McAfee sued over pop-ups

Antivirus maker accused of duping people with third-party services

By Gregg Keizer | Computerworld US
Published: 10:17 GMT, 13 April 10

Two California women have sued security company McAfee, accusing it of duping customers into subscribing to third-party services and passing consumers’ credit or debit card information to the service supplier without their permission.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Melissa Ferrington and Cheryl Schmidt, asked a San Francisco federal court to grant the case class-action status, and demanded that McAfee be barred from continuing the practice. The pair also asked for compensatory and punitive damages, which would be decided at trial.

When customers purchase McAfee security software online, but before the download begins, a pop-up with a large “Try It Now” button appears.

“The pop-up, mimicking the look of the other pages on the McAfee site, thanks the customer for purchasing McAfee software, and prompts McAfee’s customers to click a red button to ‘Try it Now’,” the lawsuit alleged. “The pop-up contains no obvious visual cues or conspicuous text indicating that it is an advertisement for another product, or that clicking on ‘Try it Now’ will lead not to the delivery of the McAfee product but rather to the purchase of a completely different product. Instead, all the visual cues suggest that ‘Try It Now’ is a necessary step in downloading the McAfee software.”

By clicking on the pop-up, users agree to a $4.95 per month fee charged by Arpu, a company that creates web ads “enabling an advertised product or service to be obtained with a single click,” according to the Washington DC firm’s website .

Arpu’s site lists McAfee as one of its partners. “Whenever a McAfee customer completes a purchase on, an ad will appear for a related product or service. Interested customers can choose to subscribe to the product or service using the billing method just entered in their recent purchase,” reads Arpu’s site . “This convenience to the customer streamlines the purchase flow and increases the overall conversion rate.”

Ferrington and Schmidt said that they were billed $4.95 per month for a service described on their credit card statements as “PERFECTSPD,” a reference to the PerfectDisk Live online disk defragmentation service sold by Raxco Software.

“A single click on the deceptive pop-up causes the purchase of an unwanted product from Arpu, a sale made without the knowledge or authorisation of customers, using credit/debit card billing information that they have entrusted solely to McAfee,” said the lawsuit.

Schmidt alleged that when she called McAfee to complain, she was told “they could not do anything about the charge,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit claimed that McAfee violated several state and federal business practice and consumer protection laws.

McAfee did not respond to a request for comment.

I guess deceptive marketing is more profitable than plain old honest marketing

I knew they were up to no good. I distrust OEM pre-installed software anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

You can never dupe end users!
You should NEVER dupe end user!


You can never dupe end users!

Oh, yes they can…

at the end, it will always come back to bite you at the backside…


I don’t think so.

The “average user” credibility, in computing and other matters, has no limit.

Isn’t making people think that a sandbox or non-intrusive firewall behavior (no alerts) shall passively ensure their security part of it?

I had a bad experience with McAfee myself. I paid for and downloaded v6 of their AV when it first came out. I had previously used v4 and 5 with good results and no problems but i could not get v6 to work right. I immediately contacted them and they said that they would work with me until the problem was solved to my satisfaction. After a month of back and forth communications with assurances from them that the problem would be fixed but so far hadn’t been, I got tired of it all and asked for a refund. They had even told me that they were unable to find a solution and had exhausted all efforts. I was then informed that the period for refunds on downloaded software was 30 days and that the time had been exceeded even though the whole period had been spent in constant contact with them trying to resolve the problem. I brought up that fact and was told that the policy of refunds only within 30 days of purchase was unalterable. Needless to say, I uninstalled their product, went with Norton (which worked much better than any version of McAfee ever had) and told everyone I knew to stay away from McAfee. McAfee products being pre-installed on systems I and family and friends bought have always been the first things to be removed. I am not surprised in the least by this scam they are perpetrating now and I hope they lose their shirts over it.