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Friday, 7 May 2010

The Kafkaesque World of McAfee - and others

I have never posted a pure grumble before. I shall probably never do so again. This post is an exception!

Why, I ask, do so many software firms like to project an image of a company so technologically savvy that its whole enterprise is so automated from ground floor to attic as not to need the help of real people to run the show? Or is that they are indeed that savvy, and so truly have dispensed with people? Or maybe they suffer from a bunker mentality and cannot bring themselves to poke their heads above the parapet in case some awkward customer might pop up with a reasonable request or complaint? Many of their web sites might have been designed by Kafka on an off day.

I'll explain. Just over a year ago I installed McAfee anti-virus software on my PC. It was not an outstanding success. It may very well not have been the fault of the McAfee software. I rather think there was something on my machine which was not compatible with it. If so, I couldn't find it and so, reluctantly, I uninstalled the anti-virus software. Now, I should have been able to claim from McAfee a refund to compensate for the unused part of the contract. Their web site said I could get my money back, even gave a link to click on to do just that. I tried it. I tried it repeatedly. I tried other links. I went to the site map. I tried every navigational technique known to me. Nothing. They delivered me into a variety of dead ends or nowhere or, by a variety of roundabout routes, returned me to my starting point. Eventually, to preserve my sanity, I gave up, deciding that my mental health was more important than a few quid.

And in a fair and rational world that would have been the end of it, don't you think? But the world is neither fair nor rational, as we are all well aware. And it is particularly not fair and rational in its Kafkaesque manifestations. Perhaps it was my fault. I bought a laptop. I shouldn't have done. The laptop came preloaded with... yes, you've guessed it, McAfee anti virus. I uninstalled it immediately, for two reasons: one, because of the bad experience I had had with the PC; two, because I had bought another anti-virus for the PC which covered me for two machines. That was a year or so ago.

A week ago I discovered that McAfee had taken another £68 out of my credit card account without a by your leave to me or anyone else. They had taken it upon themselves to renew the cover I didn't have and didn't want. They say, in one of the few helpful lines on their web site, that they do this because the majority of their customers want it. Maybe. Maybe not. But what about those who are not customers? Is that the way to tempt them back? And for the rest, they can ask to have the automated deductions deactivated, if they so wish. But should it not be the other way around. Should they not do it unless the customer requires it? How dare they just plunge their hands into someone's pockets uninvited!

I am now in the same Kafkaesque situation that confronted me before. I have found a reassurance that where they have taken money for a renewal that the "customer" doesn't want, they will refund it. Providing, of course, that "customer" can find the link on their web site! I have now been round their loops a few times. I found an email address that seemed to be the one I was looking for. It proved to be an automated address. My email was not seen by a real person. I found another likely-looking address. I am still awaiting an answer from that one, but it is beginning to look as though I have sent it to an automated address that does not give automated replies!

O course, there is always the phone, but they do warn that if I go that route I am likely to be in a queue for half an hour or so. No doubt only to discover that I am ringing the wrong number, and as their Castle is in Ireland it could run up quite a bill, maybe more than the refund's worth. I have spoken to the card company and they say that if all else fails they will take it up for me. It does begin to look as though all else has failed.

This experience just happens to have been with McAffee, but they do not have the monopoly. Other Internet software firms are like unto them, as I know to my cost. It is a condition that does not seem to infect hardware manufacturers - at least, I have not found it so. Why does software bring the worst out of these guys?

13 comments:

Gwei Mui said...

Dave don't get me started and you're right it apears to be software only. My last tussle was when I purchased sone software for my daughter she needed it for school. They apparently ignored the fact that after the agreed three payments payments should stop - no they didn't, they gayley continued for another three payments inspite of me calling them after each call they assured me they would refund the misappropriated money but they didn't it took me a further month of calls and anglry emails to get them to stop!

Tabor said...

Sour stomach...!

Gerry Boyd said...

I share your annoyance.

Helen said...

Anti-virus stuff
Damned if you do or you don't
Don't give up the fight

Jim Murdoch said...

Actually I've had no real problems with McAfee but I have spent far longer that I needed wading through the Dell site looking for information, another company who has a thing against telephones. I'm pretty sure I never actually found their phone number, gave up and found a workaround myself.

My McAfree license is due to run out on my office PC in June and I was considering looking elsewhere since it's not my main PC so I'm just a wee bit wary now that they'll renew my licence without my permission. I'll watch out for that.

Kass said...

Inoculation:
frustration mixed with haywire
viral antidote.

Sorry to hear about your troubles.

Karen said...

I'm hearing bad things about McAffee, and it keeps popping up on my little netbook, asking me to confirm its download, which I did not do because I did not download it. I'm afraid it's there waiting for me to turn my back!

DUTA said...

I have no experience with McKaffee anti-virus. For the last three years I've been using free anti-virus software downloaded from the Web and had no problems. My present software is Avast.

Dave King said...

Gwei
Extraordinary - well it is when judged by everyday norms, but where software is concerned it seems to be the norm.

Tabor
and getting sourer!

Gerry
Thanks. Good to have a little moral support.

Helen
Anti-virus stuff
works well - but which thingummy's
the blinking virus?

Jim
I also hav e had the opposite problem: way back I tried for ages to renew the license, but couldn't. They wouldn't accept the license number I was quoting. So I cut and pasted it from the license, but they still said it was fictitious.

Kass
One jab too many
for my liking - bled profusely
and still I caught a cold.

Karen
Sooner or later it gets you - that's my experience - but stay cool. (I didn't!)

DUTA
Yes, I used AVG free for years with no problems at all. Regret changing.

Derrick said...

Sorry to hear of your woes, Dave. No company should be able to automatically renew a subscription without first advising you that they intend to take the money on a particular date unless you say otherwise. Presumably, you could always try writing a letter, the old-fashioned way?!

Carl said...

Hi Dave

I must say you are not alone in this. It seams to be all of the anti-virus vendors. I have been lucky enough to have my installs work, but have watched enough people struggle with exactly the same thing.

Carl

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