The UK Government has published rules for antivirus companies that automatically renew their users ‘ subscriptions. The reason for the guidelines is a study by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into how antivirus companies work when automatically renewing subscriptions.
According to the CMA, subscriptions are often extended endlessly until users cancel them, which is not always easy. As a result, users are tied to contracts they do not want or need and face renewal costs they do not expect or are much higher than expected. Earlier this year, major antivirus companies decided to make adjustments following enforcement actions by the UK regulator.
The CMA has now established rules to prevent users from being tied to an unwanted contract. For example, before entering into an automatically renewed subscription, users should be provided with clear information about the automatic renewal, including the price, the duration of the contract and how the automatic renewal works.
Furthermore, claims about the prices of the product or subscription should be correct and not misrepresent. In addition, clear and accessible information on what the user agrees to should be provided. Once a subscription is closed, users should be able to easily disable auto-renewal, and this option should remain disabled when disabled.
Users should also be informed of the extension well in advance. Antivirus companies that do not comply with the rules may be in violation of Consumer Law. Violations of these can be punishable by fines and imprisonment. Companies can also be forced to repay their customers.
Research by the Austrian TestLab AV-Comparatives shows that ninety percent of the users surveyed are not happy with automatic renewal that is enabled at the time of purchase