Not to be outdone by BitDefender, it seems Norton is now issuing pop-up spam in the latest version of their software, Norton Security.
I had enjoyed 12 months of pop-up-free antivirus with Norton Internet Security when it came to time to renew my subscription. I was given two options: renew the current product for £49.99 or take out a new subscription for the latest version, called simply Norton Security, for £39.99 (or £34 as it turned out to be with a discount coupon). So much for rewarding loyalty. I chose the latter.
The day after upgrading I was shown the displayed popup for the first time – and just two days after installing I’ve seen it FOUR times already.
I had already been inside the software’s settings area and had disabled the “Special Offer Notification” feature and no other features seemed to relate to notifications. I decided therefore to ask customer support how to disable them – maybe there’s a hidden setting somewhere; perhaps I have to manually edit some file; or maybe they can make a change on the back-end service on my account?
In an online chat I explained the problem to a customer support representative from India. After taking care to describe the problem in as much detail as possible, his opening response was that he would be happy to help me uninstall the Chrome plugin. Since of course the issue was not needing to uninstall any plugins at all but rather prevent this annoying pop-up from displaying, I sighed and described the problem again.
His first suggestion was for me to tick the “Do not show this message again” box before closing the notification. Of course, had such a box been present then I would have done exactly that but as a cursory glance at the screenshot will confirm, there was no such box. Do Norton customer support staff not know the software they’re providing support for?
His next suggestion was for me to allow him to remotely take control of my computer to resolve the issue. Not a chance – just tell me what I need to do please. He wanted to disable the firewall by right-clicking on the icon in the task bar and selecting “Disable Smart Firewall”, and then to “try” uninstalling the application and re-installing it. Trial and error, basically.
Of course I work in IT but I don’t think that background is really necessary in order to appreciate that a) disabling a firewall in order to prevent built-in pop-up ads from displaying is crazy talk; and b) uninstalling and re-installing software that installed just fine the first time isn’t going to give you different behaviour. After all, this pop-up isn’t a bug – it’s a deliberate “feature” that some idiot product manager somewhere decided to shoehorn into the product.
I explained to the guy that his suggestions seemed like they might not be the best options, and asked if there was instead some kind of hidden option I could change to stop the pop-ups from appearing. His response was to insist again that I disable the firewall and uninstall/re-install the software.
I wasn’t going to waste precious time performing completely unnecessary and unrelated tasks, so I asked for a refund – which he readily agreed to and in fact has already sent through before I even finished this article – and for the full amount of £39.99 too. I’m accepting the £6 profit as compensation for the inconvenience caused by this stupid new “feature” and ineffective customer support.
Given the 12 months of hassle-free operation I received with Norton Internet Security I’m tempted just to go back to that with a renewed subscription instead, but as the support representative said himself this is now a legacy product which has been superseded so I’m not sure how wise that would be – after all, why pay for a subscription to a product that is on its last legs as far as support is concerned? So it looks like another search for a decent antivirus solution that doesn’t spam its users is in order…
When will these pesky product managers learn?!