google search. Norton 360 renewal subscription warning stealing thief visa MasterCard)

    10. I just received (August 1) an e-mail from Norton informing me that my Norton 360 subscription was to be automatically renewed on August 16 at a price of $69.99. If I didn't want that to happen I could log in to my Norton account and change that. So I did. I checked the price on the web and it seems to be cheaper to renew that way so that is what I'll do when the time comes.

    11. The same thing happened to me. I don't have the computer, or Norton anymore, and received NO emails of any kind, just a charge on my credit card for a product I no longer have!!! What a bunch of thieves.

    12. There is no way I can see in the user account area to turn off auto-renewal. None. I am disgusted at this company that I should be able to trust.

    13. See updated notes in original post.

    14. Also here is the phone information they have buried/hid in there web site.

      Customer Care Assistance
      Contact Customer Care by Phone (or Email where available)
      For immediate non-technical assistance please select your country from the drop-down menu below:
      Customer Care can assist with non-technical issues. For technical product assistance, please select your Symantec product to access Technical Support.
      United States & Canada
      800.721.3934 or 541.335.7023
      Business Hours:
      5AM to 5PM PST (M-F)

    15. Norton drove me crazy with the renewal pop-ups every time I logged on, I finally cxl Norton and subscribed to McAfee, which I am very satisfied with.

    16. I am an attorney who brought a class action complaint against Symantec for their "auto-renewal" practices in California, called Marolda v. Symantec. It is moving along, and I would be happy to hear from you to see if your problems are something I could address in the case.

    17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    18. I have McAfee. They do the exact same thing as Norton. I can buy it off the shelf cheaper than the auto-renewal. Last year they auto-renewed for $39.99. This year it's $69.99. I won't play their game. Foreign customer service sucks. I think it's time for an Act of Congress.

    19. To the November 12 post-er, did you ever pay an "auto-renewal" unintentionally?

    20. Auto-renewal went through yesterday. They offer 60-day money back, including Auto-renewals. I have honestly come to hate Symantec with a passion, but I have to admit their customer support is no-nonsense. A refund and subscription cancellation were given with no unnecessary questions.

      The policy for auto-renewals alone, though, is enough for me to get rid of NortonIS. They also charged €60 for auto-renewal, as apposed to €35 for a manual renewal + retailmenot coupon.

    21. Good thing I checked my credit card statement and noticed the charge from Norton on there!

      Not sure if their auto-renewal is 'legal' but it is definitely UNETHICAL!

      I used their online chat and have been promised a refund in 2-3 days.

      I have warned all my friends to BEWARE.

    22. An update with part of the email they sent after the refund:

      "[...] Your current security protection will expire in 0 days placing you at significant risk of losing the critical Internet threat protection counted on by millions of users daily."

      Oh? I had almost 20 days subscription remaining before the auto-renewal, and I am not pleased with their attempt to scare me back.

    23. Symantec calls that "sunsetting"; closing down your annual subscription a little early. if you would like to consult with an attorney

    24. Thanks for the advice on using the online chat support - I was trying to contact them by phone to get a refund and it was hopeless. they have promised me a refund within 2-3 days.

    25. I like the Norton product but I sure don't like the auto-renewal scam!

    26. Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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    27. Yep,

      I too had too call their phone support and wait 30 minutes before being able to talk to someone and get my money back.
      There are 2 things that really gets me as extremely dishonest:
      1) Automatic renewal is noticeably more expensive then if you just renew manually online, or if you go buy the cd at store.
      2) As some cases were mentioned, for people that don't use their pc anymore where they had Norton installed, they would get charge anyways year after year after year, even though they never get any virus file update with their server.

      Even though we get mad at this, this business model as proven to be working. i.e. On 10 thousand clients you overcharge 50% every year, you might lose 100 disatisfied customers; Norton can take the hit and still make more money.

    28. Is there a screenprint of this process? Whenever I go into my Norton Account, there is nothing there to deactivate auto-renewal. Whenever I use the form, it says that my order number needs to be all numerals and the first two characters of my order number are letters. On one page in the account, detailing my purchase, there is a column called something like "Auto Renewal" and below that it is listed as "No" but how can I be certain that it is registered as "No" if I just updated it and, according to the confirmation E-Mail, I am enrolled in the automatic renewal. This is very distressing and any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    29. I too had my subscription automatically renewed without advance warning, two weeks before it was to expire. I only noticed it when an unexpected charge appeared on my credit card. I contacted Norton's online chat, and they promised me a refund.
      It is almost impossible to find a contact phone number for telephone support, but their online chat is quite efficient.
      There is a feature on their account page to show that you are signed up for automatic renewal and to disable it, but it is hidden so far down the menu tree that most users are unlikely to notice it.
      In Canada this is called "negative billing" and it is illegal.
      They may have sent an e-mail notice - sometimes Norton send e-mails with a nonsense sender name like =?UTF-8?B?U3ltYW50ZWMgUmVuZXdhbHM=?=, which your spam filter is likely to remove.
      Norton is a good product, but this business practice is so objectionable that I will no longer do business with them. apparently MacAfee is just as bad. But there are other good products out there.

    30. Just had my own fun experience with this. I got a warning email saying that I would be auto-renewed, so I tried to disable it according to instructions. The link I was supposed to see wasn't there, so I contacted a rep who told me "it's been taken care of, nothing to worry about." Sure enough, I STILL got auto-renewed, even though all installed products list auto-renewal as "No". Another rep tells me that this will be fixed and my card credited, but I'm waiting to see...

    31. I am very displeased with Norton because of automatic renewal service. I had an unexpected charge from this in December 2009 so I am checking my account to make sure it won't happen again this year. Now I notice that I can't even view my auto renewal status online. Hopefully that means it is not enabled. There are many errors on the support site about the auto renewal service, it claims you can view your status online and can opt out anytime online. I hope they are subject to a a class action lawsuit for this underhanded policy.

    32. thank you for this blog and all the advise. same happened to me. they cancelled the auto renewal but only after some time chatting online. they wanted to call me as well! Not giving up i suppose that easy! really poor performance from Nortom - we should spread the word around so nobody use them any more.I will certainly not use them next year

    33. OMG can anyone help here pls...
      automatic renew happened 09/10 at the time I have been out of the USA and didn't pay attention to my statements, thinking I haven't used my card at all so no worries (card expired 4/10) Norton charged me on 09/10 !!!!! .... so Citi bank closed my credit card account and fwd details to collection agency to chase 3 times more money now ($18) after all interest and charges for this late payment. WHAT TO DO??? PLEASE HELP!!!
      SICK SICK SICK.... what to do ? Who to complain to?

    34. That's correct, Norton are bastards. Check these two messages I got in my mailbox and see the difference ;)

      Your credit or debit card will automatically be charged CAD 69.99 (plus applicable taxes) on November 16, 2011 for another year of protection, without any additional action by you.

      Your credit card listed below was automatically charged CAD 79.09 on November 16, 2011 for another year of protection.

      Well, make your own judgement, I did.

    35. Those guys charged me for a renewal to which I have never consented. I wasn't expecting this charge. It is utterly illegal and I try to send them a message through the chat mode, but they continue button just doesn't work. I'll talk with my bank blocking those funds and certainly I'm not going to use another Symantec product. I also found out that my auto renewal option was NOT going to NO, so I had to erase my billing information from their system. Stay away from Norton!

    36. I called a year ago about the auto renewal and told them to take me off the renewal. Here it is a year later and they charge me again. Two years in a row. I am waiting on the refund for this year. I will never buy another product from the company for this practice and I will try to influence everyone that Norton is a wolf in sheep's clothing. They have calculated that its worth the bad practice for the amount of money they make from it. I can not remember the last time I was this upset. They are stealing from their customers.

    37. I was recently charged ~$60 for Norton Internet Security 2012 automatically. I contacted them within 30 days of the charge to have it reversed. I told them I could purchase the same SW at less than $30 elsewhere! They are betting that the average person will miss this 30 day grace period while they double their profit.

    38. I was charged under their deceptive auto renewal program. I called the phone number 877-294-5265 to inquire and that phone number had options to press 2 or 3. I pressed option 2 to inquire about the billing and guess what, the option didn't work and the phone call was subsequently disconnected. I found a different Norton 800#: 800-441-7234. It took 10 minutes for someone to come onto the line. The first person I spoke with was unable to find information on the charge with my name or e-mail address and said I needed to talk to his supervisor to lookup the charge with my credit card #. After another lengthy delay, his supervisor came onto the line. The supervisor was not able to locate my charge based on my credit card # even! Finally, he came to “locate” the charge and said they would credit my credit card within 2-3 days. I had to specifically ask for a confirmation # as he did not provide it. Total time I expended on this call with Norton = 45 minutes.
      Bottom line from my experience, Norton’s business practice is deceptive in setting you up for auto renewal and then makes it extremely difficult to get the charge corrected. Many other reputable companies provide anti-virus software products. I’ll definitely avoid Norton’s products forever.

    39. The scam continues. In early 2012, I have installed Norton 360 on two seperate systems. The automatic renewal tab appears, and there is a slide button to turn off auto renewal. In both cases the tab does not move to the off position. I have to call customer service to go through the process to have it turned off. This is not an accident.

    40. Here is an informative link for issues related to renewal

    41. I join a long list of those who have been automatically renewed, which Norton claims is in place because it's popular with customers who don't want to bother with manual renewal. They charged me almost £70 which was double last years manually renewed subscription. But a nicwe man in India has set the refun in motion and I am now on a 30-day trial. At the moment my instinct is to find another provider. I don't like Norton's devious tactics and I agree it is theft to take monet without consent.

    42. This scam is still going on! I just discovered that Norton had taken £65 from my bank account back in July of this year - no advance warning of this fact and I wasn't aware that I'd signed up for auto updates when I bought Norton with my new laptop a year ago. Having looked on line, I realised that I could buy a new copy for less than half that price... Luckily, when I found the (in my mind) illegal transaction from my account, I was still (just) within the 60-day refund period. I chatted to a nice guy online and he's arranged to refund the money. Interestingly, he offered to let me keep the product and refund me 50% first! (Apparently I'm a valued Norton customer!)

      I do think this is a massive scam on Norton's part... I hadn't realised how long this has been going on either until I read the comments on here. Shocking!